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Friday, July 30; CBGB

Film, fashion, furniture, food and the greatest sculpture and painting ever made by human hands -- is there any aesthetic pursuit that Italians haven't mastered? Only one: rock & roll. The Germans have their Kraftwerk and their Scorpions, Swedish bands continue to rip shit up, and even the rock-impaired French occasionally throw up a contender. Aside from a couple of bygone hardcore bands, Italy's been eerily quiet these past 50 years. Maybe the luxuriant Italian vita is a little too dolce to produce rock's requisite nerve-wracked, dissatisfied angst. If James Osterberg had been born in Tuscany instead of Detroit, we'd probably never have heard the words Iggy Pop.

Taxi's gritty, classic punk won't single-handedly wake a sleeping nation, but its debut long-player, Like A Dog, does make a strong case that the Roman kids are alright. Chugging, wall-of-guitar salvos such as "Show Me Your Gun," "My Finger," and the ontologically impossible "I'm Dead" embody a band that isn't emerging from the gutter but trying to drag the rest us down there with it. Sonic touchstones include the sleazier first-wave punk bands, like the Vibrators, Eater, Crime and the Ramones. Such a straightforward late-'70s aesthetic could cut either way -- in the wrong hands, it turns into bad burlesque -- but Taxi's raw catchiness provides real thrills amid all the historical re-creation. Heralded Chicago raunch-punks Vee Dee and local synth-cretins Syntax Error round out a bill straight outta 1978. Hell, the show is even at a club called CBGB! Wear a black leather jacket and striped T-shirt for a full-on period buzz.

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