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KREATOR w/VADER Germany's Kreator was one of the bigger second-tier acts of the late-'80s thrash-metal heyday. Though they never attained the status of a Megadeth or Anthrax, the band's mix of technical prowess and brutality made it perhaps the most popular European act of the period. And one of the most enduring; the group never faded into oblivion, and has released albums fairly consistently ever since, the latest being this year's Enemy of God. Vader is a Polish death metal outfit with an extremely loyal cult following. Expect a few more openers to be added to this bill as well, but these two alone are well worth the price of admission. (Masquerade, Ybor City)

SLIGHTLY STOOPID/FISHBONE Slightly Stoopid are the nice guys of the often brah'ed-out surf/reggae/punk scene mainstreamed by Sublime. The sound is much more catchy than that of many of their peers, and their shows seem to be a little less heavily populated by those guys in wifebeaters who smoke a shitload of dope and manage to still want to fight. The single "This Joint" achieved most-requested status on influential L.A. station KROQ a little while back, and after playing this years New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the group will spend a couple of weeks opening for Dave Matthews and subsequently become huge. I don't need to tell you about the legendary funk-ska-metal freakout that is Fishbone, except to say that they're still as good live as you remember. Highly recommended. (Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)

GRUPO RAICES Dude, don't get your Cinco de Mayo on at Tia's Tex Mex; that's just the lamest. Head out to downtown St. Pete and get your Cinco de Mayo on for real, with a great, sexy Latin band, a fine lookin' crowd full of potential dance partners, and copious amounts of Patron. (The Lobby, St. Petersburg)

THE MORNING AFTER CD RELEASE PARTY If awards were given out to the hardest working bands in show business, The Morning After would have a mantle full of trophies by now. Faces for Radio is their new release, and for kids anxiously awaiting the next Dashboard Confessional (or for that matter, Limp Bizkit) CDs, this'll tide you over for a while. Joining TMA for this all-ages show is Exit Plan, Dolt, Ripa Joda, New Crash Position and Stuk. (Club Heat, Bradenton)

-Mark Sanders


THE BLACK KEYS w/THE HENTCHMEN/THE LEGENDARY J.C.'S Last years' Black Keys album, Rubber Factory, was my co-favorite of '04. It's a bruising blend of blues, R&B and rock delivered with serious whomp by just two dudes - singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney - in their mid 20s form Akron, Ohio. If raw, garage-y blues-rock sounds enticing to you, I cannot recommend this show enough. Check out more on the Black Keys in the lead music feature on page 55. The legendary J.C.'s have carved out a niche in the Southeast as a wild-eyed soul revue, horns and all. The Hentchmen are a stompin', Michigan-based garage-rock band.

-Eric Snider

KENNY CHESNEY w/GRETCHEN WILSON/UNCLE KRACKER You know the line between country and pop has become irrevocably blurred when Uncle Freakin' Kracker is opening for two of contemporary C&W's biggest crossover successes. Last year, Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman" became the first tune by a female artist to top the Billboard country charts in more than two years, and her debut album had the biggest first week for a new artist in the genre, ever; it's almost enough to forget she's associated with Big & Rich. I'm not a big fan of Kenny Chesney's easy, pat country-pop, but he jumped onstage as a special guest at a Tim McGraw show I attended several years back, and the guy's got the stage-presence goods. (St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa)

THE EXIES w/THE MORNING AFTER/DOLT The Exies became known to fans of FM radio rock a couple years ago with their album Inertia and its hit single, "My Goddess." They maintain a healthy fanbase, if their bill-sharing with Alter Bridge, Breaking Benjamin and Papa Roach at the Ford Ampitheatre last week was any indication. Compared to that, this is an intimate show, one that features local boys The Morning After and Fort Myers rock gods Dolt. (Rockerfellas, Bradenton)


MENEGUAR/GOSPEL/SHED FOR YOU I'm checking out the wonderfully named I Was Born at Night disc from Meneguar just this minute, and it does a pretty good job of balancing emphatic, discordant emo with a raw lo-fi indie-rock aesthetic. Brooklyn's Gospel is a bit heavier, and provides a nice transition between Tarpon Springs' cathartic Shed for You and the less brutal headliner. (Skatepark of Tampa, Tampa)

DONNA THE BUFFALO w/JAZZ MANDOLIN PROJECT The Bay area's favorite eclectic underground roots-jam touring act wages a two-night stand at what's probably the best place in town to see this or any other type of music. Donna the Buffalo's got what seems like a standing invitation to ring in the New Year for WMNF, but why wait? Plus, you've got the instrumental virtuosity and organic feel of the lauded Jazz Mandolin Project as a bonus, both tonight and tomorrow. (Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg)


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