It is one of those dreaded weekends that we music slaves love to hate: the versus weekend. This is a problem of bounty where there is too much of a good thing. The danger, of course, is that the difficulty of making a decision results in no decision and you stay home and watch reruns of Biggest Loser. Don't be a casualty! The Pop Realist is here to help.
The Lonely Forest at Neumos
Free Energy at the Crocodile
We are starting off with a really tough one for me, personally. The Lonely Forest guys, all of whom hail from lovely Anacortes, Washington, have been on a whistle-stop tour of this great nation since releasing their self-titled, major label EP in September. This is the band's homecoming, and the first since KEXP started playing the single "Live Here," an earnest ode to the Northwest that has somehow made me love these guys even more (which I didn't think was possible after the hit-single "We Sing in Time" made me a full-on convert last year). In the other corner tonight is Free Energy, the high-energy (of course) Philadelphia rock band who released a great record on DFA earlier this year and whose amazing guitarist, Scott Wells, once dove off the stage and tackled me mid-epic-guitar-solo. We may have accidentally kissed. Still, I can't resist a good homecoming.
Winner: The Lonely Forest
Noah Gunderson & the Courage at Columbia City Theater
Butts at Funhouse
The tremendously talented Seattleite Noah Gunderson released an impressive debut full-length earlier this year, filled with songs that take the bluesy acoustic material he had been playing for a few years while living down in Centralia, and infused it with some electric guitar-driven all-out rock songs. Live, Gunderson and his band (including his sister Abby on the violin) are all intense energy and the singer sometimes recalls Ryan Adams, if Adams had dreads and wasn't an asshole. On the other side are Butts, a band with an amazing name that will no doubt live up to it on the Funhouse stage, whatever that means.
Winner: Noah Gunderson & the Courage
"Beach Boys' Pet Sounds Tribute" by Seattle Rock Orchestra at the Moore Theatre
Bobby Bare Jr. and Blue Giant at the Tractor Tavern
Earlier this year, the Seattle Rock Orchestra played its first Moore Theatre show, packing a variety of Seattle indie rockers singing hits from David Bowie. It was pretty impressive, brought down only by a middling sound system. This go round they take on one of the greatest albums of all time, though its not one of my favorites (sorry!). Bobby Bare Jr. hasn't recorded the greatest album of all time, but his latest, A Storm, a Tree, My Mother's Head, spent three straight weeks in my car's CD player. This show is well worth it for the track "Rock and Roll Halloween" alone.
Winner: Bobby Bare Jr.
John Wesley Harding at the Tractor Tavern
Matt Bishop at the Sunset Tavern
A great songwriter who took his name from my favorite Bob Dylan album, or the lead man from Hey Marseilles who I know will be playing new material tonight? I refuse to choose (and don't have to really because they are right down the street from one another).