CANE CORSO 7/5, ABBEY PUB I was all set to like this Chicago band’s big-room blend of vintage boogie rock and G n’ R swagger. Checking out their independently released CD, I was digging the tight production values and joyous guitar bluster and shameless cock-ness of the rock, thinking how good it would sound in a beater car with 2/60 air-conditioning–and then the guy I live with came in from another room, looked at me strangely, and said, “I thought you were listening to Sammy Hagar for a minute there.” Former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer headlines. SONNY LANDRETH 7/5, FITZGERALD’S The annual American Music Festival, now in its 21st year, is still the sane alternative to battling crowds at the lakefront or sitting in your own yard listening to the neighbors’ kids blow each other’s fingers off with Black Cats. It begins on Wednesday and runs through Saturday night, and it’s a scorcher pretty much all the way through, but a particular highlight will be the set by Sonny Landreth, who plays at 9:45 on Friday night. He has a new album, Levee Town (Sugar Hill), coproduced by ace TV-theme composer Mike Post and featuring a number of guests, among them John Hiatt, Jennifer Warnes, and killer Cajun fiddler Michael Doucet. Though Landreth’s country-rock ballads are affecting, the real reason to tune in is his lusty, bluesy, blazing guitar style–a distinctive combination of slide and fretboard fingering–which he really lets rip on “Broken Hearted Road” and “Z. Rider.” For the night’s complete schedule, see the Fairs & Festivals listings. VOODOO GLOW SKULLS 7/5, HOUSE OF BLUES Fourteen years in, this California band shows no signs of slowing down–not in terms of work ethic and certainly not in terms of tempo. If any of the mid-90s ska punks had been this consistently fun, the third wave might still be cresting. Their latest album, Steady as She Goes (Victory), zooms through punk alleys and mariachi barrios, winding up at the zoo, right in front of the monkey house, which sets all the primates to bouncing and chattering. Try to use this as background music and it’s the most annoying shit on earth, but lean into it and you might not be sorry. They themselves say it best: “Older chicks don’t like us because we play too fast / The younger ones admire us ’cause we remind them of their dads.” RAH BRAS, WOLF EYES 7/7, EMPTY BOTTLE; 7/8, FIRESIDE BOWL The weird-rock package bill known as Oops! The Tour, headlined by the Locust, Lightning Bolt, and Arab on Radar, kicks off this week in Chicago, where the headliners and various special guests will split up and stretch their stay into a three-night, four-show stand: July 6 at the Abbey Pub, July 7 at both the Fireside and the Empty Bottle, and July 8 at the Fireside again. One of those guest acts, Rah Bras, a trio spun off from Men’s Recovery Project, has just released its first full-length, Ruy Blas! (Lovitt), and there is really nothing quite like it on earth: it’s part new new-romantic froth, part futuristic fantasy music, part dispatch from a dreamworld where pretty boys aspire to be Kate Bush in drag, and part organic-sounding electro-pop. The Michigan trio Wolf Eyes plays it far more primal but somehow seems no less fanciful–sort of a backyard Suicide. In fact, every act on these bills–which also include Absorb, Pg. 99, Erase Errata, Grand Ulena, and the Flying Luttenbachers–administers its own distinctive flavor of headache. For the first time in years I’m wishing the term “cutting edge” still had meaning so I could use it. ROPE, DARIN GRAY 7/10, HIDEOUT One might argue that Chicago hardly needs to import people to play tactile atmospheric music–then again, sounds that develop in a vacuum, no matter how genetically diverse they may be to begin with, eventually start to get inbred. I’m not sayin’ the local gene pool is in deep doo-doo (yet), but it’s just as well that the scene so avidly supports international exchange. The experimental duo Rope, who moved to town recently from Poland, doesn’t do it quite like anyone else here: on their American debut, Fever, some of the drones and percussion may sound familiar, but not the implications of restlessness and fear beneath the dreamy stuff, nor the use of vocals to evoke both the void and the spirit that defies it. No space-age-bachelor-pad business here. The bill is a showcase for the Bloomington, Indiana, label Family Vineyard; it also includes the Unstable Ensemble and multi-instrumentalist Darin Gray, who played gorgeously as half of On Fillmore with Glenn Kotche here last month and will also play with his “rock/nonrock” band Grand Ulena (see above) July 7 at the Fireside as part of an Oops! bill (see above). ELK CITY 7/11, EMPTY BOTTLE On the surface this New York trio hardly seems special: it takes a little patience to pry open their new Hold Tight the Ropes (Warm Electronic Recordings), but the reward is the rough, achingly beautiful vocal interplay of Renee LoBue and Peter Langland-Hassan. LoBue’s powerful wails at times remind me of Julie Christensen’s in the SST band the Divine Horsemen; as an added bonus the Rhodes and organ drones and slow, pretty guitar freak-outs that unfold as the record progresses quelled a craving I didn’t even know I was having for some new Yo La Tengo.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Robley Dupleix.