The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

Nicki Minaj, Twin Shadow, and Akimbo's last show ever.

Black Stax/Friday, August 10

The names of MCs Silas Blak and Jace Ecaj pop up in the annals of Seattle-area rap going back well over a decade. Their joint rhyme moniker, Silent Lambs Project, has adorned some of the most electric and artful hip-hop the city has ever been able to claim. When the two partner with vocalist Felicia Loud, they are Black Stax, a project that has allowed each to expand the borders of their creativity, as Loud's spiritual/soulful voice floats over and among the deep, smoky verses spit by Blak and Jace, creating swirling, forceful, yet gorgeous moments. Their newest offering, High Rhymes Smoking Jackets, is a full-on collaboration with Oldominion/Grayskul-affiliated sound engineer Rob Castro, intended to explore a whole new side of the group. With Radio Raheem, Fysha. Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave. S., 722-3009. 9 p.m. $10 adv./$12 DOS. TODD HAMM

Festival of the River/Friday, August 10—Sunday, August 12

Waxing (whining, really) nostalgic about the days when Bumbershoot didn't cost a penny has grown tiresome. Not because it's a completely illegitimate gripe, but because reliving the Bumbershoot of 20 years ago is as simple as driving 45 minutes north on I-5 to Arlington. There, the Stillaguamish Tribe will treat you—and by that, we mean admit for free—to three full days of top-notch music and salmon at a gorgeous, sprawling county park. And nothing against Bumbershoot, but would Northwest music fans really prefer to hear Skrillex, Big Sean, and Gotye (at Bumbershoot) over a diverse cast of undeniable musical legends like Alejandro Escovedo, Dr. John, Mickey Hart, and Buffy Sainte-Marie (at Arlington)? The tribe calls you for a quest. With Los Lonely Boys, LeRoy Bell & His Only Friends, Lee Brice, Jana Kramer, Dave Mason, Indigenous, Junkyard Jane, Brett Eldridge, Lost Trailers, Marley's Ghost. River Meadows County Park, 20416 Jordan Rd., Arlington, festivaloftheriver.com. Free. All ages. MIKE SEELY

Akimbo/Saturday, August 11

Akimbo have been around literally forever. They started the band as actual babies (don't believe me? Just look at their tiny-child faces on their 1999 debut, split with Teen Cthulhu). They have run through seven guitarists (hold your Spinal Tap jokes) and sacrificed five tour vans to the road. Over their half-dozen albums, they evolved from pimply teenage thrash-dudes to an incredibly heavy shredding machine, with Animal-from-the-Muppets Nat Damm on drums and bassist/bellower Jon Weisnewski as the band's constant core. Tonight, they play their last show. The split was boring and amicable, according to the band, and Damm and Weisnewski will continue to play together in Sandrider. Akimbo dies as it lived: crushing. With Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Bitches Crystal. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 322-9272. 9 p.m. $8. ERIC GRANDY

Nicki Minaj/Saturday, August 11

It's interesting that the fans decrying Nicki Minaj's newer music as "not hip-hop" were probably a year ago calling "Super Bass" pure brilliance. "Super Bass" is a pop track. It wasn't until Minaj released "Starships," the rave-up single from her second album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, that purists started crying foul—even though music fans should know that if there's one thing an artist hates, it's being pigeonholed. Minaj is a woman who wears many multicolored wigs—just because she wants to rap about Bud Light and shake it in a bikini doesn't mean she's no longer the girl who spit the jaw-dropping, song-stealing verses in Kanye West's "Monster." Sure, "Starships" is fluffy and Minaj's newest single, "Pound the Alarm," is a mess, but Reloaded still has more than a few sharp moments ("Beez in the Trap," "Champion"). Minaj is just exploring her options. When you're a huge pop star, what's stopping you? With 2 Chainz. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849. 8 p.m. $42–$72. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Onra/Saturday, August 11

Onra is the stage name of Arnaud Bernard, a Paris-based DJ/producer who works in the sample-heavy esoteric beat-world of instrumental hip-hop. His latest album, Chinoiseries Pt. 2, is the second in a series of records that flip obscure Chinese and Southeast Asian vinyl finds into short and sweet beat studies. An album in the fine touristic, crate-digging tradition of Madlib's Beat Konducta in India, it's also an exploration of Onra's own French/Vietnamese ancestry (and, taking it way out there, France's old colonial meddling in Indochine.) Live, you don't need to know where the samples came from or by what historical processes they got there—only that Onra knows how to chop 'em up. With Matthew David, WD4D, Justice & Treasure. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618. 9 p.m. $10. ERIC GRANDY

***EDITOR'S PICK

Twin Shadow/Sunday, August 12

In this tech-crazy era of computerized graphic design, musicians posing for their album covers isn't cool anymore. That's a fact that George Lewis Jr. chose to ignore for his second Twin Shadow release, Confess; he appears on the cover against a plain blue background, slouched forward, dark hair slicked back, hands casually draped into the pockets of his studded black-leather jacket, one eyebrow slightly cocked. The artwork recalls the iconic cover of George Michael's Faith, and, like Michael, Lewis has a persona that exudes seductiveness and extreme self-assurance. That aura's reflected in his slick, alluring music; Confess was inspired by a serious motorcycle accident, morbidity, and black thoughts, but Lewis has said that Twin Shadow was a reaffirmation of life for him, and his new songs are flushed with an energized, confident sexiness. With Poolside. Barboza, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9467. 8 p.m. $16. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three/Tuesday, August 14

With slicked-back hair, a dapper suit and bow tie, and a certain indefinable charisma, Pokey LaFarge looks like he just stepped out of a time machine from the Great Depression. Fittingly, the St. Louis troubadour and his three-piece band craft tunes that sound as though they could have been broadcast during the golden age of radio. A blend of blues, early jazz, honky-tonk, and Woody Guthrie–style folk, Pokey's music is living proof that they do in fact make 'em like they used to. Just ask Jack White: The guitar god picked Pokey and co. as the opening act for his shows at Red Rock Amphitheater, Portland, and Seattle. With Jack White. WaMu Theater, 800 Occidental Ave S., 381-7555. 8 p.m. $49.50 adv./$55 DOS. All ages. KEEGAN HAMILTON

 
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