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Mountain Man, The Dead Tongues
If you close your eyes during a particularly harmonious Mountain Man song, you will almost certainly be transported to the riverbank of your dreams. The Appalachian-tinged folk trio—comprised of Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath—will be joined by Durham indie-folk band the Dead Tongues.
Open Mike Eagle
“Dang Is Invincible” is probably the most prototypical Open Mike Eagle song on Hella Personal Film Festival, Mike’s excellent collaborative album with UK producer Paul White. A heavy guitar loop builds to a drop that never comes—instead the intro gives way to a goofy lounge beat over which OME gives himself early-morning props for drunkenly remembering to charge his phone the night before and skating on a hangover (“That burrito worked!”). On this everyman, half-full-milk-carton version of “It Was a Good Day,” Mike isn’t basking in the climate of social apathy by not rapping about more important stuff, or parodying tough-rap culture; he’s throwing out casual observations and relatable signifiers that allow you to triangulate his emotional location. Find happiness in the little things, but remember, the little things are just that: “I get to be the one for a nanosecond,” he ends. Even when Mike is being a goofball, he’s being insightful—and vice versa—and he’s still one of the smartest in the game. TODD HAMM
Cloud Nothings, Nap Eyes, Research
Neo-nostalgia seems to be an unspoken theme of this triple-decker rock show. Cloud Nothings’ latest LP, Last Building Burning, foams with anthemic existentialism and frontman Dylan Baldi’s signature snarl. Lead single “The Echo of the World” promises a big-mood, fall-to-your-knees performance. Nap Eyes can’t help being endearing with their ruminative, Lou Reed–esque alt-rock and modern-day dread, as confessed in their 2018 release I’m Bad Now. Local supergroup Research (featuring members of Rose Windows, Midday Veil, TERMINATor, and CHARMS) may give you flashbacks of 2014—then suspend all your Weltschmerz since then with their fresh-experiment fizz and bullheaded, all-caps songs. AJ DENT
Still Corners, Ruby Haunt
London duo Still Corners had a brief run on Sub Pop, releasing two albums of gauzy, mysterious dream-pop at the beginning of this decade. Since then, the group has both streamlined and settled into their sound, incorporating more guitars and fewer atmospherics. August’s Slow Air was recorded in Austin, and the music has an expansive western feel, like an extension of an Ennio Morricone score. Brittle drum machines, vaporous reverb, and unexpectedly folksy touches of acoustic guitar form the basis of the band’s brooding, romantic soft rock. Fans of the usual dream-pop suspects—Beach House, Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins—should be intrigued. ANDREW GOSPE
Jordi Savall: Routes Of Slavery
Viola da gamba virtuoso and early music interpreter Jordi Savall will present a program exploring the diverse experiences of diaspora. Artists representing Europe, Africa, and the Americas will perform music through which enslaved peoples forged community and found endurance to survive during those journeys.
In a genre where all but the avant fringes utilize the exact same type of beats, flows, and worldview, grown people who still enjoy the hypnotizing, war-chant quality of contemporary rap have to find what they like along the spectrum (a term popularly swiped from the mental-health world and appropriately appropriated here). Maybe you can’t fuck with most SoundCloud bottom-feeders and their lo-fi, mainstream trap reenactment society. Or maybe you, like me, can’t really stand Uzi but find that “South Atlanta goon” Playboi Carti more smoothly deploys that effort-free “ooh-yah” filler-flow, without the artificial sweeteners. As a far better MC once said: “So we internalize that, but then we customize that.” LARRY MIZELL JR.
