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Music Critics' Picks: The Bad Things, Sporty Lee, Nate Jackson's Super Funny Comedy Show, Cat Power

Sept. 27-Oct. 1: Live music in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

Cat Power / photo credit: Stefano Giovannini

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The Bad Things are born out of cabaret and drink. A motley crew, made up of urchins and drunkards, the Bad Things bring theatricality and tongue-in-cheek fatalism to a variety of genres. Taking cues from the likes of Tom Waits and the Pogues, the band piles accordions, mandolins, singing saws, upright bass and all manner of sqeezeboxes onto their stage, inciting polka riots and rowdy singalongs in their audiences. Really, when all is said and done, the Bad Things are perversely dedicated to creating a jubilant, boozy environment. They're the kind of band that could write a song called "The End of the World Polka" and have it be a sort of end-times dance of the damned, as opposed to the dirge you might expect. The Bad Things, if wiped off the face of the earth, would like to go out swinging. {REV. ADAM MCKINNEY}

THE BAD THINGS, w/ Victoria Renee, Middlewav, 8 p.m., Bob's Java Jive, 2102 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, $5, 253.475.9843


Sporty Lee's recent album, Allotropes, is an immense-sounding record. The moniker of Jason Heminger, Sporty Lee is an impeccable writer of alternative folk-pop, blending elements of earnest stadium rock and quiet moments of reflection. Live, Sporty Lee disposes of the lush instrumentation present of Allotropes, leaving him bare with an acoustic guitar or a piano. Still, that structure and potential remains evident, which is a terrific indication of his ability to compose stunningly effective songs. There's very little sign of the difficulties that can befall singer-songwriters - no aimless journaling, no sacrificing melody for forced emoting, always remaining present instead of falling prey to naval-gazing. No, Sporty Lee has a sure hand, bringing a quiet confidence and a compelling voice to the landscape of solo folkies. {REV. AM}

SPORTY LEE, w/ Smile for the Sky, Craig Salt Peters Band, Richie Dagger's Crime, 8 p.m., Half Pint Pizza Pub, 2710 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, no cover, 253.272.2531


The Puget Sound's award-winning funny person is back in T-town. Nate Jackson returns with a double-header of his Super Funny Comedy Show at Keys On Main.  Two comedy shows in one night is a nice twist. Tiffany Haddish (The Arsenio Hall Show, Def Comedy Jam) and Shawn Harvey (Bad Boys of Comedy) will headline the shows, which have received rave reviews since Jackson began hosting and producing them a few years back. The show will be flanked by SFCS resident soundman DJ Tu and a special performance by Grammy nominated singer/songwriter William Jordan. {JOSE GUTIERREZ}

NATE JACKSON'S SUPER FUNNY COMEDY SHOW, w/ Tiffany Haddish, Shawn Harvey, William Jordan, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Keys On Main, 1003 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, $15-$20,


Her friends and family may call her Chan Marshall, but the music-loving world knows her better as singer-songwriter (and actor and model) Cat Power. I first encountered Power opening for Liz Phair in the mid-'90s, then crushed on her 2003 album You Are Free. I even followed her excursion into Memphis soul, starting with a wonderful album of original material, The Greatest. Then, it seems, touring and booze got the better of her, and stories of bizarre concert behavior started dogging her career. It seemed for a while she was destined to burn out and fade away. As luck would have it, though, Power was able to kick that bottle. As a result, perhaps, her fascination with Delta blues gave way to more personal, vital, even humorous material on Sun, her latest collection. It'd be hard to imagine a more bracing anthem, for example, than "Human Being," which insists, "You got a right to scream when they don't want you to speak." Well, get ready to scream, Oly Sun-worshipers! Cat Power has returned from the blues. {CHRISTIAN CARVAJAL}

CAT POWER, 8 p.m., Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia, $25, 360.754.6670

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