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Friday 16

DIAGRAM-A Diagram-A is Providence-based noise artist Dan Greenwood, who builds apocalyptic-looking sound-making devices out of detritus like industrial surplus telephones, a flak jacket laden with switch boxes, and a gas mask vomiting ropes of copper-wire robot guts. One track from an RRRecords CD-R released a few years back sounds like a radio communication from a doomed ship in a cyborg war: dead air bursts open with battlefield datapanik, making the intervening silences scarier and more suspenseful as the piece grinds toward oblivion. Illusion of Safety headlines and Snake Charm opens. 9 PM, Enemy, 1550 N. Milwaukee, third floor, 312-493-3657, $5 suggested donation. A --J. Niimi

DR. JOHN Dr. John's latest album has such a great concept I wish I liked it more than I do. On Mercernary (Blue Note) the New Orleans icon sings Johnny Mercer, the Georgia-born wordsmith behind more than 1,000 songs, including "Moon River," "That Old Black Magic," "Stardust," and "Blues in the Night" (better known as "My Mama Done Told Me"). The prospect of one son of the south interpreting another is promising, but to succeed, the doctor has to interpret more than the lyrics: Mercer wrote most of the songs on Mercernary with Harold Arlen, who inventively augmented his soulful melodies with richly textured harmonies. Unfortunately Dr. John tends to simplify the harmonies, turning most of them into stereotypical second-line progressions; by glossing over the music's nuances he does a disservice to the lyrics, which both serve and benefit from those harmonies. He performs here as part of Ravinia's "Jazz in June" salute to New Orleans; the Preservation Hall Jazz Band headlines and the Neville Brothers open. 7:30 PM, Pavilion, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay & Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park, 847-266-5100, $40 pavilion, $10 lawn. All ages. --Neil Tesser

SON VOLT Jay Farrar took a seven-year break from Son Volt before assembling a new lineup to record last year's Okemah and the Melody of Riot, but the band's been busy since then: it's coming off a tour with the Drive-By Truckers, has a new album in the can, and recently released a concert DVD, 6 String Belief (Sony). The North Carolina gig captured on the video is very no-nonsense, and eventually you start to want frills of some sort--unpretentiousness this thorough starts to seem pretentious after a while. But it's nicely filmed and recorded, with songs drawn from Farrar's entire career. Backyard Tire Fire and Brother Lowdown open. a 5:30 PM, Taste of Randolph Street (see page 41 for complete schedule), Randolph between Peoria and Racine, 312-458-9401, $10 suggested donation. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

SPINTO BAND, LOVELY FEATHERS Delaware sextet the SPINTO BAND streamlines the cluttered, expansive grooves of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (with whom they share an assured geekiness) into concise and perky guitar jingles. They sing better too. The lyrics on last year's Nice and Nicely Done (Bar/None) address matters of love and like among the young and attention-deficient with a good-heartedness that suggests the songs' protagonists may well be worth dating a few years down the road. For now they tend to interrupt conversations ("I gotta get back to the house / My show is on"), make dorky demands ("Come on, we can do it while I'm playing Atari"), and ask the important questions a little too late ("Did I tell you I don't think this would work out?"). --Keith Harris

Richard Yanofsky, singer-guitarist in Montreal's LOVELY FEATHERS, has said he feels guilty about disappointing grandma by dropping out of med school to play in a band. For the most part the quintet's sound is profoundly unsuited to any such angst--the songs on their second album, Hind Hind Legs (Equator), are scrawled in bright crayon colors of giddy vocals, shimmery guitars, and plinky percussion. But that's why when the mood darkens on "Wrong Choice" it's a bit of a punch in the gut. --Monica Kendrick

The Spinto Band headlines, Dr. Dog plays second, and the Lovely Feathers open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12, 18+.

Saturday 17

PAPER CHASE John Congleton has an aggravating, desperate-sounding voice that's a perfect fit for the claustrophobic, menacing indie prog on the Paper Chase's new album, Now You Are One of Us (Kill Rock Stars). Death and destruction roll off his tongue, and the guitars and piano come at you like groping appendages in a haunted house--there's a darkness in the songs that would give a lot of death-metal toughs nightmares. Eeriest of all are attempts at melodic tenderness like "At the Other End of the Leash," with lyrics like "A pretty girl in a wheelchair / Who still claims she fell down the stairs." The Plastic Constellations and Bound Stems open. 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

