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The guide to the week's concerts

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Big K.R.I.T., John P. Kee, R. Mutt, Regina Hexaphone, The Feelies, SoftSpot, Twelve Thousand Armies, Tycho, The Album Leaf, Wreckless Eric, Amy Rigby, more

VS: Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra vs. Molly Nilsson

VS: John Tesh Big Band vs. Lynch Mob




This year, Big K.R.I.T. released an album as uncompromising as his mixtapes on a major label. That's considered close to impossible in 2012. Live from the Underground doesn't stray far from the vein he's mined since 2009—imagine a folksier Kanye—but that's a good thing. It means one of young rap's best performers has a dozen or so more songs to add to his live show arsenal and for fans to yell back at him. Take someone who fell out of love with rap to this show. With Slim Thug, Tito Lopez, GT Garza, Big Sant, Jon Connor. $16–$18/9:30 p.m. —Brandon Soderberg


As the 15th of 16 children, John P. Kee learned early that making noise is a great way to get attention. The Charlotte pastor and gospel songwriter, singer and pianist now makes a joyful noise as the head of his own New Life Community Choir. The group converges more than a dozen voices to create an electrifying blend of traditional and contemporary sacred sounds pumped up by wailing bass lines, triumphant horns and boogie-inducing keyboards. For this Duke Performances show, Kee, a native of Durham County, returns home to rattle the stained glass and shake up souls in the Hayti Heritage Center. A second show is Saturday. $34/8 p.m. —Ashley Melzer


Typically behind the drums in Embarrassing Fruits, John Neville lately has popped up front on guitar and vocals with R. Mutt. Like most mutts, this one's a fusion of fond ideas. Spacey guitar tones and reverbed vocals build and bust with deliberate care, resulting in tunes that obscure as much as they inspire. The rootsy punch of Regina Hexaphone is a more pop-minded blend of sounds. Catchy hooks cruise over arrangements that borrow from folk, jazz and rock. 10 p.m. —Ashley Melzer


Built around propulsive strumming, the elemental beats of two percussionists and Glenn Mercer's dour vocals, the sound of The Feelies is immediately identifiable. Since forming in the late '70s in small-town New Jersey, the fivesome has moved past the twitchiness and "perpetual nervousness" of their 1980 debut, the aptly named Crazy Rhythms, to a more pastoral sound emphasizing the simplicity of campfire chord patterns and soaring lead lines. They also double as the coolest cover band on the planet, as evidenced in Jonathan Demme's Something Wild, and they're sure to have their way with gems by Neil Young, R.E.M., Wire and/or the Velvet Underground—their biggest influence—when they light up the Cradle stage. $18–$20/8:30 p.m. —David Klein


SoftSpot, from the musical melting pot that is Brooklyn, is a rare band. Moments of this loop-built, multi-instrumental duo imply Sigur Rós—whose sparse, gorgeous soundscapes should stay out of the hands of most bands (just not SoftSpot's). Their new LP Ens mixes that frigid patience with the snap of post-rock educated guitar and even percussive flavors more common to world and Afropop. Throughout, Sarah Kinlaw's vocals alternate from ghostliness to confidence, and on to Chelsea Wolfe-style feral sputter-and-snap. By only hinting at its touchstones rather than resting inert upon them, SoftSpot reveals that these excellent bands they imply can be springboards as much as anything. $5/9 p.m. —Corbie Hill


Chapel Hill's Twelve Thousand Armies have been coasting along behind the same full-length for more than a year. It's easy to get away with that when the release is North Carolina, a fuzzy and fetching collection of comfortably crafted old-school pop. These songs twinkle with pretty piano flourishes, shine with brazen blasts of buoyant brass and frolic with shabby-chic acoustic rhythms. Justin Williams' classically constructed songs capture broken hearts that lean frighteningly close to the psychotic, distilling them into sugar-rush melodies that land with an appreciably bittersweet edge. None of it is revolutionary, but Williams' Armies soldier forward with time-tested pop-rock prowess. With Teepee and Love Inks. $5/9 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence


Scott Hansen, aka Tycho, makes electronica with the lazy pace of a beachfront stroll. 2011's Dive felt worn-in and sun-kissed, the headphones equivalent of a corona flare on an old Super 8 reel. But that description undersells the sensual caress of the music in live performance, the physical thump of seamlessly incorporated hip-hop beats. Support comes from The Album Leaf, a long-running project of San Diego's Jimmy LaValle. His twinkling ambient pop got noticed at the start of the '00s through closeness and collaboration with Iceland's otherworldly Sigur Rós, but five albums (the last three for Sub Pop) have kept a cozy cult following. $16/9 p.m. —Jeff Klingman


