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Friday 12

BANG! BANG! Ever since local trio Bang! Bang! started playing around town a few years ago, they've been a hot item. That could've been the result of the punk fun of the group's live shows and EPs, or it could've been because of their ubiquitous posters, which feature a tightly cropped photo of a girl's ass in hot pink hot pants and torn fishnets. On their debut full length, Decked Out (Morphius), the band has the same distinctly LA dirty-glitter sound it had on previous recordings, but the songs are less spirited, like they were played by people who'd decided it was time to get serious. Jack Flash and Gretta Fine still follow X's classic formula for boy-girl punk duets--he's the one who carries the melody, she just has to sound like she hates you--but there aren't as many hooks, and aside from Fine's carnal coo on a winning cover of the Gun Club's "Sex Beat," there's less heavy breathing and sexy posing. It sounds like Bang! Bang! are trying to prove they're something other than a one-trick booty-shake pony--but if that's not what they are, then what are they? This show is the record-release party for Decked Out; the Dials and the High Violets open. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. --Jessica Hopper

NOMO This Detroit-area Afrobeat band makes huge strides on its second album, New Tones (Ubiquity), tightening its sound and broadening its stylistic range. The funky music of Fela Kuti remains Nomo's bedrock, but the octet now carefully integrates soul riffs, jazz-flavored solos, and more instruments, improving on the occasionally sloppy hodgepodge of its 2004 self-titled debut. Leader and reedist Elliot Bergman adds dashes of electric mbira and analog synth to the rhythmic attack, and though that lick copped from P-Funk's "One Nation Under a Groove" might not be surprising, the cover of Joanna Newsom's ballad "Book of Right On" is. Last year the group collaborated with Fred Anderson and Nicole Mitchell at the World Music Festival, and Mitchell drops a couple of typically superb flute solos on the new record. Ron Trent spins after. 10 PM, Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, 312-226-7600, $15. --Peter Margasak

RHYMEFEST If Rhymefest's Blue Collar and Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor finally get released when they're supposed to, it'll be a banner summer for Chicago hip-hop. Rhymefest's major-label debut was originally scheduled to drop in mid-2005, but every few months the folks at Allido Records issue a press release with a new date--back in December they were saying March, and this month they pushed it back to July 11. The track listing is out there already, though, and the album ought to sound pretty familiar to anyone who picked up last year's mix tape Brand New. Blue Collar is plump with cameos (Kanye, Carl Thomas, even a from-beyond-the-grave ODB), and when Fest is good, he's great--he cowrote Kanye's hit "Jesus Walks." But when he's not, he's surprisingly mediocre. Rhymefest headlines this show, which is part of Molemen Records' fourth annual Chicago Rocks festival; see page 30 for a complete schedule. 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12, 18+. --Jessica Hopper

Saturday 13

CONCRETES On last year's odds-and-sods collection Layourbattleaxedown, Stockholm's the Concretes turned the Rolling Stones' ominous disco-rock classic "Miss You" into a bittersweet lullaby, all narcotic cooing and soft-focus arpeggios, and somehow made it sound charming rather than convoluted. Victoria Bergsman sings with the same drowsy articulation on the octet's new album, In Colour (Astralwerks), and while over the course of an entire record the combination of her sweetness and the group's rich arrangements can become cloying, the bubblegum hooks and melodies are sunny enough to stave off the usual crash after the sugar rush. The terrific Australian pop band New Buffalo opens. 10 PM, Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, 773-404-9494 or 800-594-8499, $12. --Peter Margasak

ONE SELF This group is the latest project of Russian-born hip-hop producer DJ Vadim. On its debut album, last year's Children of Possibility (Ninja Tune), he draws on a wide array of samples and sounds: loose-limbed jazz flute, spacey analog synth, Bollywood singing, sound track strings, live funk, ringing sitars, and oud, among other ingredients. It's a fine showcase for his track crafting--Vadim is equally deft with straight-up party bangers, sweet soul grooves, and abstract soundscapes. But the group's two MCs, Blu Rum 13 and Yarah Bravo, aren't quite as innovative; their warmed-over raps and weak neosoul vocals distract from his detailed jams. Royce goes second and Skech 185 & Rift Napalm with DJ White Lightning open; the Walter Meego Sound System spins throughout. 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door, 18+. --Peter Margasak

TOOL Tool has become one of those bands that are really important to stoned high school kids sitting around in their basements. Maynard and company have all the major elements down: anthemic songs with complex and occasionally baroque instrumental passages, a drug-friendly production aesthetic, and lyrics that feed a sort of homemade band mythology that's full of subtle inside jokes and pop-culture references (imagine Zeppelin with Bill Hicks samples standing in for the cryptic references to Gandalf). That said, they're totally deserving of the hordes of cultish fans hanging on their every move--they're making some of the best headphone rock of the new century. They haven't toured since 2002, when they finished promoting their previous disc, Lateralus, so the new 10,000 Days (Volcano) and the accompanying road show have stirred up a certain segment of the Internet the way a swift kick will mobilize an anthill. But of course in this case the ants are very geeky and have the munchies. 8 PM, Auditorium Theatre, Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress, 312-922-2110, sold out. All ages. --Miles Raymer

