HOWLING HEX Neil Hagerty has never abandoned his influences--the former Royal Trux guitarist has been mining the blues and the Rolling Stones' version of it since his early days in Pussy Galore. But he's brought more art damage to the genre than most. His latest project, a rotating cast of musicians he calls the Howling Hex, churns out a barrage of looping, out-of-focus riffs over sloppy grooves. Some tunes on the band's forthcoming You Can't Beat Tomorrow (Drag City)--such as the hooky, driving "Apache Energy Plan"--reveal a sharpness he's always been capable of, but most of the material is characterized by an appealing, almost jammy looseness. Its dizzying quality is amplified on a DVD that accompanies the new release, where live performances are intertwined with animation, spoken narrative, and weird shots of visual art. For this show he's supposedly supplementing the music with video and bits of theater; as of press time his record label was still unsure exactly what that meant. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10. --Peter Margasak
RPG Fulltime, the self-released debut by this Virginia band, generated enough buzz last year to warrant a reissue on Arclight Records with an accompanying DVD. The album definitely deserves a second shot at a wider audience: RPG plays roaring arena rock with a deft touch, and it has a distinctive singer in Matt Conner, who sounds like John Lydon after voice lessons. The record's not totally convincing as anything-can-happen party music--like, say, early AC/DC, which they clearly admire. But you get the same kind of thrill you get from watching highly proficient athletes move within a strict framework of rules. The Decibators and Shame Club open. 9 PM, the Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-0011, $10. --Monica Kendrick
BARBEZ Anybody can piddle around with themes of romance and sex, but these New Yorkers are past all that--in fact there aren't any other humans at all on their beautiful and desolate planet. Each melancholy melody or obsessive ostinato seems to belong to its own dimension, and the group's third album, Insignificance (Important), sounds like it just happened to capture the whole lineup--which includes Pamelia Kurstin on theremin, Dan Coates on modified Palm Pilot, and Danny Tunick on vibes and marimba--at the one point in all of space and time where they intersected perfectly. Tunick tucks his whimsical, hallucinatory lines into Ksenia Vidyaykina's velvety Slavic voice and Kurstin's lost-at-sea theremin, and pointy-toothed guitar nibbles at everyone's legs. Occasionally they'll all burst into an inappropriately ecstatic pop melody, which feels really uncomfortable, like when daddy took you out for ice cream after you saw him hit mommy. It's a sound track for getting lost in a cold mossy forest after dark, daring yourself to open the flap of the bearded lady's tent, or quietly bleeding to death in the bathtub. Spires That in the Sunset Rise headline and Sapat opens. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Liz Armstrong
COHEED AND CAMBRIA No one could ever accuse this neoprog outfit of lacking ambition: its third album, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV: Volume One, From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (Columbia), continues the complex saga of a young man out to avenge the death of his parents and siblings. There's a tie-in graphic novel, and some folks may want to bypass the album entirely and just read the book--this record has some nice riffs and lyrics, but musically it feels sodden and anticlimactic, the story isn't sucking me in, and I'm not hearing much that Rush or even Marillion hasn't done better. The Blood Brothers, Dredg, and MewithoutYou open. a 6 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, 773-275-6800 or 312-559-1212, $19. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS Champions of musical innovation distrust the retro appeal of this gutbucket belter and the cadre of (mostly) white James Brown fanatics who make up the house band for her label, Daptone. They have a point: there's not a cut on Jones's latest album, Naturally, that couldn't have been recorded more than 30 years ago. But then again, there's not a cut on the disc that shouldn't have been recorded 30 years ago--and you can't say that about the collected works of Lyn Collins, Marva Whitney, or any other of JB's Original Funky Divas. 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $14. --Keith Harris
KITTIE Despite all the sexual taunting on their 2000 debut--which made the early Donnas sound like Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity--this then-teenage all-female Ontario metal band grew impatient with the "all-female" pigeonhole. Good for them--the gender angle might be interesting to armchair sociologists, but I'd rather just listen to a really good metal band. Besides, you can't tell their gender at all until the vocals come in--and sometimes not even then. They've been on hiatus since their wonderful 2004 album, Until the End (Artemis); this show at the Windy City Invitational one-day metal extravaganza is their first with a new guitarist and bassist. Macabre headlines; also on the bill are Bury Your Dead, Kataklysm, Most Precious Blood, God Dethroned, Acumen Nation, Leaves Eyes, Atrocity, Nightrage, Manntis, Hell Within, Hurtlocker, Novembers Doom, Lilitu, Epoch of Unlight, and Thine Eyes Bleed.
