Edgefest 11

The good news is that Flickerstick's playing early, as part of a Friday-night warm-up gig for KDGE-FM's annual alt-rock cluster that will also include a set by casual misogynist Custom, whose "Hey Mister"--the one in which the raspy-voiced New Yorker promises a young woman's father that when he's "horny like thirsty she's a bottle of water"--is the best reason to stop liking Duncan Sheik, who decided to throw away a career making nice folk-pop songs to play guitar with his new friend.

Don't worry if you can't make it till Saturday, though--Edgefest's primary lineup will provide its own wasted opportunities in appearances by Trik Turner and Default, two distressingly mediocre outfits currently dedicated to shepherding alternative-rock radio into a pasture of down-tuned guitars, flaccid rapping and bellicose bellowing. If all the fuss over those unreleased Nirvana songs is getting you excited about a grunge revival, catch these guys and get a big whiff of stale-ass teen spirit. Southern Californian simps Lit and Goldfinger will also appear, flogging their latest variations on sun-friend hedonism, as will melodramatic pop-punkers Unwritten Law, who have snuck onto TRL as a more sensitive blink-182 and/or a meaner Dashboard Confessional. Ex-Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell will make his way out of his boggy depot for a set of actual-grunge revivalism, too, in support of his new one, the anguished Degradation Trip.

Which leaves Edgefest's two biggest names, Papa Roach and Nickelback, both of whom are either a) better than you think, or b) worse than you think. If all you know about Vancouver's Nickelback is singer Chad Kroeger's awful goatee, treat yourself to the group's latest, Silver Side Up, a surprisingly lean 40 minutes of vacuum-packed bubblegum-metal that's not as good as smash single "How You Remind Me" (which will remind you of what hard rock sounded like before perfunctory DJ scratches) but is stacked deep with airbrushed riffs and hooks that consistently deny their own musculature. And on its forthcoming sophomore LP, lovehatetragedy, Papa Roach drops the limp B-boy posturing that kept 2000's Infest from becoming an emo-metal classic and decides to become the new At the Drive-In instead; the record's as slick as the palms Flickerstick probably greased to get to play, but don't be surprised if onstage the knot-tight band actually looks a little out of place.

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Mikael Wood

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