Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Events

If you've ever stood before a landscape and thought, "That looks nice, I'd like to jump in there and move around a little bit, see what it feels like on the inside of the artwork," and let's face it, who hasn't, then "Circling, An Environmental Installation" from Massachusetts artist Lydia Kann Nettler is probably just your speed. An installation piece made up of black and white charcoal landscapes and three dimensional tree structures, the work gives the viewer an immersive experience as you literally walk through the forest of Nettler's imagination. Running through October 17. Gallery hours: 12 p.m. - 5p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. Towne Art Gallery, Wheelock College, 180 The Riverway, Boston. 617-879-2000. www.wheelock.edu/art

"It must be in the air here," sings Say Hi's Eric Elbogen in his warbling, wounded voice amidst the icy cool piano and bass throb of the song "Northwestern Girls" repeating the refrain over and over through a crashing climax. One of many fraught missives from the band's notoriously overcast hometown of Seattle on their latest effort "The Wishes and The Glitch" we can assume he's not talking about the sun. But Elbogen's seeming unhappiness just happens to be our good luck, because he wields a heavy heart to rousing effect. Say Hi performs tonight on a bill with Washington D.C.'s Jukebox the Ghost, a band whose jaunty piano pop should serve as a good emotional counter balance. 18+. 9 p.m. $9. Middle East Upstairs, 472 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278. mideastclub.com

For an artist who sings most of his songs in Spanish, Madrid born and Miami based pop singer and dreamboat heartthrob extraordinaire, Enrique Iglesias sure has made a huge splash in the international market. He's sold some forty million plus records over the past decade, and landed numerous number one singles on the US and international charts. But let's face it, weepy pop ballads like "Hero" and flirty club bouncers like "Bailamos" are sung in the two universally understood languages in the world: crying your eyes our and dancing your butt off. See if you can pull of the rare double play at his show tonight and do both at once! 8 p.m. $47.50 - 97.50. Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

Boston Globe

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Events

Everyone wants a piece of Rachael Yamagata. Whether it's directors using her poignant piano weepers to do the mood setting and emotional heavy lifting in films and tv shows like "The O.C.", "One Tree Hill" or "Definitely, Maybe" and "Elizabethtown", or nearly every singer songwriter dude worth his indie cred from Bright Eyes, to Rhett Miller, Jason Mraz and Ryan Adams asking her to sing on their albums, she's in pretty high demand. She even toured with, and wrote a song for Mandy Moore. Bright Eyes to Mandy Moore? That basically covers the entire contemporary pop music spectrum. She must be doing something right. Find out tonight when she performs songs from her forthcoming second album "Elephants... Teeth Sinking Into Heart." 8 p.m. $25. Café 939, 939 Boylston St., Boston. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

Throughout a wending and weaving musical career Seattle's Damien Jurado has won a loyal following that's been following him down whichever dusty genre path his singular muse has taken him. Forays into electronic music, pop rock and audio collage type experiments were charming enough, but for our money it's when he gets back to his, and American music's, roots that he's at his best. Songs like "Trials" from his latest "Caught in the Trees" are gently strummed and expressive stories of the downtrodden and heartbroken whose musical vulnerability lead toward a curious sort of catharsis for like-minded listeners. Misery loves company, after all. He performs tonight. 18+ .9 p.m. $10. TT the Bear's, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. 617-492-2327. www.ttthebears.com

There aren't many bands that can easily bounce between a tour with the alt-porn punks The Suicide Girls and write music for the Powerpuff Girls, but one listen to the song "Tea Time Ska" from Tokyo's Tsu Shi Ma Mi Re, with it's alternating throaty metal scream and candy-coated cartoon pop and it begins to make sense. Or, as the band's website puts it "We were being on tour with Suicide Girls 2006 & 2005!!! That was really really Ausome!!! We wanna go again!!" and "The Powerpuff Girls, three little kindergarten girls, are cute, powerful, far-out and stylish. They touch the hearts of both children and adults. The cute and powerful trio...is like "Tsushimamire"!?
So... they joined forces!" The band, which as exactly as awesome as that description makes them sound, perform tonight. 18+. 9 p.m. $8. Middle East Upstairs, 472 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278. mideastclub.com

It's no secret that teachers are woefully underpaid. It's also no secret, if we remember correctly sitting across the desk from some of our own high school teachers and recoiling in horror from their breath, that they really like to drink coffee. So, if we can't do little things like pay them an adequate wage, well at least we can get them a free cup of joe. So goes the thinking at Starbucks, with their teacher appreciation Monday. Today's the last chance to get in on the free tall cup of their Pike Place Roast, so get down there fast, teach. You've earned it! At your local Starbucks.

You may find this hard to believe, but there was a time when people fed up with politics as usual took to the streets and protested. Then again there really wasn't much good to watch on tv back then, so what else were they going to do? Part animation, part archival footage, and all righteous fury, the film "Chicago 10" is a look into what happens when young Americans decide they want to speak out. Set around the time of the 1968 Chicago conspiracy trial in which a group of protestors at the Democratic National Convention were put on trial for conspiracy and inciting riot, it should give viewers something to think about this election year. See it tomorrow as part of the Community Cinema film series. 6 p.m. Free. Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., Boston. 617-536-5400. www.bpl.org

Boston Globe

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Barcode: The Living Room

Bartenders in booty shorts and well-made cocktails . . . as a general rule, the two don't go hand in hand. The Living Room, the somewhat confusingly themed restaurant and lounge on Boston's waterfront, is no exception. You'll find the former here, but not that latter.

The concept of the room is welcoming enough. A tripartite complex, with a dining room, bar area, and, yes, a living room, the space is rife with plush couches and loveseats perfect for canoodling and all manner of cocktail-inspired flirting. Or perhaps for cozying up on the couch for brunch and taking in the game. But with most of the empty tables and couches off limits to us on a slow Saturday evening, each one guarded by a lonely reserved sign, it was a bit like looking at a display in a fancy furniture show room. "Boy, that sure looks comfy! Too bad we can't sit on it." Either way, it probably won't resemble your concept of a living room, unless of course your dad was a bouncer and your mom set up a velvet rope around the TV.

