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The guide to the week's concerts


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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Watain/ Withered, Jay Reatard/ Cola Freaks, FrequeNC: Ultimate Optimist with DJ Misty Touch, Government Warning, Bishop Allen/ Andy Herod's Electric Owls, Murs/ Kidz in the Hall

VS.: Amos Lee vs. Megafaun

VS.: Chip Robinson vs. Jon Shain

RE-INTRODUCING: Bad Checks/ Leadfoot

SONG OF THE WEEK: Murder by Death's "Spring Break 1899"


  • Watain


In advance of its first album, 2000's Rabid Death's Curse, the black metal Swedes of Watain pronounced that audiences could "expect nothing but a suicidal rape disaster." Indeed, the band has espoused suicide and the collapse of the weak as favorable options for a decade now (though they denounce nationalist socialism, mostly), while itself surviving just fine to make increasingly refined and expansive next-wave black metal. Last year's Sworn to the Dark—covered in pentagrams, upside down crosses and the thesis "Sublime is the hand of no pity, that wields a merciless death"—was occasionally atmospheric but generally obliterative, an unexpected step forward for these three nostalgic lords. Tonight, expect corpsepaint and fake blood, candles and talk of world-burning: "We build upon the stage a temple of panic, chaos, magic and death, showing to the audience the true, ugly face of the horrible abomination that is Black Metal!" Preach! Let's hope Seattle's Book of Black Earth can make its drums a bit thicker and its vocal a bit more distinctive live, as the powerful blackened-doom aesthetic of this year's Horoskopus often underwhelms for as much. I'm interested to see how Folie Circulaire, the latest from Atlanta's Withered, plays out live: With relentless rhythms and gargantuan guitars, it moves constantly and not at all, somehow simultaneously. 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin

Jay Reatard
  • Jay Reatard


Punk-to-Pitchfork crossover wonder Jay Reatard is driving young indie dorks mad and less-young garage dorks madder. With a few favorable reviews of 2006's Blood Visions, several YouTube clips highlighting some not-so-friendly stage antics, and a newfound pen of Reatard-thirsty vinyl hogs slopping up whatever painfully limited seven-inches they can sniff out, ole Jay has exposed the intentionally low-laying underground and made punk rock "cool" again. His amorphous hyper-pop worships The Adverts and Eno, while borrowing heavily from the already-borrowed garbage blues of his Memphis cohorts at Goner Records. Thing is, it's quite good. Expect jittery hooks, V-shaped guitars and every song twice as fast as on record. Denmark's Cola Freaks are less refined in the best of ways. $10-$12/ 9 p.m. —Rich Ivey


Charlotte: Not the first place that comes to mind for blissed-out rock, eh? But that's just what Ultimate Optimist, or ult.opt, digs into deeply. Associated with the Kinnikkinnik collective in the Queen City—which counts leftfield skronkers Calabi Yau and tropical groovers Black Congo among its members—Ultimate Optimist tinkers gently with pulsing modal beats and occasional noisy flutters of melody. It's meditative music, and won't be out of sorts next to Chapel Hill DJ Misty Touch's ruff selections. Word is, another secret live band will appear at this installation of the monthly FrequeNC Records party. Free/ 10 p.m. —Chris Toenes


It looks like the Brewery didn't work out so well for Thrashitorium Presents promoter Hank Williams, as he's back booking shows at Volume 11. Unfortunately for this one, entering U.S. borders didn't work so well for Japanese hardcore legends D.S.B., who were originally scheduled to headline this monster. Still, all the ingredients of a great hardcore show stand, as Government Warning and Devour are the cream of the crop: Richmond's GW returns to Raleigh for the umpteenth time to hash out Adolescents-style punk that sends the young ones wild to the streets. And Devour's Swede-tinged dis-beat racket won't make you miss D.S.B. too much, and that's really saying something. With Raleigh's The Obtruders, Hickory's Gutfux and Brooklyn's L.A. Cross. $7-$9/ 8 p.m. —Rich Ivey


Bishop Allen is an Ivy League-educated Brooklyn bourgeoisie pop band who's long made bubbly Americanized twee, resurfacing Sarah Records sweetness with the grooves and starch of old favorites like Simon & Garfunkel and Neil Diamond. The band's cheekiness and subjects—second chances, rich uncles, gifted flowers, copious coffee, late-night flights, glamorous friends, travel reflections—occasionally seem stiff, but its crafty song structures and exuberant but reserved performances are instantly magnetic. The Comas' Andy Herod, an occasional Bishop Allen member, started Electric Owls after relocating to Asheville this year. For these songs, Herod grafts his strong voice to a softer substrate, diffusing his leads through big harmonies and across acoustic guitars. This is the band's second show. Also, Brisbane's An Horse. $8-$10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

  • Murs


On tour behind his Murs For President, Murs appropriately hits town on the eve of Election Day. This L.A. emcee's platform includes an obsession with video games, skateboarding and letting voluptuous porn stars sit on his face. Yup, the write-in candidate we've all been waiting for. Having always been reliable for delivering blue-collar-relevant rhymes, Murs' early Def Jux days never meant he resorted to abstract, galactic rap. His Cali upbringing didn't make him susceptible to gun-clapping glorification, either. Still, he's one of rap's few remaining straight-shooters. The only thing off-kilter about this guy might be his hair. Tonight, Murs is joined by Kidz in The Hall, Isaiah and Little Brother's Rapper Big Pooh. $13-$15/ 8 p.m. Speaking of politics and hip-hop, sometimes Murs producer 9th Wonder hosts an election night dance party at the Cradle Nov. 4. —Eric Tullis

