New Old Babes

BABES IN TOYLAND, believe it or not, celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band this year. Looking back on that decade, many fans (myself included) feel nostalgic for the Michelle Era, those first five years when Michelle Leon played the bass. It wasn't that Leon was the most crucial member of the band, but rather the fact that all three players were equals, and exuded a collective chemistry that hasn't quite been the same since Leon quit in 1992 citing burnout and other personal reasons. Now, five years and two bassists later, Michelle is back--but as Michelle Check, having married to Saucer bassist Mike Check in January.

If you didn't see this coming, neither did they. "We couldn't find a bass player, and Kat (Bjelland) and I were pretty much, probably, maybe, gonna call it quits or something," says drummer Lori Barbero. "We've always been friends with Michelle, and it just dawned on me... It's really natural: We're three women that are completely different but exactly alike. I don't know what it is."

The new old Babes have already toured Spain and resuscitated at least four songs from the olden days. They should take no prisoners at First Avenue on Monday. Two shows: all ages show at 4 p.m., ID show at 9 p.m.; call 338-8388.

MORE NOISE: Last summer, a small crowd of devotees gathered in the Famine Chorus's basement to catch the spectacle that is Harry Pussy -- a band who earned its cult status during its tenure on Siltbreeze, pioneering the art of noise (Thurston Moore cites the band as a major influence). This time through, Harry Pussy tours with its new, self-released vinyl EP in tow (not available at press time). So unless drummer Adris Hoyos and her ex-husband Bill Orcutt have suddenly turned into glam rockers, expect more of the same disturbing onslaught that Harry Pussy likes to call music. Local art-noisemakers Cock E.S.P. opens. Call for price and times. Terminal Bar, 409 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls.; 623-4545... Mathematical bone crushers Cooper play a 7-inch release party at 7th Street Entry Thursday in honor of "Little Dickie"/"Bees" (Defender Records). Druel and complete-sentence bands Touch is Automatic and Rocket Fuel is the Key open... Vaz is the new duo formed by ex-Hammerhead bassist Paul Erickson and 'head drummer Jeff Mooridian, Jr., and they're headlining the Entry on Friday. Combined with the old Hammerhead destructivity, the concept suggests a similarity to indie bass'n'drum kings godheadSilo, but word is Vaz is a more song-oriented affair. Two Alternative Tentacles signees open: Madison's Pachinko, who are perfect for people who like their punk rock difficult, and California's Dead and Gone. First up is Buffo and Half Cow. (P.S.: Former Hammerhead guitarist Paul Sanders has been spotted in such bands as More Ram.)... One final tip: If you love a good rock & roll spectacle, head on down to the downtown Minneapolis post office on First Street around 9:30 p.m Tuesday. Unfortunately, I can't give any more details, just take my word on this one. Okay, one tiny hint: Anyone with "half a brain" will be delighted...

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