Now that the unlikely eruption of the brilliantly exploitative Borat has engraved Sacha Baron Cohen's visage on our cultural psyche, his ability to capture people off-guard is all but foiled, as he recently conceded in an interview on NPR. So what's a meteoric humorist to do? Dramatic acting, apparently. And what exactly does this have to do with music? Well, it seems he'll be playing legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in an upcoming biopic, even beating out silver-screen golden boy Johnny Depp, according to U.K. tabloid the Daily Mirror. The one-piece man-thong musta sealed the deal. Very niiice.

In other music news, it looks as if New Order is history. As bad as that news may be to some, there's a more harrowing question that now looms before us: Does this mean that Peter Hook's gonna DJ permanently? God help us all.

Rock and Salvation

I caught Miami's Tango 36 at a Latin rock showcase held by Nativo Rock at the Social on Saturday, May 5. Now, I was already a touch nervous before they even struck a note. That always happens when I see a drum rack and/or head mic. It's perhaps unnecessary to say that radio-ready rock isn't really my thing. But I'm of the opinion that anything can be done well, and that's what this band did with music that was resonant, melodic and significantly more consistent than comparable stuff cramming the airwaves.

Speaking of redemption, headlining local band Milka ended up being the night's nicest twist, mainly because they sucked the last time I saw 'em, quite some time ago. It seems they've done much since then — enough, in fact, to resolutely repair their track record.

First, they're more assured in their delivery, especially frontwoman Milkanette Ramos, who's truly found herself as a performer. All brass and sass, this little firecracker kept the mercury up with punk vigor punctuated by Shakira-esque sensuality. Additionally, she's more committed to Spanish in her singing. Her dramatic transformation figures heavily into their now high-octane equation. But the thing that's made the chief difference in their maturation is a much clearer musical vision. Instead of clumsily stabbing at it like before, they now hit the rock much harder and far more convincingly. And that's how you do it, folks.

Even cult legends Fishbone turned it out at House of Blues (April 29). Despite being surrounded by their music in my skater days, I was never really impressed by it. But as much as their jumble of ska, funk and punk ain't my bag, a good performance is a good performance, and they lived up to their storied reputation even after all these years. Nice to see that their charismatic singer, Angelo Moore, still has his swagger and soul.

The Beat

Thundering with kilotons of black heaviness was a properly evil set by Celtic Frost at Hard Rock Live (April 30). Though it was odd to see a crowd sedately observing such a pounding set, most of them were there for the theatrical affectations of Type O Negative. With Rasputin adorning the cover of their latest album, Dead Again, a Eurasian motif is to be expected, and they had what sounded like it in their intro. But if you ever needed proof that this band has a sense of humor, the exotically nationalistic-sounding march playing was actually the parody anthem "O Kazakhstan" from the aforementioned Borat. Then again, frontman Peter Steele has never concerned himself with being taken seriously. Dude did Playgirl, fer chrissakes. Said overture also piped "It's a Small World." Um, wrong theme park, guys.

Copper Rocket hosted Austin's Weary Boys (May 2), this time without lead singer and original member Mario Matteoli, who's making a bid for a solo career. The band, however, is so diversely solid instrumentally — and also sports a handful of other vocalists — that his absence didn't make an appreciable difference live. With the strength of purity and the fire of youth, their bayou-bent honky-tonk and bluegrass still charged hard, reaffirming them as some of the finest traditionalists out there. The crowd this time was smaller than previous shows but no less enthusiastic. Conspicuously absent, though, were the "country" newjacks that prowl the indie scene. I'm not necessarily callin' you poseurs, but seriously, what gives, guys?

I'd love to tell you about the Souls of Mischief show upstairs at Firestone (May 3) but, well, I couldn't hear any of it. Not to beat up on the club too much since they've really been having a banner year (why do you think I've been there so much?), but maaan. That bass boom from the main floor totally choked the sound in the upper lounge where they were performing, prompting more than a few justified complaints. Further logistical tweaking needs to happen for events like this to be worthwhile.


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