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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Red Clay Ramblers, Water Liars, Wood Ear, WOWOLFOL, Bird Call, Sugar Glyder, Jessica Long & The New Kind, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Cheap Time, Acoustic Manner, more

VS: Perpetual Groove vs. Brendan James

VS: Uproar Festival vs. Uproar Fest After-Party


click to enlarge Lee Bains III - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


With the popular music pendulum at or near its synth-pop apex, you can bet there's a back-to-basics, guitar-centric band who'll emerge atop the other side as the "authentic" counterpoint. This Birmingham, Ala., act may lack the Benetton appeal of the Alabama Shakes (with whom they've toured), but they're cut from the same Muscle Shoals soul-rock cloth. Their sound suggests early-'70s Faces spiked with Allman/ Betts guitar jams, plus a whiff of punk left over from their rites of passage through its clubs (Bains did time in the rowdy band the Dexateens). Their debut, There Is a Bomb in Gilead, puns off mishearing the word "balm," but if you could live happily forever without hearing another synthesized dance beat, then balm is what Bomb will be. Grass Giraffes open. $8–$9/9:30 p.m. —John Schacht


The Red Clay Ramblers might best be viewed as a concept or a sensibility rather than a band, which would explain how the current iteration of the Ramblers could include none of the three musicians who founded the band back in 1972. Which doesn't sell short their legacy as they hit the 40-year mark this fall; current core members Clay Buckner, Chris Frank, Jack Herrick and Bland Simpson continue to bring similarly high standards of quality to the Carolina-centric but far-roaming folk and roots music that put the Ramblers on the map way back when. They're the perfect finale for this year's Back Porch Music on the Lawn series. Free/6 p.m. —Peter Blackstock


The W's have it on this bill boasting three fresh directions in Americana and country-rock. Durham's Wood Ear has the deepest roots in open rural textures, yet maintains a distinct low-key indie quality—like Tom Petty and Jeff Tweedy driving down some Piedmont back road (sometimes Beck's in this car, too, but only when he's depressed). Wood Ear's Steeple Vultures is an excellently sad EP. Headlining duo Water Liars' shambling sounds incorporate a good bit more grit and overdrive, resulting in a band that's as apt to jangle as to crunch through a wall of fuzzed guitar. Durham experimental country outfit Wowolfol, led by Hog and Horseback's Rich James, opens. $5/8 p.m. —Corbie Hill


Competently delicate and agreeably pretty, Bird Call unites the vocal idiosyncrasy of Joanna Newsom or Emiliana Torrini with unfettered chamber-folk arrangements, suggesting complexity without actually engaging in avant-garde techniques. It's a palatable, well-crafted experience for listeners who like to feel high-minded without actually putting in the effort. Conversely, the two openers never hint at anything beyond populist pop expressions. Charlotte's Sugar Glyder moves with the outsized simplicity of bands such as Passion Pit, pairing pleasing indie rock textures with knee-jerk arena hooks. Durham's Jessica Long & the New Kind appropriate slacker rock tones to grace Taylor Swift-style pop-rock with a distorted edge. $7–$9/8 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence


The 2010 album Before Today turned Animal Collective-approved bedroom musician, armpit and mouth fart percussionist and all-around retromaniac Ariel Pink into a pretty big deal. Way too much touring hammered his band, Haunted Graffiti, into a sleazy disco-punk force that changed his cassette-hiss-encrusted slow jams into fist-pumping freak-outs. His new album, Mature Themes, doubles down on everything off-putting and brilliant about Ariel: arch self-loathing ballads; a Devo-like ditty titled "Pink Slime"; and songs about schnitzel, "testicle bombs" and Werner Herzog collaborator Klaus Kinski. Who knows what you'll get in the live show this time around. That's a good thing though, right? Right? Bodyguard and Moon Diagrams open. $15/9 p.m. —Brandon Soderberg


There's no getting around Jeffrey Novak's voice. His dry Tennessee drawl, curled with a punk-rock sneer, gives Cheap Time its definitive restlessness. Novak sings intensely with an almost dismissive tone, as if he's a man running on too little sleep, wired with caffeine or something stronger. The band that Novak leads churns through a wiry knot of early punk, psychedelic rock and power pop, never sounding more confident or full-bodied than on their third and finest full-length, Wallpaper Music. But it's Novak's wry presence that steers the band, landing it somewhere between Eddy Current Suppression Ring's anxious Aussie rock and Spider Bags' twangy stagger. Last Year's Men and Johnny Staxx & the Durty Boyz open. $5/9 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed


