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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go


Fair to Midland
8 p.m. Tue., Oct. 16
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

Who needs genres? Not the enthusiastically idiosyncratic Texas-based quintet Fair to Midland, who fuses folky vocals and melody with a dense wash of ethereal prog rock. More weird than Tool but less weird than the Mars Volta, the band is capable of soaring into the spaceways with masterful guitar riffage and lush, sparkly keyboards. It can also crash back to earth with a wink via nerdy, They Might Be Giants-like vocals and obtuse, allegorical lyrics. In 2006, Fair to Midland got the attention of the bone-crushing art-metal act System of a Down's frontman Serj Tankian, who released its 2007 album Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True . Chevelle, a likable Chicago-based nu-metal trio from the Korn school of thought, and Tyler Read, a group of bouncy, danceable '80s-style rockers from Shreveport, open. Tickets $24. — Fensterstock




Flaming Fire
10 p.m. Tue., Oct. 16
Saturn Bar, 3067 St. Claude Ave., 949-7532

Hardly as redundant as the name implies, this sprawling musical collective out of Brooklyn, N.Y. — self-described as a "spooky, electronic chant band" — is composed of a large and shifting cast of members, any number of whom may or may not be part of the lineup for a given gig. Draped in blood-red togas, there's more than a touch of the cult aesthetic about the assemblage, and it's more Manson Family than Polyphonic Spree. In fact, religious overtones are sprinkled abundantly through its freakish, primitive noise rock, to the point where it's difficult to tell where artsy, ironic posing ends and genuine zealotry begins. Combining Gothic intensity with candy-colored pop tidbits, a Greek chorus, erratic pots-and-pans percussion and primitive electronica, a Flaming Fire performance is a close estimation of what would happen if the B-52's played Jonestown, Guyana, and it was filmed by Fellini — a spectacular, thrilling and bizarrely delicious flavor of Kool-Aid. The famously inscrutable, semi-intelligible Ninth Ward rap-phenomenon MC Trachiotomy opens. Tickets $7. — Fensterstock




Man Man
9 p.m. Wed., Oct. 17
Republic, 828 S. Peters St., 528-8282;

Man Man is crazy. Not Gnarls Barkley, ha-ha crazy or Britney Spears, take-the-kids-away crazy — like, insane. Deranged. Out of its damn gourd. 2004's The Man In a Blue Turban With a Face hinted at the Philadelphia collective's underlying mental problems, but the full dementia came forth on last year's Six Demon Bag (Ace Fu), a not-quite Eastern Bloc party marked by an asylum-seeking procession of snarling singing, kitchen-sink instrumentation and clattering percussion stammering out polka counts on elephant steroids. What allows these nutters to charge admission for group therapy? Only the most inspired musical freak-outs since palling progenitors Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart gave up the spaz-rock ghost. Don't let Six Demon 's sweet-nothing couplets — such as "I wanna sleep for weeks/Like a dog at her feet" from the high-seas lullaby "Van Helsing Boom Box" — lull you into submission: The 60-second squall that precedes the plank-walk waltz "Skin Tension" is scarier than anything you'll find at the House of Shock. Well-read lit rockers and fellow Phillies the Extraordinaires open. Tickets $10. — Noah Bonaparte Pais




Minus the Bear
8 p.m. Thu., Oct. 18
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

Planet of Ice is a proper name for the coolly proficient musical landscapes of Minus the Bear's fourth full-length release. The Seattle five-piece began its career as cathartic cutups, spinning screamed verses in long-division time signatures on the 2001 debut This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic like an emo kid misbehaving during algebra class. Though elements of that early sound remain on the new LP (released on Suicide Squeeze in August), they're now exacted with a razor's precision instead of raw emotion. Even "White Mystery," a would-be sex jam that sounds like R. Kelly trapped in an indie-rock closet, seems premeditated. But whoever said calculation in music is such a bad thing? Perfecting weightless grooves such as those on moonwalking opener "Burying Luck" and the stuttering "Knights" surely required more than a little practice. Sub Pop signees the Helio Sequence and Tiny Vipers open. Tickets $15. — Pais




8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Oct. 19-20; 2:30 p.m. Sun., Oct. 21
Tulane Univesity, McAlister Auditorium, 529-3000;

If you're going to strike a bargain with the devil, make it a good one. The philosopher Faust wants what everyone wants — to be young again — but he only turns to Mephistopheles when the young maiden Marguerite becomes the light at the youthful end of the tunnel. Returned to himself as a young man full of passion and a mortgaged soul, Faust sets off to woo her with the ever-useful Satan as his wingman. Mephistopheles wards off her brother Valentin, draws wine from empty kegs and helps Faust flatter Marguerite with gifts. She falls for him but things take a turn for the worst when Faust kills Valentin. Marguerite is left to her own appeals to the heavens to save herself from the devil's eternal company. The New Orleans Opera Association opens a season of temptations with the classic. Paul Groves (pictured) stars as Faust. Tickets $30-$100. — Will Coviello




Magik Markers
10 p.m. Sat., Oct. 20
Hi-Ho Lounge, 2239 St. Claude Ave., 945-HIHO

One of the most accessible acts imported by the local difficult-listening promoters Anxious Sound, this art-rock two-piece owes much to Sonic Youth at its most melodic — not a surprise since it is housed on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label, and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo guested on the latest release, Boss . The pair churns out spare, unsettling keyboard-and-drum compositions punctuated with bursts of noise, which singer/guitarist Elisa Ambrogio drapes with off-kilter vocals as vertiginous and queasy as a ride on a broken roller coaster. As minimalist as the musical foundation beneath Ambrogio's voice is, the skeleton structures she and drummer Pete Nolan lash together are sturdy enough to prop up her melodies as they careen through multiple personalities. Thudding beats and almost painfully grinding riffs prop her up as she channels Patti Smith's poetic fervor, and echoing keys provide a dark forest of notes for her to wail through in a haunted whisper. Tickets $5. — Fensterstock

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