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Foo Fighters come to Verizon

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THE DAVES WE KNOW: Foo Fighters brings the "Wasting Light" tour to Alltel Arena this Wednesday. Also along for the ride: heavy metal greats Motorhead.
  • THE DAVES WE KNOW: Foo Fighters brings the "Wasting Light" tour to Alltel Arena this Wednesday. Also along for the ride: heavy metal greats Motorhead.

by John Tarpley

WEDNESDAY 5/18

FOO FIGHTERS/MOTORHEAD

7 p.m., Verizon Arena. $23-$48

n Twenty years ago, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" debuted and modern rock radio has been heard through a distortion pedal ever since. Sixteen years ago, in the months following Kurt Cobain's "fade away," Nirvana's drummer released a block of home-recorded punk-poppery under the dashed-off name Foo Fighters. And now, in 2011, Dave Grohl may just be modern rock's elder sage, a Gen-X McCartney for Nirvana's answer to Wings. Now days, every radio rocker rocks like Foo Fighters. But no one does it nearly as well. Sure, the Foo's run of singles is the pudding with the proof, but I suspect that what keeps us all coming back (and what keeps the band relevant long after a reasonable expiration date) is that Grohl & Co. either still love the joy of rock music or do one helluva job faking it. We bet it's the former; these guys keep their ears in the arena and everything between firmly in the rock clubs. Warming up the crowd: Motorhead. Has there ever been a better opener in the history of Verizon/Alltel? Don't get it wrong: we're all excited for Foo Fighters, but we're really going to worship at the altar of St. Lemmy.

FRIDAY 5/20

FREE LOVE VIRGINS

8 p.m., Prost. $5.

n Twenty years ago, sometime around the time "Smells Like Teen Spirit" debuted and, locally, the old Towncraft guard was thrashing away at the Belvedere, five Little Rockians (Justin Bank, Chope Chappell, James Donato, John Slater and Kelsey Stout) passed over angst chic for sounds right out of Athens, Ga., and NME Magazine. Admittedly, Free Love Virgins didn't change the world with their brand of jangle-pop (they had to change their name to FLV to play Riverfest '92 to appease the morality police), but they had a such a good time doing it that, 16 years after their break-up, the guys are re-banding for a one-night-only reunion. Expect tracks from their 1991 album, "Garden" (available for free at bit.ly/freelovevirgins), and a good bit of Cameron Crowe-shaped rock nostalgia. One Free Love Virgin opens the night with his new outfit, Justin Bank and the Royal Electric.

GREEK FOOD FESTIVAL

11 a.m., Annunciation Greek Episcopal Church.

n Now in its 27th year, we can call the Greek Food Festival an Arkansas institution, right? Once a year, what's essentially the best Greek restaurant in the state opens for three days, offering Mediterranean cuisine from gyros to pastitso (a Greek lasagna), sourota (a nutty pastry) to dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves) and that unbelievable mystery salad dressing, prepared and bottled at the church, that you wouldn't be wrong to stock up on while it's available. While we assume most people will be happy with nothing more than mouthfuls of olives and goat meat, the festival also offers dance and music from the Greek-American Folk Dance Society, the Dubkeh Middle Eastern Dancers and more. As always, the three-day-long event donates profits to a number of area charities. And this year, folks on the go can again make to-go orders online at the festival website, GreekFoodFest.com.

'HANDS FOR HAITI' BENEFIT

7 p.m., Clinton Presidential Center. $25 minimum donation

n It's too real a fact that it's been almost a year and a half since 2010's devastating earthquake in Haiti and the country is still in a precarious balance, with sickness still abound, the government as unsteady as ever (which is saying a lot) and a bulk of its population still displaced. However, a team from Arkansas consisting of a doctor, a nurse, a translator and a microfinancier (don't discount the importance of sustainability), is aiming its sights towards the country and, this Friday, a number of area musicians are helping with the cause. The Clinton Center will host members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Amy Garland Band, Paul Morphis, and Bonnie Montgomery Trucking, all performing to help launch the local "Hands for Haiti" team to under-assisted parts of Port-au-Prince. The group asks for a minimum donation of $25, but doors open at 9 p.m. for "pay-what-you-can" admission.

