METALLICA + GODSMACK
Key Arena at 7 p.m.
Sun., March 28. $55–$75
Metallica are the Mel Gibson of rock and roll, proudly and stubbornly vaulting right off the deep end, yet somehow emerging not just fully functional on the other side, but damn near invincible, convincingly reasserting their often-tenuous status as—you guessed it—gods. After the unprecedented crossover mega-success of 1991's self-titled "black album," Metallica sheared the rock locks, turned the alterna-suck up to 11 on Load and Reload, performed straight-faced with a fuckin' symphony orchestra, pounded Napster into paste, sued Victoria's Secret for copyright infringement, booted the cool hesher bassist, and OK'd a crybaby documentary about their rich-old-bastard neuroses, while continuing to make millions of dollars. At least James, Kirk, Lars, and the dork who does the spider walk have the good sense to whip out the Lightning/Puppets/Justice staples on stage, which complement the pyrotechnics a helluva lot better than the solo-free, Oscar-the-Grouch-on-percussion turds on St. Anger. Opening this nostalgia-fest are Boston-based jock-metal quartet Godsmack, who lifted their moniker from an Alice in Chains dirge and star in videos in which wraithlike wolves leap from the vocalist's chest. Last year's Universal-released Faceless (cough) features the hit single "Serenity." The first 5,000 through the door will not receive adult diapers, although it would be entirely appropriate. ANDREW BONAZELLI
Showbox at 9 p.m.
Wed., March 24, with Kid Koala, Bonobo, Blockhead, and Diplo. $15 adv./$18.
When Amon Tobin's 1998 classic "Sordid" was recently appropriated for a BMW commercial, it was a huge misstep on the part of the hipster ad execs responsible—primarily because they used it for a family SUV instead of a malevolent-looking jet-black coupe. Tobin's brand of Charles Mingus–meets–Buddy Rich breakbeat (it's safe to call it a brand, considering it hasn't been effectively copied yet) has a precisely engineered, high-velocity intrigue, riddled with manic chase-scene percussion frenzies and midnight-burglary night sweats. In the scheme of the jungle scene he's been provisionally attached to, he's more Lalo than Roni, and as a marquee attraction for the Ninja Tune faithful, he's a lurking sinister presence amongst his labelmates' cheery dork-and-bass. Not content to merely construct a loop and ride it till it deteriorates, Tobin turns his anxious rhythms loose on an unsuspecting field of electronic ambience, hitchlessly cross-fading between dread and beauty. The progression of his work has been gradual and logical, yet still startling enough to ambush the unwary: 1997's Bricolage and his '98 indie-smash follow-up, Permutation, brought a hard-bop hammerlock on the drum and bass aesthetic, while his 2000 follow-up, Supermodified, scribbled all over big beat's blueprint with Pablo Ferro's Dr. Strangelove handwriting. His most recent release, 2002's Out From Out Where, phases out much of his jazz-based instrumentation for skeletal electronic glitches and spark-spitting hip-hop, but the spirit of Tobin's aesthetic remains intact: a film noir bristling with nocturnal predators. NATE PATRIN
Graceland at 8 p.m.
Fri., March 24, with Young People, the Get Hustle, and Nordic. $10 adv.
Electronic noise collage? Unlistenable? Metal Machine Music? My, the controversy surrounding Brooklyn band Liars' new They Were Wrong, So We Drowned (Mute) is amusing. Liars make a dinky lateral move, and by the reviews it receives, you'd think they were trying to reinvent music itself, not to mention frightening the very Viagra right out of countless critical calabashes. What's so hard to understand? When the rhythm section bailed, lead Liar Angus Andrew borrowed a pair of glasses and did a lot of thinking. He also listened very closely to all of his Mute back-catalog CDs. Then he snuck up on guitarist Aaron Hemphill and hollered, "Boo! I'm tired of sounding like Radio 4's mean big brother! Let's make a Cabaret Voltaire album—an early one—about witches." They looked at the back cover of CV's Voice of America and saw three people. "We need one more," Angus cried. "Julian!" After new drummer Julian Gross returned from the Meg White Academy, proudly wearing his shiny new certificate of dexterity like a dorsal fin, the trio hitchhiked to New Jersey, banged a bunch of belladonna, and had a séance, which they recorded. Because it was the off-season, the only spirits who showed up were the Ghost of Michael Gira Past, the Slits, and the Devil, who had a lot of calls to make, but no phone. "Thanks for the minutes and the cookies," the Devil said shortly thereafter. "Here are your field recordings." Liars used the gift on "Flow My Tears the Spider Said," delicate bird songs that complemented the only pretty song on They Were Wrong perfectly. ROD SMITH