ST. VINCENT, NOVELLER
(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) If you managed to catch St. Vincent in the early days, back when she was playing small rooms as a one-woman band armed with an effects board of mini-epic proportions, then you know Annie Clark has been anointed from the start. The music has always been there, and while that's continued to morph and evolve over the course of four albums (plus last year's Love This Giant collaboration with David Byrne), the real metamorphosis has been Clark's confidence as a performer. Once doe-eyed, her current onstage swagger is unmistakable these days. She shreds, as they say, and her guitar prowess is delivered by a presence that suggests Kate Bush meets Frankenstein's Bride. She's also been known to hurl her small frame headlong into her crowds—although the Crystal Ballroom's all-ages section may dissuade from that kind of thing. In short, St. Vincent is one of the most dynamic live acts going. She comes to town with an excellent new record and a newly platinum shock of hair. JEREMY PETERSEN Also see My, What a Busy Week!
AGAINST ME!, LAURA STEVENSON, CHEAP GIRLS
(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE César E. Chávez) Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Against Me!'s latest record and their first since singer/songwriter Laura Jane Grace publicly came out as transgender, actually endured a considerable gestation period. Tracks were reportedly recorded, scrapped, and re-recorded several times, with the grueling process even resulting in the resignation of two long-time members. Oddly though, the album is the most aggressive and organic-sounding record Against Me! have ever released. There's a lot of very real, individual pain on display here, but Grace has succeeded in communicating a difficult and perhaps recondite subject—gender dysphoria—in an eminently relatable way. "Drinking with Jocks" might be the swiftest and most merciless incursion on shitty bro culture ever conceived. And the fist-pumping, Springsteen-via-Fat Wreck Chords manifestos "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" and "FUCKMYLIFE666" are all particularly poignant on the heels of Grace's announcement. There's nothing to dislike about Transgender Dysphoria Blues—assuming you aren't one of its targets. MT Also see My, What a Busy Week!
SKI LODGE, THE BELLE GAME
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) It's as much Andrew Marr's "pashernate" croon as it is his surname that has managed to raise the name of the Smiths in nearly every review you'll read about his band, Ski Lodge. May as well throw Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce into that mix while we're at it, since Marr (no relation to Johnny) wrote and played every part on all but one song on last year's Big Heart debut. Yes, there's some Manchester in the Brooklyn band's sound, but a good dose of summery East Coast jangle helps them steer clear of anglophile pastiche. Songs like "Anything to Hurt You" and "Dragging Me to Hell" belie their titles, and bounce along in that time-honored pop tradition that finds heads bobbing to songs inspired by the worst of feelings. If this is mopey, who needs happy? JP