By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Rock concerts are more social events than musical events, of course, and you can have a great time with horrible live music in the background and vice versa. So far be it from me to tell you which performances this spring to check outjust go to whichever ones your friends do, OK? That said, a number of gigs in coming months do present sterling opportunities for this or that. U2 and PJ Harvey at Madison Square Garden June 17 is clearly the season's prestige ticket, if only because you've got the creators of maybe the two most overrated rock albums of the past year (beloved apparently because both artists have returned to comparably swell guitars after years of irritating cabaret kitsch) in the same place at the same time, even though you'd probably hear less pedestrian stadium rock seeing Everclear (MSG, March 16), Weezer (plugging a Christmas single and lotsa allegedly Napsterable tracks from their way-overdue third album at Roseland, March 5), maybe even Three Doors Fucking Down (Roseland, March 7). And if it's an endurance test you want, you might opt for the Hammerstein Ballroom's Pantera/Soulfly/Nothingface/Morbid Angel really-shitty-metal earbleed extravaganza March 8 through 10 or for the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theatre for a whole bunch of nights between March 15 and 24. (Maybe they'll just do one really long version of "Whipping Post," who knows?)
Best show for committing public sex acts? Probably either Bebel Gilberto at Irving Plaza March 1 or OutKast with Ludacris at MSG March 9, unless, say, Enigma suddenly schedule a comeback opera at the Bowery Ballroom, and you and your date get one of those little rooms beside the upstairs bar to yourselves. Which, of course, points to part of the problem with this sort of roundup: Lots of the best shows, as always, aren't scheduled yet. So watch the club listings, and by all means keep eyes peeled for the following names-you-mostly-don't-know, all of whom have put out really decent albums during the past couple months that they may well tour to support: Ashes to Ashes, Baxendale, Black Box Recorder, Buck 65, Causey Way, Chroma Key, Decoded Feedback, Ghoultown, Haystack, Hefner, Laptop, Lightning Bolt, Mellow, Opeth, Orange Peels, Peaches, Sea of Green, Thug Murder, Treble Charger. (Don't you feel hip now?)
Three shows already on the calender by up-and-comers-supporting- 2001-albums-better-than-the-one-by-Stephen-Malkmus (Irving, March 30) are doom-horror space-metal stoners Electric Wizard March 5 at the Continental, verbose subterranean rap wit Aceyalone at Knitting Factory March 7, post-teen liquid troublegum dreams the Donnas at the Bowery March 10 and 11, and green-Guinness-glugging Boston Celtic oi! boys Dropkick Murphys at Wetlands Saint Patrick's Eve. That last one should be especially interesting, since the Murphs will be joined by Rancid riffer Lars Frederiksen's sideband, since Shane MacGowanwho brogues out two songs on the Murphs' new Sing Loud, Sing Proudcould always show up if he's drunk enough to think Wetlands is Webster Hall and it's already the 17th, and since Sing Loud is closer to both . . . And Out Come the Wolves and Rum Sodomy & the Lash than any leprechaun could've predicted.
Plenty o' legends coming to town, too: insane avant-electronic lab coat wearers the AMM(Knitting Factory, April 28 and 2935 some years after their famous gig on the London School of Economics roof), Jackie DeShannon (Bottom Line, March 3 and 1025 some years after she invented "Bette Davis Eyes"), Bo Diddley (B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, May 31), Duran Duran (Beacon, March 1 and 2), Willie Nelson (Beacon, April 21), Eddie Palmieri(Blue Note, February 27 through March 4), Lee "Scratch" Perry (Irving, March 22), Wilson Pickett (B.B. King's, May 10, 11, and 12), ? and the Mysterians (Village Underground, March 31), Ari Upp (Brownies, March 2). The biggest quantity of famous forgotten names to converge in one night will join host KRS-One March 2 at Irving Plaza; even if rap's most edutainful blowhard gives a lecture or something, you'll still have fun with U.T.F.O. and Force M.D.s and Whodini and Kurtis Blow, among countless other old-school alumni.
So: not a sorry couple months at all. Still, the show most worth getting excited about and planning a party merely to celebrate its existence is, no contest man, the NYC live debut of Eurotrash glamour girls Chicks on Speed's ingenious neo-new-wave art project at Knitting Factory April 10 and 12. Don't be surprised if the three of 'em can't play any instruments, though. And wear your paper dress.
Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 533-2111
So pop by now they make Wilco sound like, I don't know, Uncle Tupelo, Rhett Miller and his Dallas band have somehow survived the unjust commercial failure of 1999's Fight Songs with yet another album of passionate trifles you can't forget. Live they're full of the boyish enthu-siasm that's hard to maintain seven years after your first album. Go tell them to keep it up. (Christgau)
A PERFECT CIRCLE
Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street, 307-7171
A Perfect Circle are coming 'round again, which proves that in a sea of names, Maynard James Keenan and friends are living up to theirs, forthcoming (or nonexistent) Tool record be damned. Some might label him a wiener for dallying so long with the lesser band, an accusation APC's sleek, beautifully lit live act tidily rebutsthough the crowd they draw is pretty, well, square. (Rutigliano)