YES, PLEASE: Izzy and the Catastrophics, These United States, Les Freres Kairaba, JKutchma & the Five Fifths, Last Year's Men, Horseskull, Crosby Stills & Nash, Andrew Bird, Mavis Staples, Furthur
PREMIERING: What Did You Expect?
VS: Hot Tuna vs. Roger Waters
07.05 IZZY AND THE CATASTROPHICS, PAINT FUMES, BLOODSHOT BILL @ THE CAVE
What a wicked triple bill: The Catastrophics play theatrically swinging jazz and rock, suggesting a less cheesy, more vigorous version of Buster Poindexter. Izzy Zaldman, who doubles as Wayne Hancock's guitarist, leads them; his sly wit's apparent in the Elvis-style rockabilly of "Load Bearing Woman." Speaking of the King, one-man band Bloodshot Bill channels the mannered delivery, whiplash sway and anxious howl of his early Sun Record hits. A frequent Elvisfest guest, Bill's one hell of a performer. Last but not least are Paint Fumes, a noisy garage-punk act whose first release sounds like maybe they should open up some windows before there's permanent damage—in the best way, that is. $5/10 p.m. —Chris Parker
07.05 THESE UNITED STATES, THE HENRY CLAY PEOPLE @ LOCAL 506
These United States bandleader Jesse Elliott could be Langhorne Slim's acid-dropping brother. Both possess a scraggly baritone, ne'er-do-well charm and keen sense of showmanship, all in service of ramshackle roots-rock. But, where Slim's dedicated to simplicity, Elliott's atheprodigal bard with a florid manner and woolly imagination. In his heart, he's much more of a rocker, meaning his music sounds like a strange blend of the Replacements and Neil Young directed through a Flying Burrito Brothers/cosmic-country phase. Elliott's use of metaphor is frequently inventive, while the scope of his tales sometimes aims for "Subterranean Homesick Blues" highs. $9–$11/9 p.m. —Chris Parker
07.06 LES FRERES KAIRABA @ BYNUM GENERAL STORE
Bynum Front Porch brings West African funk to its family-friendly concert series with Les Freres Kairaba, a compact, but rambunctious, version of the band led by Carrboro griot Diali Cissokho. Lithe electric guitar lines, undulating backbeats and the sharp djembe drums complement Cissokho's intricate kora runs and soulful vocals. Cissokho is both a master and a maverick of this Senegalese gourd harp, charting the unexpected and pushing traditional Manding repertoire beyond its ancestral limits. The quartet will explore new material but keep the dance grooves just as visceral and hypnotic as Kairaba fans expect. Free/7 p.m. —Sylvia Pfeiffenberger
07.06 JKUTCHMA & THE FIVE FIFTHS @ THE PINHOOK
Red Collar—the Durham bar-punk band fronted by Jason Kutchma—makes songs largely about redemption. Pastoral, Kutchma's solo debut, buries the bright endings to offer an unflinching examination of failure. It opens with a lush, pedal-steel powered ballad called "The End of the World" and ends with a defiant gospel number that resounds with Sisyphean toil. In between, Kutchma lends his burly baritone to wrenching numbers that explore life's endless shortcomings. In the hands of his ace backing band, though, desperation becomes poetry. "I used to believe in a lot of things," he croons at one point over a solitary acoustic guitar, "I used to believe in believing." Kutchma faces his defeats with fortitude, harnessing them to create his most successful songs yet. Ryan Gustafson and American Aquarium's BJ Barham lend support. $8/10 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence
07.07 LAST YEAR'S MEN, BRAINBOWS @ THE PINHOOK
Tonight welcomes the second installment of First One's Free to The Pinhook, a series of gratis shows presented by the venue and local label Churchkey. This continues the one-show-long streak of excellent bills: Last Year's Men are emphatically and enthusiastically catchy, playing pop blasts with a juvenile affability and earnestness. Durham trio Brainbows make no such concessions to allure, grinding out minimal and mean punk that yells more shit than it talks. Unflinching and unmitigated, their adult problems are the perfect foil to Last Year's Men's puerile explorations. Free/10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
07.07 HORSESKULL @ THE DIVEBAR
Raleigh's Horseskull recently started a bit of an Internet firestorm with a bold pronouncement via social media that declared its members were "unsatisfied with the current offering of so called 'doom metal' bands." Some local heavies took exception to this and took their complaints to the most metal place of all time—yes, Internet complaint threads. Shit-talking aside, Horseskull is what it proclaims to be—a blown-out cave-doom project with a mid-'90s flavor augmented by downtuned guitars and slow, bluesy riffs made far crunchier with effects pedals. That's kind of a silly basis for an extended flame war. With Heathen Bastard. Free/10 p.m. —Corbie Hill
07.08 CROSBY, STILLS & NASH @ DPAC
