Fiesta, Forever

We're having a music awards party, and everyone's invited!

Mea culpa: We accidentally omitted Polarized Mind from the list of Best Electronic Band nominees for this year's RFTMusic Awards. Sorry about that! The gothic electro-squelchers plan to take a break for a few months, so before they take a hiatus, catch 'em at the new Creepy Crawl (3524 Washington Boulevard; 314-531-3888) on Friday, July 28, for just $8 (or $11 if you're over 18 but under 21).

Speaking of the RFT Music Awards, we're proud to announce three of this year's national headlining acts: The Minus 5, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche and Grant-Lee Phillips. These fine musicians will play outdoors in the Delmar Loop during the all-day music showcase, which takes place on Sunday, September 10.

Want to catch the latest news and updates on the official 2006 Music Awards? Visit our MySpace page, found at www.myspace.com/rftmusicawards2006. Put us in your top eight (or sixteen, or twenty-four — whatever works) and tell all your friends.

A to Z has also been receiving lots of questions and e-mails about the event, so here's a handy FAQ to clear up any confusion.

1) When does voting for music-award winners begin?

Voting begins August 10 online and continues through the day of the showcase. (Nominated bands, get those MySpace bulletins ready!) The September 7 RFT will contain a pull-out insert with the showcase lineup, times, info on all nominees and a ballot.

2) What local bands are playing the showcase?

We're not sure yet. If you feel strongly about seeing one (or more) of the nominees, feel free to e-mail A to Z, and we'll pass along word to the appropriate parties.

3) I heard theRFT wasn't having awards this year. What's up with that?

False! We moved the showcase so it no longer conflicts with the (end of the) academic calendar.

4) KDHX had awards a few months ago. Didn't that replace theRFT awards?Nope. We didn't have anything to do with that. But we love KDHX. There's no beef.

5) Uh,PlaybackSTL has awards, too.

See Number 4.

One might have noticed that the Way Out Club's Web site (say that five times fast) has been down for several weeks now. Venue co-owner Bob Danger has a simple explanation: Their Web-hosting service went out of business. A new site should be up shortly, he says.

In fact, even though the club lost power during last week's mega-storm — as did Cicero's, causing the Dressy Bessy/Living Blue show to move to the Red Sea — the Way Out is alive and well and holding shows, including new band Angry Panda on July 31 and locals such as the Monads, 7 Shot Screamers, Miles of Wire and others in coming weeks.

The Pageant, meanwhile, was alive and air conditioned during the storm; even the LL Cool J show for Wednesday night went off without a hitch. But by far the biggest spectacle in the Loop last week (besides the lightning storm) was the very sold-out Panic! At the Disco show. The not-quite-legal Las Vegas quartet is often tagged as a pop-punk act or a Fall Out Boy clone, misconceptions very much debunked by the band's live performance. For starters, stage props included a light-up sign spelling out their name; a smiling moon; a giant windmill; and, inexplicably, a tree without leaves. Several burlesque/vaudevillian performers twittered and danced around the stage serving as comic relief, while a gleaming-white piano nodded to the baroque-pop compositions that elevate Panic!'s album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, high above those of their peers.

What with these lofty aspirations, it wasn't surprising that the band performed a faithful cover of Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight"; their stage set was rather influenced by that band's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. (Sadly, A to Z felt very old, because that cover and a version of Radiohead's "Karma Police" seemed to bore the audience.) But then again, Urie sometimes seemed like the Phantom (as in of the Opera), pounding away on the keys — although his stutter-step dancing and elfin outfit (pointy shoes!) resembled Michael Jackson, if he were reborn a mod pirate.

For some reason the sound in the balcony was muddled and garbled, and the vocals were impossible to understand, which made for a frustrating experience. And no, it wasn't just because the rabid teenagers on the floor were screaming every word. The show almost felt like sensory overload, a performance where the band's admittedly catchy music took second fiddle to spectacle and gratuitous action.

Perhaps the funniest scripted scene occurred when a female dancer in sparkly gold panties and a black bra did a lap dance for Urie, who then proceeded to push her away in an exaggerated fashion and storm back to his piano to finish the song. The metaphor was clear: PANIC! ARE SERIOUS ABOUT THEIR MUSIC. NOTHING WILL STAND IN OUR WAY. It's a shame the rest of the show seemed to forget to stress tunes over stage presence.

Breaking news! Austin buzz band What Made Milwaukee Famous is coming to the Creepy Crawl on Saturday, July 29. The band's Barsuk Records debut, Trying to Never Catch Up, combines keyboards, lo-fi indie riffs and other sundry instrumental color to create a whimsical experience. Check creepycrawl.com for set times and ticket details. — Annie Zaleski

 
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