Articles and thoughts by Peter Holslin

If I Were U: 5/26-6/1

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My first “If I Were U” column for CityBeat. Check out more coverage from this week here and here.

In the clubs

The Melvins (photo by Mackie Osborne)

Wednesday, May 26

PLAN A: Isis, Jakob @ The Casbah. One of L.A.’s most influential metal bands, Isis is always a sight to see, churning out unpredictable sludge informed as much by Pink Floyd as electro-acoustic glitch artist Fennesz. But tonight’s show will be especially monumental—they’re going to break up at the end of their tour. PLAN B: Drew Grow and The Pastors’ Wives @ Bar Pink. There’s good reason this Portland group is getting buzz around the Northwest—the haunting, expansive blues-rock on songs like “Blister” and “Spider” has the breathtaking qualities of Neutral Milk Hotel. It’s enough to send chills down your spine. BACKUP PLAN: Little Brother @ 4th & B.

Thursday, May 27

PLAN A: Frog Eyes, Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band @ The Casbah. Frog Eyes are like the Xiu Xiu of Canada. Songs like “Bushels” and “Reform the Countryside” are freakishly beautiful, their ornate arrangements led by Carey Mercer’s fragile voice. It’s the kind of thing indie geeks obsess over while everybody else wonders why. Thankfully for everyone else, Mt. St. Helens’ jangly rock is way more down-to-Earth. PLAN B: Longstay, Arrows, Pepper Rabbit, DJ Colour Vision @ Beauty Bar. Now here’s an unlikely lineup: Longstay make dainty indie pop (think a watered-down version of the Modest Mouse offshoot Ugly Casanova) while Arrows offer infectious new-new-wave reminiscent of trendy glo-fi acts like Washed Out and Memory Tapes. BACKUP PLAN: The Infamous Swanks @ Radio Room.

Friday, May 28

PLAN A: Spectrum, Pearl Harbor, Heavy Hawaii @ Soda Bar. As much as I love Soda Bar’s quality sound system and cushy booths, the awesome Spectrum—a descendant of the widely influential U.K. psych-rock band Spacemen 3—deserve a bigger venue. I can only hope that their hypnotic grooves and all-consuming sound effects burrow into the soul of even the most distracted bar-goer. PLAN B: Dirty Sweet, Transfer, The Silent Comedy, Apes of Wrath @ Birch North Park Theatre. Ranging from Transfer’s expansive rock to Apes of Wrath’s straight-up rock, this all-local lineup has the makings of a memorable show—even if you have to rock out while seated. BACKUP PLAN: My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Psychotica, DJs Lance Boling, EJ @ Beauty Bar.

Saturday, May 29

PLAN A: Boomsnake, Hosannas, Superhumanoids, Snuffaluffagus @ Che Café. It’s hard to say which band I’d rather see: They’re all doing fiercely unique things with electronics (often mixing them with live instruments), and I expect they’ll all give spellbinding performances. But I’m especially psyched to see how Solana Beach’s Snuffaluffagus will render its intricate, bizarre balladry on stage. PLAN B: Zion I, Kiwi, Rocky Rivera, RRS Feed @ Epicentre. On par with underground hip-hop artists like Talib Kweli and Aesop Rock, Oakland duo Zion I deliver innovative beats and thoughtful rhymes—it’s like what Lil’ Wayne might sound like if he converted to the Nation of Islam. And don’t miss Rocky Rivera, whose languid rhymes are nothing short of badass. BACKUP PLAN: Scarlet Symphony, The Constellation Branch, Lands on Fire @ Tin Can Ale House.

Sunday, May 30

PLAN A: Nas, Damian Marley @ Harrah’s Rincon Casino. Nas and Damian Marley make an iconic pair in Distant Relatives, which came out last week. Pitchfork called the album preachy, but the legendary rapper and renowned reggae artist reportedly have great chemistry onstage as they split the difference between hardened New York hip-hop and sweltering Jamaican dancehall in tracks like “Nah Mean” and “Land of Promise.” PLAN B: D-Pain, Lion Cut, Smile Now Cry Later, Free*Stars @ The Casbah. A rapper who excoriates polluters? I’m there. BACKUP PLAN: Ox Eyes, The Hot Toddies, Dreamboat @ Tin Can Ale House.

Monday, May 31

PLAN A: Emily Jane White, Brothers Grimm @ Soda Bar. I look forward to seeing Emily Jane White, a promising young singer-songwriter whose latest album, Victorian America, ranges between ghostly (“The Ravens”) and wry (“The Country Life”). As for Brothers Grimm, it’s the side project of a couple of smartly dressed brothers who play in a certain evangelically disposed band we covered recently. PLAN B: Monarques, Marquez! @ Tin Can Ale House. Portland’s Monarques conjure images of antique stores and ’50s diners with their retro rock—not exactly my idea of a good time—but I wouldn’t want to miss Marquez!’s rock en español, which we hailed as “stunning” in our local-music issue. BACKUP PLAN: Lady Dottie and the Diamonds @ U-31.

Tuesday, June 1

PLAN A: The Melvins, Totimoshi, Rats Eyes @ The Casbah. In a metal universe composed of categories, sub-categories and sub-sub-categories, The Melvins have remained The Melvins: Tight, angular and scary. And they’re not slowing down any time soon—their latest album, The Bride Screamed Murder, comes out today. PLAN B: X, A Frames, Christmas Island, Nude Boy @ Soda Bar. No, this isn’t the legendary L.A. punk band. It’s the legendary Australian punk band, whose junky riffs on songs like “Dipstick” and “Suck Suck” are memorable in their own right. Seattle’s A Frames will set the mood with their skuzzy noise rock.

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