;Hipsters, prepare yourselves. The uncleansed mainstream is about to get an official guided tour into your ivory tower. August 21 will see the launch of This Is Next, a compilation series created by heavyweight indie distributor Alternative Distribution Alliance. The fount of the concept is the popular Now That's What I Call Music series that corrals, packages and sells lowbrow snapshots of the popular music zeitgeist. Yep, the same CDs that kids too young to have developed a healthy hatred for their parents and go punk have been dancing to in their bedrooms for years now. I know stomachs are turning right now.
;;The maiden voyage, curated by trendsetting imprint Vice Records, is actually a decent representation of quality, au courant artists from respectable labels (Matador, Sub Pop, Merge, Touch and Go, Kill Rock Stars, etc.). It's stuff that's accessible yet still acknowledged by the cognoscenti. Unquestionably, good music should be more accessible. I realize it hurts, fellow buffs, but perhaps we should give up the woobie of exclusivity for the greater good (e.g., saving people from the prison of commercial radio). However, all the official talk trumpeting the comp's arrival rings kinda hollow. The ADA folks are clinically upfront about the mainstream approach they're taking with this. Odd, considering how perfectly counter that is to the indie ethos.;;
;A moment of silence for Tony Wilson, please. After a battle with kidney cancer, the legendary British scenemaker passed away Aug. 10. Through his enormously influential label, Factory Records, and his nightclub, the Hacienda, he was an instrumental figure in the storied Manchester scene. His contribution? Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and the Durutti Column, to name a few.;;
;The Social now has a box office of its own, located right next to the venue's front door. Tickets can be purchased there Monday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.;;
;On Aug. 7, one-man act AlGARrhythm, on local imprint Polyvibe Records, delivered a decent performance at Back Booth. From behind a small arsenal of electronics, his button-pushing and knob-twisting produced limber compositions moved by the fluid, bass-thick rhythms that Yip-Yip, sadly, seems to have moved away from. Not that he's got much competition, but he's one of the more entertaining solo electronic acts in town.
;;Headlining was yet another one-man act, Nebraska's The Show Is the Rainbow (Darren Keen). With prerecorded backing tracks, his show focused entirely on the vocal and physical aspects of performance. Clearly well-fed and sporting '80s-style red-framed specs, he resembled a young, short-haired Bruce Vilanch. But don't misunderstand his bearish physique; unlike the Jabba-the-Hutt types, he's from the Chris Farley school of fat guys: nimble and physically explosive. Riding every inch of this particular asset, Keen jumped from stage to floor throughout the show, singing, rapping and screaming. Not exactly Chippendales, but he was bustin' some choice Patrick Swayze moves.
;;Though not particularly earth-moving (no chubby pun intended), his act represents a current drift of alternative-minded artists whose work carries countercultural value. What he did was nothing more than a very physical brand of karaoke, but there's something cool about people coming out and paying to see an overweight geek up there shakin' it. It demystifies the rock star concept. There's an entire subculture of people like Keen who are now turning the tables by actually reveling in their geekiness. And they're being celebrated for it! It's like the new punk rock, at least in spirit. Besides, you kinda have to respect any guy for talkin' trash about Conor Oberst in song ("Up a Creek Without a Saddle") and stirring up an indie-wimp version of a rap beef.
;;The following night, the Social saw a different sort of quirkiness with Brooklyn's Tim Fite. I dig the dude: His music is conceptually strong and pregnant with satirical tropes. To back up his latest album's cutting commentary on American consumerism, he released Over the Counter Culture for free (download at www.timfite.com); this is a guy who knows how to take a stance. His live show offered engaging moments that integrated video and animation with his rap-helmed amalgam of musical styles. Though he's to be commended for ambition, his jabs into left field sometimes felt forced.;
;;Decidedly more direct was headliner Ben Kweller. In fact, with his classicist sights set primarily on pretty rock songs, he's about as straightforward as it comes. A trillion musicians take that route, but Kweller does it right with airtight melodies. The likability of his songs translated well live, even showing a stronger rock vein firstname.lastname@example.org