We’re referring, of course, to the legendary new wave band, formed in 1968 by brothers Ron and Russell Mael—and NOT to the sugary, orange malt liquor of the same name, which was cool for roughly 1/20 of the time only, and whose “reinvention” (aka, caffeine removal) paled in comparison to the band’s myriad changes. Between 1968 and now, Sparks recreated themselves countless times, transforming from the goofballs behind glammy hit “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us” to the electro-pop masters behind “When I’m With You” and “Cool Places” to the long-concept auteurs behind 2009’s The Seduction of Ingmar Berman. They ruled because they were witty and quirky, and never let their act get stale; even now in their 60s, they continue to forge ahead, touring for the very first time as a duo while most from their generation choose to swaddle themselves with large backing bands. Live, the brothers are known for their divergent stage show: Russell wails, flails, and flirts, while Ron remains stoic, sedentary and scowl-y. They may be old, but they still bring it—UNLIKE the sugar-y, orange malt.
8:00 at The Troc, 1003 Arch St., $25–$27. Tickets available here.
Friday, April 26: The Dillinger Escape Plan at Union Transfer
Jersey “mathcore” band The Dillinger Escape Plan boast a long history of ferocity and shredding, and their signature blend of complex rhythms with morbidly sweet melodies and unabashed aggression has become something of a hardcore standard. Throughout the years, we’ve watched them rock, rile, and (we’re almost certain) terrify audiences with their precision and antics, whether taking the stage at stinky DIY spots like Stalag 13 or large stadiums while on tour with AFI or Thursday. We’ve seen them pitch audiences into darkness, only to experiment with fireworks and strobes; we’ve watched front man Greg Puciano climb onto the ceiling rafters and invite anarchy on stage. Yet we keep coming back for more, and this Friday, will indulge maniacal riffs yet again as the band stops by Union Transfer in support of their punishing fifth record, One of Us Is the Killer. Before you go: check out the trailer for Killer + get ready to rage. Also note the early start time—this jawn will end by 10:30, to make way for a sold-out Flying Lotus show following. We don’t envy whoever gets stuck mopping the blood off the floor in between.
6:45 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., $20. Tickets available here.
Saturday, April 27: The Fantastic Imagination at Kung Fu Necktie
The Fantastic Imagination is a new project from members of local group A Sunny Day in Glasgow, a band known for its dreamy shoegaze melodies and lush, experimental soundscapes. The Fantastic Imagination is likewise lush and dreamy, although their self-described “psychedelic fantasy jams” are driven more by acoustic arrangements, and an overriding sense of fun.So far, they’ve released just one single—the affecting “It Begins” from forthcoming EP Demoed to Joy—and made their live debut just last month. Still, we’re betting on these guys to take off, based on the strength of their single, and this excellent, silly vid from our friends at Bands in the Backyard Philly. Any band harnessing the power of magical wizards is ok by us.
11:00 at Kung Fu Necktie, 1129 N. Front St., $8. Tickets available at the door.
Tuesday, April 30: Pattern Is Movement “Tuesday Tune Out” New Record Screening at PhilaMOCA
In the past five years since the release of the last Pattern Is Movement record, the critically acclaimed + quirkily rousing All Together— duo Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward have been busy. Ward’s been on the road, drumming for Strands of Oak—and the pair’s been hard at work on their yet-unnamed fifth LP, due out this fall. This Tuesday, they’ll provide fans a glimpse into their journey so far, with a unique listening party/ film screening, that aims (in their words) to reveal “the experiments, the failures, the epiphanies, and the convergence of art forms” that led to its creation. They’ll accomplish this by synching tracks from the record with scenes from Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood—an intense, moody flick whose stunning visuals should provide the perfect emotional backdrop for the record’s sound. Afterwards, the band will host a short Q&A along with lead engineer David Downham—and answer fan questions about their new direction. Did we mention it’s free, and there will be pizza from Pizza Brain? As if you needed further convincing. Before you go: Check out the event trailer and mentally prep.