This week, our music critics have picked everything from pop/R&B mainstay the-Dream to West African blues rocker Bombino to Believe: The Music of Cher. Follow the links below for ticket links and music clips for all of their picks, and find even more shows on our complete music calendar.
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Kodak Black, YNW Melly, CalBoy, Sniper Gang
Low-key clever Southern rapper Kodak Black has been most talked about for both inspiring Cardi B's massive hit "Bodak Yellow," and for the time he served for sexual battery in 2016. He's back on tour now promoting his latest album, Heartbreak Kodak, which explores his softer R&B side.
Vince Staples, JPEGMAFIA, Channel Tres
What makes Vince Staples so appealing is his capacity to really not give a fuck what you think. And not even in a way that’s overtly showboating. No, Vince is here to rap some raps, collect a check, and bounce. That’s the kind of forthrightness I appreciate, and I think it’s also what makes him such a great rapper. Often, he doesn’t focus on the flex, but on the music. His latest effort, FM!, sounds more like an experience than an album, like driving down the highway in the hot summer with one of those raucous radio stations turned on full blast. You can see the heat rising off the blacktop over the sounds of Long Beach–inflected hiphop. Exactly the way Vince should be appreciated. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Veil of Maya, Intervals, Strawberry Girls, Cryptodira
Get a slice of Chicago metalcore from Veil of Maya, with support from Intervals, Strawberry Girls, and Cryptodira.
Cass McCombs, Sam Evian
Cass McCombs has that vocal quality that sounds like he’s not trying hard at all, effortless and occasionally breathy and spacious. He makes singer-songwriter fare that feels dusty and worn and warm, whose maker you can picture having that sort of tousled, just-out-of-bed, never-brushed-but-probably-washed sort of hair. It’s easygoing folkadelia, not hard to like, and maybe you’ll love it, because it reminds you of something on the tip of your brain that you just can’t place. Which is ironic considering the title of his ninth and latest album, Tip of the Sphere. RIYL: John Cale, Kurt Vile, Phosphorescent. LEILANI POLK
Hand Habits, Tomberlin, Mega Bog
You may have seen Hand Habits opening for the likes of Angel Olsen, Japanese Breakfast, and Chris Cohen. Catch the LA chill-rockers at the top of the bill with support from Kentucky singer-songwriter Tomberlin and Seattle's Mega Bog, whose album Happy Together was described as "a patchwork of soft rock, lounge jazz, and cacophonous psych excursions that doesn’t shy from complexity" by Stranger contributor Andrew Gospe.
Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers, Mercy Union, Control Top
Laura Jane Grace has erupted into the public consciousness as America’s first proud and truly excellent trans hard rocker. The rub is that for all the acclaim she’s received for her societal trailblazing, she might deserve as many (or more!) accolades for her songwriting as singer/guitarist in punk outfit Against Me! Her verbose, descriptive lyrics carry both the scalpel wit of Joe Strummer and the engorged heart of Bruce Springsteen, accompanied by all the firepower of Metallica’s 1986 backline. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Violet Ofelia Martinez - A Night to Help Onry Ozzborn’s Daughter Fight Cancer
A stacked lineup of Northwest favorites from across genres will donate proceeds from this show to local rapper Onry Ozzborn, whose daughter, Violet Ofelia Martinez, is fighting cancer. Look forward to sets from J. OHM, Grieves, Iska Dhaaf, Kimya Dawson, Deep Creep, Ceschi Ramos, Katie Kate, Sapient, and DJ Deena B, plus Ozzborn himself.