We managed a makeshift stool and coffee table arrangement and ordered some cocktails, all of which were plenty drinkable in an alcoholic summer-camp bug-juice sense but lacked a certain attention to detail and quality that could really make this spot a regular hangout. The inventive Rising Sun (sake, plum wine, sparkling wine, Chambord, mango juice; $10.50) had a picturesque layered effect, and the Mango (Stoli Ohranj, mango smash, mango and lime juice, honeydew and cantaloupe; $10.50) got points for its unique brunch ingredients, but as is so often the case with unfocused cocktail lists, most of the others were simply different-colored variations on sticky, sweet, and sugary. Popular late-night party atmospheres like this don't always provide bartenders with time for intricately made cocktails, and sometimes quantity has to win out over quality. Some people can live with that.

The Living Room, 101 Atlantic Ave., Boston. 617-723-5101. ww.thelivingroomboston.com

Boston Globe

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Events

If you'd have asked us way back in 1995 when the arch-piano popsters Ben Folds Five burst onto the scene with "Underground" their hilarious swipe at all things "alternative" -- yikes remember that? -- if front man Ben Folds would be more than a one hit wonder, never mind make it through fifteen more years of cranking out album after album of poignant, heavy-hearted piano ballads and rousing, key crashing rockers, we'd have said you were crazy. And yet here we are, and Folds, who's about to release his third solo effort, the winsome and frequently heart-breaking "Way to Normal," is still going strong. Man, we didn't know anything back then. He performs tonight. 7:30 p.m. $35. Orpheum Theatre, 1 Hamilton Place, Boston. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

Just in case you've been slacking off all year and neglecting your music-going duties, the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival gives you the chance to cram it all into one gluttonous weekend. Now in it's 8th year, the huge outdoor festival brings jazz, blues, and world music artists from across the globe together on four stages. Highlights tonight include the "all star drum summit" featuring heavy hitters like Cindy Blackman of Lenny Kravitz's band, 8:15 p.m. $30-40. Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com. Tomorrow a wide array of styles and genres will be on display including jazz artists like the Russell Malone Quartet, and percussion troupes like Bloco AfroBrazil. 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. Free. Columbus Ave. between Burke St. and Massachusetts Ave., Boston. www.beantownjazz.org

You know it seems like just the other day people were running around littering wherever they pleased, lighting giant piles of tires on fire, and pouring vats of waste into the nearest body of water they could find. But thankfully the environmental movement came along to set us straight. Seriously though, there are a lot of simple ways we can all reduce our energy use and help protect the environment, and you'll be able to find out about them today and tomorrow at the Boston GreenFest 2008. Films, music, art, discussions, panels, and exhibits of green products from a variety of conservation minded vendors are just a few of the things in store for you. Plus something called Project Recycled Runway today at 11:30 a.m., which we're really hoping is a trash bag fashion show. Friday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. City Hall Plaza, Boston. www.bostongreenfest.org

There's a place where surrealism, cartoons, psychedelic drug trips, space and the realm of fantastical creatures intersect, and boy do we never want to vacation there again. One other option might be just checking out the work or painter Joey Mars, whose exhibition of new work goes on display tonight. Vibrant, wacky and colorful, the Cape Cod based artist's work is a playful mix of high and low. He'll appear at a reception for the series titled "Landing Party" tonight alongside a showing of the latest from Steve Balderson. The Los Angeles filmmaker presents a piece titled "Sex Talk" in which he recorded friends like Margaret Cho and Ron Jeremy answering the question "what is sexy?" on his voice mail. 6 - 8 p.m. Free. Rsvp required. Space 242, 242 East Berkeley St., Boston. 617-797-3191. www.space42.com

Many of you may only know Tyler Perry from his string of successful films like "Madea's Family Reunion," and his tv show 'Tyler Perry's House of Payne" but the multi talented actor, director and writer is a successful playwright as well. In fact it's where many of his on screen creations, like the stern but affable maternal figure Madea first got their start. His latest stage production, "The Marriage Counselor", is another typically incisive Perry project, this time taking on the concept of wedded bliss, or lack thereof. Tonight, 8 p.m. Through Sunday. $44.50-$54.50. Citi Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston. 800-447-7400. www.citicenter.org

In years past you'd have to travel far and wide, by land and sea, in the most dangerous of conditions, in order to make the sort of international beer drinking pilgrimage being delivered to your doorstep this weekend at the Belgian Beer Fest. You've never had it so good. Tonight and tomorrow the celebration of all things brewed kicks off with a variety of guest speakers like Jason Perkins, Head Brewer of the Allagash Brewing Co. and, more importantly, samples of beers like Gueuzes and Brettanomyces and Lambics. For one weekend anyway, we're all Begians now. Tonight, 6 - 9:30 p.m. $50. Tomorrow 1 - 4:30 p.m., 6 - 9:30 p.m. $40. Cyclorama, Boston Centre for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., Boston. www.beeradvocate.com

If you aren't already hip to the towering, powerful anthems renowned Boston vocalist Aaron Perrino has been laying down with his bands The Sheila Divine and Dear Leader after the hundreds of articles fawning journalists like us have written over the years, well then you just haven't been paying attention. So instead of blowing more smoke, this time we asked Perrino about his recent move to, and hasty return from Belgium, which was, he said "a complete failure and a Kafka like nightmare." After a series of bureaucratic headaches and living an apartment "like a combustible Ford Pinto," he's back in town and performing with Dear Leader tonight. "This could be the last Dear Leader show for quite some time," he says of the often politically charged protest band, "unless McCain wins the White House." 18+ .9 p.m. $12. TT the Bear's, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. 617-492-2327. www.ttthebears.com

Most shows from local bands and burlesque troops are scary enough as they are, but tomorrow night it's by design for a change when J. Cannibal's Feast of Flesh transforms the Coolidge into a living nightmare. Living dead might be more appropriate. Expect ripping garage boogey from Boston rockers Rock City Crimewave, horror themed thrills and chills from Black Cat Burlesque, and a screening of Peter Jackson's classic gore fest zombie flick "Dead Alive." There'll be prizes for the best zombie costume as well, so be sure to splash your self with plenty of fake blood when you're getting ready to go out. 12 a.m. $10. Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. 617-734-2500. www.jcannibal.com

