Thursday, July 23
As strange as it may sound, GWAR sends joyful adolescent memories coursing through my brain. It seems like only yesterday I was blasting the S.F.W. soundtrack on my three-pound Discman and nodding in agreement as Beavis proclaimed, “GWAR rules!” I doubt I could remember a single one of their songs, but how about those costumes, huh? 'Cause, really, this band was always more focused on shock than tunes, as their theatrical, liquid-spurting, audience-baiting concerts revealed. Even the hipster exploits of Vice magazine (one of the sponsors of this Comic-Con-related throw-down) won't be able to spoil this party, which also includes the Iron Maiden-on-even-more-speed shredding of 3 Inches of Blood, all-girl metal cover band Unholy Pink and tunes by DJ Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, Black Flag). The catch? You gotta go to the Vice website (www.viceland.com/brutallegend) to RSVP. At 4th & B.
Friday, July 24
Welcome to the Mexican underground. Exhibit 1: Monterrey's XYX, who, along with Los Llamarada and Ratas del Vaticano, make up a triptych of interrelated punk bands from the capital of Nuevo Leon, all of which have been cause for great enthusiasm in American DIY circles. And the positive response isn't due to some foreign novelty factor, either. Thing is, XYX's Spanish-language mash of yelping female vocals, throbbing bass and chaotic drum bashing would be engaging in any language, and it thankfully forces Anglo-centric listeners to put their preconceived notions of Mexican music to beddy-bye. Dreamy L.A. sextet Blue Jungle and San Diego's Spirit Photography and BRAAIINS! also perform sets at Soda Bar.
Saturday, July 25
I may be going out on a limb here, but the Murrieta-based Hey Buddy & The Pals made a huge mistake by adopting their current moniker Rapid Youth. Granted, the new version does pretty well at boiling the sound down to its essence, but how can you let go of a name that good? Anyway, their discordant, jumpy punk bears all the hallmarks of their age—the instruments are too battered to stay in tune, and the venue's PA always sucks, but the kids have decided to bash it out anyway. Very promising stuff, to say the least. Electro-antagonists All Leather, Providence's Made in Mexico and blissful guitar technician Kevin Greenspon also perform, though not necessarily in that order. At Che Café.Original Detroit rock 'n' roll band The Dogs aren't the sort you wanna fuck with. All three of these survivors look like they've done their fair share of prison time, and it's pretty evident from their best-known single, “Slash Your Face,” that the band is out for blood. Even the most weathered of punks would probably quiver in fear at the thought of running into singer/guitarist Loren Molinare in a dark alley. You can pay respects to your elders at Bar Pink.
Sunday, July 26
If we were to choose one man who epitomizes indie rock, Stephen Malkmus might be the prime candidate. The former Pavement singer's abstract, cleverer-than-thou wordplay and detached, intelligent cool has provided the template for hundreds of kids yearning to casually drop non-sequiturs about Geddy Lee's testicle-pinching falsetto into their lyrics. But such committed wit can't last forever. Or can it? Malkmus' solo efforts—accompanied by The Jicks—have shown the 43-year-old mellowing his musical approach to incorporate decidedly un-punk elements (smooth keys, extended jams, etc.), but his lyrics are as cryptic and impenetrable as ever. Is indie rock the new classic rock? Find out at Belly Up Tavern ($15).
Ah, the two-piece band. Such a model of efficiency. How else could a group like Brooklyn's relatively unknown Ribbons get its act together quickly enough to make a cross-country trek to the West Coast? This duo certainly makes the most of what it has—drummer Sam Roudman provides nimble drum pounding, and singer / guitarist Jenny Logan strums reverb-drenched chords that would do Vini Reilly proud while turning out deadpan Siouxsie Sioux-on-Xanax vocal performances. It's a fresh, interesting take on a well-worn sound, and the talent on display suggests the band is destined for greater things. Like, say, a bassist. Local bands Volts, Street of Little Girls and Knives! open at Soda Bar.
Monday, July 27
Equal parts Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, The Handsome Family's Brett Sparks has a heartbreaking baritone, mournful enough to reduce grown men to tears. Indeed, Sparks and his wife Rennie make the sort of forlorn country-rock that echoes back to the greats, but they've managed to transcend retro trappings by genuinely speaking to the damaged soul instead of hopping aboard the alt-country bandwagon. Their latest, Honey Moon, is a series of drifting torch songs so beautifully rendered that it's hard to express anything but admiration—even if the set is almost unbearably somber. The operatic, similarly depressing Daniel Knox also performs at The Casbah ($12).