Friday, July 21

Train, Mat Kearney, Koka Booth Amphitheatre

It’s commonly told that “Drops of Jupiter,” the song Train traded in for a Grammy in 2004, was swiped from their former almost-famous tourmates Old Pike. That’s only the melody, though: The blame for the lyrics–“Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken?”–rests solely with the San Francisco band, who have descended into a Journey-sized pit of banality since their promising, guitar-finessed debut. Let’s hope the same doesn’t happen to Nashville’s Mat Kearney, who sounds like David Bazan fronting Phantom Planet, but in a good way. $30-$50/ 8 p.m. –GC

J. Chris Smith & Marc E. Smith, Bickett Gallery

Lead singer J. Chris and guitarist Marc E. of Patty Hurst Shifter lose the jangly electric guitar and raw collective energy that defines their music to create a softer, sound, like a romantic reverie with a rough pinch of twang. Leah Manger opens. $6/ 8:30 p.m. –KJ

Proof, DMVB, Heads on Sticks, Kings

Danny Vaughn, Melvyn Brown, Viswas Chitnis, Ben Smith–or, more functionally, DMVB–will make a half-dozen unexpected turns in the course of one set, cutting from drum-skittering, mathy melodies (the Tortoise side of Battles) to hard-driving, sweaty guitar rock (the West Minneapolis side of Raleigh) with five-second song breaks. Post-graduate school and childbirth, Proof is back to high volumes and headlining. David Mueller’s Heads on Sticks opens. 10 p.m. –GC

Wolverines, Chaz’s Bull City Records

The last time I saw Greensboro-Raleigh duo Wolverines, guitarist Victor Devlin was barefoot in a smelly gymnasium, screaming his lungs out into a microphone and practically ripping the strings off of his Squire, while drummer Brandon Smith filled the whole place with cymbal crashes and semi-automatic snareshots. Pretty standard for these guys. Borrowing catharsis from first-wave screamo acts like Saetia or Joshua Fit For Battle, Wolverines are one of the most intense bands the Triangle/Triad has to offer. Donations/9 p.m. –RM

The Honored Guests, Local 506

In a logical world, The Honored Guests and not Keane would be wearing the mantle of The Next Coldplay, especially since their new album, Tastes Change, casts both the last Coldplay and Keane records in an appropriately sallow light. Tastes Change is one of the best pop records you will hear this year, glowing with Flaming Lips swells one moment and slinking with The Velvet’s asphalt angst the next. They wrap up weeks of touring behind it at 506, with pals Dirty5Thirty, Cheap Seats and Little Light opening. $6/9 p.m. –GC

Saturday, July 22

Butch Walker, Moore Square Park

Former front man of pop-rock trio Marvelous Three, Butch Walker became a radio-darling in the late ’90s with his band’s hit single “Freak of the Week.” Present-day Butch is a bit older and a bit wiser; cultivating a semi-successful solo career and gaining popularity as a producer has taught him the ins and outs of composing trendy rock ‘n’ roll balladry. Thus in 2006, Butch brings us an album reminiscent of his experience with fame, harping on the seedy underbelly of L.A. over ’70s-inspired guitar riffs. Along for the ride comes his entourage of musical mavens the Let’s -Go-Out-Tonites, providing the backbone to Butch’s lyrical grandeur. Dillon Fence, Angie Aparo, Virginia Coalition and As Fast As take the stage first. Free/ 2 p.m. –KJ

Big City Reverie, Kings

Ever heard that song by R&B newbie T-Pain professing his love for a pole dancer? Raleigh rock trio Big City Reverie make their own ode to the dancing professional with an easygoing alt-rock substitute tune, referencing their admiration for a stripper “with a heart of gold.” Strippers aside, this group produces some heavily guitar-laden classic power-pop, sweet melodies blended with crunchy power chord fuzz overlaid with pseudo-sentimental lyrics. 10 p.m. –KJ

Rob Watson, The Pour House

Rob Watson possesses a marvel of a (falsetto-equipped) voice that enables him to be whatever his songs or the setting call for, be it a modern-rock radio-ready hero, a costumed crusader, a neo-soulster or a country preacher. He’ll have the band with him for this outing, so expect some of everything. Jason Adamo and Mike Garrigan’s band MG4 are the openers. $6/10 p.m. –RC

Steep Canyon Rangers, Cat’s Cradle

Although you might run into the Steep Canyon Rangers at a jam band festival, they won’t be following the herd. “I don’t see us ever getting up there and playing any 15-minute-long jam songs,” says banjoist Graham Sharp. They do wander a bit outside the lines on their latest release, One Dime at a Time, covering Robbie Robertson’s “Evangeline,” but mostly follow the straight and narrow confines of classic high and lonesome. $10/9:30 p.m. –GB

Tuesday, July 25

Bowling For Soup, Cat’s Cradle

They might be a group of mindless diet-punk jokesters (with a 450 lb. guitarist and a fluke Grammy nomination), but Denton, Texas four-piece Bowling For Soup has performed two of this decade’s best pop songs. 2004’s “Almost” is a goofy lament about lost chances, slung up by sugar-sweet vocal layering and a Warped pit pogo bounce. 2005’s “1985” works about the same, but singer Jaret Reddick pines for a lost decade instead. No, it ain’t brilliant stuff, but it’s a lot more fun than another Lit single. $13-$15/ 7 p.m. –RM

Annuals, Vibrant Green, Local 506

If the re-recorded songs on Annuals’ MySpace page are any indication, the Raleigh-Chapel Hill six piece’s upcoming Ace Fu debut is going to be a gigantic, wonderful animal filled with dreamy sambas, forest romps and everything in between. Unfortunately, we’ll all have to wait until October to hear it, as the record’s release date just got bumped back. Vibrant Green, on the other hand, recently unveiled a long-awaited record of nervous ticks and anxious pop on Trekky. Here, the two converge. $7/8:30 p.m. –RM