The Short List: The Week's Recommended Shows

Steve Earle / Wednesday, June 30

Steve Earle may be many things, but he is definitely not subtle. As a songwriter and performer, Earle has spent the past quarter-century telling it like it is—and one could argue he had great fun doing exactly that between 2000 and 2008, when a certain fellow Texan was leading our nation. I had to wonder whether Earle would remain the disgruntled patriot with Obama in office. But with all the Tea Party goofballs, anti-immigrant racists, and GOP shit-stacks still blocking us from becoming a great nation again, I think it's safe to safe Earle has plenty to sing about. With Joe Ely. Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th St., 684-4800. 5 p.m. $24. All ages. BRIAN J. BARR

Old 97's / Wednesday, June 30

While frontman Rhett Miller's dashing good looks and periodic bids for solo stardom are understandable distractions, the meat of the matter is that the Old 97's are a reliably electrifying, classic American roots-rock band that everyone should see at some point. For more than 15 years, they've been road warriors, purveying a live show that swings joyously between shambolic spectacle and well-oiled onslaught. While they've never attained the acclaim that peers like Wilco or Ryan Adams enjoy, many of the anthems in their back catalog (such as the roof-raising "Timebomb") remain some of the best songs in the so-called alt-country canon. With The David Wax Museum. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $22.50 adv./$25 DOS. HANNAH LEVIN

No-Fi Soul Rebellion / Thursday, July 1

Bellingham husband-and-wife band No-Fi Soul Rebellion's playfully bizarre dance pop is the perfect union of big, thumping booty beats and silly, nonsensical lyricism. Nothing is sacred and everything is a source of inspiration: horror-show theremin, butt-rawk sing-shout, chipmunk voices...it's all there, in a melting pot of hip-hop, metal, '80s synth pop, and rock and roll. Like the band's previous releases, No-Fi Soul Rebellion's most recent effort, Oh Please Please Please, unapologetically blends vocals that verge on the obnoxious with infectious beats that make up for any irritation that might come from them. It's just the stuff that inebriated living-room dance parties are made of. With Boy Eats Drum Machine. Experience Music Project, 325 Fifth Ave. N., 292-2787. 5 p.m. All ages. $12–$15. SARA BRICKNER

Ravenna Woods / Thursday, July 1

Seattle locals Ravenna Woods are the kind of band that stands up to drum and doesn't stand down for much. Backing their politically driven bark and howl is a sound along the lines of Local Natives or the Dodos, with even more feverish rhythms and fast-flying acoustic guitar. They've got so much wild urgency it's unbelievable there are only three people onstage, with exactly enough heel-stompin' twang and pluck to satisfy a venue with "tractor" in its name. This show is a homecoming after a week straight of gigs in California and Portland. With Song Sparrow Research, Motopony. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $7. MARY PAULINE DIAZ

Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands / Friday, July 2

Among grunge aficionados, Mark Pickerel is best known as the founding drummer of Screaming Trees. (He played with the band until 1992, on its first five full-lengths). Although the music he makes now bears little resemblance to the hard rock and psychedelia of Clairvoyance, he still brings a drummer's rhythm to his new country style. "Let Me Down Easy" on Cody's Dream, his 2008 release with His Praying Hands, is a steady, blues-based track driven by a deep bongo beat and Pickerel's low, Chris Isaak-esque voice. He plays a dark kind of country music, driven by the haunting, percussive beats he's been perfecting for decades. With Lindsay Fuller & the Cheap Dates (see preview, page 38), Rusty Willoughby. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9:30 p.m. $10. PAIGE RICHMOND

BOAT / Saturday, July 3

Everything you need to know about BOAT can be summed up by one of their most charming songs, "We've Been Friends Since 1989." It opens with a steady bass line and a declaration of irresponsibility: "You can declaw all of your pets/But your new black sofa will still be a mess." The rest of "Friends"—lyrics about growing up over bright guitars and thundering drums—embodies BOAT's youthful yet hopelessly self-aware style. This would be the perfect soundtrack to a mumblecore movie, playing during a scene when the lead character finally reaches a moment of self-discovery. BOAT can feel a little twee and slightly immature, but that's pop music for you—it's all about being young and foolish. With IJI, Build Us Airplanes, Jay Cox of the Sea Navy. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 10 p.m. $8. PAIGE RICHMOND

Helladope / Saturday, July 3

Riding smoothly atop spacey and soulful instrumentals, Helladope's funk-laden, Southern rap–influenced sound is the result of the South End collaboration between veteran MC Jerm of Alpha P and up-and-coming producer/MC Tay Sean. At different times danceable and searing, their self-titled debut album, released in March, reveals a pleasantly accessible sound that matches well with Jerm's seasoned flow. And after sharing stages with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Goodie Mob, Helladope has proven they can hold their own. Don't forget about the bill-sharers for this "Star-Spangled Banger" either; State of the Artist is responsible for something called "SeattleCaliFragalisticExtraHellaDopeness" that's just as fantastic as it sounds. With State of the Artist, Dark Time Sunshine, Katie Kate, DJ Radjaw. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-5611. 8 p.m. $12. NICK FELDMAN