With spurts, sprees and stops, Crosby, Stills & Nash (and, just like a vowel, sometimes Young) have rolled harmoniously from Vietnam War turmoil and through Reaganomics, to two enjoyable enough albums during Clinton's bounty. Aside from some tours, a live set and a few compilations last decade, the high-harmony brethren and indie folk spiritual and sonic forefathers mostly took the Bush II and early Obama years off. But appropriately enough for a band that, from the start, was at the bleeding edge of political upheaval, CSN is again hitting the road for several months of shows not only to accompany the release of a new live video set, 2012, but also in advance of an election that seems ever more perilous and fractious. Even without its vowel, this has long been a nice sound to welcome back. SOLD OUT/7 p.m. —Grayson Currin
07.10 ANDREW BIRD, MAVIS STAPLES @ NC MUSEUM OF ART
Though it's often been very enjoyable, Andrew Bird's music of interconnected whistles and violins, complicated drums and tangential lyrics has occasionally had the tendency to be clinical—not quite soulless, but certainly not gritty and sweaty and impassioned, either. Good for him, then, that Mavis Staples shares this bill tonight. For all of Bird's finesse, she delivers force, a wrecking ball of performance intensity who's been at work since World War II was something that had just happened. $12.50–$45/7:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
07.11 FURTHUR @ KOKA BOOTH AMPHITHEATRE
People have been cracking "I'll be grateful when they're dead" jokes since at least Teen Idles' 1981 single, "Deadhead" (featuring a pre-Minor Threat Ian MacKaye), but 30 years later, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir are finally getting old. They've been touring heavily with their brilliant-at-least-few-times-a-gig unit, Furthur, for the past several years, but both recently opened their own Bay Area venues at which to hang their respective Birks. How many more cross-country passes can we actually expect from the remains of the Dead? If you fall under the "I'll be ungrateful" banner, you've likely never regretted going to see them anyway. $39.50–$59.50/6:30 p.m. —Jesse Jarnow
07.07 WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? @ CAT'S CRADLE
I cannot vouch for the immediacy or impact that Archers of Loaf had in their '90s heyday, but I can give firsthand verification that, since reuniting last year, they have been a force on the stage. Guitar lines bend and slash with unfailing energy. Rhythms barrel forward with ever-mounting momentum. Singer Eric Bachmann barks with the fury of a man half his age, wearing his vocal chords ragged in the process.
Longtime fan and filmmaker Gorman Bechard was similarly taken with the band's resurrection, so he set about making What Did You Expect?, a concert documentary offering highlights from the Archers' two-night Cat's Cradle stand last August.
"After seeing the Archers live last year on their reunion tour, I knew their live show needed to be forever documented," Bechard explains. "They hadn't forgotten what rock was supposed to be."
Following up a 2011 fan-focused documentary on The Replacements, Bechard puts his emphasis firmly on the Archers themselves. Utilizing a mostly handheld array of seven cameras, he strives to get right in the band's grill and capture every bit of tremendous verve. Interviews are interspersed amid the melee to reveal the dudes behind one of indie rock's most enduring and influential sounds. —Jordan Lawrence
Tickets for the film's N.C. premiere are $6–$8. The movie starts at 8 p.m.
MONDAY, JULY 9
FROM: San Francisco
CLAIM TO FAME: Acoustic spinoff of Jefferson Airplane
Hot Tuna are spiritual as well as geographical mates of the Grateful Dead, formed from the same paisley cauldron and drawing on similar folk-blues antecedents. While many have come and gone, the core of bassist Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen remains, offering an almost-jazzier but somehow less-indulgent take on jam rock's groove-driven sound. The rich dulcet tone of Kaukonen's playing rivals that of Richard Thompson. Last year brought Steady as She Goes, their first new studio set in 20 years and a showcase of electric boogie, classic blues covers (two by Rev. Gary Davis) and acoustic skills in a somewhat mediocre set. They can still play, even if they sometimes sound tired doing it. At THE ARTSCENTER. $31–$36/8 p.m.
CLAIM TO FAME: Led Pink Floyd after Syd Barrett's departure
Roger Waters inhabits the similar airspace of psychedelic rock, but he approaches it from a different direction. Where Hot Tuna is somewhat reserved, Waters was the architect of The Wall. More than their early Barrett-inspired psychedelic underpinnings, Waters' conceptual art rock made Pink Floyd in the popular mind. He possesses a knack for epic Wagnerian moments, from the jaded rocker of "Comfortably Numb" to the wartime loss of innocence captured in "The Gunner's Dream." No prog rocker can match Waters' ability to pen lyrics as evocative and grandiose as the music accompanying it. Waters hasn't written new rock music in two decades, meaning he pulls into the arena on trailers made of his laurels. Still, this is The Wall, and tonight, it's enough to beat the lukewarm Tuna. At PNC ARENA. $55–$199/8 p.m. —Chris Parker