In times of war, recession, and economic distress, aggressive music like punk tends to flourish. It stirs up a certain untapped fervor in people. We're bombing innocent people -- let's yell and scream! We're unemployed -- let's dance! We're broke -- let's start a band! The youth of today, as did kids in the late 1970s with punk and the mid-1980s with hardcore, still rely on the collaborative dissent of peers to pull them out of a redundant daily routine and give them a distinctive voice. Punk rock has the pleasure and privilege of staying relatively true to its roots, having weathered years of fickle tastes and styles, unlike its nemesis, disco. Punk rock's basic beliefs beget the need to subvert the system from the inside out and stick it to "the man."
So it's no big surprise to see a recent resurgence of punk music in South Florida. Broward's brushes with cultural and political dissent are too numerous to count. The scene is a welcome respite and provides a friendly kick in the pants for all those who say there's nothing to do on a Friday night. The Hooples, the Heatseekers, AC Cobra, Middle Finger Mob, Irish Car Bomb, and the Riviters pile into the Factory (2674 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) to give a few shock- and awe-inspiring performances that won't be shown on CNN. You might just -- gasp -- have some fun. The government hasn't made that illegal just yet. And remember, the Factory guarantees chicks four deep at the bar! The mayhem ensues at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $5 for age 21 and older, $7 for ages 18 to 20. Call 954-566-6331. Audra Schroeder
Otis Sings the Blues
With his gravelly voice and droning guitar style, Otis Taylor recalls the work of the late, great John Lee Hooker while still sounding fresh. The bluesman gave up his musical career for about 20 years, returning to performance in 1995 and issuing his first album soon after. Each record since then, including his most recent, 2002's Respect the Dead, has described the experiences of African-Americans in the most glaring of lights. With songs covering such topics as lynching and homelessness, it's obvious Taylor doesn't see the African-American experience as the most positive of stories. Taylor performs at the Bamboo Room (25 S. "J" St., Lake Worth) on Thursday, April 3. Call 561-585-BLUE. -- Dan Sweeney
Al Green sells his soul
Midway through the Me Decade, an angry ex-girlfriend poured hot grits on Al Green while he was bathing, then shot herself. Green, recognizing a sign from God when he saw one, entered the ministry but continued to record secular tunes. The singer turned to gospel after an infamous 1979 Cincinnati gig in which he fell off the stage. Alas, years of naught but gospel caused many to look elsewhere for their sex soundtracks. No surprise, then, that Green's return to soul went largely unnoticed when he issued Don't Look Back in 1992. The voice is as smooth as ever, but his new material doesn't hold a candle to Let's Stay Together. Judge for yourself when Al Green performs at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) on Friday, April 4, at 8 p.m. Call 954-462-0222. --Dan Sweeney
Used and Abused
Utah goes metal
It must have been all those pesky Mormons who provoked Utah four-piece the Used to revolt against devout constraints and assemble their rambunctious attitude and sound. Led by singer Bert "Mr. Kelly Osbourne" McCracken, the quartet's eponymous debut blends a rhythmic stomp fancied by bands like the Liars and Deftones with a more MTV-friendly vibe. Aided by a sordid Behind the Music-worthy past filled with standard substance abuse, McCracken and Co. weave in and out of metal theatrics and brooding ballads with near-reckless abandon. Perhaps the MTV hype machine has given these guys more weight than they're worth, but you can see for yourself Saturday, April 5, when the Used besieges Club Ovation (3637 S. Federal Hwy., Boynton Beach) with Coheed and Cambria, S.T.U.N., and the START. Donny Osmond fans need not apply. Tickets cost $13. Call 561-740-7076. --Kiran Aditham
Ballet in Your Neighborhood
Ah, the ballet. Ignore all this punk rock, blues, and soul-cum-gospel-cum-soul you see elsewhere on this page. Don't you want some culture, dammit? The Miami City Ballet heads to the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach) to present audiences with its latest work, The Neighborhood Ballroom, from April 4 to 6. The troupe's founder and artistic director, Edward Villella, created the ballet after years of research and choreography, and given that the fellow has something of a reputation as a workaholic, one can assume years of effort on his part did not go to waste. Call 561-832-7469.