Tonight: The Walkmen at the Showbox, Shonen Knife at the Tractor, Man Man at Neumos

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The Walkmen, with The Helio Sequence. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 8 p.m. $20. All ages. For their sixth studio album, this month's Lisbon, the characteristically cacophonous Walkmen made a conscious effort to scale things back a bit. "We tried for a very bare instrumentation on this," the band's frontman Hamilton Leithauser told me on a recent phone call. "We really turned the reverb down a lot, which for us is a big step." The result is a stripped-down and, at times, stunningly elegant collection of music - but that's not to say the band's lost any of its raw energy for their upcoming tour, which kicks off tonight; and while the tour's focus is Lisbon, he also promises to keep the band's longtime fans in mind. "We always play 'The Rat,'" he says. "People always want to hear it." ERIN K. THOMPSON

Shonen Knife, with The Pharmacy, The Purrs. Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599. 8:30 p.m. $15. Japan's long-running all-girl trio Shonen Knife is down to one original member: Singer-guitarist Naoko Yamano. Bassist Michie Nakatami quit in 1999, and Naoko's sister and drummer/bassist Atsuko retired from music in 2008. So, no, they're not exactly the same band that Kurt Cobain fell in love with over Naoko's bizarre lyrics about bugs, banana fish, jellybeans, ice cream, and chocolate bars, and brought out on tour with Nirvana in 1991. Or the one that inspired Sonic Youth -- so taken by the band's sweetly punky, spunky power-pop - to headline the 1989 tribute album, Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them. But Shonen's new Free Time sounds almost exactly like their previous output (they are the Ramones of Japan, after all), so everyone but the pissy purists will still have a great time tonight. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

Man Man, with Let's Wrestle, Steel Tigers of Death. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 8 p.m. $15. It's Always Freaky In Philadelphia.

 
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