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HOT TOPIC REGIONAL SHOWCASE Yes, I make fun of Hot Topic at every opportunity. And yes, I make fun of Rumors of War frontman Ben Bakker for working there. But Bakker has parlayed the trendy chain's interest in supporting unsigned bands (and self-promotion, natch) into this sponsored local show, so maybe I'll make fun of both of them a little less for the moment. A Hot Topic higher-up or two will be flying into town to check out Rumors of War, The Chase Theory, Farewell Verona and Signal 76 (and, presumably, how enthusiastic a crowd they draw), and if they like what they see, they'll distribute the bands' CDs to Hot Topics all over the Bay area. (The Distillery, Bradenton)

BATTLE OF THE BANDS Sinking Ships and Shook Ones, both on revered California hardcore label Revelation Records, headline; 10 other all-ages-scene types from around Central and South Florida compete for studio time, CD duplication and a slot on the stage at next month's PierFest extreme-sports shindig. This big bad boy starts at 3 p.m. The contendahs: Thick As Blood; Stand Behind; This Will Be Remembered; Contagion; Frontline; Deathbed December; And I Dreamt of You; Salin' On; Social Lies; and Last Bulb Burning. (688 Skatepark, Clearwater)

THE INDUSTRY'S MOST WANTED Production and promotion company Dawson & Evans presents this filled-out urban/R&B/spoken word showcase. Producer/songwriter/Dawson & Evans principal Jarvis Evans co-headlines with Deca; other performers include 2 Pistols, Showtime, Jay R., E Jae, J Flame, Scandalous and many more. For more information, check out www.jarvisevans.com and click on "Events." Oh, and it says "dress to impress," so get your mack on. (The Junction, Clearwater)

SUNDAY, MARCH 26

UNCLE EARL/ADRIENNE YOUNG & LITTLE SADIE/THE BISCUIT BURNERS WMNF goes extra rootsy (what else?) on this enticing triple bill. Uncle Earl is an all-female string band; they perform traditional Appalachian music while hovering around a single microphone. Asheville, N.C.'s Biscuit Burners are a rising outfit in the mountain music realm. Adrienne Young fronted probably the most popular band in Gainesville in the mid '90s, a quirk-pop outfit called the Big White Undies. These days, she brings contemporary hues to old-time music with a charming album called Art of Virtue. Show time is 6 p.m. (Skipper's Smokehouse, Tampa) ES

HANGAR 18/APSCI/INNERSTANCE.BEATBOX Ambassadors from NYC's underground hip-hop scene bring goodwill and good rhymes. Trio Hangar 18 is affiliated with the top-notch Definitive Jux Records, and Hangar member Alaska showed up on Cannibal Ox's untouchable Def Jux release The Cold Vein. Crew/collective ApSci has made the Tampa scene at least once before, and producer-turned-performer Innerstance. Beatbox mixes found, stolen and manipulated sounds with live instrumentation and deft DJ work. If you can't make the show (and even if you can), know that Hangar 18 and ApSci will be doing an in-store at Vinyl Fever this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. (Orpheum, Ybor City)

CENTRO-MATIC/THE GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS/NEW ROMAN TIMES/NESSIE Hope New World's stocked up on Beast and PBR, because much will be consumed at this alt-country throwdown. Centro-Matic is simply the most consistent band trolling the alt-country scene right now. Fort Recovery is Centro-Matic's newest release, and just in time — my copy of My Morning Jacket's Z is worn to the nub, and this is a perfect replacement. Support comes from gothic country labelmates Great Lake Swimmers, Winter Park hipsters (but with talent!) New Roman Times, and the Bay's own Nessie (which happens to feature our own Scott Harrell). (New World Brewery, Ybor City) Mark Sanders

SOUTH Somewhere between Frou Frou and Brothers Past lies South, a British group adept at blending elements of electronica with trad-rock instrumentation to create atmospheric pop soundscapes akin to a lighter latter-day Pink Floyd. The outfit got its start remixing the work of others; ironically, it was many of these others who originally urged South to begin making its own music. (The Tamiami @ Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

THE NOT-YET-NOT-QUITE-GOODBYE-TO-VIVA-LA-FRIDA PARTY It looks like the celebrated Seminole Heights restaurant/venue Viva La Frida's days might be numbered, which means the long-running spoken word-backed-by-jazz-improv revue known as Irritable Tribe of Poets might be losing its home. Get there by 7:30 p.m. to hear some seriously talented men (Jim Beckwith, Ray Villadonga, Jonathan Priest, Peter Mongaya and John Richardson) back some seriously talented men and women (James Tokley, Ronny Elliott, Melissa Fair, Paradox, Myron Jackson and hostess Rhonda J. Nelson) for perhaps the last time. (Viva La Frida Café y Galeria, Tampa)

MONDAY, MARCH 27

ERICA WHEELER Wheeler, who was in our area not too long ago, blesses us this go-round with a steady-if-not-quite-gripping amalgam of folk and country. (Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Sarasota) CLB

TUESDAY, MARCH 28

THE LIVING THINGS w/THE VACATION Driving a hypemobile that includes year-end-list kudos from both Spin and Rolling Stone, socially conscious, St. Louis-bred, glam-punk combo The Living Things roars through its first high-profile club tour. The music's pretty good, in a solid, loud, no-frills way. Along for the ride is surprisingly groovy (but still kind of generic) Los Angeles garage-rock/New Wave unit The Vacation. (State Theatre, St. Petersburg)

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