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Whole Sick Crew, Fred's Variety Group, the Spiders and the Pubes 

Friday, September 5; Hi-Pointe

The musical world grows wider by the day, but each of us seems to be laying claim to an ever-slimmer slice of it. The musical curiosity of a nation has been narrowcasted and search-engined into quiescence. Why expose yourself to the troubling preferences of strangers when you've already found five fellow Teardrop Explodes fanatics on the Internet?

Doing its bit for universal togetherness, the Hi-Pointe offers fun for the whole family with this varied set of locals. You say your dad's always holed up in the den with his nautical novels and his scotch? The rollicking chanties of the Whole Sick Crew will shiver his timbers, carrying him away to that misty point where the sod o' Erin meets the bounding main.

We've heard your mom singing "Crazy" in the shower; she's always been a sucker for that maudlin corncob pathos. Fred's Variety Group (pictured) wrap their hearts in flannel and their songs in melancholy. Mark Stephens writes fine tunes rooted in traditional country musical values, and the group isn't too loud for sensitive ears.

The same cannot be said for the Spiders, whose scuzzy Dwarves-infected punk will horrify Ma and Pa as they thrill your older brother. While the band pukes up the slimiest chunks of '80s hardcore punk, frontman Combustible Jaxon rattles and rolls like a man possessed by Iggy Pop (all the more impressive because Iggy isn't even dead yet).

And finally, little sister seems to like the polka-beat thrash of the Pubes. Yes, they rely a little too heavily on stiff rat-a-tat-tat rhythms and crude semi-metal riffage, but on a good night they work up an impressively weird noise. And their cover of Andrew W.K.'s "Party Hard" is a surefire (if obvious) crowd-pleaser. Cheaper than a ballgame, closer than Six Flags, more fun than playing Sorry at the dinner table: as Kevin Seconds almost said, the family that rocks together stays together.

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