LOOKING AT THE GLUT of music events planned to celebrate the grand opening of Experience Music Project makes our eyes cross and our heads ache. In the hopes of maximizing everyone's enjoyment of what could be, at worst, an early Bumbershoot, what follows is our attempt to make sense of it all, but with one caveat: Our model assumes unlimited resources, unfettered access, and ideal climate conditions. Okay, that's three caveats.

The flaw in our model is that the stingy bastards at EMP won't allow re-entry to ticketed shows, so if you want to see, say, the Fastbacks (ticketed) and then leave to see Hovercraft (free), you'd have to pay again to see Built to Spill, even though they're playing the same show as the Fastbacks. Doesn't that suck? What, Paul Allen needs the money?

Nevertheless, in a perfect world, the weekend would look like this.

Friday, June 23

Your day starts at noon. Sorry. But you've got to be at the Emerging Musicians showcase from the start if you wanna catch 764-HERO and Botch. We're not exactly sure who they had to [ahem] to be considered emerging, as they've both been around the block, but there it is. 764-HERO have a new album called Weekends of Sound coming out in July, and we adore our advance copy. Botch is the favorite hardcore game in town, even though they're from Tacoma. The Catheters are headlining at around 3:30, or whenever school gets out. It is a Friday, you know. The Emerging Musicians show has to be over by 4:00, because the emerging musicians in Seattle have day jobs, and the Cha-Cha opens at that hour.

At 4:00 you can skip from the Mural Amphitheatre over to the Flag Pavilion for Bob Mould, who always graces his audiences with a wide range of his previous hits with Sugar and Hüsker Dü. You'll probably have missed Pedro the Lion, but they'll soon be the official house band at the Paradox, anyway. Here's where you'll need some fancy footwork. You're going to miss down-home Christy McWilson's countrified set, but boomerang back to the Mural for Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men, and then the venerable Patti Smith, who always puts her heart into her shows. At this point in the day, you still haven't paid for a note of music, but you're about to get fleeced.

After Patti Smith, go get a pitcher at Zak's. This accomplishes two things: It gets you good and lubed up to shell out for the ticketed concerts of the night, and it kills time while Filter opens at Memorial Stadium. As we know, Filter was all about the cute guy, and he's no longer in the band. Drink through Filter at Zak's, and you'll be primed for Kid Rock's set. Which is only worth it for that "Cowboy" song, as the rest of his music is utter crap, and his skanky hair, sweaty, nasty wifebeaters, and freak-show antics are pretty gross. This show is $59.50, general admission, which means you're paying almost 60 bucks to stand in the middle of a bunch of sweaty, smelly teenage boys writhing against you. This can be viewed as good or bad, depending on your proclivities.

Now listen up, because this is important: At 8:00 p.m., the Red Hot Chili Peppers will play at Memorial Stadium. At that time, you want to be at the Bagley Wright Theatre for Joe Jackson. His last album was a symphony, which, admittedly, isn't a good sign, but his most recent Summer in the City: Live in New York (Manticore/Sony) treads more familiar territory. We're betting that this show will consist mainly of his classic tunes, not his classical tunes. It'll set you back another $25, and you've got to get back to Memorial Stadium by 9:00 or so for Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Snoop Dogg. Seeing the three of them flow together on the same stage should be fairly historic, as at least one of them could go (back) to jail at any time. If you're fleet, you can slip into Zak's for a gin and juice before the set, or smoke a fattie in the shadow of the Space Needle, just to tune your mood for this West Coast hiphop show.

Instead of seeing Metallica, cross town to Pike Street and take in a showing of Mission: Impossible 2 (Thandie Newton has no pores! How does her skin breathe?) at the Meridian 16. That way, you only have to hear Metallica's new single if you elect to stay for the movie's credits. That's another $8, bringing your total for the day, with booze and joints, to about $125 for 12 straight hours of entertainment. Cost-benefit analysis works out to almost $10.42 per hour. That's a little steep.

Saturday, June 24

For the hale and hearty, today's festivities begin at the ungodly hour of 11:00 a.m. at the Electric Bus Stage. Skip it.

At 1:00 p.m., go see IQU at the Flag Plaza, followed, without rhyme or reason, by Neko Case and Her Boyfriends, and go from electronica to country in no time flat. IQU are energetic, more than a little weird, and spacy, but they pull together as entertainment what, in the hands of the less talented, might be a bit too far out there.

But the whole point of the day is that you simply must see Bo Diddley, for free. When else are you going to get this chance?

This brings us to mid-afternoon, when we once again recommend alcoholic beverages. Maybe even try to have a look around that museum they're so hyped about; whatsit called?

