Magik Markers

At Rock! MOCA, with Self Destruct Button. Sunday, March 25, at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Wherever you think the gritty sound of American rock and roll begins -- be it Chuck Berry's chicken walk or Lou Reed's shades circa 1967 -- it ends with Magik Markers, a basement band from Hartford, Connecticut, named after a misheard Simon Finn lyric.

"Mellifluous, murky, medicinal, and muskratish 'cause we smell," says drummer Pete Nolan, describing his band. The tales of the trio-turned-duo's incendiary live performances -- which usually encompass thrown instruments and Elisa Ambrogio standing on her guitar, yelping tantrums and rhythmically shaking random objects -- have pile-driven accepted notions about rock music while also saving the music from its humdrum corporate captors.

A tour with Sonic Youth, heaps of self-recorded CD-Rs, and the release, on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label, of the I Trust My Guitar, etc. LP (which sold out within a year) have the underground clamoring for Nolan and Ambrogio's animated racket -- hype that has led them back to Cleveland. And there isn't a more fitting city than the alleged "home of rock and roll" for the Markers to showcase their voodoo music.

"We love all of Ohio," admits singer and guitarist Ambrogio. "There was a band that says, 'You come to C-Town, you get the beat down.' I always think of that when I think of Cleveland."