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Fear Factory, Mastodon, Sworn Enemy
Northern Lights, Thursday

You probably recognize Fear Factory’s metal-hardcore-electronic-mix tunes from such horror flick soundtracks as Carrie 2 and 2003’s remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Their songs also have been spotted on a handful of Playstation road-racing games, but with more than a decade of experience on the metal scene, the Los Angeles-based Fear Factory also have a wide collection of EPs and studio albums under their belt—the most recent of which, Mischief Invasion, will be released this week. The band’s official Web site biography boasts that they were the first to utilize the mixing of metal with other music forms, and are thus a pioneering force in the world of metal. We’ll take their word for it. Fear Factory are currently touring with Mastodon, who were said by mtv.com to be “the second coming of Metallica and Rush combined.” Queens-based metal-hardcore band Sworn Enemy will open. (July 29, $15, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)

April Verch
Revolution Hall, Thursday

It’s hard to believe that fresh-faced Canadian fiddler April Verch already has six albums to her credit. Some might argue that this is testament to her creativity and work ethic. We say it’s because of her inveterate love of wordplay: Her discs have titles like Fiddelicious and VERCHuosity. Whatever the cause, the effect is Verch’s growing popularity among fiddle-music aficionados. (EnRoute magazine, for example, praised her thus: “April’s strings burn with energy, whether she’s playing waltzes, airs, reels or polkas.”) She has toured the world from Brazil to the United Arab Emirates, and she’ll touch down tonight at Troy’s Revolution Hall. Her Web site bio says that while influenced by “French Canadian, Scottish, Irish, Latin and Appalachian” fiddlin’, Verch is primarily “grounded in her native Ottawa Valley fiddling style.” We didn’t even know that there was such a fiddlin’ animal—shame on us. (July 29, 8 PM, $12, 417 River St., Troy, 273-2337)

Dash Rip Rock
Valentine’s, Thursday

Dash Rip Rock shows are rarely without casualties. That’s not “casualties,” as in “dead people,” but more the “we’ll knock your ass dead with rock & roll” sense of the word. This is a band who can play “Born on the Bayou” with absolutely no ironic intent (they are, after all, from Louisiana), followed by “(Let’s Go) Smoke Some Pot” (their amped-up rewrite of Danny and the Juniors’ “At the Hop”), and a medley of Top 40 radio hits, sung by their drummer . . . in his underwear . . . from atop the bar. That’s not a spoiler—their shows are also rarely without surprises, and we’re sure they’ll provide plenty of those, so arrive early, pass around the Jack, and have a good old rockin’ time tonight as Dash Rip Rock return to town for the first time in nearly six years. (July 29, 8 PM, $7, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 432-6572)

Bunny Brains, Brent Gorton, Solar Flares
Valentine’s, Friday

Dan Seward, frontman and mastermind of the not-quite-legendary indie-noise outfit Bunny Brains, assures that he makes much less of a mess on stage than he once did. Of course it should be noted that the comparative measure, “less,” still leaves a lot of wiggle room (pun intended) for a man who has pulled such diverse foodstuffs as jam and spaghetti out of his pants and has been known to spray his audience with milk. It’s a stage show that’s gotten the Bunny Brains bounced from more than just a club or two. To give the Brains their due, though, their music—which has been typified as “100 percent experimental noise”—may play a part in bookers’ reluctance. So, kudos to Valentine’s for bringing ’em in; props to Jason Martin for agreeing to occupy the drum throne behind ’em; big ups to both the Solar Flares and Brent Gorton for agreeing to share the stage with ’em; and to everyone bold enough to get out and check out the spectacle firsthand—“Duck!” (July 30, 9 PM, $5, 17 New Scotland Ave., 432-6572)

