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Friday 7

AFI AFI singer Davey Havok has this ill-advised new asymmetrical hairstyle that just screams, "My band's messing around with electronics and we've just made our 'difficult' record." The haircut doesn't lie: on Decemberunderground (Interscope), the follow-up to 2003's massively popular, massively catchy Sing the Sorrow, AFI's pop instincts are buried beneath six feet of emo-lectro keyboard fiddling and faux-epic overproduction. Their ambition is their greatest weakness--it's like they were shooting for OK Computer but only got as far as OK. Dillinger Escape Plan and Nightmare of You open; see also Saturday. 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages. --Miles Raymer

BIG SANDY & HIS FLY-RITE BOYS This LA band's new album, Turntable Matinee (Yep Roc), starts with a virtual roll call of Big Sandy's favorite singers: "Give me some Chuck and Richard Berry / Lew Williams and Link Wray / Little Esther, Lazy Lester / Don Julian and Joe Clay." The disc is yet another dose of exuberant nostalgia from rockabilly's finest front man, who still refuses to acknowledge any music made after 1963. In the past he's paid homage to old R & B from his hometown, and the new record includes nods to bossa nova and Memphis soul. But good old hillbilly bop is still his bread and butter, and his band's stubborn 50s fetishism hardly seems like a liability when guitarist Ashley Kingman and steel guitarist Lee Jefferies keep uncorking killer solos. The Pine Leaf Boys open. 9 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $12. --Peter Margasak

CEALED KASKET Actually liking metal in these irony-saturated times can make you paranoid. Priestess's jackets look suspiciously trendy to me, Early Man have the shifty eyes of former A.R.E. Weapons fans, and the Sword are so earnest it makes me think they're up to something. But Cealed Kasket just put their shtick right on the table--"We have songs called 'Cigarettes for Kids' and 'Death Train' and a 500-year-old wizard named Sir Sarsicus on guitar"--and I love them for it. From what I've seen on the Web and heard in excerpts from their upcoming live album, their shows are a sloppy collision of New Wave of British Heavy Metal mugging, Medieval Times root-for-your-knight onstage skirmishes, and severe head trauma. And their banter--"How'd you assholes get here? Did you take . . . the Death Train?"--is almost as good as their songs. Perfect Red headlines; Cealed Kasket, the Dog and Everything, Pomeroy, and Ziel open. 8:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $9, 18+. --Miles Raymer

CHANDELIERS Ghost Arcade is about to release the three-song seven-inch Circulation, a gleeful little confection from this local electronic space-pop quintet--smooth, squeaky-clean swirls of synth bounce atop glassy percussion that sounds like gamelan from a can. It's pleasing to the ear, like Kraftwerk or Eno, except with an uncomplicated earnestness those old weirdos never attempted--the Chandeliers may think they're being cheeky by sneaking Aleister Crowley and Robocop into the influences list on their MySpace page, but their music's so sweet that you never worry they'd actually punk you. Michael Columbia headlines, and members of both bands DJ throughout. 10 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $8. --Monica Kendrick

DERAILERS Austin's Derailers have had some bad luck with major labels, but the recent departure of front man Tony Villanueva is probably the biggest blow they've suffered. His deep, resonant twang brought a strong personality to the band's blend of Bakersfield honky-tonk and Beatlesque pop; guitarist Brian Hofeldt gamely steps up to the mike on the Derailers' new album, Soldiers of Love (Palo Duro), but he can't match Villanueva's soul and his originals are forgettable. The Gin Palace Jesters open. 9:30 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $14 at the door. --Peter Margasak

DRAGONS 1976 Alto saxophonist Aram Shelton is on break from his studies at Mills College in Oakland, and while he's back in town he's resurrecting some of the fine projects he was involved with here. My favorite is Dragons 1976, a lean trio with bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Tim Daisy that's currently touring behind a new record, the self-released Winter Break. On it the group stretches out its spare arrangements and puts a greater focus on extended solos that break with postbop orthodoxy; on "Brand New" Shelton drives into his upper register with uncharacteristic aggression, and Ajemian follows him with an extended, teetering improvisation of sour, low-end thrumming. However oblique a passage gets, though, the group always gets back on the good foot, swinging elegantly. 9 PM, Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor, 773-342-4597, $7. All ages. --Peter Margasak

Saturday 8

AFI See Friday. Dillinger Escape Plan and Nightmare of You open. 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages.

