True, most of these local acts can be seen in clubs around town on many a given night. So why waste the fast-waning festival hours catching their shows? They're playing to larger crowds than most are accustomed to, and these Seattle gems will likely be on their best (or worst) behavior, giving it all they've got on stages much larger than the norm. Take a break from Fergie and Joss Stone, for which playing shows of this size is no big thing, and instead watch as the fire ignites in the eyes of these young up-and-comers. Just don't call them that.
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In the past, I've been like John Kerry when it comes to Tiny Vipers (Jesy Fortino); I've flip-flopped from indifference to dislike to questioning her talent. Since the release of her debut, Hands Across the Void, however, I've come to love her music. A classic example of "less is more," her music is bleak and sparsely delivered. Nothing really reaches out to grab the listener, but slowly you feel yourself drawn in and enveloped by the negative space in the songs. Comparisons to Cat Power have been abundant, but Tiny Vipers seems like less of a head case and more of a serious and determined artist. B.J.B. EMP Sky Church. 8–9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 1.
When Grand Archives were signed to Sub Pop after just one live show, naysayers were quick to raise protests about undeserved hype. Well, hate the game, but in this case, don't hate the players: These boys, despite having pounded little pavement locally (they were tapped by Modest Mouse to open a few cross-country shows this spring), are churning out some beautiful, harmonic indie rock. True, even after signing, they haven't provided many chances to decide for yourself: They've been locked away for much of the summer, making a new record in the mountains (with blips on the radar only at Block Party and an invite-only reopening party at Nectar). All the more reason to come out and see if the hype should be believed. A.P. EMP Sky Church. 9:30–10:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 1.
Natalie Portman's Shaved Head
I'm not sure if the three dudes and one young lady who make up Natalie Portman's Shaved Head have graduated high school yet. But if they have, I hope they haven't lost their penchant for pubescent joking. The lyrics of adolescent tent-pitching often overshadow the fact that they make some of the best electro-punk this region has heard since Anna Oxygen. They dress in sweat suits and headbands, bopping about the stage with herky-jerky robot moves. Sure, it's heavy on the irony, but give them a break... they're still teenagers. B.J.B. EMP Sky Church. 12:30–1:30 p.m. Sat., Sept. 2.
Iceage Cobra do not fuck around. I first saw their brand of white-hot rock take the title (right out from under Murder Dice and the Rodeo) at Pagliacci's Battle of the Bands earlier this summer. But they'd been slaying all across the state since they got their start east of the Cascades in Spokane. Onstage, they're an electrified mess of windmills: Limbs and hair spin around wildly, making for a blurry, beautiful spectacle that mirrors the music. Their energetic, punk-infused garage rock is expertly executed while escalating into an uncontrolled frenzy of thrash. It's a heavy dose that should give you the rush you need to get back out there and stroller-dodge. A.P. EMP Sky Church, 5–6 p.m. Sat., Sept. 2.
D. Black's cred was already solid before he emerged on the local scene; he's the son of founding members of the Emerald Street Boys and the Emerald Street Girls, widely regarded as Seattle's first proper hip-hop groups. But Black doesn't need his mama and papa to make people like him. His pop sensibilities, mixed with his hard-core rap lyrics, have found him opening for the likes of Clipse, Mike Jones, and Devin the Dude. While plenty of people associate politeness and social activism with Seattle hip-hop, D. Black stands out for his rough realism. A co-owner of local label Sportn' Life Records at 20 years old, he's moved up in Seattle's hip-hop scene very quickly, and we probably won't be able to contain his talent for long. B.J.B. EMP Sky Church. 1:15–2 p.m. Fri., Sept. 1.