Two! Hyped! Bands! In! One! Week!

Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn describes his band's brand of verbose, guitar-driven splendor as "classic rock with a small ‘c'." It's apt shorthand for the hedonistic-but-literate sprawl that is a Hold Steady show, a glorious shot of euphoria that should be experienced by anyone whose music collection contains both Minutemen and Ted Nugent records. Returning to the West Coast in support of their third release, Boys and Girls in America, the boys from Brooklyn are also riding high on their recent nomination by MOJO magazine for Breakthrough Act of 2007. Illinois will open the show this Wednesday, May 30, at Slim's at 8 p.m. Admission is $15-17; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info. Hannah Levin


Although the Arcade Fire's new album Neon Bible is a brooding affair, in concert the Montreal collective isn't bogged down by weighty ruminations. At a recent Chicago show, a celebratory mood prevailed — especially in vocalist/instrumentalist Régine Chassagne's perma-grin, and keyboardist Will Butler's manic stage movements — to temper vocalist Win Butler's more serious, Ian McCulloch-like warblings. Arcade Fire devotees also view the band's shows as uplifting occasions, as evidenced by the sheer number of fans clearly moved by the synth-heavy "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" and string-fest "Rebellion (Lies)," Funeraltracks that trump sour notes every time. The Arcade Fire performs on Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at the Greek Theater in Berkeley at 8 p.m. Admission is $31.50; visit www.apeconcerts.com for more info. Annie Zaleski


It's always preferable to go out on top of your game. Unfortunately for Seattle's Pretty Girls Make Graves, the band peaked on its 2002 debut; specifically, the song "Speakers Push the Air." This veritable post-punk anthem, propelled by an infectiously intertwined guitar and keyboard melody, was a defining new dawn for these music vets. PGMG expanded from that signature sound into the worlds of dub and prog on subsequent albums, with varying results. Can't blame a band for wanting to experiment, but on this final tour, raise your beer and feel free to shout requests for the oldies. Pretty Girls Make Graves perform on Monday, June 4, at Great American Music Hall at 8 p.m. Admission is $13-15; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com for more info. Jonah Flicker


What is it with bands from the Pacific Northwest getting all nautical? First Portland's the Decemberists made sea chanteys chic, now Seattle songwriter Laura Veirs' latest album contains stories of seductive mermen and shipwrecks. She even changed her backing band's name from the Tortured Souls to the Saltbreakers — a reference to ocean waves that's also the title of her new disc. Veirs, a former geology student, continues to use the natural world as her muse; her last record made earnest relationship metaphors from images of stars, caves, and mountains. She's been known to pass around a jar of glitter — er, "space dust" — to get crowds in the mood when she plays live, as she does on Tuesday, June 5, at Café du Nord at 9 p.m. Admission is $12; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com for more info. —Maya Kroth

 
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