tUnE-yArDs at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club: Check any Best Of list from 2011, and you’re likely to come across Merrill Garbus’s name. As the creative force behind tUnE-yArDs, Garbus has made a name for herself with her quirky, declarative, and percussion-heavy approach to song making. For her sophomore release, last year’s stunning and lauded w h o k i l l, Garbus further upped the ante, melding a diverse set of styles — from free jazz to punk to Afro-beat — with a powerful collection of social justice cries. The songs range from anthemic reflections on the state of the nation to doo-wop-inspired ballads about police brutality, all tied together by Garbus’s bizarrely elastic vocals. Equally, tUnE-yArDs’ live show is one of the most hyped-about acts of the minute, filled to the brim with live looping, dueling percussionists, and a small but mighty brass section. In short, it’s simply something you need to see to believe. Sunday, April 15, 9 p.m. Call 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com.
Bon Iver at the Santa Barbara Bowl: In the span of just two albums, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon has gone from Wisconsin recluse to multiplatinum success story — and that’s only the start. Since starting a buzz back in 2008 with his self-recorded masterpiece, For Emma, Forever Ago, Vernon has toured the world times over, joined forces with one of indie rock’s biggest supergroups (Gayngs), and become collaborating BFFs with Kanye West and James Blake, just to name a few. Most recently, young Vernon and his 2011 offering, Bon Iver, picked up two Grammys, as well as a coveted spot atop this year’s Coachella lineup. Accolades aside, Vernon’s records deliver a haunting mix of folk, soft rock, and baroque pop, and his voice remains one of the most interesting, intimate, and emotionally charged out there. Come concert time, expect a massive backing band — and more than a few tearjerker moments. Sunday, April 22, 7 p.m. Call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.
Beck at the Santa Barbara Bowl: Never mind the fact that Beck hasn’t put out a new album since 2008. The wiry L.A. experimentalist has kept plenty busy of late, producing records for Charlotte Gainsbourg, Thurston Moore, and recent S.B. passers-through Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. He’s also got an impressive back catalog of material under his belt, ranging from ’90s slacker anthems like “Loser” to early ’00s strummers like “Lost Cause” to more recent surf-rock–inspired collages like, well, all of 2008’s Modern Guilt. As far as contemporary alt-rock is concerned, Beck helped write the book, and continues to inspire the young hipster masses to this day. For this extra-special one-off show, he teams up with opener and friend Devendra Banhart. In other words, more bang for your buck and a really good reason to show up early. Thursday, May 24, 7 p.m. Call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.
More Pop, Rock & Jazz:
Irma Thomas. At UCSB’s Campbell Hall, Tuesday, April 10.
The Black Angels. At SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Thursday, April 12.
Florence and the Machine. At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Saturday, April 14.
Grouplove. At the Lobero Theatre, Monday, April 16.
Charles Lloyd New Quartet. At the Lobero Theatre, Wednesday, April 18.
Neon Indian. At SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Wednesday, April 18.
Bettye LaVette. At UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Sunday, April 22.
Ozomatli. At SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Sunday, April 22.
Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. At the Granada Theatre, Sunday, April 29.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Saturday, May 5.
Dan Zanes & Friends. At UCSB’s Campbell Hall, Sunday, May 6.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. At SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, Monday, May 21.
Tenacious D. At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Wednesday, May 23.
Star Slinger. At Velvet Jones, Friday, May 25.
Ceremony. At Velvet Jones, Monday, May 28.
KJEE Summer Round-Up. At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Friday, June 1.
Chickenfoot. At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Saturday, June 9.