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by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & Y & lt;/span & ou don't need an excuse to attend a DARFUR BENEFIT CONCERT. Or at least you shouldn't need one, you heartless bastards. People are dying out there, and not, like, of old age. There's a genocide on. You (we) should go regardless of who's playing, regardless of where it's happening.

Just so happens, the bands playing at this are worth your (our) time, a little icing on your anti-ethnic-cleansing cake. Vax Lavala's classic rockism is a well-known quantity by this point, as is Small Town Nation's punk and punk alone. The McConkey-Long Band has renamed itself Until August Ends (a good thing). Though UAE won't win any awards for name originality, the name at least invokes the right time period and aesthetic. McConkey-Long is the name of a bar band that would've opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd in somewhere like Tuscaloosa.


Darfur Benefit featuring Vax Lavala, Until August Ends (formerly McConkey-Long Band), Making the Day, Starflight Ambush, and Small Town Nation at East Valley High School (15711 E. Wellesley Ave.) on Friday, April 13, at 6 pm. $5; $3, students. Call 927-3200.

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & D & lt;/span & ance-punk is still strong like ox. Sub Pop's CSS had a good 2006, as did Fujiya & amp; Miyagi. LCD Sound System and Bloc Party just released sophomore efforts that are thrilling and coma-inducing, respectively. It's a genre not near its zenith, and yet, there are problems. It's over-academic. Where's the passion? Where's the brashness? !!! have it, but their latest album isn't very danceable.

Dance-punk needs a foul-mouthed outlier to keep them edgy. The only band that comes close to fitting that description is THRILLER. Let me rephrase: the first half of one of Thrillers' songs comes close to fitting that description. "Sorry, It's Satire" begins with hand claps, a lot of bouncy high hat and a mean-kid growl that holds the forbidden promise of mixing dance and hardcore the way DFA bands did dance and punk. That's the only song that pulls that trick, but still...


Thriller with I Am the Ocean, the Roe, In Her Memory and Cyrus Fell Down at Empyrean on Sunday, April 15, at 6 pm. $7. Call 838-9819.

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & his is such a simple concept, I don't know why no one's thought of it before. In the last year, we've seen the age-old open mic revamped, broadening along both cultural and technological lines. First Raw offered its open turntable night, then the Baby Bar started its open iPod night. The trouble with the inclusivity such things bring, of course, is that some people suck. At the open-mic level and at Raw's open turntable events, there's a degree of performance anxiety keeping people honest. That natural deterrent goes away when all you're doing is queuing up a playlist.

So how's this for an unnatural deterrent: Prago is hosting an iPOD GONG SHOW Wednesday. The idea's a little embryonic at this point, but the crew plans to let people spin a fixed but undetermined amount of time, with the understanding that they'll get the ol' hook if customers don't respond well. A recipe for painful realizations, wethinks.


iPod Gong Show at Prago on Wednesday, April 18, at 9 pm. Free. Call 443-0404.
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