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Despite the many cultural advances that rock music has made, it’s still undeniably a boys’ club. The perseverance of macho posturing in rock is as enduring as any of the genre’s traits. Band names don’t get any more troglodytic than Mastodon (at the Patriot Center on Saturday, Oct. 31), despite the fact that the Atlanta quintet’s latest record, Crack the Skye, features that effeminate extra “e” and is a concept album about astral projection. It helps that Mastodon’s progressive metal chops are as sharp as ever and that album’s story line features Rasputin, the Tsarist mystic who was such a legendary cocksmith that his penis has its own Wikipedia entry.
The members of In Flames (appearing at Black Cat on Monday, Oct. 5) are death metal veterans who are architects of the melodic “Gothenburg sound,” which has been very influential on D.C.’s favorite metalcore sons, Darkest Hour. The band’s discography features such XY-friendly titles as Whoracle and A Sense of Purpose—the Swedish legends are guaranteed to put on a blistering live show.
Ben Nichols, frontman for alt-country bootscooters Lucero, has a voice so deep and gravelly, he makes Tom Waits sound like Tiny Tim. The band’s sound is a great argument that their hometown of Memphis is the perfect geographical and stylistic crossroads for country, rock, and blues. Lucero (playing the 9:30 on Thursday, Oct. 15) has just leveled up and is poised to release its major-label debut, 1372 Overton Park. Thee Oh Sees (performing at the Black Cat on Monday, Oct. 12) are a San Francisco garage rock group who might’ve put out this year’s best record, Help. The band owes a lot to Nuggets-era garage bands and is genius enough to create beautiful melodies and harmonies, but manly enough to know that those pretty things need to be buried beneath layers of distortion and effects. Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile (at Black Cat on Thursday, Nov. 5) may have started out making wimpy home-recorded pop, but his sound has gotten meatier and bigger. In fact, a Pitchfork review even made allusions to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and Tom Petty—the Holy Testosterone Trinity of Classic Rock Radio.