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ADAM & THE ANTS 12/26, EMPTY BOTTLE These Chicagoans have dedicated what presumably will be a short career to re-creating the career of the original new-wave war-paint warriors. Their "press releases" are copies of the originals, as are their albums, which they "release" on the anniversaries of the original releases; they play only on dates when Stuart Leslie Goddard himself originally stood and delivered Antmusic. So if you can tell the difference, they're doing something wrong. Best to catch this ultimate tribute band now, before the cease and desist order.

ASTRA KELLY & FAR ROCKAWAY 12/26, MARTYRS' On last year's home-recorded, self-released solo CD, Stones, Bones and Boxes, local songbird Kelly blew right past postmodern irony in her rush to pick up the torch of earnestness ("Back to the Oneness," "Teach Me to Love," "Evolutionary"). But on a more recent demo, with her new band, Far Rockaway, there's a little too much pop punch behind the philosophy--like you'd better get uplifted or else. Kelly also jams every Sunday at Elbo Room in Sumo.

KAHIL EL'ZABAR'S RITUAL TRIO 12/26 & 27, RITUALS In the liner notes to the Ritual Trio's 1994 Renaissance of the Resistance (Delmark), El'Zabar writes, "When you think about people who have spent a really long time developing ideas, concepts or ways of life contrary to popular motion, in order to do that they have to develop patience, sensitivity, and most of all focus." Besides explaining why there are more dedicated old jazz players than dedicated old punk rockers, this also nicely sums up the MO of this improvising trio, which also includes reedman Ari Brown and veteran bassist Malachi Favors. Ritual Trio's appearances aren't rare--maybe you caught last weekend's set at El'Zabar's Underground Fest--but over the holidays, daring music usually is.

CALIFONE 12/31, EMPTY BOTTLE Would Red Red Meat by any other name still smell as sweet? On their forthcoming Flydaddy debut as Califone, Tim Rutili, Benny Massarella, and Tim Hurley leave behind any old contractual obligations to "rock" and take a childlike joy in glittery fragments of sound, arranging them into whole new genres on every track--garage trip-hop, Beatles-esque folk funk, old-time electronica, bayou drone pop. This is Califone's first performance; they're second on a bill with Rex (see Peter Margasak's Critic's Choice), Those Bastard Souls, and Joan of Arc.

TRIPLE FAST ACTION 12/31, DOUBLE DOOR If you're looking for New Year's entertainment that won't distract you from drinking, this is it. On Cattlemen Don't (Deep Elm), the new release from these bidding-war casualties, Wes Kidd and company raise their AOR guitars like crucifixes against any evil original spirit that might be so misguided as to bite them in the ass. Local H headlines and Ultra Swiss opens. There's an open bar, but for the $50 cover you're gonna have to drink a lot to get your money's worth.

SHELLAC, Nerves 1/1, FIRESIDE BOWL Cranky gadfly Steve Albini famously abstains from alcohol--and he'll doubtless relish this opportunity to rub it in your face. His trio, Shellac, which will be up late the night before headlining a Lounge Ax show with Scrawl, plays this 10 AM show with raunchy up-and-comers the Nerves, whose views on temperance are still unknown. Free Pop-Tarts.

--Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Triple Fast Action photo by James Crump.

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