Daughter of Johnny Copeland and a powerful belter in her own right, Grammy-nominated blues wailer Shemekia Copeland updates the history of blues with her own idiosyncratic take on the genre: opening it up to modernity without undermining the earnestness and humor inherent to the genes of the thing. KYLE FLECK
Built to Spill, Oruã, the French Tips
Built to Spill was the band that all my dude friends in junior high said they listened to before they started a band of their own. In that way, maybe Built to Spill are the West Coast’s answer to the Velvet Underground. Okay, I’m mostly kidding about that one, but now that I’m thinking about it, 1999’s Keep It Like a Secret seems to be the progenitor of so much of modern indie rock’s sound, that it’s almost like I’ve seen the band live before. But I haven’t. Go and luxuriate in the sounds of flannel, beanies, and earnest angst. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Zen Mother, DIRTFACE, somesurprises
When so many local bands of twentysomethings are content to reference the rock music made around the time they were born, Zen Mother are a refreshing corrective. The psych/experimental group is the project of two Virginia transplants, Monika Khot and Adam Wolcott Smith, who share an affinity for the avant-garde. The duo self-recorded their band’s recent album, I Was Made to Be Like Her, and it’s rich with sonic experimentation: impressionistic layers of synth drone, caustic guitar leads, lyrics that repeat like incantations. Tension and release, instead of traditional song structure, gives the music its form, which allows Khot and Smith’s many ideas room to breathe. ANDREW GOSPE
Motherhood, Black Giraffe
New Brunswick, Canada, trio Motherhood blend an odd array of styles—freak folk, neo-prog, spazzy, left-field pop—into sporadically interesting songs. At their best, the tracks on new album Dear Bongo ramble with an endearing goofiness, creating the sense that things may spiral into chaos at any second, in the manner of early Pixies or early Man Man; see “#224” for an exemplary example. Motherhood exhibit a non-haughty eagerness to experiment while still crafting memorable melodies, and even if they sometimes come off as hokey, you have to admire their skewed ambition. DAVE SEGAL
Pop duo Terror Jr.—whose song "3 Strikes" appeared in a Kylie Jenner lip gloss commercial—will roll through town with their debut album, Unfortunately, Terror Jr.
Boston-brewed funk-jazz faves Lettuce celebrated 27 years in 2018. More impressive than their longevity, however, is the fact that the septet still features the core five of its original 1992 lineup, held down by the tight dual work of guitarists Eric Krasno and Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, ramped up by rhythm-section monsters bassist Erick Coomes and drummer/percussionist Adam Deitch, and a horn section driven by sax-juggling extraordinaire Ryan Zoidis. 2016's Mt. Crushmore EP might be seven songs short, but it hits hard with dark shades of psychedelic soul, stealthy, chugging grooves, and 1970s-era Tower of Power–inspired brass arrangements that add an urgent quality to the instrumental propulsion. These dudes are pros, no doubt about that. LEILANI POLK
Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Katie Kuffel
Urban legend has it that American folk singer Ramblin' Jack Elliott ran away from home as a teen to be a cowboy and that he was inspired to play music by hearing other cowboys' songs at rodeos. His mentor was Woodie Guthrie and his mentees include Bob Dylan. He's a legend. Catch him in Seattle with local support from folk singer Katie Kuffel.
Tha Alkaholiks, Khingz, Mic Flont, Massiah, B-Boy Fidget, Mr Hi-Def, DJ Indica Jones
LA's Tha Alkaholiks have been playing their "party music with a hardcore hiphop edge" since the '90s. Join DJ E-Swift, J-Ro, and Tash for their 25th Anniversary Tour with opening sets from Khingz, Mic Flont, Massiah, B-Boy Fidget, Mr. Hi-Def, and DJ Indica Jones.
Terius Youngdell Nash, aka the prolific pop songwriter and R&B mainstay The-Dream, has been providing club soundtracks equally tailored to the high-heeled dance-floor seductress and “the fellas” for more than a decade, before and during which he penned chart-topping songs for a string of stars from Britney Spears to Rihanna. Those familiar with his repertoire know not to look to his hypersexual R&B for tender love confessions, but for the smoothly sung, yet bluntly posed eroticism meant to take you from the bar to the bedroom and beyond. The often hilariously explicit detail you encounter on a Dream song is one of its draws, and it’s what will keep the drinks and pheromones flowing at his show. TODD HAMM
Music from Niger’s desert city, Agadez, continues to gain new, avid followers, and it’s easy to hear why. Whether it’s ambling at a mellow gait or raging militantly at a gallop, this strain of African blues rock rivets and sends you into a trance. The piquant, glinting guitar tones and serpentine riffs make for a fresh jam-band gestalt that’s packed with virtuosity and the sort of emotion that comes from oppressed people—in this case, Tuareg musicians. Bombino (aka guitarist/vocalist Omara Moctar) is one of this style’s most formidable practitioners. His output for former Seattle label Sublime Frequencies and bigger labels such as Nonesuch reveals a player of exceptional dexterity and soulfulness. His songs’ parameters are relatively narrow, but Bombino finds manifold ways to embellish them with fascinating details. DAVE SEGAL