Tank and the Bangas, Big Freedia, Naughty Professor
New Orleans is rolling through town, and Seattle ain’t ready! The aptly named Head Banga Tour features Tank and the Bangas of NPR Tiny Desk Concert fame and Big Freedia, Queen of Bounce, as coheadliners. Tarriona “Tank” Ball is the founder and frontwoman of the funky, gospel-inspired hiphop band, centering their performance with her clever lyrics and mesmerizing vocals. Big Freedia is the best version of what every MC should be—she knows how to get the motherfucking party going. Her philosophy? Everybody’s body can dance, and dance they will. Comfortable attire is almost a must for this show, and the ticket paid for in sweat and tears—just kidding, use real dollars, please! JASMYNE KEIMIG
Atriarch, Statiqbloom, Deth Crux, the Convictions
For the past nine years, Portland’s Atriarch have dealt out slab after slab of intense, metallic death-rock. Looking for more music like Rudimentary Peni or Christian Death, but with tortured screams and occasional chain-saw guitar tones? Of course you are. There is no style of music that cannot be improved by chain-saw guitar tones. That being said, come early. Locals the Convictions always put on a solid and somehow disturbing show. Even better, Statiqbloom is the new industrial project by Fade Kainer, former member of thinking man’s metal outfit Tombs, and he revolutionizes that genre much the same way he did sludge before. JOSEPH SCHAFER
This Will Destroy You, Clarice Jensen
Do you ever have those dreams where your legs stop working? You’re taking a stroll past your childhood home or you’re walking a strangely unfamiliar route through your once-familiar neighborhood and suddenly each step seems insurmountable. Have you ever suffered from sleep apnea? Have you ever slipped so far into a dream that you wake up in an out-of-breath panic? These are probably the closest approximations to This Will Destroy You’s nitrous-headed instrumentals. Auras of nostalgic melancholia, encroaching doom, bittersweet triumph, and repressed pain are interwoven throughout the Texas quartet’s airy and nebulous arrangements. In keeping with their sleepy vibes, the band is known for demanding a quiet audience, so keep your drunken conversations in the bar. BRIAN COOK
Troye Sivan, Kim Petras, Carlie Hanson
Dance easily to songs about living in the moment with talented young queer pop star Troye Sivan on his Bloom Tour, with support from Germany singer-songwriter Kim Petras and Carlie Hanson and up-and-coming teen popper Carlie Hanson.
DoNormaal, Medejin, Beatrix Skye
Stranger contributor Sophia Stephens called local genre-bending hiphop artist DoNormaal "unstoppable," adding, "Her ease with rhyme surpasses flow with enchantingly hypnotic rapping that is an undeniable standout in the Seattle music scene." Catch her with local ethereal slow wave band Medejin and dance-pop artist Beatrix Skye.
Harry Hudson, JP Saxe
Folk-pop/Americana artist Harry Hudson will tour in support of his short film Can Cowboys Cry (which features Jaden Smith) with opening support from singer-songwriter JP Saxe.
The Selecter, Rhoda Dakar
The 1982 song “The Boiler” was credited to Special AKA (aka the Specials), but sung by Rhoda Dakar and written by her old band, the Bodysnatchers; it remains a chilling, first-person account of rape and a chilling assessment of rape on a societal level—why it happened, what went through the victim’s mind, and how little progress we’ve made. Her ska peers the Selecter had the misfortune to drop a song called “Celebrate the Bullet” right when Hinckley shot Reagan. They needed a legion of boldly grim DJs to push that angle, and naturally, didn’t get it. But, both acts are still here to tell their stories. ANDREW HAMLIN
Blackalicious, Chali 2na, DJ Indica Jones
Blackalicious—the MC Gift of Gab and the producer/DJ Chief Excel, one of the West Coast's most beloved indie crews since the '90s—return to Seattle to rock it mightily. Hit up downtown Fremont and bear witness to the legendary lung capacity of Gab's powerful, ingenious flow. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Dead Boys, Radkey, The Derelicts, Acid Teeth
I might lose a dozen or so punk points by admitting this, but the first time I heard Dead Boys was after Pearl Jam covered their classic, “Sonic Reducer.” The Dead Boys may not have reached the status of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees like the Clash and Ramones, but they’re your favorite punk band’s favorite punk band, releasing two essential albums, only to dissolve in 1979. Their iconic vocalist Stiv Bators passed away in 1990, but it should be good nostalgic fun to see original members Cheetah Crome (guitar) and Johnny Blitz (drums) play the hits. KEVIN DIERS
Bleeding Hearts Benefit Show
The Bleeding Hearts Initiative—which aims "to end hygiene discrimination" by providing tampons, pads, and diva cups to local music venues—will host a benefit show with bedroom-pop punks Lisa Prank, dreamy janglers Anime Creek, local ambient artist Dos Leches, and a "super secret headliner." They'll also set up an art market.