Boston Globe

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday Events

Sep. 30 With their screaming, frenetic noise rock An Albatross have been kicking out grinding punk since they stormed out of Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. On Tuesday the band bring their peculiar brand of chaos to the charity-driven Oxfam Café, where your rocking out can actually be considered helping others for once. 8 p.m. $7. Oxfam Café, Tufts University, Miller Hall, 210 Packard Ave., Medford. 617-628-5000. www.myspace.com/oxfamcafemusic

Sept. 27 For years Palmer St. in Harvard Square has been nothing more than a handy little shortcut, but now that it's been developed as a wide open space it has a more welcoming community feel. On Saturday Lumen Eclipse, a group that presents "contemporary motion art in public spaces" takes advantage of that with LE:60,
have been kicking out grinding punk since they stormed out of Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. On Tuesday the band bring their peculiar brand of chaos to the charity-driven Oxfam Café, where your rocking out can actually be considered helping others for once. an outdoor exhibit of hundreds of one minute films by area artists. 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. Free. Palmer St., Cambridge. www.le60.org

Sep 25 Since most recipes don't end with the instruction "burn hard" we like to leave it to the pros. On Thursday celebrity chef Jacques Pépin will be signing copies of his new book "More Fast Food My Way" at Z Square while Z's staff whips the dishes up. 5 p.m. Free. Z Square, 14 JFK St., Cambridge. 617-576-0101. www.z-square.com/cambridge

Boston Globe

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wednesday Events

Just in case you missed the point with song titles like “Black”, “Murder”, and “Lost” listening to any of the tracks from the new Ours album “Mercy (Dancing For The Death Of An Imaginary Enemy)” will clue you in that there are some serious emotional catastrophes going on here. Although somehow the powerful melodramas of extraordinarily talented vocalist Jimmy Gnecco always make us feel a little bit better when we hear them. Touring behind the band’s third album, Gnecco and company cast a shadow over Cambridge tonight with their dark, soaring rock ballads. 18 +. 9 p.m. $15. TT the Bear's, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. 617-492-2327. www.ttthebears.com

Last we checked in with politics about, say…eight years ago, we were still living in a largely open society with our elected officials beholden to the rule of law and operating within the system of checks and balances. That’s still all good, right? No? With an increase in sketchy behavior by our government, from warrant-less wiretaps to secret prisons and extraordinary rendition techniques, there’s plenty of evidence that a pervasive culture of secrecy may have taken over. Then again, maybe such secrecy is necessary in order to keep us safe from the boogeyman or the barbarians at the gate or whatever. From Pearl Harbor to Iraq the documentary “Secrecy” by Harvard’s Robb Moss and Peter Galison examines all angles of the issue. Join the directors for a post screening q+a tonight. 7:30 p.m. $9.50. Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge. 617-876-6837.

Note to aspiring Americana bands out there: all you have to do is travel around from state to state playing in front of local pharmacies until a folk icon sees you and asks you to play his big festival. At least that’s how it supposedly went for the Old Crow Medicine Show when renowned guitar player Doc Watson spotted them on the road. Since then gigs with the likes of Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard, headlining slots at Bonnaroo and Telluride, world tours, hundreds of thousands of records sold and a new record produced by Don Was have followed. Either their brand of finger pickin‘ fiddle, banjo and acoustic old timey country folk has made the band really lucky, or they’re just that good. Probably a little bit of both. They perform tonight. 8 p.m. $29.50. Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachussetts Ave., Boston. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

Boston Globe

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tuesday Events

We’ve had a lot of firsts at Weezer concerts over the past fifteen years. The first time we ever crowd surfed (we were young, what do you want?); the first time we ever cried at a rock show (yeah, um, no excuse there); and the first time we ever felt way too old to be at an all ages show. The greatest power pop band in the world continues their insidious plot to infect every music loving brain within earshot with their giant rock hooks when they hit Lowell tonight. You can be sure Rivers Cuomo and company will see to it that their audience feels young again, at least for a couple hours. Yes, even the old guys like us. All ages. 7:30 p.m. $48.50. Tsongas Arena, 300 Arcand Dr., Lowell. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

You might think with all the dance nights around town that all of the various style constituencies would be having their genre needs met, but there’s still one group that’s being underserved says Andrew Churchman, dj and promoter of “…And Don’t the Kids Just Love It?” the indie pop party tonight at the Milky Way. “I guarantee you will not hear Comet Gain at any other dance party in Boston,” he says, referring to the 90’s Brit Indie band. Also on tap, he says “Obscure indie pop and post-punk with a strong emphasis on early 80’s Britain and early 90’s America.“ Why else should you join the crowd of what he calls “two hundred troubled teenagers, one thousand barren mothers, journal writers, bedroom dancers and retail clerks”? Simple, says Churchman. “There is bowling. It is free.” 21 +. 9 p.m. Free. Milky Way Lounge, 403-405 Centre St., Jamaica Plain. 617.524.3740. www.milkywayjp.com

Yeah, yeah, we know everything is retro now, and that every new band that comes along sounds like x, y, and z from back in the day, but when you make a record as transcendent as “In Ghost Colours” the second effort from Melbourne, Australia’s Cut Copy, nothing else really matters but the undeniable power of the music to get you out on the dance floor. Songs like the “Lights & Music” with its giant tension and release crescendo and unstoppable beat had the packed crowd at their last date at the Paradise dancing in one giant wave of unbridled enthusiasm like we’ve never seen at a Boston show before. The band returns tonight. 18+. 8 p.m. $25. The Paradise, 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

Boston Globe

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Barcode: Apple

Sour apple martinis have become something of a joke in mixing circles, but that doesn't mean there aren't good apple-based cocktails out there. The Normandie (organic vodka, artisan apple Calvados, St. Germain liquor; $12) at Gaslight is one example. "Most apple martinis are made with sour apple Pucker," says bartender Bethany Socha, "and sour mix that's not always fresh." The Normandie, on the other hand, she says, "tastes like a real apple, not a sweetened impression of one." Good call. Here the St. Germain pushes most of the fruit forward, while the Calvados gives the drink its oaky, fruit body. You can almost feel the crunch and snap of apple skin on your teeth.

Slightly more perplexing but no less interesting is the Martini de Cidre (spiced rum, orange juice, sparkling apple cider, cinnamon rim, and cinnamon stick garnish; $12) at Aquitaine. A bit like mixing apples and oranges - OK, exactly like that - this drink moves out of the realm of holiday-spice martinis with the addition of citrus. Just think of it as an apple-flavored mimosa.

