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Pulsars, the Chicago-based duo of Dave and Harry Trumfio, update the Faust myth for the 90s in "Owed to the Devil," the opening song of the band's splendid debut, Teenage Nites E.P.: the dark one prescribes buying his book, attending his seminar, and kissing his pinkie ring for those who want pop stardom. The Trumfios were weaned on early MTV, and their music wholeheartedly embraces the shiny artificiality and indelible hooks of early 80s new wave. But onstage their abbreviated lineup (guitar, drum kit, and DAT deck) and Dave's eccentric presence ensure that things never get too slick. Short and squat, Dave's an unlikely but deliriously entertaining front man who wins over crowds with his blithely confident demeanor and preposterous dance steps. The Pulsars' influences don't stop at new wave; among the best moments of any show are the dub segments, in which Harry lays down a booming reggae groove and Dave admonishes the audience in an electronically distorted voice to get ready for the band's impending world takeover. They appear with Ashtray Boy, a trio that spotlights the songs of Australian pop eccentric Randall Lee and features Dave Trumfio on bass, and Bellatrix, an energetic, mostly female band from Iceland. Next Friday, December 29, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600. Pulsars also open for the Mekons with Kathy Acker, next Sunday, December 31, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marty Perez.

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