This Week's Recommended Shows

From Kelly Clarkson to Sharon Van Etten.

***EDITOR'S PICK

En Vogue/Thursday, March 22–Sunday, March 25

Before we were saying Destiny's Child's name, before TLC was calling out creeps and scrubs, another band of funky divas was bringing back the '60s girl-group tradition in a bold, modern style—En Vogue. The ladies stood at the forefront of the early-'90s movement that would turn R&B into one of the country's most popular musical genres. More than anything, they taught women about the importance of some good sass talk—later R&B smashes like Destiny's Child's "Independent Women" can be traced straight back to En Vogue's iconic "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)." The group's gone through several lineup changes, but they've proved to be survivors. And if you think these fly girls can't step into their high heels and shake it just because they're now in their 40s and 50s, then perhaps you need to free your mind. The rest will follow. Jazz Alley, 2000 Sixth Ave., 441-9729. 7:30 p.m. Thurs. & Sun., 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. Fri. & Sat. $45. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Kelly Clarkson/Thursday, March 22

Kelly Clarkson initially got a lot of guff for being the first American Idol, and for treating every song as though it was her last chance to out-Mariah Mariah. But can you believe it's been a decade since the Texan topped Justin Guarini's 'fro, subsequently mounting a career that's seen the ultimate premeditated pop robot telling her commercial-minded advisers, on numerous occasions, to go piss up a rope? There are times when Clarkson grates, like when she veers into Pink territory on throwaway rock tracks like "Never Again" and "Sober" or takes Ron Paul seriously. But when Clarkson really lets her voice shine—like on "Don't You Wanna Stay," her stunning duet with country stalwart Jason Aldean that single-handedly restored power to the ballad— she stands in elite company, and her latest hit album, Stronger, is an apt description of her present condition. With Matt Nathanson. ShoWare Center, 625 W. James St., Kent, 253-856-6777. 8 p.m. $35–$65. All ages. MIKE SEELY

Michael Gira/Thursday, March 22

Gira is best known for his work with his post-industrial band Swans and the label Young God Records, an imprint he launched to house an ever-growing collection of reissued Swans albums and to foster the work of nu-folk artists like Devendra Banhart and Akron/Family. He also released a handful of records under his given name—avant-garde affairs of spoken-word prose and softer-sounding home recordings—but the aesthetic visionary has always seemed more comfortable in a band, as a producer, or as a cheerleader than as the main event itself. Even so, as Swans prepare to release their 2012 double album The Seer, like any good business owner Gira has returned to the touring circuit to drum up support, and likely has a few quirky tricks up his sleeve. With Sir Richard Bishop. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 8 p.m. $18 adv./$23 DOS. All ages. GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

D.I.M./Friday, March 23

Electronic producer D.I.M. (born Andreas Meid) came up during the "blog-house" boom of the mid-'00s—so called because the mass proliferation online of music-production software and blogs dedicated to disseminating the newest mp3s opened the floodgates for a new class of aspiring DJs and musicians. That the music of this boom tended to be a dirty, red-lined mix of hard-hitting techno and electro-house reflects a certain populist bent—toward adrenaline, toward electronic music that plays like rock 'n' roll—that has lately found its expression in the bro-ier side of dubstep. D.I.M. has kept at it since first making a name with 2007's "Is You" and "Sysiphos," turning out peak-hour rave tracks full of heavy-kicking drums and squealing, taffy-pulled synthesizers. Tonight he hits Chop Suey with Boys Noize labelmates Housemeister, DJEDJOTRONIC, and Strip Steve. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 7:30 p.m. $12. All ages. ERIC GRANDY

Hunx and His Punx/Friday, March 23

Seth Bogart, aka "Hunx," got his start as the go-go boy/musical auteur of Bay Area electro-trash outfit Gravy Train!!!, a band of raunchy, queer co-eds who rapped about dicks, titties, and 40s over Casio preset beats. He's since reinvented himself as a credible singer of retro, '60s-girl-group-style prom pop and garage rock, though with the queer and raunch safely intact. More exciting on the hometown front, though, are Hunx's Hardly Arts labelmates Grave Babies. The fantastically sullen quartet also start with something like garage rock or pop punk, but then dial up the reverb and distortion until the pop hooks are all but obliterated and the vocals are an unintelligible smear. Their forthcoming EP is called Gothdammit, which gives you an idea of both their sartorial outlook and the certain sense of mischievous humor that undercuts all their doom and gloom. With Heavy Cream, TacocaT. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618. 8 p.m. $12. ERIC GRANDY

