As the saying goes, everything's okay until it isn't. At this point it's pretty obvious that if you don't have clear paths for patrons to enter and exit a club, you're putting your place on the line for bad shit to happen in the future. There's really no excuse for that kind of carelessness, and nothing is more frustrating than trying to maneuver around a place that clogs like a corroded artery--this coming from someone who loves to watch shows from the crush of things. All this lead-in is to talk about Studio Seven, a venue that left me pretty turned off by how bad human traffic jams can be.

Studio Seven is a cool-looking older wooden building south of the stadiums where the stage is so close you can practically get on top of it and where the drinkers (upstairs) and the underage (downstairs) can appreciate the same show separately. But the main entrance/exit is to the left of the stage, creating, when I was there, a standstill clog for a good part of the night. It wasn't helped by the stairs up to the bar further locking people into position. This claustrophobia was exacerbated during the headliners' encore, when the club completely blocked off the front lobby for the band's short escape, leaving a bullpen of frustrated and confused people. Granted, last weekend was the first time I'd made it to Studio Seven, and maybe things usually run more smoothly, but the general consensus was that the jam was pretty much unacceptable--I'd hate to see how that space cleared out if something bad actually happened.

I was at Studio Seven to see the Darkness. I wasn't sold on the UK band's record by any means, but their hype is so over-the-top--about how crazy they go live, and how you just need to loosen up and you'll love it. So I went with an open mind, hoping that there'd be more going on than a simple, ironic swipe at hair metal. Plus, as much as I love progressive music, I also have a soft spot for stupid rock--I loved Andrew W. K. when I first heard him, and I still love the Unband, a New Jersey trio who flamed out a couple of years ago. After seeing the Darkness live, though, I'm back to my original opinion about the band. I lived through the '80s, I loved Slaughter and Def Leppard and all the crap that the real metal kids at my junior high school held in contempt. But even with every power-ballad move in the book, the Darkness can't hold a candle to those oldies, and instead sounded like nothing more than a gimmicky flash in the pan--uninspired at best.

I wish I could've instead gone back to T.Raumschmiere (AKA Marco Haas), the Berlin-based techno rocker who had enough energy in his Chop Suey set earlier in the week to amp a million heshers and DJs alike. His music was a headbanging blend of frying electronic noise and dense, anthemic, rock-like beats that jolted your body into motion. Haas himself--referred to as a techopunk DJ--was at full tilt, throwing his head into the air and talking back to the spliced video images of newscasters behind him. His visuals were as entertaining as his music, too--the best being a montage (that's made the Internet rounds already) in which G. W. Bush was the sun from Teletubbies, attempting to shoot down bunnies with eye-operated fireballs. With local laptop icon Bobby Karate working on a speed metal record for Tigerbeat6 and T.Raumschmiere's Radio Blackout album busting down the genre barriers, smart electronic music is burrowing even further into the rock consciousness.

And Rocket from the Tombs came out of hiding to entertain a packed house at Graceland last weekend, playing a show that proved that just because you get on in years, it doesn't mean you can't still bring it on. I think one of RFTT's most excited fans was the Catheters' Brian Standeford--incidentally one of the first people to play Rocket from the Tombs for me--who was jumping around like mad after his band opened the show with a lot of promising new material. The Catheters are back in the studio now, recording a new album for Sub Pop.