This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Jason Ringenberg, The Kingsbury Manx, Esperanza Spalding, DRI, Richard Bacchus, Pink Flag, Bear in Heaven, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Groundhog Day Awareness Concert, The Slow Death, Mount Moriah, Filthybird, Sandwitches
EH, WHATEVER: Soulfly, Prong, Incite, Rotting Corpse
VS.: Rogue Wave vs. Austin Lucas vs. The Coastal Cohorts
SONG OF THE WEEK: Joe Pug's "Speak Plainly, Diana"
03.05 JASON RINGENBERG @ BERKELEY CAFE
Things I've seen Jason Ringenberg do: rock a Nashville-Mohawk hairdo at a riotous Scorchers show on a Cat's Cradle Friday night during the band's Mammoth Records days. Hold a crowd of kids (and their parents) in the palm of his hand as Farmer Jason on a Saturday afternoon. Twice. Turn the courtyard at Brightleaf Square into a makeshift rockin' honky-tonk with just his guitar and his bounding, boundless energy on another Saturday afternoon. Thing I wish I'd seen: Ringenberg tear it up with the Nashville Scorchers in 1982, on any day of the week. South Carolina's Blue Dogs top the bill. $12–$15/ 9 p.m. —Rick Cornell
03.05 THE KINGSBURY MANX @ SLIM'S
The Kingsbury Manx's career—or, more directly, lack thereof—is one of the head-scratchers of music in the Triangle. The Chapel Hill quintet has written five mostly perfect records in the past 10 years, and their low-key, self-assured pop has always been accessible enough to catch attention and intricate enough to keep it. They've been signed to bigger labels—Yep Roc and Overcoat, the label that released their first three LPs and an EP—and worked with a recognizable producer, Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco. And though the local and national press consistently agrees that The Manx is consistently great, the band's found, at best, a cult following. Lucky for us: Tonight they bring their word-and-melody play to the cozy Slim's with label mate and sound recycler Inspector 22. This is a benefit for a friend of the band undergoing a lung transplant for cystic fibrosis. Never a better time to see one the country's better bands. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.05 ESPERANZA SPALDING @ NCSU
Most 4-year-olds don't teach themselves to play violin, but then again most 4-year-olds don't grow up to be multi-instrumentalist, multilinguist Esperanza Spalding (only one, by our count), one of the brightest rising stars in jazz. A bassist, vocalist and composer, Spalding has risen in a manner that makes one believe in the genetic lottery—including but not limited to transferring to Berklee College of Music with a full scholarship at the age of 17, where after three years of intensive study she became the youngest professor in the school's history. Good news: Her musical output is also remarkably accessible. She may be a "jazz" star, but this siren delivers her honey-voiced, bass-driven charmers with an uncanny magnetism. $24–$28/ 8 p.m. —Ashley Melzer
03.06 DRI @ VOLUME 11
One of thrash's pioneers, the Houston-based quartet DRI followed punk brethren M.D.C. and The Dicks to San Francisco in the early '80s, where they released 1987's appropriately titled Crossover. Then they toured with Slayer. Back then, blending punk rhythms and socio-political declamation with metal guitar bridged divided musical cliques for years. Though DRI released their last studio album 15 years ago, they toured heartily for another decade before guitarist Spike Cassidy's cancer put them on hiatus. With Cassidy in remission, they're back, just as punk-metal blends have again become au courant. Their original wiseass, hard-moshing bluster still seethes and storms mightily. With Double Negative. Plague and Slugnut. $15/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
03.06 RICHARD BACCHUS, PINK FLAG @ BROAD STREET CAFE
Broad Street Cafe had best be thankful the Durham County Board of Adjustment granted the venue its nightclub permit before tonight's show. If the neighbors were ever going to complain about volume, this would be the bill to bring the phone calls: Both The Ghost of Saturday Nite and Richard Bacchus maintain Raleigh's reputation as a ruff rock city. The Ghost does it with a mix of hardcore menace and MC5 melee, pushing three-piece anthems forward like fists. Richard Bacchus and the Luckiest Girls add a little flair and finesse to their tunes. In fact, the five-piece's rock is as shiny as a dollop of hair gel on a leather jacket. Durham's Pink Flag is the odd female three-piece out here, but they'll bust up the boys' club just fine: Behind angular guitar lines and rowdy harmonies, they bring one of the area's most forceful drummers, Jessica Caesar, the newest Dirty Little Heater. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.07 BEAR IN HEAVEN, CYMBALS EAT GUITARS @ LOCAL 506
Thick like Autobahn, hypnotic like Drum's Not Dead, Bear in Heaven's Beast Rest Forth Mouth should rearrange your brain. Think cryptids prowling in the neon psychedelic dusk, punctuated by Jon Philpot's clarion call. Staten Island's Cymbals Eat Guitars are the rare artsy band not afraid of their, well, guitars. Listen for a young city kid's marriage of abrupt hollering, prog technicality and garage earnestness. Freelance Whales, a narcoleptic quirk pop outfit with Ben Gibbard-esque vocals, are the weak link on an otherwise must-see bill. $8–10/ 9 p.m. —Corbie Hill
03.07 GROUNDHOG DAY AWARENESS CONCERT @ BERKELEY CAFE
