(Meow Meow) 4AD is one of those labels that rarely makes mistakes. There have been one or two stinkers (Gus Gus' This is Normal comes to mind, which was a fluke in itself), but this is the label that gave us the best releases from Cocteau Twins, Pale Saints, Lush, Dead Can Dance, and the Pixies, to name a few. His Name is Alive is, of course, another of their winners. They have all the requisite 4AD beauty: unpredictability, mass effects, quivery vocals that creep up like kudzu vines, and some unnamable, ethereal element of transcendence. (See Music Bio page 21) JULIANNE SHEPHERD



(Aladdin) Junior Brown ain't a pretty guy, so you know his reputation relies on pickin' alone. And pick, he does! His yellow, slide-combo double-neck is getting worn down from all of his guitar gymnastics, and this is the exact reason to see him live. Sure, Junior blazes through some good ol' country staples and originals on disc, but you gotta see the fingers. He shifts from slide to fretboard effortlessly, de-tunes on the fly, belts out songs about drinking in his growling baritone, and generally tears up the house. Anyone who punctuates the end of a song by plucking his last note with the brim of his 10-gallon hat is just plain cool. IAN SMITH



(Ash Street Saloon) Imagine the response if Sting--our (relatively) husky-timbred, AOR-minded, fuck-happy Sting2K--suddenly took charge of a pared-down Dave Matthews Band, leaving Mr. Matthews free to focus upon interpretive dance, as we suspect he'd always intended. Their concerts would be the stuff of legend, with crowds rivaling papal visitations and tickets unavailable to presidents and kings. But you, you lucky Portlanders, have the very next best thing in your own backyard! Appearing regularly to half-full taverns for pennies a serving, 4th Plane Jaiant unleash their own Monsters of Soft Rock frenzy to a committed but bafflingly small fanbase. Where are the soccer moms and mopey fratboys? Soulless mall bunnies? Suburban hippies? The hippies'll probably make it, I guess. 4th Plane Jaiant do not play covers, exactly, but as both they and Mr. Matthews perform countless six-minute variations of essentially the same song (it's oblique, weepy, tangentially about love lost, and rather fond of the acoustic jam; I'm sure you've heard it) the effect is remarkably similar. Chris Galyon, their virtual Sting, does not so much imitate the daft superstar--c'mon, you try, it's impossible--as employ an exact duplicate of that platinum voice box, which would be rather more impressive upon material not directly inspired by Dream of The Blue Turtles. JAY HORTON



(Crystal Ballroom) Have you seen the new QFC commercials? You know, the one where swishy Pink Maritini member Thomas Lauderdale pimps himself out as an media whore for bananas? Basked in that numbing Hollywood glow, sitting at a babygrand piano, Lauderdale dashes off a series of wince-worthy, uniform songs titled preposterous names like, "le banane," and "The Bouncy Tomato." For God's sake Tom, what's next? The McLauderdale Happy Meal?

Sometime eons ago, in a far-off land called "modesty," not far away from the town of "damn good music," Pink Martini played lazy, sweet and sour tunes through a syrupy haze of cocktails and feathers. One could wander in direct from Value Village, dance a little Latin, sip a little jazz, and lounge, lounge, lounge. Today, Pink Martini suffers from one too many concerts with stuffy Symphonies and well, tomato jingles. But you never know, maybe you'll get lucky and catch Pink Martini on that day when they look in the mirror and say, "What's become of us, baby?" And maybe, just maybe, Thomas will come dressed in his favorite purple boa and they'll coo out a little tune in French, or maybe a little Español, and you'll get a tiny glimpse of Thomas when he loved music, and not bananas. KATIA DUNN




(Bijou Cafè) Old Time Relijun's frontguy improvises on contrabass clarinet. Um, being that Old Time Relijun is like one of the BEST BANDS EVER, I would say this performance will be a refreshing break from formulaic rock crapola. JS