Bahamas/Saturday, March 24

While the name may conjure a mental image of a tropical paradise, Afie Jurvanen's project is far from Caribbean, yet still provides a warm breeze. After three years of touring as a guitarist/keyboardist for Feist, Jurvanen stepped away from the spotlight and formed Bahamas, releasing his stripped-down debut Pink Strat in 2009. Barchords, Bahamas' newly released second album, shows Jurvanen's unfiltered heart beating through in every composition. While his song structures are built on well-worn territory, his radiant honey-coated voice and atmospheric guitar explorations carve Bahamas their very own confident niche. Slow-burning torch songs, playful folk ballads, and painfully transparent, soulful confessionals melt together for a steady-rolling, unflinching look at relationships—the perfect soundtrack for the post–last call comedown. With Loney Dear, Red Jacket Mine. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 9 p.m. $12. GREGORY FRANKLIN

Black Milk/Sunday, March 25

Detroit producer Black Milk has continually raised the bar in his field, weaving progressive rhythms while retaining the classic allure of sample-based beat-making to become one of the best-known names in the liner notes of hard-spitting lyricists coast to coast. A gifted rapper himself, he's built plenty of self-sustaining songs to perform tonight, but word on the flyer is he'll bring a live band onstage for good measure. It also deserves mention that local velvet-voiced MC/vocalist J. Pinder opens the bill, making it a solid night front to back. With Nat Turner, A.Dd+. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618. 8 p.m. $12. TODD HAMM

Sharon Van Etten/Sunday, March 25

This Brooklyn songwriter is like a tamer version of the gloriously unhinged Fiona Apple—she doesn't come off quite as maddened, but her songs contain a subtler rage and passion. She's a confessional writer who's talked openly about her broken relationships, including one abusive ex-boyfriend who broke her guitars and told her she wasn't good enough to play out. The guy must have been an idiot as well as an asshole. Sung in her crystalline voice,Van Etten's songs poetically transform loss and disappointment into lovely paeans; she comes off as mournful but also admirably self-composed and even a little triumphant. On "Serpents," the ravishing first single from her third album, this year's Tramp, she spits, "You enjoy sucking on dreams/So I will fall asleep/With someone other than you." With The War on Drugs. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849. 8 p.m. $15. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Paul Kelly/Sunday, March 25–Monday, March 26

If Bob Dylan played Australia, he'd fill any venue of any size he desired. But when Paul Kelly tours the States, he books venues like the exquisite Triple Door. Kelly, you see, is the Dylan of the Outback. Granted, that's an overly simplistic comparison: While the two artists share a nasal vocal quality, Kelly's more melodic; his instrumentation, while grounded in folk, leans poppier than Dylan's (if Dylan humped World Party, Kelly's oeuvre is about what you'd get); and lyrically, Kelly's more local and personal, like Springsteen or Sexsmith (as in Ron). But when any country's Dylan plays anywhere, you should probably go see him, and Kelly's gigs, a rarity stateside, are no exception. He's backing a recently released A-to-Z boxed set in which he performs more than 100 tracks in alphabetical order in a handful of American cities. So shout out a letter as he takes the stage if you've got a track you're dying to hear. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $20. All ages. MIKE SEELY

Young Jeezy/Tuesday, March 27

This is Jeezy's second trip through town in the past six months (he appeared at Showbox at the Market in September), and he's again picked up a stellar, streetwise Seattle MC to open his show—Av Young Blaze set things off last time around, but Fatal Lucciauno gets the nod this Tuesday. Though Atlanta's Jeezy doesn't pack the lyrical punch of either of these openers, he's captured a major slice of the mainstream-rap consciousness with his growling trap choruses and military-grade synth tracks. Jeezy can make the club move, so expect a wild night. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849. 7 p.m. $27.50. All ages. TODD HAMM

 
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