THE CHERRY VALENCE, GAYS IN THE MILITARY The cover of GAYS IN THE MILITARY's People Is Beautiful (Gulcher) is a first for comics artist Peter Bagge: he actually made the band's members look more attractive than they are in real life. These local perv rockers hit the stage sweaty, in too-tight camo underwear and play songs about how pissed off they are that they're wasting their time on the prissy audience when they could be fucking. They're the de facto house band for Mr. Skin, a nude-celebrity Web site that member Mike McPadden helps run, and ultra-skankazoid exotic dancers have materialized at recent shows. Their sound lies somewhere between blue balls and an earache--near the spleen, I think. --J. Niimi
Raleigh quintet THE CHERRY VALENCE had to replace two of its core members last year; they cranked out their third album, the new TCV3 (Bifocal Media), pretty quickly considering. But their greaseball AOR blues and scruffy kiss-off make-out grooves don't sound like a rush job. --Monica Kendrick
The Cherry Valence headlines, the Last Vegas plays third, Gays in the Military play second, and Blacksnake opens. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $8.
SCOUT NIBLETT On her latest album, Kidnapped by Neptune (Too Pure), Scout Niblett employs drummer Jason Kourkounis (Burning Brides, Hot Snakes) and guitarist Chris Saligoe, giving some of her tunes a new faux-metal wallop while keeping her melodies sweet and modest. Her naif postures, like the hand claps and chanting on the opening of "Safety Pants," are getting a bit tired, but the new album proves she can kick ass too: on the title track her girl-group shoop-shoops and sensual purrs are nicely offset by a sinister bass-and-drums throb. And her voice remains a beautiful wounded-bird chirp--she sounds like Cat Power's Chan Marshall with the cunning and confidence of Polly Jean Harvey. But I can't help but imagine what she could do if she used more elaborate arrangements, focused more on song structure, and stopped leaning on obvious tension-and-release exercises like the rambling "Newburyport." Blesses/Curses and Static Films open. 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 866-468-3401, $10. --Peter Margasak
JILL SCOTT On her latest album, 2004's Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2 (Hidden Beach), Jill Scott is likeable and smart. Live, she's downright irresistible. Her band avoids treacly cocktail soul and pushy late-night talk-show jazz--the pitfalls of the genre--and her vocals are just as supple and poised. She works an emotional vulnerability that knows when to say when, and her frank sexuality pulls up short of ribald stank without wafting away on clouds of incense and Aveda product. Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah, and Floetry open. a 7 PM, Charter One Pavilion, Northerly Island at Burnham Harbor, 312-540-2000 or 312-559-1212, $59.50-$75. --Keith Harris
BEAR VS. SHARK The songs on Terrorhawk (Equal Vision), the latest album by this Michigan quintet, sound frantic and claustrophobic, like some stir-crazy zoo animal beating against the bars of its cage. I suspect the band's energy might dissipate if the songs opened up a bit. But maybe, just maybe, they'd find a way to fill any available space: the record has a variety and texture that's an improvement over most of the Fugazoid crank you hear these days. On "Baraga Embankment," front man Marc Paffi goes for a weird Freddie Mercury turn, and the band plays so hard they sound like they're hurting themselves. Wax on Radio headlines, Bear vs. Shark plays third, Open Heart Surgery plays second, and the Difference Engine opens. 5 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 866-468-3401, $10. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
