THE LAST VEGAS The Last Vegas's third album, Seal the Deal (for which this is a release party, though Get Hip isn't actually releasing it till April 10), is a bigger and sharper affair than 2004's Lick 'Em and Leave 'Em thanks in part to new singer Chad Cherry, who's the, er, cherry on top of this shameless garage-glam-hard-rock confection. Despite being young Chicagoans, they sound like bitter LA scenesters circa 1988 wondering why those poseurs Guns N' Roses made it so big when everyone knows Axl Rose will be patronizing high-priced Hollywood shrinks while all the real rockers are still playing this stuff. There's a joyous, trilling solo in the middle of "Goddamn Fantastic," but the song still comes off like a stylish kiss-off. Also on the bill is Here Comes Old Vodka Tits, the latest project from former Didjits and Gaza Strippers front man Rick Sims. The Last Vegas headlines, 8th Grade plays third, Here Comes Old Vodka Tits plays second, 18 Speed Tranny opens, and DJ Gregg Cynics (Get Hip owner and Cynics guitarist Gregg Kostelich) spins throughout. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $8. --Monica Kendrick
OF MONTREAL Of Montreal always sounds like it struggles mightily to come up with music that lives up to its song titles. The titles on last year's The Sunlandic Twins (Polyvinyl) aren't quite up to par, but it'd be hard to top "Dustin Hoffman's Children Don't Enter the Bathroom" or any of the 15 other songs referencing Hoffman on 2001's The Early Four-Track Recordings. Nick Barnes's bouncing, rubbery melody lines on the new disc reverberate with their usual dizzying yet somehow hooky unpredictability; "Oslo in the Summertime" sounds like Yo La Tengo on laughing gas. Cloud Cult and Michael Columbia open; DJ Bald Eagle spins throughout. 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $13 in advance, $15 day of show, 18+. --Monica Kendrick
CORDERO, HIGH HAWK Great news: New York's CORDERO has signed to Bloodshot, which will release their latest album, En Este Momento, on Tuesday--hopefully that means we'll see them around more often. Cordero's named for Ani Cordero, who started the group in the late 90s with the help of Howe Gelb and Joey Burns; after moving to New York she teamed up with her husband, Chris Verene, late of DQE and the Rock*a*Teens. On the new album, where she and Verene are joined by bassist Eric Eble and trumpeter Omar Little (Frankie Lymon's nephew), the band confidently melds a southwestern, Calexico-ish romanticism with buoyant Nuyorican street music (most songs are in Spanish), and Verene's drumming anchors the sound without ever trapping it. --Monica Kendrick
Rip HIGH HAWK's self-titled debut EP into iTunes, delete the pointless instrumental track that opens it, and you're left with a five-song set of the best sort of beardy, psychy roots rock that seems to say "Chicago" to the nonmidwestern world. Far from trad purists, they know that rubbing country twang up against far-out influences is good for some kinky thrills: "Ukelele and Lie" welds an old-timey ukulele melody to a cocky, vamping, oddly sexy bass line. The stoner-pop cut "Woman" shows up a second time as a full-blown psychedelic workout, complete with tabla-style drumming--making it clear that High Hawk's willing to fuck with any style, even its own. --Miles Raymer Cordero headlines, Garrison Starr plays second, and High Hawk opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8 in advance, $10 at the door.
