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MTV Choose or Lose Tour

Club Congress, Sunday, Oct. 19

One could make the argument that not only is MTV responsible for destroying the music industry (creating an environment saturated with pre-packaged one-hit wonders and record labels obsessed with risk/benefit ratios versus artist development), the network also set in motion the decline of network television with its Real World franchise, spawning the cannibalistic reality TV genre. Throw in The Hills, some wiggas and a nation of tweens emulating Britney and you've got yourself a pretty good O'Reilly Factor topic: "MTV: Worst. Thing. Ever."

Every four years or so, though, MTV tries to redeem itself with a youth voter education drive; 2008's Choose or Lose music tour highlights issues plaguing young veterans returning home from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. The tour hit Tucson last Sunday at Club Congress, and while bands played inside, local vets were on hand in the Congress lobby educating voters on how to help vets get the benefits they deserve.

The night's opener, Carefree, Ariz., electro-party-posse Peachcake, brought a seemingly endless supply of colorful props, toys, masks--and enthusiasm. Its live show is like a Carrot Top performance on the Pee-wee's Playhouse set, all set to an amped-up version of Depeche Mode's Speak and Spell.

After clearing the feather boas, umbrellas and astronaut helmets, Brooklyn's Hymns followed, wisely dropping their melancholy alt-country numbers for a raucous set of heel-grinding rockers. Lead singer Brian Harding can't help giving Hymns' numbers a Stones swagger with his nasally-Jagger vocals, but my sneaking suspicions of a mutual admiration for Brooklyn's Strokes (or Detroit's The High Strung) came during a cover of "American Girl"--the blueprint for every third Strokes song.

Finally, tour headliner Locksley closed with a set chock-full of the Beatlesque tunes off its latest, Don't Make Me Wait. While hip acts like Dr. Dog and The Teeth are mining the Fab Four's later material, Locksley is all about the early '60s--tight pants, pointed boots (sporting matching white tonight!) and "yeah, yeah, yeahs."

Further schooling of the nearly all-female, teen crowd continued with a clap-along version of Richard Hell and the Voidoids' "The Kid with the Replaceable Head" (!) and a plea to those 18 and over to vote. Now if we could just vote off MTV's programmers.

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