Thursday • 2

MARILYN MANSON It took us a while, but we think we've finally gotten on board with Marilyn Manson. OK, it took us a looonng while and we're not entirely on board, but 1) his surprisingly eloquent appearance in Bowling for Columbine and 2) a recent best-of collection that displayed a wide array of smart heaviness and ridiculous dramatics have allowed us a bit of perspective on that strange musical beast that is Marilyn Manson. We all know he started out as a dumb, reactionary hick who thought dildos and swastikas were the height of inflammatory musical theater, but as he's become more self-aware (not to mention satanically sophisticated), we noticed the mile-wide deconstructionist streak that's run through his recent work/personas. Success has been a blessing and a curse for his reputation, for without it he'd have no reputation, nor would he have his current elevated perch from which to analyze fame; but the way some of the alt-rock youth's most densely unreflective denizens flock to him doesn't do much to bolster his musical bona fides. Any large segment of the population liking your music as much as they like Godsmack doesn't put you in good company. Which is unfortunate since, as we've recently discovered, the Marilyn Manson who's treading the boards these days is a far more savvy and interesting character than the one who puked up Smells Like Children. Believe it or not, we can't wait to see what he does next. (with Slunt; 8 p.m. at Hard Rock Live, 407-351-5483; sold out)

TRAVIS MORRISON It's hard to know what to make of Travis Morrison's musical output post-Dismemberment Plan. His solo releases are similar to the Plan, with the only noticeable difference being a back-up band that's worlds more adept. Morrison's penchant for crafting quirky, humorous storylines out of the most mundane of situations remains intact, but the new lineup seems to suck all the fun out of songs – it would be like Neil Peart (of Rush) joining the Dead Milkmen. Sure, the songs would be technically better, but is that the point? Even before we figured out that Morrison was signed to Barsuk Records (former home of Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard), we thought his sound was gravitating toward drippy Death Cab/Postal Service dreck, positioning him as a sort of Ben Gibbard-lite. But as we all know, "Temptations sing: We need another Gibbard like we need a hole in the head." (with Beauty Pill; 8 p.m. at Will's Pub, 407-898-5070; $8)

Friday • 3

FOSSE Jazz hands! Jazz hands! (8 p.m. at Carr Performing Arts Centre; also 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; 407-839-3900; $26-$55)

BATTLES If they wanted, Battles could make some of the most complex wank rock ever imagined – they've got the pedigree for it: drumming machine John Stanier of Helmet and Tomahawk and guitar guru Ian Williams of Don Caballero and Storm & Stress. But instead, the most recent release (the B EP) is remarkably reserved, even subtle in places. Williams, via his tape-loop-pedal, effects a precarious tension with layer upon layer of guitar riffs without coming off too noodly. Stanier's restraint is perhaps the most striking of the pairing. There are times when Stanier's pronounced fluidity comes to the forefront, but for the most part he seems content to bash out simple rhythms for the sake of making a decent song. Don't worry, there's still enough meat for math-heads to sink their teeth into, but if you're looking for an all-out skronk session, this ain't your show. Come for the chops – stay for the music. (with Euphone; 9 p.m. at Will's Pub, 407-898-5070; $7)

Saturday • 4

REPTICON Slimy things that slither aren't necessarily sexy, but they can be hot – as in stolen goods. And that's the buzz that's making the rounds as the traveling Repticon festival makes it way to town. It seems that at a recent visit near Charlotte, N.C., there was an after-hours break-in and thousands of dollars worth of reptiles and amphibians were stolen, wiping out several vendors. Apparently, there's concern that the critters made their way down to Florida, a state full of dark corners that appeal to lounge lizards. Since Repticon allows attendees to bring along family reptiles for bragging purposes, make sure those cold-blooded friends are documented by the equivalent of a picture ID – there's bound to be such a service among the nest of specialty vendors. (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Central Florida Fairgrounds; $5 adults, $2 children;

