The sound of the season on regional concert stages

Sept. 23


George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic gets a lot of credit for having outrageously funky costumes to go with their outrageously funky sounds back in the '70s, but I don't think that Earth, Wind & Fire gets enough credit for taking stunning stage shows and killer funk, soul and R&B to chart heights the Atomic Dog could only imagine. The Chicago-based crew are Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, thanks to hits like "Shining Star," "Boogie Wonderland" and "Fantasy." In Philip Bailey, EWF still has one of the best vocalists on the planet leading the way, and bass player Verdine White is a joy to watch perform. INB Performing Arts Center, $43.50-$101.50, 7 pm (DAN NAILEN)

Sept. 24


Regardless of who he's playing with, Shins frontman James Mercer has always had an ear for delicate but remarkably catchy tunes. Songs like "Caring Is Creepy" and "New Slang" might have become hipster clichés following their appearance in the 2004 film Garden State, but they still sound as fresh and hooky as they did in the early aughts — both melancholy and sunny, buoyant but a little bitter. The Shins are still cranking out irresistible gems: Their latest studio album, Heartworms, again showcases Mercer's layered, airy pop melodies, and while his work has always been a bit precious, its sweetness is typically undercut by a hint of acid. Knitting Factory, $39.50, 8 pm (NATHAN WEINBENDER)

Sept. 30


This Texas singer/songwriter grew up playing the mandolin and eventually learned guitar and banjo as well, and her considerable chops and songwriting skills led to a record deal when she was still in high school on roots-music label Sugar Hill Records. She's only gotten better in the intervening years, graduating with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music and releasing a total of four albums. Her most recent, Undercurrent, won this year's Grammy for Best Folk Album, while one of its songs, "House of Mercy," won another for Best American Roots Performance. Quite a talent, and quite a show to catch in the cozy Bartlett. The Bartlett, $25, 8 pm (DN)

Oct. 3


Maybe the only active band that's as equally well-known among legal students and pop-punk fans, Portland dance-rock quartet the Slants found themselves the subject of news headlines when they were denied a trademark because their name was deemed offensive to Asian people (never mind the fact that all four of their members are Asian American). The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in the Slants' favor. (That didn't stop them, however, from calling their most recent EP The Band Who Must Not Be Named.) Now they're set to bring their notoriety and irresistible pop-punk songs to Spokane. The Big Dipper, $8, 7:30 pm (NW)

Oct. 13


The Pixies weren't the first band to embrace a loud-quiet-loud song structure, but their music, which shifted violently between yowls and whispers, certainly attracted more disciples — Kurt Cobain, Thom Yorke, Rivers Cuomo and Stephen Malkmus among them — than any other. New Jersey's Screaming Females subscribe to that same school of visceral indie rock, though their own tonal shifts don't happen in the middle of songs so much as they do track by track. On their most recent album Rose Mountain, driving rockers like "Empty Head" and "Ripe" give way to the stoned, surfy melancholy of "Wishing Well," before careening back to glass-shattering hollers again. Baby Bar, $7, 9:30 pm (NW)

Oct. 14


Let's face it, Neil Diamond and his music are a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. Either you embrace the man as a consummate pop songwriter and performer, or you simply can't get over the high cheese factor of, say, his Jazz Singer remake or his E.T. song. When it comes to Diamond, I'm a believer, utterly sold on tunes like "Cherry, Cherry" and "Solitary Man." Super Diamond is one of the best Diamond tribute acts in the business, and accompanied by the Spokane Symphony, I expect a show to compete with the Real Neil's Hot August Night gig. Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, $39-$86, 8 pm (DN)

Oct. 26


Shoegaze fans, rejoice! Eighties-era pioneers of an updated, guitar-based "Wall of Sound" approach, the Jesus and Mary Chain are one of those bands whose influence far exceeded their commercial success during their heyday. Led by battling brothers Jim and William Reid, the band helped establish a sound that would serve the likes of My Bloody Valentine and the Pixies well, and their early albums like Psychocandy and Darklands are considered classic among goth-loving noise junkies. After breaking up for the better part of a decade, the Jesus and Mary Chain reunited in 2007 and now has a new album, too; this year's Damage and Joy fits right in with their dark catalog. Bing Crosby Theater, $37.50-$42.50, 8 pm (DN)