Lilith Fair / Saturday, July 3

When Sarah McLachlan announced she'd be relaunching the Lilith Fair, after a decade-long hiatus, with a lineup 10 times more eclectic than its original lesbian-folk incarnation, it sounded fantastic. McLachlan secured commitments from Brandi Carlile, Carly Simon, Cat Power, Emmylou Harris, Heart, Kelly Clarkson, Loretta Lynn, Mary J. Blige, Norah Jones, Queen Latifah, and the Bangles. How many of those artists are playing the Gorge? Precisely zero. Erykah Badu, Sheryl Crow, and of course McLachlan will be there (among others), but is it any wonder discounted tickets have been going for the price of a half-rack of Keystone Ice? (Heart and Carlile not playing to a hometown crowd? What the fuck?) But ask yourself this: Is being sung to sleep by the sexiest voice in pop history at the best outdoor venue in America worth $10? Most definitely. Gorge Amphitheater, 754 Silica Rd. N.W., Quincy, 628-0888. 2:30 p.m. $10–$107. All ages. MIKE SEELY

Jeff Roman's Fourth of July Barbecue / Sunday, July 4

This Fourth, whether you're floating on a boat or barbecuing on a deck, you should take the opportunity to turn on to a performer who's way more American than apple pie: Bruce Springsteen. He is a national treasure, on the same godly level as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Do yourself a favor and forget everything you've ever assumed about that '80s Born in the U.S.A. bandanna-wearing persona and open your ears to what his music is really about. No one can write a love song like this man. Start with the album Tunnel of Love; you'll bond with 10 tracks immediately. From there, check out his second album The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. By the time you get through "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)," you'll be desperate for more. Jeff Roman's House, 9223 Fourth Ave. N.W. All day. Free. BYOB. JEFF ROMAN

Deerhoof / Monday, July 5

Deerhoof hasn't had an album out since 2008's Offend Maggie, but their near-legendary status among indie kids is still going to make this one of Vera's biggest shows of the year. And it's not as if the quartet hasn't been keeping busy this year—they've opened for Yoko Ono, covered Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures with labelmates Xiu Xiu at a festival in Austria, and re-released their best record, Apple O', on vinyl. On one hand, listening to Apple O' gets you right back in touch with all the renowned Deerhoof hallmarks—loud, layered, shrill guitars; Satomi Matsuzaki's thin, high, bilingual vocals; Greg Saunier's clacking, ticking, pummeling drums. But then you're just back to wishing for a new record again. With the Donkeys, Southeast Engine. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $13. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

I Am Ghost / Monday, July 5

I Am Ghost is the ultimate wet dream for the Hot Topic crowd. On their two albums, the pop-screamo act has developed a visual aesthetic that's equal parts My Chemical Romance and the Twilight franchise. These dudes are all about applying thick mascara, soaking their heads in jet-black hair dye, and flirting with dark forces. In fact, back in 2007, bass player Brian Telestai and his wife, violinist Kerith Telestai, fled the group they helped found because they couldn't reconcile their Christian faith with their bandmates' growing love of the undead. Undeterred, I Am Ghost soldiered on, and will release their third full-length sometime this year. With This Romantic Tragedy, We Are Defiance, Seize the Sun, Passion for Peril. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 7:30 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. All ages. JUSTIN F. FARRAR

The Rob and Zach Show / Monday, July 5

When you're 12 years into your career as an incredibly progressive pop band, how do you keep things fresh? If you're Pinback, you strip down to two songwriters (Rob Crow and Zach Smith) and leave your backing band at home. Early Pinback records were essentially based on Crow and Smith writing songs in their bedrooms, with whispered, intimate vocals gliding atop a bed of whatever off-the-wall instrumentation they could find at the time. They're likely to use a treasure trove of drum machines, loop pedals, synths, and other noisemakers to help them build their songs into overwhelmingly lush compositions. Getting a peek inside that room is a pretty unique (and exclusively West Coast) experience. With Little White Teeth. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $14. GREGORY FRANKLIN

The Melvins / Tuesday, July 6

In the grand scheme of hard-and-heavy punk-rock institutions, the Melvins are virtually unfuckwithable. The wise augmentation of their rhythm section by grafting on Big Business' Coady Willis on drums and Jared Warren on bass just made the Montesano, Wash.–born band even more thunderously joyous, and it's doubtful anyone's ever walked out of a Melvins show dissatisfied. That said, here's hoping they shy away from some of the more trifling tracks on their latest release, The Bride Screamed Murder. The front of the album is brutal, solid work, especially the propulsively punishing "Evil New War God," but the cover of the Who's "My Generation" is just silly, even by the Melvins' historically mischievous standards. With Totimoshi. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $18 adv./$20 DOS. HANNAH LEVIN

Sleepy Sun / Tuesday, July 6

While Sleepy Sun's first release, Embrace, took a revivalist approach to psychedelia, the San Francisco outfit's latest effort, Fever, steps out of the '60s and into the digital realm of the neo-psych movement. The hazy distortion, meandering guitar riffing, and wailing vocals still prevail, though tempered by male/female harmonies and simply strummed guitars that make for a distinctly poppier sound. Comparisons to Black Mountain are apt—Rachel Williams' tremulous howl is a ringer for that of Black Mountain's Amber Webber—but Sleepy Sun's syrupy, lazy cadences often suggest a more laid-back response to Black Mountain's thundering calls to arms. With Sleepy Eyes of Death, Wilildlife. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 8 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. SARA BRICKNER

The Wailers / Tuesday, July 6

No name is as synonymous with reggae as Bob Marley, and no band is as closely associated with his legend than the Wailers, who went on to sell more than 250 million albums after forming in 1969. Though most of the original members (like Marley) have since passed, 63-year-old Aston "Family Man" Barrett—thought to be responsible for most of the bass lines in Marley's classic songs—soldiers on. Injecting new roots-reggae energy into tried-and-true hits, Barrett and the eight-piece band continue to take the Kingston Rastafarian musical message around the globe. And while the modern Wailers may not have the Marley family's blessing to continue touring, their multitude of fans demands otherwise. With Kore Ionz, DJ Element. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $20. NICK FELDMAN

 
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