On the Beat: Up and coming

Labor Day weekend: the end of white shoes, sure, but also the first school-day off–and the start of National Potato Month (seriously). Oh yeah, right here and now, the great month of September, National Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month. September, National ADHD Awareness month, and–wait–what was I talking about again? Just kidding. Celebrate National Pleasure Your Mate month with these shows, all of which I can headily recommend, none of which I can guarantee will be pleasing to you or your mate.

When it comes to (alt) country, no one does it better than local institution Sam Knutson and Shame Train. They have a great new record on their hands with Splendor, and this month you have no less than three opportunities to hear tracks from it. On the 9th, Knutson plays solo in support of Cameron McGill, and on the 12th he’ll get the band together for a show at Public Space ONE. And I mean a band. Like you would expect in this genre, Shame Train is a group of guys who can really play, so expect nice sounds in this intimate space. Self-described “apocalypse blues” man Lute Tucker opens that show. Lute stomps his feet, plays the hell out of his guitar, and has been known to sing anti-Bush polemics. Knutson goes back to his home turf, the Mill, on the 20th for a show with Scott Cochran and Flannel.

Another great band in the roots tradition is Canada’s Rock Plaza Central, who mix traditional country instrumentation and songcraft with a Neutral Milk Hotel-vibe. The combination led many people to swoon over 2006’s Are We Not Horses? And while this band is overdue for a follow-up, the songs still sounded fresh in July when I caught them in Des Moines. The band comes to the Mill on the 17th with Wye Oak, who had to cancel the last show here due to the flood. We’ll all finally get a chance to hear tracks from a great new album, If Children. Local musician, impresario, and Mill waiter Andre Perry’s folk band Lonelyhearts will open the show.

If it’s brand new music that tickles you, the Mill on the 26th is the place to be, with two of the most blogged about (tee hee!) bands of the last few months coming into town on a co-headline bill. Baltimore’s Ponytail is a furious, percussive, rock-and-roll machine fronted by a woman who screams in a way that you have to compare to Yoko. The album, Ice Cream Spiritual, does an admirable job of capturing the live show, but really, this is one you have to see to believe. Brooklyn’s High Places’ are also percussive, but in a much smaller way. The band’s songs are delicate and hazy, and if the long-awaited debut (which comes out this month) is anything like the singles and compilation appearances, then I’m anticipating one of the year’s best records. Shawn Reed, who co-promotes this show with Mission Creek, will play as opening act Wet Hair. An accomplished artists as well as musician (he was formerly in Racoo-ooo-oon), Shawn runs the tape label Night People and hosts a wealth of experimental music shows. In fact, he’ll hold one on the 9th with two Portland bands, Eat Skull and Little Claw. For more details, email him directly at

In brief, of note: These Are Powers, the 6th at the Picador; Pwrfl Pwr, 10th at Public Space ONE; Centro-matic and The Broken West, 11th at the Picador; Lipstick Homicide, 19th at Public Space One; Dressy Bessy, 19th at the Picador; Horse the Band w/So Many Dynamos, 27th at the Picador.

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