The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

Fashawn/Wednesday, March 2

With a premium placed on maturity, it's easy to forget hip-hop's roots are in youth. But 22-year-old Fresno rapper Fashawn, who dropped his wave-making debut Boy Meets World when he was still shy of drinking age, proves that's just a number when the discussion turns to talent. Weaving narratives of his growing pains, tales of a good West Coast kid coming up in a rough world, his songs alternate between harsh realities—born of his upbringing in California's foster-care system due to an incarcerated father and drug-addicted mother—and uplifting reflections on finding his place in a brighter tomorrow. Though the situations may not be unheard of, Fashawn's greatest talent lies in being not only an admirable storyteller but a unique one. With Evidence, CurT@!n$, Gilbert Forte. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $10. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

Stryper/Wednesday, March 2

The world of '80s glam metal was about as excessive and decadent as the music world has ever seen (see any Mötley Crüe video for reference). Deviating from the "party/girls/booze all the time" platform of the moment would've been a death knell for most bands, but somehow the bee-striped, Bible-thumping bombast of Stryper ended up going double platinum, with the band dominating MTV and opening for Bon Jovi and Ratt. Spending most of the '90s in broken-up limbo, Stryper is back, touring behind a new album, The Covering, full of classic metal covers (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath among them). Given Stryper's penchant for theatrical production and frontman Michael Sweet's epic voice atop these classic cuts, missing an intimate Stryper show sounds like hell on Earth. With Witchburn, 7 Horns 7 Eyes. El Corazon, 109 Eastlake Ave. E., 381-3094. 8 p.m. $27.50. All ages. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Cahalen Morrison & Eli West/Thursday, March 3

It's really, really en vogue for Seattle bands to incorporate undertones of Appalachian folk into their sound right now. So prevalent is all this hand-clapping, lyrical purity, and earnest harmonizing by otherwise polished musicians that a backlash might soon be in the offing. That said, it's tough to take much issue with Cahalen Morrison & Eli West. Their music is true bluegrass that'll thrill aficionados but is unlikely to hold much mass appeal. The odds of their opening for Dave Matthews or Vampire Weekend anytime soon are virtually nil. But the odds of them making you wish you were in a sunny meadow with no shoes on your feet and a jug of moonshine at your campsite are outstanding. With Squirrel Butter, Ben Gilmer & the Sidearms. Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave. S., 722-3009. 9 p.m. $6. MIKE SEELY

Earth/Thursday, March 3

So here's a strange symmetry: Dylan Carlson's Earth began life just over 20 years ago as a sludgy, epically slow-riffing doom-metal band, but has in recent years explored a more acoustic landscape of twanging desert drones. Meanwhile, Mount Eerie's Phil Elverum got his start making spaciously layered songs on acoustic guitar and drums as the Microphones, but has lately honed his "black wooden" sound, adding shuddering waves of electric-guitar distortion and noise to his still-gentle singing. You can imagine them, at some point in the past decade, playing the exact same thing, their paths crossing perfectly before they continued in their opposite directions. Earth's latest, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (a sequel is expected next year), continues in their current vein, dour but clean, adding the prolific Lori Goldston on cello and frequent Elverum collaborator and distinguished solo artist Karl Blau on bass. With Mount Eerie, Low Hums. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 9 p.m. $12. ERIC GRANDY

SXSW Kick-Off Party/Thursday, March 3

Last year was local rapper D. Black's first trip to SXSW. Since he's a religious man (Orthodox Judaism), one can assume the nonstop booze-and-tweak-fest that is the music industry's spring break is not necessarily D. Black's scene. But he's headed back for a repeat performance, and tonight is his send-off party. Though his music took a turn for the mature and inspirational with the release of 2009's Ali'Yah, his focus and commitment have only grown stronger—proof being The Blackest Brown EP he released last year with producer B. Brown, which owes much to the collaborations of Kanye and Common circa Be. B. Brown provides some serious soul-jacking beats, allowing D. Black to rhyme about his life, his faith, and his responsibilities. With any luck, he'll give those hedonists in Austin something to ponder. With Wild Orchid Children, State of the Artist, Tea Cozies. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 5 p.m. $8 adv./$12 DOS. All ages. BRIAN J. BARR

