Rapper Ice Cube kicks off KUBE fest at the Gorge

  • Wed Jun 4th, 2014 5:38pm
  • Life

By Andy Rathbun Herald Writer

The KUBE Summer Jam promises to bring some of the biggest names in hip-hop — old school and new — to the Gorge Amphitheatre this weekend.

The two-day festival starts at 7 Friday night with Ice Cube headlining. The rapper has come a long way since the late 1980s, when he served as a member of the once-notorious group N.W.A. Now, he’s just as likely to pop up in a hit comedy, like this winter’s box office success “Ride Along.”

Other headliners from the first night include Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Too Short.

The concert rolls on at 2 p.m. Saturday, with younger acts taking center stage. Arguably the biggest name — at the very least, the most controversial — is Chris Brown. Once heralded as the second-coming of Michael Jackson, Brown has instead become notorious for a criminal record that includes the beating of his one-time girlfriend, pop star Rihanna.

Despite that, he hasn’t lost too many fans. His past two albums, “F.A.M.E.” and “Fortune,” both reached No. 1. He’s gearing up now to release “X,” which he promises to be his best record to date, although it has seen its release date pushed back several times.

Other headliners on day two include Rick Ross, Big Sean and B.o.B.

Tickets range from $52.10 to $90.50 at ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000.

Meanwhile, on this side of the Cascades, Eels will play the Moore Theatre in Seattle at 8 p.m. Saturday.

A cult favorite for years, the group is the brainchild of Mark Oliver Everett, an off-center singer-songwriter who records as Eels. He is touring now behind “The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett.”

Eels started out as a seeming one-hit wonder in 1996 with the alt-rock hit “Novocaine for the Soul.” The singer didn’t let himself get hemmed in, though, instead releasing a string of personal albums that tackled heavy topics — cancer, love, loss — and helped win him his loyal following.

Tickets are $27 at stgpresents.org or 877-784-4849.

Guided by Voices also wear the cult-icon banner. The group will bring its trailblazing brand of lo-fi indie rock to the Showbox at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Formed in Dayton, Ohio, the band has been fronted by singer Robert Pollard since 1985 and featured a rotating cast of more than 20 other musicians.

The group carved out a name for itself in the mid-1990s as one of the biggest names on Matador Records, one of indie rock’s biggest labels. Since then, Guided by Voices has had its ups-and-downs, including a six-year hiatus from 2004 to 2010.

Now again at peak productivity, the group is touring this summer after releasing two albums this year, February’s “Motivational Jumpsuit” and May’s “Cool Planet.” The latter was recorded while the group huddled through this year’s polar vortex, which saw temperatures falling to record lows in the band’s native Midwest.

Tickets are $35 at showboxonline.com or 888-929-7849.

The Showbox also will host the Mountain Goats, as the literary-minded indie rockers play the venue at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

The group is led by the prolific songwriter John Darnielle, famous for drawing inspiration from just about anywhere — the Bible, slasher films, the Chicago Cubs, old Hollywood monsters and basically anything else.

The group has churned out 10 albums since 2000, including the increasingly beloved “The Sunset Tree.” That record was exposed to a wider audience when its track “Up the Wolves” was featured on a recent episode of the hit horror show, “The Walking Dead.”

Tickets are $22.50 at showboxonline.com or 888-929-7849.

Finally, Seattle’s own Grieves will play the Showbox at 9 p.m. Saturday.

The indie hip-hop artist — who also has lived in Chicago and Colorado — is touring now behind his album “Winter and the Wolves,” which was released to critical accolades in March.

The album also found the rapper reaching a personal best on the Billboard 200. The record reached No. 57.

Tickets are $15 at showboxonline.com or 888-929-7849.