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Friday 25

ASYLUM STREET SPANKERS These Energizer bunnies are touring on the new Re-Assembly, a self-released three-hour DVD that captures their tenth anniversary show last year at Austin's Texas Union Theater, where 21 current and former members took the stage to play 29 songs. At first that might seem like too much of a good thing, but overkill's the point with the Spankers, a genre-hopping, mostly acoustic act that comes armed with what seems like the contents of every music store in their hometown. 8 and 11 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $15. --Monica Kendrick

GENDERS This Detroit duo plays black-eyeliner-and-dead-roses music, like a slightly gothier hybrid of Tuxedomoon and the Residents, and singer Jeans (aka Jeffrey) sounds like a raging queen who just might fly into a hissy fit at any second. (Not that he ever does.) Their debut EP, There's Something in the Treats (Tigerbeat6), is slinky, creepy, and incredibly stylish, but without the pretension or materialism that stylishness often implies. Plus there's just enough sentimental dreaminess in their austere and icy sound to make you hope for a rush of warmth or an explosion of energy--but of course that payoff never comes. Instead of feeling let down, though, you feel fulfilled--you actually want to wallow, or you wouldn't be listening to this stuff in the first place. Adult. headlines and the Assassins play second. 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179, $15. All ages. --Liz Armstrong

ROGUE WAVE My comrade Keith Harris once described the ruling musical principle of the present age as "High Pop Formalism," meaning the most viable option for contemporary artists is the refinement of previous styles. That sounds like a bad scene, but it doesn't have to be--when I hear a band like Rogue Wave, I'm reminded of all the little things I like about living in an evacuated and decadent historical cul-de-sac. For instance, front man Zach Rogue never lets a display of emotion, either genuine or calculated, get in the way of a song whose pop perfection is itself affecting--and there are a lot of songs like that on the new Descended Like Vultures (Sub Pop). "Salesman at the Day of the Parade," "10:1," and "Are You on My Side" have the lift and sweep of the best tunes from Modest Mouse or Broken Social Scene, and without all the messy bodily fluids. Devin Davis and Margot & the Nuclear So and So's open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --J. Niimi

Saturday 26

HEALTHY WHITE BABY In this trio Danny Black is backed by bassist Laurie Stirratt--whom he got to know when his old band, the Blacks, was touring with her old band Blue Mountain--and drummer Ryan Juravic. Their self-titled debut on Broadmoor Records (which Stirratt runs with her brother, Wilco bassist John) is a fine piece of stripped-down rural rock 'n' roll: when the occasional punkish guitar flourish lands in the middle of Black's pool of angry-bittersweet tunes, it makes a very satisfying splash. Adam Fitz (see the Meter) and Quentin Hirsley open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Monica Kendrick

CHRIS TRAPPER The Push Stars is one of those bands I've always felt I should make more of an effort to like. To my ears they play gleaming, unassuming, completely unthreatening pop rock with a pinch of Big Star soul--but obviously somebody connects with it. Am I truly dead inside? Or am I just allergic to anything that can double as middle-of-the-road sound-track rock? For his new solo album, the self-released Gone Again, front man Chris Trapper brings in the Boston-based Wolverine Jazz Band, whose New Orleans-flavored trad jazz at least helps his songs feel like they're destined for a weirder place than the WB. 7:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 29

CAVE IN Despite the obligatory Metal Album Ambient Opening Sequence, Cave In's Perfect Pitch Black (Hydra Head) gets off to a promising start. The band's approach is sort of the sonic equivalent of a mullet: conventional, even heartthrobby vocals in front, Cookie Monster bellowing and metallic donkey-punch guitar in back. Too bad once you get over the initial novelty this fusion starts to defeat itself: fellow heshers Sleep could keep an hour-long epic interesting, but because Cave In's radio-ready vocals and pop-informed structures lead you to expect concise songs, their incessant riffing starts to feel long-winded before five minutes are up. And I could do without all their perfectly unremarkable leads--I think the last time I heard a good rock guitar solo, people were driving Yugos. The Doomriders and Lorene Drive open. 6 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $12. All ages. --J. Niimi

EARLY MAN I was at a party recently where the hosts occupied us for a little while with a bootleg DVD of a 1970 Black Sabbath concert--and, man, everything else in the room just disappeared. It's easy to forget how perfect unadorned, straightforward riffing can be (not to mention how adorable Ozzy used to be--I really wanted to pinch his chubby little cheeks). But Closing In (Matador), the newest from Ohio duo Early Man, reminded me once again. It's a thick, chugging blend of all that was fine and honorable about metal in its youth--besides Sabbath I hear fellow Birminghamians Judas Priest (at least the early stuff), a bit of Iron Maiden, maybe even a hint of Saxon. Both the young men in the band were raised Pentecostal, and they're so happy to have finally discovered the devil's music that listening to their take on it is like seeing a favorite old place through the eyes of someone new, who helps you to be dazzled by it all over again. Priestess opens; DJ Velcro Lewis plays between bands. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door. --Monica Kendrick

