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VULGAR BOATMEN 1/3, SCHUBAS Now based in Indianapolis, this long-running indie cult band (members of which went on to form the Silos, the Mary Janes, the Gentle Readers, and the Mysteries of Life) exists largely in theory. But several times a year its members get together to play their bittersweet crunchy twang for a crowd that knows all the words and aches to imagine a world where individual heartbreak still matters. A lovely reminder that there are many ways to spend one's life making music. MUSTARD PLUG 1/4, METRO These Michigan boys' 1992 debut, Skapocalypse Now, made them early players in the Bad Ska Pun movement of the 90s, destined to bring us such treasures as Luke Skawalker, Chiskago, and Skagina. What's great about the wreckage of a dead fad, though, is that those who hang on postclimax tend to be the most sincere followers. For all their hyuk-hyuk doofiness, these guys at least mean it. They've recently released their fifth album, Yellow Number 5 (Hopeless), and completed a tour of Brazil. Deals Gone Bad, First Grade Crush, the Zvooks, and Dan Potthast also perform. UNSANE 1/4, DOUBLE DOOR The only band with records on Matador that's opened for Entombed and Slayer, this legendary trio mashed together punk and noise and hardcore and metal back in the days when it was much less fashionable to do so. They haven't put out a record since 1996's Occupational Hazard, but who's going to begrudge such pathfinders a cash-in, especially one on the Double Door level? And though late drummer Charles Ondras, who spurred the violent charge of their eponymous debut album, is still missed, Swans veteran Vinny Signorelli has been a more than capable replacement. JEFF TWEEDY 1/6, 8-9, THE VIC For all his preoccupation with band identity, as displayed in the recent Wilco doc I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Jeff Tweedy doesn't seem to have any problem stepping away from the group for a spell. His performances can be fun when he does something unexpected, like his small-club appearance with Jim O'Rourke a few years ago. Yet something about this three-night stand in a large room smacks just a little bit of "because I can." No one's questioning his charisma and songwriting chops, but there was a lot more than that behind the greatness of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The two final shows are sold-out. SWEET J.A.P. 1/7, FIRESIDE BOWL The acronym stands for Japanese American Princess, but this Minneapolis quintet, made up largely of Japanese exchange students, is all male. As last year's debut full-length, Virgin Vibe (1+2 Records), demonstrates, their excellent trick is to take a standard punk rave-up and increase its pace to five times what you'd expect humans to be able to play. And though their sound is superficially rough and sloppy, what really sustains the concept is the fact that these guys can turn on a dime. BOAS 1/8, HIDEOUT Formerly known as Mansion (also the title of their debut album on Overcoat), this local quintet has recently scored a few high-profile opening slots, including a stint as Wilco's warm-up act. Its first EP, released last year, was a likable piece of Chicago record-collection rock that sounded overly comfortable, as if resting on laurels not yet earned. The full-length corrects that problem. The band still wears its influences a bit too proudly on its collective sleeve, and the studio sound has a hint of insularity. But the record's layers of classic 70s rattle-clatter Crazy Horse on Main Street rock sound like they were damn hard work to put together just right--this is the testament of a band hoping for a payoff and taking a leap of faith to get there. With this show the Boas kick off a monthlong weekly residency at the Hideout. We Ragazzi opens.

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

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