(Oregon Zoo Amphitheater) Something of an indie Elvis Costello for the NW scene, the former Jr. High frontman has quickly won a reputation as...what's that? It's not Sean Croghan? Oh, sure, Shawn Colvin, yeah. The flaxen-haired songstress of lovely, listless folk/rock and owner of THE '90s' adult-contemporary anthem "Sunny Came Home"--that rare hit single with the good taste to be impossible to sing along to. Her best work remains those shruggingly gorgeous pop moments, when her voice--strong and theatrical but tending toward an inappropriate girlishness--needs not quiver along to quiet tales of sad women to whom nothing much at all ever happens. Without surpassing melodic flourishes, Colvin's passable lyrical talents cannot overcome the tepid familiarity of her subjects, nor the inevitable comparison to more gifted contemporaries. Beyond that honestly terrific song--which, in concert, she'd best not dick around with--there's little to distinguish her from countless other attractive, Joni-Mitchell-obsessed women of a certain age who grudgingly split the difference between a rock aesthetic they don't seem to enjoy and a roots-y vision they don't seem to understand. Importantly, Colvin's star rose just before the success of Sheryl Crow and the ascendance of women as unashamed of their hook-driven vapidity as...wait, were we talking about Sheryl Crow? JAY HORTON



(Rose Garden) Three words: The. Muthafuckin. Chronic. (See My, What a Busy Week page 11) JS



(Aladdin Theatre) I'll be honest with you up front. I really wish this was Neil, Tim's younger brother. Neil is not only the cuter of the two, but he also wrote the best Split Enz tunes (the band he shared with Tim) and helmed Crowded House for over a decade. Neil was even nice enough to let Tim into the House when his older brother's career had zeroed into non-existence. Neil is Sean Penn--confident, natural, and capable of moments of real brilliance--while Tim is Chris Penn--good, but lacking that special spark that sets his brother apart. Still, seeing Chris Penn in a film's credits usually means you'll get at least one solid performance for your ticket money; same thing for a concert by Tim Finn. There is something in the family blood that allows the Finn boys to write great pop tunes, and though Neil is the shining star, Tim proves that second stringers can carry the game just fine. So, despite how negative and smarmy this may sound, go check out his show, as you will likely hear some really good songs and enjoy yourself. It's not like you have anything else going on. JAMIE S. RICH



(Laurelthirst) For visitors to the Rose City, no doubt eagerly awaiting the opportunity to watch goat-head-costumed heretics lead the jamboree, the Pagan Jug Band is not noticeably connected to pre-Christian ritual. Their songs are packed with drunkenness and sex and the wages of sin, the musicians have the look of men once involved in bloodsport, but they have rather little to do with any organized religion. Organization itself, they have something of a problem with. As long as anyone can remember--okay, at least a decade--the boys have met up a few times a month for a remarkably eclectic set of acoustic free-for-alls. With members on bass, drums, washboard, banjo, and guitar (and whatever else someone happened to bring) supporting the enormously charismatic frontman Pat Buckley, they perform most every type of music, from bluegrass to Celtic to old-time funk and beyond, with an infectious vigor and memorable form. (Well, to be fair, they play every type of music that fits comfortably with a man playing the washboard. Speed garage, say, rarely gets a chance.) The banjo player is alternately known as Skeeter for the hillbilly numbers and Jean-Claude for the Cajun songs, when he plays an accordion. More bands should be like this. JAY HORTON



(Satyricon) When a Portland band makes it "big" (it happens so often here), we're initially an encouraging bunch. Especially if we've charted a band's progress from infancy, supported them through clumsy adolescence, and cried at their graduation, hoping when they get out into the big, bad world they'll call monthly and come home for the holidays. Portland's Slowrush graduated a couple of months ago, but since NOBODY HAD EVER HEARD OF THEM, the awkward, Sony-sponsored, hideously un-Portland affair (I swear I saw Brian Austin Green next to the lasagne) made their anonymity in Portland painfully obvious. "Where the hell did these guys come from?" I wondered, as I sucked down my complimentary whiskey. Okay, as Generator, they made a few local rounds, but those Epic scouts must have been working overtime to find these guys in a town where every other barista is in a (better) band. Sure, Slowrush's brand of electronirock may spice up the mainstream mix, but their over-processed shtick just won't cut it in Portland. With gobs of makeup and overly produced songs like "Junkie" and "Pain," they might be able to fool depressed kids who watch their music on the telly into believing they're modern glam heroes. But the fact that local record shops can't give their debut CD away should tell them they're better suited to a place like Daytona Beach during Spring Break. CHANTELLE HYLTON