ORLANDO SCIENCE CENTER PET FAIR If we were responsible, scholarly types, we'd say that we attend this annual celebration of all things nonhuman to take in the informational exhibits. If we had kids or a more advanced sense of dada, we'd claim that we're going this time to hobnob with Clifford the Big Red Dog, whose appearance among the normally colored breeds will doubtlessly be the most hallucinogenic experience to hit Orlando before 8 p.m. Sunday. (See "Beer School" entry, below.) And if we had apartments as big as our hearts, we'd be going to adopt seven or eight cute critters that are in desperate need of homes. But we'll be honest. What brings us out time after time – and this year is no exception – is the pet costume competition. We know it's lowbrow of us, and we really should be ashamed that we're such pushovers ... aww, lookit, it's a hamster in a hat! BWAHAHAHAHA! (10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Loch Haven Park; also Sunday; 407-514-2118; $8 advance, $10 door)

PREDATOR OPEN TRYOUTS It's hunting season for our arena football sports heroes and if you crave the real sound of bodies crunching, head downtown to watch a team of hopefuls knocking each other out to wear a Predator jersey. It costs to compete ($40 advance, $50 at gate), but there's no charge to sit in the stands and scream and yell (free therapy). The official season starts Jan. 30 in a home game against the Colorado Crush. (registration 8 a.m., on the field 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Thunder Field, adjacent to the Citrus Bowl; 407-648-4444; free to spectators;

Sunday • 5

ANDY'S BEER SCHOOL Spend enough time in Orlando, and you're bound to run into someone who wants to talk about the incredibly debauched time he had at one or more of the "Andy's Beer School" events that have been staged at Back Booth and The Lodge. If you ever find yourself in the middle of such a conversation, you know what you have to do: Kick the speaker square in the nuts and call him a liar. Nobody who's actually been to "Beer School" has the slightest inkling of what went on there – that's how brain-punishingly great Andy Gurjian's recurring foray into sudsy dementia is. From the (reportedly) elaborate experiments in mass imbibing to the (rumor has it) whimsically humiliating on-stage competitions, everything about Gurjian's themed chug-a-thon is geared (we hear) toward robbing you of your precious short-term memories. (A man named Teddy murdered your wife. Find him and kill him!) This edition has an extra calling card: It coincides with the birthday of Will's Pub owner Will Walker, guaranteeing a strong turnout of emotionally indebted regular patrons and other deadbeat suck-ups. And if that's not enough, in a continuing series of what we like to call "happy coincidences," Beer Schoolers who are on hand when the clock strikes midnight will also get to ring in the 40th birthday of Orlando Weekly A&E editor Steve Schneider – who is so desperate to have indulgent strangers help him wash down the bad taste of incipient old age that he wrote this item himself. Ohhhh, Steve. (8 p.m. at Will's Pub, 407-898-5070; $5)

Wednesday • 8

VELVET REVOLVER We weren't going to write anything because we don't want Scott Weiland to kick our ass. He's way sensitive about stuff these days and we don't want him mistaking our reserved enthusiasm for criticism. Because then he'd want to kick our ass, which is totally uncool because, unlike all those other pansy-ass journalists who make fun of Weiland, we happen to love him. Why? Because he's the only goddamned rock star left on the planet, that's why. And he just happens to be fronting the only goddamned superstar rock band left on the planet. It's just too bad their record sucks ... oh shit. Did we just say that? Oops. OK, let us explain: Contraband is a record full of badass riffs, pounding rhythms and shimmy-shake sexy singing. The tunes are all rock & roll, baby. Thing is, whoever made the call to mix it all super-compressed and dynamically challenged should be drawn and quartered. For such a full-bodied, classic-lineup rock band, Velvet Revolver wound up releasing an album that sounds hollow, strained and waaay too much like every other crap band on the radio, which is unfortunate. The good thing is, we know it's not going to sound like that live, so please, Scott, don't kick our ass. (8 p.m. at Hard Rock Live, 407-351-5483; $42.50, $65)

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