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by Carey Murphy & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & C & lt;/span & onfession time: It's getting really hard to tell where one emo band stops and another starts. With so many of the same instrumental sounds and influences, the multitude of musicians competing for the treasured limelight of the woe-is-me set makes, more often than not, for some seriously tedious drudgery. I mean, sure, you guys all used to like metal -- and, yes, I know the piano is hard to beat for the tear-jerking lyrical confessions of hearts-on-sleeves, mascara-clad singers. Truthfully, how many bands need to jump on the My-Chemical-Used-Silverstein-Alexisonfire-Romance-Fall-of-Troy-Underoath bandwagon before cooler heads scream enough is enough?

Not for a while at least, because those emo-core hoodlums who call themselves Chiodos will land in the 'Kan three days into their national tour. Though I'm always suspicious of initial tour dates -- maybe the band hasn't settled into their routine; maybe the dudes at the soundboard haven't figured out the levels -- chances are these six Michigan lads will hit the ground running. Touring behind last year's All's Well That Ends Well suggests Sunday's show may develop in two very understandable veins. First, there should be few technical glitches; second, there's a distinct possibility of hearing some new tunes. For fans of the genre, these are both pleasant possibilities.

Am I simply lumping Chiodos in with the rest? Well, yes and no. Yes, because they employ the same musical tactics with virtually the same results as other post-hardcore groups. No, because there's something markedly different about their instrumental configurations. Chiodos assembles the expected instruments but manages to produce a far more lustrous, luscious and complete sound. Lesser bands leave the listener with a sense of flatness, a kind of incomplete construction. Chiodos picks up the flatness and fills in the corners, mostly driven home by the dual (and dueling) guitars that add prog-ish, experimental flavors to an otherwise bland recipe. The drums often blast. And singer Craig Owens possesses a range that allows him to experiment.

The appeal of Chiodos? They're taking a tired formula and spiking it with guts. And that's the problem with so many of today's musical scenes. There aren't enough guts out there. Plus, these boys are straight pretty, pretty, pretty. And that -- as much as musicianship -- sells tickets.

Chiodos at the Big Easy on Sunday, April 2, at 7 pm with Matchbook Romance, the Early November and Amber Pacific. Tickets: $17; $19, at the door. Visit or call 325-SEAT.
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