Kevin Stevers, Megacon, Skeleton Key, Elvis Costello and more

Thursday • 24

KEVIN STEVERS There are loads of professional musicians and/or music educators in town wedging creative side projects into their schedules (see, um, Side Project, below). Their self-promotion tends to operate at a sad-sack level, perhaps because they usually don't possess the clever monikers in such abundant supply amongst the area's amateurs. Stevers' work is a classic case of music waiting for the audience to catch up or find it. This month's artist-in-residence at The Peacock Room (possibly the final in the venue's worthwhile series) is attempting to cross the kitchen-sink spirit of a DJ collective with the semiformal jazz and classical experiments made famous with Miles Davis' "third stream" exercises, resulting in some high-toned rump-movers. A violin, French horn, trombone and saxophones follow various rules, including simple scales, in addition to improvising. There aren't always set endings or places where the written material starts: The musicians watch Stevers' hand and adapt or crash. A laptop provides the primary pulse and adds elliptical loops of machine glitch or planted audio – for instance, a Che Guevara speech. The lack of certainty creates both wobbly workshop-style takes and some very synchronous beauty. If you saw a name-brand electronic maverick do this in a hipper city you'd probably call it a brave piece of genius. (10 p.m. at The Peacock Room; 407-228-0048; free)

ARE WE THERE YET? No, we're not still dumbfounded from last year's History Center transportation exhibit, nor are we previewing a live cast/audience participation version of Ice Cube's latest celluloid vehicle. No, this Are We There Yet? is a mobile art show staged in the back of a 24-foot U-Haul truck. "We wanted a way to get our names out there," comments Adam Prince on his reason for planning the movable spectacle, "without having to be in a gallery environment ... `These` artists don't fit into that niche, or certain style, that galleries are looking for." And the names that will be showing there, in There, are Prince, along with artists Kellie Moore, Melissa Diaz and Dana Funaro, as they truck an installation of 16 to 20 pieces to seven stops around town. "The exhibit will consist of paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings" that, as Prince puts it, "run the gamut from artists working in total abstraction to figurative works." Better to just stake out a location because with the tight itinerary the show is planning, particularly through rush hour, they'll be lucky if they make all the stops on time. Oh, wait, now the title makes sense. Just for fun, how many times do you think Prince and company will say these words: "No, the orange dolly is not one of the pieces." (noon-1:50 p.m., University of Central Florida; 2 p.m.-3 p.m., Waterford Lakes Plaza; 3:30 p.m.-4:50 p.m., Whole Foods Market; 5 p.m.-6:20 p.m., Rollins College; 6:30 p.m.-8:20 p.m., Stardust Coffee & Video; 8:30 p.m.-9:20 p.m., Will's Pub; 9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m., The Peacock Room; 407-928-6877 or [email protected] for information; free)

NEW ROCHELLE AND THREE VIGNETTES If your jones for original theater wasn't slaked by last month's second annual PlayFest new play festival, hie your hide on down to the campus of Rollins College and grab a glimpse of playwriting talent so cutting-edge that it doesn't even have a diploma yet. Every year, students in the school's theater program have the opportunity to see their self-written scripts staged and put before the eyes of the public. The two undergrad-generated affairs going before the boards this year are New Rochelle, a dark comedy by junior John Ryan that explores the underbelly of Kennedy-era households; and Three Vignettes, a triptych of vaudevillian sketches from the pen of senior Rhea Mendoza. Mendoza directs both experiments in scholastic scrivening, which, as incubated under the auspices of the school's Second Stage series, are totally the students' responsibility to produce and promote. Unlike grown-up arts organizations, however, nobody has to take out a second mortgage if ticket sales go into the pooper. There'll be time enough for that after college. (8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Fred Stone Theatre, Rollins College; 407-646-2145; free)

Friday • 25

MEGACON Though its reputation rests on a consistently jampacked schedule of celebrity guests, buying and selling opportunities and marathon gaming sessions, the MegaCon science-fiction/fantasy convention takes on a whole new bent this year by hosting its first-ever indie film expo. In a two-hour session beginning at 5:10 p.m. Friday, conventioneers will bear witness to the miracles today's fanboy or -girl can work with a camera and a little bit of imagination. Don't expect the viewing options to be limited to craptastic trailers for nonexistent Thundercats features: Two contributors, Brian Pulido and William Tucci, have already earned their stripes as the creators of Lady Death and Shi, respectively. Terry Cronin, president of the Melbourne Independent Film Association, masterminded MegaCon's entry into the indie field, which has proved so popular out of the gate that a "spillover" screening of extra films has been set for 1 p.m. Friday. Two panel discussions of modern auteurship principles round out the weekend schedule, cementing MegaCon's newfound status as the best thing to happen to underground cinema since Nodance. (Convention hours 1-11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at Orange County Convention Center; 727-796-5725;; $20/day, $45/weekend)

