If you thought sanitized, mall-friendly “screamo” was a phenomenon limited to Orange County, think again. Much to the delight of angsty altteens across the pond, the U.K. has spawned its very own mediocre emo scene, starring a Welsh quintet known as Funeral for a Friend. Just like its Yankee counterparts, FFAF comes complete with all the necessary accouterments: the shaggy, dyed-black haircuts; the Chuck Taylors; the forlorn puppy-dog eyes that drive little girls wild. And don't forget the music: lyrics with the emotional IQ of that bad poetry you wrote during seventh grade laid over a shabby singsong that passes for a melody. Granted, with epic choruses, crunchy guitars, and slick production, FFAF's debut, Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation, does the whole tortured/distressed thing better than a lot of other entries. So if you're into that, get your Dickies-clad ass to this all-ages show at the Pound-SF on Friday, Jan. 7; call 826-5009 or visit www.poundsf.com for more info.
— Maya Kroth
Not all musical supergroups pass muster. Velvet Revolver is a bit shriveled and disheveled, Zwan couldn't even get its engine started, and the New Pornographers are simply too polite. Thank heavens for Banyan , an all-star lineup of talented punk and alternative rock heroes whose skills combine to form a Voltron-like supergroup that explores the messy intersection among punk, rock, and free jazz. Banyan was first established in 1997 by drummer Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction), bassist Mike Watt (Minutemen, Firehose), guitar god Nels Cline (Nels Cline Singers), and keyboardist Money Mark (Beastie Boys). The latter has departed, but trumpet player Willie Waldman as well as “action painter” Norton Wisdom have been added to bolster what is now predominantly a live project (check out the recently released Live at Perkins' Palace). Banyan invents raucous, free-form instrumental jams at 12 Galaxies on Saturday, Jan. 8; call 970-9777 or visit www.12galaxies.com for more info.
— Tamara Palmer