The Short List: This Week’s Notable Shows

Duff McKagan's Loaded ~ Thursday, April 9Since Velvet Revolver went on hiatus last year—you know, the band all the best GN'R alums formed after they got sick of Axl Rose's megalomania—one-time GN'R bassist Duff McKagan found himself with more time to concentrate on fronting his own band, Duff McKagan's Loaded. Though McKagan (who, full disclosure, writes a column for SW) is best known for manning the bass, he's also a capable guitarist. If Loaded remains somewhat obscure, though, it's probably because the band hasn't put out a full-length record since 2001, what with Velvet Revolver sucking up most of Duff's time and all. Upcoming Loaded album Sick will finally break that cycle. A rock-and-roll record with a metal edge, Sick is worth checking out, but if you're expecting GN'R II, Sick will inevitably prove disappointing by default. While McKagan is just as skilled with six strings as with four, Loaded comes off less like arena rock and more like an enthusiastic garage band still honing its sound. But that's a hell of a lot better than sounding like an old, jaded musician who only continues making music to rake in the last few fallen leaves from that once-lush rock-and-roll money tree. Duff McKagan still loves what he does. And that, not name recognition, will make the difference between success and failure for Loaded. With Acid Angels. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave. 8 p.m. $10 adv. SARA BRICKNERFresh Espresso ~ Thursday, April 9Say what you want about Mad Rad, but good Lordy, what doesn't kill them only seems to make them stronger. Like badass atomic cockroaches with a major ear for beats and an uncanny knack for generating buzz, these kids take whatever seems to explode around them and turn it into even more musical "White Gold." Now falsetto king and producer extraordinaire PSmoov (and co-conspirator Rik Rude) are expanding the MR empire with his killer side project Fresh Espresso. A slightly more straight-ahead hip-hop project, Fresh Espresso's approach is tight, fresh, and referential all at once. The track "Diamond Pistol" plays like a loving Jay-Z tribute, while the party jam of the year, "Vader of the Rap Game," comes complete with "Mr. Roboto" samples (yeah, that's right, Styx, wanna make something of it?). Perfecting a formula that's equal parts brilliant and crazy, the Mad Rad crew seem set to provide just the scene shake Seattle needs. With Gran Rapids, Mad Rad. Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave. S., 723-0088. 8 p.m. $5. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARThe Roots ~ Thursday, April 9You never know what you're going to get when you see the Roots in concert. The band has more than 15 years of material to draw from, and 10 albums full of hits that often keep audiences dancing from the start of their concerts until the last note is played. They wear the title "legendary" thoroughly well not just because they're one of the best hip-hop groups of all time (which they are), but because they're one of the best bands of the 20th century, period. It's no secret they recently started working as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon—a sort-of-precarious gig that initially set the Internets on fire with anticipation and angst. I've watched a couple of episodes (the band sports tuxedos and full late-night regalia), and the Roots don't seem nearly as out of place as Fallon does. They're always the masters of the ceremony wherever they go, and their short stint in the Pacific Northwest this week will be no different. Expect a party-rocking set as diverse and genre-crossing as anything you've ever seen within the hip-hop realm. I've heard them cover GN'R's "Sweet Child o' Mine" and Lil Wayne's "A Milli" back to back, if that gives you a clue. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 467-5510. 8 p.m. $35. All ages. JONATHAN CUNNINGHAMBritney Spears ~ Thursday, April 9Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, break out those low-rise pants, because Britney Spears' circus is coming to town. Under the big top (OK, the Tacoma Dome), she'll crack the whip as ringmaster for what could easily turn from sexy sideshow to complete freak show. Will she deliver the goods, or should we brace ourselves for an in-person taste of Brit's crazy tabloid antics? At this point no one really knows what to expect, which makes it all the more exciting. If an MTV.com review of Spears' Pittsburgh show is to be trusted, we do know one thing for certain: Female audience members will outnumber male. I'm predicting an older audience than that of Spears' previous tours; tweens have forsaken Spears for the likes of the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, and Spears' oldest fans are well out of grade school. See, unlike Miley, we're actually old enough to remember when Brit was still dating Justin. You know, when she wasn't a girl, but not yet a woman. Thing is, since the "I'm a Slave 4 U" video, we haven't been virgins either. So don't be afraid to get dirty, Britney: By this point, it's safe to say that most of your fans are ready, willing, and totally legal. With the Pussycat Dolls. Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., 253-272-3663. 8 p.m. $35–$96. All ages. KASSI RODGERSWavves ~ Thursday, April 9Nathan Williams isn't trying to convince anyone that Wavves is revolutionary. He isn't trying to spearhead a new musical movement or define a new aesthetic. Williams maps out his intentions best in the resigned, drawn-out chorus and murky surf punk of "So Bored." He needed something to do, and he had a guitar. It's telling that the lyrical thrust of much of Wavves' material focuses so exclusively on the affliction which serves as its provenance, as if Williams' ennui and ingenuity combine in an exclusive symbiotic relationship, and Williams doesn't mind wallowing in it a little bit. Williams isn't the first kid to thrash together a few chords in order to keep ennui at bay, nor the first to drench the results in noise and clatter. Where Wavves shines is in its ability to assimilate the various parts of its musical personality—without sounding like "X reinterpreted as Y." This is not pop music reimagined as lo-fi noise; even though Wavves is noisy, it comes complete with a finely calibrated pop sheen. With Vampire Hands, the Cold Cold Ground, Broken Knives.Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $7. NICHOLAS HALLSpinderella ~ Friday, April 10Back in the 1980s, there weren't a lot of female DJs to look up to within hip-hop. That hasn't changed a whole lot, but Spinderella of Salt-N-Pepa was undoubtedly a pioneer who made it cool for women to rock the wheels of steel. She was a core part of the group's persona in the late '80s and early '90s, sort of the female counterpart to Jam Master Jay. Countless young girls dressed up like the trio every Halloween for more than a decade, and an entire generation of women can recite songs like "Shoop," "Push It," and "Let's Talk About Sex" at whim. While Spinderella wasn't the one rapping on those tracks, she was doing all the scratches and making sure everyone sounded good during live performances. Why her name isn't mentioned more often is a mystery. Now that Salt-N-Pepa is retired, Spinderella is still out playing records at clubs and co-hosting a weekly radio show in Los Angeles. She's coming to town this weekend to spin true school hip-hop—which can mean anything, as long as it's good. But don't expect her to be wearing those big door-knocker earrings and dookie rope chains from her heyday. War Room, 722 E. Pike St., 328-7666. 9 p.m. $10. JONATHAN CUNNINGHAMX ~ Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11When bands reunite after decades apart, the results can be as invigorating as laying eyes on the long-rotted corpse of someone you love—no matter how much you dry-clean the clothes they were buried in, you just can't trick yourself into believing they're alive again. Nor should you. For the legendary X, which helped kick-start the L.A. punk scene in the late '70s with music that still sounds fresh, fertile, and full of promise today, that rule apparently does not apply. Age, it would seem, has done nothing to diminish the band's power. Whether or not it was evident when X first burst onto the scene, there was always more to the band's sound than the raw, single-minded aggression that fueled the majority of its peers. The hidden treasures in X's vocabulary have aged well, and seeing the band now only highlights the artful flair with which frontwoman (and self-avowed non-musician) Exene Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom, co-frontman John Doe, and drummer D.J. Bonebrake turned punk on its head and wedded it to rockabilly, creating a hybrid that endures and still warrants interest. Perhaps X has managed to proceed unscathed by the passage of time because it's never gone away too long, having gotten back together several times since starting a slow decay in 1986 and now existing in perpetual on-again, off-again, we'll-probably-be-back-eventually mode. Of course, it doesn't hurt that X was a blow-the-doors-off live act to begin with (just ask any of their contemporaries), but fans should never take appearances for granted. You just never know if this will be your last chance to catch X, and they just don't make 'em built to last like this anymore. With the Heels and Steve Soto and the Twisted Hearts (Friday), Visqueen (Saturday). Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave, 628-3151. 