In holy horses

Oakland’s DRUNK HORSE may very well be the best, most overlooked R-O-C-K band in the world, a gnarly, dexterous riff explosion from four dudes with swagger, soul, shaggy ‘dos and/or shaggier beards. Their splintering guitar lines rip against a big Bonham bottom and howlin’ harmonies. Drunk Horse–which would be from either Texas or Florida if it wasn’t already from California–imbues it all with both a sense of humor and purpose, staging songs about Bach’s fancy-ass fugues and Bush’s lame-ass luxuries in one set. The whole world should be riding the sweaty, hairy back of this band. Drunk Horse leaves its West Coast clime for an eight-show run of the east side with tight bros-in-boogie BIRDS OF AVALON. The tour starts Saturday, June 24 with a free show at THE RESERVOIR in Carrboro with COLOSSUS and THUNDERLIP, then heads north through Philadelphia, Washington and New York before returning to the bower of the BOA, KINGS in Raleigh, on Saturday, July 1. –Grayson Currin

In cardboard beauty

There’s a unique format and a worthy cause behind a group show currently on display at the Carrboro gallery WOOTINI. THIS SIDE UP features 45 famous and not-so-famous rock-art artists from around the world offering 99 original creations on 12″ x 12″ cardboard squares. Originally conceived almost a year ago as a way to showcase the artists who correspond over the Internet message board, the project took a philanthropic turn after DEREK “NERVOUS ONION” LAPLANTE posted some thoughtful musings back in September. Cardboard is just packaging to most of us, but for some people it represents security. “For the poorest, most downtrodden, desperate people, cardboard is the most crude and basic symbol of shelter,” Laplante wrote. Prices start at a very affordable $50, with a portion (and in some cases all) of the profits to benefit the homeless. Some artists use the printing found on cardboard scraps as part of the work itself, as ADAM SWINBOURNE does in “Under Pressure,” depicting a fuse attached to the head of a grimacing man painted above the printed word “fragile.” GIOVANNI DE REUS uses the medium as the message in “Home Sweet Cardboard,” depicting a homeless man with his box shelter, while DAVID BUSCHERMOHLE offers “Will Work for War,” a powerful statement about our veterans. For sheer beauty, Korean-born ROB CHOI‘s “Eye of the Beholder,” a stunningly rendered oil of a goldfish, and CASEY BURNS‘ sensitive portrait “Kathleen, August 2005” are highlights. Myriad imaginative interpretations of the conceit, directed to a great cause–this one’s a winner. Catch it before it closes on July 10. –Michele Natale

In stunts and suds

If you’re in the mood to be amused, then come one, come all to the BINDLESTIFF FAMILY CIRKUS. A troop of talented touring entertainers, the Bindlestiff Family provides unusual stage performances through the time-honored tradition of vaudeville, burlesque, circus and sideshow. Channeling the spirits of P.T. Barnum and the American Side Show, the Bindlestiff performers nail death-defying dares–sword-swallowing, fire antics and sideshow monstrosities (or curiosities). This year, there’s the added bonus of the circus’ very own beer: MAGIC HAT BREWING COMPANY is coming along for the ride, and their Circus Boy Hefeweizen is certainly something to get your sweaty summer hands around. Check it out at KINGS in Raleigh on Monday, June 26 at 10 p.m. Bring $10, and see for more info. –Kathy Justice

In punk as…

Right now, there’s a rosy-cheeked tween wandering the Streets at Southpoint in a Taking Back Sunday T-shirt, and he’s Christmas-Eve excited. On Tuesday, June 27, he and a large group of his friends will put on their brand new Chuck Taylors and set their iPods to “middle finger” before their moms drop them off at Alltel Pavilion for the best day of their lives so far. Yes, the VANS WARPED TOUR is back, with a bunch of totally cool, punk-as-fuck sponsors (Cingular, Samsung, Energizer, just to name a few) and a summer itinerary of shows featuring some of the most popular bands in hard music. There’s AFI, whose fabulous new record (and their appearance on MTV’s Movie Awards) has help supplant Interpol as diet-goth of choice among the teenybop set. There’s THE BUZZCOCKS, JOAN JETT and HELMET for anyone in need of some cred and a break from adolescent fraternizing. There’s Warped vets NOFX and ANTI-FLAG, both of which recently released new, late-career records this summer. And, as per usual, there’s a host of other way fun games, tasting booths, extreme sports demos and swag huts to peruse. Long live punk rawk!!!! Tickets are $27. –Robbie Mackey

In browncoat fashion

The top three movies at the box office last year were, in order, Revenge of the Sith, Chronicles of Narnia and the third Harry Potter film. Together, they grossed about $1 billion. Anyone who has ever turned out for the opening nights of these films has seen the costumes hard-core fans put together. There’s no doubting their enthusiasm, but for some seriously creative outfitting, one must turn to the fervent followers of Serenity, a film that was the 99th highest grossing film last year with a paltry $25 million. Serenity is the work of Joss Whedon, the man who brought Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the world, and you haven’t met real fans until you’ve met his fans, most of whom seem to be on a first-name basis with him. You won’t find Serenity costumes at Wal-Mart, either. This Thursday, June 22, local friends of Joss are hosting the Serenity Now/ Equality Now charity screening at Raleighwood Cinema Grill, located at 6609 Falls of the Neuse, featuring a costume contest with a representative of the Independent on hand as a judge. Equality Now, which works to end violence against women and girls around the world, is Joss’s favorite charity. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the movie starts at 7:30. Unfortunately, at press time, the screening was sold out. But there will be an after-party at about 9:30 p.m. at Kulture, 430 S. Dawson in Raleigh. Browncoats (those are Serenity fans) can go online to for more info. –David Fellerath