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PLANES MISTAKEN FOR STARS 8/8, FIRESIDE BOWL This Denver outfit, which has been working the aggressive edge of emo for most of its five-year career and in its best moments has dashed the label to bloody bits, is at a crossroads. Bassist Jamie Drier is quitting after this tour (in support of a three-song release from last fall, Spearheading the Sin Movement, on No Idea), and the band plans to retire a good deal of material from past records before replacing him with Chuck French (late of Peralta) and moving on. VIA TANIA 8/8, PARK WEST Via Tania is the band identity of former local Tania Bowers (profiled in Post No Bills last month), who this past spring released her first full-length record, Under a Different Sky, on Chocolate Industries. It's more milk chocolate than semisweet dark, for the most part--a languid and smoky fusion of trip-hop and torch song somewhere between Sade warmth and Hope Sandoval cool, sexy but unattainable. Cat Power headlines; this show is part of Estrojam. CONCRETE BLONDE, THEO, LORI BARBERO 8/9, METRO I'd happily pay a cover just to watch this group of veterans chat. They'll do more than that at this Estrojam showcase, of course. Concrete Blonde have done well on the comeback trail with last year's memorable Group Therapy and should provide a solid rock set to anchor the unpredictability of the others: Theo Kogan of the venerable New York punk band the Lunachicks has set out on an iffy new path as an "ambient" chanteuse, and Babes in Toyland cofounder Lori Barbero is back on the warpath after the faux Babes reunion held without her last year. A Last Waltz-style all-star jam seems unlikely, but I'm still hoping. SAW DOCTORS 8/9, PARK WEST Ireland's Saw Doctors have nurtured for well over a decade the kind of audience that back home is considered an adoring public (they're chronic chart toppers there and in the UK) and here is considered a cult following. Listening to their new odds-and-ends compilation, Play It Again, Sham! (Shamtown), I have to think the Irish are right about these guys: by following the thread of sentimentality that connects the pop innocence of Springsteen and the Ramones to good old Gaelic pint-swinging, they manage to show us what Irish-American nostalgia looks like from the other side. This is wholesome, sing-along stuff that's bound to hit almost any listener in the head and stick. FORMS 8/10, BEAT KITCHEN This Brooklyn band has a way with the epic on their full-length debut, Icarus (Threespheres). Though the riffage here reminds some of Sunny Day Real Estate and June of 44, I suspect that what the Forms are really aiming for is more like synth-period Rush with indie-acceptable vocals and production values. Happily, people don't seem quite so afraid to admit that these days. TORA! TORA! TORRANCE! 8/10, FIRESIDE BOWL All too often pleas against cynicism fall on deaf ears, usually with good reason--earnestness tends to sound like earnestness you've heard before. But this Minneapolis band's second album, A Cynic's Nightmare (The Militia Group), is aptly named: a Husker Du-ish combination of inward daring and expansive heart gets a shot of sonic inventiveness a la Cave In (check out the joyous psychedelic indulgence of "UFO" as a counterbalance to all the emo sneaking and swerving). PRIMORDIAL UNDERMIND 8/11, EMPTY BOTTLE At times dreamy and laconic, at times ferociously intense, Primordial Undermind is one of North America's best psychedelic bands. Lead guitarist (and wielder of other instruments) Eric Arn is a veteran of the New England guitar monster Crystalized Movements and brings a quality of perpetual explosion with him wherever he goes, but the decade-old Undermind have developed their power far beyond its beginnings. Their upcoming fifth album, Thin Shells of Revolution (Emperor Jones), reconciles their Hawkwind-like heavy spaciness with a moving, elegiac trance sensibility. Also on the bill are the Austin band Bahrain and Chicago's Plastic Crimewave Sound. THE LIVING JARBOE & LARSEN 8/13, BOTTOM LOUNGE Even in the deep underground, male artists with an unpredictable manner, a deeply idiosyncratic and personally spiritual vision, etc, etc, may well be hailed by at least a few as outsider geniuses, while female ones are far more likely to be dismissed as merely flaky or scary. Yet many who agree to meet Jarboe at least halfway (whether in her work with Swans or projects since) come away feeling transformed. For this tour she performs with the Italian collective Larsen for the first time in the U.S. Larsen released the devastating album Rever on Michael Gira's Young God label last year; they appear in the States only rarely. A forthcoming DVD, Krzykognia, documents a joint performance in a Polish church--a fitting venue for Jarboe, whose cathartic energy reminds me at times of the spiritual force of Diamanda Galas, though less structured by classical training.

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