I’ve always kind of liked Lily Allen. Sure, she’s a MySpace-made Not Ugly Person™ who had help from well-off parents with connections, but she also had a no-fucks-given ’tude and seemed like a real human, inebriated missteps and all. And her ska-tinged/reggae-lite synth-pop tunes—delivered with a potty-mouth cockney accent and a sense of humor—weren’t all that bad, either. You probably remember her sunny 2006 hit “Smile,” about basking in the pain of a cheating ex trying to reconcile, or maybe “Alfie,” a bouncy track chiding her younger brother for smoking too much pot and never leaving his room (it must have worked—Alfie Allen now plays Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones). Allen’s more recent album, Sheezus, is acceptable radio pop filled with half-interesting commentary on fame and internet trolling. EMILY NOKES
THURSDAY & SATURDAYCLASSICAL
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4
Tchaikovsky’s bombastic Symphony No. 4 will be performed by the Symphony with assistance from violinist Viktoria Mullova and cellist Matthew Barley, who will also perform new works composed for them by Pascal Dusapin.
Emerald City Soul Club 13th Annual Rare Soul Weekender
From 1973 to 1981, English youth boogied down to American soul music at a club called the Wigan Casino. Out of this industrial town near Manchester came the northern soul movement—essentially, a fetishizing of all things rare soul, not the Motown hits you might hear on oldies stations. With Capitol Hill and Eastlake as Manchester stand-ins, the obsessive crate diggers behind the Emerald City Soul Club will do their best to re-create the 1970s vibe during their 13th Rare Soul Weekender, when the most passionate soul collectors from across the Pacific Northwest will converge for four days and nights of nothing but soul at a range of venues: Triple Door, Lo-Fi, Century Ballroom, Narwhal, and Revolver, plus a record swap at Vermillion. GREG SCRUGGS
Clan of Xymox, The Bellwether Syndicate, Curse Mackey
Formed in Holland in the early '80s, Clan of Xymox make moody electronic music that allegedly paved the way for other darkwave bands. Dance and feel things at this live show with support from Chicago glam goths the Bellwether Syndicate and industrial solo artist Curse Mackey.
Sontag Shogun, Dolphin Midwives, Blessed Blood
Portland harpist/vocalist Dolphin Midwives (aka Sage Fisher) is a first-rate spellcaster whose music balletically straddles the line between drone and art song. She turns an instrument associated with classical and jazz performance into a conduit for gossamer tone poems that enchant and hypnotize with gentle insistence—with help from electronic processing. Dolphin Midwives' new séance-like album, Liminal Garden, refines her compositional adventurousness into a halo of aural incense while it also branches out into more abstract, abrasive territory. Sontag Shogun weave piano, electronics, and hushed vocals into diaphanous tapestries that should appeal to fans of Harold Budd, Nils Frahm, and Benoît Pioulard. The Montreal/NYC trio’s 2019 LP It Billows Up offers two epic, tranquilly disorienting collages that elude easy classification. DAVE SEGAL
An Evening with Paula Cole
Relive the top-charted Lilith Fair heyday of the '90s with Grammy-certified songstress Paula Cole. Make sure she plays "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone."
