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Wrong is the new right 

The Aerosmith-Cheap Trick bill at Darien Lake three weeks ago drew one of the ugliest crowds I've seen in a while. Apparently, all the good-looking folks couldn't afford the $40 to $85 tickets.

            Cheap Trick's all right, they just seem a little weird. They are true pop-rock masters, but definitely their own biggest fans. The band seemed pretty jazzed to be on stage after all these years and came off as excited as their fans when hits like "Hello There," "I Want You To Want Me," and "Surrender" rolled off the stage.

            Aerosmith continues to pound out heavy, bluesy rock 'n' roll with one foot in the jungle and the other in the grave. These guys have been around forever and still no one does it better... except for maybe The Veins.

            I spent an afternoon in the Waxahachie, Texas, shade two weeks ago to celebrate the life of rockabilly legend Ronnie Dawson. Ronnie didn't want no stinkin' funeral, he just wanted everyone to get together and play music. And that's just what we did. Bands and musicians from all over including High Noon, Marti Brom, Ray Sharpe, Bill Kirchen, Nick Curran (recent W.C. Handy Award-winner), The Levee Singers, and Spongebob Squarepants descended on Gryphon's Motorcycle Club for what amounted to a big family picnic full of old stories, beer, and rock 'n' roll.

            Let's hope we don't have to have a memorial for Monty's Krown. There are all kinds of fingers being pointed, but the bottom line is the joint's in trouble. So drink up, tip heavy, and dig the bands (some of the best --- and sometimes some of the worst --- you will ever hear). The multi-band benefit last Saturday netted a modest sum to shore up the cracks in Monty's financial dam. I only caught two acts: The Piechey Nietzches, who drew large, and The White Devils, because, well, I'm one of 'em.

            Then I had to get over to the Bug Jar for The Autumdivers' multi-media CD release extravaganza. The band was great and the packed room, enthusiastic. Their dynamics work in an ever-building continuum of atmospheric tension and release --- they continuously draw you in, even when you feel you're as far as you can go. What a great original band.

            Wednesday night found me diggin' on The Margaret Explosion (complete with a rehydrated and upright Paul Dodd) in the Little Theatre Café. I can get sick of just about everything I like, eventually --- fried chicken, blondes, The Stones --- but not The Margaret Explosion. Their esoteric wonder paints pictures in my head nonstop. And I mean cool stuff too, like a three-legged Little Egypt undulating up to her knees in coconut cream pie, while big bears on little motorcycles circle around singing "doo wah diddy diddy dum diddy do." No drugs, honest, just real good music. Good deserts, too.

            Two new signs of the apocalypse: a kid at last week's Harry Connick, Jr. show sporting a Dead Kennedys t-shirt and Joe Clay's rare but rockin' 1950s hit, "Don't Mess With My Ducktails," playing in the background at The Dewey Avenue Friendly's. Harry's FLPAC show was the same one he always does. The audience just eats him up. The guy's a monster talent when he and his amazing band get down, though lately he's been getting a little too sugary for me. But hey, you can't disappoint those soccer moms.

            This past Saturday was an outstanding multi-band rock bill at The Bug Jar with The Paybacks, Suran Song In Stag, Gad, and The UV Rays. It was here that El Destructo and I decided wrong is the new right.

            I came in late after my umpteenth visit to Sticky Lips BBQ (and no, I'm not Uncle Frank) to catch Gad screeching through a Stooges cover. I'll come earlier to catch 'em next time, I promise.

            The Paybacks rocked mercilessly. This quartet is every cool automotive metaphor you can dream up. Their music is as desperate, violent, and ugly as their hometown, Detroit. Their lead guitarist wailed relentlessly and banged his head so joyously, I'm surprised his glasses didn't fly off. Mine would've.

            Suran Song In Stag rolled in from Brooklyn, and sounded a thousand times better than last time, when the performance of drenching herself in blood prevailed over the music. Suran later told me the blood was actually chocolate sauce. And because she couldn't always wash it all out on the road, it gave her lice --- twice. How hardcore is that?

            This time the band was engaging, quirky, and fun. The drummer was easily replaced by a CD drummer who occasionally decided to skip --- or was it to syncopate? I'll definitely go see them again.

            Though it was The Paybacks' night, the stars were The UV Rays, who rocked snotty, cocky, and loud à la The Dictators. Theirs is a wild show with a genuine element of threat and disaster. Good, loud rock 'n' roll that will never make it on the radio 'cause it's so ugly and beautiful.

            And now I'm heading down south for some real summer.

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