THE NEIN The only thing I get out of the Nein's Wrath of Circuits (Sonic Unyon) was a reminder that mechanical-sounding, consumer-oriented postindustrial music like this is now also churned out in a mechanical, consumer-oriented, postindustrial manner. These guys would be perfect for a magazine feature on the postindustrial "New Music Indiestry" wrapped around a picture of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's Pitney-Bowes machine. Storybook Funeral headlines and Fourth Rotor opens. 7 PM, No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, 773-743-3355, $6. All ages. --J. Niimi
SMOKING POPES, BAYSIDE BAYSIDE's music is a stew of heartfelt howling and hard emo-pop by way of Victory Records posthardcore--yeah, that's a mouthful, but the band condenses it very, very neatly into keening, pleading songs that hit you with sharp, concise, emotionally manipulative bursts. I'd call it powerful stuff if I was feeling it, but mostly it reminds me of an especially cold line from Oscar Wilde: "There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love." I suspect that if these guys had been born 20 years earlier they'd be playing hair-metal power ballads. They almost are anyway. Bayside's touring behind Acoustic, a new live DVD that comes with a CD of acoustic tracks recorded (mostly) in the studio--including a cover of the SMOKING POPES' "Megan" with Josh Caterer on vocals. The Popes are peddling a live DVD/CD of their own--At Metro (Victory), a tight, joyous, and utterly efficient set drawn from their reunion show last November--and touring for the first time since 1998, when Caterer was born again. They're also working on new material. I suppose it's occurred to Caterer that Jesus didn't stay dead either. See also Sunday. The Smoking Popes headline, Bayside plays second, and the Fold opens. 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
STEREOLAB, ESPERS STEREOLAB seems hell-bent on sounding like Stereolab. "One of the most experimental bands of the last ten years" goes the rhetoric, but the "experiment" now must be to see how many songwriting rules they can accumulate and still find an engineer who won't fall asleep during their sessions. I'd genuinely like to hear their take: do they feel self-actualized or exhausted? Because their project of metarepetition--the way the gears in all their songs calmly mesh, the way they've been releasing the same damn album for 15 years--is exhausting me. Their latest, the new Fab Four Suture (Too Pure), collects six recent singles.
ESPERS, who open, are one of the very few New Beard America acts that've managed to hold my attention. Credit front man Greg Weeks, whose eclectic multi-instrumentality matches his sheer musicality (a rare thing in psych-folk circles) and who demonstrated great taste by inviting formerly local guitar whiz Kevin Barker (aka Currituck Co.) to tour with him a few years ago. The expansive mood on last year's The Weed Tree (Locust Music), an all-acoustic album of mostly covers, is hard to dislike; everyone's shared the feeling of grandeur in quietude that the music captures. 8 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $21, 18+. --J. Niimi
TRACY & THE PLASTICS The bio for Tracy & the Plastics explains that it's a "band made and performed by lesbian feminist video artist Wynne Greenwood"--she sings live while accompanied by videotaped versions of herself on keyboards and drums. Greenwood uses the band to comment on being in a band, making art, making product, or the nature of performance and communication, and takes advantage of the format to engage the audience with ideas about relationships, gender, and perception, frequently incorporating aspects of performance art or Portland punk pedagogy. As far as I know she's the only artist in the underground actually gunning such heavy discourse on identity--and making it fun, sometimes danceable, and almost always thought-provoking. Think riot-girl electro by way of Ciccone Youth. The Reader's Liz Armstrong opens with a DJ set; last time I saw her spin at Rodan, she played Ned's Atomic Dustbin and French no wave back-to-back. 11 PM, Rodan, 1530 N. Milwaukee, 773-276-7036 or 866-468-3401, $10. --Jessica Hopper
DANU Guitarist Donal Clancy, a veteran of Solas and son of one of the Clancy Brothers, is probably the best-known musician in this septet, whose members hail from four different counties in Ireland. But vocalist Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh is the real star of Danu's sixth album, When All Is Said and Done (Shanachie). Singing with the spine-tingling clarity that great female Irish singers cultivate, she sounds more adept with Irish than English and skates so lightly through the forest of instruments that it sounds like she's performing a cappella even when she's not. The rest of the band swing through ornate and familiar melody lines on the instrumental jigs and reels, but they can't match the force of her personality. Chatham County Line opens. 4 and 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $20, $16 seniors and kids. All ages. --Monica Kendrick
FIELD MUSIC Field Music's self-titled debut is on Memphis Industries, the UK label that seems to absorb its country's hyper-hyped indie bands--the Go! Team and the Pipettes, to name a couple--almost as an operating principle. They sound a little like the Television Personalities or Lora Logic, except that their incorrigibly cuckoo but tearfully sincere take on early teenybopper pop is reconstructed with the elegant precision of modern Japanese architecture: all polished glass, clean geometry, and calm modularity, to the extent that even the quirkiest of quirks turns out as gracefully catchy as it is logically fuxored. Their standout Zen-tech pop draws you back again and again, the same way Yoshio Taniguchi's gleaming MoMA annex or your worn-out old copy of Beat Rhythm News do: with a combination of unquenchable fascination and awed wonder. The Its and Recent Photo open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --J. Niimi
SMOKING POPES, BAYSIDE See Saturday. Both bands also play a free in-store at 2 PM at Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark; call 773-477-5994. The Smoking Popes headline, Bayside plays second, and May or May Not opens. 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $19, 18+.
