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Playbill

Friday, August 27, at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk. For information, call 713-528-5999.Phantom Planet

So why did Phantom Planet scotch their bubbly Weezer-esque power pop in favor of an over-Stroked garage sound whose 15 minutes are running out so quickly Dick Clark can be spotted in Times Square leading the countdown? Why did they bother recruiting Dave Fridmann -- the guy who produced some of the last few years' lushest, most beautiful music -- only to create an audio-compressed, fuzzed-out, oversaturated garage ruckus virtually identical to what's been emerging of late from thousands of American basements? After Fountains of Wayne's "Stacy's Mom" signaled that bouncy, ringing pop can make inroads on radio, again we must ask, Why?

Were they so embarrassed by their O.C. theme song, "California," that they had to cop a pose from the other coast to distance themselves from their earlier incarnation? Or was it that Phantom Planet or their label (Epic) figured people would be fooled into thinking this was a new band and not a trend-trading chameleon jumping someone else's train?

What can we expect from this show? Maybe the band will run through the stuff from their first two albums in Poindexter suits that they slowly shed while getting hammered. Gradually they will transform into what they are now: a slurring purveyor of boring, been-there gruel. -- Chris Parker

Friday, August 27, at the Engine Room, 1515 Pease. For information, call 713-654-7846.Tsunami Bomb and Audio Karate

Punk rock is largely a boys-only club, which makes Tsunami Bomb's sexy lead singer, Agent M, something of a novelty. But she's more than that. Though Tsunami Bomb's sound is based on that of the ubiquitous Cali-punk Descendents, the quartet also delivers bouncy ska-punk, Blondie-ish new wave, thundering hardcore and Black Flag-inspired old-school punk. And Agent M's powerful roar and scalding jets of verbiage hold it all together.

Joining them is Audio Karate, whose latest, Lady Melody, is sharper than a Ginsu knife and tight as a young Dean Martin at an open-bar wedding. Singer-guitarist Art Barrios's gruff vocals are two parts Blake Schwarzenbach growl and one part Tim Kasher groan, and that equals a plaintive howl that's too rough for pop-punk but not caterwauling enough for emo. As with Schwarzenbach's Jawbreaker, Audio Karate is unwilling to sacrifice melody on the altar of chunky ringing guitar textures and angular leads, and as with pop-punk, the production is supercrisp. Unlike pop-punk, though, the arrangements are clever enough to withstand repeated listens, and that makes all the difference. -- Chris Parker

Saturday, August 28, at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak Drive. For information, call 713-862-3838.Thin Lizzy, with Deep Purple and Joe Satriani

Sure, the classic headbangers will turn out to see DP do "Smoke on the Water," as well as their entire 1972 classic disc Machine Head. And guitar geeks will wow at the fretwork of Satriani. But a surprisingly large number of the crowd might just be there for the middle act -- Thin Lizzy -- whose decades-old music has recently found new life and even hipster cachet. Why? Thank the Darkness. Guitarist Dan Hawkins of the insanely popular neo-arena rock band seems to sport nothing but Lizzy T-shirts on stage and in photo shoots, and he's always talking up one of rock's most underrated bands. And longtime fans of the group know that their catalog is much richer and deeper than just "Jailbreak" or the ubiquitous "The Boys Are Back in Town." Lizzy's twin guitars and hooky (but heavy) tunes and Phil Lynott's soulful vocals and sharp lyrics have always deserved more credit than they got on these shores. A recent double-disc anthology was just released overseas, but for U.S. fans, the Dedication compilation is the best starting point. Of course, the current touring Lizzy features no original members and only one (guitarist Scott Gorham) from the classic lineup, but the chance to hear Thin Lizzy tunes live should be worth checking out. -- Bob Ruggiero

Saturday, August 28, at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2025 Lake Robbins Drive. For information, call 281-363-3300.John Hiatt, with David Lindley

You can always tell when you've stumbled upon a great storyteller. It's not just the words but also how they convey the passionate punch of every thought and every syllable. John Hiatt is a great storyteller. The man has been lauded by some of the best in the business and has had his songs covered by Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop. But success has not come easily. Hiatt has endured a tough three decades in the music business, battling alcoholism, depression and his former record company to become the emancipated artist he is today. With 2000's Crossing Muddy Water, 2001's The Tiki Bar Is Open and last year's Beneath This Gruff Exterior, Hiatt seems to be hitting his stride. But it's best to let him tell that story, too. -- John Kreicbergs

Monday, August 30, at the Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas. For information, call 713-230-1600.

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