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CLINIC

Every successful thief instinctively knows what to steal--and then how to act like it's belonged to him all along. The four members of the English band Clinic acquit themselves like veteran jacklegs: They lifted the name for their old record label, Aladdin's Cave of Golf, from a shop they used to pass on the way to practice. They've acknowledged that their self-referential costumes--Sgt. Pepper's-style marching-band jackets, top hats, surgical masks and scrubs--were inspired by two very different San Francisco bands, Crime and the Residents. And the artwork on Internal Wrangler (Domino), their 31-minute debut album, duplicates almost exactly the cover of a long-out-of-print record from San Fran avant-jazz smart-asses the Splatter Trio. Their musical thefts are just as ingenious: Spector-size big beats from the Ronettes and the Shirelles, keyboard sounds from Suicide and the Beach Boys. Most brazenly, though, Clinic loot the Velvet Underground's third album: the Sterling Morrison-style guitar on "The Second Line" and "Earth Angel" could've come straight out of "Some Kinda Love," and "Distortions" starts out with a lyric ("I'd like to know completely what others so discreetly talk about") taken from "Candy Says." But Clinic make all these pilfered pieces their own, pulling off each combination with nonchalant confidence. Of course, the band doesn't have to worry about finding a personality apart from its influences: singer Ade Blackburn takes care of that all on his own, with a voice that makes him sound like he's stuck just past puberty and in between genders, with a wicked head cold to boot. Last year Radiohead proclaimed Clinic their favorite band and enlisted them as the opening act for the European leg of the Kid A tour, and unsurprisingly Domino has high hopes for Internal Wrangler; it's one of the first releases from the label's new U.S. arm. This concert concludes Clinic's first American tour, and it's their only date away from the east coast. Oh, and they won't be wearing those surgical scrubs--like the Residents' fourth eyeball, they've been stolen. Saturday, September 15, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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