THURSDAY 2/19

AS CITIES BURN, SMILING POLITELY, MARTYR REEF, PENNY LANE, MUTAGEN
(Paris, 6 SW 3rd) "Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins." "Homer Simpson, smiling politely." This introduction, from The Simpsons' pivotal Hullabalooza episode, lampooned the participle abuse that plagued alt-rock band names in the mid-'90s. Smiling Politely drew its name from the exchange, thus perpetuating this dying trend by co-opting its parody. Pretty cool. "Are you being sarcastic, dude?" "I don't even know anymore." Headlining this show is holy hardcore act As Cities Burn, bringing to mind a line from another astute animated show, King of the Hill: "Can't you see you're not making Christianity better? You're just making rock 'n' roll worse." ANDREW MILLER



FAMOUS MYSTERIOUS ACTOR PLAYERS, BRINDLE
(Ash Street Saloon, 225 SW Ash) Though impossible to explain, the results are hilarious, so here goes nothing: The Famous Mysterious Actor Players are a comedy troupe headed up by the Famous Mysterious Actor, who looks like a serial killer in a wrestling mask, but maintains the innocence of a five-year-old. He stars in a monthly talk show at the Ash Street, and conducts increasingly bizarre interviews with Portland celebs (such as this month's guests POW champ Cleaver the Angry Chef, the creator of KATU kid's show Bumpity, and musical entertainment from Brindle). Plus there are commercials, onstage drama between the cast membersÉ and most importantly, plenty of laughter-induced wetness within the underpants of the audience. Don't miss it; it's that funny. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY



THE PANGS, MERRICK FOUNDATION, dot dot dot
(IC Mummy, 332 NE San Rafael) Steve Davis and Barry Anderson of the Merrick Foundation have been playing together for over a decade, and will amaze you with the eerie coordination of their two-piece rock attack. Davis' rich, complex guitar cascades, drones, crunches, and sprawls across Anderson's unrelenting drumbeats that channel a Lakota hunting camp prepping for the Buffalo Hunt of the Doomed. The Pangs, spearheaded by Tape-Op contributor and PDXBands.com mastermind Matt Mair Lowery, achieve a difficult balance for an indiepop group: clever but not oppressive, pleasant but not cloying, a little sad but not too weepy, and literate but not in a showboating way. Nice! ROLAND COUTURE



ABIGAIL GRUSH GROUP, HERE COMES EVERYBODY
(Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N Mississippi) When experimental acts play their first few shows, there are often more instruments on stage than fans in attendance. That was the case a year ago, when Abigail Grush Group gigged at Satyricon, setting up its xylophones, keyboard, saxophones, accordion and clarinet to enchant 10 people. But word is starting to spread about Grush's ornate yet oddly accessible compositions, which use her versatile voice and that impressive instrumental arsenal to obliterate genre lines. Given that this is a free, all-ages show, which can make even casual music listeners curious enough to peruse slightly askew sounds, the Grush Group might finally draw the type of crowd it deserves. AM



THE WRENS, IRVING, dolorean, GRAVITY & HENRY
(The Wrens in-store, Ozone Phase 3, 701 E Burnside, 2 pm, free; Irving instore, Jackpot, 203 SW 9th, 4 pm, free; show at Berbati's, 231 SW Ankeny, 10 pm) See Music pg 16



NED EVETT, FRANK VIGROUX
(Bitter End, 1981 W Burnside) Music must be the language of love, for how else could one explain this unlikely collaboration between an American and a (gasp!) Frenchman? If they weren't such damn good fretless guitar players, you'd better believe they'd be clawing each other's eyes out, for that's what American and French people normally do together. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS



THE MINDERS, THE PUNK GROUP, CLAMPITT, GADDIS & BUCK, THE HAZMATS, CUTE DON'T CUT IT
(Dante's, 1 SW 3rd) See MWBW pg 15



FRIDAY 2/20

CANNIBAL CORPSE, HYPOCRISY, EXHUMED, VILE
(Roseland, NW 6th & Burnside) These can be terrifying times, which makes Cannibal Corpse's harmless caricatures of hellish conditions more comforting than ever. While millions of people worldwide live in fear of torture and death squads, a fortunate few can stand safely in a crowded club and listen to fiendishly clever yet ultimately malice-free threats of mayhem ("Meat-hook Sodomy," "Fucked with a Knife") from some longhaired death-metal dudes who can play really fast. The group recently released a box set that documents its 15 years of repulsive album covers, repugnant lyrics, and growl-and-grind bursts of fake fury. Bless you, Cannibal Corpse. AM



