Touring in a band with your husband or wife is a double-edged sword. If the two of you aren't getting on, it can be the worst kind of hell. Just ask Richard and Linda Thompson, who toured the United States while divorcing, nearly breaking into onstage brawls more than once. But if you can handle the close quarters and artistic disagreements, it can be an endless honeymoon. Think of Sonic Youth's Kim and Thurston, Yo La Tengo's Ira and Georgia...or Mates of State's Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel.
Since 1997, this San Francisco duo with Midwestern roots (they met at the University of Kansas) has been touring almost constantly, bringing their cheerily angular sound to audiences here and abroad. The Mates' first two CDs, My Solo Project and Our Constant Concern, defined their simple and singular approach: intricate, fuzzy keyboard riffs, off-kilter drumming, and boy-girl vocal harmonies that alternate deftly between intimate crooning and spirited hollering. Their songs are occasionally edgy, sometimes tumultuous, but rarely less than involving. It's to their credit that they're able to pull off such a rich sound with just one keyboard and one drum kit. There are no major overhauls to Mates of State's basic template on Team Boo, their latest, but the songwriting is just as strong as ever. It makes for engaging listening, but live is really where they shine: You've rarely seen two people onstage so in love with their music and each other.
Be sure to get there early to catch the equally strong openers. The Thermals (featuring members of the All Girl Summer Fun Band and Kind of Like Spitting) specialize in raw, urgent basement-rock anthems at their finest. Their debut Sub Pop CD, More Parts Per Million, suggests a younger, spazzier, less beer-addled Guided By Voices. I Am The World Trade Center is a left-field electropop duo from NYC. (Don't be too turned off by their name, either: They thought of it long before 9/11.) This should be a night that leaves you pleasantly exhausted and inspired.