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The guide to the week's concerts 

YES, PLEASE...

04.01 NUCLEAR POWER PANTS @ TIR NA NOG

A crazy, colorful Baltimore troupe, Nuclear Power Pants makes heavy psychedelic pop, with thick group vocals piled over sheets of synthesizers and stacks of riveted percussion. It's noisy and it's narcotic, but it's not for everyone: Like many of their Wham City compatriots, it's zany zealousness might be a distraction. Then again, it might be your party, too. They'll play their own set but join Baltimore rap crew Height with Friends, too, for what they're calling a "cool, posi-vibes, partially collaborative, double party-set." Raleigh's Lonnie Walker continues to sharpen its sound, a mix of twisting indie epics and punchy pop gems. $5/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

04.02 DOUBLE NEGATIVE @ THE POUR HOUSE

Double Negative keeps getting better and bitterer. They've got a new record on the way that keeps getting lost or stolen, sending the four Raleigh veterans back to square one, building bile on top of bile. One track, "Super Recourse," survived the theft of the band's recording unit, and it portends a seething, dynamic beast, skin drawn painfully taut as it lunges against confines of time and tempo. Has hardcore been more threatening or so life-affirming since the Bad Brains? The punks storm the hippy place and bring fellow East Coast hardcore men No Friends and Deep Sleep, too. Brooklyn's heavy load, Pollution, opens. 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed

04.03 DYNAMITE BROTHERS, HERON, PINCHE GRINGO @ THE RESERVOIR

Not content with being the Triangle's premier funk/hard rock/soul/free-range jazz outfit, the Dynamite Brothers also want to be the area's answer to Muscle Shoals' Swampers. In the early stages is the Dynamite Extended Family Project, wherein the Dynos collaborate with and back a variety of local musicians, like Mosadi Music's Shirlette Ammmons and The Rosebuds' Ivan Howard. True to form, they'll hop across genres in the process. In the meantime, there'll be opportunities—like this show with Durham's metal-leaning fire-eaters Heron and the stripped-near-bare garage sounds of Pinche Gringo—to see the Dynamite Brothers do their own thing: They'll mix percussion-heavy intros with slow-gyration outros, funk-fueled workouts with psychedelic hoedowns, and hard-rocking Friday nights with Philly-soul sunrises. Free/ 10 p.m. —Rick Cornell

04.03 TARTUFI, BRONZED CHORUS, MAPLE STAVE @ BROAD STREET CAFE

It's a strong enough bill without out-of-staters Tartufi. Greensboro's Bronzed Chorus plays like glass shattering in slow motion, cascading crystalline shards in melodic flurries—powerfully percussive, graceful in its motion. Durham's Maple Stave powers its algorithmic punk rock with the momentum of a spy-movie chase scene. Corners aren't turned but spun. It's exhilarating every time. San Francisco's Tartufi weds The Arcade Fire's urgency to Talkdemonic's texture, playing every song like it's the key to redemption. $5/ 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed

04.05 MC FRONTALOT @ LOCAL 506

Given the number of dorky white kids in sagging pants during the '90s, it was inevitable that some middle-class honkies would eventually reference pop and geek culture in raps more than cars and guns. MC Frontalot isn't the best Nerdcore rapper—that's MC Lars (bite that, MC Chris)—but his witty, self-effacing flow is everything gangsta isn't: amusing, self-aware, intellectually honest. His beats have an electronic, new wave bent that sometimes recalls Devo, and his subjects include urgent email pleas from deposed Nigerian royalty, "Tongue Clucking Gramarians" and backtalking genius infants. How can you argue with rhyming braggadocio and Ralph Macchio? $8–$10/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

click to enlarge Citay
  • Citay

04.06 CITAY @ LOCAL 506

Guitars of glory: San Francisco's Citay started as a studio project between Piano Magic expat Ezra Feinberg and Fucking Champs veteran Tim Green. The pair first created a pneumatic psychedelic space, meticulous but full, with twin electric leads scissoring through jangling acoustic drifts. Over three albums, they've expanded the lineup and palette but somehow only sharpened the early approach. Citay stretches strong pop songs (including a cover of Galaxie 500's anthem "Tugboat") with imaginative playing and shapes fuzzy instrumentals into blissful atmospheres. They'll take the bill's middle, while big locals offer the bookends: Birds of Avalon unveil their four-piece lineup, wherein the vocals are split across all members, while producer and Let's Active legend Mitch Easter headlines with his band. $8/ 9:15 p.m. —Grayson Currin

04.06 YARN @ THE POUR HOUSE

Feel free to tag the sounds of Brooklyn's Yarn, with its Gram nods and its "Friend of the Devil" echoes, Cosmic American Beauty Music. And despite the group's roots in the jam scene, you'd be hard-pressed to find an ounce of musical clutter. It's just streamlined and spirited acoustic music. All said, though, the guys aren't opposed to turning it up, especially when spotlighting songs from the upcoming Come On In. BJ Barham breaks out of the American Aquarium for a night to open the show. $10/ 9 p.m. —Rick Cornell

