The Vultures
Ryan, Ashley and Joey have moved from young, fresh-faced punkabilly upstarts to leaders of this city's garage-rock scene in the time in takes most bands to write their first album. Two years of constant gigging have turned the Vultures from an occasionally shambolic opening act into a tight, consistently thrilling headliner. The band's recent split seven-inch with labelmates Johnny O & the Jerks gives a taste of a new full-length that's in the works. (CS)
Market in the Loop Outdoor Stage, 2 p.m.

Best Hard Rock/Metal

Cross Examination
Like the old-school thrash bands of yore, Cross Examination takes strident stands on serious problems plaguing the scene. Take "Mortal Kombat," which addresses the mosh-pit martial artists whose freewheeling feet have turned hardcore shows into athletic-shoe gauntlets: "Careless ninjas in the place/That kick me right upside the face." Those karate kids can't keep up with Cross Examination's insanely fast riffs, basslines and backbeats, which are re-created live with startling accuracy. — Andrew Miller

Now comes hate, and darkness, and the black marrow of Walpurgisnacht oozing thickly from the cracked bones of the damned. Now comes evil, and bile, and a scabrous invocation to the wickedness of human flesh. Now comes sacrilege, and blasphemy, and the infernal delights of Harkonin. "Heavy" as in loud, "heavy" as in massive, "heavy" as in Heavy. Fucking. Metal. Sharpen your horns, limber up your neck muscles, and prepare for war. (PF)

Head On Collision
Head On Collision isn't like other metal bands. For one thing, its members smile constantly. And though it still sports the Flying V and performs the requisite headbanging, Head On Collision is different (and so good) because of the tuuunes, dude. There's no joking when it comes to the music; it's dead serious when it comes to rocking you. Each member has a distinct job: Bassist Dave Carr bumps out a backbeat, guitarist John Hancock thrashes and guitarist/vocalist Pat McCauley wails — all on top of drummer Jason Brooks' brutally hard hits. They're authentic without being obnoxious — a rare quality in their genre. With the support of a new record label (Beer City Records), HOC are planning to hit the road even harder than the booze in 2008. (JL)

Shame Club
Like a grizzly bear roaring awake from a winter's slumber, Shame Club has recently come out of hibernation for shows — perhaps because the quartet is on the verge of releasing its long-awaited next album, which it worked on with Carl Amburn (Riddle of Steel). As before, expect its tunes to resemble Led Zeppelin going on a road trip with Queens of the Stone Age to the California desert — controlled substances optional, but encouraged. (AZ)
Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 6 p.m.

Spark Thugs
Blending the foggy tones of doom metal with a propulsive space-truckin' pace, Spark Thugs provide a serious buzz for headbanging stoners and classic rockers alike. Tony Stone's roaring blues-infused baritone, strong enough to soar above his high-volume guitar leads, recalls Glenn Danzig, Jim Morrison and Ian Astbury. On the impending EP American Shogun, this power trio rides heavy grooves like a mythical hero corralling a minotaur, with strong, steady hands on the thrashing beast's reins. (AM)
Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 9 p.m.

Best Hip-Hop DJ

Look, anyone can download some Young Jeezy onto his MP3 player, hook up a couple of speakers and call himself a hip-hop DJ. Velveeta can also sit on a shelf and bear the label "cheese." But that nasty orange cube ain't the real deal, friend, and neither is DJ Look-Wutz-on-My-iPod. You want a hip-hop DJ who still hauls around the crates, who can barely move through his house without falling over vinyl, who plays out every week without fail. You want Needles. On Sunday nights, he rocks U. City hot-spot 609. On Wednesdays he hosts a new DJ night, Tableturnz, at Filter. And every Monday he holds it down along with his legendary DJ partner, G.Wiz, on KDHX (88.1 FM)'s The Remedy. The man is absolutely everywhere. If you haven't seen Needles spin, you're probably under house arrest. — Brooke Foster Blueberry Hill's Elvis Room, 8 p.m.

DJ Trackstar is...a DJ. Yep, it's right there in the name. But here's the rest of it, the stuff that won't fit on CD covers and show flyers: Trackstar is a hip-hop scholar. He's a mentor to dozens of kids, an inspiration of the highest order. He's a savvy businessman and a tireless supporter of the STL scene. He drinks too much Red Bull. He has to drink that much Red Bull. How else could one person put out thirty mixtapes in less than four years? Trackstar's mixes juxtapose national heavy-hitters (Jay-Z, Ghostface Killah) with up-and-coming St. Louis talent. The brilliant emcee Lupe Fiasco — one of his hip-hop heroes — hosts his latest release, Boogie Bang 7. And you'll find Trackstar spinning in the Halo Bar every Friday night. He's a DJ, remember? (BF)
Pin-Up Bowl, 8 p.m.

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