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Ladyfest NC featuring Ear Pwr, Jukebox the Ghost, Policia, Bitter Resolve, Backwoods Payback, Order of the Owl, Goldenboy, Pearl and the Beard, Brett Harris, Animal Alphabet, Frontier Ruckus, Hoots & Hellmouth, Blind Boy Paxton, The Protomen, Alcest, more

The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Jukebox the Ghost, Policia, Bitter Resolve, Backwoods Payback, Order of the Owl, Goldenboy, Pearl and the Beard, Brett Harris, Animal Alphabet, Ladyfest NC featuring Ear Pwr, Frontier Ruckus, Hoots & Hellmouth, Blind Boy Paxton, The Protomen, Alcest

VS: Youth Lagoon vs. Tyondai Braxton/ Colin Stetson

VS: Driftless Pony Club vs. Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band



YES, PLEASE...

03.22 JUKEBOX THE GHOST @ THE PINHOOK

The jaunty, blithe piano pop of D.C. trio Jukebox The Ghost comes packing boundless energy and in the shape of eccentric and ambitious arrangements. With a nose for huge hooks, a touch of operatic grandeur and a host of endearing quirks, the instantly contagious results land where Queen, Ben Folds Five, They Might Be Giants and fun might meet. Both openers play similarly cheerful but more straightforward pop-rock: Austin quartet Speak takes the sugary sweet, synth-stuffed route, while bright-eyed Canadian foursome The Elwins bring summery jangles that straddle the line between twee and power. $10/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

03.22 POLIÇA @ LOCAL 506

Give You the Ghost is the debut LP from Poliça, a Midwest crew borne of Gayngs, the faded-high R&B collective formed by members of Bon Iver, Megafaun, The Rosebuds and more. Known best for his idiosyncratic and curatorial production style, Gayngs leader Ryan Olson serves as the sonic backbone of Poliça, his focused beats and colorful flourishes offering an expansive framework for singer Channy Leaneagh. She makes the most of it, too, folding layers of her voice through webs of trumpet and bass, keys and drums. Her almost dub-like approach to songs—charging with the main line of the melody while scattering separate strands of it throughout the mix—makes for a compelling listen in big speakers and headphones alike, the intricacy revealing itself long after the urgency has impressed. $10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

03.23 BITTER RESOLVE, BACKWOODS PAYBACK, ORDER OF THE OWL @ NIGHTLIGHT

All three of tonight's acts fall on the lower, slower end of the metal spectrum. And with local trio Bitter Resolve offering muscular Sabbath-psych and Pennsylvania's Backwoods Payback recalling Danzig's dark blues, this bill is heavy on staid doom. But show up early for Order of the Owl. Led by Zoroaster's Brent Anderson, the Atlanta trio swings between Deliverance-era COC riffing and Altar of Plagues' textured black metal, landing somewhere between Skynyrd and Wrnlrd. The Order's approach is effective, if novel, and should provide a welcome curveball ahead of the straight-line pitches thrown by Backwoods Payback and Bitter Resolve. $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Bryan Reed

03.23 GOLDENBOY @ CASBAH

Durham's music community will be suffering a blow to the knee due to California's indie rock mishap: Goldenboy. When listening, don't get excited—this is not a Sonic Youth cover band. Be thankful that Shon Sullivan's voice is one of a kind. If his whisper were any shallower you would think the music was meant to be kept secret, which isn't a detestable thought. The lyrics on the most recent album, Sleepwalker, are most likely dumbed down excerpts from a conversation with a 5-year-old. Having only survived off guest vocalist promotions, this train of a band will either stop or wreck. The Grownup Noise open. $10/ 9 p.m. —James Hatfield

03.24 PEARL AND THE BEARD, BRETT HARRIS, ANIMAL ALPHABET @ THE PINHOOK

The mismatched styles of this Saturday bill don't exactly clash, but they don't complement each other either. Brooklyn's Pearl and the Beard root their stadium-size melodies inside a mix of strings and other mostly acoustic instrumentation that alternately leans toward the classical and the Appalachian. The songs of local folk-pop singer Brett Harris, while every bit as fetching, are drastically more subdued, meaning he'll likely come off too weak, or Pearl will seem too bombastic. Animal Alphabet complicate the night further. Their chamber-music-meets-Radiohead approach is strung-out but melodic. Still, it may be too out-there for fans of the more straightforward headliners. $6/ 10 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence

click to enlarge Ear Pwr - COURTESY OF CARPARK RECORDS
  • Courtesy of Carpark Records
  • Ear Pwr

03.25 LADYFEST NC FEATURING EAR PWR @ THE PINHOOK

Darling duo Ear Pwr traded the Baltimore club scene for the mountains of Asheville and released their self-titled second album. The result was less spaceships and Jetsons and more trees and Bambi. On the languid "National Parks," Devin Booze, a UNC-Asheville musical technology grad, layers synths and tribal drum loops with Moog-inspired programming. And Sarah Reynolds floats in and out of the track with shy sugar-pop vocals. To All My Friends, Girlcrush, Everything was quiet and Completely Off Balance open this Ladyfest NC party. All proceeds go to the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, which empowers girls and women though music education. $6/ 7 p.m. —Ashleigh Phillips

