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So, the latest on Paris Hilton … kidding. Instead, let's start with the Flaming Lips. Since I've been hearing so many people talk about their recent show at Bonnaroo and I myself finally experienced the blissful insanity earlier this year at House of Blues, I am compelled to spread the good word. On July 10, all you poor suckers who haven't yet seen this hypervisual phenomenon will finally have a chance to validate your existence when U.F.O.s at the Zoo hits the streets. The DVD captures the Lips live in front of a huge and enthusiastic hometown audience at the Zoo Amphitheatre in Oklahoma City. Though it's something you really should see in person before you die, this footage of their full-scale concert is as close as it gets. Just so you know, the streamers from their show back in April are STILL stuck in the rafters at House of Blues.

The Beat

Y'know how I dutifully scowl, I mean, scour the trenches of the live music scene for you, dear readers? Well, the June 28 performance at Back Booth by Crash the Satellites is the reason I do it. This is the next band to be genuinely excited about. And that's right, bitch, they're from Florida. Jacksonville, to be precise. Think Dinosaur Jr., only less wobbly and blessed with a more honed sense of melody. Their sound was propulsively pretty, like the Chapel Hill indie rock bands of the '90s, but ear-splittingly loud at the same time. Heaven? Just about. At any rate, it's a winning juxtaposition. Yesss, man … THIS is how you do it!

About 22 hours later, Suite B was the scene for a party celebrating the debut release by Fast FWD, a local house-music collective now turned record label. From the DJs featured on this night, their bag appears to be a forward-thinking aesthetic of distilled, downtempo house. Rob Slac, whose record is the maiden release, spun a spry and tasteful though somewhat quotidian set. Riverside, however, put together a soul-bathed set whose vibe was as chill as it was deep. In all, a respectable showing. Not to negate the stance I take on the current state of house music in my Rabbit in the Moon story a couple of pages back, because it's true with regard to the bulk of it, but these cats comprise one of the outposts of the culture that isn't stuck in a historical bubble.

The free indie-rock show put together by Parafora Music on June 26 was quite the success. Then again, getting big corporate dollars to finance a night of quality national entertainment — all you had to deal with were some sponsor banners — is ultimately a winning situation, because we're all smart people and know better than to be swayed into funneling our hard-earned cash anywhere unwittingly (don't we?). So, yay, free! Anyway, I sort of expected headlining art band Man Man to be waaay the hell out there. And they were, but for a left-field act, their music resonated with a folk sensibility.

After a whacked-out show like that, it's good to reset with something more traditional, so I turned around and went to see punked-up Irish folk act the Tossers the next night at the Social. You know how these bands are; it is what it is. But I happen to dig what it is. Besides, I was drinking and they were playing drinking songs; how bad could it be? Before them, young hardcore traditionalists from Austin Krum Bums were impressive, with a performance that was as fast as it was fierce.

Closing out the weekend was the sparsely attended Mitch Easter show. Dude's been around since the '70s, his most notable work being as frontman of jangle-pop act Let's Active and producer of acts like R.E.M. in the early to mid-'80s, so the audience was, um, a mature one. Not that it was like walking into the alt-rock geriatric ward exactly, but it was a bit of a shock to my system since, y'know, I run in fashionable circles and all. The only time the low population count was crushing was during Big Kitty's set, but only because it amplified the band's onstage awkwardness. Despite their tentative mien, they're a decent pop-rock act in the mid-'80s mold with solid melodies.

Easter and his band attacked it like the pros that they are, making a huge difference in the end sum of the performance. With snappy execution, they brought the pop-driven rock of the '80s underground to life for an evening in front of a small but appreciative crowd, and that ain't so bad.

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