Spinning off from the groovegrass of their former group Barefoot Manner, this string band takes the verve of cosmic Americana to the acoustic set. Mandolin, bass, guitar, banjo and fiddle combine for fast-picked melodies and fresh ideas. Bandmates Shawn Chase, Walter Hensey, David Kleiss, Hank Smith and Lindsey Tims combine their love of bluegrass instrumentation with inspiration from roots, reggae and rock. Their lively performances and adventures in complexity drive home the appeal of bluegrass as a modern, dynamic musical form. The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music (aka PineCone) presents the concert as part of its "Pickin' in the Pines" bluegrass series, which continues on Wednesday evenings through September with performances by The Grass Cats (Sept. 19) and Charles Pettee & the Iron Mountain Messenger (Sept. 26). $5/5:30 p.m. —Ashley Melzer



From: Savannah, Ga.
Since: 1997
Claim to fame: Jammy genre-hoppers

It's no wonder Perpetual Groove is so popular with jamheads: By combining sprawling Southern rock tunes with jazzy, electro-infused improvisations, the Georgia road warriors and festival favorites combine the two dominant forces pervading the current scene. But the band rarely respects genre boundaries, throwing in a quirky, eclectic array of cover songs while its originals shift gears often enough to endear the quartet to even the most uncharacteristic jam fans with short attention spans. Beyond the music, Perpetual Groove is also attentive to the circuit's fascination with sight and sound, touring with an innovative pair of dedicated lighting experts while dabbling in 5.1 surround sound. At CAT'S CRADLE. $12–$15/9 p.m.



From: New Hampshire
Since: 1997
Claim to fame: Poppy coffee-shop rock

Brendan James' career has been shaped by nearly everywhere the well-traveled singer-songwriter has lived. The New Hampshire native's musical interests initially were piqued by high school plays and musicals, along with the mentoring of an area music teacher. James began learning piano and joined a cappella crew The Clef Hangers while attending UNC, then moved to New York and broke into the East Village scene. James specializes in the kind of mellow, piano-centered fare that provides the soundtrack to seemingly every melodramatic television series these days, though his move to Los Angeles has imparted a bit of sunniness to his most recent releases. Brian Jarvis and Risa Binder open. At CASBAH. $12–$15/8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith



Featuring: Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind, Adelitas Way, P.O.D., Deuce, Fozzy, Redlight King, Mindset Evolution, Thousand Foot Krutch, Candlelight Red
Sponsor: Rockstar Energy Drink
Focal point: Generic heavy alt-rock

Look, it'd be easy to soapbox it and act like this sort of stylized hard rock and nu-metal had long since voided its relevance. But if this traveling festival's headliners—Shinedown, Godsmack, P.O.D., Staind—remind you of 2001's Alternative Rock Chart, well, maybe you should look at this week's. Shinedown's "Unity" clocks in at No. 11; P.O.D. sits at No. 18 with "Lost In Forever (Scream)." Even as the alt-rock mainstream has grown to include the Black Keys, M83 and Gaslight Anthem, there's still a healthy audience for grumbling machismo, reflective power ballads and post-grunge power chords. At TIME WARNER CABLE MUSIC PAVILION AT WALNUT CREEK. $15–$75/2 p.m.



Featuring: Enemy in Disguise, Casualty, SkyCresT, Saint Diablo, Dark Design
Host: Chris Jericho
Focal point: The upstart undercard

As the Alternative Nation has developed a more diverse population, this Uproar after-party acts as a stronghold for modern-rock preservationists. Chris Jericho, the WWE wrestler and Fozzy frontman, hosts the evening, tending bar and introducing the bill's five bands after he leads Fozzy's set at Walnut Creek. The mostly local talent here—Enemy in Disguise, Casualty, SkyCresT, Saint Diablo and Dark Design—spans a stylistic breadth from late-Metallica metal to Hoobastank groove rock. The festival has the chart-toppers, polished and groomed by experience on a large stage; the after-party has the raw, hungry upstarts, plus a chance to meet a pro wrestler. At BERKELEY CAFE. $20/9 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed


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