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DICTATORS, GAZA STRIPPERS 11/12, EMPTY BOTTLE The Dictators are legendary not because they were the best New York punk band or even the first New York punk band, but because they were the first New York punk band to put it to wax. With The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!, released in 1975 by Epic to a less than enthusiastic buying public, these savants kicked off an aborted official career that in the 80s came back to life as a string of semiregular reunion tours. Their most recent recordings are a couple seven-inch singles on Norton that don’t differ radically from the band’s output of 20 years ago. No moody Avenue B-style introspection here, a good chunk of the original lineup, and a properly grubby venue–the ‘Tators started out worshiping the Stooges and the Who, but this is bound to feel at least a little closer to the real thing than either last month’s Iggy hit parade at Metro or the $300-a-head Who reunion at House of Blues tonight….On their second Norton single, the Dictators ask, “Who will save rock ‘n’ roll?” and a chunk of my change is on Chicago’s own Gaza Strippers, who just keep getting better and better. Fronted by compact spaz Rick Sims, who blazed some trail in his own right with the Didjits in the late 80s, they almost single-handedly made South by Southwest bearable last year. And among other things, their sole LP, Laced Candy (Man’s Ruin), vindicates my nerdish insistence that Love and Rockets wrote some damn great tunes with a cover of “Yin and Yang the Flower Pot Man.” A reminder that rock’s not some nostalgist’s flame to be gingerly tended, but rather a torch to be swung around recklessly and poked dangerously close to yer face. LES SAVY FAV 11/12, SCHUBAS The sweet-pop-versus-abrasive-noise debate has been raging as long as rock ‘n’ roll has been around, if not longer–wonder what the real dean of rock critics, Friedrich Nietzsche, would have had to say about it. There’s always some well-groomed Apollonian pitching in to lament that Sonic Youth or the Fall or Slint or Sebadoh “can’t write good tunes.” Which isn’t true of any of those bands, but is more or less the case with this Rhode Island School of Design-spawned amalgamation–though I think it’s more “won’t” than “can’t.” That said, I thoroughly enjoyed their latest, The Cat and the Cobra (Frenchkiss), and will probably like them even better live–guess I’m just a Dionysian kinda gal. ORANGE COUNTY SUPERTONES 11/13, WHEATON COLLEGE The glassy-eyed certainty of Christian evangelism…the glassy-eyed certainty of ska revivalists…a match made in heaven! BRAMHALL 11/14 & 15, HOUSE OF BLUES Lots of the press on 30-year-old guitarist Doyle Bramhall II–who’s played with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and backed Roger Waters and Me’Shell Ndegeocello–pegs him as a Texas bluesman a la Stevie Ray Vaughan, but what I hear on his RCA debut, Jellycream, is more of an AOR guitar-hero throwback: a little Steve Miller, a little Rick Derringer, even a little Leslie West–chunky snippets of boogie choogle dripping with stadium-rock gloss. And like Miller and Derringer, Bramhall can ruin the mood by singing too much. Kenny Wayne Shepherd headlines. DR. MADD VIBE 11/14, THE NOTE As Dr. Madd Vibe, his performance-poet alter ego, Fishbone front man Angelo Moore spins dazzling, busy psychedelic street-preacher raps. He certainly isn’t the first black poet to take fiendish glee in the resonance of the word nigger, but he might be the first to repeat it so often and with such wild energy that it truly loses all meaning–probably his point. On his self-released 1997 enhanced CD, Comprehensive Linkology, he feeds off layers of sound, music, and even video, but here the good doc will perform his poetry without backing, then invite audience members to join him in an open music jam. SCRID 11/14, HOPCATS These Iowa City scum rockers don’t start out subtle–the front of their album, The Island of Misfit Toys (Wivern), pictures an elated-looking Bugs Bunny figurine poking a carrot up nurse Barbie’s skirt–and it’s pretty much wall-to-wall monster-voiced bongwater-spilling sludge rock from there on out. This is a free show. TARRAS 11/14, ABBEY PUB This young and extremely photogenic band, from the part of England that might as well be Scotland, puts an unusual spin on Celtic tradition–guitarist Jon Redfern also plays djembe and congas. But it’s clear who’s being groomed to be the star–adorable teenage violinist Emma Hancock, who’s dramatically talented and classically trained and plays like it, which isn’t necessarily a good thing in folk music. PACO DE LUCIA 11/18, CHICAGO THEATre Flamenco master Paco de Lucia, who made his first record in 1961, has suffered some slings and arrows for his adventures in jazz fusion–with Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, and Al DiMeola, among others–as well as the importation of exotic instruments like the saxophone and the Peruvian cajon. But his latest solo album, Luzia (Blue Thumb), dedicated to his mother, is as close to pure as it gets without getting musty–percussive clicks and snaps reminiscent of a dancer’s feet propel the intricate aching guitar into the heart of the cross-cultural fusion that flamenco music has been all along.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ewolf.