by Clint Burgess, Leah Sottile and Mike Corrigan

Typically, unruly hair problems can be eliminated with some well-placed pomade or, in extreme cases, aerosol hairspray. In the case of Wayne "Static" of Static-X, however, the hair is the thing. And God knows you've got to have a marketable gimmick to make it in the business these days. Static and his electrifying hairdo will be charging up the masses at Fat Tuesday's this Friday.

The Static-Xers burst onto the burgeoning nu-metal scene in 1999. The band's hardcore sound and intense lyrics landed them a coveted spot on Ozzfest alongside the likes of Slipknot and Flood. Not to be outdone by the shtick of Wayne's hair, the band's name actually comes from a whacked-out book they found at a flea market. The book contained numerous bizarre photographs of babies in coffins, notes from a mental asylum and details of murder scenes, all centered on a turn-of-the-century small town in Wisconsin. Sounds like some sure-fire, hit-making (or at least myth-making) material, doesn't it? The heavy influence of these horrific tales can be found scattered throughout the group's debut album Wisconsin Death Trip (Warner). Static-X rode the smash single "Push It" to radio airplay success and went onward from there, harnessing the momentum they gained from successful tours, including outings with groups such as Fear Factory while continuing to mount their auditory onslaught on the metal-heads of America.

The business of shocking and rocking has been bankable. The band's fresh take on the oh-so-played-out genre of nu-metal has continued to propel them to new heights of musical experimentation and transcendence. They've filled the generational gap left vacant by exiting hair bands.

All joking aside, Static-X has grown sonically and in their writing process since their debut. Their current offering, Shadow Zone, is more of what the band does best but adds immense, multi-layered nuances to the disparaging qualities of their music. Wayne Static serves up buzz-saw vocals, and the remainder of the band (newcomer Nick Oshiro on drums, transplant Tripp Eisen on guitar, and Tony Campos on bass) hit the heaviness, often creating mind-blowing instrumental assaults that leave the listener reeling.

It is in this sickening pang of subversive rock 'n' roll that Static-X excels. They have zeroed in on a sound, honed it to precision, and now are in the process of finding out just exactly where this thing can go. Shadow Zone (which thoughtfully includes a bonus DVD) has the potential to eclipse any previous success and solidify the group's place in the archives of metal history.

Picking Up on Styx -- Paul O'Neill, the driving force behind the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, always wanted to elicit greater emotional responses in his audiences. To him, there are three kinds of art: bad, good and great.

He says that good art makes people feel emotions they've felt before, and great art brings out emotions people have never experienced.

In his quest to make great art, it appears that O'Neill and his fellow orchestra members, Robert Kinkel and Jon Oliva, might have gone a little over the top. In the spirit of music history's worst genre, the rock opera, these Trans-Siberians decided to completely butcher songs that people enjoy year after year just as they are: Christmas songs. Is nothing sacred?

The Orchestra has taken its act on the road over the past few years, and is performing its "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" again this year.

But they have an audience all of their own -- usually people who have more than a few Queen and Styx albums in their record collections.

On the TSO's Web site, O'Neill differentiates between the three kinds of art by saying that anger is an easy emotion for people to have, and love, empathy and laughter are much harder to bring about. His motives of seeing a happy world are respectable. Perhaps he is asking audiences to look past TSO's heavy-handed synthesizers, wailing guitars and Michael Bolton-esque hairstyles.

Whatever TSO is trying to do, these guys are putting themselves out there, looking at the holiday season in a different light, and getting a big response because of it -- something that's always respectable.

So, go on. Get in touch with the Andrew Lloyd Webber side of your personality, and have yourself your very own techni-color Mr. Roboto Christmas with the TSO.

Still Dragging -- Too Slim & amp; the Tail Draggers have paid their dues. Long ago, the countrified blues/rock combo led by guitarist/songwriter/lead vox Tim "Too Slim" Langford became a Spokane legend. And a tradition. Yet this unstoppable trio keeps soldiering on, undaunted by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Now as Langford, long-time collaborator John "Midnight" Cage and Dave "New Guy" Nordstrom get set to release their latest full-length tracks on wax (the new CD on VU Records called,Tales of Sin and Redemption), they'd kind of like the folks who got them where they are today (that would be you) to join them for a post-Thanksgiving Day CD release party at the Valley Eagles Lodge this Friday night so they can give a little something back.

That something includes the Taildraggers' performance, of course, but that ain't all. Your $12 cover charge also entitles you to a free copy of the new album. While that might not be a ticket to your personal redemption, it most surely is a ticket to an evening of fun and some of the best live blues this side of Memphis.

Publication date: 11/27/03

Iron Maiden, Trivium @ Spokane Arena

Fri., Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m.
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