The Short List
WEDNESDAY: Perfectly poised between pretty and pretty ugly, New York’s Gang Gang Dance gropes at some kind of synthpop played by morlocks, with keyboards made of stalactites and those hexagonal Phil Collins ’80s drums fed through eight leagues of ghostly reverb. Add Lizzie Darque’s preverbal coos and caws and sour trills to the mix and you’ve got some serious alien tribal mood music. GGD sets up its pre-Halloween séance at the Ottobar with local glitch farmers Wzt Hearts.
THURSDAY: One-time head of the dance-punk class, the Rapture has traded in its blacks and grays for neon blues and yellows on the new Pieces of the People We Love, speeding up the ’80s revival until we hit all the smiley faces and polka-dot shirts from the end of the decade. The band shows off its new sensation at Washington’s 9:30 Club with Presets.
FRIDAY: Led by the titular trumpeter, local jazz trio the Todd Butler Group kicks off a two-night stint at the New Haven Lounge by kicking some hard-bop knowledge for the faithful. The group’s not afraid to slow things down and caress a ballad or two as well.
SATURDAY: The real deal or faking the funk? The presence of Baltimore club music legend Rod Lee on the same bill at the Ottobar as kinda/sorta local rap/club act Spank Rock goes a little ways towards answering the question. Rounding the night out are Pasey Pase and MC Squared. MC Squared? C’mon, that sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch from 1984. Mysterious local improv group Trokeneis assembles for the Red Emma’s Halloween party at St. John’s Church with C. Spencer Yeh of Burning Star Core. Fresh off a new collaboration with Misdemeanor Elliot, England’s Lady Sovereign races neck and neck with Lily Allen to see who is going to score the first feisty young chick Brit-rap novelty hit in the U.S. Points in Sov’s favor? She’s got the better flow--who knew it was possible for a 20-year-old British girl to sound like Abe Vigoda sometimes--and better beats and is at the 9:30 Club with Young Love.
SUNDAY: Your friend and ours, whirling dervish Dan Deacon, recently shouted out on Pitchfork by mash-up goof Girl Talk, headlines an Are We Not Men? Halloween party at the Depot with dance-rockers Chinese Stars, featuring ex-members of puréed punk band Arab on Radar, and the always-a-party Pony Pants. Meanwhile, at the Hamilton Arts Collective, a bunch of bands from both around here and outta town play video-game music, including Powerglove, Entertainment System, Pieness, Temp Sound Solutions, and Year 200X, and a bunch more bands play music that sometimes might as well be video-game music, including Human Host, Mr. Moccasin, and Eightball Hemmorage, plus giveaways, costumes, and whatnot.
MONDAY: At the Ottobar, spazz-rockers Thunderbirds Are Now! pilot their nervy synthesizers and twisted guitars like the supermarionation airplanes of the classic kid show their name kinda/sorta resembles with Plastic Constellations and Rescue. The band’s last album was produced by John Schermsal of Enon/Brainiac if you need some coordinates.
TUESDAY: So it’s Halloween, and while it’s not exactly the monster mash, Kanye West protégé John Legend brings his turtlenecks and piano to Rams Head Live. The show is sponsored by Baileys, probably because like John Legend it’s smooth and sweet and if you drink too much of it you end up feeling a little queasy. And at Floristree Space, fuzzy, muzzy local duo Beach House sings and plays like they just can’t be bothered to get out of bed with Arbouretum, Over the Atlantic, and Violet Hour.
WEDNESDAY: If twee dance-pop with lyrics about rolling in a ‘64 gets you excited, then London’s Hot Chip is semi-ironically busting a move at Sonar. Only the ’00s could have given us a band that sounds like a wussier New Order with lyrical and musical shout-outs to Prince and Stevie Wonder. And about a million, billion miles from either Prince or Dr. Dre, the mysterious Wooden Wand spins six-string folk through a dissonant psychedelic scrim with Santa Dads, the Tall Grass, and Mother Nature’s Sons and Daughters at Golden West Café. Everyone needs to invest in a corncob pipe.
IN THE WINGS: While the Short List totally understands the need self-abasing teenagers of a certain stripe have for embracing the restrictive codes of straight edge from personal experience--except for the no sex part, c’mon--even in high school the animal liberation front antics of Earth Crisis were a little much for us. If you still have your vegan edge, however, the band’s only East Coast reunion show is at Sonar Jan. 27 for the second annual Maryland Metal and Hardcore Fest. Angry straight-edge letters to the usual address. (For more info call  327-8333 or visit www.sonar.us.)
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