For Your Amusement

A roll call of this year's bands at Coney Island's favorite freak show

Stillwell Stage at 2:30
Phenomenal Portland trio the Thermals play ferocious lo-fi gems that come on like an acid trip minus the psychedelia. All earnest bluster, heartache, and hope, the Thermals ratchet poignancy up to a feverish pitch. Their albums do the trick, but live is where the group really leaves you breathless, and not just because the singer and his shirt are seldom seen together. ROSEN

illustration: Paul Antonson

Main Stage at 1
Combining garage's sloppy hedonism with post-punk's gloomy dissonance, Chicago's Ponys gallop all over revivalist rock's perceived stagnation. Vocalist Jered sings like he's on the verge of tears or a nervous breakdown, but in such a campy, over-the-top way that you can't possibly take him seriously. It's a good thing, because in less capable hands, the Ponys' teen angst lyrics and fuzzy stoner riffs would be headed straight for the glue factory. PHILLIPS

Stillwell Stage at 1:30
Visceral and oblique, Southern California post-punks Your Enemies Friends elevate paranoia to a kind of religion on You Are Being Videotaped and The Wiretap EP. It's less the lyrics than the feel of the music: urgent and intense with raw, seething vocals; fragmented guitars and twitchy fuzzed-out keyboard lines that explode all over the place. ROSEN

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