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HIDEOUT BLOCK PARTY 9/22, THE HIDEOUT Late last week after way too much news I ventured out to a couple shows, where I ended up in conversations with club owners who'd had qualms about staying open but had ultimately decided that providing gathering space for their communities might be the most helpful thing they could do. So if you're looking for something to celebrate, however weakly, consider: September 22 is this year's autumn equinox; the date of Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale's 1776 hanging by the British, prior to which he reportedly regretted that he had but one life to give for this country; and the date in 1862 on which a preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Furthermore it's the shared birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, King Sunny Ade, Nick Cave, and Joan Jett. Oh yeah, and it's the Hideout's fifth anniversary, which it'll celebrate with its annual block party. The World Music Festival adds the Brooklyn reggae band Dr. Israel & Seven to an A-list roster of rootsy regulars, including the increasingly rockin' Andrew Bird and his Bowl of Fire, Kelly Hogan, Anna Fermin's Trigger Gospel, and Devil in a Woodpile, plus Bare Jr., the New Pornographers, and the Baldwin Brothers. The Midnight Circus (which includes jugglers, acrobats, and magicians) performs all day. The party starts at 2 PM and will be held outdoors (under a tent in case of rain). Not only is it a rare chance for the under-21 crowd to hear most of these acts, but proceeds will benefit the Red Cross, Lawrence Hall Youth Services, and PLAY, an organization that provides arts classes for kids who've been abused or exposed to violence. JOHN VANDERSLICE 9/22, SCHUBAS Bay Area songwriter and recording engineer John Vanderslice earned some notoriety last year when he persuaded reporters that Bill Gates was suing him and spying on him in retribution for a tune on his album Mass Suicide Occult Figurines called "Bill Gates Must Die." The song, written from the point of view of an Internet-kiddie-porn addict who blames the Microsoft honcho for his problems, wasn't even really about Gates, and Gates didn't really tap Vanderslice's phones, but hey, it was a good story, right? Though Vanderslice has sworn in interviews that it was just a publicity stunt that snowballed, it was an incisive stunt--but in a way it's too bad it's now his calling card. He's a skilled songwriter with an expansive sonic vocabulary not unlike that exercised by the cream of the Elephant 6 crop, and he ought to be able to cut the mustard on his artistic merits alone. His newest album, Time Travel Is Lonely (Barsuk), is a chilly meditation on loneliness shot through with genuine poetry. From the closer, "Gainesville, Fla.": "I was born in a summer storm / Grass was cold but the sky was warm / They lay me down in the mossy fields / Where the crows kill with tender speed." VUE 9/23, EMPTY BOTTLE Here's what Joey Sweeney at Philadelphia Weekly wrote last year about San Francisco's Vue: "There's more violent sexuality pumped into the 41 minutes and 51 seconds of their debut than is evidenced in the last seven years of rock albums combined. That's why, out of the informal and in no way scientific straw poll I've conducted, girls don't like them--or at least not the kind of girls you or I know." Well, guess what--there's more bullshit pumped into those two sentences than is evidenced in the last seven years of rock writing combined. The Vue aren't Mortician; they're not even Rapeman. They do, however, play blustery, bloozy, and unusually inspired rawk that nips a wider-than-average range of sources, from the Stones to the MC5 to the Birthday Party--and on their second full-length, Find Your Home (Sub Pop), they play it with such careening verve I'm even willing to forgive the god-awful Suicide cover they did for the second volume of the Sopranos sound track. The Strokes ain't all that, but these guys (and one gal, Jessica Ann Graves, on keyboards) are. PEARLY SWEETS & THE PLATONICS 9/24, EMPTY BOTTLE These clever Yalies are continually haranguing me to come and see them--and though I'm not going to make this show either, I'll admit their pestering finally got me to listen to their album, Pick Yourself Up (on New Haven's Garbage Czar label). It's a fidgety swirl of white-soul love with no guitar but plenty of organ--and though it's unbearably showbizzy and annoyingly clean in parts, there's something about those tones that can never really be wrong. Sweets would seem to be a charismatic front man, with a David Johansen-esque growl and a vaguely hip-hop way of phrasing things that reveals his youth and is also kind of cool. Since relocating, the band has recruited a guitarist. The Black-Eyed Snakes, a Muddy Waters-influenced side project of Low's Alan Sparhawk, headline. ALBUM LEAF 9/27, THE VIC Sigur Ros didn't go too far afield in picking the opening act for their first full-scale American tour: One Day I'll Be on Time (Tiger Style), the debut of this side project for guitarist Jimmy LaValle of Tristeza, is a moody, delicate, cinematic instrumental work with layers upon layers of keyboards, guitar, bass, and sampled drums. The music doesn't hit the dazzling heights Sigur Ros is capable of, but should nicely ease the audience into the zone--more a cool-down act than a warm-up band.

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