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Britney Spears’s bum knee is all better, thanks, and her Onyx Hotel tour — the name remains a mystery to us, unless it’s a reference to the fact that Kelis is on the bill — makes its first pass through New England this week. A sign of the times is that the teen-pop wanna-be opening Spears’s show this time around, Skye Sweetnam, has no ambition to be the next Britney: she just wants to be the next Avril. They’re all at the Verizon Wireless Arena (603-644-5000) in Manchester on Tuesday and the Dunkin’ Donuts Arena (401-331-6700) in Providence next Thursday, April 8.

You can read all about the Darkness and the Wildhearts in this week’s Arts section, but unless you hit speed-dial when tickets went on sale, you’re out of luck on the seeing-them thing. Demand for the British pop-metal throwbacks has been such that promoters have been tripling capacity at venues elsewhere in the country; the gigs Saturday at Avalon (617-423-NEXT) and Sunday at Lupo’s at the Strand (401-331-5876) in Providence are both officially sold out. But the Darkness’s Justin Hawkins isn’t the only hot falsetto on modern-rock radio, and this week Luke Jenner brings his to town when the Rapture team up with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for dates at Pearl Street (413-584-0610) in Northampton on Saturday and Avalon on Monday. Don’t miss openers the Starlite Desperation — back in 1998, their album Show You What a Baby Won’t (GSL) anticipated the confluence of new wave and garage punk that’s all the rage these days, and they’ve come a long way since we saw them play to six people at the Green Street Grill that year. A savage new EP, Violate a Sundae, is due soon on Cold Sweat Records.

Buffalo’s the Bloody Hollies don’t have much Buddy in them, but their Fire at Will (Sympathy for the Record Industry) is a prime example of cruddy, old-fashioned cowpunk from the days before garage rock went hipster — think Devil Dogs and Nine Pound Hammer, with a couple of Cramps-like one-chord wonders thrown in for good measure. They’re at Charlie’s Kitchen (617-492-9646) in Cambridge on Monday and the Green Room (401-351-7665) in Providence on Tuesday.

Boston’s Unearth are gearing up to take the metalcore world by Oncoming Storm, their Metal Blade debut, which is due in June. Headed for OzzFest this summer, they’re out on the Headbangers Ball 2 Tour with Damageplan — the principal members of Pantera with a new singer — and Hatebreed at Tsongas Arena (978-848-6900) in Lowell on Friday. Hatebreed frontman and Headbangers Ball host Jamey Jasta’s Stillborn Records holds a showcase at Toad’s (203-562-5589) in New Haven on Saturday with 100 Demons, Blacklisted, and the Risk Taken. And the new wave of thrash-and-hardcore-inspired American metal continues at the Palladium (800-477-6849) in Worcester on Tuesday with vampire screamo dudes (and pals of AFI, natch) Bleeding Through, speedmetal converts Himsa, and the advanced-placement-Pantera riffs of A Life Once Lost.

BY CARLY CARIOLI

Issue Date: April 2 - 8, 2004
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