MARS VOLTA+SAUL WILLIAMS+RYE COALITION Considering how run-of-the-mill Sparta's CD came off after At the Drive In's overdue breakup, it's a huge surprise that ATDI's Afro contingent would make such a ferocious Rush (via Voivod and Caifanes, sounds like) album with their new prog-metal band. Cool dub-reggae/Kraut-rock/'70s Miles use of blank space, too—plus words about exoskeletons! Agit-poet Williams and metal parodists Rye Coalition are tolerable. FRIDAY AT 8, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 212-777-6800. (Eddy)

µ-ZIQ+DATACH'I+JEGA Billious Paths, µ-ziq's latest, makes oddball noise feel as warm and witty as any electronica-or-whatever this year; that Londoner Mike Paradinas still pays close attention to Jamaican dub and European industrial and Bronx human beatboxes after myriad albums sure doesn't hurt. Local glitcher Datach'i pulls mobile tunes and beats out of a zillion drawn-out notes, itches, scratches, broken pianos, and typewriters. And Jega's Manchester post-jungle twitching has long been new wave enough to get released here on Matador. WEDNESDAY AT 10, Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, 212-219-3006. (Eddy)

'THE VILLAGE VOICE THIRD ANNUAL SIREN MUSIC FESTIVAL' OK, people, time to give it up for The Village Voice. Here we are, putting on an all-day festival of amazing rock bands (and one amazing hip-hop group) playing by the seaside, and what do we ask for in return? Not a cent. Just your love, and that you always associate our paper with the coolest music on the planet. So get your ass to the beach on Saturday. You know all your Friendster buddies are gonna be there. On the main stage: the Pattern, the Kills, !!!, Sahara Hotnights, Hot Hot Heat, The Datsuns, and Modest Mouse. On the Stillwell stage: The Witnesses, Oneida, The Dirtbombs, Northern State, Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Radio 4, and Idlewild. Also: DJs Boozy Jo, Bag Lady, Lil' Miss Trish, LG, and M Rock. SATURDAY AT NOON, Coney Island, Brooklyn; Main Stage, 10th Street and Surf Avenue; Stillwell Stage, Stillwell Street and Surf Avenue; (Phillips)

CEDAR WALTON A great pianist. Walton has a touch all his own, percussive and foursquare, and a consistent level of inventiveness that is equally apparent in his book of originals, which are not played as often as they merit, and standards that he invariably makes his own. A masterful, surprising sideman for a decade beginning in the late '50s, he often stole albums from underneath the stars; he has long since become a key standard-bearer for jazz piano. His partnership with bassist David Williams goes back about 15 years—the quartet also includes percussionists Joe Farnsworth and Ray Mantilla. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY AT 9 AND 11, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY ALSO AT 12:30 A.M., Village Vanguard, 130 West 3rd Street, 212-777-7745. (Giddins)

THE WHITE STRIPES In an era when rock and charisma rarely occupy the same sentence, Jack White exudes a stage presence that just gets more and more startling, and his interplay with Meg creates something so much larger than the tiny sum of its stark parts. Unlike so many of their contemporaries, this pair possesses a chemistry that one must experience in person to fathom its greatness. Do it now. With Whirlwind Heat and Ima Robot. MONDAY AND TUESDAY AT 6:45, Roseland Ballroom, 239 West 52nd Street, 212-777-6800. (Walters)


'BOYS OF SUMMER' Teasing the obvious connection between (homo)eroticism and heat, this group show gathers a number of reliable standbys (Pierson, Mapplethorpe, Tress, Dugdale, Platt, Lynes) but spices things up with choice newcomers and provocative wild cards. Chief among the latter is SoCal softcore king Mel Roberts, whose insouciantly sexy '60s and '70s boy toys look weirdly contemporary, especially in these color-saturated new prints. And don't miss Brian Finke's high-impact shots of football brutes in and out of action, Paul Meleschnig's intense portraits of Cuban boxers, Vince Cianni's hushed studies of cruising spots, or Malerie Marder's dramatically staged co-ed bathhouse frieze. THROUGH SEPTEMBER 6, ClampArt, 531 West 25th Street, 646-230-0020. (Aletti)

BARBARA ESS This is not the exhibition Ess deserves, certainly not from the publisher of her 2001 monograph, I Am Not This Body, but if you haven't visited her dream world before, a badly flawed survey of that uncanny territory is better than none at all. Working with crude pinhole cameras, Ess produces monochrome images so sensuous and subjective, they seem to have sprung right from her brain. Ess sees through commonplace things—a rose-covered picket fence, a row of white cottages, a dog's dainty paws, a kissing couple—to a world of menace, mystery, and wonder. THROUGH JULY 31, Aperture's Burden Gallery, 20 East 23rd Street, 212-505-5555. (Aletti)


THE CAPITOL STEPS Well, with the mess our government's making of the world, somebody should be doing a political cabaret. But are aides to the U.S. Congress the optimal group to carry on the theater's tradition of musical satire? Still, they've been at it during the summer recess for over a decade now, and as in other matters political, it's probably safer to make up your own mind than to let the Bush administration do it for you. The troupe's latest show, Between Iraq and a Hard Place, hits New York this week. OPENS SATURDAY, John Houseman Theater, 450 West 42nd Street, 212-967-9077. (Feingold)

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