Red apples are great, but it's rare that you see yellow ones used as mixing ingredients. Extra credit goes to bartender Drea Plummer at Om for A Delicious Pear (muddled yellow Delicious apples and fresh ginger root, ginger syrup, lime juice, apple and pear liquors, apple pucker; $11), even if she does use a touch of Pucker for color. "Apple and pear work well together," she said, "and with fall and apple picking season I thought I'd try something different." She's on to something. The bits of muddled apple skin give a nice texture, and the ginger cuts through the synthetic blah of the liquors.

Appletini lovers need not apply.

Gaslight, 560 Harrison Ave., Boston. 617- 422-0224. www.gaslight560.com; Aquitaine, 569 Tremont St., Boston. 617-424-8577. www.aquitaineboston.com; Om, 92 Winthrop St., Cambridge. 617-576-2800. www.omrestaurant.com

Boston Globe

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Barcode: Bacon

It sounds like something only Homer Simpson could love, but at some local bars, bacon-infused alcohols are becoming an increasingly popular reality. The idea is a bit off-putting at first, but when you think about it in the context of a Bloody Mary, which is how they serve it at brunch at Church, (garnished with a flash-fried, bacon-wrapped cherry tomato and spiced up with intense smoked Mexican sea salt, $8) it starts to make more sense. "We infuse vodka with bacon, thyme, and bay leaves," explains bartender Kevin MacKinnon, "then let it set for 10 days to two weeks." Over time, the vodka absorbs much of the meaty, salty flavor of the bacon, and after the fat separates and is removed you're left with a smoky infusion perfect for savory cocktails.

The flavor palate they're experimenting with at Stix is a bit wider, but it still all comes down to the meat. Although in this case it's bacon-flavored bourbon, and the process, known as a fat washing, is different from a typical infusion. Essentially, beverage director Paul Westerkamp renders bacon, combines the grease with Woodford Reserve bourbon, freezes it, pokes a hole in the upper frozen layer, and then drains and filters the liquid. It makes for a subtle blend that is surprisingly versatile. The Smoked Apple Bacon Martini (all drinks $14-16) made with Applekorn schnapps is basically a pork chop and apple sauce martini, but light and drinkable. Other creations that maintain that food-you-can-drink approach are the Bacon and Eggs Sour, a frothy, sour, meaty, fruity cocktail made with egg whites and sour mix, and the Blueberry Pancakes and Bacon with maple syrup and muddled blueberries. It's like brunch in a glass. Now if someone would just get to work on alcoholic donuts.

Word to the wise: If you want to try any of these drinks, you might want to go quick. Jake's Dixie Roadhouse & BBQ in Waltham recently had to take its bacon-infused vodka off the menu pending a review by the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission.

Stix, 35 Stanhope St., Boston. 617-451-7849. www.stixboston .com; Church, 69 Kilmarnock St., Boston. 617-236-7600. www. churchofboston.com

Boston Globe

A Place to Bury Strangers

Indie rockers in the Allston area are used to have a lot of options to choose from on any given night, but the line in the sand separating stylistic allegiances will be drawn when two of the hotter bands on the verge play separate shows across town tonight. At the Paradise Brooklyn's A Place To Bury Strangers erect a noisy onslaught with their early nineties style sonic overload. The band, known for their intense live shows mangle their guitar pedals through heavy feedback excursions that explore the darker side of post-new wave and experimental rock. 18+. 7 p.m. $12. The Paradise, 967 Commonwealth Ave. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania's Inner Party System hurl bombs of synth-driven club bangers at the crowd tonight with their manically aggressive dance floor chaos. All ages. 7 p.m. $10. Harpers Ferry, 617-254-9743. www.harpersferryboston.com

Boston Globe

Jennet Conant

It's a tale of espionage the likes of which spy novelist Ian Flemming might have conceived, and a story so seemingly fantastical it might have sprung from the mind of surrealist children's author Roald Dahl, but as it turns out they're just two of the real life characters moving through this gripping tale of back room political maneuvering. In "The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington" author Jennet Conant digs deep into the war time intrigue of a group of British spies who worked their way into the highest levels of American political power in an attempt to convince the country to join the fight against Germany in World War II. She reads from the book tonight. 7 p.m. Free. Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline. 617-566-6660. www.brooklinebooksmith.com

Boston Globe

The Dandy Warhols

We don't want to live in a world where the Dandy Warhols aren't the coolest band around. And for now, their title appears safe. While the latest from the Portland based psychedelic pop rockers continues the band's pattern of wildly inconsistent records that walk the thin line between genius and monotony, songs like "Last of the Outlaw Truckers" show that they've still got their manic edge, eclectic experimental side and ear for a compelling hook. Either way the band have written so many all time classics of blissed-out, retro-tinged, narco-driven pop rock over the years like the ubiquitous "Bohemian Like You" the show tonight should be a tour through all the parties you've already forgotten from the past decade. 7:30 p.m. $22. Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont St., Boston. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

Boston Globe

Tom Petty Tribute Show

There aren’t many musicians who can run the fan gamut from rocking middle America at the Superbowl to being honored with a tribute show put on by Boston indie bands at a little rock club, but Tom Petty, the man, the myth, the legend, the beard is just that good. You can keep your Springsteens and your Neil Youngs. None of them wrote “American Girl” did they? Didn’t think so. “Refugee”? Game over. We asked the bands performing tonight at the Tom Petty Tribute Show just why it is Petty is so awesome.

What's the occasion for a Tom Petty Tribute show?
Brendan Boogie, Brendan Boogie Band: Tom Petty Tribute Shows are like buying flowers for your lady on a rainy Tuesday afternoon that's not her birthday. There doesn't have to be a reason.

John Blout, Watts: For us it's just an excuse to get a chance to run through some of the finest rock songs ever written.

For a guy who's written so many smoking hits over the years, Petty is still sort of underrated isn't he?

David Mirabella, The Rationales: Yeah, he has so many good songs and so many different eras. It’s easy for casual listeners to focus on the hits, which in themselves are so many and so good, but then there's the album cuts! So much good music.

Boogie: He should at least be mentioned in the same breath as Springsteen, if not Dylan. Right now, he's sort of in Mellencamp Town which sells the man short, in my humble opinion.

