12.11 ORPHAN/ WHATEVER BRAINS/ INVISIBLE HAND @ NIGHTLIGHT
Brooklyn boss Orphan summons Sabbath-sized slabs of fuzz and sludge by way of the heavily distorted bass wielded by Brendan Majewski, who shrieks unholy murder while Speck Brown bashes her kit with mighty hammers. Raleigh rooks Whatever Brains leap head-first into the lo-fi charms of shaggy garage punk sing-alongs, while Virginia boys Invisible Hand blend '90s indie, punk and classic power-pop. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
12.12 L.E.G.A.C.Y.'s 7th ANNUAL BIRTHDAY BASH @ THE BREWERY
There aren't many hip-hop traditions in the Triangle these days, but at least Raleigh's held onto its annual celebration of L.E.G.A.C.Y.'s birthday. Originally manifested as a "roast," L.E.G.A.C.Y.'s B-Day bashes have proven to be a yearly slizzard-fest driven by a revolving motley of Triangle artists who fall in line with LEG's self-made philosophy of shock-value showmanship. This year's guests include K-Hill, Blue Raspberry, O.N.E. Jones, Edgar Allen Floe, Rivera presents: Sun Up, Son Down, Dasan Ahanu and the band River City Ransom. 10 p.m. —Eric Tullis
12.13 CURTAINS OF NIGHT/ CANTWELL, GOMEZ & JORDAN @ NIGHTLIGHT
The glow of amps and the sweat of pores inside Nightlight tonight should guard you from December's cold: The Curtains of Night, one of the Triangle's new must-see acts, is an all-female, all-assault metal duo, one guitar twisting surprising time signatures and textures around runaway drums. Cantwell, Gomez & Jordan, one of the Triangle's longtime must-see acts, drops moments of pause into perfectly planned moments of bustle, shifting gears and delighting in its own surprise. Winston-Salem's Saint Peter Pocket Veto sounds a little like Oxes and U.S. Maple, just a bit more playful and flighty. Also, Space Mammal. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
12.14 KENNY ROBY/ DJANGO HASKINS @ THE POUR HOUSE
Kenny Roby and Django Haskins are two of the best in the Triangle when it comes to moving from a group setting—the former leads The Mercy Filter, the latter is at the center of the frequently morphing The Old Ceremony—to, as this outing is billed, an acoustic solo evening. Both write with a craftsman's care, resulting in shining songs ideal for just voice and guitar. A night of the pair simply alternating between Haskins' witty and catchy "Hand to Mouth" and Roby's "Foot Soldier," a folk song with a soul heart to make Bill Withers proud, would be one well spent. $7/ 7 p.m. —Rick Cornell
12.15 WAX FANG @ LOCAL 506
Wax Fang swoons and swells like stormy seas, pitching to and fro dramatically with glam-prog pomp. The Louisville, Ky., trio combines elegant pop reveries with spiraling guitar epics wending from narcotized Bowie-esque strut to billowing arrangements leavened with wistful hooks. While tracks like La La Land's "Majestic" affect the erect carriage and bombast of Pink Floyd, numbers like "Avant Guardian Angel Dust" gleam with intertwining guitar shimmer. It's well-crafted, if somewhat overwrought. $5/ 9:30 p.m. — Chris Parker
FRIDAY, DEC. 12
From: San Francisco
Claim to fame: Jefferson Airplane ... groovy, man
Traditional blues with this much virtuosity goes beyond the realm of traditional, but sensitive finger picking and soulful bending keeps the music achingly human. Playing together for 50 years—before they joined Jefferson Airplane—Jack Casady (bass) and Jorma Kaukonen (guitar) stuck together, deep in the pocket, as their sidemen, collaborators and world changed. Whether playing wild electric or sober acoustic songs, solos squeeze a little idealism out of you, slap you on the back and offer you a drink, empowering you as one of many. Joined by mandolin and drums tonight, blues-based rock occasionally gets nostalgic for the feel-good vibes, trickling streams and stereotyped sparkling sunlight of the '60s. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $24-$27/ 9 p.m.
From: New Orleans
Claim to fame: Grammy nominated traditional blues album in 2006
Fervent electric guitar, a gravel voice floating in syrup, and a sympathetic rhythm section make up the gumbo of Tab Benoit's sound. The National Blues Foundation's Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year for the past two years, Benoit stays connected to his roots while looking to the future—whether playing the blues or as founder of the wetlands preservation organization, Voice of the Wetlands. Shuffling down the road or galloping at breakneck speeds, this is music designed to get you out of your economic downturn funk. Cajun blues entices you to nod your head, dance and get to making babies. For breadth and depth, Hot Tuna would take the match, but Benoit comes out with a bigger initial punch and a gut full of fire. This will most likely keep you moving longer. With locals, Mel Melton and The Wicked Mojos. At CAT'S CRADLE. $18-$20/ 9 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
WELCOME BACK ...
12.13 THE STRUGGLERS @ THE PINHOOK
The Strugglers founder Randall Bickford is happy to return from a two-week tour of Portugal, France and Spain, where Acuarela, the label that's released the band's last two full-lengths, is located. As with any tour, Bickford says his low-key rustic pop combo had "its strikes and gutters" overseas, though the highlight was playing the 10th annual Tanned Tin Festival, sponsored by Acuarela.
"At one point, I found myself sharing a joint with Alan Sparhawk from Low. I about shit my pants," says Bickford of his encounter with one of his idols, whom The Strugglers cover on the Low tribute album, We Could Live in Hope. Later, as The Strugglers left the venue, the band spotted Cass McCombs in his dressing room. "We saw him busting a move. He was doing the best moonwalk I've ever seen anybody do."
The band continues to support its fourth full-length, The Latest Rights, but Bickford's more excited about what he's working on right now. While he still needs a couple more songs, Bickford expects the band will head into the studio shortly after the New Year.
"The musicality is going to be more dynamic than in the past," he says. "I'm always drawn to slower stuff that focuses the listener's attention on the words, but there's going to be different sounds, more experimentation with noise and keyboards, and interesting things people haven't heard in past Strugglers records."
Bickford's quick to credit his crack backing band, in particular former Fake Swedish guitarist Eric Haugen, with helping tighten The Strugglers' sound.
"Over the years, it's been kind of a revolving crew, but we finally settled into this great little unit, and we've played together enough it's become like a bar band," he says. "The whole point of this [weekend's] show is that, getting off the tour we're well rehearsed, and we're actually pretty good. People should hear this thing before it all disappears." —Chris Parker
Look for The Strugglers at Durham's The Pinhook Saturday, Dec. 13, with The Pneurotics. The show starts at 10 p.m.