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Second-Stage Bands

August 10, 1995

Dirty Three (1:40 p.m.)--This all-instrumental trio from Melbourne, Australia, features an unorthodox lineup of violin, guitar and drums. Its first U.S. release, on the independent Touch and Go label, features long jams that are a far cry from the airy neo-Deadhead school. Instead, Dirty Three's dark moods, edgy delivery and folk-to-psychedelic range of styles bring to mind such pioneers of improvisational rock as the Doors, Fairport Convention and very early Jethro Tull.

* Versus (2:50)--This New York trio fits snugly into its hometown's 30-year tradition of underground rock bands, from the Velvet Underground in the mid-'60s to Sonic Youth today. "Dead Leaves," the current release on the independent TeenBeat label, brings jangly, folkish techniques and noise-rock slabs of distortion to bear on impressionistic songs full of unfulfilled longings and haunted feeling. Tandem vocals, in a male-female mix, lend variety.

* Blonde Redhead (4:00)--A strong Sonic Youth connection here: SY's drummer, Steve Shelley, produced the New York City foursome's recent debut release and put it out on his own label, Smells Like Records. The linkage shows in the band's garagey art-band approach, complete with Sonics-style guitar clangor and a male-female lead vocal tandem. Half the band hails from Japan, the other half consists of twins from Italy.

* Mike Watt (5:10)--Watt has a tour band comprised of three Southern California avant-rock players heard on his album: guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Michael Preussner of the Nels Cline Trio, and Bazooka's drummer, Vince Meghrouni. Members of Sonic Youth will likely sit in on the set by Watt, their old comrade from the glory days of SST Records.

* The Roots (6:20)--This rap quartet from Philadelphia includes a self-contained rhythm section of drums and upright bass and features a good, trenchant rapper/toaster. Jazz horn and piano solos lend texture to its good-natured DGC debut album, "Do You Want More?" but the lyrics tend toward routine braggadocio about musical prowess.

* Hum (7:25)--"Stars" has won radio and MTV play for this RCA Records foursome from Champagne, Ill. A dense, oceanic, distortion-splattering guitar sound a la Britain's Ride is a hallmark; so are flat, murmuring vocals and lyrics that deal with down-to-earth emotional crises by reaching for cosmic imagery--hence the album title, "You'd Prefer an Astronaut."

* On the Main Stage: Mighty Mighty Bosstones (2 p.m.), Jesus Lizard (2:50), Beck (3:45), Elastica (4:50), Pavement (5:50), Cypress Hill (7:00), Hole (8:25), Sonic Youth (9:50).

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