04.06 SOUTH MEMPHIS STRING BAND @ BERKELEY CAFE

North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson teams up with Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Grammy-winning blues guitarist Alvin "Youngblood" Hart to form the South Memphis String Band. This trio of stacked talent coalesced after recording with Charlie Musselwhite and the now late Jim Dickinson (Luther's father) in 2008. Last year, the three toured together, creating a patchwork of original material and traditional tunes. Mythic outlaws mingle with contemporary politics. Blues solos, sing-a-long choruses, and extended acoustic jams haze an air of nostalgia. It's a glorious acoustic junkyard of guitars, mandolin, and banjo. A dozen of these songs comprise the debut Home Sweet Home, released early this year. The South Memphis String Band, though, is best live. As a side project for each of its members, the trio keeps things loose by generously trading instruments, lead vocals, and jokes throughout a show. It's friendly, back-porch music with fine musicians. $12–$15/ 8 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey

04.06 YELAWOLF, WIZ KHALIFA @ CAT'S CRADLE

Yelawolf occupies an intriguing world between Confederate flags and graffiti tags that might require preconception adjustment for some. Even though Rich Boy took us there back in 2007, a rapper from Alabama still bears a big burden of proof. However, of late, Yelawolf's electric, stage antics and high-velocity, proletariat raps have been getting nods from the hip-hop community—usually grossly biased about a white southern rapper trying to make noise. He hasn't faltered by shying away from the opportunity to build an entity around his name, taking advantage of hype that teeters on the line of cultish fascination and new-school veneration. He's linked with Raekwon on one of this year's most outstanding collaborations, "I Wish," following it with an increased-caliber remix with fellow southerners Cy-Hi and Pill. Both he and Pittsburgh emcee, Wiz Khalifa are trying to make a name for themselves. I'm at least obliged to help them out. With Joe Scudda, who finally has a mixtape to call his own. $12–$14/ 9:30 p.m. —Eric Tullis

4.07 PAT METHENY @ MEMORIAL HALL

Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny never wanted for collaborators. Since he debuted with Paul Bley, he's worked with an all-star list of performers, from Charlie Haden and Chick Corea to Ornette Coleman. His choice to make a solo project out of his improvisations with mechanized instruments initially came as a shock. Orchestrion hinges on a battery of instrumentation powered by electromagnetic switches, triggered to react to Metheny's guitar play. What first comes off as a novelty gimmick—a fusion version of the animatronics bands found at kids' pizza joints—becomes an elastic tool. His fans may find it challenging to see their hero interacting with automated collaborators instead of ones that actually sweat, but the core of his music still takes the lead. $30–$75/ 7:30 p.m. —Chris Toenes


EH, WHATEVER...

04.02 2 SKINNEE J'S @ LINCOLN THEATRE

There's a promise of stories and a Q&A session at this reunion of 2 Skinee J's, which happens every year or two. Very well, then: "Are you somehow less relevant now than in 1998?" This aggregate of Sugar Ray, 311 and Bloodhound Gang is playing acoustic shows this time around, but that might make things worse. The songs are the same, just more transparent—a terrible thing since none of the jokes in their "funny" rap-rock-funk-whatever jams have been updated. There are far better ways to relive the days of JNCO jeans. $17.50–$27.50/ 8 p.m. —Corbie Hill


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7

click to enlarge White Rabbits
  • White Rabbits

WHITE RABBITS

From: Columbia, Mo., via Brooklyn

Since: 2004

Claim to fame: A theatrical vibrancy reminiscent at times of The Walkmen

You get the impression White Rabbits look good in suits—they just have that urbane air. Their grand rock songs, epitomized by the piano-and-pounding drum anthem "Percussion Gun," are crafted with precision—tight angles, crisp edges, seamless merging passages as though laid out by Frank Lloyd Wright. It's too energetic to be stuffy, yet it's anything but organic. To their credit, they don't sound much like a six-piece—nobody's stepping on anyone's feet, least of all the two frontmen, Gregory Roberts and Stephen Patterson. Well-bred and mannered, you don't wish them ill, nor necessarily root for them. With young, energetic Merge crew Let's Wrestle. At LOCAL 506. $10–$12/ 9:30 p.m.

VS.

click to enlarge Manchester Orchestra
  • Manchester Orchestra

MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA

From: Athens, Ga.

Since: 2005

Claim to fame: Prodigious frontman Andy Hull, who cut an album instead of taking classes his senior year of high school

Hull looks like if he didn't channel all his energy into making music he'd be penning manifestos in a remote cabin near Lincoln, Mt. He doesn't need acid, though—his mind's already that wired. His music's big and unwieldy, full of anxious untempered passion that's, at best, barely restrained. The grandiosity and swelling, shape-shifting sound frequently suggest early Flaming Lips. It's perhaps at times overweening, but it never feels too calculated. Hull's loose, uncensored, unaffected unconventionality makes Manchester Orchestra a much more joyous, entertaining hang than the White Rabbits, who we'd introduce to our friends, but never invite in for late-night beers like Manchester Orchestra. With The Features, Biffy Clyro and O'Brother. At CAT'S CRADLE. $14–$17/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker

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