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The guide to the week's concerts

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Dale Watson, John Howie Jr. and the Rosewood Bluff, Free Electric State, A Rooster for the Masses, Drink Up Buttercup, The Tomahawks, Caltrop, Decoration Ghost, The Bronzed Chorus, Jufface, Ultimate Optimist, Goathouse Cat Refuge benefit, Pinche Gringo, Mondo Topless

VS.: Malarkey-Gras vs. Thee Dirtybeats vs. Hank Sinatra

VS.: Mötley Crüe vs. O.A.R.

SONG OF THE WEEK: Todd Snider's "East Nashville Skyline"

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YES, PLEASE

Dale Watson
  • Dale Watson

08.20 DALE WATSON, JOHN HOWIE JR. AND THE ROSEWOOD BLUFF @THE POUR HOUSE

It's easy to sympathize with country fans who miss the music from before it became an airbrushed, hat-wearing cliché. Watson captures those sentiments in his classic "Country My Ass," bemoaning how "they took the soul out of what means a whole lot to me" in a deep, room-size baritone. It fits comfortably above a mix of old-school honky-tonk and Bakersfield swing. There's nothing much more down-home than an album dedicated to truckers, like his latest, The Trucking Sessions, Vol. 2. Ex-Two Dollar Pistol John Howie Jr. makes a fine foil, milking the tears from downcast country twang with a picture of George Jones on the dash. $9-$12/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker

08.20 FREE ELECTRIC STATE, A ROOSTER FOR THE MASSES @ TIR NA NOG

Free Electric State is the latest and greatest byproduct of that great band member recycling wheel in the sky that, let's hope, keeps turning: Shirlé and David Koslowski danced to disco pop-punk in Gerty! before toughening it up in The Ex-Members. Their latest, the must-see Free Electric State, takes that same interest in pulses and applies it beneath thick, glistening washes of sustained tones. Like shoegaze kids on a cocktail of psychedelics and uppers, they power tunes with twin guitars and arching vocals and propel them with sharp, heavy drums. A Rooster for the Masses has problems with the way society runs itself. They will sing these woes to you, with the small request that you move to The Clash bedrock at their back. Free/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin

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08.20 DRINK UP BUTTERCUP @ LOCAL 506

The cover of Drink Up Buttercup's "Mr. Pie Eyes" 7" depicts a giant hook snagged in the cheek of some anonymous screamer. As Albini might say, this ain't a metaphor. The playful Philly foursome packs monstrous hooks into madcap pop numbers. Exploding with energy, Drink Up Buttercup will have you howling along in no time. New York's Ezra Furman and the Harpoons fill the middle with more wildly infectious pop raves. Also, Nashville folkies The Naked Light and electronic dabblers Tallest Trees offer freewheeling, psychedelic adventure. $8/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

08.20 THE TOMAHAWKS @ SLIM'S

If we're to assume Like A Horse On A Beach, the title of The Tomahawks' four-song debut (available for free at thetomahawks.bandcamp.com) is meant to evoke a wild animal flicking sand as it runs, its mane fluttering in salty air, then it's a fitting introduction. Like its peers Max Indian and Ryan Gustafson, this Nick Jaeger-fronted band leans heavily on the reliable foundation of '60s rock and pop, but brings its own nods to Wilco-esque Americana and Booker T. soul. Like the animal, it's sleek, strong and well-built. $5/ 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed

08.21 CALTROP, DECORATION GHOST @ SLIM'S

Caltrop's brand of heaviness—deeply indebted to Southern rock and stoner metal, steamy nights and soul music—is more sense-lifting than bone-crushing. Riffs unite in harmony and splinter in symphony, coiling around a rhythm section that's dexterous and deceitful, full of heavy charges and sudden changes. If you've never spent an evening wrapped in their dense electricity, this rare Raleigh visit is a safe bet. New from Greensboro, Decoration Ghost makes wiry indie rock that would sit well with one of those early Merge Records catalog numbers. The perfect "Horizon," for instance, sprints and lurches and charms, its harmonies and handclaps and hard-angled guitars turning three minutes into an anthem. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin

08.21 THE BRONZED CHORUS, JUFFAGE, ULTIMATE OPTIMIST @ NIGHTLIGHT

From prismatic guitar tones that refract and cascade like light through a chandelier to the valleys of hushed, music-box melodies and back again, a set by The Bronzed Chorus is, oversimplified, a series of colorful swells and quieted lulls. But just because the bag of tricks is small doesn't mean it isn't potent. The Gate City duo's concise post-rock bursts proved enough to keep this year's I'm The Spring interesting. Openers Juffage and Ultimate Optimist—from Chicago and Charlotte, respectively—are similarly bent on stacking tones. Where Juffage loops together clattering percussion and sweeping chords, Ultimate Optimist lays preprogrammed melodies over live drums. $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Bryan Reed

Luego
  • Luego

08.21 GOATHOUSE CAT REFUGE BENEFIT @ CAT'S CRADLE

Thanks to sibling-quality harmonies, vocal drama and stage banter, Tres Chicas enables a variety of band name puns: Louvin Sisters, Righteous Sisters, Smothers Sisters.... And during the Chicas' decade-long existence, the trio has yet to meet a compassionate cause it wouldn't back. Joining them in this benefit for Goathouse Cat Refuge, a Pittsboro-based cat sanctuary and adoption center, are Luego, whose rock 'n' roll channels the Stones in hootenanny mode, and Gambling the Muse, which places its bets on the Jayhawks when it comes to inspiration. $10-$12/ 8:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell

08.22 PINCHE GRINGO, MONDO TOPLESS @ THE CAVE

You could view Josh Johnson's one-man band Pinche Gringo as an ingenious recessionary hedge, but that discounts the spectacle of one man coaxing such a gloriously ragged, gut-rattling course of garage grime. Philadelphia's Mondo Topless appreciates a sativa-soaked din; they've spent the last 17 years chasing racing guitars and hip-swinging organ rides down the garage-psych rabbit hole. Farfisa reigns and guitars thunder behind founder Sam Steinig's swaggering vocal strut. Greensboro's Rough Hands peg the red like the Seeds in a microwave. $5/10 p.m. —Chris Parker


FRIDAY, AUGUST 21

MALARKEY-GRAS

From: Raleigh via Richmond
Since: 1974
Claim to fame: Pour House talent buyer extraordinaire

The Pour House's Chris Malarkey spearheads the downtown Raleigh venue's search for new talent. As such, this birthday celebration features a trio of his favorite Americana finds. American Aquarium (in above photo) headlines, infusing their latest batch of alt-country ruckus and Americana sentiment with a shot or seven of bar rock bravado. Though BJ Barham's lyrics can be downright lazy at times, he's an engaging frontman who's unafraid to spill his heart, particularly regarding his history of PBR-steeped romances. Veteran Nashville trio The Coal Men bring gleaming, laid-back roots rock to the table. Raleigh's Whiskey Kills the Butterflies open, and Magic Mike performs some trickery. At THE POUR HOUSE. $8-10/ 9 p.m.

VS.

THEE DIRTYBEATS

From: Chapel Hill via decades-old garages
Since: 2009
Claim to fame: Uncovering rare '60s nuggets

The latest project of Chapel Hill collective Amps Do Furnish a Room, Thee Dirtybeats revive choice '60s proto-punk jams that predate the MC5 and the Stooges' brand of sneer and swagger. The quartet focuses on obscure cuts from extinct North Carolina psych and garage rock groups, which drummer and vocalist Ken Friedman has been archiving for years and releasing as the Tobacco-A-Go-Go series. The Kinksmen is a similarly minded four-piece that worships exclusively at the altar of (surprise!) The Kinks and features familiar names Jeff Hart (Brown Mountain Lights, The Ruins), Mike Nicholson (Stratocruiser), James Hepler (I Was Totally Destroying It, Sorry About Dresden) and Matt Brown (Stratocruiser, Two Dollar Pistols). At LOCAL 506. $6/ 10 p.m.

VS.

HANK SINATRA

From: Carrboro via Nashville
Since: 2002
Claim to fame: Fierce and fiery cowpunk

A little too much whiskey is what's burning in the belly of Hank Sinatra, an incendiary outfit of honky-tonk outlaws that cranks its amps into the red and roars through tales of drinking and spending nights in the slammer (the two are usually unrelated, of course.) Alt-country cowpokes meet the ex-punks in The Shucks, a rootsy Triangle quintet that features the male/female vocal swaps and sugared harmonies of Billie Karel and Travis Creed on twangy tunes that range from upbeat swings to lazy shuffles. At BERKELEY CAFE. $10/9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


SUNDAY, AUGUST 23

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MÖTLEY CRÜE

From: Hell (a suburb of Los Angeles)
Since: 1981
Claim to fame: Elevating sex and drugs to an art form while reducing rock 'n' roll to much less

Sex tapes, near-fatal chemical dependencies and drunken vehicular homicides crowned Mötley Crüe "bad boys" instead of merely bad, as their ravenous appetites blazed a path of destruction. Onstage, they rode glam-metal onto the pop charts by appealing to those not old enough to drink or smart enough to think. Sure, there are decent trashy riffs hidden within their skin-deep lyrical odes to hedonism, but their narcissism is nearly unrivaled. One wonders how the family of late Vince Neil passenger Razzle feels about their box set, Music to Crash Your Car To. In the arena of bad taste, Mötley Crüe are world champs. Tonight, with Godsmack, Drowning Pool, Theory of a Deadman, Charm City Devils at WALNUT CREEK AMPHITHEATER. $29.50-$95

VS.

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O.A.R.

From: Rockville, Md.
Since: 1996
Claim to fame: Jammy, strummy rock equally welcome in the cow pasture as on Modern Rock or Adult Contemporary radio

Named as an acronym for "Of A Revolution," O.A.R. wages a revolt on behalf of Dave Matthews, with hacky sacks and even hackier pop sentiments. The revolution is coming to a mall parking lot near you. The band's careening, jammy folk-pop jiggles lightly in breezy arrangements like jello, as they rhapsodize about loving "faster than the devil" rather than shouting at him. Whether or not "Love is Worth The Fall" as they tritely aver, it's a more wholesome, musical expression than the Crüe's mind-numbingly repetitive paean to strippers (not premature ejaculation), "Too Fast For Love." Ultimately, O.A.R.'s hackneyed earnestness trumps Crüe's blandly decadent deification of excess, but god damn if it's a fight we want to see ever again. At KOKA BOOTH AMPHITHEATRE. $29.50-$32/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker

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