BOW WOW All of 18 years old, Bow Wow has just put out his fourth album, Wanted (Sony). Back in 2002 he shed the "Lil'" from his moniker to let everyone know he's no longer a cute kid but a sexy quasi-man, and his postpubescent voice now has an appealing chip-on-his-shoulder maturity. His rhymes, on the other hand, have all the depth of Hop on Pop. His longtime mentor Jermaine Dupri produced 10 of the 11 tracks on Wanted; favoring synths over samples, he creates flashy electro beats that at their best are a club DJ's wet dream. Bow Wow claims his material appeals to both kids and adults, and he's right when it comes to his cocky, swaggering party anthems. But though his snuggly romantic odes may trigger inchoate feelings of doe-eyed puppy love in adolescent girls, all they trigger in me is the gag reflex. Omarion, Marques Houston, Bobby Valentino, Pretty Ricky, and B5 open. 7:30 PM, UIC Pavilion, 1150 W. Harrison, 312-413-5740 or 312-559-1212, $49.50. All ages. --Kabir Hamid
FAIRMONT This self-styled New Jersey "dark pop" band, whose claim to fame seems to be that they evolved from a group that used to open for the Strokes and lent a member to My Chemical Romance, sounds like the better acts from early-90s college radio (maybe Nirvana and the Violent Femmes) trying to play hippie folk tunes. Their current release, Hell Is Other People (Reinforcement/Renfield), is a concept album with a purported connection to Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit, and yeah, it comes freighted with all the threadbare adolescent "revelations" you'd expect. It's also kinda charming, at least if you used to think existentialism was the shit back in high school. The lyrics are more gleefully bitter than mopey and angsty ("I'm like an ant that you are burning black / Underneath your magnifying glass"), and the band's penchant for shifting dramatically into bang-your-head-now half-time stomping almost makes me nostalgic for Alice in Chains. Minus Scale opens. See also Sunday. 9 PM, Big Horse Lounge, 1558 N. Milwaukee, 312-515-3897, $5. --Ann Sterzinger
MAGAS, KILLER WHALES The only thing that screams summer high jinks louder than a daylong outdoor show in the parking lot of a run-down old Tastee-Freez is the lineup at this one. Though I'm a sucker for headliner Magas, whose sweaty-gut beats and hectic synth ripples never fail to get a crowd of kids pumping their fists, the special treat here is local outfit Killer Whales. The only time I've seen these boys they performed shirtless in shorts and socks, their skinny-chested innocence teetering on the brink of pornographic, a la Tom Cruise in his tighty whities in Risky Business. The frisky, snotty songs all seemed to begin in the middle of a gust of energy, then end with a crash. Surf guitar smoothed out hiccups of high-speed ska, and two drum kits--one made mostly of floor toms and a well-loved metal trash can--stepped all over each other's toes in the excitement. Also performing are Voltage and Lazer Crystal--the house bands at Camp Gay, which is organizing this show--plus the Chandeliers, Beau Wanzer, Michael Columbia, and Mass Shivers. (Other than Magas's headlining slot, set order had not been determined at press time.) The show is free, but donations will be accepted to defray the cost of the PA and the Porta Potti. a 3-9 PM, Tastee-Freez, 2815 W. Armitage, 773-252-1464. Free. All ages. --Liz Armstrong
CAMP CLIMAX FOR GIRLS These Saint Louis rockers treat Chicago as something of a second home; they recorded their debut album, Ten Dollar Birds (Anomer), here with Mike Lust last year. Even more so than Lust's band Tight Phantomz, they're hairy, freaky, heavy, and dirty--they play shameless comb-in-the-back-pocket Camaro rock, but not in a thin and trendy way. The grooves and tortured guitar sounds of their midwest-southern boogie are so raunchy it's scary; their song titles ("Like, Totally") hint at a kind of goofy, stoned artiness, but if they called their next one "It Crawled From Jim Dandy's Buttcrack" I wouldn't be surprised. Rollo Tomasi headlines and Sleepwalker Defense opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Monica Kendrick
FAIRMONT See Saturday. Minus Scale, Inept, and Type 40 open. 6 PM, Nite Light, 7009 W. Ogden, Berwyn, 708-788-7009, $3. All ages.
