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We are the Champeens

Austin's Grand Champeen has quietly created one of the finest oeuvres of any band to emerge over the past five years. The group has been poised to be "the next big thing" all along, but for some reason, the Champeen boys are still slogging it out on the club circuit. Which is certainly to our benefit. The band's blend of Replacements-style riffery and "big rock candy mountain" power-pop hooks are perhaps best enjoyed in the confines of an intimate bar, cold beer in hand, head bobbing in time like some maniacal marionette. Yeah, these guys are that good. Heck, they're even loved in their native Austin, the home of the annual South by Southwest festival and in possession of the "hottest music city in America" imprimatur.

Grand Champeen and Two Cow Garage, with guests Semi-Tough, play Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St., at 9 p.m. Tuesday. Call Mohawk at 855-3931 for details.

Get out your leg warmers
The '80s make a triumphant return Thursday, as two of the hippest bands from that era -- the English Beat and Dramarama -- throw down the sounds at 7 p.m. in the Sphere, 681 Main St. The all-ages show promises to be dance-friendly. Get your tickets beginning at noon Saturday, through Ticketmaster at 852-5000. Advance tickets, also available at New World Record and Home of the Hits, are priced $16. Admission at the door on the evening of the show will be $18.
Oh, Canada!
Feel like getting out of town for a bit? This would be the week to do it. Spend a few nights in Toronto, and you'll see some tres cool shows from artists who, as of yet, aren't scheduled to hit our city. Power-pop legend Brendan Benson plays Monday in Lee's Palace. Stay overnight and see Billy Idol make his comeback bid Tuesday in the Kool Haus. On Thursday, trippy collective Stars plays the Phoenix -- a site consecrated as holy since Bob Dylan played a rare club gig there two years back. Cap your week with . . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, playing at the Opera House on Friday evening. For all of these shows, check or visit, type in "Toronto" and do a search by city.

Get busy
Too many shows, too little time. It's feast or famine in Buffalo, and we're now heading into feast season. This week, clear your calendar and get ready to rock. You might consider cashing in one of those floating holidays or personal days while you're at it.

On Thursday, Mohawk Place will resound with the sounds of Mustard Plug, beginning at 9 p.m. Bring your dancing shoes. Call the club at 855-3931 for details. . . . That same evening, Flogging Molly will do the flogging inside the Sphere, 681 Main St., beginning at 7:30 p.m. Call Ticketmaster at 852-5000 for tickets and information. . . . Lisa Loeb plays tunes from her delightful new album inside the Tralf, 622 Main St., also Thursday. Better clone yourself quick, and then call Ticketmaster at 852-5000 for your $20 tickets.

In the stars
The Push Stars, with the Corrections and Burning Daylight, play Wednesday in Nietzsche's, 248 Allen St. The Push Stars, a trio led by singer-songwriter and Buffalo native Chris Trapper, have contributed songs to dozens of TV shows and films after the Farrelly brothers used "Everything Shines" in "There's Something About Mary." See this soundtrack-friendly band at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Call 886-8539.

News and notes
Just announced: Ryan Adams will make his Buffalo debut May 14 in the Sphere, and the Social Distortion show that was supposed to happen last month has been rescheduled for May 25, again, inside the Sphere. Tickets for both shows will be available through Ticketmaster. Staytuned.