TUESDAY

For the past ten-odd years, Louisville’s King Kong has seemed a step behind on the conceptual ladder. Take the band’s most recent long-player, The Big Bang. If you ignore the only marginally more helpful lyrics, an examination of the album’s song titles in order reveals this particular concept: The protagonist ponders “What Lies Beyond,” boards a rocket, blasts into the “Deep Blue Sky” for some “Space Travel,” is sucked into a “Black Hole,” sees “Planet Kong on the Radar Screen,” lands on said planet, meets the people, who say, “We Are the People of Kong,” and quickly settles into “Life” in a different solar system. No pink robots, no halfsharkalligatorhalfman; nothing quite as transcendently maniacal as has been offered by the Flaming Lips or Dr. Octagon. Worse, for such an adventurous (if prosaic) concept, King Kong’s dated sound doesn’t measure up. Auteur and former Slint bassist Ethan Buckler adds some nice flourishes—”We Are the People of Kong” features some lovely Spanish horns; “Deep Blue Sky” takes a loungey turn. But overall, the band’s tunes are tired. The flat bass lines and the occasional zap or gurgle of synthesizer sound awfully dull compared with the Flaming Lips’ joyous choruses or Automator’s paranoid grooves. But if you can count on conceptually inclined bands for anything, it’s inscrutable and unpredictable stage shows. Furry animal suits and hundreds of Walkmans may not be involved, but Buckler and compatriots might just show some of the inspiration the record lacks. With Skeleton Key at 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at the Black Cat’s Backstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $7. (202) 667-7960. (Mike DeBonis)

More from WCP