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Nunchucks bump ’n’ grind 

Seeing Seattle's The Makers two weeks ago squeeze their big rock into the little Bug Jar made me dislike The Mooney Suzuki even more. When MS played here last they pranced around like arrogant pricks, even after The Datsuns mopped the stage with 'em. All these bands owe a lot to The Makers, who, on their latest CD, Stripped, and latest tour pay tribute to themselves by redoing a lot of their earlier Estrus material.

Frontman Michael Maker moves with a classic Jagger swagger and looks a lot like Prince. He seemed intent on exposing his left nipple often, as if it made some sort of statement. The little puckered brown protuberance frequently made the scene amidst the stage fog, feedback, and general mayhem. The Makers' set was tight, relentless, and even showcased a few cuts off Rock Star God, their rock-opera-type concept album I know a lot of their fans weren't initially wild about.

The Priests opened with cuts off their new CD, Tall Tales. The band was a little less feral on stage than usual but the music's relentless strut sounded amazing. They've practically ditched the bass and adopted a creepy Manzarek-type demon drone with a Farfisa --- creepy and cool.

The next night, Bob Log III rolled into town with Boxcar Satan, Singapore Sling, and The Town Bikes. For all his oddball breast-obsessed posturing, Log is a fantastic guitar player in the spirit of Kimbrough, Burnside, and Hooker. Sometimes there's nothing sexier or sleazier than the slither of a low tuned slide guitar.

Dammit, I missed Boxcar Satan, but I already have both their albums and love 'em. As I approached the joint a woman came running out yelling, "My God, they sound like Beefheart!" And how often do you get to hear that?

Scandinavian psychedelic, Singapore Sling, hit the stage with a Jesus & Mary Chain wall of sound. Swirly and edgeless, they reminded me a lot of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, complete with epic, seemingly progression-less jams and a disconnected tambourine player who managed to only get out "Raaawwchestaaahhh!" between songs.

The Town Bikes, a delicious duo of cuties, did a cross between light burlesque and martial arts training to piped-in music. They exhibited keen nunchucks skills, and seemed relatively empowered, despite their name.

Two nights later it was The Cramps, who get better the older they get. Guitarist Poison Ivy looked dangerous as ever in stiletto boots and black vinyl as she banged and twanged her big guitar. Vocalist Lux Interior looked horrifically beautiful as he strutted, pranced, preened, and repeatedly sucked the mike until it squealed. With the addition of The Blaster's Bill "Buster" Bateman on drums, the band was wired tight, tight, tight.

The Irving Klaws got themselves a new drummer too. And though I miss Wease, their former caped-crusader-in-tights stick man, the band had a much tighter, garage punch than before.

Detroit's beehived Gore Gore Girls have grown up to a quartet. They were sexy, raunchy, and cool. The new guitarist had such an intense gaze that she burned seductive shame into the front row as she shredded her strings. I just wanted her to scold me.

All bands on the bill rocked, or appeared to, 'cause frankly the sound at The Sphere Entertainment Complex (Buffalo) sucked the big one. There were all kinds of ear-splitting feedback, garbled vocals, and drums out the wazoo.

The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players mesmerized the near-capacity Dryden Theatre last Monday. The music is relatively crude and nerdy yet the duo's (dad on guitar and keyboard, 10-year-old daughter on drums) unpretentious attitude was endearing. What really struck me was the life they breathed into otherwise forgotten people through slides of them at birthdays, on vacations, or various states of living a life that was important, at least to them. The songs were all beautiful, often-hilarious comments on lives that could very well be ours. Just make sure and take lots of pictures.

One-man show-opener, Touching you, also approached his songwriting from Mt. St. Geek, but with an ominous, ironic twist, frequently opting for death over love. His language and tone helped weed out some of the casual observers who thought they were there simply to see old slides.

Sam Roberts opened The Tragically Hip show last Tuesday at The Auditorium with thick-chorded guitar grooves and a sound like Tom Petty before he took singing lessons from Bob Dylan. The Hip, possessing one of the most recognizable voices in rock (Gordon Downie) packed the joint with fans that seemed to know all the words. The sound was lush, intricate, melodic, and loud. They're big in Canada and getting bigger stateside; all things Canadian are seeming more and more appealing, what with the draft once again looming over young American heads.

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