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Big Wang Strikes Back 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & Any rock opera that has its genesis in the mind of some bass player who's been "listening to way too much Iron Maiden" is basically the only kind of rock opera we'd want to listen to. Those were exactly the circumstances surrounding the initial birth of Big Wang Theory's expansive new, 11-track, hour-plus spectacle, The War. Alan Crow, the bass player in question, "had an idea for demons taking over the world and a big epic battle, but that was too cheesy," says lead singer and co-creative force Adam Brock. So instead, they set the thing in space and centered it on a villain named Xerox whose story arc, according to Brock, bears a striking resemblance to "the Darth Vader thing." Whether that's more or less cheesy is up to us to decide, when the band performs the full cycle at Fat Tuesday's, next Friday.

The story centers on Xerox, and the rebels arrayed against him, led, it seems, by a mysterious space rock band and their oddly inscribed guitar, which certain natives believe has very specific Xerox-ending powers. Having been written close to Xerox's perspective, the opera, according to Brock, lets "[y]ou see all the destruction but also where he went wrong." Where he went wrong, according to some very cryptic documents provided by the band, seems to center on the death of Xerox's true love. This is epic.

Brock promises that, to fully recreate the scope of this stirring tale, Big Wang Theory -- usually comprised of just four local lads, Brock, Crow, Vinnie Nikolov and Max Shellabarger (guitars, bass and drums) -- will bloom into a seven-piece musical squadron, employing trumpet, trombone and keyboard, much as the denizens of their vast made-up universe unite to battle the evilly heartbroken Xerox.

Big Wang Theory plays at Fat Tuesday's with Beaf and Cyrus Fell Down on Friday, Dec. 2 at 8 pm. Tickets: $6. Call 489-3969
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