Best Punk/Hardcore


Cuban Missiles
Cuban Missiles singer Mike employs a snotty, scratchy delivery reminiscent of Less Than Jake's Chris Demakes, but his band's sound bears little resemblance to ska. For that matter, Cuban Missiles strays far from the Descendents' classic pop-punk template, even though they mine that group's catalog under their cover-band alias Sour Grapes. On its 2007 full-length Applaud the Apocalypse, the quartet plays a darker, grittier style of melodicore, with surgically sharp guitar leads, rumbling rhythms and downbeat hooks. (AM)


Humanoids
www.myspace.com/thehumanoidsruleearth
Despite being in existence for only a few months, the Humanoids' punk pedigree is already impeccable — to the tune of an appearance this fall at Gainesville, Florida's well-respected event The Fest; a killer Descendents cover; and opening slots for the Queers and Agent Orange at the Creepy Crawl. But what's most refreshing about the quintet is how little pretension exists within the execution of its no-brakes speedballs; whereas other bands try really hard to sound this badass, the Humanoids make it look easy. (AZ)
Halo Bar, 11:30 p.m.


Lye by Mistake
Like James, the tot from Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies who expires after ingesting "lye by mistake," first-time Lye by Mistake listeners might feel as though they've swallowed something much stronger than expected. The group's recently released Arrangements for Fulminating Vective contains some of the most dauntingly technical compositions ever to escape the area, from squealing high-speed solos to complex jazzy interludes to pyrotechnic drumwork. Lye by Mistake's vocals might be harsh, but sublime melodies hide inside its labyrinthine instrumental passages. (AZ)


Pubes
www.myspace.com/thepubes
Even though both groups are gifted at constructing memorable melodies, consider grit-punks the Pubes the yin to the Sex Robots' bubblegum-punk yang. (Obligatory reference point: The two outfits share band members and a label, so any similarities are purely intentional.) Heavier than conventional pop-punk but still accessible, the quartet isn't performing at the showcase because it's currently on a cross-country tour in support of a new album, the cheekily named Peat Sounds. (AZ)


7 Shot Screamers
www.myspace.com/7shotscreamers
Despite constant tours, 7 Shot Screamers is not a "local act gone national." No, its status is even better: The quartet is an in-demand national act that insists on staying local. These guys are only in their twenties, but they've been rocking this town since they were wee adolescents. The Screamers represent for psychobilly, which is sort of the sexier, crazier side of rockabilly. Though they do sound much more like the Cramps than the Stray Cats, don't be confused by the labels. At its core, 7SS is an energetic punk band that always gives an impressive, enthusiastic performance. (JL)
Main Outdoor Stage, 5 p.m.

Best Pop Band


Gentleman Auction House
www.myspace.com/gentlemanauctionhouse
Zeitgeist meets exuberance in this young septet, and while plainly inspired by the mini-marching-band antics of the Arcade Fire and the Decemberists, the band knows the difference between emulation and inspiration. Kiley Lewis' flute and sci-fi keyboards (not to mention handclaps) provide a secret weapon and slyly guide the band's identity through songs of twisted dreams and emotional fuck-ups. The bandmates regularly close by drumming on anything they can get their hands on. Not even their audience is safe — which, in rock & roll, is as it should be. (RK)
Main Outdoor Stage, 4 p.m.


Hibernauts
www.myspace.com/thehibernauts
The Hibernauts sound completely British. In fact, the band sounds so completely foreign that it's hard to imagine that its breezy, informed Britpop was born in the U.S.A. It's a compliment, really: If they messed up their teeth a bit and obsessed over "football," they could easily pass for a seasoned European band passing through the Midwest on tour. Instead of writing them off as second-rate Blur rip-offs, St. Louis audiences are rightfully astounded by their pretty, unassuming indie-pop. In a genre plagued with dull repetition, the Hibernauts are a revitalizing breath of fresh air. (JL)


Ludo
www.myspace.com/ludorock
All of Ludo's hard work has paid off in a big way in the past year. The quintet inked a major-label record deal with Island Records and landed the opening slot for a string of shows with college-rock faves O.A.R., among other achievements. This summer will be even busier for the Moog-punks, with more Warped Tour exposure and the imminent release of their Island debut on the horizon. (AZ)


Sex Robots
www.roadhousetunes.com

www.myspace.com/sexrobots
Sex Robots sound like they should have been on the Empire Records soundtrack. The band consistently produces delightful little nuggets of delicious power-pop, most of which are bright and encourage sunny little dreams of rainbows, flowers and lollipops. In fact, Sex Robots make you wanna scream, "Wheeee!" — especially when they bust out one of their sexy little Beach Boys-esque, surfy guitar solos. They claim to be heavily influenced by Cyndi Lauper, which makes perfect sense, because the Sex Robots just wanna have fun, too. Whee! (JL)


That's My Daughter
www.myspace.com/thatsmydaughter
This punk band is not your father's daughter, and they're not the gay kitsch trio who scored the Comedy Central hit "Tight White Jeans." That's My Daughter is Sara Oberst, Tim Dreste, Lindsay Reber and Cory Hammerstone, and its take on punk draws as much from devil metal as it does from the Ramones, incorporating as much grrl-pop attitude as it does urban alienation. More satirical than political, the band turns noise riffs into sludgy guitar stomp and tosses off hooks like so many meaningless make-out sessions — hot, sloppy and sticky fun. (RK)
Delmar Restaurant & Lounge, 11 p.m.

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