Cex, Make Believe, Nedelle and Thom
Flywheel, Saturday

Rjyan Kidwell—better known as Cex (sounds like, well, you know)—has been turning out volume upon volume of a unique mix of indie-rock and surly faux-hiphop for several years; however, to take him seriously as an “artist” has been difficult until now due to his almost self-sabotaging sense of humor (check out the artwork on his Oops, I Did It Again! LP for an example). Last year’s much-more-serious Maryland Mansions is a vast improvement on previous releases, marrying his affinity for heavy, Aphex Twin-like beats with mid-period Nine Inch Nails melancholia. He’s still a goofball, though: The video for Mansions’ “Take Pills” finds Kidwell staggering around a shopping mall in a white suit (picture a cross between Eminem and Elliott Smith in the video for “Miss Misery”), gobbling down hot dogs, painting his teeth red, and generally acting like a “world-famous retard” (as he identifies himself at his Web site). Opening Friday night’s show are Make Believe, featuring ex-members of Joan of Arc, and Nedelle and Thom, a San Fran-based duo whose self-titled Kill Rock Stars debut hit stores this week. (July 30, 7 PM, $5, 2 Holyoke St., Easthampton, Mass., 413-527-9800)

Christopher Cross, Karla Bonoff
Empire State Plaza, Wednesday

It’s easy enough to believe that heavy music rules the summer months—what with the Aggresso-Fest, and the Ozzus Belli, and New Extreme Diet Pepsi’s Bloodslick Hoe-Down and Pimp-lympics, or whatever. But the sultry weather occasionally receives a soundtrack geared at a more appropriately languid pace. On Wednesday, the Empire State Plaza hosts just such a show, one better suited to lemonade than first-aid: Christopher Cross (of “Sailing” and “Arthur’s Theme” fame) and Karla Bonoff (of “Lose Again” and “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me” fame). Nothing about these artists screams aggression; nothing about these artists screams much of anything at all, come to think of it. From their easy, pleasing lite-pop compositions to their low-key approaches to their careers (Cross’ Web site devotes a fair amount of text just to proving that the man who won 1981’s Best New Artist Grammy still exists), Cross and Bonoff gently settle into the brainpan without much kick or ruckus, which for an August Wednesday sounds just about right. (August 8, 7 PM, free, Empire State Plaza, 473-0559)


Also Noted

Powerhouse girl band Mis-Teeq, from England, will kick off their U.S. tour with a special performance at the Luna Lounge in Saratoga Springs tonight (Thursday). You probably have heard their song “Scandalous,” which is getting a ton of Top 40 airplay. Be warned, though—the press release says that in addition to it being a 21+ show, there will be a “strict dress code” (9 PM, $10, 583-6955). . . . Our favorite bloated, bigoted (remember a certain T-shirt?), ex-chart-topping rock star, Sebastian Bach, returns to Northern Lights tomorrow (Friday); locals Hypnotica, Mike Campese Band, and Untamed open (7:30 PM, $15, 371-0012). . . . Nashville outlaw and 2004 Americana Music Awards double-nominee Rodney Crowell will perform at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday and Saturday; Will Kimbrough opens both shows (9 PM, $38, 413-528-3394). . . . “Songs on the Lake” will take place this weekend at Lake Placid with performances by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Buckwheat Zydeco, Mark Selby, Patty Larkin, Bill Miller, Sonny Landreth, Rosanne Cash and so many more that we just don’t have room to list; to check out a complete list of who’ll be there, go to www.songsatthelake.org (11 AM, $45 per day or $79 both days, 523-3330). . . . The Kamikaze Hearts perform at Caffe Lena on Saturday, but be sure to call ahead—we hear it’s almost sold out (8 PM, $10, 583-0022). . . . Blues maven Albert Cummings, highlighted here a few weeks ago [“Zoned for Success,” Listen Here, July 8], will play at Revolution Hall on Sunday (9 PM, $12, 273-2337). . . . Philadelphia-based roadhouse rockers Marah bring their rootsy, barroom-suited sound to Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall on Tuesday, along with the Ware River Club (8:30 PM, $11, 413-584-0610). . . . Pun alert! Worship at the altar of hard rock on Wednesday as the legendary Murphy’s Law rock the Trinity Church, along with like-minded heavies Downset, Burning Bridges, Once and for All, Verse, and Draw Blood (7 PM, $12, 369-8759).


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