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Silversun Pickups

It’s probably safe to say that “indie rock” wouldn’t be the big, hairy deal it is today had a bunch of folks not grown tired of the status quo, a couple decades back, and forged some “alternative.” Twenty-five years ago, a few of these very folks decided to start an independent radio station in Manchester, Vt., and WEQX began broadcasting the “real alternative” rock all across the Hudson Valley. On Sunday, the station celebrates its birthday with a show featuring indie-buzz band Silversun Pickups, who, no doubt, owe a debt of gratitude to those alt-rock pioneers.

As soon as their debut Carnavas dropped in 2006, people started comparing Silversun Pickups to the Smashing Pumpkins, so, by now, they might be getting a little wary of the analogy (not that it’s unflattering). With this year’s follow-up, Swoon, they made a strong case that My Bloody Valentine have been at least as influential.

Helping hang streamers and blow up balloons will be rising garage rockers Cage the Elephant and Australian indie-pop duo An Horse.

Silversun Pickups play Northern Lights (1208 Route 146, Clifton Park) on Sunday (Oct. 18) at 7 PM. Tickets are $25. Call 371-0012 for more info.

William Fritz

Daniel Teige and Volkmar Klien

When EMPAC first opened its doors last fall, The New York Times declared the venue a “technological pleasure dome for the mind and senses . . . dedicated to the marriage of art and science.” Within that pleasure dome, the intimate Studio 1 provides an acoustically honed, 360-degree “aural environment” featuring 36 loudspeakers surrounding the listening space.

One would imagine it, perhaps, as the perfect sonic playground for cutting-edge European sound designers with names like Volkmar. And one would be right.

This weekend, German sonic artist Daniel Teige and Austrian composer Volkmar Klien will conclude their EMPAC residencies with two performances of works created or adapted specifically for Studio 1. No doubt these multichannel sound collages defy description, so head to EMPAC and experience them for yourselves.

Daniel Teige and Volkmar Klien will perform their exclusive works at the area’s favorite state-of-the-art Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (Studio 1, 110 8th St., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy) tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday (Oct. 16-17) at 8 PM. Tickets are $15, $10 for seniors, students, RPI faculty and staff and $5 for RPI students. For more info, call the EMPAC box office at 276-3921.

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers

You know the iconic funnyman as so many things: actor, author, playwright, producer, comedian, composer, serial Saturday Night Live host, even juggler.

But in the world of bluegrass, Steve Martin is renowned for something else entirely. He is a self-taught banjo-pluckin’ master of clawhammer. It might sound like the start of a standup bit, but clawhammer is a tricky five-finger picking technique, and Martin’s nimble fingers have earned him the respect (and opportunity to record with) the likes of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, Vince Gill and Dolly Parton.

His new album, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo topped Billboard’s bluegrass charts for months this year; The New York Times called it “a charming and accomplished effort.”

So, when Martin comes to Troy this week, expect banjo, not bunny ears. And while you’re guaranteed at least a bit of absurdist banter, Martin takes his music very seriously.

In fact, the liner notes to The Crow find the man who declared on the stand-up stage that “you can’t play a sad song on the banjo” waxing poetic about the instrument’s capacity for expressing “inexplicable sadness.”

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers bring their twang, melody and melancholy to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (2nd and State streets, Troy) on Tuesday (Oct. 20) at 8 PM. Tickets range from $65 to $110. For more info, or to purchase tickets, call 273-0038.

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