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by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & mpressively, Epitaph Records has evolved from an indie punk label to a multi-genre, three-tiered (with sister labels Hellcat and ANTI-) safe haven for truly alternative music. Releasing material by Bay Area politico-rap stars the Coup, Northwest legend Elliott Smith and national treasure Tom Waits, Epitaph has turned into an orphanage for artists with ethics.





But lest you think they've forgotten about today's young gunslingers, the official EPITAPH TOUR stomps through town on Sunday, flaunting youth, beauty and big ideas. The Matches and the Higher both incorporate electronic flourishes into pop punk: the former pairs loud rock with the Cure; the latter, with Jawbreaker and Justin Timberlake. Both bands energetically explore synths, drum machines and laptops. Epitaph's conceptual DIY spirit is also evident in supporting bands Escape the Fate and I Am Ghost. At which point everyone commences to get busy.


-- ANDREW MATSON





Epitaph Tour featuring the Matches, the Higher, Escape the Fate and I Am Ghost at the Big Dipper on Sunday, March 11, at 7 pm. Tickets: $10, $12, at the door. Visit www.ticketswest.com or call 325-SEAT.





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he moment in which hip-hop's four elements (music, word, dance, visual art) collide invariably results in the "blowing up" of a "spot."





Under the influence of the hip-hop Holy Ghost, the culture explains itself. Arm and leg explosions, like Ground Bloom Flowers bouncing off the floor, reveal the anthropomorphism of graffiti's angular fluidity. Emcees and DJs imitate and complement each other in service of the beat, the crowd, the moment. Hip-hop's interdependent nature reveals itself in sudden gusts, as a community grows instantly, though organically. It's a beautiful thing.





Graffiti will be absent at this week's BREAKDANCE BATTLE, but the competitive popping, locking, and insulting (emcee battles are planned alongside regional dance-offs) practically ensures the blowing-up of Centerpointe's spot.


-- ANDREW MATSON





Break Dance Battle and Emcee Showcase at Center Pointe (1408 N. Washington) on Saturday, March 10, at 7 pm. Tickets: $5, $10, at the door; $3, youth 10 and younger. Visit Unified Groove Merchants or call 326-4842.





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & F & lt;/span & ollowing their well-received Feb. 3 show, Seattleites GARAGE VOICE return to the Empyrean. The indie band makes emotionally significant, pretty music full of pianos, soft cymbal drama, and smooth falsetto -- like some kind of garage Coldplay. What sets Garage Voice apart from the indie millions are an ear for momentum-building repetition and a flair for jazz and bossa nova flavors. Both add a unique cinema to the band's otherwise thoroughly indie sound.





Having translated that aesthetic into salable merchandise, Garage Voice returns to hawk its new LP, Let Those Who Have Ears Hear. The full-length captures the band's ability to play clean and soft with warm expanse, not unlike fellow indie-pop jazz-dabblers, Yo La Tengo. The result is inquisitive pop devoid of ego or self-importance. Taking selflessness and faith for subject matter, the members of Garage Voice have the good sense to let their lyrics extend to the universal, and the good taste to let their songs breathe.


-- ANDREW MATSON





Garage Voice with Karli Fairbanks and Vespertine at Empyrean on Saturday, March 10, at 7 pm. Tickets: TBA. Call 838-9819.
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