Bumbershoot Recommendations: Monday, Sept. 1

Mariee Sioux, PNB, Monotonix, and more.

Chester FrenchHot on the heels of the recent prep-school-rock avalanche of artists such as MGMT and Vampire Weekend, it'd be easy to write off Chester French as just another Ivy League duo who showed up a little late to the party. But the shining element that sets singer D.A. Wallach's and instrumentalist/composer Maxwell Drummey's dormitory recording project apart from the others is their desperate grasp on their nerd-dom: Chester French has no idea how hip they are...yet. Absent are the references to Louis Vuitton and Hamptons vacations; instead, the lyrics are overinflated, melodic professions of coolness set atop soulful organs and handclaps that make early Beach Boys recordings sound somber. Their breakthrough single "She Loves Everybody" finds the band at its best, with a chorus so catchy you almost forget they're singing about what a general nuisance condoms are ("Well she craves affection/so I use protection/And I know she loves me/She loves everybody..."). Since attracting the attention of über-producers like Kanye West and Jermaine Dupri, Wallach and Drummey recently signed with Pharrell Williams' Star Trak label (Interscope) but will keep doing all their own writing and production. And if Pharrell thinks two dorky white kids from Harvard can do a better job producing an album than he can, well...it's probably worth checking out. Rockstar Stage, 12:45 p.m. RAECHEL SIMSJoe Goode Performance GroupJoe Goode is a funky fixture of the San Francisco dance community, but he doesn't get up to Seattle very often, so this is a rare chance to see his signature combination of popular culture and postmodern passion. The physicality in Goode's work is big and lush, while the imagery can be witty, contemplative, sardonic, or just plain silly. In the past, he's mined the differences between "human" and "dancer" bodies, and the iconography of personal gesture; his newest work, Wonderboy, a collaboration with puppeteer Basil Twist, is described on Goode's Web site as "an unexpected tale of a peculiar hero isolated by his gift of sensitivity and an intuitive knack that sets him apart from others." In other words, it'll be a far cry from your everyday puppet show. Boeing Performing Arts Stage, 1 p.m. SANDRA KURTZMonotonixAttendees at a Monotonix show should really be given a user's manual upon arrival: Wear sensible shoes and come prepared to tolerate random spittle, flammable drumsticks, spilt beer, and an obscene amount of good cheer. The unbridled revelry and gleeful antagonism this Israeli punk-cum-grunge trio peddles is the stuff rock-'n'-roll dreams are made of...and the combustible party-hearty ambience that booking agents both love and loathe. Sticking them on the Exhibition Hall stage mid-afternoon is a questionable programming choice, but the simple fact that they were included in the festival at all is a stroke of brilliance that will no doubt leave trails of new fans texting their friends in a state of shocked euphoria as they stumble out of the venue. Exhibition Hall Stage, 2:30 p.m. HANNAH LEVINMariee SiouxOne of the fresher-faced denizens of the psych-folk scene that's given us Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, 23-year-old California native Mariee Sioux taps into both avant-folk tradition and Native American melody and mysticism with her finespun acoustic tunes. Last year, when she opened for fellow metaphysical travelers (OK, big-time stoners) Brightblack Morning Light at the Triple Door, the pigtailed Sioux was an alluring presence, alone on the stage with just her guitar and a glass of red wine. Her voice was lovely and magical, her fingers nimble as they plucked strings and danced across the fretboard, and her songs were completely odd in the best way possible—I seem to remember something about spirits, otters, tongues, souls, and whales. Chances are good she'll have a whole new batch of Mother Earth/Middle Earth songs to play for us this time. Wells Fargo Stage, 3:15 p.m. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGPacific Northwest BalletPNB is opening their '08-'09 season with a trio of works by maverick choreographer Twyla Tharp—get a head start on the party with the company's performance of her arrow-sharp Nine Sinatra Songs, a roiling catalog of ballroom dancing anchored by recordings by Ol' Blue Eyes. Tharp's view of ballroom conventions is devastatingly clear—from over-the-top romanticism and manic cheeriness to barely-disguised violence and, finally, something like true love. PNB has paired this ballroom blitz with two works by popular company members Kiyon Gaines and Jonathan Porretta from last spring's Young Choreographers Showcase. Boeing Performing Arts Stage, 5:30 p.m. SANDRA KURTZArthur & YuThere isn't a group in recent memory I've gone quite as completely and utterly gaga for as Seattle's own Arthur & Yu. I've described them on separate occasions as "satisfying as a warm stack of Sunday-morning pancakes," as Mary f-ing Poppins (because they are practically perfect in every way), and as a band "KEXP would play until your ears bled with their brilliance." Blending the Hazlewood/Sinatra collaborations with the lo-fi panache of the Velvet Underground, the band's core duo, Grant Olsen and Sonya Westcott (along with guesting players), have carved out their own niche of sultry mellow gold. As the band is currently hard at work on material for their next release, this is one of the few occasions they'll be appearing live for quite a while. Fans will be treated to reworked faves from last year's In Camera as well as new material, fresh from the oven, that contains both world and electro influences. I can't urge you enough, for the love of all that's good and holy, make this band an absolute must on your Bumber-schedule! Wells Fargo Stage, 6:45 p.m. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARSuperchunkThe title of Superchunk's 2001 album, Here's to Shutting Up, proved to be pretty prophetic—since its release, the long-running North Carolina band who (along with Pavement and Sebadoh) helped define '90s indie rock with its full-throttle, punk-informed guitar pop has been on semi-hiatus. There have been no studio albums, although a couple of live and rarities discs have appeared, and the band has played but a handful of shows in this decade. Not that its members haven't been busy in the meantime—singer-guitarist Mac McCaughan and bassist Laura Ballance both started families and continue to run the increasingly successful Merge Records, the label the pair founded in 1989 (the same year they started Superchunk). McCaughan's also turned his once–side project Portastatic into a full-time recording and touring endeavor (Superchunk guitarist Jim Wilbur is also a member), while Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster has been off playing with the Mountain Goats. But when the band gets back together for these rare live appearances—most of which have been benefit gigs—they still bring an overload of volume, exuberance, grit, vitriol, melody, and joy to the stage. Samsung Memorial Mainstage, 7:45 p.m. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGXavier RuddIf Jack Johnson gets flak for his feel-good campfire tunes, it's strange that Xavier Rudd doesn't invite the same Type A condescension. It would make sense: Rudd's carved out a decent reputation for himself as a barefoot, bleached-hair beach bum who wants only to shred mad waves and play some music too. Like Johnson, he's apparently a better musician than he is a surfer. But where Johnson plays sing-alongs, Rudd plays with his soul, bestowing any venue (no matter its size) with the intimacy of a beach barbecue. Rudd's weapon of choice is the slide guitar, but the dude can play just about anything. His performances often incorporate harmonicas, bongos, didgeridoos, and of course his voice, which is soft like James Taylor's but tortured like Johnny Cash's—except when he blows on the didgeridoo and goes apeshit on the bongos. Then it's all Rusted-Root-meets-aboriginal-Australia. Go see him if you don't believe it. Fisher Green Stage, 9:15 p.m. JESSE FROEHLING

 
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