SINEAD O'CONNOR For years Sinead O'Connor has felt an affinity for reggae's legacy of spiritually informed defiance--she first shared it with the world back in 1992, when she ended her Saturday Night Live performance of Bob Marley's "War" by tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II. She takes a deeper draw from the same well for her new album, Throw Down Your Arms (on her own label, That's Why There's Chocolate and Vanilla), traveling to Kingston's Tuff Gong Studio to record covers of a dozen vintage tunes. She makes some remarkably strong selections, including five Burning Spear tracks, two Lee Perry songs, Peter Tosh's "Downpresser Man," and (of course) "War." Unfortunately, Sly and Robbie's tastefully neutered production accomplishes the dubious feat of making a song as hard and eerie as "Door Peep"--Burning Spear's first single--sound as soft and sleepy as, well, a recent Burning Spear record. Sly and Robbie play an opening set, then back O'Connor. 7 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $39. All ages. --Bill Meyer

Wednesday 30

TOM ABBS & FREQUENCY RESPONSE Late last year Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Tom Abbs reassembled one of his numerous groups, Frequency Response, to record the score for his abstract video piece The Animated Adventures of Knox. In his director's notes Abbs says the work "chronicles the development of emotional states throughout a lifetime," but I wasn't able to deduce an arc of any sort from its series of blurry, digitally manipulated visuals. Luckily, the music is more engaging: built on a loose set of improvisational structures, the score echoes the shifting colors and textures in the video by increasing and decreasing in density and busyness. The crack ensemble features slashing strings from Abbs (cello, violin), cellist Okkyung Lee, and violinist Jean Cook, alternately fluttering and searing reeds from Alex Harding (baritone sax, bass clarinet) and Oscar Noriega (clarinet, alto sax), and the typically kaleidoscopic drumming of Chad Taylor. Frequency Response will accompany the video at this performance; Geoff Mann replaces Taylor, and Lee is not touring with the group. 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. Free. All ages. --Peter Margasak

ORGANISSIMO This sleek organ trio has only been around for a few years--and keyboardist Jim Alfredson and guitarist Joe Gloss have only been able to vote for a few more. They met in 1997 in the jazz program at Michigan State University, and in the time they've worked together--they co-led a few bands before this one--they've developed a terrific division of labor that puts the organ in charge. Gloss provides chewy chords and measured melodies as a foil to Alfredson's blistering, extroverted style; running with the current fashion that weds mainstream jazz and jam-band soul, Alfredson plays just recklessly enough, committing tiny acts of arson that keep things hot but don't quite bring the house down around his ears. Veteran Michigan drummer Randy Marsh, who's been on the scene nearly 40 years, plays musical camp counselor to his twentysomething bandmates--on the group's new This Is the Place (Big O), he sometimes leads with raw power but more often supports the solos with his turn-on-a-dime responses. 8:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $12. --Neil Tesser

TARANTULA A.D. Book of Sand (Kemodo), the first full-length from these New Yorkers, is a strange, sprawling prog-rock beast: Danny Bensi (cello, violin), Gregory Rogove (piano, drums), and Saunder Jurriaans (guitar, bass) act as a sort of overblown chamber trio, alternating between heavy-metal bombast and faux-classical melodrama. They've obviously spent time working over the arrangements, but the actual music sounds like little more than a spliced-together series of florid introductions, hydroplaning interludes, and incendiary climaxes. A few tracks feature vocals from Devendra Banhart and CocoRosie's Sierra Casady that sketch out hazy melodies, but despite the album's rigor and ambition I had a hard time remembering much of it once it was over. Rope opens. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. --Peter Margasak

Thursday 1

FUNKSTORUNG Chris de Luca and Michael Fakesch have been working together as Funkstorung for ten years, and on the recent The Return to the Acid Planet (K7) they indulge in a bit of nostalgia for their old selves: the album consists of remixes of old tracks they discovered while cleaning their studio. Squelchy synth groans suggest the acid of its title, and though de Luca and Fakesch favor more direct four-on-the-floor beats there's also a whiff of their early IDM egghead tendencies. Unfortunately the record's silly conceptually (it's available only on vinyl and via digital download) and boring musically--they've retreated from the fractal post-hip-hop rhythmic pileups that define their best work. Reverend Robert Sinewave opens. 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-4140 or 312-559-1212, $10. --Peter Margasak

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