At 6:00 p.m. you can start getting ready to spend money again. The Memorial Stadium show opens with the Eurythmics, whom you probably want to see, but ends with Beck, Alanis Morissette, No Doubt, and Matchbox Twenty, whom you probably want to skip. They're definitely the old farts of the bill, but the Eurythmics' Annie Lennox is fascinating to look at, and their recent reformation is reason enough to catch the band. Plus, most of the crowd will think they're covering Marilyn Manson, so go to spread the truth. However, there is seating, so tickets run from $40 to $150, which basically means that you'll pay 40 bucks to see one band from 300 feet away. Unless, for some godforsaken reason, you do want to see Matchbox Twenty--in which case you're not even reading this paper.

And then you're screwed until the DJ show at 9:00 p.m.! You don't want to go to Zak's at this point, so you might mosey over to the Five Point for some dinner, or better yet, you could go on the rides. The roller coaster is very deceptive: It may look like it's for kids, but it's actually a scary ride. Not as scary a ride as sitting through two hours of Beck and Alanis Morissette, and certainly not as scary as riding Gwen Stefani (Poor Gavin Rossdale. Never thought we'd say that!), but scary nonetheless.

So ultimately, Saturday at EMP kinda sucks. If you're so inclined, it might prove a better cost-benefit analysis to take in a reasonably priced show at the Crocodile, the Paradox, the Showbox, or Graceland. And for the real kick of the evening, go on a truth-in-advertising investigation at Capitol Hill's Manray, which promises that Deborah Cooper and C&C Music Factory will perform at their fine establishment. Who's ready for "Gonna Make You Sweat"?

Total expenses for the day vary too much to do a cost-benefit analysis.

Sunday, June 25

The Electric Bus Stage opens at noon today, but who cares?

The most exciting part of Sunday's schedule for us at The Stranger is that, da-dum, the Fastbacks and the Murder City Devils will both go on at 3:00 p.m. on two different stages. The Cha-Cha opens at 4:00. What, oh what, will the drinkers of Capitol Hill do? Where shall we go? Who can we turn to? There's gonna be a photo finish on this race, for those of you keeping score at home.

This will be the last chance to catch the Murder City Devils for the summer, as they leave a few days after this performance for a national tour to promote their new release, In Name and Blood (Sub Pop). As for the Fastbacks, they're the dependable punks. And they always remind us of summertime, regardless of the season.

This whole day is tough, except for when Queensrÿche play. At 2:00 p.m., you've gotta make the call between Bratmobile at the Flag Plaza and the Young Fresh Fellows at Memorial Stadium. (You didn't think Scott McCaughey would be left unrepresented at this thing, did you?) Though neither young nor fresh, the Fellows' kooky pop and loopy lyrics are never groaningly goofy. But Bratmobile's riot grrrl reunion is equally compelling an opportunity. Chances are you've seen the Young Fresh Fellows more recently than Bratmobile, unless you caught Molly, Allison, and Erin at the Sit & Spin's all-ages show on Saturday afternoon. Like we said, it's a tough day.

At 3:00 p.m., if you're too torn, there's always the seminal surf rock of the Ventures, at the Mural Amphitheatre.

At 4:00 p.m., you've gotta say thanks but no thanks to Hovercraft at the Flag Plaza and race to see New Strychnine at Memorial Stadium, which features Mudhoney, and may be your last chance to see them all together. New Strychnine is a one-off designed specifically as a tribute to Northwest favorites the Sonics. We called in an expert for this one: "The inventors of the sound we know as PUNK rock... the MIGHTY Sonics!" says The Stranger's own Mike Nipper.

Sorry Subset, but our 5:00 p.m. pick has got to go to the Cold Crush Brothers, which means hoofing it back to the Flag Plaza.

Dizzy yet?

No time, 'cause you've got to get back to Memorial Stadium for Ann Wilson and friends, and stay for Built to Spill and Screaming Trees. The Trees played a label showcase down at the Viper Room in L.A. a few months ago, and then decided not to sign with anyone after all, putting their future as a band back in question. So this show may be more special than you think. Therefore, Screaming Trees wins over the JB's, which makes sense when you realize that Queensrÿche plays at the same time as James Brown, who'll probably have the JB's and Maceo Parker with him. So at 9:00 you can catch them at the KeyArena, and maybe even be back at Memorial Stadium for Scrap Metal, featuring members of Metal Church, TKO, Heart, and Rail.

You've paid just $25 to see James Brown; the Memorial Stadium show is a steal at $15; and, since you're so busy jetting around Seattle Center, you won't have blown a wad of cash on alcohol. That makes Sunday's total $40 for eight hours of glorious music! Cost-benefit analysis reveals that you've been mightily entertained for a mere $5 an hour! Obviously Sunday is the day to get the most for your money at the EMP opening.