Spoon-feeding the buzz: indie's underdogs coming out on top

Though Austin's Spoon has been cranking out brainy indie rock since 1994, it wasn't until recently that it became coveted by a broader segment of the population. Just a few years back the group was dropped from its label. Now its upcoming record Ga ga ga ga gais one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the summer. Rumor has it Ga ga ... is a return to Girls Can Tell-era Spoon, with a few key tweaks, like quirky instrumentation and a cameo by superproducer Jon Brion. Whoever's lucky enough to make it into Popscene tonight is in for an intimately epic experience. Doors open at 9 p.m., but expect a line to begin forming long before that, since no advance tickets have been sold. The lucky ones will get in for $13 ($15 for ages 18-20). Popscene takes place on Thursday, May 24, at 330 Ritch St. Call 541-9574 or visit www.popscene-sf.com for info. —Maya Kroth

Since the late '90s, Bobby Conn has concocted many personae: ex-con financial guru; conspiracy theory-driven "antichrist"; glammed-up anti-Bush soul testifier. But the surprising irony of King for a Day — the Chicagoan's new, quasi-operatic concept album about self-delusion — is how true his deadpan camp rings. In an age when pop music's imagination suffocates between self-indulgent confessional on one end and conspicuous-consumption-as-art on the other, Bobby Conn's tongue-in-cheek indictment of the American Dream is undeniably relevant. Pay king Conn his royalties on Thursday, May 24, at the Rickshaw Stop at 8 p.m. Admission is $10; call 861-2011 or visit www.rickshawstop.com for more info. — J. Niimi

Some people truly savor the semi-sweet state of longing, getting their Masters' degree in moping. Lucky for them there's plenty of ideal music for dreary days: stuff like Nick Drake, select Lambchop records, and the Clientele. God Save the Clientele finds the U.K. foursome making fine use of hushed vocals (that sound a wee bit like Marc Bolan), downcast melodies, and guitar tones that glisten more than they rock. Let the Clientele be the musical meteorologists for the wintery summer of your discontent at on Saturday, May 26, at Great American Music Hall at 9 p.m. Admission is $15; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. — Mark Keresman

Seattle's post-what-the-fuck-ever quartet Intelligence has a rather brazen discography. That's due to boss-man Lars Finberg's penchant for coercing aberrant noise out of otherwise ordinary rock 'n' roll utensils. Take "Moon Beeps," off the forthcoming full-length — what starts as a subdued, reverb-heavy groove, gets blasted apart by heavy drumming, crackling chord progressions, and Finberg's ice-pick riffing. Intelligence makes such drastic transitions happen in the blink of an eye. But beneath all the punkish, blown-out distortion and haywire song-composition lies ample evidence of serious pop-songwriting genius. Anyone willing to brave the volume levels and blind left-turns will undoubtedly find their heads bobbing halfway through the first song. Intelligence performs Wednesday, May 30, at the Hemlock at 9 p.m. Admission is $10; call 923-0925 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com for more info. — Grant Brissey

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