J Mascis, James Elkington
By this point, J Mascis—both as a solo artist and as the leader of Dinosaur Jr.—is a reliable generator of sonic comfort food for rockers whose favorite Neil Young LPs are Zuma and After the Gold Rush. J keeps doing what he does with minimal variations, and because he’s an emotionally resonant songwriter and guitarist, his output continues to satisfy those who dig his melodious turbulence. DAVE SEGAL
Monsterwatch, SSDD, Dead Spells
Seattle trio Monsterwatch have mastered a seething, aggressive brand of rock that dexterously avoids predictability, zagging when you expect them to zig and producing guitar tones that leave a sulfuric sting. Including some finesse in your justifiably angry sound is always a solid move. Dead Spells channel the dark-hearted, descending-chord-laden attack of Siouxsie & the Banshees with a deadpan panache. Singer Natalia Czajkiewicz's voice is as engrossing as her last name is difficult to pronounce. Goth-rock done without corniness, like that of Dead Spells, is a rare treat. DAVE SEGAL
Rubblebucket, Diet Cig, Tōth
Rubblebucket build bright, sparkly, endlessly intriguing art-pop, with unexpected arrangements and prominent, well-used woodwinds (tenor and baritone saxes, trumpet, occasional flute), giving their music a classy feel and brassy-melodic appeal. The soaring and sliding vocals of front woman Annakalmia Traver are entrancingly dulcet, like a gently ringing bell, and complement bandmate Alex Toth’s sighing tenor. The duo were formerly involved, and even though they’re no longer a couple, it’s nice to see they can still make beautiful music together, as 2018 full-length Sun Machine indicates. LEILANI POLK
Jesse Sykes & Phil Wandscher
Jesse Sykes always works the space between the notes, and if she ever runs out of notes to play, she’ll still be able to work the spaces. The songs creep up and swirl, like the cigarette smoke in that iconic photograph of her. She used to live here, but now she doesn’t, and presumably she’s finding wider open spaces in Iowa. ANDREW HAMLIN
Frankie Cosmos, Kero Kero Bonito, Tanukichan
The genesis of London trio Kero Kero Bonito was Sarah Midori Perry, the band’s bilingual singer, being recruited to the band via a message board post. Naturally, the group’s early work was an overstuffed, internet-literate amalgam of J-pop, dancehall, and rap. Now they perform and record as something closer to a traditional band, but one whose effervescent electro-pop still takes its cues from the likes of Yellow Magic Orchestra and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Most important, the group increasingly reflects its Japanese influences in form—intricate, tightly produced pop songs—more than sound. ANDREW GOSPE
Milo Greene, Charley Dam
Milo Greene are a band, not a person; Adult Contemporary is their sophomore album, and essentially the genre they practice. If you had any question about it, the intro song, “Easy Listening Pt. 1,” offers a definition: “Adult contemporary music is pop, soul, quiet storm, and rock influenced, with varying degrees of easy listening. The format is heavy on romantic sentimental ballads.” The music is as described—at times soothing and cinematic à la “Be Good to Me,” which feels like a cut off the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack, all raspy masculine vocals and fretless bass, while “Young at Heart” has a decidedly retro-dance feel and sultry, cooing female vocals. The overall impression is breezy and effortless. LEILANI POLK
Mr Twin Sister, Sateen
Rhode Island chill wave band Mr. Twin Sister will bring their lilting tunes to town, with glam rock and disco support from New York duo Sateen.
The Legendary Ladies of Motown: Mary Wilson of The Supremes and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
Queens of the Swinging Sixties, Mary Wilson of the Supremes and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, will join their vocal powers in an evening of calling back to the golden age of Motown.
Ex-Seattleite Jake Shears is famous for two things: writing a single article for The Stranger back in 2005, and being the decorated leader of the glam pop group Scissor Sisters. He'll perform tracks from his critically acclaimed self-titled solo album.
Matthew Dear, Tiny Deaths, DJ Sharlese
The shapeshifting musician Matthew Dear has surfed several waves of digital sound over the last two decades. His four-to-the-floor DJ days are perhaps behind him as he settles into a middle-aged experimental-pop-auteur role, channeling influences like Brian Eno, Talking Heads, and David Bowie to make glitchy, catchy, singer-songwriter material filtered through heavy-duty electronic processing. He comes to town for a pre-Freakout Festival kickoff with a new solo album in tow, Bunny, his first in six years. Tiny Deaths, from Minneapolis, tag along for the tour, and KEXP DJ Sharlese opens. GREG SCRUGGS