Live and Erect

Rock And Rap Shows Bed-Spring Into Action

March 22
Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 777-6800

Madman Scratchie isn't behind the controls these days (that would be his excellent disciple Mad Professor, who's on the bill with Silicone Squad); he's the spacecase with the microphone up front. Perry's not especially together these days, but he never especially was—even the copious reissues of his '60s and '70s productions flip-flop between crazy like a fox and plain bonkers. Charismatic, though: Can't take your eyes off the guy. Maybe even oracular if you've inhaled enough of the sacrament. (Wolk)

Chicks on Speed careen into the Knitting Factory.
photo: Tina Winkhaus-Kuhn
Chicks on Speed careen into the Knitting Factory.

March 23
Maxwell's, 1039 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, 201-653-1703

To celebrate the umpteenth reissue of their career high point, Underwater Moonlight, the rele-vant (circa '80) lineup of Robyn Hitchcock's muscular, whimsical psychedelic band has recongealed for a full U.S. tour. There've been Soft Boys reunions before, but this one includes guitarist Kimberley Rew, the only effective foil Hitchcock's ever had, who could probably retire on the royalties from "Walking on Sunshine" alone. And they always had enough instrumental firepower that they could get away with underselling their jokes, which just made them funnier. (Wolk)

March 30
Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 777-6800

Complete with "Who the fuck is Stephen Malkmus?" T-shirts, the gone-solo Pavement principal will do what you'd expect well, not what you'd hope brilliantly. Even with his solos cambering far off kilter, this is a singer-with-backup act rather than a band. And when they want to rock, they'll boogie, just a smidgen ironically. That's the backup way. (Christgau)

April 10 and 12
Knitting Factory, Main Space, 74 Leonard Street, 219-3006

Not quite a band—more like workaholic performance artists whose pieces involve being a band. They've got homemade scrap leather outfits, objet d'art props, slide and video projections, and general site-specific hilarity, as well as MiniDiscs full of beats from Euro-electro's finest forges. Also: excellent songs, including the one that rhymes "they say I'm vermin" with "got more faces than Cindy Sherman," and a covers repertoire that centers on the B-52's. (Wolk)

April 28-29
Knitting Factory, Main Space, 74 Leonard Street, 219-3006

A unique chemistry makes this British improv group the champagne of free improvisation. They're austere yet inventive, relentlessly avant-garde, and one of their starker vinyl releases became a surprise bestseller in Britain years after its release. Keith Rowe plays guitar and electronics, John Tilbury plays piano, and Eddie Prevost plays drums, but they're just as likely to play pencil sharpeners and radios. Come hear who make the "free" in free improv an existential proposition. (Gann)

June 17 and 19
Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street, 307-7171
June 21-22
Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey, 307-7171

Having just released one of the best arguments for mainstream rock in years, All That You Can't Leave Behind, U2 come to town for a concert that might be more surly than usual: Word is that if you want to see them up close, you'll have to go the general-admission route. Opening is PJ Harvey, who would dearly love to see where her art could go with a taste of the popular acclaim that U2 can't leave behind. Her newest critically hailed album, Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, is her most audience-friendly since she raised (and then ignored) expectations with 1995's To Bring You My Love. (Weisbard)

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