Friday 2

BE YOUR OWN PET This Nashville quartet seems determined to make punk rock sound fun again, without sacrificing a sense of musical adventurousness. The short, raucous, and playful tunes on their latest EP, Summer Sensation (Ecstatic Peace), are hardcore without the grim political machismo, garage rock without the self-righteous authenticity fetish, and emo without the angsty self-absorption. Whirlwind Heat opens. 9 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10. All ages. –Monica Kendrick

THE COURT &SPARKk If you’ve read books about 70s rock bands, maybe you’ve been struck not so much by the sex, drugs, etc as by the mind-boggling amount of expensive studio time that was bought and often wasted. Bands back then seemed to be expected to pile on layers and layers of sound and symbolism if they aspired to FM greatness instead of AM ephemerality. But it did lead to a lot of great records, not to mention a few entertainingly bad ones. Hearts (Absolutely Kosher), the new album by San Francisco’s Court & Spark, is on the right side of that impulse, and it still probably cost a lot less to make than, say, Hotel California. It’s an unabashedly romantic, foggy-day record, and they play their intricate, dreamy psych-country ballads like they matter. The Autumn Defense headlines. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. –Monica Kendrick

DUNGEN I’ve found few reliable translations of Dungen lyrics online, and I’m not about to look any harder. Psych pop is hardly known for lyrical insight, but if “Panda” really has lines like “The way she is, sometimes she gets angry / She was mine, but you don’t care about that, do you?” I’m happy not comprehending the lilting Swedish on Ta Det Lugnt (Kemado), tack sa mycket. I figure that at best, multi-instrumental whiz Gustav Ejstes is complaining about girls; at worst he’s invoking unicorns. But any band that can be this proggy and experimental without straying too far from tunes, especially ones this good, isn’t required to have smart lyrics. Nethers and Dark Fog open. 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15. All ages. –Keith Harris

MIKE JONES TRIO It may seem improbable that a pianist could rival the fearsome technique of giants like Earl Hines, Art Tatum, and Oscar Peterson yet remain off the national radar. But Mike Jones can match every dizzying plunge down the keyboard, every logic-defying rhythmic turnaround, and every galloping bass line of his idols, and he does so with sly but eager humor, interpolating unexpected quotes with split-second timing. The usual rap is that sheer virtuosity is not enough–that for all the technique the artist can’t tell good stories on the level of a Miles Davis or Bill Evans. Normally I’d agree, but in rare circumstances the technique itself becomes the story–something that’s true of Tatum, to a lesser degree Peterson, and now Jones. These shows mark his annual visit to the scene of Live at the Green Mill (Chiaroscuro), his most recent disc (for which I wrote the liner notes). See also Saturday. 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12. –Neil Tesser

RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS Every year after South by Southwest there’s a sort of artificial consensus about which bands made the biggest noise at the festival. This year that consensus involved Texas punk band the Riverboat Gamblers, who do at least merit most of the acclaim. Their new album, To the Confusion of Our Enemies (Volcom), is impeccably tight and rakishly humorous, with moments that digress into downright weirdness. Like the Ramones, they sound like they’re built for the long haul, keeping things loose and fun rather than burning out on seriousness. The Street Brats, the Peelers, and the Plastik Explosives open. 9 PM, the Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-0011, $10. –Monica Kendrick

Saturday 3

MIKE JONES TRIO See Friday. 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12.

