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Live music picks: Sept. 16-22

British quintet Elbow brings its elegant, sophisticated rock to Center Stage on Sept. 21. Photo courtesy High Rise PR

British quintet Elbow brings its elegant, sophisticated rock to Center Stage on Sept. 20. Photo courtesy High Rise PR

TODAY
Swans

“Swans Are Dead” was the title of the career-capping 1998 live album from this artfully pounding post-punk outfit led by Michael Gira. And that’s the way it seemed until last year’s “My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky,” which bound the band’s elegant thud to meditations on the spiritual. It’s a remarkable return that, despite the mellowing effects of time, proves just as polarizing as the rest of the band’s output. Swans will always be dark and foreboding and you either love it or hate it. With Sir Richard Bishop.
8:30 p.m. Sept. 16. $25; $22 in advance. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-524-7354.

TODAY
Skid Row

This metallic quartet had a platinum album and two Top 10 hits near the end of the ’80s (“18 and Life” and “I Remember You”), but is mostly remembered for controversial singer Sebastian Bach, who later went on to Broadway and his own musical projects. Johnny Solinger, who took Bach’s place in the late ’90s, is still the band’s frontman.
9:30 p.m. Sept. 16. $15-$100. Wild Bill’s, 2075 Market St., Duluth. 678- 473-1000.

TUESDAY
Elbow

This British band has been a slow-rising phenomenon with a devoted following and loads of critical acclaim. They won the Mercury Prize in 2008, an accolade given to the best British album of the year as selected by a panel of musicians, music executives and other industry figures. That album, “Seldom Seen Kid,” and this year’s follow-up, “Build a Rocket Boys,” are overflowing with smart, engaging rock for grown-ups, with none of the middle-of-the-road dullness that implies.
8:30 p.m. Sept. 20. $34; $31 in advance. Center Stage, 1374 W. Peachtree St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-885-1365.

WEDNESDAY
Foster the People

This California trio has made a big impact with its debut album, “Torches.” The album bowed at No. 8 on the strength of the track “Pumped Up Kicks,” a punchy, hook-heavy track that proved to be one of this summer’s anthems and now sits in the Top 5 on the Billboard 100 pop chart. That success meant the band’s earlier summer appearance here was sold out, so this is a second-chance gig for those who missed the previous show.
7 p.m. Sept. 21. $25. Masquerade, 695 North Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404- 577-8178.

WEDNESDAY
Blink 182

The aging pop-punk boys from San Diego got back together in 2009 after a five-year hiatus, but it’s taken a while to get that new album together. It’s scheduled for release on Sept. 27. “Neighborhoods” will be the first new Blink material since 2003’s self-titled album. But what about the live shows? The reviews for those 2009 reunion gigs indicated that the missing years didn’t result in too much maturity. Back before the hiatus, the trio’s gigs were always a blast of stupid, noisy fun. And it just wouldn’t be a Blink show without poop jokes, sexual puns and other concerns of the average pre-adolescent boy. Blink is joined by My Chemical Romance. The New Jersey quintet with a Goth heart stirs emotions, even through dazzling arrangements and production sheen. As Queen did for hard rock in the ’70s, My Chemical Romance injects flamboyance and variety into emotionally charged, hard-edged pop-punk.
7 p.m. Sept. 21. $20-$69. Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood, 2002 Lakewood Way, Atlanta. 404-443-5090.

The Antlers, touring behind one of the year's finest albums, "Burst Apart," bring their live show to the Masquerade Sept. 22. Photo: Shervin Lainez

The Antlers, touring behind one of the year's finest albums, "Burst Apart," bring their live show to the Masquerade Sept. 22. Photo: Shervin Lainez

THURSDAY
The Antlers

The sumptuous “Burst Apart” is one of this year’s best albums, expanding the sound of a band that was already in a class apart. It’s melodic, memorable and affecting, just like its acclaimed predecessor. That breakthrough album, “Hospice,” uses the interactions between a patient and a caregiver as a metaphor for an abusive relationship, as seen through the words of songwriter and frontman Peter Silberman. Or you could think of it as an album about sickness and death. Either way, it’s no sunny-day walk in the park. It is a great piece of music, though.
8 p.m. Sept. 22. $15 in advance. Masquerade, 695 North Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404- 577-8178.

MORE MUSIC … And check out our round-up of the big concerts for the fall season, which includes an interview with Deborah Harry of Blondie, along with our behind-the-scenes look at the Atlanta Smooth Music Festival and our interview with Colbie Caillat . This weekend is also the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, where Mother’s Finest will be among the inductees. The AJC’s Melissa Ruggieri spoke with the band’s vocalist Joyce “Baby Jean” Kennedy about the honor.

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