Noon, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $35. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
LUCINDA WILLIAMS For obvious reasons, perfectionists like Lucinda Williams tend to shy away from live albums. But after accelerating her recording pace in recent years, she loosened up enough to release Live @ the Fillmore (Lost Highway). The guitar licks still cleanly fall into their proper places, but the demands of performing onstage seem to sharpen Williams's upper register; lacking the ability to rework her slur until it teeters on the verge of affectation, she instead flays her vowels till they bristle with unguarded lust. C.C. Adcock opens. 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, sold out, 18+. --Keith Harris
OUR LADY PEACE It took this band more than three years to record the new Healthy in Paranoid Times (Columbia) and they're not going to let you forget it: the booklet includes a Harper's Index-style list of stats explaining that "within these 1,165 days . . . 30 active wars were fought across the globe . . . 9.8 million people died from AIDS," and so on. Front man Raine Maida has been traveling in Iraq and Sudan with the War Child organization, and he clearly feels guilty about spending time on something as trivial as rock music. Listening to the weaker, U2-esque moments on the album, I'm not inclined to be reassuring, but tracks like "Wipe That Smile off Your Face" have a smoking intensity in spite of the bombast, not because of it. Danko Jones and Pedestrian open. 6:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $19 in advance, $20 at the door. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
KAISER CHIEFS These guys are better than the white-belt copycat rap they've been stuck with, but not by much. Their Monkees-meet-the Knack shtick only really works when they're being actively obnoxious, and aside from their big hit--whose chorus seems distinctly related to the Prefab Four's "Valleri"--only a couple songs rock out on Employment, their debut record. The rest of the album is accomplished if idle worship at the altar of Albarn and Partridge, which admittedly may lead to something better down the road. And said big hit, "I Predict a Riot," is a flat-out home run, destined to take its place alongside "Take Me Out" and "Mr. Brightside" on nostalgia radio in 20 years. Foo Fighters headline, Weezer plays second, and the Kaiser Chiefs open. a 7:30 PM, Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont, 847-635-6601 or 312-559-1212, $29.50-$39.50. All ages. --Brian Nemtusak
MOLOTOV This hip-hop/hard-rock foursome may be Mexico's dumbest band, but they've never pretended to be anything other than a bunch of mooks. The recent Con todo respeto (Surco/Universal Music Latin), a covers collection, does nothing to improve their image, but it does provide a few minor yuks. The Misfits classic "I Turned Into a Martian" is transformed into a cumbia called "Marciano," while the early Beastie Boys rant "Girls" becomes the relentlessly stoopid hard rocker "Chavas." The band also fiddles with Trio's "Da Da Da," melts down El Tri's "Perro negro y callejero" with ZZ Top's "La Grange," and raps its way through Vico C's "Mi abuela" over the bass line from the Clash's "The Magnificent Seven." 7:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $32.50-$35. All ages. --Peter Margasak
16 BITCH PILE-UP, SIXES Oakland noise artist Ryan Jencks, aka SIXES, loves to piss people off. A few weeks ago at the Wooden Octopus Skull noise festival in Seattle, he rigged up two high-intensity strobe lights onstage--one flashing in sync with his guitar-electronics setup, the other flashing sickeningly to its own off-kilter rhythm. It was a neat effect until both strobes got stuck in the on position and blinded the crowd. Two 15-minute-long Sixes recordings I recently listened to sounded, respectively, like what you'd hear placing a stethoscope against a highway overpass support column in the middle of the night and this cool video clip of a ComEd substation bursting into flames that I saw on the Internet one time. Epileptics and the incontinent will want to consult their physicians before attending. --J. Niimi
16 BITCH PILE-UP is one of the best band names I've heard lately--it could easily belong to a whiskey-fueled Camaro-rock outfit, which is a good indicator that these women from the Camaro-rock stronghold of Columbus, Ohio, don't take themselves as god-awfully seriously as other noise nerds. Their MO--to treat noise music like rock 'n' roll with all the extraneous stuff cut out--won't connect with everyone, but for some it couldn't sound more right. Using keyboards, processors, and bass guitar, they improvise toward collective thrashing crescendos in a way that sounds familiar, but their use of strangled, eerie, half-audible vocals is an unusual touch. --Monica Kendrick
16 Bitch Pile-Up headlines; Sixes, Bloodyminded, Gays in the Military, Vertonen, and Panicsville open. 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. Free.
FLESHTONES With a career spanning nearly 30 years, New York's Fleshtones dispel the notion that playing garage rock is just a phase kids go through. On Beachhead (Yep Roc), their 13th studio album, the Fleshtones bash away with spastic glee, with blasts of harmonica and sax spurting up out of their fiercely hooky songs. Younger bands may have surpassed them in loudness and weirdness, but these vets have got the kind of playful assurance that sounds like experience kicking the ass of innocence. Radical, never; satisfying, always. The Havox and CoCoComa open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --Monica Kendrick
MATES OF STATE Pop bands with as many moving parts as Mates of State usually have all the flexibility of a parade float--if they take a corner too fast, all the banners and ornaments go flying. But the Mates, a keyboard-drums (and husband-wife) duo, operate more like a moped--on their most recent full-length, 2003's Team Boo (Polyvinyl), they joyride through stalled traffic and careen down blind alleys, and they can stop on a dime. Live, Jason Hammel's frenetic drumming catalyzes the giddy panic in Kori Gardner's keyboards; their combination of full-bore harmonies and intimate stage chemistry would bring a tear to your eye if you weren't so busy dancing. Ida opens. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $14 at the door, 18+. --J. Niimi