Sunday 18

HURRA TORPEDO This Norwegian trio, which bills itself as "the world's leading kitchen appliance rock group," is best appreciated live, doing wonderful and terrible things to washers, dryers, refrigerators, et cetera. (Their MySpace page has a video of them banging away at "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and one of the blog posts is headlined "Freezer needed.") They're touring behind a new album, Kollossus of Makedonia (Duplex), and shockingly there's some poignant and almost straight-faced music in there, played with a dramatic flair that keeps it from sounding gimmicky. Cealed Kasket opens. 8 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10. --Monica Kendrick

ISOTOPE 217 It's been more than four years since Isotope 217 played out, so with no warm-up shows planned beforehand and cornetist Rob Mazurek headed back to Brazil right afterward, I'm not expecting this gig to be their most polished. But considering the band (Mazurek, guitarist Jeff Parker, percussionists Dan Bitney and John Herndon, and bassist Matt Lux) began as an ad hoc aggregation more interested in wide-open experimentation than fine-tuning a repertoire, a little bit of looseness should be nothing to worry about. Although Utonian Automatic (Thrill Jockey, 1999), an exciting mixture of harmonically rich composition and malleable, textured funk jamming, remains their best recording, the follow-up, Who Stole the I Walkman? (2000), better conveys the feel of Isotope's live performances, where the road map has never gotten much more detailed than a few crisscrossing lines. I'm betting the set will include some of the group's fine post-Miles tunes, such as the fierce "Looking After Life on Mars," but I'm just as excited to hear what they'll come up with on the fly. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Peter Margasak

Monday 19

CASIOTONE FOR THE PAINFULLY ALONE When Portland's Owen Ashworth started recording as a one-man band nine years ago, he deliberately kept things simple, relying on nothing but his heartbreak and some Dumpster-dived keyboards. But after deciding he'd "taken his self-imposed limitations to their logical conclusion," he went and found himself some friends to help with the newest Casiotone release, Etiquette (Tomlab). It features multiple producers, piano players, drummers, and flutists, but Ashworth still sounds as lonely as ever. The rest of the bill, in order, is Bloodyminded, Oscillating Innards, Pedestrian Deposit, Burn Ward, and Wilt. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. Free. --Jessica Hopper

RADIOHEAD Their sets on this tour will include a handful of songs slated for their next record, but Radiohead won't head back to the studio to finish it till the fall. Rumor has it that the new one will return to the straightforward guitar rock of The Bends--but that same rumor has preceded every one of the band's releases since OK Computer. In any case, at press time front man Thom Yorke had reportedly ticked the obligatory crisis of confidence off his to-do list (and completed his forthcoming solo debut, The Eraser), so the next Radiohead disc, presently known by the working title "LP7," shouldn't be more than, say, a year off. Due to a conflict with the Grant Park Orchestra's rehearsal schedule the band won't be playing in the great outdoors of Millennium Park, but the Auditorium Theatre is none too shabby a stand-in. If only you could somehow fit the moon inside. The Black Keys open both nights; see also Tuesday. 7 PM, Auditorium Theatre, Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress, 312-922-2110, sold out. All ages. --Brian Nemtusak

Tuesday 20

LUCKY BOYS CONFUSION It's easy to poke fun at the earnest, innocent, hard-guitar rantings of softhearted suburban boys--heck, in some circles it's downright obligatory. But it just doesn't feel right to do it anymore with the pride of Downers Grove. Dropped by Elektra not long after releasing their 2003 album, Commitment, they've kept touring, sharing bills with some of the worst bands to surf a trend since Warrant, and their resolve seems to have only sharpened: they play the hooks on their new EP, How to Get Out Alive (Townstyle), so passionately they sound like they're trying to anthem you into submission. This show is a release party and the first show in a five-night stand at the Beat Kitchen. See also Wednesday and Thursday; the band's run continues through Saturday, June 24. Logan Square opens. 5 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $15. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

RADIOHEAD See Monday. The Black Keys open. 7 PM, Auditorium Theatre, Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress, 312-922-2110, sold out. All ages.

SLAYER, LAMB OF GOD I have a few quibbles with Slayer choosing to put out a limited-edition enhanced EP, Eternal Pyre, on 6/6/06: First, despite fans' attempts to claim the date as the International Day of Slayer, I'd say Iron Maiden still has dibs; second, they'll never top the release date of their last full-length, God Hates Us All, which came out on 9/11/01; and third, if the marketing people for the Omen remake thought of it too, how great an idea can it really be? More problematic is their decision to sell the thing exclusively through fucking Hot Topic--if street cred is credit, Slayer's interest rate just went up. All that said, the EP does contain a preview track from their forthcoming album, and it is, of course, a monster.