Asobi Seksu/Friday, March 4

Asobi Seksu couldn't be a less fitting name for a band that creates such sentimental dream pop (it's Japanese slang for "casual sex"). Influenced by the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Mazzy Star, the New York band employs lush instrumentation, distortion, and breathy vocals on its lovelorn melodies. Its new and fifth studio album Fluorescence comes across simultaneously as experimental and nostalgic, with whimsical lyrics paired with Phil Spector–esque production. (Coincidentally, Asobi Seksu does a charming rendition of the Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me.") Lead singer Yuki Chikudate graces each pop gem with her girlish voice, and appears petite and precious enough onstage to sleep in a jewelry box— but she often surprises the audience by dropping the f-bomb and sharing anecdotes about 'shroom trips gone bad. In other words, she's a girl after Seattle's own heart. With Brahms, The Fascination Movement. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8000. 9 p.m. $12 adv./$14 DOS. ERIKA HOBART

Fergus & Geronimo/Friday, March 4

Back in October, the Brooklyn dudes in Fergus & Geronimo sprinkled a bunch of garage, a bit of fuzz, and a hint of surf into "Never Satisfied" and "Turning Blue," the pair of tracks that make up their Hardly Art–released 7-inch. Then in January, the local label dropped the duo's full-length, Unlearn, featuring the punky single "Baby Don't You Cry." They've got a heck of a record on their hands. "Baby Don't You Cry" is the kind of abrasive pop-rock that's right at the Hardly Art/Sub Pop family's sweet spot—a gritty pop tune that's crafted in the garage and is catchier than the dickens. It's substantive, accessible, and the best song of 2011 . . . so far. With Seapony, Idle Times. JewelBox/Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave., 441-5823. 10 p.m. $7. CHRIS KORNELIS

DeVotchKa/Saturday, March 5

DeVotchKa went from being Dita von Teese's burlesque backing band to the Billboard-charting, most-popular-gypsy-rock-band-in-America that they are today in large part thanks to the movies. Their songs' inclusion in films like Everything Is Illuminated, I Love You Phillip Morris, and most notably Little Miss Sunshine won the Denver quartet massive amounts of exposure. In keeping with this, DeVotchKa's newest album, this month's 100 Lovers, the follow-up to 2008's swoony and romantic A Mad & Faithful Telling, is intense and moving on a cinematic scale. DeVotchKa's music has always been nothing if not passionate, but on 100 Lovers, they've got a full orchestra backing them (although they're touring just as the original band). In these songs, the bouzouki still strums, the sousaphone still blares, and Nick Urata's tenor still ripples and wails, and it's all enhanced and expanded by the swelling strings—gothic grandeur its boldest and most dramatic. With Ravenna Woods. Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 467-5510. 7:30 p.m. $26.50 adv./$32 DOS. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Hollow Earth Radio's Magma Festival: Traveling Light Rail Show/Saturday, March 5

Hollow Earth Radio's annual, month-long festival always showcases unique and unconventional acts from Seattle's musical underground and beyond, but it's probably never done so as weirdly as with tonight's traveling show on the city's light rail system. The evening begins at the International District station with a "summoning performance" by Prawnyxx, then continues with a "musical tour guide/overture" on a southbound train to Sea-Tac. Once there, passengers/audience will deboard and pick one of two northbound trains, "Light Rail" or "Dark Rail," the identity and import of which won't be known until the trains take off. Will it be entirely acoustic, or will someone turn up with amplification? Will transit goons bust up the party, or will indie rock ride the rails with impunity? Will you choose light or dark? Hop aboard and find out. With Racer Sessions, Tahoe Jackson, Toy Boats, Jordan O'Jordan, Jamey Braden, Forrest Friends, Walrus Machine, Paul Hoskin, the Beaconettes, Movitas, Led to Sea. International District Link Light Rail Station, 401 S. Jackson St. 5:30 p.m. Free. All ages. ERIC GRANDY

