Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven
Camper Van Beethoven wedged folk and roots music (and a bit of world music, too) into post-punk long before anyone uttered the term alt-country. When that band called it a day, frontman David Lowery formed Cracker. In 1999, Camper Van Beethoven re-formed and since that time, both bands have remained active, often sharing the bill. This tour concentrates on two albums, “Key Lime Pie” and “Kerosene Hat.” The 1989 album “Key Lime Pie” was the final album of CvB’s original run and “Kerosene Hat” was Cracker’s second album, released in 1992.
8 p.m. May 13. $21. The Buckhead Theatre, 3110 Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-843-2825.
The pastoral, gorgeous beauty of this Seattle band’s 2008 debut album garnered loads of critical acclaim, but there were a few detractors who thought it felt a little old-fashioned. Those Crosby, Stills and Nash comparisons weren’t unfounded, but the folks who thought that was a bad thing were definitely in the minority. The heavenly harmonies are still there on the just-released “Helplessness Blues,” but there’s a little less sunlight shining on these songs. It’s darker and deeper, yet still just as immense. The sound is big, lush and spacious. Imagine the daytime canyons and meadows of the band’s debut album bathed in twilight.
8 p.m. May 14. Sold out. Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-659-9022.
Lemony Snicket’s “The ComposerIs Dead”
Originally commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, this work introduces young audiences to the instruments in the orchestra in the vein of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Britten’s “A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” This one, though, takes the form of a murder mystery and was written by Lemony Snicket (the pen name of author and musician Daniel Handler), with music by Nathaniel Stookey. It was released in book form, with accompanying CD, in 2009, with illustrations by Carson Ellis, probably best known for creating the album covers for her husband Colin Meloy’s band, the Decemberists.
1:30 and 3:30 p.m. May 15. $15-$20. Atlanta Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-5000.
Chris Thile, Michael Daves
Watching Chris Thile play is a jaw-dropping experience. The man coaxes things from a mandolin that you’d think were impossible. Since parting with his band mates in Nickel Creek (officially on indefinite hiatus since 2007), Thile has worked with a wide variety of musicians. His latest project is with bluegrass guitarist Michael Daves. The duo’s “Sleep With One Eye Open” was released May 10 and revisits bluegrass standards, including tunes by the Louvin Brothers, the Monroe Brothers, Jimmy Martin and Flatt & Scruggs.
8 p.m. May 17. $15 in advance. Smith’s Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-875-1522.
He got his start as part of Sheila E’s backing band on Prince’s “Parade” tour back in the late ’80s. Once that was over, he started the trio Tony! Toni! Toné! with his brother and his cousin. They scored a string of hits that peaked with two Top 10 singles from 1993’s “Sons of Soul” (“Anniversary” and “If I Had No Loot”). Saadiq’s first solo hit (and still his biggest) was 1995’s “Ask of You,” from the “Higher Learning” soundtrack. His biggest success, though, has come from working with other artists. During his time with the short-lived trio Lucy Pearl, he co-wrote and co-produced D’Angelo’s 2000 Grammy winner “Untitled (How Does It Feel).” He took home the Grammy for best R&B song as a co-writer of Erykah’s Badu and Common’s 2002 No. 1 hit “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop).” His new album, “Stone Rollin’,” like its Motown-inspired predecessor, “The Way I See It,” is another remembrance of music past. It kicks off with the up-tempo, Sly and the Family Stone-like “Heart Attack,” dominated by insistent tambourine and chugging guitar, and takes a turn toward Ray Charles on “Radio” and Bo Diddley on “Day Dreams.”
8 p.m. May 18. $27.50; $25 in advance. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-524-7354.
The Flaming Lips
For some, the Flaming Lips are a test of their tolerance for weird. For those willing to go with it, they’ll take you to some remarkable, uncharted places. They keep releasing stunning and inventive albums, including the latest of all new material, 2009’s “Embryonic,” and this year’s “Gummy Song Skull,” which contains four new songs on a USB drive buried inside an edible gummy skull (“Eat your way to the new music,” the band’s website proclaims). The first night of this two-night stand is sold out and is scheduled to include all of the band’s classic 1999 album, “The Soft Bulletin.”
8 p.m. May 19-20. $39.50. Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-659-9022.