The time has come. We are officially knee-deep in festival season. On top of that, all of the best shows happen in the springtime, when the weather is best, which means that we won't get a break until we're running on fumes, with our little engines barely puttering into summer. For now, we're going to keep pounding our Emergen-C packets and enjoy the succulent sounds of beer cracking open to a backdrop of Alabama Shakes, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Zombies and many more.
Alabama Shakes, Michael Kiwanuka, Sam Doores, Riley Downing Tuesday, March 12, at Palladium Ballroom, $30 Originally known as The Shakes, the band now known as The Alabama Shakes came roaring into public consciousness with the release of their self-titled four-song EP in 2011. The strength of that release garnered them attention from numerous critics and earned them a spot at that year's CMJ. From CMJ on, it was just a matter of whether there was any ceiling for the band, and currently it seems as if there isn't. 2012 saw them perform on David Letterman's birthday show, release their first full-length album, Boy & Girls, embark on a North American tour, appear at numerous festivals and earn a Grammy nomination. It's no wonder their show at the Palladium Ballroom is sold out. Those lucky enough to be in attendance on Tuesday will be treated to some of the best soulful Southern rock being made today. -- Jaime-Paul Falcon
Major Lazer Monday, March 11, at House of Blues, $25 Laser lights and smoke machines galore will accompany the eclectic dance beats of beat master DJ Diplo this spring. Expect to hear material from his February release, Free the Universe. If you have a condition, I'd say you should sit this one out. -- Rachel Watts
They Might Be Giants, Moon Hooch Tuesday, March 12, at House of Blues, $23-$45 Those who might mislabel They Might Be Giants as a novelty act should give these guys another listen. For more than three decades, John Flansburgh and John Linnell have led some form of TMBG. In that time, the duo has had one album (1990's Flood) go platinum and won two Grammy awards. Not too bad for two guys who started off making music in a basement with a drum machine. What's even more impressive is the band's success in two distinct genres: alternative rock and children's music. And although it's sometimes difficult to tell exactly which category one They Might Be Giants song might belong in, chances are it's always going to have a catchy chorus and beautifully nerdy lyrics. -- Darryl Smyers
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Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band, Lake Street Dive Wednesday, March 13, at Granada Theater, $24-$41 There have been some really great albums recorded in the wake of an artist's divorce. Tom Petty's Echo and last year's stellar Voyageur by Kathleen Edwards are but two examples. It's safe to assume that Josh Ritter's upcoming LP, The Beast in its Tracks, will join that sad but fine group. Interestingly enough, Ritter doesn't seem so terribly sad on this album. The song that beautifully captures the mixed feelings that come with life following a divorce is "New Lover." In a true and believable way, Ritter sings, "I've got a new lover now, I hope you have a lover, too," just before stating that he would be just fine if she wasn't totally happy with life at that point, either. The sound is positive and the message is unflinchingly real. Ritter has long been a master of conveying the complex in a package that's tremendously pleasing and accessible. Divorce will likely not suppress his smile when he takes the Granada stage. It sure as hell didn't keep him from recording a great record. -- Kelly Dearmore
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Foxygen, Wampire Tuesday, March 12, at Dada, $12/$14 After the end of New Zealand's the Mint Chicks around 2006, Oregonian Ruban Nielson almost decided to stop playing music. Thankfully, a few demos made in his basement convinced Nielson to stay in the game, albeit in a less aggressive manner. With Unknown Mortal Orchestra (basically Nielson and a rotating cast of players), he dove headfirst into a playful psychedelia that is miles away from his former punk roar. UMO's recently released sophomore effort, the cleverly titled II, finds Nielson moving even farther from his noisy roots. Sounding like a teenager who finally discovered what he is good at, Nielson sounds content and collected as he dishes out such tastefully warped and mellow items as "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)" and "So Good at Being in Trouble." -- Darryl Smyers
Muse, Dead Sara Wednesday, March 13, at American Airlines Center, $36.50-$61.50 Well, we all knew it was coming. After October's The 2nd Law dropped, and, of course, after being unable to escape the "Madness" single no matter how far from civilization one ventured, we all knew it was only a matter of time before the English space rockers hit the dusty trail. Here they are. See them (and their apparently spectacular light shows) with hard rock opener Dead Sara this spring. It might even cure that whole song-stuck-in-the-head ailment you've been having. -- Rachel Watts
The Zombies Wednesday, March 13, at The Kessler Theater, $20-$50 The first record I ever bought with my own money (earned sacking groceries) was "She's Not There," the debut song of The Zombies. The combination of singer Colin Blunstone's unique soft vocal and Rod Argent's zippy organ solo began a love affair with understated performances that continues today. They followed those initial singles with the uber-classic "Time of the Season." Featuring a nimble organ solo that sounds fresh still, it cemented the group's place in the rock music canon. The band broke up shortly after and Argent and guitarist Chris White formed the rock band Argent. The band reformed with Blunstone a while back, put out a decent album a few years ago and tours pretty regularly. This is classic rock in the best sense of the word, and it's fitting for The Kessler. -- Doug Davis