Nov. 2


This Rhode Island crew are masters of misdirection. As soon as the media started lumping them under the "alt-country" label, their sound veered into loud, garage-rock territory. The band's new albums are another misdirection; despite having released records for more than a decade, their latest are named Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2, showcasing a folky, acoustic approach on the former and some righteous guitar-rock on the latter. Their show will similarly be divided in two, but you won't want to miss either half — Deer Tick are one of the best live bands out there. The Bartlett, $25, 8 pm (DN)

Nov. 11


One of the Spokane Symphony's most exciting upcoming SuperPops concerts will feature the Mambo Kings, a New York-based Latin jazz quintet that has earned a reputation for well-oiled musicianship and crackerjack improvisation for the past two decades. Each of the ensemble's members has worked with huge names in the music biz — skimming through their bios turns up names like Aretha Franklin, Arturo Sandoval and Ray Charles — though they're certainly most at home performing with one another (and the Spokane Symphony, of course). As with any SuperPops show, it should be the perfect gateway drug for folks who wouldn't normally come out for a traditional orchestral concert. Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, $39-$86, 8 pm (NW)

Nov. 18 & 24


For anyone who loves Christmas music and iconography but can only muster a yawn at the prospect of another year of twinkling lights and Bing Crosby records, here come these annually touring holiday spectacles to blow you right out of your yuletide torpor. Both Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra have become holiday staples in Spokane, and both bands have found huge audiences by blending new-age instrumentation and prog-rock stylings with massive multimedia shows in huge theaters and arenas. As long as they keep coming to town, people will continue showing up. Mannheim Steamroller (Nov. 18): INB Performing Arts Center, $39.50-$99.50, 7:30 pm; Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Nov. 24): Spokane Arena, $37-$70.50, 7:30 pm (NW)

Nov. 28


Fans of this off-and-on hard rock band should take note: They haven't put out an album since eMOTIVe, 2004's collection of covers, but they're reportedly working on new material, and you'll no doubt hear as-yet-unreleased songs when they hit the Arena the week after Thanksgiving. The supergroup features Tool's Maynard James Keenan, Ashes Divide's Billy Howerdel and Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha, so you know that it's going to be, if nothing else, a showcase for some amazing musicianship. Spokane Arena, $49.50/$69.50, 7:30 pm (NW)

Dec. 2


You can have your shopping binges, Secret Santa parties and competitive house-lighting. For me, a little Christmas music is all it takes to get truly in the spirit of the season, and this concert could be the perfect way to get it going in 2017. The Spokane Jazz Orchestra could obviously deliver the goods on their own, but they'll be joined by local vocal ace Julia Keefe. I imagine she and the band will be gracious enough to allow the audience some off-key warbling along to some carols before the night is done. Bing Crosby Theater, $17-$27, 7:30 pm (DN)

Dec. 4


Talk about not needing an introduction. One could easily make the case that Foo Fighters are America's biggest rock 'n' roll band. Granted, the competition isn't that stiff, but the Dave Grohl-led Foos have been doing the melodic hard-rock thing for more than two decades now, and they're one of the few bands that can consistently pack out arenas, amphitheaters and stadiums around the globe. The band's latest, Concrete and Gold, arrives this week, so you'll have a couple of months to get to know the new songs you'll hear alongside old faves like "Everlong," "Times Like These" and "Rope." Spokane Arena, $51-$101, 7:30 pm (DN)

Dec. 13


It's rare that you get the chance to see a legend of Darlene Love's caliber. The singer was one of super-producer Phil Spector's discoveries, appearing on some of the 1960s' greatest pop recordings, including "Be My Baby" and "Da Doo Ron Ron." No surprise, though: Spector exploited her talents, slating her to sing lead on the Wall of Sound classics "He's a Rebel" and "He's Sure the Boy I Love," then attributing them to the Crystals instead. Love has still managed to do quite well on her own as a singer and actress (see the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom), and the fact that she's coming to town with a show called "Love for the Holidays" means that we'll no doubt be treated to the iconic track "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." INB Performing Arts Center, $39.50/$49.50/$59.50, 7:30 pm (NW) ♦

Historic Wallace Blues Festival @ Wallace

Fri., July 8, 7-8 p.m. and Sat., July 9, 12 p.m.-12 a.m.
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