Joey DeFrancesco Trio with Pharoah Sanders
No less a jazz eminence than Pharoah Sanders has called Joey DeFrancesco the best keyboardist on the planet, so you may want to make plans to hit Jazz Alley at one of the four dates these two virtuosi are performing here. They’re supporting the new DeFrancesco album, In the Key of the Universe, along with Billy Hart (drums) and Troy Roberts (sax, upright bass). Sanders isn’t the astral-jazz fire-breather of his Impulse! years, but at 78, his tone is still sweet and mellifluous. On Universe, DeFrancesco stretches into some profoundly spiritual territory (including a devotional cover of the awesome “The Creator Has a Master Plan”), flaunting his extravagant keyboard fluency in the service of compositions that combine tight interplay and cunning improv. Believe Pharoah’s hype! DAVE SEGAL
Horse Meat Disco
Horse Meat Disco is a London collective of DJs that strives to resurrect the expansive, eclectic spirit of underground New York spaces such as the Gallery and the Loft, where disco experienced its initial adventurous growth spurts in the 1970s. HMD’s selectors—James Hillard, Luke Howard, Severino Panzetta, and Jim Stanton—favor high-quality hedonism, and their roving club has seen dance-music legends such as Daniele Baldelli, Lady Miss Kier, Derrick Carter, and Prins Thomas lend their knowledge and passion to the party. If you’re into disco, or are curious to know why the genre has such vigorous legs more than four decades on, you owe it to yourself to dig into this Horse Meat. DAVE SEGAL
Com Truise, Jack Grace, Ginla
Com Truise is the perfect music to smoke to. Well, all music is, if you really try—but hitting a joint while listening to “Memory” or new single “Existence Schematic” feels like you’re getting high inside of a really advanced computer. Tron-level advanced. Maybe I’m influenced by the fact that “Alfa Beach” off his 2012 album In Decay was used by HBO stoner comedy series High Maintenance in an old trailer for some of its webisodes. (Music supervisor Liz Fulton has great taste.) The LA-based musician’s chill, synthy sounds are a perfect way to usher in the weekend. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Inverted Space Ensemble: Twin Peaks à la Partch
What a fascinating concept! The music of Twin Peaks justifiably has a large cult following due to the way its noirish cool jazz and unsettlingly blissful moods augment the TV series and films. Now play those soundtrack pieces with instruments created by avant-garde composer Harry Partch, and you have a whole other level of sublimity. A few of such otherworldly Partch inventions will make their way from UW music school to the acoustically rich Chapel Performance Space with the aim of (let us hope) radically reinterpreting Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting ambience and glacially beautiful melodies. DAVE SEGAL
So Pitted, Gymshorts, Monsterwatch, Actionesse, Gardener, Sea Salt, Blade Palace
Former Stranger staffer Amber Cortes has described the music of Sub Pop punks So Pitted as "heavy, dissonant, minimalist punk that makes you want to get in trouble with the law. On stage, Rodriguez has the creepy, beguiling swagger of Marilyn Manson without all the cheesy vampire branding bullshit." Catch them with fellow punks Gymshorts, Monsterwatch, Actionesse, Sea Salt, Blade Palace, and Gardener (on two stages).
CHAI, Haiku Hands, Cumulus
Japanese four-piece pop-rock band Chai claims to "worship at the altar of kawaii," meaning they're cute as heck, but their punk sensibilities are very much alive. Join Mana, Kana, Yuki, and Yuna in Seattle with Australian electro-dance group Haiku Hands and Seattle indie-rockers Cumulus.
Jock Tears, Apollo Ghost, iji, Outdoor Voices
Jock Tears are a riotous good time. The Vancouver-based punk band, who self-identify as “sensitive, sporty, and sassy,” write from a feminist perspective. On their latest release, Bad Boys, the quartet says fuck you to misogyny in “Boys with Bruises,” disavows pet names in “Not Yr Sweetheart,” and imagines the internal life of a jock in “Jock Tears.” Most of their songs clock in under two minutes, which is, obviously, punk as fuck. I’ve heard that the band is super smiley onstage, preferring not to be “detached and cool,” but to bring everyone in the fun. Go forth and sweat your face off in the pit. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Dancing on My Own 2.0
At this rambunctious dance party, dance on your own or with your friends and lovers as resident venue DJs play the best tracks from Swedish pop star Robyn's 2018 album Honey, as well as her classic hits like "Call Your Girlfriend," "With Every Heart Beat," "Hang with Me," and the titular smash "Dancing on My Own."
