3:30 PM Sharon Van Etten The winding melodies, understated strumming, and confessional lyrics on Sharon Van Etten‘s first album, Because I Was in Love (Language of Stone), sound more suited to the cozy confines of a coffeehouse than a huge outdoor stage. But her upcoming sophomore release, Epic (due in October on Ba Da Bing), promises bigger things just with its title, and Van Etten delivers with bolder tunes, increasingly varied arrangements, and more confident singing. Also Sat 7/17 at Schubas with Here We Go Magic, 18+.
4 PM The Tallest Man on Earth
4:30 PM El-P Around the turn of the century, the man once known as Jaime Meline was part of a wave of indie MCs and producers that changed the focus of the hip-hop underground from Native Tongues-style backpacker rap to something much darker. His most recent full-length, 2007’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, is a claustrophobically dense, dystopian soundscape with even denser lyrics, touching on paranoia, phobias, and panic attacks. El-P picks apart old-school hip-hop tropes—soul samples, sirens, boom-bap drums—and reshapes them into a massive, tweaky sprawl, creating something that sounds like the Bomb Squad trying to remix a Philip K. Dick novel. He’s not without a sense of humor, though: in his remix of Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” recently debuted via his Twitter account, he splices in a noisy beat, chunks of Wings’ “Live and Let Die,” and a series of well-deployed Sam Kinison samples. El-P also spins a DJ set Thu 7/15 at Bottom Lounge with Neon Indian and Dam-Funk; it’s 18+ and free with RSVP to uptheantics.com/pitchfork.
5:30 PM Liars On Liars‘ fifth full-length, this year’s Sisterworld (Mute), the trio’s wonky, Krautrock-flavored art-punk is focused and purposeful, as though they’d started with hard-fired bricks of alternately danceable and charmingly deformed rock, instead of just chucking noises at a wall to see what would stick (see 2004’s They Were Wrong, So We Drowned). With Angus Andrew’s hollow, deadpan vocals taunting throughout, Sisterworld sounds like being hunted, and maintains its tense, eerie mood by juxtaposing eruptions of riffcentric jams with bleak, minimal guitar, strings, and synth. The album builds to several climaxes, but none of them completely discharges this anxiety, making the music all the more compelling—well, compelling the way being stalked by an ax murderer is compelling. Also tonight at Bottom Lounge, 17+.
5:45 PM Hannibal Buress
6:25 PM Robyn Something violent stirs inside the hectic powder-puff pop of this adorable platinum-blonde Swedish fashion pixie. As she busts moves that are basically Scandinavian capoeira, her voice breaks sweetly, betraying the anxiety she’s tapping into—her songs are perfectly framed windows into the savage emotions that dance-club drama can produce when you’re actually invested in it.
6:30 PM Wyatt Cenac
7:15 PM Michael Showalter
7:20 PM Broken Social Scene
8 PM Eugene Mirman
8:30 PM Modest Mouse