Yann Tiersen/Saturday, March 5

French musician Yann Tiersen is best known to those outside his home country for the enchanting score to the 2001 film Amélie starring Audrey Tautou. But his sixth and most recent album, Dust Lane, is as, if not more, beguiling; a collection of bittersweet but gorgeous songs focused on mortality. (Tiersen lost his mother and a close friend during its recording.) The multiple layers embedded in each song—acoustic and electric guitars, synthesizers, even mandolin—are best demonstrated in a live performance, during which the talented composer effortlessly alternates among various instruments. Tiersen rarely interacts with his audience (with the exception of a shy smile or a mumble of thanks here and there), but his music speaks so eloquently that he need not resort to gimmicks for us to appreciate it anyway. With Breathe Owl Breathe. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $17.50. ERIKA HOBART

Love Me Some Townes Van Zandt/Monday, March 7

Legendary singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt would have turned 67 today, March 7. The Texan's four-decade romance with booze prevented him from making it past 52, but he left behind a hefty batch of songs ("Pancho & Lefty," "If I Needed You") that rank among the finest ever written, period. Like most great American writers, Van Zandt was out to prove that one could write pretty and still be a man. Tonight, Star Anna, Rusty Willoughby, Pete Droge, and a whole host of local Americana faves will gather to drink heartily and celebrate Van Zandt's birthday while performing his knee-weakening tunes about death, love, drifting, gambling, and drinking. With Justin Davis, Kasey Anderson, Kevin Large, Gary Westlake, Elaine Summers. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8 p.m. $12 adv./$15 DOS. BRIAN J. BARR

Weedeater/Monday, March 7

The metal tour circuit is churning with sludge acts right now, but when it comes to true mastery of the subgenre's molasses-thick hallmarks, North Carolina's Weedeater are at the top of their class. It makes sense that they've done so much time on the road with the Melvins, because this is a metal band that will appeal to punk fans in much the same way that Buzz Osbourne and company do. Their fourth record, Jason . . . The Dragon is their second collaboration with producer Steve Albini, and an exemplary study of the hypnotic fuzz and disciplined down-tempos required to make sludge compelling rather than monotonous. With Zoroaster, Kvelertak. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave N., 374-8400. 9:30 p.m. $12. HANNAH LEVIN

Crystal Castles/Tuesday, March 8

Alice Glass of Crystal Castles is a riot grrrl in a literal sense: She thrashes and rampages onstage, chain-smokes, flings microphones, and occasionally punches fans. She's performed with cracked ribs from a car wreck, and infamously forced organizers to shut down Crystal Castles' 2008 Glastonbury performance after she drove fans into a frenzy by repeatedly stage-diving and climbing the stage rigging. Most recently, Glass broke and then re-broke her ankle but still spent the first month or so of this year performing, on crutches. She's a wild child, but is there any other way to perform Crystal Castles' music? The disorienting combination of Glass' creeping vocals and bandmate Ethan Kath's glittering, thudding synths and shredding guitars is giant and otherworldly (one poetic YouTube commenter likens it to "alien orgasms"); the only way to truly experience this kind of stuff is through a ripping, raving, shell-shocking performance—which Glass is all too happy to provide for fans, physical safety be damned. With Suuns. Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., 628-3151. 8 p.m. Sold out. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Tapes 'n Tapes/Tuesday, March 8

Tapes 'n Tapes has almost come full circle in just six short years. It goes like this: Back in 2005, the Minneapolis band self-released their fantastic debut album, The Loon—the closest anyone would get to hearing a new Pavement record in this past decade. Blogs loved it, critics loved it, and soon the band was signed and in the studio working on their XL Recordings follow-up, Walk It Off, a mostly uninspired flop. That brings us to this year and their self-released third album, Outside. While it's far from the pure fun of their debut, a song like "Freak Out" proves Tapes 'n Tapes is getting back to where they're most comfortable. Like I said, almost full circle. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. $15. BRYDEN MCGRATH

 
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