8 p.m. Sunday, February 28. The Firebird, 2706 Olive Street.

For those too young to have witnessed Talking Heads live and too old to catch the best New Year's Eve dance party of 2099, Mahjongg is a fine substitute. The Chicago band's performances are transcendent experiences, aural portals to a sphere where pretension and irony are slaves to the primacy of the beat. Bass drops rattle bones into asymmetrical patterns, and observers involuntarily cavort along with the band's polymetric percussion without knowing — or caring about — the song's time signature.  As of now, Mahjongg's albums sound better in headphones than on dance floors and, like Peter Frampton and Kiss before, its recorded output functions like a secret password. Those in the know gain access to the club, those who don't will have to wait for Mahjongg Comes Alive.

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