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Friday, January 23
Puddles Pity Party
It starts out as a joke: A hulking, sad-faced man in full clown garb, belting out hyper-emotive covers of pop songs such as “Dancing Queen” and deadpan mash-ups of Celine Dion and Metallica. But the imposing stage presence and undeniable vocal chops of Puddles the Clown (aka Michael Geier) are enough to silence the giggles and hold audiences rapt. Geier developed his Puddles character as part of the Atlanta all-clown band Greasepaint and took his act solo a few years ago, touring with his wife in the role of his chimp-girl sidekick, MonkeyZuma. Puddles’ most famous cover, a stately rendition of Lorde’s “Royals,” has racked up more than 9 million YouTube views, which could explain why both his early and late shows tonight at the Troubadour are sold out. — Andy Hermann
Wyatt Blair’s full-length Banana Cream Dream (Lolipop/Burger) is an absolute local classic — maybe even a natural wonder? Because it sure makes you appreciate the world in a new way. It’s power-pop in its purest form, with hook after inspired hook and the kind of personality that can’t be contained by a simple cassette tape. At their best, these 11 songs hit the high points set by The Quick, The Exploding Hearts, King Tuff, Milk N Cookies, Shoes and genre mastermind Darin Raffaelli, whose late-’90s discography laid the foundation for plenty of garage-rock bands out there today. (Just as vital: Blair’s collab track with the much-missed Pop Zeus.) Anybody who likes Burger and Lolipop — or who even just likes burgers and lollipops — needs this locked in their tape deck. — Chris Ziegler
Skull Fist, Night Demon
Bullet belts and leather jackets will be flying at this show co-headlined by two newer bands that worship at the altars of classic metal acts such as Iron Maiden and Diamond Head. Local boys Night Demon have just released their first proper album, Curse of the Damned. The work is full of the same hard-driving riffs and shout-along anthems that drove the metal gods of yesteryear, which have aged like fine wine in the years since. Led by vocalist/bassist Jarvis Leatherby, Night Demon also boast a charismatic stage presence, which would have fit perfectly onto the great live metal albums recorded at London’s legendary Hammersmith Odeon in the ’80s. Canadian act Skull Fist excelled at the same combination of fist-pumping heaviness and warm production on last year’s Chasing the Dream, also emulating the greats that arose from the early-’80s British metal explosion. — Jason Roche
“There ain’t no grave that can hold me down,” Carla Bozulich declares amid a clatter of restless percussion, booming bass, funereal keyboard chimes and disembodied voices on her new solo album, Boy. Since debuting with South Bay art-noise experimentalists Invisible Chains in the mid-’80s and emerging as a charismatic frontwoman in the early ’90s with the adventurous industrial outfit Ethyl Meatplow, the singer has changed her musical persona numerous times. In the mid-’90s, Bozulich flirted with mainstream success when she revealed a newfound melodicism and strains of Americana in the rootsy band Geraldine Fibbers. Further critical adulation followed with her unexpected 2003 remake of Willie Nelson’s The Red Headed Stranger, but Bozulich returned to more experimental soundscapes with 2006’s Evangelista and in the moodier passages from her darkly febrile new album. — Falling James
Saturday, January 24
Over the years, Spandau Ballet have lurked in Duran Duran’s considerable commercial shadow. Both rode in on the U.K.’s New Romantic bandwagon; their debut albums appeared three months apart in 1981; and it was fun to pit Londoners Spandau against bigger-selling Birmingham boys Duran. But the quintet’s Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry obsession and Tony Hadley’s potent, lounge-ready croon spawned a sax-spattered and heavily stylized (if sanitized) take on blue-eyed soul that was theirs alone. They were thrown out with new wave’s bathwater at the end of the ’80s, but respect has stubbornly lingered for Spandau’s stout songwriting and melodramatic arrangements, epitomized by snog-inducing slowies such as their biggest U.S. hit, “True,” and later staple “Through the Barricades.” This tour marks their return to U.S. stages after a three-decade absence. Also Sunday, Jan. 25. — Paul Rogers
Sorrows, The Bloodhounds, Veneer, Dr. Boogie
REDWOOD BAR & GRILL
“ABBA meets Sex Pistols” was the vibe first sought by New York’s seminal power-pop band Sorrows when they formed back in the late ’70s — at least according to their maybe-joking bio — but the sound is anything but gimmicky. Sorrows have influences ranging from ’60s R&B to rockabilly to punk at its most buoyant, as they bounce happily somewhere between The Ramones and The Yardbirds. After a long hiatus following two releases ranked high on vinyl collectors’ must-have lists, the guys returned in 2010 with a well-received record for Bomp. They’re a great get for this bodacious bill, being touted as an “NYC/L.A. rock summit” with some formidable locals: shiny shag rockers Veneer, East L.A. psych-tinged grinders The Bloodhounds, and Dollsy glitter group Dr. Boogie (currently getting tons of airplay from Rodney on the Roq). — Lina Lecaro
Sunday, January 25
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Go Betty Go, The Dollyrots, A Pretty Mess
Tonight’s bill corrals three of this town’s best and brightest pop-punk bands. Chicana quartet Go Betty Go have undergone various lineup changes over the past decade, but two years ago the group reunited with their beloved early incarnation, when bassist Michelle Rangel and lead singer Nicolette Vilar returned to the fold. On their aptly titled new EP, Reboot, Go Betty Go rumble onward with full hard-rock power, contrasted against Vilar’s sweetly yearning vocals. During the past 10 years, The Dollyrots have been championed by their label head, Joan Jett, as singer-bassist Kelly Ogden and guitarist Luis Cabezas have blossomed into legitimately catchy, Muffs-style songwriters. In contrast, A Pretty Mess are more punk than pop, with singer Dee Skusting howling energetic rants such as “Spit Me Out.” — Falling James