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    Zola Jesus' Operatic Voice Wows at Tour Kickoff

    How does a 5'2", 22-year-old girl from rural Wisconsin become the enigmatic and bewitching Zola Jesus? Well, it has to be that mile-long voice of hers, or perhaps it's her childhood raised on the venison her father provided through hunting, or it's her steady diet of Danny Elfman's Oingo Boingo (think "Weird Science") and the books by stark-minded philosophers like Arthur Schopenhauer. Whatever it is, the singer born Nika Danilova has steadily made a name for herself over the past three years, leaving a paper trail of EPs and full-lengths that combine apocalyptic beats, icy atmospherics, plenty personality quirks -- and a voice made for opera.

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    A Perfect Circle Kick Off Six-Week Tour

    Dropping "An Evening With" in front of a band's name is usually a good indicator that there will be no opening acts. There's a slight air of pretension in that prefix as well -- this is going to be a more sophisticated sit-down, less fist-raising kind of a rock show. The fact that A Perfect Circle led off their six-week U.S. tour at Portland's Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, a venue known for hosting symphonies and jazz ensembles, only added to the mystery of what Wednesday night's performance might look and sound like. As it turned out, the audience members did get out of their (not-so-cheap) seats; fists found their way toward the sky; and there was an opening act in the form of Red Bacteria Vacuum, a female trio from Japan that was too cute for words and extremely high on rock'n'roll energy.

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    Cold War Kids Kick Off Tour in Portland

    It feels like Cold War Kids have lived several lives in their relatively short career -- from overnight blog sensations, a national tour with Death Cab for Cutie, to nefariously being identified as a "Christian band," an association that can be the death knell for any modern musician not named Sufjan. Of course, all of this is far more interesting than the path Cold War Kids have chosen for themselves on their latest release Mine Is Yours, a squeaky-clean pop record aimed at mass-market radio. The Los Angeles four-piece squeezed their arena-sized aspirations into the cozier confines of Portland, Oregon's Crystal Ballroom Thursday night, launching their U.S. tour. Putting the new material to the test, Cold War Kids opened with "Royal Blue," a song whose rhythmic intro hinted at Afro pop until the band switched tempo and vocalist Nathan Willett unleashed some impressive falsetto.

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    Ke$ha Kicks Off Her 'Get $leazy' Tour

    "I'm going to bring the planet an epic dance party," Ke$ha promised SPIN last week, and Tuesday night's kickoff of her Get $leazy tour at Portland, Oregon's Roseland Theatre lived up to her word. The 23-year-old comic-provocateur-musician gave the tween-filled crowd wall-to-wall electro-dance jams, costume changes, fake blood, 8-foot penises, and two tons of glitter -not to mention a generous amount of lovingly applied baby oil. See more photos on SPIN's Facebook! Opener Beardo -- who sadly didn't sport a beard, but rather an ironic mustache-and-mullet combination -- delivered a few of his own silly, yet danceable tunes.

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    The Corin Tucker Band Debuts in Hometown Portland

    It's only appropriate that Corin Tucker and her band kicked off their West Coast tour Thursday night on her home turf surrounded by fans, family and friends, including Tucker's Sleater-Kinney bandmates. It was nothing but love inside the cozy confines of Portland's Aladdin Theatre-of course, it's been a longtime coming. The vocalist-guitarist has kept the lowest profile of the trio since Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus in 2006 (a spell that feels much longer than four years). While drummer Janet Weiss has remained busy in the Jicks and Quasi, and Carrie Brownstein as a music blogger and budding actress, Tucker has quietly been raising a family. But the primal urge to rock has proven too strong. Her solo debut, 1,000 Years, takes the clang and bang of her former band and slathers it with all sorts of new textures and sounds, including strings and keyboards.

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    Mark Lanegan's Soulsavers Open U.S. Tour

    "Thanks very much for coming. We appreciate it." Aside from the actual songs, those were the only words spoken by Mark Lanegan the entire night during Soulsavers' tour kickoff at Portland, OR's Wonder Ballroom Sunday night. Of course, Lanegan's latest project isn't really a between-song-banter kind of band. Soulsavers is the creation of U.K. production duo Rich Machin and Ian Glover, who've mixed gospel and country with electronic music over three full-length albums. It's pretty moody stuff. However, the live representation leaned more toward the visceral fracas of Lanegan's lauded grunge-era outfit Screaming Trees than the spacey dirges found on the new Soulsavers record, Broken. An echo-y guitar intro started things off before Lanegan emerged from behind a curtain bedecked in black from head to toe.

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    The Thermals Debut New Songs

    "I was here all year... you never called," joked Thermals guitarist/vocalist Hutch Harris to the sold-out crowd at Portland OR's Doug Fir Lounge Friday night. It was a homecoming of sorts for the Thermals, who hadn't played a Portland gig in almost a year -- and it was clear that the audience missed their hometown heroes. Being the sweethearts that they are, Harris and bassist Kathy Foster brought gifts: new drummer Westin Glass (formerly of Seattle's Say Hi) and a generous helping of songs from the band's forthcoming album, Now We Can See, due April 7. The Thermals seem genuinely stoked about their recent signing to Kill Rock Stars. And if Friday night's performance was any indication, the new songs might be the smartest and catchiest the band has written. Buoyant riffs were gently tempered by well-placed minor chords and Harris' sometimes stark lyrics.

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    Wu-Tang Clan Kick Off U.S. Tour

    It was anybody's guess who would appear onstage at Portland, OR's Roseland Theatre last night at the opening show of the Wu-Tang Clan's U.S. tour. Method Man is currently on tour with Redman, and internal squabbling about the overly slick production on the Clan's latest album, 8 Diagrams, elevated the possibility that RZA, who produced the release, would be a no-show. But it was RZA who emerged first onto the stage, greeted by the familiar sea of hands forming the Wu-Tang "W." By the time they kicked into "Bring da Ruckus," from the brilliant Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, and GZA were also in full flow. The performance was more chaotic than the group's albums -- members occasionally cut each other off and the samples and beats were grittier -- but there was a sophistication to the lively deliveries of Raekwon and GZA.

  • Talib Kweli and Mos Def Reign Extreme at ICER AIR

    The steady flow of eight-dollar beers and florescent-coloredenergy drinks would have made a seniors golf championship seem like agood time. OK, that's probably a stretch, but that perfectly measuredupper/downer concoction did keep the crowd's energy level in the redfor nearly 12 hours at this year's Esurance ICER AIR event at SanFrancisco's AT&T Park. The two-day event, co-sponsored by Spin,transformed the Giants' home field into a playground of the extremevariety, a towering man-made ski slope serving as its centerpiece,running from the top of the center-field scoreboard down to the middleof the infield grass. Now in its third year, ICER AIR brought a largeand mixed crowd of hipsters, extreme sportos, families, B-Boys andB-Girls on Saturday (Nov.

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