The Short List: This Week's Recommended Shows

dead prez/Wednesday, September 26

Dead prez's MC rightly pegged DP "somewhere in between N.W.A. and P.E." on the thumping "I'm a African" from their turn-of-the-millenium classic Let's Get Free. The duo (completed by fellow lyricist M1) took the street-level rage of N.W.A., filtered it through the sociopolitical lens of Public Enemy, and finished it with a touch of Native Tongues–crew Afrohumanism. Later their message became less focused (both lyrically and musically) and perhaps less powerful than on Let's Get Free ('s newer material, for example, mainly consists of him talking about staying clean and hitting the gym), but dead prez still stands as one of the most effective and intelligent groups to emerge from the East Coast conscious-rap renaissance of the late '90s/early '00s. Look forward to hearing well-known material alongside newer joints off their upcoming Information Age LP. With Project Lionheart, Fatal Lucciauno. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $14. TODD HAMM

Kimbra/Wednesday, September 26

The inclusion of Kimbra in the electro-centric Decibel Festival lineup is a bit puzzling: The 22-year-old New Zealander, best known as the female counterpart in Gotye's hit single "Somebody That I Used to Know," generally plays with a full live band, and her debut album, Vows, has a jazzy pop flavor. Categorizations aside, Kimbra is an effervescent, compelling performer with expressive, smoky vocals, and her funky songs show a flair for eclecticism. Connecticut trio the Stepkids, who released their self-titled debut late last year, will open, playing their trippy, psychedelic-fusion songs against a backdrop of kaleidoscopic visual projections. Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151. 9 p.m. $20 adv./$25 DOS. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON


Julianna Barwick/Thursday, September 27

Decibel Fest's Optical showcases, of which there are five this year, are designed to interweave visual elements into musical performances (for example, on Wed., Sept. 26 at Broadway Performance Hall, ambient British duo Demdike Stare will perform a live rescoring of the 1970 cult horror film La Vampire Nue). Tonight's event, ASCENSION, will feature projected visuals by filmmaker and illustrator Christina Vantzou (also a musician, she released her debut solo album Nº1 late last year) to accompany singular New York vocalist Julianna Barwick. Barwick released her exquisite album The Magic Place in 2011, then formed OMBRE, a duo with her Asthmatic Kitty labelmate Helado Negro; they released their fleecy Believe You Me in August. For a showcase called ASCENSION, Barwick's angelic, vertiginous vocals are the perfect fit. With Maria Minerva, Anenon, Lulacruza. Triple Door, 206 Union St., 838-4333. 7 p.m. $30. All ages. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Orbital/Thursday, September 27

In the world of electronic music, and especially at this year's Decibel Festival, UK duo Orbital are nothing short of titans. Brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll went in a matter of years from recording their first hit, "Chime," on their father's home stereo in 1989 to being one of the biggest acts of the '90s "electronica" breakthrough in America (a precursor to the current "EDM" craze), along with the likes of Daft Punk, the Chemical Brothers, and The Prodigy. Orbital doesn't sound quite like any of those peers, though; instead, they expanded the rarefied, uplifting UK rave sounds of the early '90s until they took on almost classical heft, scoring songs whose melodic strands intricately unfold and reconfigure even as a house pulse anchors them to physical dance-floor functionality. They return this year with Wonky, their first album after an eight-year lull—a return to form equally nostalgic and triumphant. With Paul Chambers. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 877-784-4849. 8 p.m. $40. All ages. ERIC GRANDY

John Talabot/Saturday, September 30

In the long line of anonymous, or at least semi-mysterious, electronic-music producers—from Burial to Rex the Dog to Zomby to probably half the roster at Rephlex Records—Barcelona's John Talabot is hardly a Da Vinci Code-level secret—maybe more like a Scooby Doo villain. Basically, nobody cares about your secret identity, bro. Of more concern to electronic-music connoisseurs are the deeply moody and spooked-out house tracks of Talabot's excellent debut album ƒin and the recently released outtakes "Tragediel"/"Mai Mes." Tonight, Talabot—unmasked! It's some Spanish dude!—performs live with collaborator Pional, whose murky but soulful vocals haunt many of Talabot's finest tunes. With Public Lover, Pezzner. Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., 709-9442. 9 p.m. $18. ERIC GRANDY

Madonna/Tuesday, October 2–Wednesday, October 3

Madonna has made a career out of shocking people (swastikas, anyone?), to the point where there's not much she could do that would surprise anybody anymore. She could lasso a champion Thoroughbred, choke it with her bare hands, quarter it with a samurai sword, and eat it raw on live television, and the world would shrug. In fact, the only card Madonna might still have up her sleeve is to strip her compositions down to spare acoustic arrangements, as she did (for one song, "Don't Tell Me") on Letterman in 2007. She's not currently touring behind such a concept, but maybe next time. KeyArena, 305 Harrison St., 733-9200. 8 p.m. $45–$355. All ages. MIKE SEELY

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