RAHIM Like a few other bands on New York indie label Frenchkiss, Rahim pass muster with me for relatively extramusical reasons. I love labelmates the Hold Steady mostly for their witty, caustic lyrics, and I enjoy the Ex Models and Turing Machine, two bands that sound fundamentally different, for the similar degree of pluck they display in getting around the bother of writing actual songs. Jungles, Rahim's debut EP, works because you can imagine it's a dry headphone mix of demos for Gang of Four's second album, and if nothing else, that counts as a novel form of thievery; the record's arguably a hair's breadth from inventive. Temper Temper headlines, Bound Stems play second, and Rahim opens. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. Free. --J. Niimi
FAITH EVANS On her fourth album, The First Lady (Capitol), R & B diva Faith Evans inches closer to her full potential, shedding P. Diddy as a producer and taking on the theme of new beginnings. In January 2004 she was arrested on a drug possession charge and agreed to enter rehab, and on "Again" she confesses to her fuckups--sort of. "In ATL I caught a case / And the media tried to say / I had a habit I couldn't manage / And I'm throwin' my life away," she sings, then adds, "I've learned so much from my mistakes." The album's big-name producers--including the Neptunes and Jermaine Dupri--offer a few bland, workmanlike submissions, but luckily up-and-comers Ivan "Orthodox" Barias and Carvin "Ransum" Haggins pick up the slack. They spread out a sumptuous Motown arrangement on "Again," evoke a breezy 70s steel-pan vibe on "Jealous," and bring a bumping, jazzy, Jill Scott-worthy neosoul sound to "Get Over You." There are some awful lyrics--it's hard to believe Evans would actually mutter "You got me straight trippin', boo" after Eugene Levy deflavorized the line in Bringing Down the House--but with her superior pipes she's as good as any soul singer weaned on hip-hop. 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $33.50-$35. --Peter Margasak
MARJORIE FAIR Self Help Serenade (Capitol), the debut album from this LA band, is getting rave reviews, and I can tell exactly why. The post-Radiohead, post-Flaming Lips, post-post-rock complexity of their sweet and swooping songs, combined with their knack for knowing just when to bust out the ripping David Gilmour-ish guitar break, makes for the kind of music that gets certain folks salivating every time. The band's style is undeniable, their substance less so. The 22-20s headline, King Elementary plays second, and Marjorie Fair opens. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10, 18+. --Monica Kendrick
JAGUARES Cronicas de un laberinto (Sony International), the first studio album from these Mexican superstars in four years, was coproduced by Adrian Belew, who also worked with Caifanes, the previous band of front man Saul Hernandez. As with most Jaguares records, the new songs are solid art-rock that occasionally veers into rootsy humility or stadium-rock pretense--and damned if I'll try to judge what they're most earnest about. But I have read the lyric translations in the booklet, so I can say that Hernandez's work and persona are a muddled but intriguing meld of politics, mysticism, and plain what-the-hell--like Bono without his unconvincing latter-day ironies. Jaguares also play Friday 8/5 at 9 PM at House of Blues. 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $45, 18+. --Monica Kendrick
KNITTERS The Knitters might be the only one-off side project to inspire a tribute album, Poor Little Knitter on the Road (Bloodshot, 1999)--which is especially odd given that the band was more notable for its conceptual cojones than its actual music. In 1985 John Doe, Exene Cervenka, and D.J. Bonebrake of X, Dave Alvin of the Blasters, and bassist Johnny Ray Bartel released Poor Little Critter on the Road, a slight but charming digression into what was later christened alt-country. Now they've reunited for The Modern Sounds of the Knitters (Zoe), where they strip down old X gems like "In This House That I Call Home" and "Burning House of Love," serve up some archetypal originals, and take stabs at iconic tunes like "Rank Stranger" and even "Born to Be Wild." The Knitters made a bold statement 20 years ago, but now they sound like a mediocre neorockabilly outfit; Alvin's guitar leads are sharp and Doe's singing is better than ever, but listening to Cervenka's thin, tonally challenged croak, it's obvious she needs X's rough, noisy attack behind her. Phranc opens. 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $20. All ages. --Peter Margasak