Saturday, Nov. 1



From: Philadelphia
Since: 2003
Claim to fame: His bluesy tunes have appeared in Grey's Anatomy, ER and House

Musicians dream of being teachers, and, in Lee's case, vice versa. He traded his post at an elementary school for a quick rise to The Tonight Show. Likely story: His soul-tinged folk-blues recalls G. Love in its scruffy shuffle, fueled by Lee's smoky croon. His music's deeply informed by the Americana of The Band (who isn't?) and the smooth, '70s songwriter pop of James Taylor. His latest, Last Days at the Lodge, features a crack crew of backing players (Doyle Bramhall II, Spooner Oldham), but aside from the crackling blues rave "Listen," tastes reconstituted and bland, like potatoes from a box. Sure the texture's right, but it's lacking the satisfaction of the real deal. With Priscilla Ahn at LINCOLN THEATRE. $22-$25/ 9 p.m.



From: Durham, via Eau Claire, Wis.
Since: 2006
Claim to fame: Features the other three members of DeYarmond Edison that aren't Bon Iver; recently toured with Arnold Dreyblatt

On talent alone, this is a first-round TKO, if only for the fact that the world needs Amos Lee's reheated folk-soul like it needs another McDonald's "Lovin' It" commercial. Megafaun's sound blends the rustic and experimental, using squiggly, noisy guitar as ambient background for a ramshackle, rootsy amble. While the tone is generally backwoods, the structure and undercurrent tend toward the more expansive, which explains why its six-song debut Bury The Square stretches for almost 40 minutes. While not as steadfastly melodic or polished as Lee, it's a lot more interesting and doesn't taste like institutional cafeteria food music. Splitting the bill with Bowerbirds at SLIM'S. $5/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker




From: New York City, via Burlington and Raleigh
Since: Early '90s
Claim to fame: Rock throwing and sheriff baiting

From its two-man beginnings through its five-piece heyday, The Backsliders always had a face in Chip Robinson. He was its lead engine, whether making like the Triangle's answer to John Hiatt with "Throwin' Rocks at the Moon" (arguably the finest song to come out of this area's fabled '95-'99 alt-country stand) or prowling the stage like a caged felon on the unsettling set piece "Hey Sheriff." These days a Brooklynite, Robinson returns a few times each year to revisit the cream of the Backsliders' catalog and unveil new tunes. There's also always room for a choice cover or three. With this latest trip, credited to Chip Robinson & the Heavy Outfit, you can expect the same ravaged-heart Americana with bigger beats. Support comes from The T's and two-piece monster The Loners. At THE POUR HOUSE. $8/ 10 p.m. —Rick Cornell




From: Durham, via Massachusetts
Since: Went solo in 1998
Claim to fame: Americana byways

Calling Jon Shain a folk troubadour disregards the scenic route he took through roots. That road stretches back to Massachusetts, where current trio bassist FJ Ventre first performed with Shain in the high school rock outfit The Partisans. Embracing Piedmont blues traditions as a Duke student, Shain briefly performed as a sideman with W.C. Handy Award winner Richard "Big Boy" Henry in the late '80s. Shorly therafterafter, Shain co-founded Flyin' Mice, a bluegrass jam band (before those were a dime a dozen) that achieved moderate regional success during its eight-year run. Following the dissolution of alt-country offshoot WAKE, Shain decided his band days were over. Steeped in the rich musical soil of his past, Shain's fifth solo release, Army Jacket Winter, rolls over fingerpicked foothills and ambles along darkened streets after closing time. At BROAD STREET CAFE. Free/ 8:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


Bad Checks
  • Bad Checks


The members of Durham's Bad Checks don't get together as often as they used to, with other outfits like the New Romans, Sin Eaters and Chrome Plated Apostles keeping them busy. But tonight isn't technically a reunion show because, according to Checks cofounder and bassist Clifton Mann, "We've never said goodbye." The lineup's been the same for the last dozen years, with Mann's guitarist brother Robin (who started the band with Clif in 1980) joined by drummer Rock Forbes and vocalist/ harpist Hunter Landen, who, legend has it, played his first gig in his high school graduation gown. "We still have fun on stage. We still love the crowd. We still play Southern punkadelic rock 'n' roll," offers Mann, calendar set on 1984. "We're looking forward to playing the show, sharing the stage with some old pros like Terry Anderson and the guys from Leadfoot as well as the Dirty Little Heaters, one of my favorite newer bands."

Ah yes, Leadfoot. Formed in the early '90s by ex-Corrosion of Conformity screamer Karl Agell, Leadfoot is the sound of four guys fighting to keep it between the guardrails, its hard-rock throb roaring with a supercharged highway hum. Over the years, Leadfoot's changed lineups like lanes, but Agell's always been in the middle of things. Buckle up. $5/ 7 p.m. —Rick Cornell

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