ROB MAZUREK’S EXPLODING STAR ORCHESTRA Cornetist Rob Mazurek assembled this impressive big band last summer for a one-off concert as part of Millennium Park’s “Made in Chicago” series, and the personalities he brought together made for an excellent cross-section of the city’s progressive jazz scene. Mazurek gave the players generous solo space, but he also illuminated their talents with his hypnotic, episodic writing and judicious use of electronic textures. The show was successful enough to convince Mazurek to keep the project going, and various versions of the group are playing several shows here in advance of recording a CD for Thrill Jockey. A concert at the Chicago Cultural Center (see Wednesday) will feature almost the whole group (percussionist John McEntire will play in the studio but not the gigs): Mazurek, guitarist Jeff Parker, bassists Jason Ajemian and Matthew Lux, percussionists John Herndon, Mike Reed, and Jason Adasiewicz, pianist Jim Baker, flutist and vocalist Nicole Mitchell, cornetist Josh Berman, trumpeter Corey Wilkes, clarinetist and tenor saxist Matt Bauder (replacing David Boykin), and trombonist Jeb Bishop (filling in for Ken Vandermark, who’s on tour in Europe). Parker, Lux, Wilkes, Herndon, and Bauder will be absent at tonight’s gig. The shows will feature music from last year’s performance along with new material; Mazurek says there’ll be fewer solos and a stronger emphasis on composition. Azita Youseffi opens. 10 PM, DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western, 773-561-9181, $22. All ages. –Peter Margasak

MEAT PURVEYORS Stood next to the current crop of popular bluegrass bands, the Meat Purveyors might as well be drooling, inbred backwoods monsters–exactly what bluegrass needs, considering the way it’s been battered into a domesticated, suburbified shadow of its former self by soccer moms with Visa cards. On the new Someday Soon Things Will Be Much Worse! (Bloodshot) the Austin quartet burns through a set of mostly acoustic songs about fucking, drinking, and hating the person you’re fucking, all with the furious energy of a teenage hardcore band. Their only mistake is the cover of “Hot Blooded,” which sounds like something from a Pickin’ on Foreigner record that never needs to exist. Tijuana Hercules and Pickin’ Trix open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. –Miles Raymer

THE 1900S This young local sextet is already weighted down with some hefty comparisons, but if you’re looking for the second coming of Belle & Sebastian, this ain’t it. Listening to their six-song debut EP, Plume Delivery (Parasol), I don’t question their natural talent for remaking and remodeling indie-pop cliches, and I can’t deny the formidable arsenal of instrumentation and harmonies they bring to the task. But I also can’t hear anything that generates any passion. I like their complex, lightly trippy songs best when they back off from ingratiating pop and settle into a nice self-indulgent groove. This is a release party. Devin Davis and the Gentleman Caller open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. –Monica Kendrick

WE ARE WOLVES Despite its lupine name, on last year’s Non-Stop Je Te Plie en Deux (Fat Possum) this Montreal trio makes a racket like an Animal Farm-style barnyard uprising, complete with a capering goat on the keys. Tracks like “La Nature” constantly shift the ground under your feet, from gangly dance pop to greasy garage and back, so deftly you hardly notice where you’re going till you’re on the wrong side of the electric fence–in there with all the animals. Think About Life, It’s a Trap, and the Nude Celebs open. 9 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 18+. –Monica Kendrick

Sunday 4

ALICCIA BB It’s hard to not love an all-girl shoegazer psych rock band, but when it came to Slumber Party I always found a way. Maybe they were just too dreamy, maybe their songs weren’t strong enough, or maybe they really were just boring. But maybe Aliccia BB, the band’s front woman, felt the same. She’s radically reworked Slumber Party’s lineup and instrumentation–bringing in synths, drum machines, and noted Detroit lunatic Warn Defever–and in both her new material for the band and her solo stuff, the woozy, unfocused feeling that always turned me off is nowhere to be found. “Best Friend Forever,” her contribution to the new Kill Rock Stars singer-songwriter comp, The Sound the Hare Heard, is solid, clearheaded popcraft, equal parts K Records twee and Let It Be-era choogle. She’s started working on her first solo full-length, and a new Slumber Party record is due out in September. Devin Davis and Thao Nguyen, who also appear on the Kill Rock Stars comp, open. 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, 18+, $8. –Miles Raymer

PERSONALS One of the more pleasant surprises at this year’s SXSW was Austin’s Personals, who delivered one of the most inspired sets of spitfire rock ‘n’ roll I heard all week. Guitarist-vocalist Adam White, bassist (and part-time Chicagoan) Erin Black, and drummer Kristen Brown mostly bow at the altar of early-80s SoCal power-pop bands like 20/20 and Paul Collins’s Beat, though they scuzz up and buzz out their melodies with a raw insouciance. White’s reedy voice conveys a desperation that recalls the Undertones’ Feargal Sharkey, and Black and Brown bring a rhythmic pugnacity to the tunes. Live and studio tracks are available at their Web site,, and they’ve just put out their own EP; the self-titled, six-song disc will be available at this show. The Blissters headline, the Romeros play third, and the Negligents open. 9 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $6. –Bob Mehr

