The Short List: The Week’s Recommended Shows

Helladope ~ Wednesday, January 30Near the vanguard of the vaunted new wave (or whatever you wanna call 'em) that crashed tsunami-like through the gates of the Seattle hip-hop scene this year is Helladope. Comprising Tay Sean and Jerm, the duo's closest antecedent is the all-female THEESatisfaction. Indeed, last I heard, the ladies lived with Sean. At any rate, all four dropped at least one track together called "Thee Trip," a cosmos-exploring freakfest that has the alien-visitor quality of Lil Wayne and Outkast. And that's what Helladope is all about on its '09 disc, Return to Planet Rock: rocket-propelled blasts into the groovy spaces between jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $5. KEVIN CAPPMurder City Devils ~ Wednesday, January 30Back during the Murder City Devils' first go-around, from 1996 until 2001, the rabid Seattle garage-punk sextet could be relied upon to deliver some of the more deranged and dangerous shows you'd ever experienced. "Getting drunk to make music to get drunk to" seemed their mission statement, and mission accomplished—along with making some tremendous music and starting a lot of memorable fights (sometimes among each other). So perhaps it was right to be skeptical of MCD's part-time reunion, which started in 2006 and has meant a handful of shows here and there each year by the original lineup, which is now scattered across the U.S. and in different musical projects. Can they possibly rock out like always and muster that same dark, raucous, shit-might-get-out-of-hand vibe now that the band's not their life? Fortunately, as anyone who's seen them recently can attest, the answer is a resounding, enthusiastic "Yes!!" With Past Lives, Cold Lake. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $20. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGAs the World Falls Down ~ Thursday, December 31Times of uncertainty call for unbridled revelry, so why not do this New Year's Eve up in thematic style and support a fabulous cause, Lifelong AIDS Alliance, at the Oddfellows Hall (915 E. Pike St.) for As the World Falls Down, a masquerade ball inspired by Jim Henson's cult classic, Labyrinth. Your ticket price will include a labyrinth (but of course), installations, puppets, art, photography, dance, catering from Skillet, enough booze to bathe in, DJs Darek Mazzone, FrankenHeart, and Riff Raff, and some fabulous drag performers costumed for the occasion. To recount in a commercial holiday fashion: Endless taste sensations from Skillet: $125. All the booze you can keep down: $125. Dancing 'til your legs give out: $125. Professionally photographed memories of it all: $125. Watching trannies re-enact your favorite over-the-top Bowie flick: priceless.Please note, however, that admission includes neither a teenage Jennifer Connelly nor David Bowie's impressive Spandex-wrapped member. Oddfellows Hall, 915 E. Pike St. 8 p.m. $125. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSARHarkonen ~ Thursday, December 31Going to a club on New Year's Eve is generally an experience best reserved for people who find inflated cover charges, plastic glasses of Cook's "champagne," and roving packs of amateur drinkers acceptable elements for an evening out. However, fans of this city's rapidly growing cache of quality black, doom, and hardcore-oriented metal bands have a very good reason to brave the unruly throngs this evening. Harkonen is the post-hardcore act that Helms Alee frontman Ben Verellen cut his teeth in from 1997–2003. Though it's clear that Helms is his priority, it seems Verellen can't help but pull Matt Howard and Casey Hardy back onstage with him from time to time (Harkonen reunited to play a last-minute benefit show in Tacoma in October). Their blistering pace will be nicely balanced with the sludgy sounds of the Shining Ones and the reliably thickly shredding approach of Lesbian. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 8 p.m. $10. HANNAH LEVINMinus the Bear ~ Thursday, December 31Minus the Bear is one of those rare bands that sound as if they could be equally at home as a mainstream mainstay or an indie cult favorite. An eclectic mix of clean and emotive pop vocals, proggy flourishes, and a striking knack for writing melodies at once instantly engaging, structurally complex, and broadly appealing allows Minus the Bear to be several things at once. For those who like to geek out about technique, these guys clearly know what they're doing. The rhythms frequent the far-flung reaches of the time-signature spectrum, stopping and starting through an array of cadences. The guitars are precise and circuitous, tracing filigree patterns around and through the melodies, which are carried by the readily accessible vocals of singer Jake Snider, whose easy manner and smooth delivery help to rein in some of the more adventurous moments. Oddly, the very elements that make the band so broadly appealing also help keep it on the fringes of both sides of the dial. Never quite edgy or contrarian enough to be accepted as full-fledged indie-rock stars, Minus the Bear can't or won't grind down its experimental edges to go Top 40. Sometimes the fringes are a nice place to be. With The Lonely Forest and Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $28 adv./$30 DOS. NICHOLAS HALLU.S.E ~ Thursday, December 31If you're planning on having a thrilling and joyous 2010, I think we all know there's no better band to party into the New Year with than U.S.E. If you need proof, you can even check out the music video for "K.I.S.S.I.N.G"—off this year's explosive LP L O V E W O R L D—as a plausible preview to the show. It's got fireworks! Friends! Dancing! The track is every bit as enchanting and infectious as our old favorites "Emerald City" and "Open Your Eyes"—the disco beats, the cute sing-along melodies and that delicious vocoder are all there. Feeling a little holiday depression and gloom? As a new decade opens, it might be a good exercise in positive thinking to actually force yourself to buy into U.S.E's mega-cheerful attitude of "there's another world of love in store every moment." In other words, it's going to be a beautiful year. With Aqueduct and Fresh Espresso. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $20 adv. E. THOMPSONJapanther ~ Friday, January 1If you can shake off your New Year's Eve hangover enough to get down to the Comet, Brooklyn's Japanther will take care of the rest. Japanther—Ian Vanek on drums, Matt Reilly on bass, and a Casio—epitomize the art-punk scene, from their brash, flailing songs to their DIY ethos. Since forming in 2001, the duo has released a smattering of snarkily named projects: Skuffed Up My Huffy; Dump the Body in Rikki Lake; a DVD called Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty; and their most recent studio album, Tut Tut, Now Shake Ya Butt. They've also been featured in video installations at the Whitney in New York City. Continuing to expand, this year Japanther ventured into hip-hop, recording a track called "Radical Businessmen," a swirl of distorted bass and thrashy drums with Spank Rock rapping the killer refrain, "1-2-3-4, fuck the cops/Let's get one more, fuck the cops." With Champagne Champagne, They Live and Hair Envelope. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 9 p.m. $10. E. THOMPSONJohn Digweed ~ Friday, January 1Last year, John Digweed rolled into Showbox SoDo with fellow trance god and frequent collaborator Sasha and delivered a set stuffed with happy trance. It had been six years since the duo had made electronic-music history with their Delta Heavy tour, and the near-capacity crowd ate it up, their faces slicked with sweat and smiles. Now Digweed is back. (If he's been here since, it's passed us by.) This time, the British DJ will be posted in the cozy confines of Trinity. And arguably that's where Digweed, despite his klieg-lit status, belongs: in a nightclub, not a concert hall. With any luck, you won't be too hungover to attend. With Chloe Harris, Jason LeMaitre. Trinity Nightclub, 111 Yesler Way, 447-4140. 9 p.m. $15. KEVIN CAPPGladiators Eat Fire ~ Saturday, January 2Located somewhere along the noisy, experimental continuum that stretches from the Blood Brothers to Future of the Left, local racket-makers Gladiators Eat Fire are doing some pretty fearless work. The cleverly titled songs on their debut EP, Keep the Beat Alive, vacillate wildly from feral frenzies of punk discord ("It's Awake-O-Clock, Bitch") to more hushed, exploratory soundscapes ("The Porter"). They have a fetching, philanthropic side: You can download the digital EP for free via gladiatorseatfire.com, but if you purchase a hard copy at a show, they donate the proceeds to Rising Out of the Shadows, a nonprofit agency that serves the homeless population in the University District. With Poop Attack, 26,000 Volts, Last American Badass. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 7 p.m. $8 adv. All ages. HANNAH LEVINBozzio/Holdsworth/Levin/Mastelotto ~ Saturday, January 2 and Sunday, January 3Individually, each of these guys has a sterling résumé: Tony Levin is the innovative bassist who spent years playing in Peter Gabriel's touring band and also in King Crimson. Allan Holdsworth is arguably the greatest jazz-fusion guitarist of all time. Terry Bozzio started out playing drums with Frank Zappa before co-founding Missing Persons. And Pat Mastelotto—once of the hit '80s band Mr. Mister—has played drums with the likes of King Crimson, XTC, Hall & Oates, and the Sugarcubes. Together onstage, this foursome's gonna be bonkers, bashing out some intricate, experimental-leaning improvisational prog-jazz jams. Some in the crowd will surely soil their shorts over this stuff, but—at least based on the sounds of some of the quartet's previous performances—it should be melodic and inviting enough for just about anyone. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $27 adv./$30 DOS. All ages. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERGNaked Razors ~ Sunday, January 3Eschewing last names and tearing into a gritty, three-piece sound, local youngsters Naked Razors are clearly loving every second of being in a band. Having only started playing shows around this time last year, the trio is releasing its first album later in January. There's nothing revolutionary about Naked Razors, and despite their punky determination, the music is old-fashioned, garage-bred rock and roll, as gangly and sloppy as could be. On "Shove It!", bassist Monica confesses, "Even though your voice has been Botoxed and your words reek of silicone, I really like what you say." Her growl can slip easily into an apathetic yawn, while guitarist Kevin's conversational vocals tackle the bluesy swagger of "On Top of the World." Mean guitar solos abound, and Colin's drumming is reliably brazen. Let's hope these kids don't grow up too terribly much. With Zack Stokes Knows Scholarly Gentlemen. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $5. DOUG WALLENJunior Brown ~ Tuesday, January 5Describing the Byrds, David Fricke once said that "Rock & roll at its very core is country music and...the best country music always rocks." Fricke could just have easily been speaking of Junior Brown, a name that has been synonymous with the rocking end of country since he began picking and playing in the late '60s.About as far as you can get from the watered-down hipsterism of alt-country, Brown keeps his country just that; it rocks not through any overt attempts at gentrifying the honky-tonk, but by sheer virtue of the character of the songs. Of course, it helps immensely that Brown is an incendiary axeman, both on the top six strings and the bottom eight of his signature "guit-steel." Paired with his exciting picking style, Brown's deep rumble of a voice makes for a gritty harmony as capable of interpreting heartache and fondness as bravado and the regrets of broken men. Brown's self-appointed mentor Ernest Tubb once admonished him to "keep it country, son." Brown is living up to that advice, and the world is the better for it. With Cowboy Mouth. Neumos, 925 Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $20. NICHOLAS HALL

 
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