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The Unseen, Ramalah, Brain Failure, Plastic Jesus

Saratoga Winners, Friday

The term hardly means any- thing at all anymore, if it ever did: When you say “punk rock,” what are you talking about exactly? The Clash? The Dead Kennedys? X? The Germs? Sham 69? Generation X? Husker Du? There’s a mess what fits under that tent, right? So, you’re going to need some more adjectives than “punk” to get a handle on the Unseen. How about “no-frills”? Closer? How about “extremely blaspheming and in-your-face political”? You need some contextualizing references? What if we tell you that Unseen’s latest record, State of Discontent, was produced by Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murhpys and mixed by Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion? OK? Well, that’s gotta be more helpful than the info we found that told us that the Unseen’s last record was their “most proverbial to date,” so we feel we’re off the hook. (March 18, 8 PM, $8, Route 9, Latham, 783-1010)

Dar Williams

First United Methodist Church of Pittsfield, Saturday

This is the concert so big that Club Helsinki has to host it in Pittsfield. Dar Williams, first-rank singer-songwriter and local heroine, will be at one of Western Massachusetts’ seemingly numerous up-and-coming performance venues this weekend. The First United Methodist Church, which has played host to a number of classical performances—including the Albany Symphony Orchestra—is reinforcing its cred as a pop-music showcase with this date. The turnout will likely be large; Williams may have been born in Westchester County, but it’s the Northampton area where she made her mark and earned a devoted following. (They better turn out, what with the $45 preferred first-pews seating.) And why not? She’s been called “the best female singer-songwriter in America today.” (March 19, 8 PM, 55 Fenn St., Pittsfield, Mass., $35-$45, 413-528-3394)

Pat DiNizio

Artie’s River Street Stage, Sunday

“I want to love, but it comes out wrong/I want to live, but I don’t belong,” sang Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio on “Blood and Roses,” the unshakeable single from his band’s 1986 album Especially for You. Smells like teen spirit, don’t it? We’d go so far as to say DiNizio could have been the voice of a generation for a while there, at least until that Cobain fucker came along and stole his thunder. But the last laugh clearly belongs to DiNizio, whose sinewy pop-rock has endured trend after trend. Need proof? Look no further than the aforementioned 1986 touchstone, or check out the 2000 release God Save the Smithereens, which was recently reissued by Koch Records as a two-disc set including DiNizio’s ’97 solo set, Songs and Sounds. Or, just head over to Artie’s this Sunday afternoon and see the man in action, and see if you don’t yourself experience nirvana. (Yeah, we had to go there.) (March 20, 4 PM, $10, 194 River St., Troy, 687-0064)

Papa Roach, Skindred, the F-Ups

Northern Lights, Sunday

We had a long, serious debate about where Papa Roach got their name. For a while it divided the office into two factions, each with well-thought-out points. One side claimed it refers to the old legend of a world long gone, where people served giant roach creatures who ruled with firm, but benevolent antennae; the supreme leader being known as Papa, the largest and wisest of the roaches. And then the great revolution, or “Raid,” came, where we threw off our chains of buggy servitude and banished them to the dark places of this world. The other side said this was a stupid explanation with no historical reference or logical possibility, and that the name was probably a pot reference or something. Regardless of the real answer, we await the second coming of Papa and realize that those who submit to the inevitable will be spared when the giant roach monsters rise again. Show where your allegiance lies and go see this concert. Your future in the new roach order may depend on it! (March 20, 7:30 PM, $18, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)

The Fixx

Revolution Hall, Monday

“Red skies at night, red skies at night, whoa-ho—whoa-ho-ho, ho-ho, ho-ho-oh.” When we heard that the Fixx were coming to town, we realized that their 1982 song “Red Skies” had been caught in our heads since, well, 1982. That one and “Stand or Fall,” and the bigger hits from the later ’82 release Reach the Beach (“One Thing Leads to Another,” “Saved by Zero,” et al) have been playing constantly in our nostalgic noggins since we first heard ’em, though usually drowned out by our later fixations—like our inexplicable fascination with all things Aguilera. So, we were happy to hear that quirky synth-pop band were on the road again. Their newest one, Want That Life, is an extension of the mellowing trend the band started embracing way back in the middle ’80s, and they now sound more similar to contemporary new-wave balladeers like ABC than was noticeable back then. But since we’ve never been able to shake “Poison Arrow” either, we don’t mind so much. (March 21, 8 PM, $18, 425 River St., Troy, 273-2337)

Jimmy Cliff

Pearl Street, Wednesday

There is only one Jimmy Cliff. That’s right, just one. We’re not pointing this out because we think you’re unaware of the genetic impossibilities of there being more than one, but because the man himself is coming to town (or at least near town), and we wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on their chance to catch the reggae legend in action. Cliff’s Grammy-nominated 2004 release, Black Magic—the velvety voiced icon’s first for Artemis Records—is not unlike Carlos Santana’s recent output in that it finds Cliff hooking up with a number of top-shelf superstars, ranging from the late Joe Strummer to Annie Lennox to Wyclef Jean. The difference? It doesn’t suck. We’re sure the album would have cleaned up at the Grammys, too, if it weren’t for ol’ Ray there. But we digress. Catch Jimmy Cliff when he does Pearl Street this Wednesday. (March 23, 8:30 PM, $25, 10 Pearl St., Northampton, Mass., 413-584-7771)


Also Noted
mr. crowe’s garden

The New York State Writers Institute presents “literary-rock” band One Ring Zero tonight (Thursday) at the Recital Hall on the University at Albany’s uptown campus (8 PM, free, 442-5620). . . . Want something more experimental? How about Dead Machines (members of Golden Calves and Wolf Eyes)—they’ll play the Eagle’s Nest in Northampton this evening (8 PM, $7, 413-586-4002). . . . Tomorrow (Friday), the Luminescent Orchestrii and the Wiyos take the stage at Club Helsinki (9 PM, $15, 413-528-3394). . . . Blues legend John Hammond is at the Berkshire Museum on Friday (8 PM, $24, 413-443-7171). . . . Blues legend Rory Block is at the Van Dyck on Friday (7 and 10 PM, $18, 381-111). . . . We’ll give you the good news first: Mr. Crowe’s Garden—that’s code for the Black Crowes—will play a “secret” warm-up show for their upcoming tour at Pearl Street on Saturday. The bad news? By the time you read this, tickets likely will be sold out. (8:30 PM, $30, 413-584-7771). . . . Proctor’s Theatre is doing one of those oldies-fest things on Saturday; this one features Gary Puckett (of “and the Union Gap” fame), among others (7:30 PM, $29.50-$44.50, 346-6204). . . . The Spirit of Guthrie tour makes a stop at Club Caroline on Saturday; the show features performances by Dead guy Rob Wasserman, Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, Jim Page, and Theresa Andersson (8 PM, $10, 580-0155). . . . On Monday, Parwana and Pink Hearse Paparazzi Project will wrap up a five-day mini-tour at the Fuze Box, with guests Importante (9 PM, $5, 432-4472).

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