THE WEDDING PRESENT Huge in the UK but never more than a cult band in the U.S., the Wedding Present reactivated itself in 2004, six years after front man David Gedge took a break to concentrate on his band Cinerama. Last year's Take Fountain (Manifesto) may even have started as a Cinerama record--most of the members of that band play on it, with the notable exception of Gedge's now-ex-girlfriend Sally Murrell. But its genesis doesn't really matter: the record could've been recorded (or on the British pop charts) anytime in the past 20 years. Its dour, cynically wistful songs are propelled by a steady wind of buzzing guitar--the riff on the opener, "Interstate 5 (Extended Version)," reminds me a bit of Stereolab's "Jenny Ondioline." Sally Crewe & the Sudden Moves open. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $15. --Monica Kendrick
SUBWAYS These Brits may be their own worst enemies. They've assembled their three-piece from a couple and the lead singer's brother, and they're shooting to break into the American market with a boatload of NME hype and an ambitious marketing campaign--both really terrible ideas. Their debut, Young for Eternity (on Infectious in the UK and Sire in the States), has garage-rock guitars and all the anthemic parts of 90s Britpop working for it, and could easily sell in the five figures--but even if it does, the band's outsize ambition is gonna make that look like a failure. (By the way, it's official: Oasis is retro now. Think about a 60s retro-revival band from the 90s itself becoming the object of a retro revival, but don't think about it too hard.) The Subways just aren't good enough to earn a second chance from a major label's accountants, so they'll be sunk once the inevitable backlash against their overzealous self-promotion kicks in. Have fun with it while it lasts, kids, and keep an eye on those invoices. The Shys and Mar open. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Miles Raymer
GEORGE CLINTON & PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC George Clinton's recent two-disc set with the P-Funk All Stars, How Late Do You Have 2 B B 4 U R Absent? (The C Kunspyruhzy), is a mess--flatulent, fascinating, and ultimately inexplicable. Bobby Womack singing "Whole Lotta Shakin'" is no less memorable than Prince pitching in on "Paradigm" (as in "Brother, can you . . . ?"). "I Can Dance," a 15-minute interview with a stripper set to an unmoored guitar solo, upstages the sturdy soul women showcased elsewhere. And whether he's sleep-funkin' through "Bounce 2 This" or manhandling a drum-and-bass version of "Goodnight Sweetheart," Clinton defies good taste, aesthetic standards, and rational understanding with a panache that no arty noise band could ever summon. 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $33.50, 18+. --Keith Harris
ORIGINAL SINNERS Exene Cervenka's voice is no more conventionally musical now than when she was in X, one of the ten greatest rock 'n' roll bands America ever produced. The ways she uses it have changed, though; when she sang in the proto-alt-country band the Knitters back in the day it was a field trip, but on last year's The Modern Sounds of the Knitters that rootsiness sounded like her natural mode. The poet-painter-actress-singer hasn't made a rock record per se since the Original Sinners' 2002 debut; the band's new album, Sev7ens (Nitro), features a mostly new lineup built out of Saint Louis's 7 Shot Screamers, a rowdy roots-rockabilly outfit that leans a bit hard on the Billy Zoom pedal. The album's complex, nostalgic, and a little breathless: Cervenka's songwriting doesn't have the dark-humored, evil glee it used to, but it sounds like she's having fun anyway, especially on a cover of the Gun Club's "Ghost on the Highway." The 7 Shot Screamers and Lil' Isaac & the Dirty Stank open. 8:30 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10 in advance, $12 day of show. --Monica Kendrick