Music » Our guide to this week's shows

The guide to the week's concerts

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Americans In France, Heads On Sticks, Small Ponds, Filthybird, Blood Red River, Phatlynx, Dust Vs Dirt, Kaia Wilson, Heather Mcentire, Danielle Howle, Rowdy Square Dance, The Old Ceremony, Dex Romweber & The New Romans, Jon Lindsay, Juan Huevos, The Memorials, Motor Skills

EH, WHATEVER: Symphony X, Mac Miller

HELPING: Red Cross Benefit



YES, PLEASE...

05.19 AMERICANS IN FRANCE, HEADS ON STICKS @ NIGHTLIGHT

This show features three bands who make established sounds work in unexpected ways. Americans in France graft sneering punk energy onto art rock that careens through time-signature changes and druggy atmospherics with thrilling dexterity. In Heads on Sticks, Birds of Avalon bassist Dave Mueller funnels his other band's arena-psych enthusiasm into bright, jagged sound collages. Contorted samples and sound effects collide with muscular bass lines in a postmodern assault on the senses, an auditory allegory for the age of information overload. Le Weekend resurrects the angular indie rock of bands like Archers of Loaf, filling in DNA gaps with heady pop interludes. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence

05.20 SMALL PONDS, FILTHYBIRD @ MARSH WOODWINDS

Here's an ingenious twist on crowdfunding, or the act of enabling your fans to pay for your new project in exchange for a special version of it: The idiosyncratic pop sophisticates Filthybird co-headline the intimate upstairs space of Marsh Woodwinds with the gentle, chamber-folk charms of Small Ponds. More accustomed to sharing rock club stages, both bands will take revenue from the boosted $12 ticket price to fund recording and manufacturing of a 7-inch split single, featuring a new song from each. Everyone who sees the show will receive a free copy and the benefactor's satisfaction of knowing that without their contribution, these songs might never have surfaced. And if the recent track records of both bands hold true, don't expect to be let down by the tunes therein. $12/ 7:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin

05.20 BLOOD RED RIVER, PHATLYNX, DUST VS DIRT @ THE CAVE

Like a hangover from last month's Instro Summit, Blood Red River returns. Their garage-surf rumbles like a V-8 with enough slick lines, gleaming polish and guitar-engine roar to take your pink slip. From the spook-spy movie slink of "Rolling Under the Undertow" to the irreverent cowbell-busting swagger of "Monkey Paw," they're a motor-oil swilling good time. They'll receive a nice lead-in courtesy of Phatlynx, an all-star quartet featuring drummer Dave Perry, Groves Willer and Chris Bess, all throwing their weight behind a set of Link Wray covers. Bring your pith helmet because it'll be a surf safari. 10 p.m.—Chris Parker

05.20 KAIA WILSON, HEATHER MCENTIRE @ THE PINHOOK

However different the music they make alone or with their bands might be, both Kaia Wilson of The Butchies and Team Dresch and Heather McEntire of Bellafea and Mount Moriah have combined their artistry and their history into inspirational bodies of work. Bellafea, for instance, has long cast the diminutive McEntire as the badass out front, howling her troubles and lashing them with her razor-wire guitar lines; in Mount Moriah, she's attached her toils—failed relationships, coming out to her family, anxieties for the future—to embraceable country anthems. Wilson is a queercore institution, having co-founded two of its biggest bands. But her quiet, quixotic solo records and her quest to become a championship ping-pong player are manifestations of a restless spirit, testaments to the hopeful idea that you can always be bigger than your legacy. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin

05.21 DANIELLE HOWLE @ BROAD STREET CAFE

South Carolina singer Danielle Howle's made music for more than two decades, dating back to her late-'80s rock band, Lay Quiet Awhile. After their breakup, Howle started her solo career in indie folk, but Howle's tastes are not so easily circumscribed. From balls-out blasts ("Camaro Power") and muscular jangle-pop ("Big Front Porch") to bright, R&B-tinged country ("Let the Angels Come In"), Howle demonstrates a sure, versatile hand. Her sturdy alto possesses an easy assurance that isn't gruff or flashy but amiable and earnest, like a trustworthy friend. Her last release, 2008's Swamp Sessions EP, explores a spare Southern roots vibe with artistry that leaves you wanting for more. 8 p.m. —Chris Parker

05.21 ROWDY SQUARE DANCE @ NIGHTLIGHT, CHAPEL HILL

Music circles back on itself and repeats. Melodies become mantras, and listeners enter a hypnotic reverie. A quartet featuring banjo, fiddle and washtub bass presents the original trance music. Less country-western, more old-time, the Rowdy Square Dance brings Appalachian country dancing down from the mountains and into local music clubs. It's reminiscent of a bluegrass and Irish jig mashup. Tonight's event features the Eno River Mud Slingers with caller Anna Lena Phillips. Simple dance steps—do-si-do with your partner, swing around, circle left—help you lose yourself even deeper in the music. One of Nightlight's Old Time Open Jams, usually reserved for the first Wednesday of the month, follows the dance. $5/ 9 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey

The Old Ceremony - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND

05.21 THE OLD CEREMONY, DEX ROMWEBER & THE NEW ROMANS @ CAT'S CRADLE

The Old Ceremony began as a chamber-noir outfit combining baroque sensibilities with smoky cabaret panache. That moody swing leavened the typical stiffness of orchestral-minded efforts, aided by frontman Django Haskins' comfy Beatles-inflected melodies. With last year's The Tender Age, they shelved gentility in favor of a more rocking mien, highlighted by Haskins' crisp songwriting. Dex Romweber is moving in the other direction: His latest, 2009's Ruins of Berlin, downshifts the tempos and Romweber's fiery rockabilly/ Americana in favor of more sedate, contemplative fare of the pre-rock variety. It's appropriate for his band, The New Romans, who boast fine backing singers and classic verve. $10–$12/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

05.21 JON LINDSAY @ THE PINHOOK

Tucked away from the Triangle scene, Charlotte's Jon Lindsay is quietly becoming one of the state's most intriguing songsmiths. He crafts exquisite pop nuggets loaded with charming touches and quixotic lyricism. Lindsay's chameleon tendencies mean every song isn't a hit, but his willingness to deviate from stereotypes pays off more often than not. Chapel Hill quartet Western Civ maturely reflects back on the college rock tradition of its new hometown, mixing in a bit of inspiration from Pixies and Guided By Voices for good measure. Sharing the same set of local influences, Columbus, Ohio's The Kyle Sowashes open with hooky, hyperactive indie rock. $5/ 10 p.m.—Spencer Griffith

05.24 JUAN HUEVOS, THE MEMORIALS, MOTOR SKILLS @ NIGHLIGHT

The music of Juan Huevos is a lively conundrum. His beats throb with gritty backpacker intensity, but they're graced with sheeny, late-night techno bursts. Huevos spits quick, clever party verses that mix gross detail, crushing self-doubt and nonsensical boasting. The Memorials are an odd element here, marrying well-sung soul to melodic, lightweight grunge. Motor Skills make more sense, utilizing caustic, lo-fi beats to underpin tight, catchy indie pop that will feel far from out of place at Huevos' party. $7/ 9:30 p.m.—Jordan Lawrence


EH, WHATEVER...

05.20 SYMPHONY X @ VOLUME 11 TAVERN

It's important to note the most prominent aspect of this band's name is the word "Symphony," which gives you an idea of what they're going for. The name doesn't summarize a dark fantasy or anatomical atrocity, nor does it allude to obscure mythology—it's a statement of musical ambition. What's more, it's a misnomer: This is mostly a smooshing of sub-Dragonforce power-wank and middling Audioslavery, nothing more. The gig costs $27.50, and doesn't include nachos to go with this glob of cheese. 7 p.m. —Bryan Reed

05.20 MAC MILLER @ CAT'S CRADLE

It seems mean to pick on Mac Miller, a young rapper from Pittsburgh who has yet to take a legal drink and has only been able to buy those Philly blunts he professes to cut and re-roll so much for about a year now. He's a dopey-faced white kid making amiable-enough hip-hop, and if you've ever seen him live, you know that he dances sort of like an elf. So, why not leave bad enough alone, right? Trouble is, as this sold-out show and the rap-along, stoned-as-possible teenage crowd during his last Triangle appearance at Raleigh Amphitheater suggest, Miller might just be hip-hop's next big star. That's scary stuff: His music presents hip-hop as an emptied shell, restuffed with juvenile thoughts about bags of weed, stacks of bills and piles of video games. It's not clever, compelling or creative; it's the sound of taking drugs to make music to regret your early adulthood to, and a lot of people are paying to play. At least get high enough so you can't actually see the dude dance, OK? With Rapsody and Mr. Invisible. 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


HELPING...

05.25 RED CROSS BENEFIT @ THE POUR HOUSE

Jeff Debonzo was clear across the country when the storms were ravaging Raleigh. "I was in Tucson, but I heard about it," he says. Though not personally affected by the weather, he and his band have signed on for this benefit to help the Raleigh chapter of the Red Cross recoup resources depleted in the wake of the tornadoes. "So I just found out last week that we were on [the bill]," he explains. "You know, you either want to donate time or money, and I think this is just a great way everyone can come together and have fun and be doing something good at the same time. I guess that's kind of cliché."

Even so, it hasn't stopped Six String Drag's Kenny Roby and Jack the Radio from sharing the bill. There's also an unnamed surprise act; Debonzo swore he would wait until the days before the gig to reveal the band's identity, but he hints that a "well-known Triangle [Americana] band" will be announced May 20th. Feel free to start the rumor mill churning, or just keep checking www.the-pour-house.com. All proceeds go the Red Cross of Raleigh. 8 p.m. —Ashley Melzer

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