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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Fantastico, Spider Bags, Golden Boys, Limes, Cat’s Cradle In The Commons, Dj Logic, Nick Moss, Beth Orton, Sam Amidon, Fanfare Ciocarlia, Cate Le Bon, North Mississippi Allstars

VS: Carolina Chocolate Drops vs. The Old Ceremony

VS: Bowerbirds vs. Michelle Shocked



YES, PLEASE...

09.20 FANTASTICO @ CASBAH

For once, truth in advertising! Fantastico plays garage-soul that rolls up like Five-O on a doughnut high. It's that arresting. The quintet's format—two drummers, two female vocalists and a singer/ guitarist—is rather unusual but quite effective. The grimy groove orientation suits the twin-trap rhythm section. This serves frontman Stu Cole's purposes nicely, as he vamps, skulks and shimmies over top with gritty, distortion-laden garage-abilly bluster. Sonar Stranger and Jody Kidney are the delicious frosting, with their voices a funky Greek chorus of "Hell yeah." Richard Bacchus & the Luckiest Girls and Demon Eye open, making this a terrific night of rock 'n' roll. $5/9pm. —Chris Parker

09.20 SPIDER BAGS, GOLDEN BOYS, LIMES @ KINGS

If you've forgotten that rock 'n' roll can have various guises and go from fun to sad, from weird to wiry, from shambling to straight-ahead, here's a bill to restore your sense of wonder. Carrboro's Spider Bags are one of the best rock bands putting out records. Stuffed on braggadocio and true-believer grit, they deliver anthems about the bad parts of life with enough spirit to make everything seem tolerable, if not copacetic. The Golden Boys are their crazier cousins from Texas, with booze to burn and yarns to spin. With bedraggled country-rock fighting to hold it together until last call, Limes, of Memphis, sound like the last hit of a last joint. $5/9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin

09.21 CAT'S CRADLE IN THE COMMONS @ CARRBORO

It'll be a field day for fans in attendance at this free afternoon takeover of Carrboro Commons. Presented by the Cat's Cradle and the Town for Carrboro, the show features Mandolin Orange, Megafaun and Tift Merritt. "We had a conversation going with Frank Heath [of the Cat's Cradle] about doing a show like this for awhile," explains Emily Frantz of Mandolin Orange. "It feels like a really unique hometown show." The line-up's local angle is certainly hard to miss. Mandolin Orange's Frantz and Andrew Marlin first met playing bluegrass at the weekly Armadillo Grill jam. Megafaun features a few Wisconsin transplants who have become fierce leaders in the Triangle music scene. Tift Merritt found her road toward major labels singing around town (at The Cave, Bynum General Store, the Cradle) while pursuing a degree at UNC. Geographical connections aside, all three bands also offer perspectives on the state of Americana—from carefully arranged folk to the psychedelic edges of Southern music, from pure country-rock to a songwriter unafraid to stare down a pop melody or a plaintive tale. Get your voucher for the free 5:30 p.m. show at catscradle.com. —Ashley Melzer

09.22 DJ LOGIC @ SOUTHLAND

The résumé of Bronx-born turntablist DJ Logic is full of collaborations with jam bands, jazz instrumentalists and mainstream pop-rock acts, from Jack Johnson and John Mayer to Christian McBride and moe. These associations are indicative of the veteran performer's broad-mindedness as a solo artist. His crate-digging habits unearth odd and obscure samples, which he cuts and reconstructs into downtempo nodders and dance-floor pleasers that effectively and inventively intermingle funk, hip-hop, soul and jazz with worldly flavors. Chattanooga electro-pop quartet Machines Are People Too gets things shaking with synthy, sugary dance tunes. $8–$10/10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

09.22 NICK MOSS @ PAPA MOJO'S

As a teenager, Nick Moss played bass and guitar in bands led by Chicago bluesmen including Jimmy Dawkins, Jimmy Rogers and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. For nearly a decade and a half, Moss has led his own unit, The Flip Tops, and his own record label. With a full sound buoyed by twin guitars, harp and organ, the livewire quintet teams its clear Chicago influence with rootsy classic rock, evidenced in its equal embrace of blues standards along with Cream and CSNY. $12–$15/9:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

09.22 BETH ORTON, SAME AMIDON @ CAT'S CRADLE

There are a dozen tangential ways to recommend the music of English musician Beth Orton. Near the dawn of her career, for instance, she earned notice for giving airy voice to The Chemical Brothers' aubade, "Where Do I Begin." Her most recent two records featured contributions from, respectively, Ryan Adams and Jim O'Rourke, absolute credibility visas in a few distinct musical spheres. The list goes on, but really, it's Orton's brilliant singing—soft but stern, resilient yet romantic—that demands attention in any context. Her voice suggests hand-carved furniture that's been doing its duty for hundreds of years, constantly at the ready and understated in its functional brilliance. Behold it live. Sam Amidon, a sweet-voiced folk singer who outstrips that description with adventurous arrangements and enthusiastic collaborations, opens. $25/8 p.m. —Grayson Currin

