It’s that part of the year where it’s becoming damn near impossible to narrow this list down to five great shows each week. Be sure to put the following gigs on your radar, too, before you check out the best of the best: Caveman at the Independent on Tuesday, John Vanderslice at Bottom of the Hill on Tuesday, Poolside on Wednesday at the Independent, George Clinton at Yoshi’s on Wednesday, Jamie Lidell on Friday at the Independent, BreakBot Thursday at the Mezzanine, Method Man at 1015 Folsom on Friday. But let's whittle it down...
Dark, bleak and noisy, Iceage could care less about traditional melody and pleasant pop hooks. Instead, the Danish punk band makes confrontational music that smacks listeners upside the head and numbs the senses. Here’s a quick summation of the band’s evolution, from lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s interview with Pitchfork: “We were interested in throwing ourselves more out there and not being afraid to appear vulnerable. The first record (New Brigade) looked more at surroundings, this one (You’re Nothing) looks a bit more inside.” And here’s how it comes together:
There’s something timeless about this SoCal-based quartet. There are plenty of moments to remind you of The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, and The Beatles, thanks to their psych-pop, but there’s also an unmistakable sense of youth and freshness to their ideas. That much is apparent on Take the Kids off Broadway, which features a song that should be on every San Franciscan’s summertime playlist:
Um, what is Major Lazer doing playing the Independent? Nothing against The Independent (one of this writer’s favorite venues in the world), of course, but this is Diplo's Major Lazer we’re talking about. The man routinely fills arenas and headlines major festivals—so the chance to see his fascinating side project in intimate confines is rare. In other words, this will be way too much fun. We’ll let the Miami New Times sum up the Major Lazer experience: “performances are an enthralling orgy of confetti-spraying machine guns, hyper-sexual dancing, and human-sized hamster balls, all set to a peculiar mixture of dancehall, dubstep, pop, and every other genre the always-restless Diplo feels like throwing in the mix.” Sounds about right.
English folk rock legend Billy Bragg has been in the consciousness-raising biz for over 30 years, but many casual fans only conscious of the name from a 2009 Wilco collaboration. Which is fine, because that album, Mermaid Avenue, is really, incredibly, unshockingly good. But there’s much more to the Bragg story, which is still evolving thanks to a new album, Tooth & Nail. Bragg continues to parse through the zeitgeist of our times, commenting on our toughest issues and blowing up the status quo. But man, that Mermaid Avenue album...
Every genre has at least one name in the game that is irrefutably fun, no matter what your tastes may be. For pop, it’s Robyn. For rap, it’s Jay-Z. And for rock, it’s MGMT (sorry .fun). These are indisputable facts. For jazz, the distinction goes to Rebirth Brass Band, which will entertain every atom in your body whether you like it or not. The New Orleans-based collective sports an all-star roster and an undying spirit. They’re basically a parade waiting to happen. Literally:
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