I saw U.S.-born, Scottish-bred Johnathan Rice who's probably known just as much for being Jenny Lewis' boyfriend as a Laurel Canyon-circa-1973-informed singer-songwriter with a couple albums under his belt perform twice last year. The first time, when he opened a solo acoustic triple-bill at the Showbox that also included Ben Gibbard and David Bazan, was close to a disaster: Rice was strong in voice and clever in lyric, but he made the unwise decision to complain about all the yapping by the disinterested at the side and back bars. Clearly distracted, his glares and sighs came off as petulant, and he left the stage in a huff after only four songs. The second time, however, was a triumph: In the same room a few months later (opening for Rilo Kiley), and with a three-piece backing band in tow, the Neil Young-ish country-rock tunes from Rice's most recent disc, Further North, really caught fire, and the 25-year-old truly seemed to be enjoying himself. Let's hope tonight's gig comes closer to the latter performance. With Maria Taylor, Nik Freitas. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m., $10 adv, $12 dos.
Sun., July 6, 8 p.m., 2008