THURSDAY 11/29

MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK, MAE, ANBERLIN, METRO STATION

(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) See My, What a Busy Week!.

CHORES, ALAN SINGLEY & PANTS MACHINE, BARK HIDE & HORN

(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) We should all be so lucky as Lou Thomas. He gets to pluck ever so gently and bashfully as a member of the unreasonably good A Weather, then groove on over to his other project, Chores, and let it all out with some straightforward, blistering rock. The five tracks off the EP Chores is releasing tonight, Life Is Hard, sound terrific, fueled by slashing guitar solos, and fierce, committed vocals from co-lead singer Jada Pierce. (If ever a name was ready for musical stardom, it's Jada Pierce.) If that's not enough for you, the band is giving away free copies of Life Is Hard to everyone in attendance at this show, so you really have no excuse to miss it. Unless you're agoraphobic. In that case, you may stay home. JUSTIN W. SANDERS

VHS OR BETA, MOVING UNITS, DJ JOEEIRWIN

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Pop music has been likened to candy a million times: It's sweet, sugary, delicious, and it provides an instant jittery rush. This snobby sentiment implies that a little bit of it is okay, but consuming too much will lead to rotten teeth, a splintering headache, maybe even some extra junk in the trunk. If this is true, then the songs of Louisville's VHS or Beta are like Flintstones Vitamins. They're colorful and easy to swallow; they potentially hold sentimental value. Maybe Mom lets you eat them with breakfast because they've been enriched with a variety of nutrients, but I think they still technically qualify as candy. NED LANNAMANN

PORT O'BRIEN, WEINLAND

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Named for a long-abandoned Alaskan cannery, Port O'Brien sound like the music of the wintry sea, splashing up against a lonely dock. The lyrics are frequently about Alaska's harshly beautiful landscape, but this music also has an almost elemental feel to it, like wind coming in from the mountains. Distant, sometimes-shouted vocals float over jangly, rolling guitar riffage, creating a stormy effect. There's real force behind this stuff, too, as evidenced by tracks like the slowly building, Oberst-esque "Five and Dime," and the haunting male/female duet on "Tree Bones." Fresh off a tour with big-timers Rogue Wave, this show at the Mississippi might be your chance to catch these guys in an intimate setting before they really take off. JWS

FRIDAY 11/30

THE THERMALS, YACHT

(Backspace, 115 NW 5th) See My, What a Busy Week!.

BUCK 65, BERNARD DOLAN

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) See Music Feature.

GLASS CANDY, MIKE SIMONETTI, LINGER & QUIET

(Rotture, 315 SE 3rd) See Music Feature.

POLLARD FEST: GIANT BUG VILLAGE, METROPOLITAN FARM, RAPIDS, THEBROTHEREGG, KYLE SOWASH, DAN LURIE

(Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy) Sure, performers can have more devoted fans (those demented weirdos outside Jacko's trial spring to mind), but there are few artists that elicit the kind of obsession that Robert Pollard does. There are a couple reasons for this, the first being obvious: The sheer volume of his arcane catalog (whether under his own name, or Guided By Voices, or Circus Devils, or literally dozens of invented band names) necessitates a truly dedicated level of geekery. The other reason is subtler but far more potent: the mythology. Pollard was a schoolteacher for years, dicking around in the garage on weekends, self-releasing albums as he saw fit, almost never playing live. Then at some point in the early '90s (around the time of Bee Thousand), lots of people started listening. That transition from hobbyist to professional, while maintaining his sloppy aesthetic and remaining in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, is the fundamental basis of Pollard's appeal. Tonight a half-dozen acts, local and otherwise, perform Pollard's beer-soaked tunes (some of which are bound to be very obscure) and pay homage. NL

MIKE DOUGHTY

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) Playful wordsmith Mike Doughty didn't disappear after his poetry-slam-funk band Soul Coughing called it quits in 2000. His first few stripped-down solo releases notably featured his "gankadank" guitar and an amazing cover of Mary J. Blige's "Real Love." 2005's Haughty Melodic carried full-band arrangements and less esoteric lyrics, scoring a radio hit in "Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well." Always frank about his personal demons (including sobering up post-Coughing), Doughty's dubbed this the Question Jar Tour. Encouraging the audience to write questions on scraps of paper prior to each show, he'll draw them and answer, vowing "no question is too weird, no topic is taboo." He'll also be taking requests and playing songs from an album due in February 2008. Both shows are sold out, and not to be missed. JIM WITHINGTON

SATURDAY 12/1

VAN HALEN, KY-MANI MARLEY

(Rose Garden, 1 Center Ct) See My, What a Busy Week!.

ARTIX FEST: 31KNOTS, GROUPER, HONED BASTION, JONNY X & THE GROADIES, BLUE SABBATH BLACK CHEER, OAXACAN, THE BETTER TO SEE YOU WITH, GHOST TO FALCO, ART LESSING, PROWLS

(Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th) See Our Town Could Be Your Life.

