The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

DARK STAR ORCHESTRA ~ Thursday, April 23It's perfectly normal to admit you enjoy a small dose of the Grateful Dead. One need not be a hippie or a ponytail enthusiast in his 60s to enjoy the Dead, as the popular—and painfully accurate—stereotype dictates. For example, I enjoy putting on American Beauty and taking in the folksy charm of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and the rest of the band at their peak. But it takes a special kind of Dead fan to launch a music career based on the band's influence, as the members of Chicago's Dark Star Orchestra have done. The band stakes its reputation on faithfully reproducing the varied set lists the Grateful Dead played during their celebrated 30-year career—announcing each night which set they'll be playing and doing their best to recreate the magic produced decades ago by their muses. It's a pretty unique concept, one that pays due respect to one of the most influential, celebrated, and hard-working American rock bands of all time. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $22.50. MICHAEL LOPEZLEONARD COHEN ~ Thursday, April 23There are far too many musicians who left this mortal coil before I had a chance to see them perform live. Luckily, Mr. Cohen won't be added to a list that includes Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Serge Gainsbourg, and George Harrison, because tonight he holds court for a performance that surely will be talked about for the rest of the year. Whether the topic at hand is a struggle for spiritual redemption or a regrettable blowjob received from Janis Joplin on an unmade bed, Cohen's work is timeless because it combines stark realism with artful illustration—a feat far more difficult than it may initially sound. As he moves toward his 75th birthday this year, he remains an international treasure and an inspiration to songwriters from all backgrounds, as well as a rare, living testimonial to the enduring power of what happens when an artist is fearless enough to look straight into the heart of darkness with a smile on his face. WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave. S. 8 p.m. $69.50–$250. All ages. HANNAH LEVINFATAL LUCCIAUNO ~ Friday, April 24Fatal Lucciauno has easily been the most talked-about figure in Seattle hip-hop for the past week and a half. It started 10 days ago, when he was yanked from a bill at the Crocodile as a supporting act on this week's Dyme Def show. It was partly due to his criminal past (he's a two-time felon and was recently released from prison for firing a gun outside an area nightclub), which made the venue nervous. But the manner in which he was kicked off that show sparked a sizable outrage among urban music lovers, and it's actually working in Lucciauno's favor. He's now booked to play The Corner, one of the best hip-hop monthlies in Seattle, and there's no doubt a huge crowd will come out to support him. Because what often gets left out of the conversation when talking about Lucciauno is that he's one of the hottest rappers in Seattle. His graphic, spitfire lyrics about street life might scare some, but that's mostly because he represents a side of Seattle's urban poor that people would rather pretend doesn't exist. He's a savvy hood poet who knows how to ride a beat, but you really need to see him perform live to fully grasp the way he's using hip-hop as a vehicle for rehabilitation. With Helladope, Mr. Hill, Speedy, and J-Mar. Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 10:30 p.m. $5. JONATHAN CUNNINGHAMBLOC PARTY ~ Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25Bloc Party's four members were all in their mid-20s when they recorded their first two albums, Silent Alarm and A Weekend in the City. So the genuine urgency and conviction with which they delivered indie-pop songs on romance and politics deeply resonated with young adults in their home country of Great Britain and overseas. The band's third album, Intimacy, released late last summer, is a far cry from the initial work that earned them a dedicated following. Less post-punk and more dance, it features prominent usage of multilayered vocals and instrumentation a la the Chemical Brothers. It's also the band's most personal work to date. On "Trojan Horse," frontman Kele Okereke bitterly observes "You used to take off your watch before we made love," and on "Signs" he mournfully confesses "I see signs all the time/That you're not dead, you're sleeping/I believe in anything/That brings you back home to me." It's a stunning effort from a band that's shifted from shoving their fervor down everyone's throats to simply pulling them in with a quiet (and, frankly, more appealing) brand of confidence. With Menomena. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 7 p.m. $25. All ages. ERIKA HOBARTDAN DEACON ~ Saturday, April 25When Dan Deacon plays a show, he's not really performing so much as playing summer-camp director. Last time he was in Seattle, it was at Bumbershoot 2008, where short sets are par for the course. And yet, within the confines of 45 minutes, Deacon somehow managed to squeeze in a relay race, a dance contest, and an enormous human arm tunnel that incorporated every single person in the audience. Of course, all this occurred accompanied by Deacon's spastic synth compositions. Problem is, his albums—even his latest offering, Bromst—can't compete with such a dynamic live experience. Supporting band Teeth Mountain, on the other hand, manages to be just as engaging even though they don't offer the same degree of audience participation and, as they did at their most recent Seattle show, perform completely unplugged. That evening the band set up their instruments on the floor of the Funhouse so that several different drummers could bang out complicated African rhythms on a shared drum kit in an incredible display of synchronicity. Though the drums were engaging enough on their own, they served as the backbone to acoustic, strings-driven melodies. Kate Levitt—who, along with Andrew Burt, is one of the band's two permanent members—hit the bass drum like a woman in a religious trance, making her a fascinating performer to watch. This pairing of completely synthesized sounds and completely organic, acoustic sounds may seem odd, but once you watch them work, you'll find that nothing could be more natural. With Future Islands, Skeleton Breath. Vera Project, Seattle Center, Warren Ave. N. and Republican St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $11. All ages. SARA BRICKNERMAYER HAWTHORNE ~ Saturday, April 25Mayer Hawthorne's got a mini-anthem on his hands in "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out," a weepy '50s-ish slowdancer. In a retardedly wounded falsetto, he regrets to inform you he will be breaking up with your ass, but he does it like a player putting on a puppy-dog show. It's cute, and so is the red heart-shaped vinyl Stones Throw Records released it on. Hawthorne's voice, though, is no joke, and neither are those boom-crack drums. Hawthorne appears with old- and new-school beat scientists Dam Funk and James Pants, plus label boss Peanut Butter Wolf (who VJs as much as he DJs these days). Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $16 adv./$18 DOS. All ages. ANDREW MATSONTHE BLACK LIPS  ~ Saturday, April 25Once upon a time, standing at the front at a Black Lips show put you in imminent danger of getting puked on, pissed on, or both. But that, bassist Jared Swilley told me in an interview last year, was only because "We really couldn't play that well. Live, we were really, really bad." At the time, Swilley told me that the band had grown up some, and would like to be known for their music rather than their youthful stage antics. Unfortunately, that'll be tough, since their stage antics continue to get them into trouble. Not too long ago, the band got kicked out of India—and not because lead singer Cole Alexander pulled a Hendrix and played the guitar with his cock, either. Alexander's been known to make out with his bandmates onstage, and it was the public guy-on-guy action that earned them the boot. But the band keeps moving forward despite their enduring notoriety, and their latest album, 200 Million Thousand, proves that they're trying to move on as musicians as well as people. While the album retains the band's established lo-fi garage aesthetic—furthered by the band's devotion to tape recordings rather than digital recordings—the actual sound has regressed further into the realm of the fuzzy, psychedelic '60s garage band. It's an ambitious record that departs from the revivalist (flower) punk style the band's known for, but as much as the Black Lips would like us to think they've changed, grown up, become more mature—it's time to call bullshit. You may not get pissed on at their shows anymore, but if the band's toned it down, it's been done gradually and with great reluctance. With Flowers Forever, the Dutchess & the Duke. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $13 adv. SARA BRICKNERRICHARD BUCKNER ~ Saturday, April 25Richard Buckner's image as the moody alt-country troubadour with the husky croak is firmly entrenched. Not only has the dude always sounded like a grizzled old man, in just about every picture out there he refuses to smile, often opting for more of a sneer. That said, recent years have seen the Brooklyn denizen drift from his roots in the hard-as-nails Texas country-folk of Townes Van Zandt, Joe Ely, and Terry Allen. On 2006's Meadow, the singer-songwriter's second album for Merge Records, he filters blues, folk, and country through modern rock. In fact, Buckner kind of sounds like Mark Lanegan, just not as tall and brooding. Good thing the Tractor Tavern has made this a seated show, because this guy is a sonic barbiturate. With Dolorean. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 6 p.m. $15. JUSTIN F. FARRARBELPHEGOR ~ Sunday, April 26It's one thing to worship Satan. It's another to hate Jesus with the festering disgust of Austrian black-metal outfit Belphegor. In a genre where over-the-top blasphemy is the whole point, it says a lot that Belphegor can push desecrating (and even defecating on) the cross to an all-new level. If ever there were a cake to be awarded for hating Jesus, maggot-infested and made of rotting Christ flesh as it would be, Belphegor would probably take it in spite of the stiff competition. Songs like "Lucifer Incestus" and "Swarm of Rats," which equates Jesus with rat shit, illustrate the band's sole preoccupation in no uncertain terms. For example, even as vocalist Helmuth gargles in German on the pricelessly-titled "Sexdictator Lucifer," you know exactly what he's talking about. Just in case, though, audio samples—the perfectly-timed orgasmic moan of one of Satan's concubines, or a pleased growl (or is it a burp?) from the Dark Lord himself after a round of coitus with said concubines—drive the point home with an utter lack of irony that's both admirable and howlingly funny. For additional clarity, the band-name logo contains not one but two upside-down crosses. Once an unthinkable crossover, blackened death metal is commonplace these days, but Belphegor's blast-soaked sound still sounds passionate while the rest of the goat-herding pack goes through the motions of what has essentially become a Satanic mime routine. With Kreator, Exodus, Warbringer, Epicurean. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 6 p.m. $23 adv./$25 DOS. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNIMY BLOODY VALENTINE ~ Monday, April 27Devotees of My Bloody Valentine's blistering and infamously layered sound had 16 years to accept that the band's unique melodies had become a dead language. But the shoegazer gods returned to Earth in 2008, hoping to answer what-might-have-been had they kept going. The four-piece band formed in Ireland in 1984 and produced two albums by 1991. But notoriously obsessive frontman Kevin Shields and crew could never quite get album #3 together. They vowed last year to try again, and their resurrection has begun with a smattering of shows around the States this year. But be warned: According to NME, one recent show ended with exiting concertgoers covering their ears following 15 minutes of deafening guitar and bass. Bring your earplugs. WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave. S. 6:30 p.m. $38.50. All ages. JOSH FARLEYYANN TIERSEN ~ Tuesday, April 28Classically trained Frenchman Yann Tiersen is probably best known in the U.S. for composing the soundtrack for the movie Amélie. His score—which weaved together piano, accordion, strings, various toy instruments, and even typewriters, and drew from European folk and classical melodies and textures—was at turns whimsical, breezy, buoyant, and bittersweet, and really was the perfect accompaniment to all those saturated colors, the film's imaginative premise, and star Audrey Tautou's magnetic performance. Tiersen—whose musical tastes also include semi-standard rock and experimental ambient minimalism (he's fond of futzing with found sounds)—has made several solo albums, done other soundtracks, and collaborated with the likes of Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser and Tindersticks' Stuart Staples. If tonight's show is anything like his recorded material, it should be magical and mesmerizing. With Asobi Seksu. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $15 adv. All ages balcony. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGPINETOP PERKINS ~ Tuesday, April 28 and Wednesday, April 29More or less singlehandedly responsible for setting Ike Turner on a musical path, it's no small miracle (though not necessarily a surprise) that veteran blues pianist Pinetop Perkins is still a creature of the stage. When schoolboy-aged Turner and his friend Ernest Lane heard Perkins' playing wafting up from Lane's father's basement on their way home from school one day in the late '30s, two lifelong musical careers were born on the spot. Transfixed by Perkins' piano playing, the lads wandered downstairs, where Perkins dutifully taught them both how to play. Now, as Perkins approaches 96 years old—still on a daily regimen of cigarettes and McDonald's, mind you—he represents the last of the front-line Mississippi bluesmen. And if you didn't know that already, Perkins tells you so himself on the aptly titled 2007 (recorded in 2004) live album, Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen. Arguably best known as Muddy Waters' sideman from 1969 to 1980 (replacing Otis Spann), Perkins also has done notable support work for the likes of Earl Hooker, Robert Nighthawk, and B.B. King. Perkins' distinct, quirky phrasing—which stems in part from an arm injury he sustained early in his career—is now considered a pillar of the boogie-woogie style. He didn't "go solo" until 1988, but since then Perkins has put out albums at a rapid clip in a rare and delightful example of a musician finding success in his later years. With Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave. 7:30 p.m. $25.50. All ages. SABY REYES-KULKARNI

 
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