- Frank Gargani
The LA punk legends haven't released any new studio material since the 90s (the band went on hiatus for most of that decade), but they've been steadily touring for more than ten years. And for anyone worried that X will stray from their first four albums, which are great, a look at the set list of a recent hometown show promises a run-through of the band's best material. Most people will point you toward Los Angeles, their debut, as the band's pinnacle. But I prefer the follow-up, Wild Gift, wherein Exene Cervenka's seductive growl, Billy Zoom's rockabilly-punk guitar, and John Doe and D.J. Bonebrake's stretched-rubber-band-tight rhythm section reach their individual and composite zenith. —Tal Rosenberg
The Lillingtons adhered to the same Ramones-worshipping formula as their late-90s contemporaries: keep power-chord symphonies short and tight, keep beats simple and in pop-punk-appropriate time signatures, keep vocals in an upper-nasal register without sounding too much like a crazy person. But what made the Wyoming trio stand out, aside from being from Wyoming, was the lurking sinisterness found mostly in their artwork and the lyrics of Kody Templeman (now of Teenage Bottlerocket). Themes revolving around sci-fi saucer men, robots, and high-level espionage bleed into the music and very nearly make it sound dark. Death by Television (1999) and Backchannel Broadcast (2001)—both reissued by Red Scare Industries in '05—remain as relistenable a pair of pop-punk albums as came out of the last few gasps of the Lookout era. —Kevin Warwick
- Brantley Gutierrez
- Dinosaur Jr.
Perhaps only the loss of several fingers or a laryngectomy would render J. Mascis's music unrecognizable. Last year the band released I Bet on Sky (Jagjaguwar), a melodious, hard-rocking slab that embodies everything that's good and bad about the trio: the infectious, post-Neil Young stormers; Mascis's sweet, wounded cry and effortless, overdriven guitar solos; and a sound that hasn't appreciably changed in almost three decades. Dinosaur Jr. regrouped in 2005, eight years after it disbanded, so in the recent-reunion-parade that is Riot Fest it's hard to remember that the current version of Dinosaur Jr. is a reunion of sorts—an aging one. Original bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph—always the band's best lineup—have been slogging away in this second go-around for longer than they did in their original stint together. —Peter Margasak
- Dimitri Coats
If the two current versions of Black Flag—one with guitarist Greg Ginn, a founding member and the only constant one, the other with original vocalist Keith Morris and a grab bag of pedigreed punkers, most of whom spent at least some riffs with the hardcore-punk colonizers at one point or another—happen to simultaneously pull into the same Flying J while out on the road, do they throw down their best "Nervous Breakdown" for ultimate supremacy, banishing the loser into cover-band exile? If the world rotated on an axis made of logic, yes, that's exactly what would happen. Instead we're left with two competing shells of the same great band playing the same classic songs. For this festival we get Morris's Flag, which, truth be told, is likely the better of the pair, not only because its lineup isn't half-filled with scabs—Dukowski, Cadena, Stephenson, and Egerton are no slouches—but also because these guys are experienced tour dogs. They're undoubtedly going straight for the hits (with Black Flag, I'd be wary of Ginn jam sessions), and Morris remains as bonkers as ever. —Kevin Warwick
- Getty Images
- Public Enemy
Public Enemy is raw and loud, especially compared to the luxurious rap of, say, Drake or other current hit machines, but I find it beautiful the way PE ropes together so many harsh and potentially antagonistic sounds—cacophonous sirens, jagged horn samples, bone-dry snare hits, Chuck D's satisfyingly weighty and surprisingly bouncy bullhorn voice, and, um, Flavor Flav—into hooky, funky jams. Last year the group dropped a couple solid albums, Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything (Enemy Records/Spit Digital), and tracks such as "Fame" prove that Public Enemy can still turn social commentary and brutal beats into sharp songs as accessible as anything in Drake's discography. —Leor Galil
Against Me!, 10:30 PM, Cobra Lounge, sold out.
Rocket From the Crypt, Tight Phantomz, 11 PM, Double Door, $28, $25 in advance.