JURASSIC 5 Now an actual five-piece, since the departure of DJ Cut Chemist, these underground hip-hop lifers embrace mainstream R & B sounds on their new Feedback (JVC Victor). Group members have stated a desire to trade their backpacker rep for some commercial success; here they've brought in producers like Scott Storch (Christina Aguilera) and Salaam Remi (Fugees), and the single, "Work It Out," features the Dave Matthews Band. I can't decide yet whether the new elements work with or against J5's old-school aesthetics. X-Clan opens. 8 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $28.50 in advance, $31 at the door. All ages. --J. Niimi
MUDHONEY On Under a Billion Suns grunge grandpas Mudhoney return with a newly discovered political consciousness . . . and that's about it, as they seem to have forgotten most of what made early Sub Pop classics like Superfuzz Bigmuff and "Touch Me I'm Sick" such endearingly dumb fun: the sloppy energy, the writhing distortion, Mark Arm's addled delivery. OK, the guitars still sound like glorious shit, but where once they roiled for their own nihilistic sake, now they're propping up cliched sound bites. On the trudging opener, "Where Is the Future?," Arm sings, "Where is the future that was promised us? / Where is the future for everyone?" Add an out-of-place horn section and an interminable instrumental break and your attention's drifting before the song's halfway over. The Cynics and Bible of the Devil open; DJ Mike Miller spins between bands. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $16 in advance, $18 at the door. --J. Niimi
HEAD AUTOMATICA Back when Daryl Palumbo had the edge and was fronting Glassjaw, he tried out a bit of everything: screamo, rapping, violent misogyny, straight-up thuggery. Now that he's singing for Head Automatica he's supposed to be all about skinny ties, mod haircuts, and Nick Lowe records. But even with all that Auto-Tune on his vocals he still just sounds like a pitiful mooing cow. Rock Kills Kid, Men Women & Children, and Young Love open. 7 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $16.50 in advance, $18 at the door. All ages. --Jessica Hopper
THOMAS MAPFUMO On his new album, Rise Up (Real World), veteran Zimbabwean singer Thomas Mapfumo sounds calm--or at least calmer than on the vintage singles assembled for the recent collection Spirits to Bite Our Ears (DBK Works). The frenetic, damped guitar lines designed to imitate the mbira (the central instrument in Zimbabwe's Shona culture) have been largely supplanted by actual mbiras, with bits of reggae, soul, and rock complementing the stuttering grooves. The omnipresent electric keyboards on Rise Up are a little stifling, and Mapfumo's voice is a little less forceful in the upper register. But his singing's still strong overall, and he's still angry: he moved to Oregon in 2000 to escape Robert Mugabe's abuses, and he uses the songs on the new album to speak out against oppression, ask why medicine isn't reaching Africa, and indict the current regime in his homeland for squandering its wealth. See also Sunday. 10 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $18 in advance, $20 at the door. --Peter Margasak
THOMAS MAPFUMO See Saturday. This show is part of the African Festival of the Arts; see page 44 for a complete schedule. a 6:45 PM, Family and World Music Stage, African Festival of the Arts, Washington Park, 51st & Cottage Grove, 773-955-2787, $10, $5 seniors and kids. All ages.
PIG DESTROYER, MINSK The members of Virginia grindcore band PIG DESTROYER made a wise logistical decision when they nixed the idea of calling themselves Cop Destroyer--not the best name to have printed on your T-shirts when southern state troopers decide to rummage through your van. Their meticulously constructed, neck-snapping songs got the trio signed to Relapse, which in 2001 released 38 Counts of Battery, a collection of early tracks. But they truly distinguished themselves on 2004's ambitious two-CD set, Terrifyer. One disc showcased a hypercompressed aesthetic reminiscent of sometime tour partners Anal Cunt (no bassist, 21 tracks in 32 minutes); the other, a 5.1 surround-sound audio DVD, was devoted wholly to "Natasha," a sludgy, sound-trackish doom epic that's as long as the first disc. --J. Niimi
On last year's Out of a Center Which Is Neither Dead nor Alive (At a Loss), local space-metal band MINSK mingled the sacred and the profane as ecstatically and menacingly as many bands with longer careers and more buzz. Since finishing that record, producer Sanford Parker of Buried at Sea has joined the band, and those of us eagerly awaiting a follow-up got some good news in July: they've signed with Relapse, and a new album is due in early 2007. Band members spin between sets at Unearthly Trance's show at the Note; see Monday. --Monica Kendrick
Brutal Truth headlines, Pig Destroyer plays third, Minsk plays second, and Plague Bringer opens; DJs Velcro Lewis and Mark Solotroff spin throughout. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $15.