Terror/Cactus, Orquestra Pacifico Tropical
Terror/Cactus are hypnotic, psychedelic electro-cumbia influenced by Tropicalia and science fiction—they are complex and engaging, and will keep you dancing and thinking about all the ways music can be a million amazing things at once. KIM SELLING
I have mixed feelings about Arkells. From one track to the next, I love then dislike them intensely. I’m definitely into the vigorous, rallying battle cry of the arena rocking “Relentless” and the urgently driving “Knocking on the Door” with its galloping, horn-blasted tempos and howling euphoric choruses. This is where the Canadian rock band excels. Not so much when they verge into pop-sensible territory, where the horns get a little too Velveeta and it starts sounding like the music you hear in a rom-com that cues the start of a montage or pipes in right as the male lead has a light-bulb I-really-DO-love-her moment (“Saturday Night,” “11:11”). Hit YouTube before fully committing to this one. LEILANI POLK
Blue Öyster Cult
Hooboy, how to explain Blue Öyster Cult if you don’t already know ’em? A thinking person’s heavy-metal band? A thinking person’s stoner-rock? Dedicated devotees of Lovecraft, Stephen King, John Shirley, and Michael Moorcock, the latter two of whom wrote lyrics for ’em? “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” made the charts, made the soundtrack for the original Halloween, and it’s still good for scaring yourself in the basement, especially on really potent da kine. I like their recent (well, 2001) stuff better than most people, but fear not: This is a casino gig, so the hits will be happening. Beware of contact highs. Unless you seek them out. ANDREW HAMLIN
Night Beats, L.A. Witch, Calvin Love
Seattle’s Night Beats have steadily ascended the indie-rock ladder with a lethal swagger, snagging many a festival-bill spot and accruing more than 36,000 Facebook followers. They’ve drawn heavily from their 1960s Texas roots—13th Floor Elevators, Moving Sidewalks, though not the Red Krayola—to create a catalog rife with blues-tinged psych- and garage-rock that hews to the genres’ traditions while still sounding vital. Night Beats leader Danny Lee Blackwell is a rigorous songwriter who values melody as much as he does distortion, reverb, and other effects geared to nudge you out of mundane reality. However, the slick new Dan Auerbach–produced Myth of a Man finds Blackwell stripping away familiar NB elements and going for a more “mature” singer-songwriter approach that yields some pleasant songs (“One Thing,” “Eyes on Me”) but doesn’t play to his strengths. DAVE SEGAL
Believe: The Music of Cher
The consistently chart-topping pop goddess Cher is a force to be reckoned with. We'd all be wise to turn to her music (or even her emoji-fluent Twitter account) for a glimmer of hope in these bleak times. If you don't know where to start, allow the Seattle Men's Chorus to take you on a journey of hits. Drag queen Chad Michaels, whose Cher impersonations and lip-syncing abilities got her very far in the fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, will guest-star.
Eric McFadden Trio
Join Eric McFadden, "virtuoso of the six-string" who has toured with funk legend George Clinton and rock legend Eric Burdon, in Seattle with his band.
Meow Meow + Thomas Lauderdale: Hotel Amour Tour
Singer, actor, composer, and "spectacular crowd-surfing tragi-comedienne" Meow Meow has performed all over the world with, among others, the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, Shakespeare's Globe, and Pink Martini. Here, she'll do her comedy-music thing alongside pianist Thomas Lauderdale.
Copeland, From Indian Lakes, Many Rooms
Catch Floridian rock trio Copeland when they stop in Seattle in support of their latest album, Blush. They'll be joined by indie-rockers From Indian Lakes and ambient noise-makers Many Rooms.
JusMoni, Rell Be Free, Intylekt, Miss Broadway
Beacon Hill native JusMoni (aka Moni Tep) is bringing her dreamy, R&B-inflected tunes back to her home turf. On 2018’s Sweet to Me, her voice—sweet and ethereal—transports you to other dimensions on spacey, bass-heavy “Linked In,” much different from the corporate hellscape that its named for. “Got It on Tape” features the one and only Stas THEE Boss, where JusMoni’s voice floats like smoke over tight electric guitar and Stas raps deftly over the retro beat. This date celebrates JusMoni’s new three-song EP release, Ease & Mercy. JASMYNE KEIMIG