Sufjan Stevens and the Pacific Mozart Ensemble sing for the states

Aside from Elvis Costello, there are few performers as all-inclusive as Bill Frisell. A jazz musician and electric guitarist, at 55 Frisell has earnestly embraced a greater array of musical contexts than most artists would in two lifetimes. He's engaged masters of jazz (Jim Hall, Paul Bley) and bluegrass (Jerry Douglas), speed-metal and noise (John Zorn), and accompanied singers as diverse as Costello, Vic Chesnutt, Petra Haden, and Marianne Faithful. Like that legendary pugilist, his guitar tone floats like a butterfly (some label B.F.'s methodology "ambient") and stings like a bee. Bill Frisell brings a formidable "power trio" — drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Jerome Harris — on Thursday, Oct. 5, to Bimbo's at 9 p.m. Admission is $25; call 474-0365 or visit bimbos365club.com for more info. —Mark Keresman

Better learn to love 'em, because it's getting harder to avoid the Killers. The band's swooning mini-epic (epiclette?) "When You Were Young" has saturated the Internet since August, with two versions of the torrid, tragi-Latino video ranking high on YouTube. Sam's Town, the Killers' new sophomore album, has been one of the year's most anticipated releases; advance reviews are mostly gushing. And then there's Los Matadores' two-night run at the Warfield this week, which, as a recent secret show at Popscene proved, will be overrun with teenage fashion victims, collegiate hipsters, and plenty of hangers-on who can't get enough of the music. It's not indie rock 'n' roll, and that's all right — arenas will suit the Killers as much as the mustaches and bolo ties. The Killers perform on Sunday and Monday, Oct. 8 and 9, at the Warfield at 8 p.m. Admission is $30; call 775-7722 or visit www.livenation.com for more info. Jonathan Zwickel

Ah, the Rock Oddball — that confederacy of dunces, idiot savants, and talented eccentrics designated "cult figures." The Shaggs, Daniel Johnston, Jandek, Marianne Nowottny — all inhabit a zone where distinctions betwixt brilliance and folly are blurred. Add to the list Midwesterner Sufjan Stevens, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter on a quest to record a concept album for each state in America. That sounds precious until you listen to Illinoise, No. 2 in the series. Stevens comes on like a cross between Elliott Smith and Van Dyke Parks — a kaleidoscopic mix of folksy naivete and urbane sophistication, of sweetly yearning pop and marching-band corn, lyrically evoking icons of IL from Abe Lincoln to John Wayne Gacy. Live, he'll be joined by a 24-piece choir from the Pacific Mozart Ensemble. Experience the Midwest in song on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 10 and 11, at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, at 8 p.m. Admission is $20-25; call (510) 642-9988 for more info. — M.K.

 
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