Live Music Roundup: Friday, August 21

Michelle Martin
The Flaming Lips are coming to Marymoor tonight. They go on around 8:30 p.m., but I suggest getting there early because I'm anticipating a lot of people. Tickets are going to be $45 at the door, I believe, and the show starts at 7 p.m. It is, as always, all ages.

Karl Blau with John Van Deusen of the Lonely Forest, Goldfinch at the Q Cafe, 7:30 p.m., $7, all ages

For an artist to whom "lo-fi" "indie" and "freak-folk" are common attributions, Karl Blau's forthcoming album Zebra is both surprising and natural. Though he clearly continues to favor a fairly basic production philosophy, Zebra is downright slick in comparison to the general gestalt of bedroom-style recording. The album also eschews some of the freakier and folkier elements of the genre, preferring to dabble in dreamy pop, psychedelia, and surf rock, informing much of the album with influences from African music and its far flung descendents.

The album opens with the chiming bells and island-lounge-chic of "Waiting for the Wind," skronks out on the jazzy (and most stridently lo-fi) bluster of "Crucial Contact," and surfs through the Luna-esque beach bum shimmer of "Apology to Pollinateurs," which also brings in the flair of exotica via a wind instrument (kazoo? sax?) that sounds like it would be more at home in a Moroccan bazaar than in Anacortes. That's just the first three tracks. Elsewhere are influences of bluesy Hendrix riffing mixed with proto-grunge ("Flood"), minimalist British Invasion flourishes ("Welcome to NW"), and the reverse looping of trippy spoken word piece "Shovel Song." Accompanying Blau is LAKE, sweet indie popsters and K labelmates for whom Blau has produced two albums. NICHOLAS HALL

The High Strung with the Sea Navy (it's their CD release party!) at the Sunset, 10 p.m., $8

The High Strung is a trio from the Greater Detroit area that plays quick, fast, straightforward, and very good rock and roll. These days, such a no-bullshit m.o. is almost revolutionary, but what's genuinely groundbreaking about the band is its affinity for playing the quietest of sanctums: the public library. Four years ago, they were touring with the Brian Jonestown Massacre when a Detroit-area librarian/former college radio DJ named Bill Harmer invited them to play a free show for teens. They did, and then they did more like-minded gigs, eventually capturing the interest of NPR's Ira Glass, who devoted a This American Life segment to the High Strung's bibliophilic tendencies. Since that airing, the band has barely been able to keep up with bookish demand; that it is able to squeeze an actual nightclub gig into its schedule here is a small miracle. But if you're over the age of 21 and live on the grittier side of 520, that's frankly the show to catch. The band's music was meant to be digested alongside copious amounts of cheap beer. Detroit Rock City, baby. These boys don't let you forget it. MIKE SEELY

There's also this bizarre tribute show at Showbox at the Market, which costs $10 starts at 8 p.m and is all ages:

I have to admit, my first feeling regarding tonight's "tribute" show, which features the music of some of the most revered bands to come out of Seattle, was to be extremely icked out. The overtly obvious names of the bands playing had me conjuring images of dudes in just-appropriately worn flannel, bad wigs like the one Matt Dillion rocked in Singles, and glued-on goatees, trying to in vain to summon the ghost of a very dead scene. But if done correctly, without imitation of the actual artists (assuming Jerry Cantrell's playing stance, for instance) or the artifice of costume, it may not be a total flop. By focusing solely on playing the fuck out of some really great songs instead of the aesthetics and all the other external crap that would eventually bring those bands' time in the spotlight to an end, this whole thing could come off without a hitch. And to be fair, it takes a colossal pair of balls to cover bands whose members could show up at your gig and throw things at you. With Jar of Flies (Alice In Chains Tribute), Superunknown (Soundgarden/Temple of the Dog Tribute), and Black Sun Morning (Screaming Trees Tribute). MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Pissed Jeans, Suck Machine at Chop Suey, 9 p.m., $8 adv., $10 dos

Comprised of four guys whose greatest accomplishment is the ability to bang out rudimentary rock music, Pissed Jeans doesn't have a lot to say. In fact, they have nothing to say, but insist on saying it anyway. Yeah, that's right: anti-message music. Usually, anti-anything is irritating. Anti-cool, anti-intellectualism, anti-fun...all that calculated, self-important naysaying gets wearisome. The difference here is that there's nothing calculated about it. The songs are not designed to tell a story, or convey any real meaning beyond the immediacy of a bunch of kids who have nothing to do and nowhere to go. The funny thing is, by defining a world in which nowhereness and nothingness are increasingly the norm, gussied up as "lifestyle" choices like what coffee to drink and where to work out, the anti-message becomes a sort of actual message. Using stomping drums, caterwauling guitars, sinister bass, and guttural howls, the band crashes through tracks like "False Jesii Part 2," "Half Idiot," and "Human Upskirt," relying on speed and force to quell the growing sense of nothingness. Covering the other side of boredom, the band revels in the blind stumble of meandering tracks like "Request for Masseuse", "Dominate Yourself", and "Goodbye (Hair)." The music, too, carries a secret, perhaps half-intended message. Underneath and in-between all the noise are moments of subtle grace and beauty. Not bad for a bunch of ham-fisted rockers with nothing to say. NICHOLAS HALL

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