This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Beausoleil, Sex Vid
VS.: Les Savy Fav vs. The Barberries
INTRODUCING: The Bars & Tone Experiment: Local Films & Local Bands; Sea Cow
SONG OF THE WEEK: Les Savy Fav's "Patty Lee"
07.11 ROBERT PLANT & ALISON KRAUSS @ RBC CENTER
Contexts are somewhat limiting, so great creative artists change their circumstances. Sometimes a change will do you good, but here it does them great. Krauss has been fiddling with her band Union Station since she was a teen two decades ago, helping bridge bluegrass to the mainstream on the soundtracks for O' Brother Where Art Thou and Cold Mountain. Plant's instantly recognizable for his lithe, blues-driven vocal trapeze-work. Each extended their roots-based catalogs even past where they intersected and staked out a wonderful swath of territory on last year's collaboration, Raising Sand. They range from Gene Clark's loping, gospel-blues elegy "Polly Come Home" to the snappy, '50s rock stylings of the Everly Brothers, the haunted cabaret swoon of Tom Waits/ Kathleen Brennan's "Trampled Rose," and the honky-tonk stomp "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson" by Little Milton Campbell. Their voices mesh like an old married couple while the pairing sheds a flattering new light on each. $45-$65/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
07.12 BEAUSOLEIL @ N.C. MUSEUM OF ART
Just a little learning to get started: This Lafayette, La.-based sextet is named after Joseph Broussard (also known as Beausoleil), a leader of the Acadian people in what is now the Atlantic Canada region. Sorry for that, but when dealing with a band whose music is closely associated with a particular culture—in this case, Cajun—there can be some accidental enlightening taking place among the entertainment. With the skilled Michael Doucet and company at the front of the classroom, and when the lessons include not only trad Cajun and zydeco songs but also plenty of numbers that reveal how to blend and expand that base, the education goes down easy. $7.50-$25/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
07.14 SEX VID @ BULL CITY HEADQUARTERS
If you care about such things, Seattle's Sex Vid is the current hardcore band to see, and not lightly. Its flavor of thrash rides this shockwave of feedback from song to song, nearly grooving through the caterwaul. Translation: The band covers both GBH and The Dead C. Don't miss this one. Logic Problem and DEVOUR open. 9 p.m. —Chris Toenes
Saturday, July 12
LES SAVY FAV
From: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Claim to fame: Bass player Syd Butler founded French Kiss Records
Mismatches on paper often prove otherwise in practice. So while Les Savy Fav's writhing art-punk shimmy begs commensurate twitching in the bedroom, the agitation isn't always as present in performance. On a leg of this recent tour, LSF were blasted off the stage by the passionate Scots of Frightened Rabbit. The band, known for its live antics, strangely lacked the stage presence to match the frenetic pulse of its jagged jangle. At its best, LSF blends noise pop shimmer with post-punk bravura, producing spiky sinewy melody that pushes you away even as it draws you in. A college art museum (NASHER MUSEUM OF ART's first rock show) may be the band's optimal performance space. If the band's in top form, look out. $5-$10/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
Claim to fame: They sound like Afghani sinsemilla smells
Like the U.S. at Lake Placid or Marisa Tomei's Oscar, this would be a resounding upset, yet it's hard not to root for these gritty, garage-bound underdogs. The quartet's primitive, overdriven rumble comfortably situates itself in the late '60s, its raw-boned R&B base flirting with a psychedelic freakout. The band effortlessly blends chunk, drift and bounce like a smoothie made of the Electric Prunes, Seeds and Kingsmen. Pinche Gringo, aka Josh (The Spinns) Johnson, has its back. Johnson's ragged one-man garage band sounds like Russell Crowe in Gladiator garb shivving Hasil Adkins. Like the Barberries, what it lacks in musicianship is compensated for with shambling, wild-eyed abandon. At THE RESERVOIR with Jimmy & the Teasers. Free/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
07.16 THE BARS & TONE EXPERIMENT: LOCAL FILMS & LOCAL BANDS @ CAT'S CRADLE
When Durham filmmaker Nicole Triche received her final grad school film assignment, she saw potential in her community and in education to create something entirely different. As a former organizer of Flicker and a fan of local music, Triche decided to use her connections to link music and film.
"I sent out an e-mail asking for bands to send me one song that I could use for a film's foundation. I ended up making five experimental films based on songs that bands donated," says Triche. "The idea was to join these two mediums together—the audio and the visual. The idea is that you have two different kinds of art forms combining so that the end product equals more than the sum of its parts."
Local bands Wembley, Maple Stave, The Octobers, Port Huron Statement and Grappling Hook all donated music to the project. The tracks act as the stimulus for film shorts incorporating stop-motion animation, hand-painted and -stamped media, and break dancers featured on 16 mm and 8 mm film. Now that Triche's thesis is completed and she's received her master's from UNC-Greensboro, the project still has one last experimental phase. Tonight, the bands get to see their videos. Says Triche, "I'm a little nervous to see their reaction." —Kathy Justice
Come experience the experiment tonight at 8:30 p.m. for $5 with a screening of the shorts followed by a show with Wembley, The Octobers, Grappling Hook and Maple Stave.
07.11 SEA COW @ THE POUR HOUSE
When Misha Angrist entered his daughter's first grade classroom at Durham's Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet School in 2006, he expected to find crayons and gluesticks. He didn't count on finding a pathway to his next band. Angrist was there to conduct a writing workshop for the kids but was surprised when one student wrote about his father's experience as a drummer with the former Chapel Hill band Sex Police. "I got a little freaked out about that, but the kid's mom was right there and she explained that his dad, Jody Maxwell, was a drummer and the story was true," says Angrist. "She suggested that I call Jody, so I did."
After Angrist and Maxwell met up, Angrist knew he wanted to form a band and started scouting out other parents at Club Boulevard School. Soon enough, Angrist had a five-piece band with four of the members having kids at Club Boulevard. The band's sound, a rich blend of harmonies and acoustic guitars mingling with pulsing drumbeats, adds edge to Americana expectations.
"We all like rootsy music, whether it's from Lucinda Williams to X to Big Star or even the New Pornographers, that rootsy, guitar-based music," says Angrist. "But the tie that really binds us is that we all try to write really good songs, and that sets the bar pretty high, whether we're doing roots, punk or pushing into a more jazzy direction." With A Rooster for the Masses and Captain of the Industry. $8/ 10 p.m. —Kathy Justice