Several years ago, I read an item in Chuck Shepherd's "News of the Weird" column that has stuck with me. It was about a couple who had been arrested for keeping piles of sick, dying and dead dogs in their house--a truly horrifying mental image (and as a die-hard animal lover, that's perhaps the main reason the story has stuck with me). Just when you thought it couldn't get any more revolting: The reason they collected the carnage? They shared a fetish for having sex on top of the animals/carcasses.

Now, maybe I was just in a romantic or optimistic mood when I read it, or maybe the very thought of such a thing forced me to look for the silver lining sewn into the otherwise deep black cloud, but as disgusted as I was by the item, here's what I remember thinking: What a beautiful, amazing world this is that those two people actually managed to find each other. I mean, how many people in the world could possibly get off on fucking on top of a heap of dogs gasping for their last breath? And here were two of them. And, one would suppose, anyway, that they were in love. A sick love, to be sure, but love nonetheless.

While I certainly don't mean to equate this couple with GWAR fans, it seems to me that it would take a certain kind of couple to celebrate Valentine's Day by attending a show by the living, breathing embodiment of the satiric ethos trail-blazed by the immortal, if fictional, Spinal Tap. Qualifications: First, they would have to love rock, for whether they're poking fun at the absurd trappings of metal or not, they do indeed rock. Second, they would have to share a healthily morbid sense of humor, one that would readily embrace, say, the X-Cops, the GWAR offshoot band that emerged shortly after the Rodney King incident, dressed in full law-enforcement regalia, threatening to kick the ass of any audience member who didn't behave properly. And finally, they wouldn't be afraid to get their clothes dirty. GWAR is known as much for the gallons upon gallons of fake blood and other sundry and mysterious liquids they spray on their audiences. Nothing says I love you like fake puke, after all.

GWAR (which, by the way, stands for God What an Awful Racket) will perform an all-ages show at Coconut's, 296 N. Stone, Monday, Feb. 14. Alabama Thunderpussy and All That Remains open the show, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 on the day of the show. For more information call 884-0600.

Rocker couples of a different cloth--those who enjoy late-night discussions about Crime and Punishment over a bottle of pinot grigio and the Rush box set--will be bowled over by the nostalgic spectacle on display at the TCC on the very same day o' romance. For Queensryche loyalists, it just doesn't get much better than this: The sages for whom the term "thinking man's metal band" was invented, and who kept the prog rock flag flying when it was most uncool (and made it even uncooler by adding '80s metal-guitar wankery), will perform a show divided into three parts. The first is a "greatest hits" set, which means it will surely contain the band's only actual hit, "Silent Lucidity." The second is the band's best album, 1988's conceptual opus, Operation: Mindcrime, performed live in its entirety, for the first time in 15 years. (Fair enough--the album's concept, about a guy who's so pissed off at a Reaganized America that he joins a renegade band of political assassins, has become applicable enough again that Camper Van Beethoven's comeback concept album from last year, New Roman Times, followed a similar storyline.) All things considered, the album has held up better than you might expect. Finally, the group will preview material from the forthcoming sequel to O:M, whose title, Operation: Mindcrime II, does not bode well in the current-day creativity department. Still, you can bet that the devoted will gulp it all up at seat's edge.

Queensryche perform at 7 p.m. at the TCC, 260 S. Church Ave., Monday, Feb. 14. Advance tickets are available for $39.50 and $29.50 at all Ticketmaster locations, or by calling 321-1000.


For as many great shows as he brings to town, Steven Eye has extremely discerning and increasingly narrow tastes. A lifelong enabler of all things punk rock, these days he prefers the quiet hum of, say, a female voice over a hushed ensemble of musicians who evoke the inner spiritualist in all of us. In other words, if it's loud, he's mighty tough to impress. So we didn't take it lightly when he admonished us for missing last year's Solar Culture performance by Polysics, which we highly endorsed but somehow missed. "They were like a Japanese Devo," he raved, which we already knew after having described their 2003 album Neu (Asian Man) similarly, but in more lengthy terms as "Devo's new-wave aesthetic, by way of abrasive, angular spazz-rock, flourished with Atari 2600 game sounds and noise-guitar torrents, plus hints of Bis and The Fall, all filtered through a wacky Japanese prism." After he further admonished us for our soft spot for run-on sentences, we promised him we wouldn't miss Polysics the next time they came through town.

Touring in advance for their forthcoming and third album, Polysics or Die (due out March 22 on Tofu), we'll get the chance to keep our promise when Polysics perform at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., Sunday, Feb. 13. The all-ages show begins somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 p.m., with opening sets from the Minibosses, the Necronauts and Peachcake. Advance tickets are available for $8 at; they'll be $10 at the door. For bonus details, call 622-8848.


Against all odds, it's become a badge of honor for a band to have their music used as background on The O.C. Feel free to ask David Terry, who records and performs catchy, cathartic synth-pop love songs as Aqueduct, about the experience when he hits town this week. Terry is touring with Mates of State to support his Barsuk debut, I Sold Gold, which contains the O.C. -sanctioned song.

If you've never seen Mates of State live, be sure to read Annie Holub's review of their latest EP in this section, and know that they're even better live than their recorded material would have you believe. Appropriate for the week of Valentine's Day, they lock eyes and grooves in equal measure, playing off each other like Jack and Meg do in their wettest of dreams. What should be so cute that it makes you wanna puke ends up being reaffirming in so many ways.

Mates of State and Aqueduct perform an early, all-ages show at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Tickets are $7. For further details, call 622-8848.


There seems to be an abundance of shows this week that feature multiple local bands on a single bill, so let's take a look at a few of them, shall we?

Valentine's Day kicks off early on Friday with Serge's Love Ball at Club Congress. The event's namesake host requested that the club build a special stage-in-the-roundish sorta thing so that the maestro can feel the love from all possible angles, and strangely, the club complied. Meanwhile, on the big stage, buckle up for the Zsa Zsas, George Squier Orchestra and Galactic Federation of Love.

Tickets for the lovefest, which kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, in the hotel lobby with Matt Mitchell and his "Lovetones" are a mere $5 in advance at Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Call 622-8848 for more information.

For the first time ever (or so they tell us), Chango Malo, The Jons, Nowhere Man and Bombs for the Bored will all share a stage on the same night this week. This one goes down at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. Admission is a mere $4. Call 629-9211 for bonus info.

In an attempt to corral the gem show masses, The Molehill Orkestrah and the Wayback Machine will pair up for an all-ages, smoke-free "Barefoot Boogie Dance Jam" this week. Doors at the ORTSPACE Dance Studio, 121 E. Seventh St., will open at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12. Admission is $7. Call 721-1710 for further info.