Mr. Mellow Beach Vibes headlining a big-ass outdoor arena in landlocked Utah? Singer-guitarist Jack Johnson’s 2003 hit On and On (Universal) took the cubicle-friendly blues of Ben Harper on a tropical trip to win over even the most entrenched anti-Parrothead capitalist; the follow-up Thicker Than Water soundtrack then took ’em surfing. Not the final Usana show of the season, but definitely the closer to summer. THURSDAY, Sept. 2 @ Usana Amphitheater, 5400 S. 6200 West, West Valley City, 7 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with G. Love & Special Sauce and Donovan Frankenreiter).
What did New York City’s Sugarhill Gang do after inventing (actually, mainstreaming) the hip-hop genre with 1979’s “Rapper’s Delight”? Not much, but wasn’t that enough? After successfully suing the hell out of Snapple for lifting “Delight,” The Sugarhill Gang have even more to celebrate now. “This is our silver anniversary, 25 years in the business,” Joey Robinson Jr. told The Age. “[But] we’re not coming out there like octogenarians, just getting by on our name and our history.” FRIDAY, Sept. 3 @ Liquid Joe’s, 1249 E. 3300 South, 9:30 p.m. Info: 467-5637.
Finch’s What It Is to Burn (Drive-Thru) was a fizzy-buzzy ’02 amalgam of pop-punk and emo that was nearly as good as all the reviews claimed it was, but drummer Alex Pappas insists that Finch didn’t get where they are by just being cute (which they so are). “There are a lot of bands out there that work really hard and stuff, and the reason they don’t get anywhere is because they suck.” SATURDAY, Sept. 4 @ In the Venue, 579 W. 200 South, 6:30 p.m. All-ages. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with Recover and Counterfit).
“We always speak from our hearts about life as we see it, and life as we would like to see it,” says Blackalicious co-frontman Gift of Gab (Tim Parker). “Nia was forethought, and Blazing Arrow is action.” Nia was the 2000 indie disc he made with partner Chief Xcel (Xavier Mosley), which led to 2002’s Blazing Arrow, an ambitiously funky album and positive hip-hop classic; the sequel is expected not soon enough. SATURDAY, Sept. 4 @ Suede, 1612 Ute Blvd. (Kimball Junction), Park City, 9 p.m. Info: 435-658-2665.
As the bio says, “Southerly broods in the realm of experiment and does not adhere to a typical artsy folk acoustic sound. It is music to be enjoyed at home with headphones on by candlelight, but with company nearby.” Krist Krueger’s Southerly is one of the more sonically and emotionally intriguing indie projects you’ve never heard of, and it’ll likely be a challenge to get it across in a bar—shut up and listen, in other words. SATURDAY, Sept. 4 @ Egos, 668 S. State, 9:30 p.m. Info: 521-5255 (with Gerald Music and On Vibrato).
Straight-up, stripped-down, low-slung, twin-guitar Detroit rock & roll so sweetly caustic, we’ll forgive the fact that frontwoman Wendy Case is a daily newspaper writer (!) by day. The Paybacks’ new Harder & Harder (Get Hip) scorches like Cheap Trick through the Stooges/Stones filter, with Case wailing like Chrissie Hynde gargling whisky and glass—“garage,” it ain’t. “We have little in common with the current crop of garagists coming out of Detroit,” Case told Metro Times. “We’re an ugly little rock band.” SATURDAY, Sept. 4 @ Halo, 60 E. 800 South, 9:30 p.m. Info: 363-4522.
Just like every Ibiza DJ is marketed as “the best in the world,” every Kiss tribute band slapping on the greasepaint touts themselves as being “officially sanctioned” by the Hottest Band In the Land. The keepin’-it-’70s Kiss Army? They’ve performed at no less than 10 Kiss conventions, opening for the demons themselves—and really, at this sad, bloated point in Kisstory, the Army is actually preferable to seeing Gene Simmons’ cottage-cheese thighs again. Well, all-ri-hight! MONDAY, Sept. 6 @ Egos, 668 S. State, 9:30 p.m. Info: 521-5255.
His name is Prince and he is funky/ His name is Prince, the one and only/ He did not come 2 funk around/ Till he gets your daughter, he won’t leave this town/ In the beginning God made the sea/ But on the seventh day He made P/ He was tryin’ 2 rest y’all when He heard the sound/ Sound like a guitar cold gettin’ down/ P tried 2 bust a high note, but he bust a string/ His God was worried until he heard P sing. TUESDAY, Sept. 7 @ Usana Amphitheater, 5400 S. 6200 West, West Valley City, 7 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499.
JOHN BUTLER TRIO
One of the biggest-selling indie bands in Australian chart history, the John Butler Trio are still an unknown quantity in the US of A—something that might change with the release of What You Want (Lava), a soulful-funky-bluesy-folkie EP that, like the previously mentioned Jack Johnson, is sure to raise Ben Harper comparisons, just more on the dusty Outback tip. And to think, you could say you saw ’em back when ... TUESDAY, Sept. 7 @ Egos, 668 S. State, 9:30 p.m. Info: 521-5255.
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND
Oh, the myriad jokes to be had at the expense of the Dave Matthews Band in the one-month-ago wake (ha!) of their tour bus “accidentally” dumping its septic tank into the Chicago River and sliming a boatload of tourists. One of the best: The waste was eventually identified through its emitting of “an unnecessary 20-minute violin solo.” Note to the DMB: Dump all you want into the Salt Lake; no one will notice. WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8 @ Usana Amphitheater, 5400 S. 6200 West, West Valley City, 7 p.m. Tickets: 800-888-8499 (with Jason Mraz).
THE HIGH STRUNG
Any connection to kick-ass retro-activists Mooney Suzuki is a hearty recommendation—Brooklyn’s High Strung have a biggie in Jim Diamond, the producer behind the Mooneys’ Electric Sweat debut (not the newer and limper Alive & Amplified, FYI). Diamond helmed the High Strung’s recent These Are Good Times, which outs the band not as just another garage-rawk throwback, but studious songsmiths with Beatles harmonies and Big Star jangles tucked inside their swaggering rock & roll riffage. WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8 @ Halo, 60 E. 800 South, 9:30 p.m. Info: 363-4522.
Josh Todd, Stereo 360 (Egos, Sept. 9). Los Lonely Boys (Utah State Fair, Sept. 10). Joan Osborne (Red Butte Garden, Sept. 12). Matt Haimovitz (Kilby Court, Sept. 15), Circle Jerks (Velvet Room, Sept. 17). Death Cab for Cutie (University of Utah, Sept. 17). Gibby Haynes (Urban Lounge, Sept. 17). Ministry (Velvet Room, Sept. 19). Black Tape For a Blue Girl (Area 51, Sept. 20). Scissor Sisters (Liquid Joe’s, Sept. 21). Robert Earl Keen (Port O’ Call, Sept. 22). Patti Rothberg (Mo Diggity’s, Sept. 23). Mike Watt (Egos, Sept. 24). The Pixies (Kingsbury Hall, Sept. 28). Fu Manchu (Crazy Goat, Sept. 28).