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Tim Barry and Smoke or Fire at Alley Katz
You could say Smoke or Fire was slumming when the post-punk foursome moved down here from fancy old Boston and refined their sound, drawing off influences like Avail to come up with the aggressive but intricate songs from their 2005 debut, "Above the City." After they got their stiff dose of Southern culture, they headed back to Boston (and a 50-state tour), where the forthcoming second album, "This Sinking Ship," softens the punk teeth-gritting with sing-along pop anthems. They're touring with Tim Barry, an influence from the RVA days, whose loyalty to this town is evident in his songwriting, citing streets and neighborhoods with the brokenhearted wisdom of Tom Waits reading freight-train timetables. His is the history of music in Richmond, and it'll be interesting to see him touring, all acoustic, with one of the bands he helped shape. They play Thursday, April 5, with Fifth Hour Hero, Landmines and The Riot Before, 6-10 p.m. $10. 643-2816.
Wayne "The Train" Hancock at Shenanigans
Here's the guy behind the guy, the "king of juke joint swing" or, in his own words, "the stab wound in the fabric of country music." He's helped give Hank III his voice, at least a bunch of his songs. He's that independent creature, the one informing the sound of country these days, swerving below a lot of radars. But it's him that a lot of folks sound like now, and in his latest album, "Tulsa," he's taking it back to Western swing pioneer Bob Wills, crafting these delicate steel-guitar-driven minor symphonies. Some people play a genre, some define it. Wayne comes to Richmond Sunday, April 8, at 6:30 p.m. $10. 264-5010.
TODD at Alley Katz (Note: This is a venue change)
This is a Texas-by-way-of-London outfit, sped up, tuned down, sludgy and noisy. Because their sound is so thick, it seems like it should be going faster than it is, like ex-Hammerhead guitarist Craig Clouse should be increasing the pace with his roars. But no, it's more careful than that, generating a loyal U.K. following for the transplanted Texans. The Brits say this is real rock, a level of noise you could call beautiful. And this is their first tour in the United States, so we'll see what they've learned over there. TODD plays with Hex Machine and Tigershark Friday, April 6, at 9 p.m. $8. 643-2816.
102.1 Chili Cookoff at the Richmond Raceway Complex
The only rock show that'll give you indigestion, the Chili Cook Off is 102.1's wise combination of tattoos and well-spiced meats. And this year, look who's handing out the Tums: Buckcherry, Saliva, Pepper, Flyleaf and Dropping Daylight (which taken together, sound a lot like chili ingredients). The show gets started Saturday, April 7, at 11 a.m. $20-$25. 474-0000.
The Hard Lessons at Gallery5
From Detriot? Geez, they're cheery. But still, there's the definite stamp of old-school rocking, the kind characterized by long, pulsing guitar riffs that end suddenly with a held pose. And maybe pyrotechnics exploding behind them. The Hard Lessons aren't KISS, way more indie, but there's the unmistakable sound of a snarl in each song, held clean through a rock pose. They play Saturday, April 7, with RPG and City Goats at 7:30 p.m. 644-0005. SClick here for more Calendar Events