THE SIDEKICKS Wed 8/6 Slabtown

The Sidekicks w/Sundials, Dowsing, the Oddly Hot; Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th
The Sidekicks' third record, 2012's Awkward Breeds, is phenomenal—partly because it was so unexpected. The Columbus, Ohio group's first record, So Long Soggy Dog, was rigidly pop-punk, and while its follow-up, Weight of Air, boasted a handful of excellent songs and marked a sonic evolution, it still played things pretty safe. Awkward Breeds, on the other hand, is a nearly perfect record: Every song is great, the best ones—"Grace," "The Whale and Jonah," and the one-two album-closing punch of "Baby, Baby" and "Daisy"—are on par with what Rivers Cuomo was coming up with in 1996, as worn out as that comparison has become. Impeccable songwriting chops, a huge consideration for musical detail (Awkward Breeds is a headphones record), and lead singer Steve Ciolek's inimitable banshee-like croon all make the Sidekicks one of the best active punk bands.


Blowout, Robot Boy w/Bread Club, Snaggletooth, Casey Jones; Laughing Horse Books, 12 NE 10th
Two of Portland's most promising new bands are on this bill. First is Blowout, whose stellar debut EP, We All Float Down Here, sounds more than a little like Lemuria. And Robot Boy—ideally a reference to the Guided by Voices song "Gold Star for Robot Boy"—is the new power-pop brainchild of Ethan Conroy, former guitarist for all-ages mainstays Bipolarbear. Robot Boy has only two songs to its name, but they're both good 'uns, in particular the Superchunky "It's Only a Tuesday."


Iron Lung w/Una Bèstia Incontrolable, Bi-Marks, VX Gas Attack; Boogie's Burgers and Brew, 910 E Burnside
Powerviolence giants Iron Lung are one of the biggest and most influential names in heavy music. In addition to the Seattle-by-way-of-Reno group's own prolific output, its members curate one of modern punk's most esteemed labels: Iron Lung Records, a reputable go-to for similarly oblique hardcore. Iron Lung's latest, last year's White Glove Test, shows the band at perhaps its leanest and most immediate, and serves as violent reminder as to why music like this is so effective in the first place.