09.23 FANFARE CIOCARLIA @ DUKE GARDENS

With a reputation for speed, the Romanian Gypsy brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia calls itself "the hardest working band in the blow biz." In their tiny, rural enclave of Zece Prajini, the menfolk have maintained the native musical tradition in its purest form for generations. Now seasoned performers on the world stage, this dyed-in-the-wool ensemble can just as easily goof on Steppenwolf or the 007 theme as pound the wedding and funeral songs of their ancestors. It takes brass. Either way, their music provides an oomph to wake the dead and stir the living. Experience it as nature intended, in the open air, on the lawn at Duke Gardens. $10–$18/6 p.m. —Sylvia Pfeiffenberger

09.25 CATE LE BON @ KINGS

If you make a snap judgment on the output of Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon after a song or two, you're prone to miss the bulk of her payload. Le Bon bounds between styles, using her alternately doe-eyed and steely-eyed voice to light tunes that move from acid pop or garage stomp to sweet electro glitter and focused acoustic forthrightness. To wit, she recently followed up this year's big-eared and restless Cyrk with the more meditative and blunt Cyrk II. Given her tendency for variety and her limited two-album output, it's a preternaturally mature move that puts the emphasis on the quality of the LP, not the quantity of its offerings. If you like the thought of Stereolab gone alternately wild and reserved, Le Bon's a fulfilling new addition. With Knives of Spain. $8–$10/9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

09.26 NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS @ LINCOLN THEATRE

As modern interpreters of the Delta blues, the North Mississippi Allstars not only carry the flag of mentor R.L. Burnside but also that of famed Memphis-based musician and producer Jim Dickinson, father of NMA guitarist/ vocalist Luther and drummer Cody. These influences inform the veteran trio's beefy, psych-tinged blues-rock boogie—listen for Burnside's songwriting touch and Dickinson's twists of soul, twang and R&B. Missing Cats opens, pairing Widespread Panic keyboardist John "Jojo" Hermann and singer-songwriter Sherman Ewing for Southern-flavored tunes in an acoustic format. $17.50-20/10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


FRIDAY, SEPT. 21

CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS

FROM: Durham
SINCE: 2005
CLAIM TO FAME: Grammy-winning string band

This powerhouse of tradition and innovation not only knows its place in restoring lost ideas of traditional American music but can definitively trace it back, thanks to the tutelage of the late iconic African-American fiddler Joe Thompson. The Drops honor old-timey ways—even playing jug and washboard at times—but also appreciate this stuff's connection to the present (with covers of "Hit 'Em Up Style," "You Be Illin'"). While the attention's coming fast and furious after a Grammy, the departure of primary vocalist Justin Robinson does not feel fully addressed on their latest, Leaving Eden. Sure, they're such a talented act that they can still blow audiences away at this adjusted strength, but they're on the rebound and seem to be searching yet. At MEYMANDI CONCERT HALL. $39–$49/8 p.m.

VS.

THE OLD CEREMONY

FROM: Chapel Hill
SINCE: 2004
CLAIM TO FAME: Literate adult pop

Before disappearing into the cabaret-baroque aesthetic that became The Old Ceremony, frontman Django Haskins was a clever pop storyteller in the vein of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. With his band's latest release, Fairytales and Other Forms of Suicide, he's come full circle. To be sure, this is more sophisticated and nuanced than the albums he was making a decade ago, but the territory's often the same. It's a fitting follow-up to 2010's fine Tender Age, as it's not as moody or skeletal. That last album's dark cloud of dissipation has given way to something much more vibrant. With the Chocolate Drops still feeling their loss, The Old Ceremony squeaks past as the must-see. With Megafaun (acoustic). At CAT'S CRADLE. $10–$12/9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker


SATURDAY, SEPT. 22

BOWERBIRDS

FROM: Raleigh
SINCE: 2006
CLAIM TO FAME: Woodsy environmental folkies

Indie folk outfit Bowerbirds' first release was noted as much for its lyrical environmentalism as for its beautifully sparse tunes, which keyed on intricate fingerpicking and delicate harmonies. Sure, Bowerbirds still get plenty earthy, but lush, shimmering arrangements—bolstered of late by cellist Leah Gibson and drummer Dan Westerlund—lift songs that have as much to do with various shades of pop as with sequestered folk. Don't miss the gorgeous cosmic wonders of Hiss Golden Messenger, a Durham band that should be especially stellar given this setting. Prypyat—the haunting pop project of Gibson and Hammer No More The Fingers' Duncan Webster—starts the bill. At HAW RIVER BALLROOM. $12/9 p.m.

VS.

MICHELLE SHOCKED

FROM: Dallas
SINCE: 1984
CLAIM TO FAME: Dilettantish political songwriter

Michelle Shocked's first brush with fame came when she was arrested at the 1984 Democratic National Convention for protesting against corporate contributions to political campaigns. That issue's hardly changed, but Shocked surely has. Since then, the troubadour—who's lived in Austin, San Francisco and New York City, and was influenced by their respective music scenes—has released a slew of albums that are unsurprisingly political in theme but unpredictable in approach. She's explored traditional-sounding country, blues and folk, luxuriated in the comfort of contemporary adult alternative, blasted through punk rock and jumped into big-band swing numbers. Within each, Shocked seems ready to make every style her own. At CASBAH. $20–$25/8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

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