What's the verdict on these tribute show type deals? Great fun or kind of weird?
Boogie: They're a blast. Musicians salivate at the thought of pretending to be their rock and roll heroes for a night. It's great fun to have everyone in the audience singing every word to every song. You get all the fun of being in a cover band without having to play "Sweet Home Alabama" for the kajillionth time.

Mirabella: Ask us on Saturday. It’s certainly meant all in good fun and I guess as long as no one actually dresses up like Jeff Lynne or starts doing it on a weekly basis at Kowloon then its all good.

“Refugee” or “American Girl” in a fight to the death on Mount Awesome?

Mirabella: I've always thought that “American Girl” is the perfect song, just amazing energy, lyrics everyone can latch onto…hands down “American Girl.” One of the most feel good songs you'll ever hear.

Boogie: A double disqualification due to outside interference from the killer riff in "Change of Heart."

Blout: “American Girl” would throw itself off of that mountain so “Refugee” would win by forfeit.

Boston Metro

Matthew Ryan

"Some Streets Lead Nowhere"
A song so understated its lulls and yawning spaces of sound hit like a ton of bricks. Picture breathless lovers embracing in the rain and slow motion montages of television character contemplation, or cue it up for your own personal break up soundtrack.

Hear it at myspace.com/matthewryan

Boston Globe

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Death of Patriotism

American patriotism, long prized for its ability to inspire feelings of fellowship among adherents, was laid to rest on Tuesday night when a baseball fan was escorted from Yankee Stadium after leaving his seat during "God Bless America." Signs of illness had plagued the once robust notion for some time. Patriotism is survived by its heirs, nationalism and jingoism.

Patriotism once seemed easy to define, but malleable enough to encompass interpretation, allowing broad swaths of personal expression. In America, rigidly defined rules by which we express our love of country always seemed anathema to patriotism itself (e.g., saluting the flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.) Until September 11th, 2001, when (we're told) everything changed.

Like so many of our long-held truths, the attacks of that day muddied the political waters determining how we understood patriotism. It became quantifiable. American flag sales soared, yellow ribbon stickers on cars multiplied and "Support the Troops" became a ubiquitous motto. Patriotism began its gradual slouch toward "patriotism," and was reinvented as commodified performance art. Tiny flag lapel pins became a legitimate measuring stick for the merits of a presidential candidate.

Perhaps this convolution of patriotism into an arms race of political theater manifested itself most at sporting events. Leagues have started games by playing the national anthem since major league baseball adopted the practice during World War II. After 9.11, many added "God Bless America" to the repertoire. It was a supersized value pack of American pride. More to the point, it gave us another opportunity to proclaim our pride in front of thousands. And yes, they were watching.

It makes sense that in our sporting temples, where people are buzzed on competition, patriotism has been celebrated above all else. But unlike sports, politics and national interest have no defined boundaries. Their reality is arbitrary, messy and cruel.

I experienced this firsthand at Gillette Stadium two years ago. Neglecting to stand for some display of nationalistic pride, I found myself demonized by a group of overly concerned citizens. Perhaps they took the name of the home team too literally.

An unassuming, middle-aged woman transformed into a guardian of groupthink, and barked out marching orders: "Stand up. Why won't you stand up?" You'd have thought I'd denounced capitalism in French, then wrapped a bald eagle in an American flag and set it on fire.

If being a sports fan means chronically renewing a loyalty oath, I'll pass.

It could have been worse. I could have ended up like Bradford Campeau-Laurion, the 29-year-old Queens resident forcibly ejected from Yankee Stadium last week for committing the grave sin of walking to the bathroom while "God Bless America" played during the seventh-inning stretch. Post-9.11, the stadium created a rule restricting fans' movement during the song. Really. A true patriot, you see, knows his place. He understands that any American who "loves freedom" must sing and salute when commanded to do so.

Shocking, right? While it's a practice glaringly antithetical to the freedoms we hold so dear, it seems incidents like this become increasingly common every day. It's hard to remember that freedom business we were all so proud of in the first place.

Weekly Dig

Wednesday Events

With hurricane Gustav in the news last week, our thoughts returned to the devastation of hurricane Katrina and the effects it had on the lives of the people of New Orleans. Fortunately this storm didn't end up having as destructive an outcome, but for a reminder of just what was at stake consider picking up New Orleans author Tom Piazza's "Why New Orleans Matters" a book that goes a long way toward explaining the unique and irrepressible identity of the city. His new book "City of Refuge," is a novel about two families who deal with the aftermath of the storm and set about picking up the pieces of their lives and working their way back to normal. He reads from the work tonight. 7 p.m. Free. Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline. 617-566-6660. www.brooklinebooksmith.com

For local bands always on the verge, success usually begets more success. For The Luxury, purveyors of anthemic rock with big stadium-sized hooks and an eye toward UK indie style, a recent opportunity to open for Coldplay at the TD Bank North Garden may have been the push over the hump they needed. It was a good match for the band, whose piano driven power balladry likely won them many new fans at the show. "I've talked to the guys and we're going to pretty much exclusively play arenas from now on we decided," The Luxury front man Jason Dunn joked with us recently. The band leaves on a tour of the California coast this month for a few more high profile shows. But first, a Boston date tonight. 18+. 9 p.m. $10. Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston. 617-566-9014. www.greatscottboston.com

With the impending end of the Bush administration we've always thought we'd see less cowboy antics, not more, but we'll give the Beehive a pass, because tonight they're taking all the good parts of country -- the music and the food -- and putting them together for a party. For Honky-Tonk Hoedown, a night sponsored by local country record label Cow Island Music, they're turning the restaurant into a country themed extravaganza. With performances from local bands like Preacher Jack and Girl Howdy, and down home specials like cat fish nuggets and pan fried rocky mountain trout, it's a little bit country, a little bit, well, ok it's all country. Dinner, 5:30 p.m. Music 8 p.m. Free. The Beehive Saloon, 541 Tremont St., Boston. 617-423-0069. www.beehiveboston.com

Boston Globe

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Pigeon Detectives

"This Is An Emergency"

It's hard to manage dark and uplifting at the same time, but the Pigeon Detectives wield a world-beating swagger that gives the impression they're used to getting what they want. The stylish down-stroke guitar and brain-melting hook don't hurt their chances.

