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Thursday, September 16, at Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby, 713-315-2525.The Austin City Limits Music Festival

We all know things have not been the same between Austin and Houston since those Hill Country rats snaked the state capital from us, but apparently that foul deed was not enough. Now there is the Austin City Limits Music Festival, a shindig to envy if ever there was one.

This year's model, the third annual, boasts more than 130 acts on eight stages. If heavy hitters like Sheryl Crow and Elvis Costello or indie mainstays like the Old 97's and Wilco don't justify the road trip, perhaps a second helping of Franz Ferdinand or Broken Social Scene will. And when will we next get the chance to see the Roots, the Wailers and the Pixies in one weekend? -- Amanda Mahmoudi

September 17 to 19, at Zilker Park in Austin. For a complete list of acts and schedules, go to www.aclfestival.com. To purchase tickets, visit www.frontgatetickets.com or call 512-389-0315.Seven Mary Three

If you think about it enough, music isn't cool. At all. In fact, it sucks. Don't believe me? The proof is at Guitar Center on any given afternoon, where washed-up SRV geeks tweak extended solos on gear they can't afford. The proof's also at Jimmy Buffett shows, where middle-aged white accountants in huaraches and Hawaiian shirts cut loose, ripped on Miller Lite and Margaritaville tequila. It's in the fanny packs of concert promoters, and in the acoustic guitar your boss brings to work to show you he's learned the chords to a Sublime song. Yes, if you look hard enough, there are as many reasons why music is lame as there are soundmen with bad ponytails. And for a brief moment in time, Seven Mary Three was the end-all, be-all of music suckage. Like Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles, they were the "kings of shit." -- Brian McManus

Saturday, September 18, at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak Drive, 713-862-3838.

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