When: Wed., Aug. 31, 9 p.m. 2011
When At the Drive-In split a decade ago—damn, a decade ago—my social circle's collective judgment was that, while not as out-there or (let's say) rambunctious as vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Jim Ward was the steady hand on the levers of the machine. But when Zavala and Lopez went on to spread their wings (maybe a tad too far) with the proggy psych-rock of the Mars Volta and Ward took a more paint-by-numbers indie-rock route as front man of Sparta, it became painfully obvious that only together could they reach the perfect balance. There's no ATDI reunion in the stars, though, and Ward recently took the prescribed detour for any indie veteran who's been around the block: he released a solo album, Quiet in the Valley, On the Shores the End Begins (Tembloroso). A compilation of three previously released EPs, it's full of pleasant, relatively restrained, croaky acoustic yarns. Fortunately, it also includes The Electric Six EP, where Ward reworks six standouts from the album with a full band (electric guitar included). He sheds most of the Tweedy, stretches his vocal cords, and smartly plays around in his wheelhouse. Given that Ward announced earlier this month that Sparta has come out of hibernation to work on its first album since 2006, this release looks a little like an attempt to give himself a nudge in the publicity department—but either way it's just fine. —Kevin Warwick The Lusitania opens.