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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

MUSIC

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo
8 p.m. Tue., Aug. 28
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com

With hits like the confrontational "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," Pat Benatar's brand of early '80s aerobic dance-pop (and violent, pointy eye-makeup) had just enough edge and angst to set her apart as the brunette foil to bubblier pop divas like Tiffany, the happy-go-lucky Cyndi Lauper and, of course, Madonna. Adding a dark, nihilistic and slightly dangerous edge to atmospheric pop that was still highly danceable, the big-eyed swaggering Brooklyn native was like a tough Rizzo to a landscape full of Sandys. Her music videos always had a Mad Max aesthetic, with backup dancers rocking aggressively through a post-apocalyptic landscape, proving that love was a battlefield and hell was indeed for children, at least in late Cold War-era urban America. Still touring with (and married to) Neil Giraldo, whose power chords cut like a chainsaw through the wall of synthesizers on their recordings, Benatar recently told Billboard that the two will soon record an album of acoustic versions of her hits, which they've been performing live during this summer tour. Fans of the harder-edged version will be pleased to know, though, that even in her 50s, the heartbreaker still belts them out. Lennon opens. Tickets $50. — Alison Fensterstock

MUSIC

101 Runners
10 p.m. Fri., Aug. 31
Maple Leaf Bar, 8316 Oak St., 866-9359

Hearing Mardi Gras Indian bands onstage can be hit or miss. The energy is always there, but many times the music and rhythms can be anywhere from disorganized to a complete mess. The only mess that the 101 Runners have is the one they leave in a listener's mind. This super-tribe combines the raw funk of Gradoux and the furious, locked-in percussion of master Alfred "Uganda" Roberts, Indian-rhythm veteran Geetchie Johnson and Oak Street regulars Eric Coleman and Chris Jones. The three Indian lead singers have palpable charisma. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux is simultaneously a traditional and innovative frontman. He's one of the Indians who invented the idea of taking Indian songs to the stage. Big Chief Rodi Lewis is a powerful singer who can lean back and open his throat so that his voice fills the club. Gang Flag Honey Bannister is a wild presence whose whoops and cries add fire to the proceedings. This is as close today to what the original Wild Magnolias and Wild Tchoupitoulas were throwing down: pure New Orleans Indian street funk done up strong Ñ the way it is meant to be played. Tickets $10. — David Kunian

EVENT

504 What Style's Rock Art Circus
6 p.m. Sat., Sept. 1
The Big Top, 1638 Clio St., 569-2700; www.3rcp.com

Native New Orleanian Little Stevie Williams has been creating poster art for local bands for the past 15 years. You may not know him by name, but chances are you've seen his big-eyed, cartoonish rockabilly chicks, monsters, angels and devils tacked to a telephone pole somewhere around town advertising gigs for metal-sludge merchants Suplecs or all-girl hard-rock outfit Manwitch. LSW, as he's known, is the man behind the Big Top's Rock Art Circus, a lowbrow art blowout showcasing the talents of almost 30 New Orleans artists whose work shows up on T-shirts, record covers, tattooed flesh, comic books and posters as much or more than it does on gallery walls. Suplecs headlines the show, and Brown Leaf Vertigo opens with a horror/honky-tonk version of the Misfits. Local indie films will be screened between bands. Guests will mingle with exotic dancers, fire breathers, tattooed pin-up girls, Mardi Gras Skeleton Krewe members and a man in a six-foot-tall, lifelike roach suit, which all sounds like perfectly good reasons to run off and join the circus. Music starts at 8 p.m. Free admission. — Fensterstock

EVENT

Southern Decadence 36
Wed.-Mon. Aug. 29-Sept. 3
French Quarter; www.southerndecadence.com

Southern Decadence sharpens the satire for post-Katrina-anniversary fun. The irreverent Decadence parade hits the streets of the French Quarter on Sunday, near the end of a long Labor Day weekend of revelry. Now in its 36th year, the gay and gay-friendly festival is expected to return to pre-Katrina dimensions with more than 100,000 attendees and a full schedule. Most of the weekend action takes place on the blocks surrounding Bourbon and St. Ann streets. Highlights include the grand marshal's drag show at the Golden Lantern (1239 Royal St.) on Friday night (9 p.m.), a free outdoor concert by Deborah Cox with Jeanie Tracy, Fredrick Ford and Mat Jordan on Bourbon Street in front of Napoleon's Itch (734 Bourbon St.) late Saturday afternoon (5 p.m.) and the parade on Sunday (departs 1200 block of Royal Street at 2 p.m.). Grand Marshals Electra City, Guadaloupe and Marcus Martinez lead the parade, preside over official events and judge a slew of pageants and contests. The satirical drag parade used to be the pinnacle of the weekend, but now diversity is the name of the game. There are parties for whatever niche people prefer, be it leather and Levi's, bear scenes, tragic drag, pool and hot-tub parties, techno dance marathons and more. See the Web site for a complete schedule of events. — Will Coviello

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click to enlarge CHERYL GERBER
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