Graceland at 8 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 20, with the Clientele, Rogue Wave, and DJVH. $8 adv.
There was a year of my life when almost nothing aside from Destroyer's Streethawk: A Seduction made much sense. When the disc came to me in early '01 in its bland bubble-wrap envelope from Misra, I hadn't heard of the label or the band. But, as I quickly learned, Destroyer's auteur, Daniel Bejar, was one of the songwriters in a little band called the New Pornographers, who at the time were starting to get big. As soon as I put Streethawk into my stereo, it stayed there. Mostly it was Bejar's incredibly imperfect voice (think Neil Young singing Nike Drake with a sinus infection) asking, "Why/Do you work for the festival/When you're sick of lifting spirits?" And then there were jangle-folk guitars and piano lines that were like strange stage tableaux, turning the stories slowly frozen and achingly profound. So I did something silly: I sent Bejar an e-mail from my personal account. I was probably grossly sincere, but he wrote back with care and insight and signed his note "Hang on to yourself." At first I thought he had me figured for a freak, but then I realized he was using a Ziggy Stardust song titlewhich made his advice all the more perfect (Bejar's work is often compared to Bowie's)and I followed it to the letter. As much as a record can change your life, Streethawk is one of the handful that changed mine. For a good 12 months, Bejar was my spider from Mars, and Streethawk was my Bible. I never really connected with his latest release on Merge, but I'll go tonight anyway and hang on to myself. LAURA CASSIDY
Polestar Music Gallery, 1412 18th Ave., 206-329-4224, at 8 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 19, and Sat., Sept. 20, with two different trios. $6.
CoCA, 1420 11th Ave., 206-728-1980, at 4 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 21, with 20 other soloists. $7.
A graduate of Western, where he studied a lot of fancy philosophy, 24-year-old pianist Gust Burns brings to his music that same embrace of dense complexity pierced by flashes of pellucid truth. And like all the best philosophers, Burns builds on his forebears, lacing the searching, spiritual energy of free jazz with the tonal intricacy of modern classical (which he's been studying the past seven years). In contrast to most of the keyboard improvisers in town, Burns stays strictly acoustic, finding challenge enough in the ebony and ivory: "I already have 88 keys," he says. "I don't want any more buttons to push. I'd rather exhaust more of the possibilities of the piano." This weekend you can hear him try those limits in five different directions. At Polestar, he'll play two sets each nightFriday with clarinetist Jesse Canterbury and Portland bassist Jonas Tauber, then with two drummers, Matt Crane and Gregg Keplinger (promising and potentially disastrous!). Saturday, he opens solo; he'll then be joined by his regular Ficus Trio of Gregory Reynolds on alto and Greg Campbell on drums (pictured above; Burns is far right). The next day, at CoCA, where Burns is music director, he takes part in a concert of sub-four-minute solos from 20 different players, violin to euphonium. Expect plenty of being, moments of nothingness, and loads of epiphanies. MARK D. FEFER
Sunset Tavern at 9 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 19, with Laura Veirs and the Tortured Souls and Noe Venable. $7.
I've got a friendlet's call him Genewho, like me, digs some of the post-funk indie folk that comes from a town called Anacortes, which happens to be where I grew up. It's not completely out of the ordinary that either of us is into the stuff, except that we're both way more into the best of the British Invasion and post-punk U.K. shitmusic more Small Faces or "Fodderstompf" than "funky." Still, Gene and I end up talking about Anacortes' music every so often; mostly we try to figure out why we step out of our bounds for it, and end up deciding that we just do. It could also have something to do with Beat Happening's Bret Lunsford, who lives up there and helps foster an incredible music community that includes the Microphones/Mount Eerie's Phil Elvrum and Karl Blau. In fact, Lunsford, Elvrum, and Blau have one of the best-named bands ever: D+. At the end of D+'s Deception Pass (on Anacortes' own Knw-Yr-Own label), Blau adds some sound collage that kicks ass and grows moss on evergreensand all three of them contribute viral rhythms and weirdly spaced-out melody jams. These cats do some crazy free-form noise shit, and they write the pants off of a sweet folk lullabybut they walka-walka their bass guitars like no one's business, too. If any of this appeals to youthe minimalist lo-fi folk, the left-field deconstruction, or the free-funk jam-outsyou'd do well to check out Blau's fairy tale-like '70s soul solo offerings tonight. L.C.