OUTSIDE IN BENEFIT STARRING HURT BIRD, JR. PRIVATE DETECTIVE, SCHICKY GNAROWITZ, EMILY RILEY & THE GODFORSAKEN NOISE
(Berbati's, 231 SW Ankeny) Okay, it's not the Pixies reunion tour, but it is a benefit for Outside In, rather than Frank Black's wallet. Hurt Bird plays an interesting synth, rhyme (like dropping rhymes) combo. Jr. Private Detective plays deliberate and sassy. You play helper to kids on the street. The bartender plays apothecary to your sobriety. KATIE SHIMER



ALTAR BOYS, ODDITORS, MANHOLES, PLAN R
(DV8, 5021 SE Powell) The Odditors have a bouncy, infectious, messy charm. It's punk, I guess, but pretty old-school, like in the style of the Velvet Underground. If only they had Nico singing background vocals, they'd be the perfect band. Instead, they're all boy, boy, boy. JWS



THE VERY FOUNDATION, OTHER MEN MY AGE, THE FORTH
(Kelly's Olympian, 426 SW Washington) The Very Foundation do a lot of interesting things on their short, sweet little EP The Final Moments of Paola Mori, including but not limited to, surfy, almost tribal sounding percussion sections, and ominous fuzzy background noises. They're a rock band with clear creative ability, and the future looks bright. JWS



NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE
(Rose Garden, 1401 N Wheeler) As far as rock music goes, the transition from the '70s to the '90s was tough. Few, if any, artists made it across that bridge unscathed; even the greats, like Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, have their share of cringe-worthy records from the dreadful '80s. Neil Young, on the other hand, might just be the only artist who made it into the '90s with enough momentum to fuel a career that's still going strong. If you ignore Are You Passionate? (the album that featured "Let's Roll," which just might be one of the worst 9/11 tribute songs ever), Young has had a great last dozen or so years, including 2003's Greendale--a combination album, play, and movie--plus the reissue of some his long-forgotten back catalog (including the brilliant On The Beach, his vibrant California love/hate album, which just might be his finest work since Harvest or After the Gold Rush). EZRA ACE CARAEFF



THE MINDS, THE CHECKERS, NIX
(Twilight, 1420 SE Powell) I know you're in the mood for some new wavy keyboard pop madness. You might not think you are, but the sweet, sweet fun of the Minds is soÉ what do they sayÉ contagious, infectious, gangrenous? Who cares. All I know is I could use a little happy juice running through my veins, and The Minds are the remedy to my affliction. KS



DECEPTIKON, P.DISCO, HERRMANITO
(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) IDM alert: Portland All-Area Laptop Battle Winner Deceptikon feeds his careful beats to the shredder, samurai-chef style. Result: a lot of studied flailing, beats that cut like a scapel, and bits of melody for flavor. AKA the stuff of champions! JULIANNE SHEPHERD



JOSHUA JAMES AND THE RUNAWAY TRAINS
(Duff's Garage, 1635 SE 7th) Give this man six shots of whiskey and he promises to perform naked. He claims to have done so already. For the past four years, bounding between Austin, Texas and the Pacific Northwest, Joshua James himself is somewhat a runaway train. He likes to woo girls and gladly join a man for fisticuffs. He has that tattooed, The Outsiders, greaser look that makes me feel like a real soc. Playing mean-spirited rockabilly, James' music is like the prankster schoolboy who drops cherry bombs in the toilets--explosive and reckless yet also semi-controlled. But like his icons Bruce Springsteen and Chris Isaak, there is something tender beneath his working class exterior. And he'll probably kick my ass for saying that. PHIL BUSSE