Tuesday Events

For a guy who has played in so many emo bands over the years, James Dewees (onetime keyboardist for The Get Up Kids, My Chemical Romance and New Found Glory and drummer for metal band Coalesce) sure has a great sense of humor. In his own band Reggie and the Full Effect he’s released a series of arch, poppy punk albums like "Songs Not to Get Married To" And "Greatest Hits 1984-1987. " Dewees, who performs most of the music on his records with help from a who’s who of punk and hard core favorites, released his latest record under the Reggie moniker this summer, the decidedly harder edged “Last Stop: Crappy Town.” Dewees and band perform their last stop ever in Boston tonight. 18+. 7:30 p.m. $13, $15 Middle East Upstairs, 480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278. mideastclub.com

Things might have changed a little since we were in college back in the dark ages, but we’re pretty sure there are still a few things that will never go out of style. Namely, free stuff, drinking, and embarrassing yourself in front of your friends. Tonight Kings Lanes gives college kids a chance to do all three with the kickoff of their weekly College Night and a toga themed party. Just make sure you wrap that toga tight, because we wouldn’t want any wardrobe malfunctions out on the lanes. Actually, that would probably be funny. Free bowling and billiards, a Greek god and goddess contest, lip synching, and most importantly, cheap beer. That’s like frat bingo. 21+. 9 p.m. Kings Lanes, 10 Scotia St., Boston. 617-266-2695. www.backbaykings.com

There’s a curious blend of organic and industrial elements present in the work of sculptor Tim Rowan. In his new exhibit “Tim Rowan: Ceramic Sculpture” he utilizes a variety of colors and textures in his wood-fired native clay pottery that inches the line separating naturally occurring, stone-like objects and man-made objects closer together. The ancient looking architectural structure of “Object 105” (shown) is one stylistically provocative example, as well as “Object 102” a sort of cog from a primitive stone-based machine. If we didn’t already know, it’d be hard to say when these objects were made in history. A reception for the New York based artist will be held tonight at 4 p.m. and an artist’s talk will follow tomorrow at 2 p.m. The exhibit runs through September 30. Lacoste Gallery, 25 Main St., Concord. 978-369-0278. www.lacostegallery.com

Wow. We just took a little tour of Boz Scaggs’ videos on YouTube just now and it instantly shot us back to a time of early eighties light rock FM and dentist office jams. Songs like “Lowdown” are all slap bass and tight pants-suited funk. Hits like “Heart of Mine“ and “We’re All Alone” are pastiches of hammy slow dance romance cliches. In short, it’s unbelievably awesome. The golden throated, one time seventies and eighties hit maker who continues to record and tour throughout the world landed his most recent new record, “But Beautiful” a collection of jazz standards, at number one on the jazz charts. He performs tonight, and we‘re just guessing there is gonna be a lot of middle aged making out going on before the show is over. 7:30 p.m. $63.50. North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Rd., Beverly. 978-232-7200. nsmt.org

Inline skating around the city on your own can be fun, but there’s strength to be found in numbers. The Inline Club of Boston, which offers a number of get togethers every week just might help you find someone to push you a little harder on the course, or maybe even find some like minded comrades in arms, or more appropriately, wheels. With different events for skaters of varying skill levels, there are a few options to choose from. The Tuesday night city skate, running every week through October, is a two and a half hour scenic run throughout the city. “We skate on the streets and have people designated to help with keeping the skaters together in a group,” says Julie Reker, one of the organizers, “making sure everyone makes the correct turns, and such, so no one gets lost.” Join the group of 20 - 30 riders tonight. 7p.m. The Hatch Shell, the Esplanade, Boston. www.sk8net.com

Perhaps seeing the city on two wheels is more your thing? Consider joining up with Urban Adventours, an eco-friendly bicycle tour group in Boston. Anyone who’s ever traveled the same roads by bike that you drive on every day by car knows that there is a lot you are missing out on. You’ll see the familiar city around you in a completely different way. Just don’t spend too much time sight-seeing though, you’ll want to avoid those open car doors and jaywalkers on every corner. With daily bike tours, and a variety of routes to choose from along some of Boston’s more scenic and historic roadways and paths, people looking for exercise or a new vantage of the city should find all their biking basics covered. The group, who’ve never seen a pun they didn’t like apparently, insist you’ll have a “wheely” good time. Daily, 10 a.m., 2 p.m. $50 (includes bike and helmet) Landry’s Bicycles, 890 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-233-7595. www.urbanadventours.com

One time member of the UK trip hop act The Sneaker Pimps, whose hit “6 Underground” set the mood for a million late night lounge parties the world over in the nineties, Chris Corner has found success with his latest musical incarnation IAMX. Songs on his two albums “Kiss + Swallow” and “The Alternative” are brooding electronic new wave and electro pop that showcase Corner’s fetish for the darker side of love, sex and emotion. In his live shows, the entertaining Corner has developed a sense of outlandish flair, with dramatic makeup and costumes that heighten the stylistic mashup of the music. He performs tonight. 18+. 9 p.m. $11. TT the Bear’s, 10 Brookline St., Cambridge. 617-492-2327. www.ttthebears.com

Boston Globe

Monday, September 8, 2008


King them

Two friends take checkers to a new level online in a game called Quadradius

Most people know how to play checkers: You move your pieces square by square across the board in an attempt to capture your opponent's army by "jumping" them. But what if you could turn those pieces into space-age battle robots and equip them with bombs and lasers?

Then you'd have the online video game Quadradius.

Quadradius, created by two friends from the Boston area, updates the old checkers model for the video game generation by providing players with a series of weapons they can collect during each turn and then employ against their opponent. Instead of moving all the way across the board for a kill, Quadradius heightens the action by incorporating a warlike atmosphere. Here you can dig trenches around your opponent's pieces or lay traps that destroy them if they try to move. There are also elements of strategy to consider as in chess and bluffing techniques to employ as in poker, and many of the game's increasing number of players throughout the world say that those spins on the relatively staid board-game experience are what keep them coming back again and again.

Launched last year, Quadradius has seen its number of users swell in recent months thanks to exposure on video game websites and excited word-of-mouth recommendations, says Jimmi Heiserman of Somerville, who built the game with his longtime friend Brad Kayal of Brighton. The game can be played for free at www.quadradius.com.

With thousands of contests being played every day, the game is becoming a phenomenon: It has had as many as 13,000 unique visitors in a day. Heiserman credits its success to its simple premise, the easy learning curve, and the repeat playing value.

