Music Critics' Picks: Great Grandpa, Smokey Robinson, Dead Larry

March 6-12: Live music in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

By Volcano Staff on March 4, 2015


Seattle quintet Great Grandpa exudes an effortless cool. The grungy pop recalls bands like the Breeders and Garbage, with their sly melodies and crunchy guitars. Lead singer Alex Menne brings a detached swagger that is offset by unobtrusive harmonies from her bandmates. A band like Great Grandpa, with lyrics about things like mountains of Cheetos, wouldn't seem obviously like the kind of group that might tackle sad subject matter, but they dip their toes into the waters of melancholy with an unexpected ease. "Mostly Here," with its lumbering guitars, establishes its fatalistic worldview with words like, "If life's a dream, then I'm not sleeping in," while the journaling of "Waterfront Trail" is stubbornly opposed to releasing the tension created by its naval-gazing lyrics, which document a broken relationship and the fight to reinvent yourself at your lowest moment. {REV. ADAM MCKINNEY}

GREAT GRANDPA, w/ Jupiter Sprites, Trashlord, Redrumsey, 8 p.m., Deadbeat Olympia, 226 N. Division St., Olympia, $5, 360.943.0662


It may be impossible to overstate William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr.'s contribution to pop music. For once, the term "living legend" sells the guy short. No less an artist than Bob Dylan listed Robinson among his favorite poets. It's not merely that his hits represent a significant chunk of the American songbook, nor is it the songs he wrote for others, including "Get Ready," "The Way You Do the Things You Do" and "My Girl." It's that such productions as "Tears of a Clown" and "The Tracks of My Tears" set the standard for the decade to follow, the greatest in the history of radio. Talk about longevity: he released his first single in 1957 - and his latest album, Smokey & Friends, hit #12 on the Billboard album chart six months ago. Oh, and along the way, he beat a damn crack addiction! In the words of ABC's 1987 hit "When Smokey Sings," his music embodies "elegance in eloquence ... miracles made real." Ooh, baby, baby. {CHRISTIAN CARVAJAL}

SMOKEY ROBINSON, 8:30 p.m., Emerald Queen Casino, 2024 E. 29th St., Tacoma, $60-$120, 253.594.7777


More so than many of the other bands striving to capture the feeling of music in the ‘90s, pop weirdos Dead Larry feel like they emerged straight from the time capsule. It's remarkable how uncanny their resemblance is to the pop eccentrics like They Might Be Giants, Ben Folds Five, the Lemonheads and Crash Test Dummies. Dead Larry is unabashedly upbeat music that finds their footing in piano pop, with diversions into white-boy-funk, and stoned psychedelic explorations. This is a band that feels like a college radio station was zapped by a magic comet and made corporeal. One thing that seems to sum up all of Dead Larry's ethos is that they care about you shaking your ass more than just about anything in the entire world. For a band this committed, it's best to give in and dance. {REV. AM}

DEAD LARRY, w/ Birger Wink, Larry Wish, American Forrest, 8 p.m., Deadbeat Olympia, 226 N. Division St., Olympia, $5, 360.943.0662