Sunday 14

CAPTURED! BY ROBOTS I can't think of anybody this side of Magma who's stuck with a sci-fi shtick for as long as Jason Vance, who's been recording and touring with his disturbingly kinky punk-rock performance art project Captured! by Robots for a decade now. You might think it would've run its course, but as JBOT, the lowly human who built robots to play music with and wound up being continually dominated and abused by them in morbidly fascinating ways, Vance has always managed to keep new twists coming. Lately he's gotten into the wedding racket: on the new Married! by Robots tour, volunteers from the audience can get hitched under the jurisdiction of the Universal Life Church ministry. The idea does create some delightful metaphors--marriage as a form of Stockholm syndrome, Moonie-style mass nuptials as a sign of control by vicious robots--and at the very least it gives everyone a chance to tell the grandkids the first dance at their wedding was "I Peed on Your Waterbed." Herc. opens. 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444 or 866-468-3401, $10. --Monica Kendrick

Monday 15

THE CAMARO ROUGE There's a lot of local punk history compressed into this three-piece--guitarist Sarah Staskauskas played in the Dishes, bassist Andrea Jablonski in the Drapes, and drummer Arman Mabry in the White Outs. The experience shows--their brand of rock is no-nonsense and intense, stuffed with call-and-response vocal hooks and topped with a whiff of Sunset Strip sleaze. It's like a liquor that's gone through an extra round of distillation to bring out its flavor and kick. This free show is a release party for the Camaro Rouge's full-length debut, Got a Crane in My Head, which is coming out on vinyl on the Belgian label Demolition Derby. (The band's still looking for a stateside deal, and for somebody to put the album out on CD.) Headache City and the Penthouse Sweets open. 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600. Free --Monica Kendrick

STEVE SWELL GROUP For the past two decades New Yorker Steve Swell has been one of the most flexible and powerful trombonists in improvised music: he's contributed full-toned slinking lines in straight-ahead contexts, blustery smears and dive-bombing snorts in free-jazz settings, and careful minimalist gestures on albums like last year's Lovely Hazel (Public Eyesore), the latest disc from Blue Collar, a trio led by trumpeter Nate Wooley. But as a leader Swell rarely compartmentalizes his approaches; wherever he goes, he keeps his entire arsenal at the ready. For this show, the second in the city's new Downtown Sound Gallery series, he leads a new trio with reedist Guillermo Gregorio and fellow tailgater Jeb Bishop. Gregorio can make a racket all by himself on alto sax, and two trombones can be even more dangerous in an enclosed space--but given the lack of a rhythm section, I expect this unusual lineup will lean toward a more chamber-music feel. Still, you never know what'll happen with a guy like Swell, who's played with the likes of Tim Berne, Tom Varner, William Parker, and most recently Rob Mazurek in Mandarin Movie. a 7 PM, Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 312-742-8497; the show is free, but reservations are required. All ages. --Peter Margasak

Tuesday 16

PEARL JAM There was a time when Pearl Jam made me cringe, but these days I'm pretty impressed with them--though they always stick to hard-rock fundamentals, with each new record they tweak the music's textures and song structures. Their latest, Pearl Jam (J Records), isn't as bold as some of its recent predecessors, but it still delivers the goods, opening with a burst of stompers distinguished by the guitar counterpoint between Mike McCready and Stone Gossard. Though the tail end of the album is stuffed with too many midtempo would-be anthems and Eddie Vedder still oversells his words, the band shows off an impressive range on the beautiful Lennon-esque ballad "Parachutes," and there's no doubting these guys' sincerity. On the album's best songs--like "World Wide Suicide," a frontal assault on George W. Bush's leadership--they make a convincing case for the redemptive power of meat-and-potatoes rock. See also Wednesday. My Morning Jacket opens. 7:30 PM, United Center, 1901 W. Madison, 312-455-4500 or 312-559-1212, $49. All ages. --Peter Margasak

Wednesday 17

ISLANDS This Montreal combo rose from the ashes of indie-pop band the Unicorns, whose appealingly spastic tunes teetered on the brink of chaos. Their debut, the new Return to the Sea (Equator), retains the ebullient melodies and absurdist lyrics of the Unicorns but ditches the manic energy. Unfortunately that makes Islands sound a lot more ordinary; between the squeaky, earnest singing and the quasi-orchestral arrangements, they come off like an Elephant 6 act that showed up at the party a decade late. MC Busdriver, who drops some wiggy, nasal rhymes on the album, plays second, and Cadence Weapon opens. 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $13. All ages. --Peter Margasak

MOBB DEEP For almost a decade Mobb Deep was the go-to group for expertly rendered, explicitly violent raps about the life and crimes of New York City hustlers--the hip-hop connoisseur's favorite scary black dudes. But the lure of commercial radio has proved irresistible even to these very bad men: they've shined up their grimy image and signed to 50 Cent's G-Unit label, and they've got bigger plans for that relationship than just exchanging tribute tattoos with the boss. Their new Blood Money is a blatant grab for a piece of 50's Top 40 audience, and despite the expanded tonal palette they use on the album, it's hobbled by lyrics that're somewhere between dumbed down and half-assed. It could be their biggest record yet. Midnight, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $30, 18+. --Miles Raymer

PEARL JAM See Tuesday. My Morning Jacket opens. 7:30 PM, United Center, 1901 W. Madison, 312-455-4500 or 312-559-1212, $49. All ages.

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