JERRY JOSEPH 5/2, UNCOMMON GROUND; 5/3, HOUSE OF BLUES; 5/4, EXEDUS II What this west-coast singer-songwriter is doing playing Exedus II's Reggae Spring Fling I can't imagine. But while he hasn't got a lick of Jamaican riddim, his new solo demo does display the right ratio of irony to passion, a soulfully husky voice, and a good sense of dynamics. The coffeehouse gig is probably the best place to appreciate him; the Fabulous Thunderbirds headline on Saturday. ROYAL TRUX, GASTR DEL SOL 5/3, EMPTY BOTTLE I enjoy vertiginous lurches of reality as much as the next acid casualty, but this bill is so diabolically mismatched that I'm beginning to suspect the Empty Bottle of having a Grubbs-O'Rourke content requirement. Prepare to be hypnotized and then slammed against the wall really hard--not so much by Royal Trux's degenerating throb as by the beery and confused crowd that'll undoubtedly be crammed into the ill-designed space. Two Daves--Pearce (aka Flying Saucer Attack; see Critic's Choice) and former Slint guitarist Pajo (aka M)--open. Sneaker Pimps 5/3, Metro Kelli Dayton's Marianne-Faithfull-on-helium vocals on the Pimps' debut LP Becoming X (Virgin) are an acquired taste--but it only takes a few minutes to acquire it. Then you can go on to appreciate a fine trip-hop-pop band that isn't afraid of a little grit and smut--though any band that would sample both Britt Ekland and David Sylvian has a lot of nerve applying "Post-Modern Sleaze" as an epithet to somebody else. Silkworm 5/5, Empty Bottle When the sort of clowns who write in to Rolling Stone say they want "music with heart," what they usually mean is music with kidneys--nicely matched bits that help them purge the toxins of life so they don't have to think about them too much. On its second album as a trio (Developer, on Matador) Silkworm--with its frantic guitar, strangulated vocals, and drunken drumming--functions a lot more like a real heart, pumping good blood and bad around and around through tiny crazy straws in the brain. It doesn't sound very healthy, but hey, it's a sick world. LOVE CAMP 7 5/6, LOUNGE AX If you then need reassurance that psychedelia still lives, this Brooklyn trio should help restore your faith. Though the usual Love comparisons get trotted out, its mostly terrific new Live in Las Vegas (a studio album with canned crowd noise at the beginning) made me think much more of the 80s psychedelic revival--a more raucous Rain Parade, a more upbeat Dream Syndicate--so it's hard to tell where exactly in the space-time continuum the band's sense of retro is located. Love Camp 7 plays it lush but loose, and stuffs it full of those over-the-top harmonies I used to think Americans just couldn't do with a straight face anymore. Starball, an all-female force of garage-punk nature, opens. r Dave Davies 5/7, House of Blues Certainly many of Dave Davies's contributions to the Kinks were underacknowledged--"Death of a Clown," "Rats," and the only good song on 1984's Word of Mouth, "Living on a Thin Line," were his. But in the lifelong sibling war, Ray walked away with all the wit and charm, so sadly this mopefest with members of the Smithereens ("playing songs of the Kinks and the Smithereens") and host Mancow amounts to the last stand of a has-been, backed up by never-weres, presided over by a wannabe. KEN KESEY & THE MERRY PRANKSTERS 5/7, BORDERS ON CLARK Speaking of acid casualties, this "flashback to the 1960s Summer of Love" (from noon to three) is actually part of a promotional tour for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's new exhibit on the psychedelic era, which makes me wonder if the Merry Pranksters themselves and their bus, "Fur-thur" (which is being shipped here while the Pranksters fly), are actually going to finally take their rightful place under glass. Not a musical performance, probably just a tie-dyed and starry-eyed crowd hearing out a bunch of shaggy-dog stories--but it might be worthwhile just to watch anybody try to park a bus in Lincoln Park. AUSTIN LOUNGE LIZARDS 5/8, FITZGERALD'S Not to be confused with John Lurie's Lounge Lizards of New York, these guys wouldn't know a "cool" jam if it force-fed them NyQuil. You'd think after 16 years they'd have managed to put together more than six CDs of their raucous, political, and sometimes overly literate newgrass, but that's a minor quibble. Note to all you No Depression young turks: here's how it's done. KYLE VINCENT 5/8, UNCOMMON GROUNd; 5/10, borders on clark His album, Kyle Vincent (Hollywood), is mostly generic and supersensitive singer-songwriter pop--"Wake Me Up (When the World's Worth Waking Up For)" is the big, ahem, rocker. In these "intimate acoustic performances," without the studio geegaws, he'll probably sound like Tommy Keene on Prozac. Just what the world was waiting for. --Monica Kendrick
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photos of "Royal Trux" by Nina Gouveia.