7 p.m. $25. Saturday show all ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNIHeartless Bastards ~ Saturday, April 11The Mountain shares little in common with its predecessors All This Time and Stairs and Elevators. Where the latter are stripped-down affairs documenting Heartless Bastards' bare-knuckled, heartland brand of indie bar-rock, the group's new album is sprawling, varied, and utterly ambitious. In addition to the heavy jams we've come to expect, it includes British folk-inspired anthems ("Had to Go"), singer-songwriter lullabies ("So Quiet"), and proggy throw-downs ("Wide Awake"). The one and only constant is Erika Wennerstrom's voice, a gnarled chunk of beauty that draws you into her soul before spitting you back out. And don't forget: As good as The Mountain is, Heartless Bastards are always 100 times better live. They've been known to put on some truly epic shows in terms of raw emotion and pure grit. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave. 8 p.m. $12. JUSTIN F. FARRARReckless Kelly ~ Sunday, April 12There was a time when the differences between Nashville country and alt-country were loud and clear: The former was slick and smooth; the latter, rough and raw. Reckless Kelly, however, proves that none of that really matters anymore. Over the past decade, the Austin act has perfected a punchy fusion of country-rock and power pop that raises the question: Is this the sound of a childhood weaned on both Alan Jackson and the Smithereens? Reckless Kelly's latest album, the critically lauded Bulletproof, just might be their most polished to date. At the same time, it's a fairly scathing indictment of modern American life, touching on everything from Katrina to Iraq. Spinning this record is basically like watching a three-mile parade packed with hurricane refugees, drug-addled vets, and subprime victims. Fun! With Micky & the Motorcars. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8:30 p.m. $13 adv./$15 DOS. JUSTIN F. FARRARFranz Ferdinand ~ Monday, April 13Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand first won us over five years ago with the sexually charged anthem "Take Me Out." But having an acclaimed debut album under their belt quickly went from being a blessing to a curse when the quartet's highly anticipated sophomore effort failed to take off outside the UK. Fortunately, Franz Ferdinand redeemed itself with a third album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, its best to date. The band has spiced up its trademark rock sound with Jamaican dub beats and disco funk while retaining its brazen lyrical content ("Flick your cigarette, then kiss me/Kiss me where your eye won't meet me.") Lead singer Alex Kapranos saunters his way through subjects like getting high, hooking up in bars, and feeling remorseful the morning after with such ease that you get the feeling he and his bandmates have engaged in more than their fair share of debauched behavior. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 467-5510. 8 p.m. $32.50 adv./$36 DOS. All ages. ERIKA HOBARTThe Round 47 ~ Tuesday, April 14If you're one of those artistic types with trust and/or intimacy issues, I suggest you avoid playing Seattle staple the Round. Now in its 47th incarnation, the Round comes off like a singer/songwriter group therapy session. The performance format is much more open than a traditional show's boundaries; at the Round, artists can collaboratively explore covers, sing their own or their stagemates' "classics," try out new material, or take a crack at improv in a relaxed environment. This anything-goes format has to be the musical equivalent of throwing yourself backwards into a waiting crowd, hoping you'll not only be caught but held up and praised. This month's show features Jesy Fortino (Tiny Vipers), Grant Olsen (Arthur & Yu), John Van Deusen (Lonely Forest), and poet Maya Hersh, quality performers who'll surely use the Round's element of surprise to their, and the audience's, benefit. Fremont Abbey Arts Center, 4272 Fremont Ave. N. 7:30 p.m. $5–$10. All ages. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARThe Whip ~ Tuesday, April 14On their debut disc, X Marks Destination (released March 3), UK-based dance/rock quartet the Whip emphasizes instrument-fueled musicianship as much as machine-powered mechanization. It's a combo that makes for potent, refreshing listening, reflecting lead singer/guitarist Bruce Carter and keyboardist Danny Saville's background in the band Nylon Pylon, as well as their previous lives as club promoters. Think Fleetwood Mac meets Felix da Housecat. Rave-rock opener "Trash" loops fuzz and bass around a teenage anthem-style hook that proclaims "I wanna be trash!" More dance-centric jams include "Fire," a blazing inferno of feedback and metallic pulsation, and "Sister Siam," a sonorous electro-fied reconfiguration of a Nylon Pylon tune. The Whip aren't the next big thing, but they'll make you pine for some E. With Late of the Pier. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $12.50 adv./$14 DOS. KEVIN CAPP

 
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