Like a peanut butter cup, Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby are two fine artists that go well together. She's a catchy, broad-minded folkie with a sassy wit, like Dar Williams in a sneer. He's a new wave/ punk rocker overflowing with ramshackle ne'er-do-well charm fueled by his Richman-esque earnestness/ naveté and spindly adenoidal English twang. (The title of his 1993 album The Donovan of Trash says it all.) They united musically and romantically in the mid aughts, releasing a pair of albums that raise her rock pulse (she was in the Shams) and soften his self-destructive tendencies (as on "The Downside of Being a Fuck Up"). $12/8 p.m.—Chris Parker



From: Boston
Since: 2008
Claim to fame: Chamber-pop melody and punk-rock vigor

Perhaps the most notable difference between Amanda Palmer on her own and her offerings as part of The Dresden Dolls is that her solo work is delivered mostly without irony. The Dolls inhabit punk-rock aggression with cabaret-inspired piano pop melody, the stylistic juxtaposition pitting the desire to fit in against a defiant impulse to stand out. Palmer's solo songs reside largely within the same stylistic range, but there's little tension between her melodies and choice of instrumentation. She follows a classically sourced sense of tunefulness, belting powerfully through old-school pop songs with a fiery abandon more common in punk. It's less challenging than the Dolls, but it's every bit as satisfying. With The Simple Pleasure, Jherek Bischoff, Ronald Reagan. At CAT'S CRADLE. $22–$25/ 9 p.m.



From: Stockholm, Sweden
Since: 2008
Claim to fame: Low-key electro-pop melodrama

Like Palmer, Molly Nilsson trades in a style ready-made for ironic detachment but carries it out with self-serious passion. Exposed to a larger audience via a 2011 duet with John Maus, Nilsson pairs her velvety croon with a bare-bones combination of quietly plodding drum machines and bluntly muted synthesizers. Her vocals are incredibly expressive, especially considering the low-key quiet she constantly maintains. Often sounding like My Bloody Valentine's Bilinda Butcher singing with uncharacteristic calm, she blends failed romance with female empowerment, oozing quiet confidence that's nearly impossible to resist. Nilsson's music is calmer than Palmer's, but it's every bit as powerful. With Foxes in Fiction. At THE PINHOOK. $6/10 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence



From: Long Island, N.Y.
Since: Childhood/ late '80s
Claim to fame: Emmy-winning former ET host

Just speaking hypothetically, if I were the devil seeking to enslave the pliant masses and capable of assuming an especially pleasing form, I'd choose John Tesh. Highly telegenic, I would've already formed a relationship with a wide audience selling cotton candy to those who prefer their news frivolous, thin and highly spun, and gotten a break joining fellow pianist/ composer Yanni on tour as he was first taking off in the late '80s. I'd know that schmaltzy Vegas-style big band music was where the money was—figuratively and literally. (Very high quotient of wealthy octogenarians.) Having subdued television and popular (70 years ago) music, they would fund my run for the presidency... At CAROLINA THEATRE. $40-$85/ 8 p.m.



From: Los Angeles
Since: 1989
Claim to fame: '80s pop-metal outgrowth of Dokken

Maybe we're giving the devil too much credit. After all, he does preside in a dark, decadent place—even if it sounds pretty well-administrated. Perhaps Lynch Mob founder and former Dokken lead guitarist George Lynch cuts a better jig. Certainly the devil can appreciate a little lyrical soft-porn (marketed as love)—particularly when it's served with spectacular look-at-me shredding by a truly capable egomaniac (by some accounts). Throw in some glam-metal pop harmonies, and resistance is "No Bed of Roses." (Cliché intended.) It's hard to say which target audience's taste is more arrested, but were I sitting in the waiting room sweating my fate, I'd feel more comforted by Lynch's hormonal leg-humping carpe diem than John Tesh's asexual elevator music. With Mostley Crue, Widow, Out of the Cellar, Devyce. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $20–$23/8 p.m. —Chris Parker



Since playing a few reunion gigs last year, local alternative legends The Veldt have been working on the band's first album in a decade and a half—tentatively titled Resurrection Hymns—but break to headline SPARKcon's musicSPARK. Though vocalist Daniel Chavis hesitates to use the term "reunion" following the band's unannounced hiatus—"We just didn't play," he says—he does justify its return. "[We realized] a lot of indie shit that's out now sucks, so we said why not," explains Chavis, who co-leads the band with his guitarist twin brother Danny. "For the most part, we were ahead of our time anyway."

With The Veldt on the backburner, the Chavis brothers focused on Apollo Heights, an electronica-leaning project whose lone LP featured guest spots from Mos Def, TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek and Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie. "[It's the] direction The Veldt was going sonically," Chavis says. As the brothers' attention shifts back to The Veldt, the lines between projects become increasingly blurred as they sort out which material best fits each. "As far as new Veldt material, it's kind of back to the basics," claims Chavis. Along with The Veldt's noted shoegaze influence, Chavis says it's evident they've been listening to Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Warlocks, Spacemen 3 and "a lot of blues." Spaceship Days and Radioactive Toy Set open. Free/10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

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