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Turntables on the Hudson

In the queasy, jittery days and weeks immediately following 9/11, there was a lot of talk about the "healing power of music." But nowhere was this medicinal value, this ability to bring about staggering feelings of catharsis, demonstrated more forcefully and more happily than at the Turntables on the Hudson event on September 22, 2001. DJs Nickodemus and Mariano, who had founded the event three years prior, were expecting a light turnout -- after all, who would want to come down and dance into the wee hours on a barge floating in the Hudson, directly in what so recently had been the flight path of those evil-laden jetliners? Even if the Turntables on the Hudson events were famous for their mix of vinyl and live percussion and their sizzling blends of house, African, funk, Latin, dub and Middle-Eastern beats, who dared boogie in that terror-ravaged city still smoldering from the recent horrors?

A lot of people, as it turned out. More than 600 of them. "The energy level just got higher and higher all night," Nickodemus told Time Out New York. "Some people were so happy, they just jumped in the river and were backstroking around."

Sadly we won't have that chance when the DJs and percussionist Nappy G roll into Houston on a rare tour stop -- unless the beats at the Social move you enough to make a mad dash for Buffalo Bayou a few blocks away, and you're insane enough to dive into that turgid soup with bacteria, alligators, snapping turtles, giant garfish and water moccasins. And whatever funky charms Washington Avenue has -- the Pig Stand, that big ol' graveyard, that huge bakery and a good view of our impressive, if not quite Big Apple-quality, skyline -- it ain't the Hudson River waterfront. But the music and the Social's swanky patio and interior still might make you think you are there. After all, the giant hand-painted bottles of Absolut like the one at the Social shriek "Warhol!" and who was more Gotham than him? And any groove powerful enough to wash away the horrors of 9/11 has got some serious mojo workin'. Expect your ass and your mind to be teleported to NYC, even if the rest of your body's right here in H-town. -- John Nova Lomax

Saturday, August 21, at the Social, 3730 Washington Avenue. For information, call 713-426-5585.Sebadoh

Sebadoh rolls into Rudyard's amid rampant speculation about a possible full-fledged reunion, triggered by a short tour earlier this year and frontman Lou Barlow's musings on the web. "[We have] no plans as of yet," he told an inquisitive reporter from Pitchfork Media. "But we're feeling some tingle in that direction." Meanwhile, in their second sequence of tour dates this year, Barlow and partner Jason Lowenstein are playing as a duo, working their magic of years past atop pre-recorded drums. The band has reportedly been playing sets that lean heavily on its late-'90s material. Reunion or not, this show should be notable at least as a musical curiosity: two guys from a well-established outfit touring under their old band's name without any of the band's half-dozen full lineups. The Turbo Acoustic Tour, as it has been dubbed, very well could be the vanguard of a new form of reminiscence and milking the past. -- Graham Webster

Tuesday, August 24, at Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh. For information, call 713-521-0521.Dave Matthews Band

Clouds of mosquitoes. Backyard barbecues. Dave Matthews Band at The Woodlands. These are the elements that make for a quintessential Houston summer. DMB hasn't issued a proper studio album since 2002's Busted Stuff, but a number of solo releases (including a full-length outing from the group's namesake) and live projects have kept the quintet in the public eye. And though the fever pitch that once surrounded DMB seems to have subsided in recent years, the group rightfully remains one of the world's top-drawing live acts, capable of turning 20,000 concertgoers into rabid Dave-otees. -- Geoff Harkness

Friday and Saturday, August 20 and 21, at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2025 Lake Robbins Drive. For information, call 281-363-3300.Xiu Xiu, with Weird Weeds and the Kants

Imagine, if you will, that you've suffered a string of unimaginable tragedies. Your mother died a few years back, your father committed suicide and you've seen molestation and degradation of all sorts and shapes. The natural human reaction is to form a response, to push back at the universe somehow.

If you're Jamie Stewart, the main presence behind Xiu Xiu (pronounced "shoe shoe"), and these things happened to you (which they did), your response is to transcribe it all in the most honest, brutal way possible. Rather than disguise the autobiographical portion of his music, Stewart cranks the knob to 11, moaning and howling in his songs about true, often repulsive stories of lust, death and other concerns, over synth lines, guitar, noise and kitchen-sink found sound. What separates his melodrama from becoming penny-ante emo-esque pedantry is Stewart's ability to make it sound so real, and his music is saved from becoming a morose joke by an innate knack for a hook, even under a heavy layer of production grime. If Stephin Merritt spent time songwriting with Michael Gira, it would probably end up sounding like this.

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