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Double feature music show

Two different shows, with four different bands, make for a memorable night at The Valley

Wild Powwers join three other bands for an expertly curated double feature at The Valley. Photo credit: Ballard Vox

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In High Fidelity, the socially clueless -- but culturally knowledgeable and smug -- music nerd, Rob, muses on the "subtle art" that goes into crafting the perfect mix tape. "You gotta kick it off with a killer, to grab attention, and then you gotta take it up a notch, but you don't want to blow your wad, so you gotta take it down a notch," Rob says. "There are a lot of rules."

So, too, is the case with putting together a balanced and fulfilling live show, throwing together several bands that either mesh well, stylistically, or daringly play at odd angles with each other. Having booked a few shows in my time, I'm of the opinion that a night of music need not highlight bands that share most every molecule of artistic expression; some of the best shows I've ever attended were populated by a ramshackle assembly of bands with disparate sounds and vibes, sharing only an exceedingly high level of quality and passion.

More important is the sense of flow that the show carries. Think of it another way: sitting down at a drive-in for a late-night double feature of Gremlins 2 and Die Hard, which would prefer to watch second? No wrong answers (OK, maybe one wrong answer).

Thursday, May 17, The Valley will be hosting two shows, billing the whole shindig as a double feature. Starting at 7 p.m., we have the early show, featuring Silver Dollars and King Ropes. The late show, starting at 9 p.m., stars Constant Lovers and Wild Powwers. In my opinion, this is the correct order for this night to go, but to find out why, let's take a look at these four fantastic bands.

Silver Dollars is a local troupe of Tacoma ringers playing music that recalls the warm, sun-dappled radio country of the ‘70s, with little bits of outlaw sprinkled through. Theirs is a sound that's lush and inviting, led by Colin Scott Reynolds' honeyed vocals. Montana-based outfit King Ropes rounds out the first half of this double feature, and they ramp up the intensity just a bit, without pushing things too far into a territory that wouldn't be balanced out by Silver Dollars. Favoring more of a psychedelic approach to folk and garage rock, King Ropes' sonic palette is one of restless movement. Calling to mind acts like Neil Young, the Flaming Lips, Kurt Vile, and the Pixies, King Ropes cover a lot of ground in a deceptively elegant way. Whether drowning in reverb or reveling in crashing guitar strikes, this is a band that not only answers the call of Silver Dollars, but sets up the cacophony of the show to come.

Show number two features two Seattle bands that slash and burn with a gripping energy. Constant Lovers are a study in discordant melody and confrontational attitude. Their music churns and roils with unease, knocking your ears around in a perpetual mosh pit. The bass and drums are as insistent as the guitars are engines of torrential squalls. A frantic forward motion drives their songs, with lockstep rhythms and calamitous breakdowns lending an unpredictable edge. Riotous, mercilessly pummeled drums make up the rigid backbone of Wild Powwers, a trio that balances Pacific Northwest grit and a tuneful buoyancy.

Grunge, punk, slacker f@#*-offs, undeniable hooks -- these are the lifeblood of Wild Powwers. Together with Constant Lovers, they round off a night that reads like an expertly curated mix tape, with peaks and valleys and unexpected diversions that will guide you through to the very end. This is a double feature that feels like it has a little something for everybody, and maybe a little something else to keep the doubters guessing.

DOUBLE FEATURE MUSIC SHOW, Silver Dollars and King Ropes, 7 p.m.; Constant Lovers and Wild Powwers, 9 p.m., Thursday, May 17, $5 suggested donation, The Valley, 1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, 253.248.4265,

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