When musicians describe themselves as political, it's often nothing more than a sort of current-events dilettantism that's better left ignored. But for Brooklyn's the Shondes, politics are at the forefront of their musical identity — they're a queercore, feminist punk, indie band who sing about contemporary Jewish identity, anti-Zionism and social justice. Their goose bump-inducing rawk inspired by traditional Jewish melodies, punk and classical (!??!) music can be heard on their winning self-released debut, Red Sea. At TC's Speakeasy, 207 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-483-4470.
RUDE MECHANICAL ORCHESTRA
ONE TIME, AT BAND CAMP ...
If your last memory of a marching band is lost in the hazy cloud of smoke you were inhaling under football field bleachers, then New York City's Rude Mechanical Orchestra has some high-steppers you'll appreciate. A "radical" marching band, RMO doesn't play Sousa; instead, it's an eclectic mix of originals, global folk songs and contemporary covers while marching for progressive causes at benefits, rallies and everything in between. They're band geeks who've grown up, ditched conformity and found a social conscience. They're a spectacle that will knock your socks off, or, if you're not careful, get you inhaling far too much under those bleachers. At 7 p.m. at 555 Gallery, 4884 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-894-4202.
SEE THE MUSIC ART OPENING
DRUMMERS DO IT BEST
See the Music features the never-before-displayed work of multimedia artist Rocky Seprino, whose use of bold colors and iconic images recalls Pop art of the '50s and '60s. But instead of Campbell soup cans, a number of the paintings are inspired by 4-year-old Julian Pavone — the precocious child "musician" who has been paraded before America on a number of talk shows (including Oprah!) as the youngest person to ever pick up a pair of drum sticks. Pavone will join Seprino at the opening for a performance art piece fusing music, painting and video. At 6 p.m. at Sherrus Gallery of Fine Art, 133 W. Main St., Ste. 210, Northville; 248-380-0470; sherrusgallery.com.
MAMA'S LICKING STICK AND QUATOR ISSY-PARIS
ATTACK OF THE CLARINETS
Back in the days of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, the solo clarinet held the spotlight in jazz. In Wendell Harrison's Mama's Licking Stick, it's as if the clarinetists are banding together to bum rush the stage. Now they're getting reinforcements from abroad. Thanks to grant support from the prestigious Chamber Music America and others here and in France, Detroit's Harrison is importing the four clarinets of Quator Issy-Paris to make for a nine-piece clarinet band. He's also headed to France next month to play with the quartet there, but the economy-minded fan would see the collaboration for the price of admission at 7 and 8:30 p.m. at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 313-833-7900.
HOUSE MUSIC FOR A CAUSE
BUSTIN' MOVES FOR KIDS
One of Detroit's favorite native techno sons will return to Detroit for what folks in TV-land would call "a very special episode" — the grand finale of the annual House Music for a Cause Backpack Drive. Derrick May will headline the benefit, joined by Norm Talley and Anthony "Shake" Shakir. Proceeds will be used to purchase school supplies for Bennett and Sherrill Elementarys in Detroit. Another 400 backpacks are needed to reach the goal of 600, so if you've got a move, bust it for a good cause, dammit! At 9 p.m.-4 a.m. at the Johanson Charles Gallery, 1345 Division St., Detroit; info at detroithousemusicpicnic.com; $15 or $10 with a backpack full of school supplies.
ANOTHER BENEFIT SHOW?
Concerts for causes are tits and wheelies, man. You get hours of entertainment and the warm and fuzzies for helping out a worthy cause (with little in the way of actual effort). Punkfest is just such a selfishly feel-good event with eight of Detroit's punkiest punk bands, including the State and Anti-Social Degenerates, performing to benefit the Children's Hospital of Michigan. As an added bonus, bands will also participate in the Punk Rock Olympics, featuring the venerable events of egg and spoon, sack racing and tricycle racing. Punks on trikes? Maybe tats and mini-wheelies is more accurate. At 4 p.m. at the Old Miami, 3930 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-3830; $10.
DALLY IN THE ALLEY
PARTY ON THE BLOCK
Despite multiple stages, more than 100 vendors and upward of 2,500 visitors, Dally in the Alley is still a hip community block party at heart. The Dally has never strayed far from its roots as a Cass Corridor alley barbecue, continuing to celebrate the people — the neighbors, artists, musicians and fans — who contribute to the spirit of Detroit. This year's fest features works by artists from the Russell Industrial Center and a genre-spanning musical lineup that includes everything from the foxy DJs of Women on Wax to popsters the Nice Device. Between Forest Avenue and Hancock Street, Third and Second avenues, Detroit; dallyinthealley.com for map and complete lineup. Rain date Sept. 7.
ORBIT-LESS NO MORE?
Spiritualized melds the drone and fuzz of space-rock with orchestral trappings and gospel choirs in grand (and often lengthy) arrangements. The group's mastermind and only real member, Jason Pierce, matches the semi-epic tunes with plaintive lyrics about love, spirituality and chemical dependency. Their third full-length, Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating in Space, launched the group into orbit (ba-doom ching) and, if you listen to critics, it took their sixth effort, this year's Songs in A&E, to put them back into the reaches of space where Pierce's work is the most powerful and resonant. Spacesuit up! At St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; 313-961-8137; all ages.
EXCEPT FOR SIX
LIFE'S CURTAIN CALL
Our youth-oriented culture has spawned an obscenely profitable market that banks on little kids growing up fast and adults acting like teenagers. So why the hell would anyone want to make a movie about the inevitability of death? Because we all need a talking to, that's why. Hospice of Michigan — which works to make the laborious process of dying more manageable — has recently launched a community awareness campaign that brings death to the forefront. The organization employed film director Matthew Burnell to capture glimpses into the lives of three patients approaching the end of their lives in hospice care. The hour-long narrative that resulted, Except for Six, received documentarian Ken Burns' seal of approval for taking a subject we'd rather ignore and humanizing it. The evening begins with a strolling dinner, followed by a screening of the film at 6:30-9 p.m. at The Emagine Theater, 44425 W. 12 Mile Rd., Novi. Tickets are $50, available in advance by calling 888-466-5656.
HOME SWEET HOME?
The iconic image of domesticity (still cherished by Republicans and fundamentalists) is the Stepford wife in a perfectly pressed apron, smilingly making dinner in a spotless kitchen for a handsome besuited hubby and a bevy of rosy-cheeked children (the good ol' days? Puh-leeze). In the multi-media Domestic Bliss, seven area artists cast a discriminating eye on such whitewashed depictions of homelife, sharing their perspectives on the idealized past and the domestically challenged present. Through Sept. 20 at Paint Creek Center for the Arts, 407 Pine St., Rochester; 248-651-4110; pccart.org.