Quasi is one of the few bands that could play a song all about a chocolate rabbit and not only make it work but also make it seriously rock. Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss perform angsty songs that switch, on a well-timed dime, from fast rock to slow, melodramatic refrains. Listening to Quasi is most fun when you're dying to tell someone off. (Highly recommended for such occasions is "I Never Want to See You Again.") The rhythmic cacophony typical of the band's early recordings has lately given way to an increasingly melodic quality, with the recent Field Studies and Arrow of God less useful for anger management but infinitely more danceable. And then there's Hot Shit.Janet, Sam, it's hard to tell you this, because we love you, but Hot Shit is terrible. Everybody makes mistakes, and we forgive you, but the happier you sound, the more frustrated your fans become. Please don't play Hot Shit when you take the stage Wednesday at the Bottleneck (737 New Hampshire Street in Lawrence, 785-841-5483). We want to bask in the great-sounding misery of your older tunes.-- Gina Kaufmann
If the Prague Chamber Orchestra's performance at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Music Hall (13th Street and Central, 816-415-5025) is a fraction as magnificent as the city from which the ensemble hails, music fans will be apoplectic. The Harriman Arts Program concert includes Beethoven ("Triple Concerto") and Prokofiev ("Classical Symphony") and showcases the vanguard Eroica Trio, three virtuoso women on piano, cello and violin. The orchestra performs without a conductor. "Rather than following a single baton, each musician relates to the ensemble as a whole," says William Jewell College's Tim Ackerman. The New York Times seemed to approve, characterizing the orchestra as a "marvelous precision instrument."-- Steve Walker
Belle and Sebastian bring their pretty songs to Lawrence.
Get me away from here, I'm dying. The powerful opening line to alternative mainstay Belle and Sebastian's defining album still hangs in our ears. And in spite of the rightfully scathing reviews of the band's latest album, Dear Catastrophe Waitress, Belle and Sebastian's show at Liberty Hall in Lawrence is something you shouldn't miss.The Scottish musicians' live show saves them every time. It's always tight and entertaining, filled with sweetly melancholy songs that hint at something sinister. Last time the band came to America, when leader Stuart Murdoch announced that bandmate Stevie Jackson would like to play a song, Jackson chimed in, announcing, "I wouldn't like to. I'm getting paid to." If it takes monetary extortion to get this caliber of show, we're game.
For a great night of self-effacing brogue and charm, head to Liberty Hall (642 Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, 785-749-1912) on Tuesday.-- David Casey