"It's a game where you fight like turn-based BattleBots, bluff like poker, and combine strategic combos like Magic: The Gathering," he says. For the online video game community, an experience that incorporates the trinity of robots, gambling, and magic powers covers all the bases.

The simple but eye-catching graphics are a big part of the appeal. Kayal, the game's art designer, likens it to a "checkers apocalypse." It's not uncommon for the board - with a look that combines high-tech chic with a rundown, industrial warehouse - to end up looking like the product of a war between two alien robot species.

"I've always liked the Mad Max aesthetic, where you see a lot of older technologies being used for futuristic needs," says Kayal, 29, who works at the advertising firm Modernista! with Heiserman, 31. "The pieces could have been just black and white and looked like checkers, but giving Quadradius a world to inhabit makes it just a bit deeper."

It was the wide variety of options in a relatively casual flash game that first caught Pavel Zakharov's attention. A player who goes by the alias "Handi," he is representative of the compulsive devotion the game inspires. "As I first played Quadradius I was thrilled by such a huge pool of powers," he says in an e-mail. "Soon, I discovered all the strategy behind this seemingly luck-only game and got hooked. I remember playing a lot the first week, then I couldn't sleep because I had those hypothetical Quadradius boards in my head when I was closing my eyes."

Bill Bohn, a player who uses the screen name driven2sin, finds the balance of skill and luck to be a big draw. "The possibilities are very dynamic and create unique game experiences more often than not," he e-mailed. "The skill/luck factor is around 70/30, so the game is very rewarding to the expert with the draw of trying to beat a casino."

The game as it exists today was never something Heiserman envisioned when he first started toying around with it.

"It's based on a project I made in high school back in 1995," he says. "I made it just as a home project to get better at flash programming and to learn some server skills." Before long, he says, the college circuit found it online. "It quickly spread throughout dorms and computer labs across the country."

He thinks he knows what it is that keeps players coming back obsessively. "Quadradius is online, so it works great as a two-player, head-to-head networked game, but it is built in flash, so people expect it to be a casual game," he says. "A great deal of our players were hard-core gamers who couldn't get their daily dosage of first-person shooters or massive multiplayer online role-playing games while chained to their work cubicles or while sitting in the back of a Chemistry 101 auditorium. They were turning to our game while they were away from their home game consoles."

If the game sounds complicated, neophytes shouldn't be intimidated, Heiserman says.

"We try to keep the game easy to first get into, so that the casual drive by will stick around long enough to get hooked and relish in its complexities." The game requires no sign-up or registration, and it gives descriptions of the powers and the potential tactics, so new players can quickly get into a game.

And there are no shortage of new players, he points out. "The cool thing is," he says, "we get new subscribing members every day from all over the world, France, Australia, the UK, India. So people are flocking, and staying, to check out our little flash game, which was meant to be just a small game for me and my friends to play."

Boston Globe

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saturday Events

Hip hop is great and all, but you know what it could use a little more of? Educational appeal for the kids. That’s apparently the thinking behind Alphabet Rockers, a San Francisco group comprised of Mass. natives Kaitlin McGaw, Maria Minidis and Geoff Abramczyk. Songs like “Whether the Weather” are laid back, smooth grooves that probably wouldn’t sound out of place in a downtown lounge, that is if it weren’t for the reminder for kids to put their coats on when its cold outside. “The Money Song” is a hip hop jam about making change with dimes and nickels. Today they take it back to the (pre) school with a fun, educational performance for young kids. 11 a.m. $10 adults, $8 children over 2. The Regent Theatre, 7 Meford St., Arlington. 781-646-4849. www.regenttheatre.com

Paradoxically considered one of the best kept secrets in the rock world to their legions of adoring fans, Kentucky’s My Morning Jacket continue their gradual climb toward the title of best live band in America. On their latest record “Evil Urges” front man Jim James and company put their resounding and reverberating guitar heroics and high end vocal prowess to work for another collection of eclectic rock anthems. On the title track James’ signature falsetto flutters into the stratosphere, while on “Highly Suspicious” it skews sinister. The highlight of the album, however, is the shimmering, gorgeous “Touch Me I’m Going.” Give into the urges and join the ranks of the converted tonight. 6:30 p.m. $31. Bank of America Pavilion, 290 Northern Ave., Boston. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

When it was first invented America’s pastime was a lot different than the game we know it as today. No, not Guitar Hero. We’re talking about baseball, or Base Ball if you prefer. With underhanded pitching, no gloves, and we’re just guessing here, much better mustaches, it was a much tougher game. Back then, you see, men were men, not like these spoiled pretty boys with their new fangled technology. Catch some exhibitions of the game as it was once played today when the Essex Baseball Club plays a double header against the Lynn Live Oaks and the Fitchburg Rollstones. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. $3. Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm, 5 Little's Lane, Newbury. 978-462-2634. www.historicnewengland.org. Also today the Hingham Historical Society host their Second Annual Fall Vintage Base Ball Classic and Barbecue. 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Derby Academy, 56 Burditt Ave., Hingham. 781-749-7721. director@hinghamhistorical.org

One of the worst parts about going to museums or zoos when you are a kid is that you aren‘t allowed to touch anything. The Instrument Petting Zoo at Longy School of Music solves that pesky problem by inviting kids to do just the opposite. We read a study somewhere that exposing your kids to music at an early age is 100% guaranteed to turn them into little geniuses. Actually we might have made that part up, but it probably can’t hurt. What would your kid sound like playing the oboe or violin? An angel, no doubt. Find out today when the school faculty and students open their doors, and their instrument cases, to the public. Free. 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Longy School of Music, 1 Follen St., Cambridge. 617-876-0956. www.longy.edu

If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to get out and dance all summer, today’s the day to do it at Caliente, a festival celebrating Latin arts and culture in Boston. World renowned, best-selling salsa singer Tito Rojas from Puerto Rico headlines a day jam packed with performances from musical and dance troupes from Columbia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and throughout Latin America. Our Spanish is a little rusty, but how‘s this sound: Vamos a bailar hasta nosotros nos caemos abajo? 4 - 8 p.m. Free. City Hall Plaza, Boston. 617-635-3911. www.cityofboston.gov/arts

