After catapulting from obscurity to multiplatinum success with 1998's Wide Open Spaces, the Dixie Chicks enjoyed continued success, thanks to tight vocals and above-average musicianship (fiddler Emily Robinson, for example, once took third place in the National Fiddle Championships). Admittedly, the stuff's pretty fluffy, but it's also plenty fun. Then lead singer Natalie Maines mentioned at a London concert, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Whoops! You can't do that in country music. This is the same genre that has recently given us the shockingly ignorant "Have You Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley. Many news outlets have been having a field day describing plummeting sales of the group's latest effort, Home. For the record, as of the most recent Billboard, it is number one in the country charts, and the Chicks have sold out almost every city on their upcoming tour, which comes to the Office Depot Center (1 Panthers Pkwy., Sunrise) at 7:30 p.m. Guess it's not so bad to be embarrassed about our commander in chief after all. Tickets cost $35, $45, or $65. Call 954-835-8000. -- Dan Sweeney
Midol Won't Help
The sleaze! The shock! The skin-tight leopard-print jumpsuits! The hopped-up B-movie splendor that is the Cramps! As one of the few bands that has survived a career of more than 20 years without compromising its style or changing its music, the Cramps dive into faux-John Waters-scripted trash culture with aplomb. Guitarist Poison Ivy and singer Lux Interior met in the late 1970s and took advantage of the burgeoning punk scene in New York City. After the Cramps' UK tour with punk band the Fall, guitarist Bryan Gregory left the band to become an occult leader, and the band relocated to L.A. Despite numerous line-up changes and label problems, the Cramps churned out classic albums such as Songs the Lord Taught Us and penned Russ Meyer-inspired wet dreams like "Bikini Girls with Machine Guns," securing their status as the underground icons of psychobilly surf rock. The Cramps play with the Gore Gore Girls (see Critic's Pick) at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-564-1074. -- Audra Schroeder
Get out the smelling salts and black eyeliner
Even though indie-rock fans' elitist mindsets might react adversely to the ever-fluctuating tendencies of the scene, a new era of bands has cropped up that not only blurs the lines but tears its guitar-oriented foundation to shreds. Omaha, Nebraska's The Faint has, willingly or not, spearheaded the new new wave. Its debut effort, Media, combined catchy lo-fi rock with folk tendencies, which helped the band slip comfortably into the mold crafted by its family-based label, Saddle Creek. But perhaps ambivalence to the scene and boredom with its setup at the time got the best of the Faint. The band's 1999 sophomore effort, Blankwave Arcade, saw the band undergo a sonic face-lift not seen since the likes of Ministry. Sounding more like the Cure and Kraftwerk than acoustic label-mate Bright Eyes, Arcade supplanted tradition for an electronic assault that catered to the aggressive dance-floor addict. Rather than pass itself off as novelty, 2001's sublime Danse Macabre plunged the Faint further into a full-fledged, electro-based attack. Macabre almost fully eschews guitars in favor of dark, synth-oriented melodies, propulsive beats, and processed vocals to create something irresistibly danceable. The recent remix album for Danse only complements an intriguing progression for a band that relies heavily on its live show to add to its overall approach. Unfold those arms, turn down the lights, and dance, indie kids! The Faint arrives with supporting acts Les Savy Fav (see article in Music section) and Schneider TM at the Polish American Club, 1250 NW 22nd Ave., Miami. Tickets are $15. All ages. Call 305-634-3907. -- Kiran Aditham
Blood, Sweat, Beards
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Mullet alert! After 34 years of living the rock 'n' roll life, ZZ Top is back with the same beards. The Texas threesome rolls in on the Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers Tour. Ted Nugent and Kenny Wayne Sheperd are also onboard, just in case there wasn't already a testosterone overload. Witness the unchecked display of facial hair at Sound Advice Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Call 561-793-0445. -- Audra Schroeder
Alas, opera season is now at its end. The final opera for months comes to us from Florida Grand Opera, which brings its latest show, La Bohème, to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) at 8 p.m. May 1 and 3. Penned by Giacomo Puccini, La Bohème is the story of a group of young artsy folks who struggle through a winter together -- a winter filled with torrid love affairs, sudden spats, a case or two of tuberculosis, and a singing death scene. It's sort of like Real World: Paris in the 1800s. Tickets cost $21 to $57. Call 954-462-0222. -- Dan Sweeney