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State of the Airwaves

Morphine, Mavies, and Music Television

By Dan Katz

Staff Writer

I went to Fenway on Sunday and saw the Red Sox for the first time. They won when a batter was walked while the bases were loaded. I’m not sure what’s more pathetic: winning a game by getting walked, losing a game by walking a batter, or the hot dog I paid three bucks for. It makes me pine for my childhood in Philadelphia Phillies country, where games didn’t come down to walks ... mainly because by the seventh inning Philly was usually down by at least eight runs. At which point Mitch Williams would come out to “save the game” and pitch the ball toward the dugout. But I digress. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (which is defined as not reading this column weekly), you know about my pick for the Airwaves Show of the Week -- an extremely promising Wednesday show at Axis with the Marvelous 3, SR-71, and Tsar. If you’re still resisting my magnanimous praise for the Three’s live shows, Juliana Hatfield and Southeast Pennsylvania’s Weston are in town the same night, at the Roxy and TT The Bear’s respectively. I was also given a tip to check out tonight’s show at the Middle East with a Canadian indie rock group called the Weakerthans.... No guarantees there, but the informant seemed pretty enthusiastic.

Friday there’s another trio of decent shows. My pick goes to Queens of the Stone Age, whose rock minimalism should meld nicely with the more layered sound of their opener, VAST. The Avalon hosts a reunion concert from eighties popsters the Bangles, and New Wet Kojak plays a show at the Middle East. Finally, if you’ve got nothing to do Saturday night, you might want to head to the Avalon and check out Great Big Sea, an excellent folk-rock band from Newfoundland.

Take a look at your calendar. Yup, I bet you didn’t know it was National Side Project & Live Album Week, did you? Well, maybe it’s not, but it’d sure seem like it if you were standing in a record store, since today you’d see releases from Slash of Guns ‘n’ Roses (Ain’t Life Grand), Ratdog featuring Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead (Evening Moods), and Andy Summers, former guitarist for the Police (Peggy’s Blue Skylight). The third album strikes me as the most promising. Summers is one of the more underrated guitarists in the world today, often lumped into the category of “80s music” by people who don’t realize how innovative many of his guitar lines were.

The man you remember more clearly from the Police, Sting, leads the list of live albums with Brand New Day; also on that roster is Pennywise (Live At The Key Club) and Morphine, whose Bootleg: Detroit is the only live bootleg of the band authorized by front man Mark Sandman before his unfortunate death. As for good-old studio albums, Hooverphonic serves up The Magnificent Tree as a taste of what they’ll sound like when they open for BT next month. And Black Eyed Peas, who landed a slot on No Doubt’s tour this summer, present their latest, Bridging The Gap.

Singles from the new Limp Bizkit album have officially been released to radio. Yes, I said singles. Fred Durst thinks his band is big enough to support two simultaneous tracks on the radio. Unfortunately, he’s probably right. To me, both of the songs seem very similar in sound and structure, but I like “My Generation” better than “Rollin’” because it has a catchier chorus, and the radio edit has more creative use of censorship: in the chorus alone, words are “bleeped” out in three different ways, which actually ends up adding a lot to the music. Word has it that Limp Bizkit will be headlining the next Family Values Tour. This bothers me, as I’d like to see the torch passed to another band as it was from Korn to Bizkit. Papa Roach and Disturbed strike me as reasonable recipients.

Speaking of Disturbed, here’s a rare relevant wrestling reference in this column. Most WWF fans are aware that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is making his return to wrestling tonight on pay-per-view. What fewer people are aware of is that his well-known theme music has been retooled and re-recorded by Disturbed. This, along with the Undertaker, who currently uses Kid Rock’s “American Badass” with his entrance, is probably only the beginning. Next week, “WWF Sunday Night Heat” moves to MTV, which means more and more of a return to the rock n’ wrestling connection that surrounded the first Wrestlemania.

I was thinking of asking a trivia question to get people to send me mail, but I forgot what it was. If you think you know the answer anyway, feel free to send it to, along with your rants and raves regarding rock, your picks and pans pertaining to punk, and other cute alliterative phrases. Enjoy your week, and as always, keep expanding your horizons.