E-40, COOL NUTZ

(Roseland, 8 NW 6th) "The real be pillars," Cool Nutz raps on "So Drunk." And he most certainly is that (a pillar). How drunk Nutz may be is another matter. I'm guessing most of the time he's not totally shithoused, because Jesus, the man is always working. Tonight Nutz, along with the godfather of hyphy, E-40, is here to celebrate the release of King Cool Nutz, his first solo album in three years. So if it's been a while—or even if it hasn't—drop by and pay some respect to Portland's OG. ANDREW R. TONRY

DREW GROW, GHOSTS I'VE MET, POCKET

(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) In a time where every other crooning male musician sports a dirt-caked beard and a hankering for whiskey-soaked alt-country, I'll say this: Ghosts I've Met are not the most original kids on the block. Still, Sam Watts and his rotating cast of musicians approach the at-times-overdone genre with as much deep-felt emotion as anyone performing today. Ghosts won't overpower you with complexity, but they will wash over you with an affable sense that you've been here before, among these creaking guitars and ethereal voices, somberly content with your surroundings. It's a comforting familiarity more often reserved for the red-flannel hug of a fondly remembered uncle or the distinct smell of a campfire. You've heard this before, in some dusty juke joint on the open road, but rarely do you hear it this well. NOAH SANDERS

ROBYN HITCHCOCK & THE VENUS THREE, SEAN NELSON & HIS MORTAL ENEMIES

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) For a guy who has been at the music game for over 30 years, Robyn Hitchcock shows no signs of slowing down. Hitchcock has been an immeasurable influence on modern music, both as a solo act and as a member of seminal outfit the Soft Boys, with everyone from the Replacements to R.E.M. declaring themselves huge fans. It makes sense, really, since Hitchcock has always been an outsider. He writes songs that are oft-described as quirky and shapes them with the jangliest of all jangle guitars. Hitchcock's latest, Olé! Tarantula, is as good as anything he's done to date—which is to say it's still weird, still jangly, and a damn fine record to boot. ROB SIMONSEN

MIGHTY GHOSTS OF HEAVEN, MISS LANA REBEL, JOSH COLE, CURTIS ALSOBROOK

(LaurelThirst Public House, 2958 NE Glisan) There's a strong push in Europe right now to make the ukulele the official instrument that's taught to schoolchildren, rather than the horrific and outdated recorder. One listen to the Mighty Ghosts of Heaven's latest self-titled album and it's clear why this switch is important, because not only would the recorder sound awful added into the mix, but the ukulele is essential to rounding out their modern spin on old-time music. Effortlessly flowing from jug-band barnburners to weepy, delicate ballads, the music of the Mighty Ghosts is rich with vocal harmonies, but it's the instrumentation (mountain dulcimer, fiddle, banjo, and yes, ukulele) and musicianship that set them apart from the current crop of old-time influenced bands. RS

FOGHORN STRINGBAND

(White Eagle, 836 N Russell) The O Brother resurgence of old-timey music could have resembled the horror of the late-'90s swing revival: yet another archaic style exhumed in full regalia, to the ironic amusement of post-boomers. Unlike the slick polish of swing, however, this music has dirt under its fingernails—maybe even a little blood. Having played their spindly tunes at festivals around the world, Portland's Foghorn Stringband are best appreciated while tucked into a corner of The Moon & Sixpence pub every Sunday evening, essentially rehearsing in public. Tunes are traded, arrangements debated, pints swallowed, corpses dug up and invited politely to dance. It doesn't really translate to album (their latest, Boombox Squaredance, is comprised of instrumental leftovers), so this formal gig at the White Eagle is your chance to experience the best of Foghorn in person. If bingeing on Pabst at punk shows is beginning to get old, this could be surprisingly up your alley. NL

SUNDAY 12/2

IRON & WINE, CALIFONE

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) See Music Feature.

THE DODOS, MINMAE

(Dante's 1 SW 3rd) See My, What a Busy Week!.

GULLS, QUIET COUNTRIES, GEJIUS, PLANKTON WAT, MISS LANA REBEL, CLASSICAL REVOLUTION

(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) We all like to think we know every nook and cranny of the Portland music scene, but just when I think I've got it pretty much locked in, BOOM! Here's Gulls, the project of Evolutionary Jass Band's Jesse Johnson, catching me completely by surprise with the sometimes beautiful, sometimes gacked-up blend of cut 'n' paste glitchy soundscapes. Joining him is Quiet Countries, a longtime fave of mine, who employ similar elements but lean more toward the sweeping, cinematic side of things, with a healthy dose of influences ranging from instrumental hiphop to pluckier acoustics (à la the Books). As if that's not enough, a whopping FOUR more bands round out this bill, ranging from hopped-up, synthed-out Gejius to the chamberific sounds of Classical Revolution, and lots (lots!) in between. HANNAH CARLEN

