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Soundbites

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TRIBUTARY TRIPS DOWN MEMORY LANE

Remember the days a year or two ago when it seemed like just about every other week, a slew of local bands was getting together to pay homage to a famous band or songwriter by performing their songs? It got to be a bit much after a while, didn't it? (Especially that Debby Boone one, for which nine local bands each performed a version of "You Light Up My Life," because it was the only Debby Boone song anyone had ever heard.) Well, it's been a while since such an endeavor was attempted (save for last November's Great Cover-Up), and a pair of shows this week seek to provide evidence that there's still life left in that beast we call the tribute show.

Plush has been the biggest local proponent of tributes over the years, having established a sort of identity for them largely via distinctive poster art from Tom Walbank--a visual cue that effectively unifies the events, or at least brands them with a Good Housekeeping-style assurance of quality. Walbank has most recently put pen to paper (or the equivalent in whatever medium it is in which he works) to render an announcement trumpeting that next Thursday will bring us six local acts banding together to perform the songs of David Bowie. Along with Walbank himself, Chango Malo, Spacefish, the Deludes, Love Mound and the Fashionistas will all be hitting the stage in salute to the Great White Duke. Keep your fingers crossed for Aladdin Sane face paint, dual-color contact lenses and on-stage exploration of ambiguous sexuality.

The David Bowie Tribute begins at 9:30 p.m. next Thursday, March 3, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Five bucks gets you past Declan McManus Jr., at the door. Questions? Poke the numbers 798-1298, and begin asking.

If you simply can't wait that long to hear some of your favorite local acts perform songs we all know and love, the folks at the Rialto Theatre and Club Congress are teaming up this week for an event so-far unique in the Old Pueblo: the album tribute show. That album, specifically, is the Rolling Stones' 1972 double LP masterpiece, Exile on Main St. , which will be performed in its entirety, in order, by the likes of Howe Gelb, Greyhound Soul, the Therapists, Amy Rude, Andrew Gardner (La Cerca), Tom Walbank, Mark Matos (Campo Bravo) and Love Mound, with special horn contributions from Mr. Tidypaws. There will be an equipment backline on stage to provide change-overs that are as seamless as possible between acts, and the event doubles as a fund-raiser for the Rialto's new marquee, which is scheduled to be installed at the beginning of June.

The wittily dubbed Exile on Congress Street begins at 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., with an opening set of original songs by Love Mound. Admission is a $5 donation. Call 622-8848 for more information.


COLOR US NONPLUSSED

Athens, Seattle, Omaha, Austin--all of these somewhat unlikely cities have been the spawning grounds over the past couple decades for vibrant and creative music scenes that churned out great band after great band. And in that same duration, Canada has been somewhat of a whipping post for us ugly Americans who scoff at the mere mention of Canadian rock. Well, folks, the joke's on us. While we weren't paying any attention, Montreal has emerged as a modern mecca of feverishly original bands that demand it--our attention, that is. The Arcade Fire, The Unicorns (R.I.P.) and Wolf Parade are just a few of the higher-profile, critically acclaimed bands that call Montreal home, and these days, you can add Les Georges Leningrad to that short list.

On their second album, Sur Les Traces de Black Eskimo (2004, Alien8), the self-described "petrochemical rock" band (whatever the hell that means) flaunt their arty weirdness as a perplexing if rubberneck-inducing badge of honor. There are nonsensical skits, electro-dub exercises, tears through disco-dance-punk, jarringly jagged post-punk guitar freak-outs and sloganeering chants that certainly must mean something to someone (but what?! and to whom?).

Whether it's a glorious mess or simply a mess remains a mystery after my second listen. Check back with me after my 10th spin, or decide for yourself when Les Georges Leningrad takes the stage at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., Monday, Feb. 28. Bark Bark Bark opens the all-ages show at 9 p.m. Admission is $7. For further details, call 884-0874.


SURPRISE HIT OF THE SUMMER

During last summer's Tortoise/Calexico show in the parking lot of Hotel Congress, a remarkable thing happened that had nothing to do with either band.

A quartet that just happened to be passing through town was looking for a last-second gig, and the bookers at Club Congress decided to be hospitable and let them play for tips in the hotel lobby. Not long after they began playing, people who were on their way to and from the indoor bathrooms paused to listen, and many of them couldn't tear themselves away. Eventually, the crowd grew large enough that there were just too damn many people filling the lobby, and the band was upgraded to the Club Congress stage.

Little by little, the club, too, began filling up with people who were sidetracked by the thunderous applause this unscheduled band was garnering. Before long, the parking lot crowd was noticeably thinning, and the club was packed with people clapping along and dancing and asking each other what the name of this excellent band was. The answer came from the wide-eyed band members themselves, who couldn't seem to believe what was happening: "Hi, everybody. We're The Wilders from Kansas City, Missouri."

While most of the crowd had paid top dollar for the outdoor show by indie-jazz gods Tortoise (and Calexico, whose set had already occurred), people just kept flooding in to witness four Midwesterners who were playing old-time country music and bluegrass tunes with a vengeance--for free, no less. It was one of the most remarkable cases of spontaneous, willing bait-and-switch I've ever seen, and if you were there, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

If you weren't there, consider yourself warned: The Wilders return to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., at 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 2. Sure, it'll cost you a fiver this time around, but believe us when we tell you it will be money well spent. For additional information, call 622-8848.

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