BANGLES In 1998, when the Bangles released their prom-ballad classic, "Eternal Flame," they became only the second American all-girl group that played its own instruments and wrote its own songs to score a number one hit. The band broke up shortly thereafter, but reunited for a tour in 2000 and a 2003 album, Doll Revolution (Koch). Though its summery harmonies and fuzzbox mashing harked back to the girls' California garage roots, the record bombed. Now they're developing a making-the-band reality show in which they'll mentor a young all-female group--alongside the only other women to match their success, the Go-Go's. 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $28 in advance, $29.50 at the door. --Jessica Hopper

ICY DEMONS This intermittent band--its members, who hail from Bablicon, Need New Body, and elsewhere, are split between Chicago and Philadelphia--makes perverted chill-out music that ends up irritating and invigorating by turns. It sounds like the spoils of several indiscriminate Viking raids on a series of swingin' bachelor pads, combining high prog, electronic dance music, 60s Brazilian pop, and trippy space rock, just to name the first few things I can hear. Icy Demons haven't exactly mastered any of these genres, but given the way they structure their songs--different idioms piled together, rather than shuffled through sequentially--it doesn't really matter. They've been playing lots of new material lately; it's been a couple years since their debut, Fight Back! (Cloud Recordings), and the follow-up, Tears of a Clone, is due in September on Eastern Developments, the label run by Scott Herren of Prefuse 73. Bobby Conn headlines, Icy Demons play second, and Traveling Bell opens. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10. --Monica Kendrick

STEELY DAN, MICHAEL McDONALD Steely Dan's last album, 2003's Everything Must Go (Reprise), is so absofucking awful it makes you wish they'd go back to rimming Keith Jarrett. Somehow Fagen and Becker have managed to combine every funky sound and signifier this side of dolphin rape into an unlistenable lite-jazz frappe. I'm not sure which is worse: Fagen singing "funky attitude" like he's got a sinus infection or "I miss the sex" like he means it. Not that all this sucky smooth twaddle is much of a surprise: their sour wonk and wry, mesmerizing licks sounded great in '72, but the progressive Jazzercising of their sound has been under way at least since Katy Lied. Still, they gave the world "Peg," the greatest song of the past 50 years, so I'll forgive them almost anything--including letting Michael McDonald go to the Doobies. With any luck they'll make amends by inviting him to join their ten-piece touring band for a cameo or three. --Jessica Hopper

Beyond the physical resemblance, Michael McDonald is God. Think about it: He lent the coziness of a romp on a bearskin rug to the steely-souled pop of Steely Dan's Katy Lied, then just a year later joined the Doobies and led them from the white-boogie ghetto to Grammydom. And in His beneficence He blessed Rick Moranis with the opportunity to do a sidesplitting imitation of Him on SCTV: racing to the studio just in time to record the line "such a long way to go" on Christopher Cross's "Ride Like the Wind." --J. Niimi

Steely Dan headlines and Michael McDonald opens. 7:30 PM, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, I-80 & Harlem, Tinley Park, 708-614-1616 or 312-559-1212, lawn $25, pavilion $65-$85. All ages.

Monday 10

RAKES, THE ADORED British quartet the RAKES--named for their skinniness, not their sleaziness--cite the Strokes and the Streets as influences, though they easily could've sprouted up anytime since punk was housebroken. They've only been around for three years, but they've got their marketing skills down cold: the American release of Capture/Release (V2) includes four videos and a bonus track that weren't included on last year's UK version--nice way to milk another purchase out of the fans back home, and at import prices no less. The music's addictive in its way: lots of people have good reasons to hate the word punchy, but really, this is the kind of band it was coined for. --Monica Kendrick

THE ADORED were signed to a major thanks to a set at an Interpol afterparty in LA a few years ago, which should give you an idea what they used to sound like. But they're playing it smart these days, sounding like the Buzzcocks and dressing like the Jam. "We Don't Want You Around," on their sharp little debut, A New Language (V2), chronicles the hardships they endured during their transformation from new wavers to mods. --Jessica Hopper

The Rakes headline, Every Move a Picture plays second, the Adored open, and Bald Eagle spins throughout the night. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Wednesday 12

MOANERS Melissa Swingle, the front woman of this Chapel Hill guitar-and-drums duo, used to play dark Americana in Trailer Bride, but her partnership with former Grand National drummer Laura King has her delving into the swamp of raucous garagebilly blues--and coming out of the closet to boot. The follow-up to their 2005 debut, Dark Snack (Yep Roc), is slated to come out next year. The Groodies and the Spoken Four open. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 18+. --Monica Kendrick

Thursday 13

KEKELE See the schedule for the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival on page 30 for more info. This performance is part of Chicago SummerDance; Andy Cruz leads rumba lessons at 6 PM. 7:30 PM, Spirit of Music Garden, Grant Park, 601 S. Michigan, 312-742-4007. Free. All ages.

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