This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: The Antlers, Airborne Toxic Event, Junior Brown, Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the True Loves, Tisch Brain Tumor Center Benefit, Battlefield Band, Suffocation
EH, WHATEVER: Dead Oceans Snorefest
VS.: Lucy Wainwright Roche (canceled, see below) vs. Clem Snide
CONGRATULATING: Nightlight turns six
03.12 THE ANTLERS @ NIGHTLIGHT
Sounding a bit like a supergroup featuring the principals of the defunct Bu Hanan collective, Brooklyn's The Antlers slips voluble reflections on expectations either above icy electronics or above brisk symphonic backdrops. The band's debut LP, Hospice, is an exquisite and ambitious introduction, balancing overstatement with understatement, brood with bustle, noise with nothingness. Think The Arcade Fire, These United States and Sparklehorse, and you understand correctly: This is heady pop for the questionably bipolar. Something similar goes for openers Le Weekend, whose structurally daunting rock pairs prog dexterity and pop charm. Also, Actual Persons Living or Dead. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.13 AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT @ LOCAL 506
Taking their name from Don DeLillo's novel White Noise, Los Angeles quintet Airborne Toxic Event blends baroque, atmospheric and jangle-pop impulses into a peculiarly British-sounding hybrid. Woe-besotted frontman Mikel Jollett wails over his crack backing band's resplendent soundscapes. The ringing guitars suggest the Wedding Present, though last year's eponymous debut isn't all that monochromatic, touching on nervy post-punk and grand "sad bastard" Britpop. Jollett's gruff speak-sing delivery recalls Psychedelic Furs' Richard Butler, and his forlorn attitude could land him in Morrissey Anonymous. With Alberta Cross and The Henry Clay People. $8-$10/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
03.13 JUNIOR BROWN @ CAT'S CRADLE
Junior Brown's a triple threat. His voice is deep and rich like dark chocolate, proffering a booming basso. His six-string skills are exemplary, laying down nimble, sonorous country and rockabilly leads, then doubling up on the lap steel for a more traditional sound. He's designed a custom guitar that combines the two necks, allowing Brown to alternate between the styles, adding even more elan to his impressively light-footed sound. And the gent's keen wit is this tasty cake's icing, whether he's waiting out a "Holding Pattern" or confessing to an ex-lover in "My Wife Thinks You're Dead." $16/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
03.14 ELI "PAPERBOY" REED AND THE TRUE LOVES @ CAT'S CRADLE
With Eli "Paperboy" Reed, there's the possibility that some folks will be distracted by a perception of novelty: a young white guy with a knack for '60s arrangements and a jones for vintage gear, making Southern soul in the Northeast. But Reed's music is more than accomplished enough to swat away such preoccupation. He wrote nine of the 11 songs on last year's soul-surveying Roll with You, and that most sound like they could have a Memphis or Muscle Shoals birth certificate is testament to both his skills and his ability to stick to the plan. The songwriting is standard fare—getting the girl, losing the girl, trying to get the girl back—but Reed's prematurely weathered voice, his throwback stage presence, and the horns, horns and more horns seal it. And the nickname? It comes from the hat he favored (think of a kid on a corner hawking newspapers) when cutting his musical teeth in Mississippi as a teenager. Opening this annual benefit show for the Woods Charter School are the distinguished-veteran-stocked country/ roots outfit Great Big Gone and Chica & the Man, better known as Lynn Blakely and her husband, Ecki Heins. $10/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
03.14 TISCH BRAIN TUMOR CENTER BENEFIT @ THE POUR HOUSE
"Combin[ing] the resources of a leading research hub with a commitment to the best in patient care," Duke's Tisch Brain Tumor Center has received the highest rating possible from the National Cancer Center for the last decade. Their work, of course, has an immediate impact on suurounding communities, as when they cared for the late Cy Rawls, a longtime music booster and superfan, last year. Tonight, the brisk modern rock of The Moderate, the solo songs of The Old Ceremony's Django Haskins, and the wistful, adroit pop of The Proclivities combine to raise money for Tisch. So $10 at 10 p.m. for a hook-heavy night in honor of a fantastic neighbor? We all need help sometimes. —Grayson Currin
03.17 BATTLEFIELD BAND @ TIR NA NOG
Fiddle, guitar, keys and bagpipes provide a lilting soundtrack to drinking and brotherhood: Playing contemporary and traditional tunes, Battlefield Band has been one of the premier Scottish music groups in the world for the last three decades. But, on St. Patrick's Day, everybody's a little bit Irish—even if they're Scottish. Vocalist/ guitarist Sean O'Donnell, who hails from Northern Ireland, will take a leading role in the evening's proceedings with songs about hard times, high hopes and deep disappointments. The celebration starts at an early 11:30 a.m. with Gerry McCrudden, The Ghosts of Erin, The Belfast Boys, Wake County Pipes & Drum and Hercules Mulligan. The main event starts around 7 p.m., but the Guinness and whiskey flow much earlier. —Andrew Ritchey