Monday 5

COUGARS Whatever’s ailing you, a little bit of Cougars just might help–this local eight-piece is to musical ennui what spicy Thai soup is to clogged sinuses. They may claim to be just a “rock band playing rock music,” but that’s kind of like saying the stockyards in Upton Sinclair’s day were just a little stinky. On their second full-length, Pillow Talk (Go-Kart), the guys are so maniacally focused on creating a dense wall of sound–complete with a two-piece horn section that never sounds less than utterly evil–that their songs are overwhelming despite their fundamental simplicity. The Cougars may not have any problem giving tunes titles like “There’s No ‘High’ in Team” and “Someone Out There Has My Boner Picture,” but that’s only because they have the chops to back it up. Just a Fire and Catamount open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. Free –Monica Kendrick

THE JOE SHOW Back in March Joe Camarillo, who drums for the Waco Brothers and the Hushdrops, survived a car wreck that left him in bad shape–he needed emergency surgery to repair fractured vertebrae and broken bones in his legs and hips. Provided he gets proper physical therapy, odds are good he’ll make a full recovery–but unfortunately, like too many Americans (and far too many musicians), he doesn’t have health insurance. This benefit show is a free-for-all featuring a raft of Camarillo’s friends, including the Wacos (with guest drummer Dan Massey), Nora O’Connor, Scott Ligon with Kelly Hogan, and Hushdrops front man John San Juan playing Beatles covers with his side project the Two of Us. If altruism alone isn’t enough to get you off the couch, there’s also an exciting out-of-town guest among all these Hideout regulars–drummer Katherina of the Ex, who’s playing with Jon Langford as the KatJon Band. The duo makes its U.S. debut here, after starting up last year in Amsterdam and doing a brief European tour; Langford describes their sound as “drums and noisy guitar–somewhat improvised and fluid.” At press time a set order hadn’t been established. 7 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $10. –Monica Kendrick

Wednesday 7

MAN MAN They say they’re from somewhere “above New York and Philadelphia,” but this five-piece band bangs out the sort of bastard sounds you’d expect to hear from a tribe of half-civilized animal-men who learned to play party waltzes around Gypsy campfires deep in the Transylvanian woods. Their latest album, Six Demon Bag (Ace Fu), is a polyrhythmic, calamitous, kitchen-sink stew of militaristic marches, synth solos, and yodeling–plus bits that sound like Prince’s “Hot Thing” as performed by liquored-up cartoon dogs. Front maestro Honus Honus plinks on a hardly tuned piano and sings in a low, gravelly voice about sexual entanglements and Noriega, though it’s never clear whether he’s referring to the dictator or the rapper. The band’s been compared to Zappa and Beefheart on more than one occasion, and there are plenty of people who think it’s all a joke–but those are just the sort of folks who wouldn’t recognize a collect call to Kokopelli if they heard one. Skeletons & the Girl-Faced Boys and Brighton, MA open. 9:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10. –Jessica Hopper

ROB MAZUREK’S EXPLODING STAR ORCHESTRA See Saturday. 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages.

PUMPS If you don’t have a good gimmick, at least have a good running theme–that’s what we learn from local “blood vessel pop” quintet the Pumps, whose members must’ve been looking for lewd metaphors every time somebody started talking about the aorta and the ventricles in health class or biology. They make the sort of music that’s been played in punk-girl boutiques and hipster thrift shops for 25 years now: giddy, joyous new wave sustained by shimmering keyboard and tough-lady vocals. The band–which includes two Reader employees–may not get done up in tight red leather, but given the Runaways-style affairs-of-the-heart vibe running through their songs, it wouldn’t look wrong if they did. This is a release party for their debut EP, Pretty. Scary. The Countdown and the Functional Blackouts open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $7. –Monica Kendrick