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KINA 8/18, AUDITORIUM THEATRE Detroit-born Kina, an R & B singer turned woman-rock belter, occasionally pulls off a move of minor genius like bringing a whomping gospel choir in on an intelligent chorus like "Don't just say it's all right / My life fell into ten pieces / Don't just say it's fine / Just let me have a cry." But though she writes her own lyrics, generally of the bruised-but-uplifting school, many of the tunes on her Dreamworks debut, Kina, were written by producer London Jones, who composes the way he programs the synths and drums--one from column A, one from column B. If she had better material she'd be dangerous. Savage Garden headlines. POSIES 8/18 & 19, SCHUBAS This isn't the full-on glistening sugar-pop band you knew and loved in the early 90s--they broke up in the late 90s. This is the duo of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, who just released In Case You Didn't Feel Like Plugging In (Casa), a live set of acoustic renderings of older material. Stringfellow claims that the disc and supporting tour are just for fun, and though the cynical among us figure they're probably also for cashing in on the new four-CD best-of set, Dream All Day (Universal), and the forthcoming rarities and outtakes set At Least, At Last (Not Lame), you'd have to be pretty stony to let that close your ears to their sweet and simple charms. Rebecca Gates opens on Friday, Nora O'Connor on Saturday. JAN TERRI EXTRAVAGANZA 8/19, HUNGRY BRAIN For nearly a decade, local legend Jan Terri has been producing her own CDs and videos, which are coveted by Terri-philes all across the country (including, I have it on good authority, members of Yo La Tengo). I haven't heard the CDs, but the videos are spectacular in their ecstatic suburban re-envisioning of pop stardom: the one for her country tune "Baby Blues," a romantic encounter acted out line by line in the Possum Pub in Melrose Park, is every bit as surreal as the one for "Journey to Mars," with its crude sci-fi appropriations and refrain of "Beam me up, Scott-ie!" which Terri barks authoritatively into a cell phone. She breaks out all the giddy gothic trappings for the Halloween party song "Get Down Goblin," but she's far more eerie when she plays it straight, crooning lines like "My heart is open like an open book" over thin, tinny 80s pop that occasionally breaks into a truly alternative vision of "rocking out." This free show features performances by Terri and local acts she counts among her fans, and will be filmed for a documentary in progress. TERRE THAEMLITZ 8/18, fine arts theatres; 8/19 SUBTERRANEAN Electronic musician Thaemlitz lives in Oakland, but he performs mostly in the UK and Europe, where he's gained a considerable following for his heavy but witty approach to the mutability of identity: mixing sample-and-warp computer music with drag performance. Often Thaemlitz's music doesn't quite live up to the radical promise of his manifestos: a common problem with sound-source-based electronica is that the elaborate web of associations a musician might have with his or her battery of files doesn't necessarily translate for a broader audience, and when Thaemlitz is off, a listener might fairly ask, What's the big difference between a guy with a laptop and an androgyne with a laptop? Still, Thaemlitz wrestles with the theory/practice problem quite a bit more interestingly than, say, DJ Spooky. At the Chicago Underground Film Festival kickoff party, his alter ego DJ Sprinkles will spin deep house, "fagjazz," and selections from Thaemlitz's own label, Comatonse Recordings. On Saturday at Subterranean, Thaemlitz will perform original works. BABLICON 8/19, HIDEOUT; 8/23, HOTHOUSE On its new album, The Orange Tapered Moon (Misra), this Chicago-based band--whose three members collectively sing and play electric and upright bass, electric piano, melodica, several saxophones, oboe, trombone, organ, electronics, xylophone, synthesizer, drums, gongs, buckets, and tablas--is redefining prog rock for a generation that wants both grandeur and a caffeinated twitch, a cool electronic pulse and hot-freak hairiness. If Bablicon's music suffers from anything, it's an excess of ideas all rushing to be expressed at once, as opposed to the usual dearth of ideas, but the skittery song I think is called "Anne on an Infibulus" and the spacious, eerie "Well Tempered Alligator" demarcate relatively clear paths through the cluttered landscape. The trio is reportedly near to finishing a third album--so considering that the release party for the first one, at which audience members helped hand paint the album sleeves, was only last summer, it would seem that the restlessness is more than conceptual. THREE DOLLAR BILL 8/19, FIRESIDE BOWL Two years ago I was charmed by this local quartet's debut EP, Getting to Know You, and it turns out the scruffy pop-punk of that record was just the steam from the volcano. Their full-length debut, Insurrection (Stereotype), is a tough, sexy, sharply cut slice of catharsis, with the band's two main lyricists, Jane Danger and Chris Piss, trading off on tunes full of pleading desire and slit-eyed menace. Anyone who hasn't caught on yet that an awful lot of Chicago's wildest and realest rock 'n' roll--these guys, Loraxx, the Traitors--has emerged from the queercore movement is missing the boat. NILE 8/22, HOUSE OF BLUES About to release their second album and already coheadlining a tour with Cannibal Corpse, this death-metal band is on the rise--and with good reason. The forthcoming album, Black Seeds of Vengeance (Relapse), is a rocket from the crypt. Songwriter Karl Sanders has really, really researched ancient Egyptian and Sumerian blood, guts, 'n' necromancy, and what he brings to tunes like "Masturbating the War God" and "Invocation of the Gate of Aat-Ankh-es-en-Amenti" is genuine historical horror. (Representative lyric: "Withdraw thy phallus Baboui / Open the Gates of the Duat / For I am Burning in Aataakhu.") Original lyrics are interspersed with old spells and invocations, about which Sanders notes: "We have chosen to adhere as closely as possible to the original Egyptian phonetic phrasings, to preserve their natural violent vocal rhythms. The old tongue somehow better communicates the utter feelings of orgasmic self-immolation generated within the natural spiritual force of the original Egyptian syllables of the text." The music is formidable too, heightening rather than diminishing intensity to accommodate an ancient Egyptian instrument, the arghul (played by someone named Abd El-Aziz), and Arabic and Tibetan chanting. COMPETITORR 8/24, EMPTY BOTTLE I'm not going to say there's a "movement" underfoot to put showmanship, sex, and carefully wrought silliness back into the sometimes oppressively straight-faced and straitlaced indie-rock world, since I don't think it's that organized--I think it's just the rumble of the zeitgeist. This mostly female Milwaukee quartet's self-released CD is a barrel of sloppy pop monkeys that on occasion (the clippity-clopping "Chickadees," the fuzzy funkadelic "Basketball," and "George Hamilton," a Dead Milkmenesque ditty about some praying mantises that look like the actor) reaches heights of gaudy laughing-gas hysteria that I've previously heard only from Japanese girl bands and Bobby Conn. But the disc is really only a teaser for the spandexed and spangled live show. This gig is part of a wrap-up party for the Chicago Underground Film Festival--appropriately enough, since all four members are filmmakers. Drummer Sarah Price produced the cult hit American Movie, and front woman Stephanie Barber has a short entry in the festival called Letters, Notes. The Demolition Doll Rods, who know a thing or two about showmanship, headline.

--Monica Kendrick

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