03.17 SUFFOCATION @ VOLUME 11 TAVERN
"Enslaved until my demise surrenders me/ Until then I must feed the demons/ Fuel my rage and commence haunting you," growled Suffocation's Frank Mullen, the death metal pioneer with the hellfire bellow of a voice, on "Bind, Torture, Kill" in 2006. Actually, Suffocation did meet its demise for a bit in the late '90s, taking a four-year furlough before reforming for some Bush-era brutality. The band's two full-lengths since have pulled back the reins on the dazzling technicality that first suffocated and resuccitated death metal. But the guitars still thrash and splinter when needed, and Mike Smith's drumming still recalls fireworks exploding over an active artillery field, cymbal splashes decorating the malevolent sound like Roman candles interrupting a pitch-black sky. Tonight's show is an early stop on the band's 20th anniversary tour, and—much like Rotting Christ when it launched a commemorative tour earlier this year—Suffocation's still great. With new Nuclear Blast labelmates Decrepit Birth and Metal Blade's Whitechapel. $15-20/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.14 DEAD OCEANS SNOREFEST @ LOCAL 506
For a label so stocked with adventurous outfits like Akron/Family, Phosphorescent, Dirty Projectors and Citay, Dead Oceans sometimes slaps the snooze button a bit too hard: Brooklyn's Bishop Allen pushes at the border of sugar, jangle and twee pop in a way that was palatable until this year's Grrr..., a record of solipsistic whining so musically safe you'd think it comes in a condom wrapper. Sure, you'll remember a hook or three, but common colds are catchy, too. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band chases some of the same tails as Dirty Projectors, but the band's eponymous debut is an undecided mess, shifting from bombast and grandeur to quirk and cute at the drop of a beat. Thing is, passé parts—in which Mt. St. Helens seems to specialize—only build into overhwhelming and obscure blandness when stacked. With Singsing & Marmar. $10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, MARCH 12
LUCY WAINWRIGHT ROCHE
From: Greenwich Village
Claim to fame: Daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Suzzy Roche
After backing up half-brother Rufus Wainwright on vocals for two years, singer-songwriter Lucy Wainwright Roche lit out alone, recording a pair of eight-song EPs since 2007. Gifted with a crystal clear voice, former third-grade teacher (in Durham, no less) Roche wraps unadorned acoustic guitar around memories of Chicago, Statesville, disappointing relationships and boys shipped off to war. Though the sound may be docile coffeeshop folk, Roche lives up to her pedigree by relaying stories in straightforward and consuming fashion. At BROAD STREET CAFE. Free/ 7:30 p.m.
From Broad Street Cafe (March 11): Lucy Wainwright Roche has had to CANCEL her Thursday show due to an illness (her driver, not her). BUT ... we have Tim Stambaugh who will be playing at 8 p.m.!
From: Nashville via Boston and New York
Claim to fame: "Moment in the Sun" served as the theme for NBC's Ed
After lighting out on his own for three years and a pair of solo records, singer-songwriter Eef Barzelay revived the Clem Snide moniker in December, reuniting the band that split after tracking a final album in 2006. Odd, as Barzelay was always Snide's lone constant anyway. Dusted off two weeks ago as Hungry Bird, that last LP lacks the gentle charm that made the previous five so endearing. Instead, Barzelay's writing is heavy-handed, wearing a long face instead of the wink and smirk that marked the wry wit of the band's earlier efforts. Though Chapel Hill's only the second stop on the Hungry Bird tour, here's hoping Barzelay & Co. spend time mining the back catalog's roots-pop gems. Otherwise, it could be a long night. At LOCAL 506. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
03.14 NIGHTLIGHT TURNS SIX
Six years ago, when Nightlight first emerged, its founders never foresaw a day when the venue would exist as a free-standing venture, no longer under the umbrella of Skylight Exchange. But here we are, celebrating another anniversary for Chapel Hill's left-of-center club. Nightlight fully inhabits that space now, void as it is of its old dusty bookshelves and record racks. The room opens as an expansive place for performances, and the sound system keeps improving. In the last year, Nightlight became less a footnote of the Orange County club scene and more a staple.
To throw down for the party itself, the club went with solid local stand-bys: Kerbloki's party rap exudes nothing if not the prankish brattiness of the young Beasties and a big rock rhythm section these days. DJs Mothersbrothers started throwing parties at Nightlight not long after the joint's establishment and haven't looked back since. With their label FrequeNC's evolving roster, they've punched a formidable footprint in the ground for Chapel Hill-based original electronic music.
And while the rest of the world twists in the wind against the economy, in its way, Nightlight is on another planet: They've always kept hanging on from shoestrings that seem made of steel. There's something to be said for that. —Chris Toenes
Kerbloki and FrequeNC DJs play Nightlight's Sixth Anniversary Party Saturday, March 14. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and costs $5.