Take 2 of a gathering originally scheduled for January 31, a day when the prognosticating varmint would no doubt have seen his shadow if he weren't buried under several inches of snow. With the exception of The Small Ponds, the lineup remains intact: Big Machete puts members of the Kickin Grass Band in a different light. John Howie and Billie Feather make sweetheart country, while Kenny Roby and Scott McCall play sweet-and-tart folk rock. The Countdown Quartet triumphantly return, and Terry Anderson & the Olympic Ass Kickin Team triumphantly Rockpile. And the motive remains the same: raise awareness for a friend in need. $10 minimum donation/ 4 p.m. —Rick Cornell
03.09 THE SLOW DEATH @ THE PINHOOK
Known until recently as Pretty Boy Thorson, Minneapolis punk outfit The Slow Death still isn't reinventing the wheel, but the rock band keeps it rolling from where Dillinger Four left off, and Jawbreaker before them. So basically, you're gonna get loud, ragged punk rock with a gravel-voice singer, reeling off tales of broken-heartedness, inebriation and reluctance to growing up. Mikey Erg opens, without the willfully dorky and lovelorn trio that bore his pseudonym, and without the raging, depressive and excellent hardcore band, Psyched To Die, he's been fronting lately. From both, expect volume and energy alongside sharp, emotionally resonant songwriting. $5/ 8 p.m. —Bryan Reed
03.09 MOUNT MORIAH, FILTHYBIRD, SANDWITCHES @ NIGHTLIGHT
These three bands all feature a female out front, singing strong songs. Aside from that, this diverse night pits meticulous against messy arrangements and slow-country quakes against spry pop jangles. In both cases, San Francisco's Sandwitches supply the latter, playing catchy mid-tempo pop-rock stomps—equal parts doo-wop charm and early rock simplicity—with generous insouciance. But Mount Moriah's electric country creepers are stately and sturdy, floating romantic worries through a Low-like world of wonder. Greensboro's Filthybird is the must-see. From the sound of Brian Haran's guitar to the wounded songbird quality of Renee Mendoza's voice, this band's perfected its supple tone and is now attaching it to mesmerizing tunes. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.10 SOULFLY, PRONG, INCITE, ROTTING CORPSE @ VOLUME 11
There's no argument that former Sepultura member Max Cavalera is creative. But whether his (essentially) solo project's any good is more debatable. His mix of Brazilian hippie jams with metal is an odd combo, to say the least. The monochromatic, throbbing metal breakdowns and lyrical simplicity suggest an alt-metal answer to "see spot run," just with requisite apocalyptic overtones. It's music whose worldview is best drawn with crayons. While the hard rock's predictably dark and foreboding—particularly later albums that mothballed nü-metal pretensions for more straightforward brutality—the meandering worldbeat doesn't make him Bad Brains, so much as, you know, mentally challenged. $20/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker
SATURDAY, MARCH 6
From: Oakland, Calif.
Claim to fame: Making indie pop with increasingly busy arrangements and steadily diminishing returns
At one point, Zach Rogue sounded like a contender. His Sub Pop debut, Out of the Shadow, was a quirky, lo-fi gem that blended a noisy Guided By Voices melodicism with dreamy Northwestern indie pop sway. With each additional release, his charms have faded. While the move to Universal may have increased his recording budget and improved distribution, third album Asleep at Heaven's Gate didn't receive the promotion or attention it would have from a smaller label. Over time, the band's sound's grown bigger and more polished, sounding like a more baroque Built to Spill. It's pleasant, somewhat idiosyncratic and tuneful, but hardly indispensable. $14–$16/ 9 p.m. At CAT'S CRADLE.
From: Bloomington, Ind.
Since: Late '90s
Claim to fame: His aching, oft-haunting take on bluegrass and country-folk
Like Rocky Balboa eyeing a preening Apollo Creed, Austin Lucas licks his lips at Rogue Wave's precious pop shimmer. Lucas cut his teeth in a variety of crusty punk acts before returning to his familial roots in bluegrass and country. (Songs by his dad, Bob Lucas, have been covered by Alison Krauss and Sam Bush.) He played counterpart to Chuck Ragan on his finest post-Hot Water Music release, Bristle Ridge, while last year's Somebody Loves You offers sparse but somewhat traditional country. With Mary Johnson Rockers and Django Haskins. At THE PINHOOK. $5/ 10 p.m.
THE COASTAL COHORTS
From: Corncake Inlet, N.C.
Since: The mid-'00s
Claim to fame: Leader Jim Wann's Broadway touch and his band's wholesome, old-fashioned sound
The Cohorts are a dark horse but no newcomer. Leader Jim Wann's a well-regarded composer responsible for Tony-nominated '80s musical Pump Boys and Dinettes. Like the play, Wann has an ear for lost eras, which he's turned toward the Carolina Coast on King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running and its follow-up, Wild Ponies. Together with Bland Simpson and Don Dixon, he re-creates the stories and attitudes of the area. He employs a shrimp-fisherman's wanderlust on the Eagles-ish "Wild Ponies" and barrelhouse, country stomp for his shrimp-crab soup recipe, "Lowcountry Cookin'." The Cohorts' foot-tapping energy beats Lucas at his own game and exposes Rogue as a callow city slicker. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $22–$29/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker