DELERIUM + CONJURE ONE
Showbox at 8 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 4. $16.50 adv./$19.
According to Webster's, a chimera is an organism composed of two or more genetically distinct tissues, commonly represented with a lion's head, goat's body, and serpent's tail. Chimera (Nettwerk) is the fitting title of Delerium's latest release, the collaboration of B.C.-based producer/composer Rhys Fulber, partner Bill Leeb, and at least 10 geneticallyif not always vocally distinctfemale singers. Fulber is also creator of the solo project Conjure One, whose self-titled 2002 release was a three-years-around-the-world-in-the-making recording. It also featured the marriage of melodies and a myriad of vocalists, albeit with more Mediterranean, Middle Eastern flavors to its ambient trance dance. Fulber has been composing and producing for over 20 years, and creates wonderfully vibrant, complex tracksChimera could easily be called Shimmer-a. The vocalshis singers include Sarah McLachlan, Sinead O'Connor, Poe, Leigh Nash, Nerina Pallot, and Kristy Thirskare worked intricately into the mix; if the lyric message sometimes gets lost, it hardly matters. These are the kind of dreamboats you can sail anywhere you want. Much like their CDs, on tour Delerium and Conjure One will feature guest musicians in each city; at the Showbox, Conjure One will likely be Fulber solo, while Delerium will include Fulber, bassist Leeb, and vocalists Pallot and Thirsk. TOM PHALEN
Showbox at 8 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 4. $16.50 adv./$19.
Social Distortion are often lumped in with the hard, rockabilly-inflected punk of late-'70s Los Angeles bands like X, the Blasters, Circle Jerks, and the Beat Farmers. But Social Distortion formed in Orange Countyspecifically Fullertonand the group's leader, Mike Ness, grew up in nearby Anaheim. Disneyland to the contrary, Anaheim is OC's heart of darkness. Ness was kicked out of the family house at 15 and lived in shooting galleries, flophouses, jails, and on the street. He also learned to play guitar and, after finding some like-minded compadres, started the band. Social Distortion took off immediately. The raw intensity of their musica lot of punk and a little rockabillyand their high-energy live shows created instant fans, followed by the well-regarded album Mommy's Little Monster (1983). But it would be another five years of sparse gigging before the follow-up, 1988's Prison Bound, thanks to Ness' worsening heroin addiction. Once he cleaned up, his songs became even more personal; on Prison Bound's "Indulgence" and on "Born to Lose" (from 1992's Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell), Ness worked out his pain through his music without sounding sensationalistic. Social Distortion haven't recorded a proper album since 1996's Live at the Roxy, but that disc showed a band operating at full power, armed with great songs and even greater energy. In the meantime, Ness has recorded two excellent solo discs, Cheating at Solitaire and Under the Influences, which emphasize the singer's love of American roots music. Introducing the live Roxy version of "Story of My Life," Ness says, "This is about being a day late and a dollar short, and that's the story of my life." Lucky for us, he's still here to sing it. T.P.
Sunset Tavern at 9 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 5, with Carla Bozulich and A.J. Roach. $10.
Some singers just have that Appalachian ache. Even though she grew up in Beverly Hills with parents who wrote for The Carol Burnett Show, Gillian Welch has it. Jolie Holland's background is a tad more rugged. She was born in Houston, wrote her first songs at 6 on a toy piano, and graduated to fiddle and guitar by 14. Passing on college, she lived and played in Austin and New Orleans, eventually making it to San Francisco in 1996, then working her way up and down the coast between there and Vancouver, playing a mixture of her own material and borrowed blues and Woody Guthrie. She also spent some time in Vancouver's Be Good Tanyas before going out on her own. Her new CD, Catalpa, "wasn't even supposed to be a demo," Holland recently said. "My friend just needed copies of the songs so he could learn them, so I sat down in his living room and sang. I wasn't thinking about a polished performance or a record." The lack of affectation pays off. Catalpa has no tricks, no veneer; on "All the Morning Birds," Holland can be heard clearing her throat before the last verse. But the disc's charm lies in the purity of Holland's voice and the bareness of her accompaniment. That the songs are uniformly excellent doesn't hurt, either. At the Sunset, Holland will fill the album's sound out a bitshe'll be accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Enzo Garciabut her essential Appalachian ache will undoubtedly remain intact. T.P
THE GLORYHOLES + THEE FLYING DUTCHMEN
Sunset Tavern at 4 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 7, with Head. $5.