03.25 FRONTIER RUCKUS, HOOTS & HELLMOUTH @ LOCAL 506

Frontier Ruckus is one of many in a growing field of young, talented neo-folk groups, but what sets it apart from its crowd of cohorts—besides the fact that the Michigan-based quintet sports Ramseur Records' weighty stamp of approval—is the strength of frontman Matthew Milia's lyricism. Suggesting Dylan in approach and Jeff Mangum by his nasal warble, Milia's vivid, detailed imagery dominates his pastoral tales, which his bandmates accompany with low-key orchestrations of atypical instruments including saw and melodica. Just as capable of keeping it mellow, Philadelphia's Hoots & Hellmouth can also get considerably more rowdy with its roots rock. $10–$12/ 8:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

03.26 BLIND BOY PAXTON @ NIGHTLIGHT

Often clad in faded overalls or decked out in a three-piece suit, Blind Boy Paxton dresses like someone who's stepped out of a tintype photograph. The 23-year-old's music is of a similar design. With a fiddle, piano, harmonica, guitar and banjo in tow, Paxton switches off between a variety of old-time genres. He plays blues, folk and jazz with finesse beyond his years. Amusing, then, that this night he'll be sharing the stage with 84-year-old Piedmont bluesman Boo Hanks. The Virgilina, Va., native released his first record at 79, proving time and again in the years since that music ain't just a young man's game. $5/ 7 p.m. —Ashley Melzer

03.26 THE PROTOMEN @ LOCAL 506

Nashville's The Protomen—a 10-strong Mega Man-themed rock opera built on early-'80s synth-tinted prog structures—bridges the potentially conflicting worlds of music and gaming. At first this sounds like a nerdifying of music, sure, but think about it: Hasn't gaming mainstreamed substantially in the past 10 years or so? And hasn't indie rock become increasingly connoisseur-friendly and even purposefully inaccessible on some levels? Matched with something as widespread and accessible as 8-bit nostalgia, independent music doesn't seem—let's face it—as nerdy anymore. Elaborate costumes and onstage melodrama establish an impressively complete Blade Runner-meets-The Running Man illusion in a live show that is a must-see. Bring $12—and maybe a Power Glove—at 9 p.m. —Corbie Hill

3.26 ALCEST @ KINGS

If you've ever believed that brutal music couldn't also be beautiful music, you've likely never checked Alcest. The solo project of longtime French black metal insurgent Neige, Alcest gilds relentless drum blasts and aggravated shrieks with impressive wall-of-sound expanses and occasional interludes that suggest a sensitive singer-songwriter emerging from some leathery chrysalis. Over several records, Neige has relented more and more to that softer side, using his past in black metal as a temporary texture rather than as a foundation. Lately, the tunes have sometimes slipped into a mire of fey, but when Alcest turns up and lets all of those strains meet in the middle, they're a marvel to hear, roaring with wonder. $10–$12/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


FRIDAY, MARCH 23

YOUTH LAGOON

From: Boise, Idaho
Since: 2010
Claim to fame: Making bedroom pop with a high thread count

If you treat The Year of Hibernation as background noise, its inviting ambiance and wistful melodies act as the perfect type of contemplative wallpaper. But don't write off Trevor Powers' one-man band as music you listen to when you don't want to actively listen to something. He's got honest-to-goodness songs hidden underneath these covers, and they're the sort of haunting, melancholy tunes that a 22-year-old kid shouldn't be able to write. With Dana Buoy. At CAT'S CRADLE. $15/ 9 p.m.

VS.

TYONDAI BRAXTON/ COLIN STETSON

From: New York/ Montreal
Since: 1997/ 2008
Claim to fame: Avant-garde sidemen making big moves in the spotlight

Contemporary classical musician Tyondai Braxton made a name for himself in rock circles as a member of post-everything group Battles, but his most recent solo record, Central Market, showed he could be alluringly weird all on his own. Meanwhile, when saxophonist Colin Stetson isn't touring with the Arcade Fire or Bon Iver, he's making eccentric yet rewarding records (such as last year's New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges) where his saxophone sounds nothing like a saxophone. While Youth Lagoon might be a winner on most nights, he has no shot against this powerful one-two combo. At MOTORCO. $15/ 8 p.m. —David Raposa


TUESDAY, MARCH 27

DRIFTLESS PONY CLUB

From: Chicago
Since: 2004
Claim to fame: Energetic angular guitar indie

In rock-band tradition, Driftless Pony Club has been touring for more than 10 years, dropping three releases along the way. But they've also utilized YouTube to get their sound to the masses. Lead singer Craig Benzine makes videos that are often irrelevant, but it's the quirkiness of this quartet that makes them catchy. "Legends of Archery" builds into a mess of brawling guitars, while the video features a blood-hungry ninja. With Mike Falzone and Meghan Tonjes. At MOTORCO. $6/ 8 p.m.

VS.

REVEREND PEYTON'S BIG DAMN BAND

From: Indiana
Since: 2005
Claim to fame: Energetic washboard-scratching blues

With their rowdy instrument handling that nods to the past, the Big Damn Band's tracks probably would have been Huck Finn's jams. Reverend Peyton—along with his wife, "Washboard" Breezy, and cousin Aaron—presents American tradition with a holler rather than a reserved reverence. Last year's Peyton on Patton is strictly Charley Patton covers, but it's a quaking, tub-beating homage to the father of Delta blues. With the Old One-Two. At CASBAH. $12/ 9 p.m. —Ashleigh Phillips

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