Saturday • 26

SAM VERELLA BENEFIT II Last week, two benefit shows were held at Will's Pub in honor of Sam Verella, the former owner of ARS Studios who died on Dec. 31, 2004. The shows were organized in order to raise money for Sam's wife and infant son and, with lineups that included a reunited Skrape and The Kill, the shows were a fitting tribute to someone who was a vital part of Orlando's heavy rock scene. However, the organizers weren't done and this week, another benefit takes place at The Social, featuring the second (and likely last for some time) reunion show of Skrape as well as sets by Still Naive, Atomic Tangerine, Canvas and Shine. (8 p.m. at The Social; 407-246-1419; $8)

BARBARA PARKER Thriller writer Parker has a new novel out. It's called Suspicion of Rage. She's written other books too, like Suspicion of Madness, Suspicion of Vengeance, Suspicion of Malice, Suspicion of Betrayal, Suspicion of Deceit, Suspicion of Guilt and Suspicion of Innocence. They've all been bestsellers. We want her job. She gets to "write" books and show up at things like "Meet the Writers" at Barnes & Noble. We'll give a dollar to the person who asks her where she comes up with her titles. (2 p.m. at Barnes & Noble – Colonial Market Plaza; 407-894-6024; free)

SKELETON KEY Poor Erik Sanko. With each milestone he and the Key approach, another band member calls it a day. After their sophomore effort and major-label debut (1997's Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon) is nominated for a Grammy (for album art, but still), guitarist Chris Maxwell departs; their third full-length, 2002's Obtanium, hits the stores and founding member/multi-instrumentalist Rick Lee jets; and just last year, fill-in drummer Matthias Bossi leaves for Sleepytime Gorilla Museum – and Skeleton Key don't even have a new album out yet. Not that this show will be lacking; the new members are surely more than able to continue in the pots-and-pans swagger that has been the hallmark of the Key's sound. But, as the sole original member, perhaps Sanko should call the band ... wait for it ... Skeletön Crüe. (Cue pyro.) (with Landing on Land, Loss for Words; 9 p.m. at Will's Pub; 407-898-5070; $8)

Sunday • 27

SIDE PROJECT Although we weren't quite expecting it, Side Project is exactly what we've been waiting for: an amalgamation of Orlando's finest outsider musicians/sound tinkerers brought together for the sole purpose of wrecking our brains with a good, American dose of the loudest and most schizophrenic noise possible. After years of being obsessed with Grand Funk Railroad's "I'm Your Captain," local art and music guru Pat Greene apparently felt the undying need to cover the song in a new way. He spoke to Greg Leibowitz of What's Yr. Damage?, and the two considered playing it at the second annual International Noise Festival in Miami this year. While those plans fell through, Orlando gets the honor of being witness to the debut of the "group." Although Side Project is planning more shows and toying with doing a tour, the lineup is still evolving ... to say the least. In keeping with the spirit of their name, every week, another member (who's often involved in another local musical project) shows up to add more clatter. As of now, Side Project includes members of Landing on Land, What's Yr. Damage?, Numb Right Thumb, Azul Luz and Duck Church as well as DJ Polygon Panties – Greene (violin, samples), Leibowitz (drums/bass), Sheila Scoville (electronic sounds), David Lane (drums), Zach Moldov (drums), Ian Vidaurre (drums), Jason Arnold (sax, found sounds), Tim Barth and Pat Vercarlo (who, we assume, will be doing whatever they please). Yes, we noticed there are quite a few drummers. Since Side Project's conception nearly a month ago, the gang has been practicing in Greene's garage. "Mostly, the music has been eclectic, polyrhythmic, and loud," Scoville says of their creations. "A Frankenstein sound crafted from the freak-out parts of noise rock, free jazz, Afrobeat and any other genres known for completely losing it." We're all about losing it. (with Gestalt; 10 p.m. at The Peacock Room; 407-228-0048; free)

Wednesday • 2

ELVIS COSTELLO Fuck this guy. Seriously, we just don't get it. Sure we can comprehend – at least on a philosophical level – why he's "important," and we agree that, for a few years at least, his smartass energy lent power to a stream of decent-to-excellent rock records. We understand he has a facility with language. We know he's got good taste. But just because someone once told us they liked what we wrote about some nickel-beer night didn't mean that all of a sudden we thought we were good enough to start tag-teaming with Gore Vidal and Jonathan Franzen on a reworking of For Whom the Bell Tolls. This is supposed to be a rock show (as opposed to a string quartet performance or an operetta or Tin Pan Alley revue or whatever the hell else Costello's doing these days), so at least he'll actually play some songs. Regardless of the show's quality, however, everyone's gonna insist it was great. (7 p.m. at House of Blues, 407-934-2583; $45-$74)

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