• How good were the Flaming Lips at Bimbo's? They took a sad album — 1999's classic The Soft Bulletin — and exploded it into a confetti-and-prop-filled party, kicking off the first proper night of Noise Pop. Wayne Coyne spoke frankly about the darkness behind songs like “Waiting for Superman,” but everyone walked out of Bimbo's grinning.
• Bob Mould performed Sugar's 1992 debut Copper Blue at Bottom of the Hill, breaking a promise he once made to never fully rock again. He really broke it, too — you needed earplugs even for the album's quieter moments. Mould didn't speak a single word between songs, but the music said all it needed to.
• The Sunday-night Sweaterfunk party is the perfect way to ruin your Monday. It's a bunch of vinyl nerds spinning rare '80s boogie in the dark basement of Chinatown dive Li Po. This week the crowd was buzzing over Beat Electric's new reissue of Carmen's “Time to Move,” an Afro-boogie favorite.
• We left Saturday's Archers of Loaf show wondering if the band really wanted to be there. Between the awkward setlist and the long, momentum-killing pauses between songs, the set came across like a rehearsal, not an exhibition. There were a few wondrous moments, but it didn't feel like Archers made the best of them.
• Cursive played a flawless set on Wednesday, but not a thrilling one. The band sounded crisp, impassioned, and capable, but never managed to summon any moments of surprise or blow our minds. The most exciting part was when a brief scuffle broke out in the crowd near the stage.
• Song Fail of the Week: Elle Varner's “So Fly” starts like it's going to be a feminist anthem — “How can I ever compete with 34-DDs,” she asks — but then gets completely distracted by the exorbitant cost of plastic surgery and the fact that beauty won't matter when you're dead. Huh? We're confused, not empowered.