THICK SYRUP RECORDS ANNIVERSARY SHOW

10 p.m., White Water Tavern.

n The label named after a high school dare involving ipecac has seen a lot in its five years. Since releasing a small run of Nathan Browningham's "Gotta Get It Outta Here" EP (yep, more scatology), the label has been home to more than a few new local classics, launched its own Little Rock-centric iconography in the omnipresent tattoos of label owner Travis McElroy's bearded head, and, most recently, taken a turn for the international, releasing new music from Jad and David Fair of the great Half Japanese. Thick Syrup's most recent release, " '78 LTD," has stirred up interest from as far away as Japan thanks to the compilation's line-up, which includes members of Pearl Jam, Sebadoh, The Descendents and other '90s college rock greats. At this point, the label's trajectory may be pointed outside of state, if not national, boundaries. But this weekend, Thick Syrup birthday parties with friends over two nights. Friday, the label blows candles at White Water Tavern, with performances from early Thick Syrup band San Antokyo, newer supergroup Sweet Eagle, and Bryan Frazier, replete with full band. Frazier will also be releasing "Thick and Thin: A Collection, 2003-2010," a compilation of singles, demos, outtakes and b-sides from the local pop songwriter. The following night, Thick Syrup drives it down the street to Hot Springs for a second night of partying at Maxine's. The Reparations, the roots rockers fresh off of releasing their latest album, "Ride or Die," joins the lumbering rockers of Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth.

SUNDAY 5/22

GRACE POTTER AND THE NOCTURNALS

7:30 p.m., Revolution. $20

n No need to mince words: This group of Vermont roots rockers is getting big with a quickness. Right now, they're toeing the precipice of major mainstream success. Think Kings of Leon as fronted by a Bonnie Raitt/Nancy Wilson/Beyonce hybrid who flirts with glam. Or maybe a younger Black Crowes with more mascara. (Rather, gender-appropriate make-up, that is.) It's a band that wears its influences with pride, as well, not afraid to launch into a cover from its forebears ("White Rabbit," "Pain in My Heart"), its contemporaries (My Morning Jacket's "Golden" is known to get Nocturnal) or from the left field altogether ("Oye Como Va?!") This show, one of many from the band in the last year, is part of the self-explanatory Bonnaroo Buzz Tour. GP and the Nocturnals are joined by echo-poppers Futurebirds, reedy hipster bluesman Gary Clark and "This American Life"-featured comedian Julian McCullough.

TUESDAY 5/24

'BEAUTY AND THE BEAST'

7:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $27-$57

n No doubt about it, this is one of the most successful Broadway productions of all time. In fact, now in its 17th year, it's the eighth most successful Broadway production ever. This national tour, however, stands apart from the ones in years past: The show's original creative and production teams that are responsible for the play's initial successes were brought back into the fold to re-tool and re-invent the touring show. The Disney classic stays in town for three days, returning on Wednesday and Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m., with a one-day only matinee on Thursday at 1 p.m.

THE GREENHORNES/JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD

9:30 p.m., Stickyz. $10

n If making garage rock was as easy as The Greenhornes and Jeff the Brotherhood make it look, we'd all be sideburns deep in co-eds and ditch weed. The Cincinnati, Ohio, trio of The Greenhornes may not have found arena-rock glory like others in the Garage Rock High class of 2001, but their brand of dusty 45" rock has stayed fuzzy and thick with Detroit by-way-of London '60s rock. Since debuting, their sound has been embraced by Jack White and his Third Man roster; two-thirds of the band is also in The Raconteurs. Jeff the Brotherhood, on the other hand, is just now finding a strong footing aboveground. The Nashville drums-and-guitar duo may be stuck in the shadow of The Black Keys, but its style of psych-garage adds a fistful of punk swagger to the old blues formula.

SEA NANNERS

10 p.m., White Water Tavern. Donations.

n A few months ago, while talking about the band formerly known as Reptar, we said in a town rich with throwback rockers, it's refreshing to hear a fiercely fashionable, ultra-current band ready for blogs, not bars. And it's a statement we still stand by. These guys specialize in jittery, Internet-era Americana that's driving, melodic and deceptively complex. We've spent the bulk of the year playing and re-playing their two released songs, "Peleliu" and "Queen of the Brodeo." It's a scant number of releases, even for a group of newbies, but what Sea Nanners lacks in output, it makes up for in replay value. Tuesday sees the band debut its first release: the "Queen of the Brodeo" 7", containing the aforementioned tracks. If you're the type, like me, who tends to press the "repeat" button, you'll be well served to buy two.

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