Smokey Robinson recently appeared on Elvis Costello’s Sundance Channel talk show The Spectacle, sounding and looking like he’d spent the past few decades in a vacuum, his voice nearly flawless after all these years. The one-time Miracle and Motown legend performed a duet with his interviewer, bringing back memories of his heyday with a warm rendition of “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” (for a fun flashback, search YouTube for Robinson singing the song on an episode of Sesame Street). He’s still got it. With a back catalog like Robinson’s, there’s no telling which hits he’ll dust off for tonight’s outdoor performance. Here’s hoping “Tracks of My Tears” makes an appearance. Red Butte Garden, 300 Wakara Way, 7 p.m. Tickets: RedButteGarden.org
Baby Ranks rose through the ranks of reggaeton royalty by lending his voice to remixes and mixtapes, a move that secured him a strong group of followers vying for dibs on the Puerto Rican artist’s solo debut Mi Flow. Postured one typical ReggaetonOnline addict in 2007, “How long have we been waiting for this effing CD?” The full-length album is chock-full of the genre’s trademark beats and sensual rhythms surrounding lyrics about love and curvy bodies. Songs like “De Fuga” inspire instant head bobs and hip-shaking (if you’ve got ‘em, flaunt ‘em) not to mention cries of “Yo contigo me quiero perder!” Club Karamba, 1051 E. 2100 South, 8 p.m. Tickets: SmithsTix.com
Darby Crash committed suicide 19 years ago but The Germs live on with new lead singer Shane West, a young actor best known for his role as Dr. Ray Barnett on the eternally long-running TV series ER. West portrayed Crash in the film What We Do Is Secret, and while, in most respects, he’s a far cry from the self-destructive Los Angeles gutter punk, he can at least sing into the mic. And, unlike many veteran bands returning to the limelight, the “new” Germs features the remaining three original members—Pat Smear (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Lorna Doom and Don Bolles. Who doesn’t want to see Pat Smear? Burt’s Tiki Lounge, 726 S. State, 9 p.m.
CONOR OBERST & THE MYSTIC VALLEY BAND
As part of Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst helped develop a body of work that established him as an artist both celebrated and reviled for his heart-on-sleeve polemics and unique undulating warble. In 2005, the Nebraska collective released a double album, half of which hinted at Oberst’s gestating folk and country sensibilities. The gradual switch from self-aware indie-rock to politicized twang demonstrates considerable growth and maturity for Oberst, whose second release with the Mystic Valley Band—each member a star in his own right— reflects the sprawling, dusty land of a small-town Texas recording studio. Outer South is all heart, swagger and lyrical dynamite courtesy of one generation’s best songwriters. The six-man powerhouse kicks off the 2009 Utah Arts Festival with an intimate Summer Solstice Concert. You can catch opener Michael Runion at Slowtrain for a 4 p.m. in-store performance prior to the outdoor show. Library Square, Amphitheater Stage, 300 E. 400 South, 8 p.m. All-ages. Tickets: UAF.org
Black Skies aren’t reinventing the wheel but damn if they don’t do a fine job of dragging it through the blessed swamp of heavy, heavy rock. The North Carolina trio pays homage to early Sabbath with dense metal riffs that proceed like a snail on Quaaludes. Their latest release, the EP/limited-run 12-inch Hexagon, achieves a distinct sound thanks largely to Kevin Clark’s distorted monster vocals that crack and splatter across his bandmates’ churning rhythm section. It’s good, dark, ribcage-rattling music for zoning out and, perhaps, anger management therapy. Burts Tiki Lounge, 726 S. State, 9 p.m.
On the title track off his forthcoming sophomore album, When the Devil’s Loose, A.A. Bondy delivers a line that quite nearly sums up the afterglow of his smoldering folk and blues: “Oh, your sadness is quite lovely.” Bondy made a name for himself in the Alabama band Verbena before wandering off to find he’s much more at home writing roots music with a troubling underbelly of pain, loss, hard lessons and salvation. Slated for a September release on Fat Possum, Loose builds on his 2007 debut American Hearts by drawing on a full band to flesh out the romantic elegies and narratives he kindled solo. Bondy should be huge. See him live before the rest of the world catches on. The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 10 p.m. Tickets: 24Tix.com
Blue Oyster Cult (Lindquist Field, June 25); Andre Rieu (Usana Amphitheater, June 25); Utah Arts Festival (City & County Building, June 25-28); Laura Gibson, Musee Mechanique (Urban Lounge, June 26); Matisyahu, Dub Trio (In the Venue, June 27); Mewithoutyou (Avalon, June 28)