I thought the Flexxx were a joke. They took the stage at Healthy Times Fun Club, opening for Pleasureboaters and the Pharmacy, and two of the dudes—one with long, blazing-red hair, one telling a story about how he threw up in the band's van on the way over to the show—were hopping around like the speed just kicked in. The last guy was setting up an iPod. An iPod. And that's it. No instruments. Just three guys from the other side of Puget Sound (Bremerton) rapping over beats supplied by an MP3 player blasting through an amp.

They tackle songs with hardcore enthusiasm, taking turns with the lines—the ones not "rapping" hype up the crowd and pseudo-fight with each other. "What we got ain't fucking bogus/And we'll fucking make you know this/Turn up the bass and turn down the vocals/F to the L to the XXX/Get rowdy, make a mess/No squares, no prudes to hesitation/This if a fucking celebration," they "sing" in "Fuck What You Heard, I'm from Bremerton."

They were a little sloppy, but they only played about four songs. Maybe it was because one of them was battling the flu, or maybe that's part of their charm. Regardless, they were the hype men of the night—reminding kids that they're there to have fun, and not to take anything too seriously. Their shoddy performance set things off on the right foot, inviting kids to act like fools just as they were doing. And to think I thought they were nothing more than a joke.

The Flexxx play the Viaduct in Tacoma on Thursday, March 20, and the Fusion Cafe on Sunday, March 23.

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On the Eastside this weekend, the Kirkland Teen Union Building is hosting three acts from this years Sound Off! battle. On Friday, March 21, third-place finalists Man Down Medic play with From Aphony and With Honest Eyes. Man Down Medic play power pop bursting with hooks and keyboards. The next night, Saturday, semifinalist Deer City plays with second-place finalist the Nextdoor Neighbors from Olympia.

I was surprised when Deer City's strong bedroom-pop songs didn't make it to the final round of Sound Off!, but even so, I have no doubt his quaint, honest songs will allow him to do just fine on his own. Both Friday and Saturday night's shows start at 7:30 p.m.—Friday costs $8 at the door, and Saturday is only $5. recommended