LIVE: Music Picks, Feb 23-March 1 | Music Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

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LIVE: Music Picks, Feb 23-March 1

Pharoahe Monch, Stef Chura, Stevie Nicks

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THURSDAY 2.23
Pharoahe Monch, Ras Kass, El Gant

Known for their clever rhyme schemes and a knack for choosing compelling beats, the MCs on this bill represent three of underground hip-hop's most overlooked but relevant artists. Pharoahe Monch started his career with Prince Po as a beatboxer in the alt-rap group Organized Konfusion. As a solo MC, Monch has four more servings of top-shelf hip-hop, including his best work, PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (W.A.R. Media, 2014). Ras Kass comes from his own hip-hop supergroup, The HRSMN (with Canibus, Killah Priest and Kurupt), but also keeps busy with solo records like Intellectual Property: SOI2 (That's Hip Hop, 2016) and Blasphemy (Mello Music Group, 2014), his highly regarded collaboration with Apollo Brown (which also features a cameo by Monch). El Gant might be unknown to casual fans, but the hungry New York rapper has been ripping beats since 2001 while working with Kool Keith, The Beatnuts and Masta Ace. Check out Beast Academy (Diamond Media 360/Rule by Secrecy, 2014) and catch up. (Keith L. McDonald) Metro Music Hall, 615 W. 100 South, 8 p.m., $20 presale, $25 day of show, 21+, metromusichall.com

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FRIDAY 2.24
Stef Chura, Primitive Programme, Sally Yoo
Detroit upstart Stef Chura is a musical chameleon able to channel various melodious voices, from Liz Phair to Natalie Merchant to Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino. Her debut album, Messes (Urinal Cake), takes her lyrical flights on guitar-fueled trajectories. She asks, "Why can't I watch you in slow motion?" and it's a statement of regret at the hectic pace of human interaction, but her own music matches that in an up-tempo, indie-rock kind of way. On "Human Being," she is reminiscent of Cat Power/Chan Marshall: "Someday, they're gonna know/ that you're a real human being." Real honest-to-goodness vulnerability in pop music—what a concept. (Brian Staker) Diabolical Records, 238 S. Edison St., 7 p.m., $5, facebook.com/diabolicalslc

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SATURDAY 2.25
Stevie Nicks, The Pretender
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Everyone has a crush on Stevie Nicks. That's not to diminish anyone's closely held preferences, but come on; it's Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, one of the coolest bands in history. Asexuals, eunuchs, monks, nuns, people in a persistent vegetative state—even rocks feel somethin' when she's floating around the stage, letting all that taffeta or whatever billow out behind her while singing in that rasp of hers about gypsies, dreams, witches, landslides, draggin' hearts around and standing back. She has this mysterious, otherworldly vibe, like she's possessed of real magic (even if it's the ability to do so much coke—as her 2015 authorized biography related—that it literally burned a hole in her nose, yet ultimately kick the habit). She's known for being as cool as you'd hope she'd be—down-to-Earth, kind to fans, and she's even made custom mixes on iPods for wounded soldiers. She deserves our love. As for The Pretenders, their new album Alone (featurin' some dude named Dan Auerbach) alludes to the fact that the band is really just frontlady Chrissie Hynde. She alright, too. (Randy Harward) Vivint Smart Home Arena, 301 W. South Temple, 7 p.m., $49-$147, uconcerts.com

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SATURDAY 2.25
Rebelution, Passafire

The things you learn in college: how to be out on your own, to accept newfound responsibility, new skills and what it takes to form a band. Well, that last bit isn't always acquired, but for Rebelution and Passafire, higher education made music possible. The members of Rebelution met at the University of California Santa Barbara, while Passafire came together at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Nowadays, both bands (or at least their parents) have seen their tuition transformed into a valuable investment. Of their five releases in the past 10 years, Rebelution's Falling Into Place (Easy Star) scored a 2017 Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album, while their debut effort earned an iTunes Editors' Choice award for Best Reggae Album of 2007. Passafire can also claim kudos, including reaching No. 1 on Billboard's Reggae Albums chart with Start From Scratch (Flame Guy, 2011) and Vines (Easy Star, 2015). See, kids—college counts! (Lee Zimmerman) Park City Live, 427 Main, 8 p.m., $32.50-$60, 21+, parkcitylive.net

