Vampire Weekend, Ska Show, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Sweatshop Union, Scout Niblett 

Live: Music Picks March 18-24

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Thursday March 18
VAMPIRE WEEKEND (Show is Sold Out)

When delving into the musical world of Vampire Weekend, factions split and lines divide. Vampire Weekend are chart-toppers and their shows are selling out, but these boys—clean-shaven, yet newly tough-skinned—really can piss people off. Is it because they’re Ivy Leaguers or, maybe, because they lit a fire in a stale New York City rock scene? Even the woman on the cover art for the 2010 release Contra looks bewildered. Is it Contra, as in contradiction? Wearing argyle sweaters and playing African Pop-inspired music with hints of The Strokes, or attending Columbia but not growing up ripe with wealth sure can confuse folks. At one time, they were proclaimed by Stuff White People Like as the whitest band around and “pushing it to levels unseen.” Well, they are pushing boundaries, but in more ways than preppy-schoolboy charm. Dodging the sophomore slump, Contra didn’t suck; in fact, it’s better than their first, self-titled, album. And, in concert this young band is confident, as bouncy as their albums. Sweater vests and martinis are not needed to thoroughly enjoy yourself tonight. In the Venue, 579 W. 200 South, 7:30 p.m.

Friday March 19

The blossoming ’90s Utah ska scene had too much brass to support itself and began to fade away by the decade’s end, but the 2008 film The Upbeat captured the essence of skankin’ from southern Utah to Logan to ska central, Provo, and taught us that ska will never die. Never to be written off as a fad, adhering to the mantra “pick it up, pick it up,” it is resuscitated continually. These days, labels like “post-reggae” help sell tickets to shows. Label it what you will, skankin’ to live ska is fun, and tonight’s show shouldn’t disappoint. When there’s one ska band, there’s six: Arizona’s The Braskies will headline, preceded by Utah’s Storming Stages & Stereos, Hot Air Platoon, Skank Race, Superhero and Rebellious Cause. Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 801- 364-3538, 5:30 p.m. All-ages. Tickets:

Saturday March 20

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Unlike Vampire Weekend, often lazily compared to Paul Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo gained worldwide fame through collaborating with Simon on Graceland in 1986. The all-male, South African choral group’s sweeping harmonies are deeply passionate and emotional. They won their third Grammy in 2009 for Llembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu, a tribute to the warrior who banded the Zulus together in the 1700s. Shaka exemplified vision, creativity and perseverance—as does Ladysmith, who have transcended racial divides during apartheid rule, recorded dozens of albums over 45 years and toured relentlessly—eight months out of the year. This album draws upon vivid imagery of their homeland, relating the history of a people, and it fills listeners with the spirit of unity and hope. For a taste of the live performance, check out the 2005 release Live at Montreux, especially the acclaimed “Homeless.” Peery’s Egyptian Theater’s acoustics should help the harmonies reverberate and the melodies pop. Peery’s Egyptian Theater, 2415 Washington Blvd, Ogden, 801-689-8700, 7:30 p.m. All-ages. Tickets:

Sunday March 21

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The seven-piece hip-hop hodgepodge collective Sweatshop Union from Vancouver, British Columbia, couldn’t make it past the Canadian border for their January 2010 U.S. tour, let alone to Salt Lake City. No amount of lyricism could sing their way into the states, so the tour was canceled, all because of a bottleneck in processing time for their renewed U.S. work permits. However, they’re making up for lost time with a whirlwind eight-day, eight-city U.S. jaunt. Stopping for a visit to the Urban Lounge tonight, they’ll play cuts from their four albums, including the most recent, 2008’s Water Street. Their songs are typically a marriage of thesaurus-friendly, dense lyrics, social commentary and political fist-waving. But, Sweatshop Union isn’t too pretentious for their own good, still fulfilling the need for thought-provoking sound while simultaneously getting hips swaying and hands waving. Last time they played here, a packed-in crowd grooved to the infectious hip-hop, dancing the suburban bounce. Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m. Tickets:

Wednesday March 24

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A young, white, female singer/songwriter, Scout Niblett’s music is somehow part Howlin’ Wolf vocals and part grungy Northwestern flare. It’s easy to imagine her busking on a Portland, Ore., street-corner, rain-drizzled and washed in moonlight. But, most buskers aren’t nearly as esoterically inclined, like in her 2010 release The Calcination of Scout Niblett. Mythologically, internal alchemy’s first step is calcination, a self-directed, inward look toward cleansing and growth. But, despite these leanings, she doesn’t wax poetically, because she’s far too minimal to be overt. Similar themes are stretched throughout all of her work, adding depth through metaphor. Her songs slowly crawl into your soul and stay there awhile—haunting, yet perfect. Forced chords through an electric guitar, occasional drums and ambient hollowness—like every penny thrown into a busker’s guitar case—are utterly important because of their sparseness. Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m. Tickets:

Coming Up
Tim Barry
(Burt’s Tiki Lounge, March 25), Quasi (Urban Lounge, March 25), Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights (The State Room, March 26), Tracy Lawrence (The Westerner, March 26), Xiu Xiu (Urban Lounge, March 26), Story of the Year (Murray Theatre, March 26), Tyrone Wells (Kilby Court, March 27), Devendra Banhart & The Grogs (The Depot, March 29), Mac Lethal’s Alive Tour (Urban Lounge, March 29), Five for Fighting (The Depot, March 30), Cymbals Eat Guitar (Kilby Court, March 31)

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