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The Dishes 

With the Nerves. Thursday, February 7, at the Beachland Ballroom.

Girls love Wire. Boys do, too, of course, but the ladies really dig those wizened Brit art-punks. Indeed, Wire is perhaps the band with the strongest influence on many of the best female-fronted groups of the last decade -- namely Elastica, Sleater-Kinney, and Chicago's the Dishes.

And it's really not that hard to figure out why. What made Wire so great was that it understood that a band could be simple and sophisticated at once, that minimalism wasn't simply an escape hatch for artists who had something to say but maybe not the chops to back it up. The band never fell prey to what is, perhaps, the greatest male conceit: overcompensation. For even though it was as technically accomplished as most any act of its day, Wire pointedly eschewed showmanship to concentrate its energies on mining the passion beneath punk's pretense.

This poise is alive and well in the Dishes, whose smart, jagged post-punk can be both unassuming and deadly. The guitar interplay between Kiki Yablon and Sarah Staskaukas is deft and clever, drummer Alianna Kalaba and bassist Sharon Maloy are more playful than pummeling, and Staskaukas sings with a bemused snarl.

Of course, the Dishes also appreciate the bawdier aspects of rock and roll. The riff revelry of AC/DC and the stoned swagger of the Stooges are incorporated into their punk mélange. But it's all done with a tastefulness that sees the Dishes pledging undying allegiance to the Pink Flag.

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