You'd think that serving in Vietnam would have given John Kerry a little more backbone in dealing with the bogus attack ads of the supposedly independent 527 groups like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (did they throw mud at the Viet Cong too?). But for Kerry, the campaign trail is apparently a scarier place than the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and it took a political action committee like MoveOn to add some spine to his floundering operation ("Thank you, George -- may I have another?"). So when the PAC announced its plans for the Vote for Change Tour, a nationwide breath of fresh air was shared by the "anybody but Bush" crowd. Check it out: The tour includes (among others) the Jurassic 5, Bright Eyes, R.E.M., Death Cab for Cutie, and the guy the Dems had long gunned for -- Bruce Springsteen.
But what's this? The performers are split among different cities? Hmm... Well, let's take a look at the schedule; it can't be that bad. Let's see... Gainesville... Orlando... OK, here we are -- Miami. What the...? John Mellencamp and Babyface?! That's all we get? Are they trying to scare off the youth vote or something? They might as well make it 41 and up, 'cause that's all they're gonna get with that lineup. I mean, really. That breath of fresh air now seems more like a last gasp.
Ah, but we must keep things in perspective; remember -- we're fighting for the future of our country here. Maybe it's not so important that we get only the tour's leftovers; this is, after all, for a cause. So screw it. Watching Fahrenheit 9/11 in the theater was as much a shared experience as anything else. Hell, so was dealing with the recent slew of hurricanes. It's about uniting in the face of a common enemy. Plus, "Small Town" isn't a bad song, right? Hell no! The Vote for Change Tour moves on over at 8 tonight to the Jackie Gleason Theater (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). Tickets cost $51.50. Call 305-673-7300, or visit www.moveonpac.org/vfc. -- Jason Budjinski
Woe is ness
Return of the greaser punks
Regardless of his enduring legacy with Social Distortion and solo, Mike Ness still can't shake the hardships from his tattered sleeve. With a venerable 25-year history of wear and tear, Ness and Social D have scored legions of fans ranging from skate punks to greasers to future SuicideGirls. Songs of addiction and loss make for insubstantial corporate rock nowadays, but Social Distortion was one of the first to convey its realities into rapid-fire rock tales and irrepressible, heartbreak ballads. Nearly a decade after White Light, White Heat, White Trash reaped radio/MTV exposure, the band suffered the death of founding guitarist Dennis Dannell in 2000 -- but Social D has finally returned. Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll marks an optimistic turning point for Ness and his new lineup. Expect plenty of melodic riffs and punkabilly rhythms that should translate well on the band's first major tour since 1997. Despite the promised buoyancy of the new tunes, don't expect the sneer and fury to disappear from Ness' tattooed, pinup frame. Social Distortion arrives with Tiger Army and the Explosion at 6:30 p.m. today at Revolution (200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets cost $25. Call 954-727-0950. -- Kiran Aditham
My Big Fat Japanese Drum Show
Fushu Daiko... they bang, they bang
Fushu Daiko -- that's Japanese for "Florida's big drum" -- is a local group of a dozen drummers and musicians who combine percussion with dance and martial arts. For thousands of years, taiko drumming has been alternately used to help achieve a meditative state and to strike fear into opponents during battle, and, in more recent applications, to open Miami Heat games. Taiko drums can indeed be big, up to six feet in diameter. Put a bunch together and you're ready to rumble. Performances are loud and sweaty, a sport of strong arms. Although Fushu Daiko has members from Japan, Brazil, and Argentina, it consists mostly of U.S. natives. If you want to take lessons or pay a visit to Fushu Daiko's Dania dojo (say that three times fast), check them out at www.fushudaiko.com. Their concert, "Elemental," starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Amaturo Theater of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Get tickets ($20 each) at www.browardcenter.org, or call 954-462-0222. -- Dave Amber
Rivers Cuomo probably had the lovely ladies of the Ahn trio in mind when he wrote the Weezer tune "El Scorcho": "Goddamn/you half-Japanese girls/do it to me every time/oh, the redhead said/you shred the cello/And I'm jello, baby." The Ahn girls -- twins Maria and Lucia and their little sister Angella -- are actually Korean -- but they still have an incredible jellifying effect on boys and girls, what with their Tokyo-punk outfits, their taste in indie rock like Cibo Matto, and their Urge-to-Herbal-worthy hair. The violinist, pianist, and cellist are on a mission to present classical music in a new, modern, alternative format. Bring home the turkey and they'll bring home the bacon. The babes play the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) tonight. Tickets cost $45. Call 954-462-0222, or visit www.browardcenter.org. -- Deirdra Funcheon