Jonathan Zwickel

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    Raphael Saadiq Wows in Seattle Tour Opener

    One city, four concerts, nine months: Most performers would wear out their welcome, but Raphael Saadiq is not most performers -- and Seattle can't get enough of the lady-killing, big-band-leading soul slinger. From his "The Way I See It" tour stop in March to two N'awlins-spiced sets at Bumbershoot in September to last night's old-school-leaning "Kings Keep Marchin'" tour opener at the Showbox, Saadiq gives his audience what it wants. Saadiq and his eight-piece band took the stage to the sound of Marvin Gaye's live rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" from the 1983 NBA All-star game and left to their own cover of "Let the Sunshine In" by the Fifth Dimension.

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    Best & Worst from Treasure Island Fest

    This past weekend, 25-plus bands gathered on Treasure Island, an artificial landfill in the San Francisco Bay, for the third annual Treasure Island Music Festival. While Long John Silver and his stash of gold and jewels were nowhere to be found, the fest's musical booty was plenty: Flaming Lips, Grizzly Bear, Murs, Brazilian Girls, Beirut, MSTRKRFT, the Streets, Passion Pit and more all performed over the two-day event.

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    Pearl Jam Tour, Night 5: Seattle

    When you're Pearl Jam, Key Arena is your living room and your family is 17,000 screaming Seattleites. Monday night the hometown heroes opened the latest stop on their world tour with a sold-out, two-hour set that was simultaneously casual and thrilling, heavy on collective singalongs, goosebump moments, and, to the crowd's elation, several first-time events: The core quartet was joined by a four-piece string section -- including drummer Matt Cameron's wife on viola -- to debut a pair of tunes from the just-released Backspacer, and later a four-piece horn section for a cover of the Who's "The Real Me." Said frontman Eddie Vedder, gazing into the Key Arena crowd for the first time since PJ's 2003 performance at the same venue, "It's a special night for us. We're trying to get this rocket ship off the ground.

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    Pink Gets Wet in Seattle Tour Kickoff

    Amidst the mega-budget spectacle of Pink's tour kickoff in Seattle on Tuesday night, the most prominent feature was Her Pinkness, herself. During a two-hour, turbo-charged performance at Key Arena, the platinum-blonde powerhouse overshadowed trapeze dancers, huge inflatable harlequins, Broadway-worthy choreography, and a pillow fight (!), wowing the packed crowd with her charisma, athleticism, and -- most disarming of all -- sense of humor. "Can you imagine if that was my speech?" she said mid-set about Kanye's interruptive outburst at the VMAs two nights ago. Then she mentioned something about brass knuckles. A week ago it was announced that the concert had been moved from a smaller venue to Key Arena to accommodate increased ticket demand, and it was tough to imagine how such an elaborate production could've managed anywhere else.

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    Outside Lands, Day 3: Best & Worst

    THE BEST: BEST LIP SYNCH: TENACIOUS DAlmost everything about Sunday night's Tenacious D performance was different than your average festival set. The D -- Jack Black and Kyle Gass on acoustic guitars and vocals, backed by four brilliant, anonymous musicians -- played a two-hour, skit-filled rock opera, breaking up the band and reuniting within the span of two songs ("Dude (I Totally Miss You)" and "Kyle Quit the Band"), serenading a giant robot named "The Metal," battling Satan over the "Pick of Destiny," and later, hilariously breaching rock etiquette by lip-synching the words to their songs. Though they're basically a part-time gag-band, Tenacious D proved up to the challenge of filling in for late cancellations the Beastie Boys.

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    Outside Lands, Day 2: Best & Worst

    THE BEST: BEST USE OF A BLACK EYED PEA: DAVE MATTHEWS BAND"I have a frog in my throat," Dave Matthews said midway into his band's two-hour long headlining set Saturday night, "but it's a delicious frog." His voice worn down to a gravelly croak, Matthews played the grizzled bluesman to Fergie and when the pair of Black Eyed Peas joined him onstage to lead an awkward chant of, "DAVE MATTHEWS BAND!" Despite Matthews' brief attempt at breakdancing (!), the spirited shouting was a false climax: Serious DMB fans got their fix from a 20-minute version of "Lie in Our Graves," as well as old favorites like "Ants Marching" and "Don't Drink the Water." Six-string master Tim Reynolds, Matthews longtime foil, sat in all night long, and replacing deceased sax player LeRoi Moore was a three-piece horn section (with an alto sax occasionally cheesing up the works).

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    Pearl Jam Tour, Night 4: Outside Lands

    THE BEST: BEST DISPLAY OF FAN LOVE: PEARL JAMLet's put it this way: Nobody's walking around San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, the site of the Outside Lands fest, wearing a Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny t-shirt. Pearl Jam, on the other hand, brought out legions of fans of all ages, some 40,000 of which amassed in front of the giant Land's End stage to catch the festival's first headliner tear into a 90-minute set that heavily favored older material.

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    The Four Best Seattle Bands You Don't Know

    Grunge may be long gone, but a handful of the Seattle bands that played at the Capitol Hill Block Party festival in their hometown this past weekend proved that the Emerald City's music scene is still one of the country's best. Competing for the attention of the 16, 000 strong crowd with the likes of headliners Sonic Youth, Built to Spill, Gossip, and Deerhunter, the following four local bands put on some of the weekend's best shows. There can never be too much weed rap, and They Live! does bouncy, blunted hip-hop with a love that can't be faked.

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    Breaking Out: The Avett Brothers

    Two years ago, Scott and Seth Avett were summoned by the Wizard of Rock. Apparently Rick Rubin had liked Emotionalism, their fifth album of love-drunk country rock, and wanted to grant them an audience, high in his Malibu home overlooking the ocean. The pair met with the bearded guru and soaked up nourishment from an altogether different plane than their North Carolina hill country hinterland. "I had some of the best ginger tea I've had in my life," Seth says with a laugh. Such is the humble, unfussy way of the Avett Brothers -- singer-pianist-guitarist Seth, 29, singer-banjo player Scott, 33, and bassist Bob Crawford, 38. True to their ragged, rustic sound, the band climbed the ladder the old-fashioned way. "Rather than playing one show and getting a ton of money or popularity, we played 2,000 shows," Seth says -- and without exaggeration.

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    Tori Amos Kicks Off U.S. Tour

    Seattle's cavernous, 3300-capacity WaMu Amphitheater was less than half full for Tori Amos' woefully under-publicized Sinful Attraction tour opener Friday night -- Amos' name was even left off the marquee outside -- but she regaled an attentive crowd with a 20-plus-song setlist that found her transforming old favorites and unleashing the gospel-laced force of her recently-released 10th album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin. "It's time for a new adventure starting here, in one of my favorite places," she said after a potent rendition of "Caught a Lite Sneeze." "I decided to wear emerald green for the Emerald City." Indeed, the willowy Amos was wrapped in a form-fitting, floor-length dress of radiant green, her hair like a copper-colored curtain down her back; beneath she wore gold lamé stretch pants and matching thigh-high boots.

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