We were just rifling through the back of our closet picking out the right jacket to wear to Blazers Day before we realized we misread the press release for the event. Turns out it’s an event celebrating the Boston Blazers professional lacrosse team. Lacrosse lovers will get to meet and take pictures with the team, take in youth and professional games, pick out a seat for your season ticket purchase, and even take part in an open try out for the Blazers dance team, mascot and anthem singer. Locrawesome! Oh, uh, we’ll probably still end up wearing the mustard-tweed elbow-patched blazer to this anyway. 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Free. TD Banknorth Garden, 100 Legends Way, Boston. 888-252-9377. www.blazerslacrosse.com

What does culture mean these days anyway? Judging by the lineup of entertainment at the fifth annual New England Culture Festival today in Lowell it means a little bit of everything, all at once. With Brazilian dancers and drummers, salsa lessons, African drummers and flautists, belly dancing, rock n roll bands, Mexican roots music, folk singers, artists of all sorts displaying their work, hip hop and flamenco performers, fashion shows and retailers and food and drink vendors they’ve covered all the bases. A lot of times when we say an event has something for everyone we don’t really mean it, but this time it’s the truth! Sponsored by the non profit group Second World, proceeds of the event will go to fair trade, art empowerment and educational programs throughout the world. 2 - 10 p.m. $10, free children under 12. Enterprise Bank Parking Lot (172 Middle St., Lowell). www.second-world.com

The only problem with going to see prolific “geniuses” like Ryan Adams in concert is that for every all time classic they write, you have to wait through five deep cuts that they probably could have edited out in the first place. Oh, and by all reports he’s pretty irascible on stage. But what do we know? We’ve never written anything as transcendent as the soaring and dramatic “So Alive” from his “Rock N Roll” album. Then again, we’ve never written anything as sappy as “New York, New York” from “Gold.” Evens out. The genre-defying Adams and his band The Cardinals perform tomorrow. 6:30 p.m.$10- 25. Bank of America Pavilion, 290 Northern Ave., Boston.617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Events

For over a decade now Welsh rock group Stereophonics have been slaying the UK charts with a series of massive hits. Their first record, 1997’s “Word Gets Around” still resounds all these years later with the buzz saw power of “Local Boy in the Photograph” and “A Thousand Trees,” two tracks that showcased singer Kelly Jones’ eye for story-telling detail and raw vocal talent. Over time the band mellowed a bit, with forays into more acoustic driven balladry, but through it all Jones’ one of kind whiskey and pack of fags singing have remained riveting. The band returns to the US for the first time in three years to support a new record and a forthcoming greatest hits collection tonight. 18+. 8 p.m. $25. The Paradise, 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-931-2000. www.ticketmaster.com

Many people find abstract art confounding. Without a clearly defined entry point for a painting it can be easy to lose focus and turn your attention elsewhere. But for many artists, elsewhere is exactly the point. Rather than outlining the narrative of a work or organizing the details for us, abstract pieces like “Untitled” [title confirmation tk] by Virginia-based painter Bill Fisher don’t just take the viewer somewhere, they take them any and everywhere. Is that a desolate playground or a rundown urban façade? Industrial shapes or organic life? Perhaps all of the above. “Bill Fisher: New Works” runs through September 29. The opening reception is tonight. 5 - 7 p.m. Arden Gallery, 129 Newbury St., Boston. 617-247-0610. www.ardengallery.com

It’s been almost 200 years since the first Octoberfest in Bavaria. And while it began with a horse race and a celebration of a royal marriage, today we have our priorities sorted out; it’s all about the beer and music. Sure, it’s technically not October yet, but we don’t really let petty little things like the calendar stop us from stretching out every other holiday, so this one shouldn’t be a problem either. Tonight and tomorrow get the beer season started early with the Sam Adams Octoberfest party. You’ll see a guest speech from Sam Adams founder Jim Koch, music from German folk and Octoberfest themed party bands the Oberlaendler Hofbrau Band and Jolly Kopperschmidts German Band, and plenty of beer to go around. 21+. Friday, $35. 5:30 - 9:30 p.m. Saturday, $15. 1 - 10 p.m. The Castle, Park Plaza, 64 Arlington St., Boston. www.beersummit.com

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday Events

Of the approximately ten billion emo bands that spawned like some insidious alien virus over the past decade or so, there are very few whose records bear repeat listens a month down the line, never mind years later. But "What It Is to Burn" the 2002 debut from California's Finch still sounds fresh and powerful today. While they didn't invent the style, the album's mix of pleading vocals and scorched earth screaming certainly helped usher a wave of melodic post-hardcore into the mainstream with the soaring drama of hits like the title track. After a hiatus the band has returned with a new self-titled EP and a tour that hits Cambridge tonight. All ages. 7:30 p.m. $14-16. Middle East Downstairs, 480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-864-3278. www.mideastclub.com

Most of these "Taste of…" events around town give you a broad sample of restaurants at once, but you don't ever get a feel for the place when you're eating with a tiny plastic fork in the middle of a crowd outside. Consider the North End Exposure dinner tonight a condensed, but more in-depth version of that same idea. Begin your first course at one of the four participating restaurants including Prezza, Taranta, Tresca and Lucca, then rotate to each of the other three in order. With some of the rich pastas and seafood dishes they specialize in, you'll be glad for the exercise in between. 6:30 p.m. $50, $60 with wine pairings. Prezza, 24 Fleet St., Boston. 617-227-1577. prezza.com

Most American bands think they have it tough when the van breaks down. Try playing under a violent dictatorship in a repressive culture or booking gigs in the midst of a bloody sectarian conflict. That's how it went for Acrassicauda. Part of the Route 08: Scion Independent Film Series, the feature documentary "Heavy Metal in Baghdad" follows the Iraqi heavy metal band though the years of chaos in their country, capturing their efforts to keep the dream alive and rock on against all odds. Chaos, rock on, keep the dream alive? We may have just written the lyrics to their next metal song. A cocktail reception accompanies a screening of the film tonight. 21+. 9 p.m. Free. RSVP required. Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. 617-734-2500. www.scion.com/route

Boston Globe

Brandi Carlile

With each successive verse in this heart-wrenching declaration of romance, folk-strummer Carlile works toward a screaming climax that leaves her sore-throated and laid bare. If you're not misty-eyed by the denouement of this one, you've probably never been in love.