THE ROPES, THE BEASTS OF EDEN, LITTLE BEIRUT

(Towne Lounge, 714 SW 20th Pl) In nearly every way possible, I imagine the music of New York dance-rock outfit the Ropes is somehow a step back for progress. High-quality, female-fronted acts like the Gossip and Be Your Own PET lose a fair amount of luster when put in the same category with Ropes lead singer Sharon Sty's toneless warble. Same goes for the entire genre of dance-rock. When the inevitable label is placed upon the Ropes, the whole of the dance-rock community will feel the downward pull of these excruciatingly bland and unoriginal musicians. It literally feels as if the Ropes sat down figured out the best way to mix every painful stereotype of female-fronted dance-rock from the last two years. In other words, avoid this show like syphilis. NS

MONDAY 12/3

CAKE, THE BUILDERS & THE BUTCHERS

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) The first time I saw the Builders and the Butchers, they converted me. I now call myself a mega-fan, thanks to one of the best live shows I've seen from any Portland band in recent memory. They play their instruments like a band haunted, strumming guitars with fury, banging drums with rage, all while shouting as if they were possessed. The Builders demand to be heard and stomped along to, and, chances are, they'll convert you too. This band is that good, and with the power of their live show, they're going to get real big real soon. See—they're already opening up for Cake (as strange a pairing as that is). RS

JINGLE BALL: AVRIL LAVIGNE, COLBIE CAILLAT, SEAN KINGSTON, ONEREPUBLIC, JORDIN SPARKS

(Rose Garden, 1 Center Ct) I'm not sure I can recommend you go to an Avril Lavigne concert. I have a hard time imagining quite what goes on at an Avril show—stage dives? Goat sacrifices? But I can recommend you listen to her most recent album, in all its selfish emotional whiplash (I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU/I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!). The Best Damn Thing understands adolescence and its lack of middle ground better than Ben Gibbard and Antoine Doinel put together. Maybe you don't need to understand adolescence—maybe you're well through with it—but sprinkled throughout Avril's bottomless self-absorption are half-winks that give you the pleasing sensation of having no idea whether or not she knows how right she's getting things. As for the concert, well, she's bound to say "He was a boy/She was a girl/Can I make it any more obvious," right? Good line. THEON "I ROCK AVRIL LAVIGNE AND CRY ALONE IN MY BEDROOM" WEBER

TUESDAY 12/4

TEGAN & SARA, NORTHERN STATE

(Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside) See My, What a Busy Week!.

WEDNESDAY 12/5

VIVA VOCE, OHMEGA WATTS, BOY EATS DRUM MACHINE

(Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd) See My, What a Busy Week!.

THE PORTLAND CELLO PROJECT, HORSE FEATHERS, 3 LEG TORSO

(Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison) See My, What a Busy Week!.

SCOTLAND YARD GOSPEL CHOIR, THE ONLINE ROMANCE

(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) See Music Feature.

VOXTROT, DIVISION DAY, THROWBACK SUBURBIA

(Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th) The artwork for Voxtrot's self-titled debut says a lot about the band's modest sensibility: It's dotted with photos, most of them portraits and snapshots of the band's members. The album's track listing is likewise shown again and again in collage form, and the message is clear: This is a band for whom the music is paramount. Between this and a pair of EPs, the group's dedication to the pop song becomes apparent, and from 2005's "The Start of Something" to this year's "Ghost," they repeatedly deliver. The guitars are clear, the drumming is tight, and the vocals abound with average-guy yearning—verbose and conflicted. Live, they're even more compelling, both unassuming and deeply charming. And frontman Ramesh Srivastava's energetic, unrelenting stage presence helps translate what's solid on record into something even better in person. TOBIAS CARROLL

TOOL, TRANS AM

(Memorial Coliseum, 300 Winning Way) Like Radiohead, Tool has inexplicably been able to bring progressive rock to the masses. They clog arenas and airwaves with incessant tribal throbs, icy guitar tones, and primal whines. And when they hit the road, Tool always seems to bring really cool (deserving) bands with them. In fact, look at this list of Tool support bands from recent years: Melvins, Isis, Kinski, Big Business, and now Trans Am. That's pretty impressive. Actually, it's credibility that you can't buy. Tool's audience now includes suburban idiots, curious indie rockers, police, your mom, people who like sports, gays, metal heads, goth rockers, etc. I always wonder what percentage of these people go on to buy superior music from the bands that Tool bring on tour? I hope it's a lot. NATHAN CARSON

DON CABALLERO, ENABLERS, THRONES

(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Most math-rock instrumental bands I could give a shit about. Ask James Brown and he'd tell ya: "They ain't got no soul!" Damn right, James! Tell 'em! But Don Caballero, for me, is the exception. Which isn't to say they've got a van full of enough shag-carpet soul to please the Godfather—they don't. But just watching their manic drummer, Damon Che, is good enough for me. I could watch that motherfucker all day. Unlike a lot of his contemporaries, Che doesn't just skim over the drums at top speeds—he bashes the holy shit out of 'em. He just happens to be precise. And the bandleader in Brown could certainly dig that. ART