Soulful Seattle groove-punk band the Gloryholes always promise a good time. What do they sound like? Take bluesy Chuck Berry guitar solos, '60s girl-group-inspired backup vocals (woo-hoos and whoah-ohs), and Doug White's spastic diseased-cat-being-strangled vocals; combine them with barre-chord '70s punk rockand you're pretty much there. Last New Year's Eve, they played one of the most fun shows I have ever been to. White jumped into the crowd and got the audience singing along with the band to "Slow Man Lopez," with its infectious chant: "You bring me down baby, you bring me down!" We also shouted along with "Food Service Jerk," an anthem anyone unfortunate enough to work in the fast-food industry will take to heart. (It also didn't hurt when the band sprayed Silly String at the audience, who threw it right back; I got White with a cluster bomb of the stuff.) If you have been sufficiently lubricated, you'll feel your hips moving as if they had a mind of their own; you'll likely end up dirty, bruised, and deliriously happy at being pushed completely over the edge. Openers Thee Flying Dutchmen serve up a platter of period-perfect '60s frat rock (think the Wailers and the Sonics); they also sometimes cover the Isley Brothers' R&B classic, "Shout." The farfisa player is a lovely young woman with a homemade T-shirt that says, "Don't Fuck with the Duchess." That's representative of the band: a tough shell around a core of humor. JASON GOODER
Sunset Tavern at 9 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 5, with Jolie Holland and A.J. Roach. $10.
Growing up in my dad's house, I learned that Willie Nelson was practically a saint. You didn't use his name in vain, and you didn't talk while Stardust was on the stereo. But regardless of how much I revere an artist, I'm typically against anyone rerecording their albums. I'm sure Carla Bozulich (known best for her deep, androgynous vocals in the late-'90s country-rock band the Geraldine Fibbers) rerecorded Red Headed Stranger (DiCristina Stairbuilders), Nelson's strange and beautiful concept album from 1975, which she'll be performing in its entirety at the Sunset, out of deep respect and an even deeper love for the sounds and stories contained in it. But it's always seemed to me that the best thing you can do with your favorite records is enjoy, not ape, them. (See also those stupid tribute nights.) But Nelson himself doesn't seem to see it that way. His melancholy nylon guitar strings back Bozulich's uncommonly gritty voice on the very first track of her Red Headed Stranger, as well as on "Remember Me" and "Can I Sleep in Your Arms." On a few tracks Nelson sings as well, often finishing her sentences. (His, actuallyNelson may not have written all the tracks on the album, but they still belong to him.) Nelson's gentle vocals provide a dramatic contrast to Bozulich's, while the gigantically talented guitarman Nils Cline more than amply backs them both. The first Red Headed Stranger is a fantastically gothic and sparse record, and Version 2.0, though more ornate, isn't at all awful. But for my money, I'll take the old, worn-out original any day. LAURA CASSIDY
Chop Suey at 8 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 9, with Blue Scholars. $10 adv.
Ugly Duckling should be everything an urban hipster could want in a hip-hop groupthey're quirky, they sample everything from samba to what sound like game show themes, they consistently reference alt-rap forefathers De La Soul and Digable Planets. But the Los Angeles trio may have sucked down more than they can swallow on Meat Shake: Taste the Secret (Emperor Norton), their second album. Maybe that's because the disc's overarching jokea lyrical dispute between two fast-food restaurants, the crystal-loving, patchouli-touting Veggie Hut and the gluttonous Meat Shake, which specializes in a creamy beef treatis pretty nauseating. (I started getting queasy in the middle of my second listen.) More to the point, even Ugly Duckling's surprisingly astute sampling and rhyming chops aren't enough to take this album beyond a cutesy, one-joke gimmick. That's also largely true of the disc's handful of nonconceptual tracks, though a few are actually, what do you know, meatier than the main body of the disc. "Turn It Up" is a party anthem: solid bass line, funk brass, a lyrical and sonic insistence on volume. They also get laughs on the autobiographical "Opening Act." But "Potty Mouth," which starts off like a tent revival run by Snagglepuss, soon dissolves into a strange, sour diatribe against cursing. "Stop, zip your lip quick/All you wanted was a pop hit"curious words coming from a group that elsewhere on the album makes a half-assed attempt at a booty song. "Rio de Janeiro" sandwiches PG-rated booty lyrics (which manage to be gratuitous in both their booty-ness and their PG-ratedness, oddly enough) in an otherwise appealing bossa nova groove. Ugly Duckling create something of their own meat shakeone that leaves you wanting something more solid. RACHEL DEVITT