The Short List: This Week’s Recommended Shows

American Idol Live/Wednesday, July 18

America's most popular TV show has lately become more about the celebrity judges than the actual contestants. Blame it on J-Lo's magnificent ass or Steven Tyler's creepily entertaining comments ("Hot, humid, and happening . . . just like your daughter!") But the show's most recent season actually pulled in an impressive selection of talent. Viewers sensed something special when 21-year-old Georgia guitarist Phillip Phillips auditioned with a bluesy version of "Thriller," performing it so intently he broke a guitar string, and they were right—he won the competition handily, with his sweet and folksy first single "Home" shooting to #1 on iTunes. Phillips has the makings of a star—a bashful and handsome aura that ladies love, a weird name, a natural ease onstage, a unique musical outlook. It'd be nice to see him play those cards right and stick around longer than that other guitar guy who won a couple years ago. KeyArena, 305 Harrison St., 684-7200. 7 p.m. $27.50–$63. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Capitol Hill Block Party/Friday, July 20–Sunday, July 22

Any great summer festival compresses three months' worth of shows into a matter of days, and Seattle's Capitol Hill Block Party does exactly that, mixing local and national talent across five stages in what has long been the city's best neighborhood for music and nightlife. Indie rock and hip-hop dominate (Twin Shadow and Cloud Nothings, Aesop Rock and Nacho Picasso). Metal and general heaviness make a decent showing (Black Breath, Helms Alee). Indie folk and vintage-style soul battle it out at the top of the bill for most annoying, oversaturated trend of the year (the Lumineers vs. Fitz and the Tantrums). Decibel provides the electronic after-parties. And as usual, the most interesting stuff happens in the outliers: Grimes' wispy electro-pop, Miracles Club's live house antics, Pollens' polyglot rhythmic jams, SpaceGhostPurrp's possibly terrible cloud rap. Then there's Diplo/Major Lazer's populist party music, Thee Oh Sees' scorcher garage rock, Father John Misty's louche Laurel Canyon routine, TRUST's goth pop, Spoek Mathambo's globalist beats, and frankly too much other good stuff to fit here. Prepare yourself for a long weekend. capitolhillblockparty.com. $30 daily/ $85 three-day pass. All ages. ERIC GRANDY

***EDITOR'S PICK

Florence + the Machine/Saturday, July 21

Any suspicions that young British performer Florence Welch might be a one-hit wonder after the huge success of her 2009 single "Dog Days Are Over" were dispelled when last year's "Shake It Out" became an even bigger hit. The stately, flame-haired Welch has an unforgettably majestic voice that's more than able to carry her career, and her flowery, bohemian style has become something of a pop-culture fixation; she's appeared on the covers of such fashion bibles as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Her latest musical output is the soaring fourth single from her Ceremonials album, "Spectrum (Say My Name)," complete with a glamorous David LaChapelle–directed music video and a club-ready Calvin Harris remix. Florence + the Machine's current tour leans a little bit more rock than pop, though, with New York quintet The Walkmen, who just released their seventh album, Heaven, opening. White River Amphitheatre, 40601 Auburn-Enumclaw Rd., Auburn, 360-825-6200. 8 p.m. $29.50–$49.50. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Chris Isaak/Sunday, July 22

Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" provides the soundtrack for the sexiest music video ever filmed. In it, Isaak—extraordinarily dashing and aw-shucks folksy at the same time—rolls around (mostly) naked on the beach with supermodel Helena Christensen. There are frames in which it's clear they've formed the beast with two backs, out in the open, waves crashing against their bare buns. If you were stranded on Duck Island after watching this video, you'd attempt to mount a muskrat carcass if it was the only thing handy. Isaak, now 56 with a voice as lush and durable as his looks, has that effect on people. So do supermodels. Theirs is a beautiful world. With Shawn Colvin. Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14111 N.E. 145th St., Woodinville, 425-415-3300. 7 p.m. $45–$70. MIKE SEELY

Dirty Projectors/Monday, July 23

To call Dirty Projectors' new album Swing Lo Magellan their most "accessible" or "straightforward" is to quietly elide just how weird the band has historically been. The decade-long recording project of David Longstreth, a Yale-educated lefty guitar player with a fondness for African pop and the American avant-garde, Dirty Projectors has made songs about the Eagles' Don Henley; reimagined Black Flag's Damaged from faulty memory; and collaborated with equally adventurous artists from Björk and the Roots to White Rainbow's Adam Forkner. Previous album Bitte Orca was a dazzling work of disjointed rhythm and melody and unearthly, broken-up vocal harmonies (Longstreth's own warbly voice backed by the trio of Angel Deradoorian, Amber Coffman, and Haley Dekle). So, yes, Magellan's songs are less fractured and more flowing, but they're still delightfully strange and full of unexpected pleasures. With Wye Oak. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $22.50 adv./$28 DOS. All ages. ERIC GRANDY

SpaceGhostPurrp/Monday, July 23

SpaceGhostPurrp, aka Miami's Muney Jordan, lays claim to one of the most absurdly fantastic, cartoon-referential handles and regionally uncharacteristic styles in rap today. His all-black, mainly Oakland Raider–logoed uniform isn't exactly the casual beachwear seen in most Miami-area music videos, and his syrupy horrorcore production and slinking, night-dweller flow contains strands of the old-school West Coast/Brotha Lynch Hung underbelly as well as new in-vogue New York haze-rap like A$AP Rocky. Hitting Vera Project with recent Odd Future signees Trash Talk, this show should be nothing short of punk. Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., 956-8372. 7:30 p.m. $15. All ages. TODD HAMM

 
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