LAMB OF GOD, meanwhile, have apparently been extra secretive lately, canceling interviews and generally making the studio an outsider-free zone while completing their next album, Sacrament (due in August). Metal players can be a ritualistic lot, though, and if keeping to themselves helps these guys stay as focused as they sound on 2004's muscular, mean Ashes of the Wake, well, bless their dark little hearts. Children of Bodom, Mastodon, and Thine Eyes Bleed round out this frighteningly good lineup. 4:30 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence, 312-666-6667 or 312-559-1212, $39. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

Wednesday 21

AU REVOIR SIMONE There was a time in the late 90s when simple, synth-driven pop like Au Revoir Simone's--seductive but a bit frigid--seemed to emanate from every hipster's stereo, as if an entire generation was briefly swaddled in an iMac-colored haze of Euro-envy. The songs on Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation (Moshi Moshi), the debut from this all-female Brooklyn trio, recall that sound, full of honeyed harmonies from both the synths and the singers, and make it feel innocent again. We Are Scientists headlines and the Double plays second. 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $16. All ages. --Monica Kendrick

LUCKY BOYS CONFUSION See Tuesday. Dan & Augie of the Dog & Everything opens. 5 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $15. All ages.

Thursday 22

DON CABALLERO This isn't your older brother's Don Caballero. In 2001 guitarist Ian Williams and bassist Eric Emm checked out, leaving drummer Damon Che, the sole constant in a decade of personnel changes, to start over from scratch. He did it by acquiring three-quarters of the Pittsburgh band Creta Bourzia--Jeff Ellsworth and Gene Doyle on guitars, Jason Jouver on bass--and the new lineup has developed a sound that's metallic in the most literal sense: the ten pounding, percussive, cyclical instrumental tracks on World Class Listening Problem (Relapse), the first Don Cab album in more than five years, sound like they weren't so much written as assembled out of massive steel girders and tiny clockwork gears. The Timeout Drawer, Bring Back the Guns, and Black September open. This show is part of MOBfest; see page 41 for today's schedule. 9 PM, the Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-0011, $10. --Monica Kendrick

KK & THE FLYING HAMSTERS OF DOOM If a band called the Insane Clown Posse can be famous, surely these locals can be a household name. KK has a sweet, razor-tipped voice, she's hotter than that Hilton skank, and there's nothing in the Hamsters' hella epic pop-metal half as silly as Shaggy 2 Dope's face paint--you can giggle at the raw sentiment in the music if you're so cool, but the soaring guitars make me feel like a hobbit sneaking into Mordor. This show, called "Sexy MF," is a combination Prince tribute and Estrojam benefit, so you'll only get to see the Hamsters play a couple originals--but if KK is feeling magnanimous, maybe she'll sell your monkey ass one of the band's CDs. The entire bill, headliner first, is the Chicago Sirens, Esoterica, 8 Inch Betsy, Manatella, Sour Deluxe, KK & the Flying Hamsters of Doom, Rebecca F. & the Memes, Schizowave, and Shana Gray; DJ Tank Girl spins throughout. The Hamsters also play an all-ages MOBfest show on Friday, June 23, at the Pearl Room in Mokena. 9 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $12, $10 for students. --Ann Sterzinger

LUCKY BOYS CONFUSION See Tuesday. Allister opens. 8 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $15.

SSM These Detroit rockers--keyboardist John Szymanski from the Hentchmen, drummer Dave Shettler from the Sights, and guitarist Marty Morris from the Cyril Lords--look like a garage band and play shows with garage bands, and their new self-titled full-length is on Alive, a label that mostly puts out records by garage bands. So when you discover that they're messing around with space-epic analog synths and stoner-dumb lyrics about UFO girls in songs that jump the rails of the usual verse-chorus structure, you might feel kind of confused, or even angry. That's totally OK. Garage thrives on hybridization, but mixing it with prog--its complete antithesis in sound, scope, and fidelity--is straight-up kinky by anybody's standards. Fortunately, like Eno on the better parts of Here Come the Warm Jets, SSM manages to fuse the low- and highbrow into something better than the halfway point between. And as always, ten bonus points for putting a bong-rip sound on your record. The Bellrays headline, SSM plays second, and Bottles of Wine open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. --Miles Raymer

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