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Umphrey’s McGee
Photo: C Taylor Crothers
Umphrey’s McGee

Revolution Hall, Thursday

Would you ever dare listen to the soundtrack of Cirque Du Soleil without being able to watch the flying people and spinning colors? Well, no, which is why we can’t really tell you about the experience of an Umphrey’s McGee album. You’re only eavesdropping on the proggy, rockish jam band until you witness their stage presentation; only then do you become a part of the conversation. Fans either adopt or abandon the concept that Umphrey’s is heir to the Phish throne, but considering the band’s improv-heavy jams, open-taping policy and a guy who plays the Moog synthesizer, that comparison has some warrant. They’ll be waiting to “floor the audience” at Revolution Hall tonight, so perhaps you’ll have a listen to one of their jammy-jam albums—just know the whole cataclysmic musical picture awaits on stage. (April 10, 8 PM, $25, 425 River St., Albany, 274-0553)



Sunburned Hand of the Man

Saratoga County Arts Council, Saturday

The folks at the Saratoga County Arts Council are calling this Saturday’s live performance by Sunburned Hand of the Man “one of the most unusual, original, eye- opening, mind-expanding takes on music” to hit our area. Who are we to argue? Sunburned Hand, an offshoot of ’90s Boston punk band Shit Spangled Banner (they clearly have a way with names), are indeed a clusterfuck of musical styles and concepts—although if you were to judge them solely by “Leather Diaper Black Banana,” the one track on their MySpace profile, you might get the impression that they’re simply a toilet-humor-themed thrash-metal act. But they have so much more to offer, including dozens of self-released albums (and last year’s Z, for Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace label). Screw explanation: Experience the madness firsthand this Saturday at the Saratoga Arts Center. Albany’s Century Plants open the show. (April 12, 8 PM, $5, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 584-4132)

Saul Williams, Dragons of Zynth

Iron Horse Music Hall, Saturday

If you’ve been following the DRM-free music movement recently, you already know that poet-actor-musician Saul Williams’ latest record, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, was released for free online a few months back in another Trent Reznor-related attempt to subvert the machinations of the music industry. And, while not nearly as commercially successful as Reznor’s own recent experiment (dude made almost $2 million in one week?!), Williams’ record reached a lot of people who otherwise would have skipped right by it. So it was successful, then, right? We’ll see when the lyrical prince holds court at the Iron Horse this week, where he’ll do battle with New York-based psych-prog-pop act Dragons of Zynth. (April 12, 10 PM, $18, 20 Center St., Northampton, Mass., 413-584-0610)

Ben Jelen

Red Square, Tuesday

Musicians rarely are wont to type cast themselves; ask the typical heavy-metal drummer what his/her influences are and you’re bound to hear something like, “I’m really into jazz.” But Ben Jelen is here to turn all that on its head with his second full-length disc, Ex-Sensitive. That’s right: A sensitive singer-songwriter type has gone and advertised his whole shtick, right there in the title. Lucky for Jelen (rhymes with “yellin’”), his music transcends the stock “she left me and I’m so sad” fare that so many of his ilk tend to rely on; his lyrics instead tend to look a bit deeper, at the human condition and whatnot. And he’s environmentally sensitive, too: His newly formed Ben Jelen Foundation is meant to raise money and awareness for green causes. Buffalo-based band Standard of Living share Tuesday’s bill. (April 15, 8 PM, $7, 388 Broadway, Albany, 465-0444)

The Used, Straylight Run

Northern Lights, Tuesday

Hair-dyed and pierced high-school kids have worshipped these bands for several years now, and while some of those kids have blossomed into college students, they still hold those emotionally poignant lyrics dear, tattooed on their jeans, wrists, and IM away-statuses. The Used and Straylight Run feature musical highlights like screaming choruses and piano-laced intros—they don’t have much in the way of dance-party music, but with boisterous guitar riffs and lyrical content such as “My window pane was leaking glass/Cut my arm/Then you laughed/I jumped from just one story high/And now I’m stuck here till I die,” these bands will sure make you feel like doing something. There is no (old) age limit on Tuesday’s show, but this Rockstar Energy Drink-sponsored tour is certainly calling to the younger masses—there’s a hefty price discount for those presenting student IDs. (April 15, 8 PM, $32, $25 with student ID, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)

Also Noted
State Radio

Get ready for some all-star noodling when SANTANA bring their black magic to the Times Union Center tonight (Thursday); the DEREK TRUCKS BAND will open (7 PM, $55-$75, 800-30-EVENT). . . . The dead (as in deceased, not grateful) take center stage this weekend, with a feature film presentation and acoustic tribute to late Clash frontman Joe Strummer at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio on Friday (7 PM, $6, 465-5233 ext. 4), followed on Saturday at the Ale House with a tribute to the Day the Music Died, featuring the music of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, as performed by JOHNNY RABB AND THE JAILHOUSE ROCKERS and the TICHY BOYS (9 PM, $5, 272-9740). . . . Heh heh, he said “boob”: Retardedly popular lite-jazz crooner MICHAEL BUBLÉ spreads his essence at the Times Union Center on Saturday (8 PM, $50.50-$80.50, 800-30-EVENT). . . . PUBLIC ACCESS play their last show ever—and release a new CD!—Saturday at Valentine’s (8 PM, $7, 432-6572). . . . Fast-with-the-fingers guitarist LEO KOTTKE performs at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Saturday (8 PM, $26-$29, 273-0038). . . . Grammy-winning klezmer group the KLEZMATICS perform their new arrangements of Woody Guthrie tunes and lyrics at the Clark Art Institute on Saturday (8 PM, $24, 413-458-0524). . . . On Sunday, catch an acoustic—no, really!—set from longtime Misfits frontman MICHALE GRAVES at the Skyline; UPON ARRIVAL and the RED LIONS open (7:30 PM, $5, 472-8150). . . . New York City power-poppers MINK return to the area for a show at Jack Rabbit Slims Sunday night; ASTRONAUTS and STUCK ON STUPID are also on the bill (7 PM, $5, 505-5769). . . . 2008 is the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese astrological calendar, but not according to Boston-based rock trio STATE RADIO; they’ll support their latest disc, Year of the Crow, at Revolution Hall this Wednesday (8 PM, $12, 274-0553).

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