ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS
Graceland at 8 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 23, with the Catheters and Miminikoto. $10 adv.
In the mid-'70s, Rocket From the Tombs could have blown your mind, even if you were Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, or Wayne Kramer. The amazing fact is that RFTTnot to be confused with San Diego alt-rockers Rocket From the Crypt, who cribbed their name from the Cleveland proto-punkscan still blow your mind. Because the band was truncated too soon due to the ever-ominous "creative differences" wrench (they were half heavy-rock heads, half equally heavy art-punks), they never conducted a real recording session and just last year their first legitimate album, The Day the Earth Met the Rocket From the Tombs, was issued by Smog Veil. Raw, rough, and arresting, The Day the Earth Met culls rehearsal space recordings and live performances. Subpar sound quality aside, the intensity of the songsespecially the apocalyptic, machine-gun toting, still relevant-as-fuck "30 Seconds Over Tokyo"overrides the muddy production. Similarly raw and awesome by all accounts was RFTT's first-ever New York City show this past June. The remaining members of the band (with Television guitarist Richard Lloyd filling in for resident visionary Peter Laughner, who died in 1977) took N.Y.C. to hell and back, in the best possible way. When RFTT splintered in 1975, Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys were born of the fractured remains, and the original band faded into unfortunate near obscurity. Here's your chance to witness the band that deserves to be regarded as one of the most important art-punk and heavy-rock explosions in American history. LAURA CASSIDY
ANTIBALAS AFROBEAT ORCHESTRA
Chop Suey at 9 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 22. $12 adv.
Brooklyn's Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra is too often reduced to little more than a slightly obsessive tribute act, the house band in the high church of Fela Kuti, the Nigerian Afrobeat master behind some of the funkiest records ever made. There's a militant feel to Fela's music that's hard to dissociate from his radical politics. Which is fineneither could Fela, who these days is more often remembered as the embodiment of a sort of empty masculine anger and the proprietor of a weed-saturated harem. It's easy enough to dismiss Antibalas as a bunch of snake- handling, self-flagellating fanatics who can't take a breath without exhaling the musical scripture of the Black President. But Antibalas is also a badass jam band that expertly interweave their Afrobeat fundamentalism with stylishly born-again jazz/funk/ psychedelic rock/Latin tendencies. Their danceable, tranceable grooves are sometimes blasphemy!even tighter than Fela's. Antibalas isn't about precisely re-creating Fela's beautiful mess or fighting his exact battles. The group's most recent album, Talkatif (Ninja Tune), is also its most direct reference to its musical forefathers, with straight-up funk motifs from the organ and an army of brass and woodwinds grinding over insistent Afro-percussion grooves. But aside from some rather heavy-handed (though good-hearted) politics, Antibalas comes off sounding lighthearted and smooth, resiliently anchoring the creatively scripted jubilance of a street party to a steady multigenre pulse that doesn't require the militancy of Afrobeat or even classic American funk. Vamping on and eventually recontextualizing their sources, Antibalas' jams are just itching to be heard in the exuberant tent revival of their live performance, but the testifying here is focused on having a good time rather than on unrelenting dogma, musical or otherwise. RACHEL DEVITT
Moore Theater at 8 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 22. $32.50 adv./$35
When the bluegrass/jam band revival kicked in a few years ago, I began to wonder what the hell had become of David Bromberg. Up until the late '70s, Bromberg was a master session guitar picker, appearing on records by Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Reverend Gary Davis, and Tom Paxton. He was also a staple on the folk and bluegrass circuits, although his musica mix of blues, folk, bluegrass, rock, and big band jazzwas more complex than the typical back-porch brew. Bromberg's brazen, rowdy eclecticism was the polar opposite of more precious, self-conscious approaches to roots musicRy Cooder's, for instance. In short, the guy was a musical freak, and Bromberg had all the raiment of freakdom: a major label record deal and a cult following, largely a product of his occasional work with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. Then, in fall 1980, Bromberg ditched the music business, enrolled in the Kenneth Warren School of Violin Making in Chicago, and upon graduation became a professional violin maker. (No, I am not making this up). The move puzzled many of his fans, but over the years, Bromberg's never offered much of an explanation for the switch. He has performed some stray concerts since then, though, sometimes with a big band, sometimes with a trio, mostly on the East Coast, near his home in Wilmington, Del., where he now owns a violin shop. He'll be accompanied by a trio for this, his first Seattle appearance in two decades. PHILIP DAWDY