VANDALS 8/26, RIVIERA These LA punk-rock hacks have been churning out low-rent juvenilia for almost 15 years now, and they're currently touring to support an insufferable live CD and video set. Now don't get me wrong--I love to hear lines like "Fuck, fuckin' fuck, you fucker" repeated over and over by lobotomized-sounding band members while they pull out their puds at every opportunity. It's just that a gem like "Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government)," conceived during the Reagan-Bush years, sounds kind of dated now that we're under the rule of Bill "Mandate for Change" Clinton. The equally stale MDC open. KAZE 8/27, HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY It's rare that you hear anybody play the tsugaru-jamisen, a three-stringed plucked lute developed during the 1600s that produces a distinctive sharp twang; Japanese folk ensemble Kaze plays up to five of them at a time. The eight-member group also incorporates Taiko drums and the shakuhachi, a bamboo flute with an eerie sound, into a repertoire that includes Japanese folk and classical, original compositions, and even some American folk adaptations. SLOT 8/27, DOUBLE DOOR This Ann Arbor quartet plays a writhing ugly rock incongruously decorated with the goth-infected vocals of Sue Lott. Their effects-heavy music is loaded with strange angularities and complicated rhythmic patterns. When are folks gonna learn that without tunes all that fancy junk is completely useless? They open for Superstar (see Critic's Choice). OVERKILL, PRO-PAIN 8/28, THIRSTY WHALE A decade ago the New York quintet Overkill helped blur the distinction between metal and hardcore, churning out a strain of thrash with the latter's velocity but most of the unfortunate trappings of the former: a cartoonish crooning caterwaul (by Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth) and loads of whiny, flashy guitar leads. They're still at it, and little has changed but the lines on their faces. Pro-Pain represent the new metal breed; they spew out hyperstiff, extremely aggressive riffs that sound just like Pantera. Maybe they explain tunes like "Make War (Not Love)" (off their new CD The Truth Hurts, on Energy) by copping the gangsta-rap line about just describing the world as they see it. Judging from the grisly photos of gunshot victims that pack the CD booklet, I'd say they must see the world from the point of view of the New York police force. PALLADINOS 8/29, SCHUBAS British duo Angelo and Alice Palladino claim to have the breadth of Dylan Thomas and Walt Whitman and a musical vision that incorporates Italian pop, tango, blues, country, and, of course, rock 'n' roll. After hearing their debut, Travelling Dark (Pangaea/I.R.S.), I believe I've discovered the truth: the Palladinos like to drop names and wish like hell they were Richard and Linda Thompson. I'd be willing to settle for a happy medium. SUGARTOOTH 8/31, AVALON This LA quartet sucks in the 70s, echoing Pearl Jam as it slugs away with huge, churning riffs a la Black Sabbath and Grand Funk. The band pulls off its eponymous debut with surprising aplomb, singer Marc Hutner's molasses-thick wail sounding like an Ozzy Osbourne croon modified for the "grunge" era. But nothing can change the fact that Sugartooth is just another 70s hard-rock outfit out of time. DANILO PEREZ 9/1, CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER The most recent album by this Panamanian pianist, The Journey (Novus), examines jazz's rich patchwork of rhythms, especially the indelible Afro-Cuban tradition that traveled north in the 40s. Perez will lecture on this aspect of the music as well as perform.