SATURDAY 2/21

QUIET COUNTRIES, QUEEN BEE JACKSON, DAMN THESE MONKEY HANDS, CALMER THAN YOU
(Jasmine Tree, 401 SW Harrison) Leb Borgerson imbues his solo project, Quiet Countries, with a natural conviction that hints at genius. Wielding a baritone guitar, he loops dissonant melodies with a Line 6 pedal and layers booming beats, syncing them perfectly with the mathy evilness of the guitar. His voice cuts through with tortured lines like, "we can't keep wrapping ourselves in plastic... but we try, we try, we try"; in the process, he obliterates the traditional role of the singer/songwriter, combining meaningful lyrics with modern modes of musical creation, filling out the heart that is absent in much electronic music. KEVIN O'CONNOR



LET IT RIDE, ARROYO, STARS OF TRACK & FIELD, THE FEVER PITCH
(Conan's, 3862 SE Hawthorne) Beavis and Butthead and Let it Ride share a similar aesthetic: if it goes "duh duhduh duhhhhh, duh duh duhhhhh duh duh," it must be good--or, in the words of the band's T-shirts, "superior rock 'n' roll." I can imagine Beavis, upon witnessing Let it Ride's bar-friendly hard rock, going "heh, heh, heh, yes!!! Let it Ride! These guys RRRRULE!" KIP BERMAN



NUMBER 13 BABY, THE PROTOCOL, THE GET ME DOWNS
(Berbati's, 231 SW Ankeny) Are tribute groups as effective if the band they're aping reunites? I guess we'll find out; ironically, tickets for The Pixies reunion tour go on sale today (503-224-TIXX at 9 am, homies), and Number 13 Baby plays all their hits tonight. Oh my golly! JS



BUILT TO SPILL, DENALI, NORTH AMERICAN TRI-DUBS, APE SHAPE
(Crystal, 1332 W Burnside) Denali's lush new record, The Instinct, released by Delaware's splendidly consistent Jade Tree, is a soulful collection of songs that showcases singer Maura Davis' careening, opera-house vocals set against the band's moody, rhythmic guitar rock. If their studio albums are any indication, their live show should be absolutely brilliant. NICK KOCH



LAST EMPIRE, FALL OF THE BASTARDS, SOUND ASSASSINS, PASCHENDALE
(DV8, 5021 SE Powell) If you don't like Maiden-style blazing metal, and you don't like songs about D&D, you sure as shit can't argue with a song title like "Trilogy of the Unicorn." I know, that title is pretty D&D sounding, but it's still fucking dope. KS



PTA2 RELEASE: BROKAW, DJ COPY, more
(Tiger Bar, 317 NW Broadway) See Music pg 16



ANBERLIN, ME WITHOUT YOU, WATASHI WA, EMERY
(Nocturnal, 1800 E Burnside) Former headliners Further Seems Forever have officially dropped off tonight's bill because their hypersensitive lead vocalist got all pissy and whiny and left the band, marking the second time that this Florida-based group has seen its singer turn into a huffy little princess. Thankfully, though, Pennsylvania's Me Without You will still be performing, fully representing 95 percent of the creativity and originality that the current Tooth & Nail Tour roster can lay claim to. Brooding and spasmodic, MWY are calculatedly explosive art rockers with an equal artistic affinity for Drive Like Jehu and J.D. Salinger, which explains singer Aaron Weiss' elastic vocal dynamic, oscillating from raspy spoken word to throat-straining screams. Perhaps with the exceptions of the Blood Brothers and Suffering and the Hideous Thieves, you won't see a better live performance this month. NK



SUNDAY 2/22

CRISIS, PLAYING ENEMY, SHAMELADY
(Berbati's, 231 SW Ankeny) For a heavy group with gruff vocals and grating guitars, Playing Enemy sure knows how to have fun. Instead of putting its out-of-print Ephemera EP on eBay, the band concocted a scavenger hunt that encourages participants to swipe at least two of the ever-popular haircut paintings out of the Vita Café bathroom. Acceptable substitutes include scoring a Bill Cosby autograph or writing Playing Enemy fan fiction. When not endorsing fan larceny and/or creativity, Playing Enemy plays absorbing, multi-layered hardcore that seems far too dense to be the work of a mere trio. AM



MONDAY 2/23

INTERNATIONAL PLAYBOYS, born losers, goddamn gentlemen
(Twilight, 1420 SW Powell) If you ever thought about going to frontman school, you should attend this important seminar. As an International Playboy, Colin Hickey is well-dressed, "filthy rich" and "sexy." He sports a big curly Caucafro, and writhes and caresses himself onstage to the sexy sounds of the band's Estrus-style garage rock. RC



COOL NUTZ'S WIDE WORLD OF TALENT
(Berbati's, 231 SW Ankeny) Based on Showtime at the Apollo, Cool Nutz is hosting Portland's only monthly open mic specifically dedicated to "urban" talent. That means it's not just open-mic freestyle cipher, and neither is it merely wispy songwriters wielding odes to the forest: both are welcome, as long as they're urban format. (Actually, that probably eliminates the wispy songwriter, unless the ode is performed in the style of, like, Candi Staton. God, I hope so.) JS



TUESDAY 2/24 For more on Mardi Gras blowout crap, see pg 13

STEVEN WRAY LOBDELL
(Voodoo Doughnut, 22 SW 3rd) One of the deepest cats prowling the psychedelic underground (sample song title: "Apocalypse Greeting Card"), Steven Wray Lobdell heads infernal Portland jam band Davis Redford Triad. Oh, he also provides trenchant guitar textures for a little German outfit called Faust--you know, one of the greatest bands ever? On his solo excursions, as evidenced by Automatic Writing by the Moon, Lobdell welcomes a little light into his sound field--while still sounding like a roofed John Fahey or Bola Sete--by threading pastoral acoustic guitar motifs through edgy ring-modulator shenanigans and indulging in the odd gamelan percussion tangent. Those craving a hit of homegrown folkadelia should come get dosed by this dark magus. DAVE SEGAL



DEATH STRIKE, THRONES, FIREBALLS OF FREEDOM, DJ MAXIMILLION
(Grand Central Bowl, 808 SE Morrison) Bowling. I love it. Why? Because it's a game of luck and skill, I beat most of my boyfriends at it, and I can enjoy not only a frosty glass of beer, but also a perfect view of everyone's ass as they throw the ball. Tonight, however, is true bowling greatness with the addition of the effects-heavy, drum-machine sludge rock of Thrones. Them, plus Portland's favorite rock 'n' roll band, Fireballs, who can't help but improve your score. KS



THORN CITY IMPROV
(Ash, 225 SW Ash) With the regular high-quality Thorn City Improv fellows, special guests Drunken Immortals make hiphop about hiphop: West Coast-flavored, laidback and mostly thoughtful paeans about their love of the beat. JS



WEDNESDAY 2/25

BRITISH SEA POWER, KAITO UK
(Berbati's, 231 SE Ankeny) Revisiting on the phone with British Sea Power's frontman Yan about his band's reputation as onstage rapscallions, he told me dispatches from North America are greatly exaggerated. His brother Hamilton did not, in fact, saw from a tree the branch on which he was sitting, breaking his wrist as a result. "That's almost true," he said with a hearty laugh. "He pulled off the branch he was hanging from. I've heard him claim he was trying to save a cat, and that's completely false. He's just trying to make himself look less stupid." KATHLEEN WILSON



JULIAN MARLEY, DJ CANSAMAN
(Crystal, 1332 W Burnside) Julian Marley, son of Bob, is a Melody Maker/Wailer and will clearly be playing some of the realer roots reggae. But did you know he also played guitar on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill at the age of 22, and a year later served as a producer on Krayzie Bone's Thug Mentality album? JS



GIRLS RIP A STICK: DR. CLAW, BATTLECAT, THE BLOW, PASH
(Meow Meow, 320 SE 2nd) No one has quite explained what the term "Girls Rip a Stick" means, but I am hoping it has something to do with tampons: objects I can get with. These four solo ladies can definitely get with some laptop music, including Olympia, WA's conceptual/poetic beat superstar, The Blow AKA Khaela Maricich, and Portland's Battlecat, AKA The Badger King's Marianna Ritchey. JS



THE NEINS, TROPHY WIFE, STRAITJACKET, DJ MAXIMILLION
(Grand Central Bowl, 808 SE Morrison) If you haven't made it out to one of these Wednesday night bowling-alley shows, you really owe it to yourself. All-ages types can bowl all night (or not), hear and/or see good bands right out there in the lanes, and gorge on pizza that is abundant and cheap the way it oughta be. Drinkers can visit the attached bar where the DJ spins and says my-my, right up until closing. And tonight, the penultimate bowling band, The Neins, rock their peppy, blonde-wood, '60s/'70s vintage bowling-shoe sound. RC