(Berbati's Pan) I've known Dan Savage for 16 years--long before he became famous for writing Savage Love, going on nationwide book tours, and committing felonies against the Gary Bauer campaign...oops...allegedly committing felonies against the Gary Bauer campaign. He used to sit in the cubicle next to mine and throw scissors at me over the wall. I've seen him abuse an endless string of employees (verbally, sexually and physically), and endured countless lunches where he had nothing but bad things to say about the food. Truly, he is a monster. And he's one of the funniest, smartest monsters I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Think his column is funny? Well, you haven't seen anything until you see Dan Savage live on stage. He'll answer your questions, speak on a number of profane subjects, and generally just crack your ass up. He's truly a piece of work, and afterwards, you'll wonder where you've been for the last 16 years. (See My, What a Busy Week page 11) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY



(Crystal Ballroom) Gene and Dean Ween spent the past decade consuming a variety of drugs and dressing their twisted and absurd visions up in a thrift store variety of genres. Their 4-track recordings and live shows have trampled through country pastures, Irish drinking songs, stadium rock, and a jammed out version of Prince's "Let Me Lick Your Pussy." So it must be hard being a Ween fan and waiting with baited breath to see what this band could possibly deliver for the new millennium. With the release of the new album, White Pepper, it appears to be downers and production values. The Beatles melodies and Pink Floyd atmospheres that have wafted through earlier albums are brought to the forefront and the word "fuck" is completely absent. The result is a really beautiful, polished record that showcases their songwriting above the hijinx that may have turned off the less inebriated in the past. (See My, What a Busy Week page 11) JON WILLETT




(Tonic Lounge) O, the antics of Reload. This time ole Brian's gotten some of his friends to remix his song "Suck a Little Boy's Dick" from his album Better Than Sex. The remixes are actually quite charming (and at times, hilarious), particularly the ones by Motor Tic Posse, Autobahn, and MC K-Y & DJ Butterballs. The lyrics ("Suck a little boy's dick/we like it) are funniest when paired with hardcore tek beats and a Doris Day-type finale (thank the Ladies of the Lake for that one). At any rate, Reload does everything full-on, and whatever he's got planned for this night should be pretty kooky in a Mad magazine way, although as a young, cute single woman, I am a little scared. (See DJ Bio Box page 23) JS




(EJ's) The Pork Torta are from Tuscon, AZ, which says something in itself. They play sort of well-executed rockabilly-influenced scatter-rock that really makes me want to eat a cactus, or drink three or four Pabst 40-ouncers, after which I would probably think they were the greatest band in the world. That's probably what will happen with the audience at EJ's tonight, too. Drink a lot, kiddies. JS



(Medicine Hat) I think I saw this band's vocalist last week at karaoke doing "Greatest Love of All" completely un-ironically. JS




(Crystal Ballroom) While other bands work themselves to ruination trying to crank out the one radio friendly hit that will pay for their stay in the Betty Ford Clinic, Yo La Tengo are content to wander, stroll, meander, and roam through their compositions. Many words have been spent trying to boil down the essence of Yo La Tengo over the last 14 years, but it's been for the most part useless. Their songs are thoughtful and sparse. They have a resonance all their own. And they're mellow. That's all you need to know! K recording artist and Mercury contributor Lois kicks off the night with her latest forays into the singer/songwriter realm. Equally comfortable solo or with a band, expect a sampling of her honest, forward, and direct lyrics. IAN SMITH