Live Around Town This Week

John Legend

It’s an admittedly thin docket of live shows this week, but with the Northwest still basking in the afterglow of MFNW, Bumbershoot, and plenty of other great artists making their way through the area recently, I think we can live with a down week. Get ready to get back out next week though, as Vampire Weekend, The xx, and Decibel Festival will be in town to go along with an otherwise pretty good-looking lineup of performances. There are some good values out there this week though (Ravenna Woods, Unnatural Helpers, and Efterklang will be three great shows on Friday night all for $10 or cheaper! Take your pick), so if you’re itching to get out and see some live music, here’s a bit of what’s going on:

Monday, September 13th

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM with The Menzingers and Fake Problems @ Showbox SODO

The Gaslight Anthem are from New Jersey and if you listen to the title track off their recently released third album American Slang, they are clearly the Bruce Springsteen of indie pop/rock. Though their pop-punk songs can be about as formulaic as you can get, there is definitely a working-class characteristic present that is hard to pin down which makes The Gaslight Anthem unique. Another thing you can deduce from listening to them is that they will put on an amazing live show. There is a ton of soul and passion behind their music, a la The Boss, and the crowd at the SODO will undoubtedly be jumping on Monday night. (8:30 pm, $20 adv/$25 dos)

Tuesday, September 14th

RATATAT with Dom and Bobby Birdman @ Showbox SODO

It seems like it’s concert season at the Showbox SODO now, and of all the bands on the venue’s upcoming schedule, New York duo Ratatat might be the best fit. Their dancey, energetic electro-rock is a perfect formula to get a large darkened crowd moving, with the help of some stage lights of course. Comprised of guitarist Mike Stroud and programmer Evan Mast, the band just released LP4 this year, which followed 2008’s LP3. If you’re looking for a dance party of a live show this week, this is it. And to give you an idea of what kind of trippers Ratatat are, here’s the video for their song “Drugs”. (8 pm, $27.50 adv/$30 dos)

JOHN LEGEND with Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings @ Puyallup Fair & Events Center

I saw John Legend open for The Roots years ago, and I have to admit that going into the show I didn’t give a shit about John Legend; I was just there to see The Roots. The soulful ivory tickler is amazing live though, and fully capable of following the wonderful Sharon Jones. He knows exactly what he’s doing on stage, and his voice is strong enough to fill up whatever venue he’s playing. And speaking of The Roots, they happen to backing John Legend up on his new album Wake Up!, which is set to come out September 21st. I can’t say I’ve ever been excited for a John Legend release, but I’ll definitely be checking this one out. And oh yeah, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings will be opening. They’re only one of the best live acts touring today, but no big deal. Click here for a review of a show they played with The Heavy the other month at the Showbox SODO. (7:30 pm, $35-$75)

Friday, September 17th

UNNATURAL HELPERS with Zig Zags, Nightbeats, and Broomsticks @ Fun House

I saw Unnatural Helpers for the first time in Neumos at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party and they absolutely blew me away. They are viciously, sweat-flinging-ly energetic and active on stage, with drummer and vocalist Dean Whitmore leading the way. Their punky garage rock rarely last for more than two minutes, but they burn through song after song with little or no rest in between, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they have to go hook up to an oxygen tank at the end of their sets. I can’t imagine how charged a smaller venue like the Fun House will be with Unnatural Helpers headlining a night of live music. (9:30, $6)

Unnatural Helpers - photo by Rustee Pace

EFTERKLANG with with Buke & Gass and Anomie Belle @ Chop Suey

Danish band Efterklang, who released their third full-length album Magic Chairs in February, are in the same vein as other Northern European bands such as Sigur Ros in their use of delicately arranged orchestral instrumentation, giving their songs the air of compositions. Efterklang, however, also employ more “traditionally indie” electronic effects and beats, while also getting creative vocally, using multiple singers often and harmonizing frequently, all with a levitating quality typical of bands from the region. Also on the bill are comparably stripped-down and experimental Brooklyn band Buke & Gass. Buke & Gass use odd but effective pacing and homemade instrumentation over which Arone Dyer’s more traditional vocals bring the songs back to reality to be marveled at. Their new album Riposte will be out on Tuesday, the 14th on Brassland. This is a night of music that will blow your mind in a good way, and only for ten bucks. C’mon! (9 pm, $10 adv/$12 dos, 21+)

RAVENNA WOODS with Hillstomp and Correspondents @ The Tractor Tavern

Since they played maybe the most well-attended show at The Vera Stage at the Capitol Hill Block Party, local up-and-comers Ravenna Woods haven’t played too many shows around the area. That’s because they’ve been touring the east coast with Hey Marseilles. They’re back in Seattle now, however, playing what should be a high-spirited homecoming at the Tractor on Friday. The folky threesome’s music is emotional and brutally honest (the accusatory “Demons and Lakes” centers around the lyric “I want you to have a terrible life”). What makes their music unique is the stop and start acousticisms of lead man Chris Cunningham, who can switch up his unique array of playing styles multiple times over the course of a song. Here’s some video of their live performance from the Caffe Vita Bean Room at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party. (9 pm, $7, 21+)

Saturday, September 18th

CLOUD CULT with Mimicking Birds @ Showbox at the Market

Led by Craig Minowa, Minneapolis band Cloud Cult has had an interesting, albiet tragic last decade. They are known as being one of the greenest, most environmentally conscious bands…probably of all-time. And I don’t mean they are champions of recycling or drive a bio-diesel bus a la Willie Nelson (who is playing at the Puyallup Fair on Thursday). Minowa started his own non-profit record label which he ran out of his organic farm that was powered completely by geothermal energy. In 2002, Minowa’s son died and the band took an understandable hiatus, and the event significantly affected Minowa’s future musical efforts. Despite everything, Cloud Cult is still at it, and their most recent album Light Chaser was released earlier this year. They’ve also been known to set their synthy, experimental indie rock to artistic displays such as live painting or video screens, and though I don’t know if they do this anymore, it should be an interesting and affecting show nevertheless. (8 pm, $21)

Cloud Cult

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