John Ondrasik (aka Five for Fighting) is probably best known for his 2001 piano-based hit 'Superman,' which rose up the charts in the wake of Sept. 11. Clearly, the public's response moved him, as he's spent the last decade supporting the troops, playing for them around the world and overseeing 'For the Troops,' a series of compilations featuring recording artists and comedians made available for free to active service members. The everyman pop balladeer is touring in support of his latest album 'Slice,' an extended aural take on the current scene, and will share the stage with breathy acoustic pop rocker Matt Wertz.
Five for Fighting, Matt Wertz, 8 p.m. Friday, April 2, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St. $27.50 advance, $30 day of show. All ages. Info: www.mcmenamins.com, 503-225-0047.
Hoot, there he is
Owl City, also known as Adam Young's one-man synth-pop show, was recently certified gold with his debut album 'Ocean Eyes,' featuring the ubiquitous hit 'Fireflies.' His melodies are sugary sweet, but darn it, the guy's actually trying to write some truly poetic lyrics, so even if his ballads aren't your cup of tea, you've got to give the kid credit for not trying to foist some insipid pop on the public; he actually respects your intelligence. Fellow melodic synth-pop artist Lights, from Toronto, will share the stage with him, as well as Nashville indie electro-rockers Paper Route. It's sold out, but maybe you know someone who knows someone who knows someone …
Owl City, Lights, Paper Route, 7 p.m. Saturday, April 3, Roseland Theater, 8 N.W. Sixth Ave. Info: 503-221-0288, roselandpdx.com.
The first thing to like about Portland's The Russian Brides is they claim to have '763 billion' MySpace friends. Clearly, that's not accurate, since there have to be far more, given the somewhat brooding yet hook-friendly alternative rock in which the Brides traffic. The Brides will be sharing the rock 'n' roll altar with headliners Western Aerial, our fair city's slammin' '70s-meets-'90s workingman's band as well as roots rockers The Lonely H. This is a great show for people who like to drink beer, lots of it, and never complain about the smokers outside because they were planning to join them as soon as the band finishes its set.
Western Aerial, The Russian Brides, The Lonely H, 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 3, Ash St. Saloon, 225 S.W. Ash St. $8. Info: 503-226-0430, www.ashstreetsaloon.com.
Sticking his neck out
One of the U.K.'s most controversial, crude, beautiful, ugly, literate punk bands was The Stranglers, and its chief vocalist was Hugh Cornwell, who may be one of the most underrated songwriters in rock 'n' roll history. Cornwell and company's catalog still surprises decades after you put away your records by the Pistols, the Clash, et al, and since he left the band in 1990, the cat is still penning great rock 'n' roll, and seems incapable of writing anything commonplace or ordinary even though he's a deceptively simple composer. Portland indie rocker Tony Smiley, a rather epic-sounding fellow in his own right, opens the early show.
Hugh Cornwell, Tony Smiley, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 3, Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St., $12 advance, $14 day of show. Info: 503-231-WOOD, www.dougfirlounge.com.
O Come All Ye Faithful
By crafting dreamy pop, modern shanties and psychedelic ambient folk rock, Australian 1980s icons The Church always stood out from the New Wave pack. 'Under the Milky Way' was one of the decade's finest musical moments, a parting shot from the pioneer MTV generation of rockers before the Next Big Thing - grunge, hip hop and all things Lilith Fair - took over in the 1990s. The Church is celebrating 30 years of existence and will put on an acoustic show for the popsters in the pews, and if you show up, you get a free CD for your paid admission.
The Church, 8 p.m. Thursday, April 8, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi St. $40. Info: 503-288-3895, www.mississippistudios.com.