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MONDAY 2.27
Alejandro Escovedo, Jesse Malin

Alejandro Escovedo, as a chief architect of insurgent Americana, continues to further the cause by cutting a swath though both rock and roots, deliberately defying the norms. Sometimes strident, always unrepentant, he resides among the upper echelon of Austin's elite, releasing records that foster ongoing devotion from his faithful followers. Consequently, it's little surprise that Escovedo looked to the past with his most recent effort, Burn Something Beautiful (Fantasy, 2016), an album that nods back to his early punk efforts in The Nuns and Rank and File, and is co-written and produced with Scott McCaughey (of The Young Fresh Fellows and The Minus 5) and Peter Buck (of R.E.M.). Opener Jesse Malin draws from the same wellspring, having initiated his career at 12, when he fronted the hardcore band Heart Attack, going on to found glam-punk outfit D Generation. While his solo work is closer to the blue-collar anthems of Springsteen and Mellencamp, a new album from D Generation (Nothing Is Anywhere, Bastard Basement, 2016), proves he's still a punk. (LZ) The State Room, 638 S. State, 8 p.m., $22, 21+, thestateroomslc.com

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MONDAY 2.27
Crocodiles, AJ Davila, Fossil Arms, DJ Cesar Reyes

Seattle noise-pop duo Crocodiles find themselves in the rarified position of being among today's so-called bands to watch—but to their credit, they avoid a comfortable niche. After veering from psychedelia to progressive rock, their sixth album—aptly titled Dreamless—finds them indulging in synthesizers and sensuality, with lush keyboards and a broader sonic expanse. Title aside, the album is both daring and dream-like. Opening act AJ Davila makes a distinctive statement all his own. While most people equate Latin music with Santana, Shakira and Menudo, Davila's sound blends grunge, garage, punk and '80s pop. Taking a break from his day job with namesake band Davila 666, he offered a solo debut, Terror Amor (Nacional, 2014), featuring appearances by members of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and The Black Lips. His latest, Beibi, is on the Burger label. Locals Fossil Arms and DJ Cesar Reyes (Super 78) open. (LZ) The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 8 p.m., $10 presale, $12 day of show, 21+, theurbanloungeslc.com

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TUESDAY 2.28
Amigo the Devil

He looks like a chubby Coffin Joe—and makes fun of this with beer koozies that say, "Praise the Lard." Other merch in his online store at amigothedevil.com includes a fetal mandible ($95, sold out), an articulated human foot ($260, sold out) and a 1978 solid brass Shriners belt buckle (only $10, but ... sold out). It figures, then, that Danny Kiranos' chosen sound is "murderfolk" and he has songs about serials killers Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer ("Dahmer Goes Hollywood") and a Carl Panzram T-shirt that says, "I hate all the fucking human race. I get a kick out of murdering people" (that's sold out, too). What you don't get from this is how sweet the guy can be, evil aside, and how—absent a crossroads deal co-signed "Ol' Scratch"—he can write these excellent folk-Americana songs where bad people do bad things and it seems kinda normal, to the point that you crave, with an ancient and insatiable hunger, the love described in the banjo-and-Theremin-fueled "Hell and You": I'd rot in hell with you/ if you just asked me to/ I love the shitty things we do together/ Live with me in this sin forever./ Hell and you/ I know you want it, too/ I say you take the shot/ see this chance/ feel the fire/ and let me/ have this/ dance with you. Listen to his three EPs (2010's Manimals, 2013's Diggers and 2015's Decompositions) and you'll see why all of his merch is sold out—even the CDs. In fact, the only thing you can still buy is a ticket to this show. So get one. (RH) Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 7 p.m., $10, kilbycourt.com

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