Tropic of Metallotronic Festival

AUGUST 22-24

The "Tropic of Metallotronic Festival" provides three days of music from 20-plus compelling bands who blur the edges of classification. Here's a consumer's guide. Day 1: Abstraction rules. From the Tibetan Bowlers' dadaist noise to Telegraph Melt's herky-jerky cello and guitar riffs to Commodore 64's Casio improvs. The evening's headliners, Gamelan Son of Lion, bring the soothing and skittering music of Indonesia into the world of modern classical (with Science Kit starting at 9 p.m. Friday. $7). Day 2: Diversity is the theme. This lineup teleports all over the out-rock universe, from the Pelt/Rake Orchestra's free-everything skronk to Don Caballero and Analogue's math rock to the Azusa Plane's sound clouds. Juneau sounds like a bunch of guys finding foreign instruments and figuring out they can play them, while Bright creates fractured drones in its (Stereo)lab. The outstanding Tower Recordings, who should have been on ESP-Disc in the '60s, sound both Appalachian and Asian, and Bardo Pond is simply the best psych-rock band going. Ben Neill plays his mutant horn, (a trumpet with trombone slide and electronics, pictured), making illbient jazz to close the evening (with Spatula starting at 3 p.m. Saturday. $10). Day 3: When everyone's exhausted ears are about to shrivel off, featuring four local acts is one sure way to ensure that no one comes. But Korean percussion ensemble Hanulsori, chamber folkies Laconic Chamber, performance art/noisemakers Shiny Brites, and the Economic, featuring ex-Pitchblender Treiops Treyfid, certainly aren't overexposed by the club scene. Storm and Stress (Sturm und Drang, Pittsburgh-style) should draw crowds, though--its self-titled debut is simply the most bizarrely beautiful record this year (with By Way starting at 4 p.m. Sunday. $8). A three-day pass costs $20 at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. (202) 667-7960. (Christopher Porter)

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