WEDNESDAY: Pop-punkers the Smoking Popes reunite at the Ottobar with Midwestern indie-rockers Criteria, and Channels, the kind of new and great band by that dude from Jawbox. It’s like the mid-’90s never ended.
THURSDAY: Get ready for the freak beats at the Talking Head with local power foursome Ponytail, California splattercore glitch crew Eat Tapes, mutant techno duo Sand Cats, bitmapped guitar god Temp Sound Solution, and the Sheath. Charm City Space keeps the eternal flame glowing at hardcore’s grave with Philly’s Violent Minds, Pulling Teeth, and the Cult Classics. West Coast dance pioneer Robbie Hardkiss makes a rare appearance at Mosaic to spin classic and new house, techno, and acid for all you aging ravers. Local indie-folk sibling duo Judd and Maggie bring their gorgeous soprano harmonies and mid-tempo rockers to the 8X10 with Steve Hefter and Friends and Friends of Friends and Chris Meyers. And rounding out one of the most packed Thursdays in recent memory, mad scientist, freaky porn connoisseur, and rapper Kool Keith, aka Dr. Octagon, houses things at Washington’s Black Cat.
FRIDAY: Like one of those confusing dreams where you wake up in high school in just your underpants--except not deeply scarring--Publicist, Video Hippos, and Ponytail bring art rock to the dance club when Wham City transplants itself to Sonar for one night only along with DJ Dan Deacon. The Red Death smuggles pummeling metalcore from upstate New York to the Sidebar with Nerve Gas Tragedy, My Bitter End, and This Moment. Local pop-rockers the Mazeltov Cocktails join local shoegazers Thrushes at the Talking Head with the Gritty Midi Gang and Music for Headphones. And on the other side of town, the local pop-rockers in the Payola Reserve join the Swim and the Mishaps at the Ottobar.
SATURDAY: Sometimes you want to sing a simple song and sometimes you want the kind of complexity that gives you a wicked headache: Normal Love is one-time Baltimorean Evan Lipson and band smooshing together the worlds of academic composition and grunting death metal at the Red Room at Normals Books and Records with a trio of current improvising Baltimoreans calling themselves Little Old Man opening up. B-more hip-hopper Height celebrates the release of his new CD at the Talking Head, and the fact that he shares the bill with the spazzy electro-pop of Dan Deacon, the electronic trombone manipulations of Werewolf Unit, and Piasa should tell you this isn’t your everyday rap show. There’s another CD-release show at the Ottobar, this one for loud and crunchy heavy-rock foursome Dactyl, with support by Gunna Vahm, the Shemps, and Brutal Knights. And Out to Win plays hard, metallic moshcore with no emo allowed at the Sidebar with Ringworm, Pulling Teeth, About to Snap, Tombstone, and Taken by Force.
SUNDAY: A winsome 18-year-old hottie with a potty mouth and taste for both Dirty South rap and hipster dance tunes, Uffie comes to Sonar with her boyfriend, French electro-house whiz kid Feadz. Bring earplugs to the Depot when volume-abusers White Mice, Athletic Automoton, and Butt Stomach--best new band name of 2006, bar none--crowd onto that tiny dance floor to brutalize your delicate sensibilities.
MONDAY: Fly the flannel when the three original members of Dinosaur Jr. reform yet again at the Ottobar to bring their pop-rock sludge feasts to both sad nostalgia cases and kids too young to have seen ’em the first time around. Larkin Grimm and Mike Tamburo chill things out at Charm City Space with pretty atmospheres and nice John Fahey-esque fingerpickin’. Cheap Sex’s name hides some serious politics and some abrasive old-school punk rock at the Sidebar with the Scarred, Blondsai!, the Betty Sue Establishment, and Group 36.
TUESDAY: Bring your banjo and your space helmet when roots-music cosmonauts Castanets come to the Talking Head with Madagascar, Jana Hunter, and Peter and the Wolf. The Advantage plays teenage heavy-metal symphonies to the eternal glory of old-school video-game music at the Ottobar with French Toast and Ram Ones. The teenage punks in Leeds, England’s Guns on the Roof got their name from the Clash, and their sound, too, at the Sidebar with Type 53, Knives in the Attic, and Wasted City.
WEDNESDAY: Featuring members of the terrifying--and depressingly short-lived--In/Humanity, Thank God rips up Charm City Space with Perestroika and the Wayward. If you only see one hardcore show this year, make it this one. The second It’s Baltimore Baby hip-hop showcase is at Sonar featuring live performances from Jeneba Suma, Mullyman, the ladies of Golden Seal, Don Brody, Skarr Akbar, and 106 and Park freestyle champion Backland.
IN THE WINGS: Three (potentially) great shows in one 12-day period at Sonar, with Brooklyn’s doo-wop noise band TV on the Radio on Oct. 20, Sunderland, England’s barbershop punks Futureheads on Oct. 26, and London’s gangstas of twee Hot Chip on Nov. 1, with all their support bands still to be announced. (For more info call  327-8333 or visit www.sonar.us.)
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