6:41 p.m., Thee Parkside
A jovial lass sings and strums a ukulele. Her stage name is Tippy Canoe. My journey has not yet begun, and already we're trapped in a deleted scene from Mulholland Dr. Noise Pop, meet wrong foot. We're off on it.
9:45 p.m., Slim's
The Locust's spazz-core metal recalls The Passion of the Christ,except they're nailing rock music to the cross. If I'd seen TV footageof them when I was nine, I'd have wet the bed every night for the nexttwo decades.
11:23 p.m., Great American Music Hall
The Unicorns are just wrapping up a showstopping cover of 50Cent's "P.I.M.P." One Unicorn is wearing a cape. Mildly entertaining,but the "whoa, dude" wackiness of it all kills the momentum andsubverts the tunes. More Magnetic Fields and less Frogs, please.
12:31 a.m., Thee Parkside
The Elected's first show quickly devolves into an endearingbut unending feedback/ false-start debacle. Someone onstage admitsthere were "a couple of Cat Power moments."
1:22 a.m., Thee Parkside
"Am I still standing up?" asks the guy behind me as I close the only bar tab I stuck around long enough to start.
10:13 p.m., the Independent
Baltimore rap weirdo Cex (a.k.a. Rjyan Kidwell) issequestered behind a laptop while a friend plays agent provocateur,banging on a drum set and rallying the troops. "I know we got Bush inthe White House / I know you don't like that," Cex's hype man shouts."I know we got troops in Iraq / I know you don't like that. / I know Ijust spit on you / I know you don't like that."
11:23 p.m., Slim's
Show me a critic bitter enough to dis the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, and I'll show you an asshole-and then I'll show you how to beat him with his own shoes. The drummer is ten years old. She's in a band with her parents.Their six-part cheese-rock opera about a 1970s McDonald's marketingsummit has the too-cool-for-school crowd grinning like idiots.
11:33 p.m., Popscene
There's a four-block line outside. Art-rockers Eveningappear to be just wrapping up. The only thing more professionallyreprehensible than reviewing a band in 15 seconds is reviewing a bandin 15 seconds while standing outside the club. Buy Evening's record, Other Victorians. It rules.
12:05 a.m., Great American Music Hall
"I love you!" someone shouts in the dead quiet between songs during Low's set. The crowd considers this. "I'm not drunk!"the someone adds. It's a rare moment of levity, and then indie rock'smost quietly devastating crew are back to business, shuffling throughsimple, beautiful, and agonizingly slow ballads as though they'retrudging through a tunnel filled with heartache-flavored gelatin.
12:26 a.m., Thee Parkside
The Scramblers' guitarist saunters down the street outsidethe club, a blonde on each arm. One of his bandmates bursts through thefront door. "Dude!" he shouts. "Encore!" They run back inside.
9:52 p.m., the FillmorePapa M: One man with an Autoharp cannot rock a crowd of more than 50 people!
11:05 p.m., the Fillmore
Before the Super Furry Animals finish the first song oftheir triumphant set, frontman Gruff Rhys wanders offstage andreappears wearing a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers mask.
11:40 p.m., Café Du Nord/Swedish American Hall
At Swedish American, Blake Sennett and Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kileyplay a cover of Elliott Smith's "The Biggest Lie" that's so raw Sennettsits out a song to dry his eyes. Downstairs in the Café, Dead Meadow thrashes away for heshers who already miss Queens of the Stone Age.
12:17 a.m., the Independent
The Stills unleash all the bleeding-heart/ bleeding-ampguitar fury that whiners have demanded of Radiohead for the past fiveyears. This is the most English Canadian band ever.
4:25 p.m., Bottom of the Hill
The Wrens are about to play, and the dude standing next tome in the crowd looks primed for a heart attack. Methodically slappinghis chest, he grins. "This is [whap, whap] just [whap, whap]-I'mfuckin' excited, man." It's easy to underrate the Wrens. Old dudes withguitars? Loved by critics, you say? How novel! But these guys are 200times louder, funnier, and more exuberant than even their discipleswould've dared to expect, a one-band justification for live music,indie rock, and maybe even New Jersey.
10:46 p.m., outside Slim's
A beat cop is shouting through a bullhorn at some dude who's rolled his car up on the sidewalk. A fan awaiting Sage Francis' set announces, to no one in particular: "You got po-po'd, son."
11:02 p.m., Slim's
Francis emerges dressed like a college prof (tie, vest, glasses)with "Fuck Clear Channel" projected on the wall behind him. "This setis gonna consist of a lot of obscure shit," he warns, to raucousapplause. "You might know this one, but don't get scared afterward whenI don't do 'Ice Ice Baby.'" When I leave, he's rapping aboutcappuccino.
11:11 p.m., Swedish American Hall
Devendra Banhart fingerpicks deftly and purrs in a frillyvibrato that underscores his childlike silliness-he's prone tononsensical between-song asides like "Yippee! Be Swiss with me!"Picture Adam Sandler with Nick Drake's indie cred. The adoring crowd ison the brink of starting its own religion. Yippee!
11:40 p.m., Great American Music Hall
The Decemberists = the seafaring grad-school hipster Monkees.
12:13 a.m., Café Du Nord
The Tyde = the grad-school hipster Jimmy Buffett.
12:30 a.m., the Kilowatt
Beloved scuzz-rockers the Coachwhips are already done. At 12:30! Is there an Iron Chef marathon running somewhere? Jesus.
7:50 p.m., Café Du Nord
The Minders and Oranger churn out sunny warmth for depressed travelers in the lobby bar of the Hotel California. Please bring me my wine.
10:55 p.m., Great American Music Hall
"That girl saw my dick once," Mark Eitzel announces, pointing to awoman in the crowd. Later, he refers to his band, the newly reunited American Music Club,as "the queer Eagles." Evidently someone brought Eitzel his wine. He'showling like a man half his age and twice his height. A shoddy,patchwork set from Preston School of Industry earlier thatnight proved just how tough AMC's smart pop for smart people is toduplicate; even if Eitzel repeatedly calls himself "Ding Dong" andshrugs off applause, you can tell he's glad to be back.
And we're glad to be done. Allegedly, the Cuts were playing the Kilowatt, but by midnight the place had cleared out. Evidently, that Iron Chef marathon rages on.