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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Pipe, Ghostland Observatory, Miniature Tigers, Lilac Shadows, Grapes, Starfucker, Mutemath, Newvillager, Despise You, Magrudergrind

VS: Sebastian Bach vs Bruce Cockburn



YES, PLEASE...

09.08 PIPE @ NIGHTLIGHT

One of the Triangle's great unsung '90s acts, Pipe scrapes the grime from a battered engine block, balls it up in a fist and cold-cocks you with it. Their garage punk rumble lays in wait beneath Clifton Lee Mann's smoldering, rough-hewn hooks and Ron Liberti's rugged punk declamation, recalling the New Bomb Turks with less chaos and greater threat of imminent violence. The songs are short and sweet, spewing sparks like a dragging bumper. They've continued to play periodically since their '99 dissolution and never fail to deliver sweaty, pulse-bumping performances. With High Castle, Chest Pains and Jason Meeks. $6/ 9:30pm. —Chris Parker

click to enlarge Ghostland Observatory - PHOTO BY DANIEL PERLAKY
  • Photo by Daniel Perlaky
  • Ghostland Observatory

09.09 GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY @ CAT'S CRADLE

Ghostland Observatory exists for those in need of a compromise. Sometimes you just can't decide between underground dance music and mainstream pop. If you're OK with something that won't absolutely blow you away, Ghostland Observatory is a sensible solution to the conundrum. Their bass lines throb, albeit quite tamely, with an abrasive club edge, but they follow simplistic patterns more common in Katy Perry sing-alongs. They cover this with hooks aplenty, and while none of them are stellar, they rarely miss their target completely. It's not amazing, but it'll get the job done. DJ FM opens. $20–$23/ 5 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence

09.11 MINIATURE TIGERS, LILAC SHADOWS, GRAPES @ LOCAL 506

Rolling Stone once called Miniature Tigers one of the "25 best bands on MySpace." Obviously, this was years ago, but the Brooklyn project still delivers what it did in 2006: light, catchy pop rock. Bleepy-bloopy synth-dance elements drive behind conversational washes of vocal harmony, and there's just enough guitar to keep the music grounded in the rock world. Don't take this the wrong way, but it's kind of like Vampire Weekend. Sharing the bill are local bands Lilac Shadows and The Grapes, the latter offering purposefully careless, punch line-oriented tunes such as "Caroline Smith is Fucking Insane" and "The Bugs Are Alright" (think The Moldy Peaches minus tape hiss). $10–$12/ 8 p.m. —Corbie Hill

09.11 STARFUCKER @ CAT'S CRADLE

Starfucker's burbling programmed beats, swirling neo-new wave synths and ringing guitars recall other electro-rockers such as Klaxons, Black Kids and the Teenagers. It's quite tuneful and very "of the moment," which means it strays into predictability at times. The Portland quartet is a bit fey, thanks to frontman Josh Hodges' keening tenor and the layered harmonies, but the hooks are quite durable. Target gave them a boost when it used "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second" in an ad, and the catchy single "German Love" received significant blogger praise. But like the repeated refrain of that track (its only lyrics), you can't help but wonder, "Is that all there is?" With Beat Connection and Alexico. $12–$14/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

click to enlarge Mutemath - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND

09.12 MUTEMATH @ POUR HOUSE

Mutemath's Grammy-nominated video for its 2007 single "Typical"—in which band members performed their parts backward, with the resulting footage played in reverse—was an appropriate introduction for the then-emerging quartet's relatively imaginative take on commercial modern rock. Taking inspiration from Muse's arena ambitions, Radiohead's adventurous atmospherics and Interpol's airtight arrangements, Mutemath melds dreamy synths to militant beats and charging guitars to soaring hooks. Calling the New Orleans foursome groundbreaking would be a reach, but at least they're deviating from the status quo, and they back it up with a dynamic live show. Given today's mainstream rock scene, that alone is worth applauding. $20–$23/8:30 p.m.—Spencer Griffith

09.12 NEWVILLAGER @ LOCAL 506

NewVillager doesn't play a show in the traditional sense. Rather, this music and art collective provides an introduction to the NewVillager Mythology: an ambitious, lofty set of visual and sonic cues meant to communicate the circle of life, the way art is made and various overarching universal themes. And per an AllSaints Basement Session interview this past SXSW, the band is writing a book and wants to build a village (seriously). But this idealistic optimism reflects in tunes that owe as much to Paul Simon's Graceland as Radiohead's Kid A. Though plenty of bands draw from these wells, few offer such an immersive live show. $9–$11/9:30 p.m. —Corbie Hill

09.14 DESPISE YOU, MAGRUDERGRIND @ KINGS

On a recent split single with Agoraphobic Nosebleed, it's somewhat remarkable that Despise You's side of the platter hits hardest. But the Los Angelenos attack like a prison stabbing, in short, furious bursts averaging less than a minute in length. Washington, D.C., band Magrudergrind leans more to the metal side of grindcore, but they never sacrifice concision. Their debut full-length was pragmatically titled 62 Trax of Thrash. Even as the acclaimed 2010 EP Crusher finds Magrudergrind expanding beyond eyeblink blasts, it doesn't sacrifice anything in impact or economy. This consistently fast and heavy bill also includes Sick/Tired, Stripmines, Man Will Destroy Himself and Wall. $8–$10/ 8 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10

SEBASTIAN BACH

From: Ontario, Canada
Since: Late '80s
Claim to Fame: Archetypal hair metal singer, Broadway & reality show regular

Bach has an incredible set of pipes, a mane of blonde hair to rival Fabio and indomitable self-confidence bordering on narcissism (though compared to Vince Neil and Bret Michaels, he comes off as a modest near-genius). Like most somewhat talented onetime stars, Bach can seem to be a pampered, attention-hungry child, and he frequently did that during Supergroup, his reality show with other almost has-beens. But fortunately you don't have to hang out with him, and Bach does possess some personal magnetism that's evident on stage and television (see Gilmore Girls). If you liked Skid Row, you'll probably appreciate his solo work, but at five bucks you get what you pay for. At RALEIGH AMPHITHEATER. With Nantucket, Revelus, House of Fools and comedian Crazy Boris. $5/ 5 p.m.

VS.

BRUCE COCKBURN

From: Ontario, Canada
Since: 1966
Claim to Fame: Canadian answer to Jackson Browne

Cockburn's sweet-throated tenor sidles through tender, finger-picked folk with demonstrable grace and allure, making him an icon north of the border (if only a cult fave around here). His rich, skillful playing at times evokes the supple style of Jerry Garcia, but Jackson Browne is a better touchstone given Cockburn's easy-listening vibe, political activism and occasional diversions into rock. His smart, literate lyrics, pretty, somewhat expansive arrangements and gently undulating melodies make him a natural for the NPR set, though his oeuvre makes Dan Fogelberg sound edgy. However soft and conventional his sound, it's still much more appealing than an evening of Heavy Metal Parking Lot with a stale egomaniac like Bach. At CAT'S CRADLE. $28–$30/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker

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