UNEARTHLY TRANCE, FACEDOWNINSHIT UNEARTHLY TRANCE's third full-length, The Trident (Relapse), is like a sampler of underground-metal styles: pulsating bowel-rattlers, sinister drones, and rip-roaring Venomous rave-ups. (Front man Ryan Lipynsky also happens to have a straight black-metal side project called Thralldom.) But this New York three-piece really shines--if that's the right word--when it's integrating occult-based, psychedelic, heavy-as-shit doom-trance into mainstream metal, as on the rather lovely "The Air Exits, the Sea Accepts Me." --Monica Kendrick
FACEDOWNINSHIT may be new-school punk-metal by dint of being a relatively new band, but their Relapse debut, NPON, is old-school all the way: gargle-with-bleach vocals, sludge with thrashy breakdowns, and a title that's an acronym summing up the group's lifestyle (Nothing Positive, Only Negative). Earlier this year guitarist Jason Crummer kicked off Facedowninshit's ten-day jaunt with Municipal Waste by "formally welcoming" his tourmates to the "world of competitive drinking." There's still no word on who won. --Jessica Hopper
Unearthly Trance headlines, Facedowninshit plays second, and Fuck the Facts opens; members of Minsk (see Sunday) spin throughout. 9 PM, the Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-0011, $10.
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE SWR Japan's Acid Mothers Temple has visited the Empty Bottle often enough that a lot of people probably figure they know what this show will entail: to realize his deeply intuitive cosmic-hippie aesthetic, bandleader and guitarist Makoto Kawabata usually enlists the help of a large and ever-changing cast of musicians willing to shuttle from heavy psychedelic freak-outs to delicate fairy folk to ritualistic improvisation. AMT's latest album, Have You Seen the Other Side of the Sky? (Ace Fu), is a prime example of all that, but this gig is rather different. Kawabata and AMT multi-instrumentalist Tsuyama Atsushi will play in different band configurations with Tatsuya Yoshida of Ruins--another fearless group making extreme music, though in a very different way. Last year the trio released an album as Acid Mothers Temple SWR on the Very Friendly label, and the rest of the bill is made up of acts that include one, two, or all three of the musicians: Ruins Alone, Zoffy, Akaten, Seikazoku, Shrinp Wark, and Zubi Zuva. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. --Monica Kendrick
CX KIDTRONIK On his new Krak Attack (Sound-Ink), CX Kidtronik bounces from style to style--rapid-fire punk-crunk, syrupy bad-trip-hop, chopped-up sound collage--with the manic energy of a freebaser. But only his collaborators, MF Grimm and the Rammellzee among them, make any mention of yayo--the kind of crack he's concerned with hangs out the back of a pair of low-rise jeans. The way he loves to fuck with his listeners and destabilize his own music sometimes makes him sound like Negativland with a subscription to Black Tail, but other times it's just grating. Flosstradamus & Kid Sister headline, CX Kidtronik plays second, and the Proscriptions open. CX Kidtronik also opens for Girl Talk at the Empty Bottle on Saturday, September 9, and headlines the Abbey Pub on Sunday, September 10. 9:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $8. --Miles Raymer
DEARS Montreal's Dears might seem like killjoys with their Smiths-ish mopeyness and feverish arrangements, not to mention a forthcoming major-label debut titled Gang of Losers (V2). But leader Murray Lightburn's romantic distemper has always belied a subtle wit and sense of humor, and on the new album there's fresh optimism--since the band's most recent studio disc, 2004's No Cities Left, Lightburn and keyboardist Natalia Yanchak have tied the knot and had a baby daughter, Neptune. Ra Ra Riot opens. 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $14, 18+. --J. Niimi
GOLEM On its new album, Fresh Off Boat (JDub), this New York klezmer-rock band dials back the exaggerated theatricality--part Broadway musical and part borscht belt hokum--that tripped it up on previous albums. Now its approach is sharper, with more emphasis on the actual music: the traditional eastern European melodies that singer-accordionist Annette Ezekiel learned from Jewish immigrants jostle with hijacked Gypsy and Slavic folk tunes, and it's all injected with raucous, punkish energy. Violinist Alicia Jo Rabins and trombonist Curtis Hasselbring (a former member of Slavic Soul Party!) play high-velocity solos that reveal a real understanding of the material's roots, but the focus is on the extroverted singing of Ezekiel and her sidekick, Aaron Diskin. Labelmates Balkan Beat Box headline. 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15. --Peter Margasak
GRATES Australian coed punk-pop trio the Grates recorded their stateside debut, Gravity Won't Get You High (Cherry Tree), here in Chicago with producer Brian Deck. He managed to give the band's gritty sound a high-sparkle sheen, but none of the record's 14 tracks amounts to more than middling three-chord fare. The only thing that really stands out is front woman Patience Hodgson, whose big lungs and way-confident sass put her somewhere between Karen O and Johnette Napolitano. Rogue Wave headlines, the Grates play second, and Foreign Born opens. 8:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179, $12 in advance, $15 at the door. All ages. --Jessica Hopper
THOR I've always found bodybuilding kind of gross. What a surprise to learn that Canadian muscleman Thor--the former Mr. Universe whose onstage exploits helped make Gwar conceivable--may, somewhere in the depths of his psyche, harbor the same feeling. His new album, Devastation of Musculation, was inspired in part by a documentary about a guy who pumped his biceps full of steroid-laden oil until they literally exploded. Ew. The music? Pretty much as it's been for 25 years: gleeful Frazetta metal that works hard to be more than a mere excuse for Thor's brick-breaking live show. "Lords of Steel" is about Vikings finding Atlantis, for fuck's sake. Zolar X, Triclops!, and Velcro Lewis & His 100 Proof Band open. 9 PM, the Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-0011, $10. --Monica Kendrick