Jazzheads started getting nervous when the venerable Old Town venue Jazz de Opus added video-poker machines some weeks back. Now, it proves the soul-sucking bling of the televisual addiction units was indeed a harbinger of the 30-year-old jazz club's demise. Once one of Old Town's hottest nightlife destinations, the small, dark-wood-paneled bar at 33 NW 2nd Ave. finds itself swimming against the tide in a neighborhood increasingly dominated by raucous dance clubs serving huge, party-happy clienteles. "We've been trying to be the fortress of culture in Old Town," says manager Christian Smith, "but the barbarians are at the gates." Smith says Jazz de Opus hasn't operated in the black since 1989. By September, the warhorse nightclub will transform into Mixers, with a new decor scheme and a menu emphasizing low-cost "American-style tapas." Smith says the club's owners may look to revive Jazz de Opus in another neighborhood, once Mixers is on its feet.

The fishnet, the vinyl, the spandex, the duct tape, the Jordi LaForge shades, the neon. Yes, it's a fashion statement. But concertgoers can't deny that the Epoxies look like a band that really believes it's playing a post-apocalyptic ballroom blitz, as imagined in 1983--and that these threads are worn for protection from radiation and whatever goons may be lurking around the wasteland.

But, as demonstrated Saturday, July 26, at Nocturnal, the Epoxies' brand of energized synthy punk creates the radiation and attracts the goons (in this case, all-ages goons, who are a bit more endearing than 21-and-over goons). The band broke out a couple new songs, including "Radiation," a spasmodic romp with an impressive two-note guitar solo thrown in for a bit of suspense.

Earlier, while most of the crowd was in the downstairs bar getting lubed up for the Epoxies, the kids were upstairs experiencing a different type of assault--this time it was not radiating, but coming like a shot from the mouth of the Minds' lead man, The Thinker, a.k.a. Joel Jones. Delivering over the understated driving guitar, minimalist keys and expertly placed grand pauses, the Thinker used every inch of his frame to show the kids that you don't need a costume to entrance and inspire an audience. Yes, he was wearing sunglasses and rubber gloves, but those were just to protect the audience from too much exposure to his volatile substance.

With a rough bark, a gritty croon and an ear-pinching upswing at the end of just-the-right lines, the Thinker powered the band through quakers like "Hot" and "Don't Touch." By the end of a cover of La Peste's "Don't Wanna Die in My Sleep Tonite," the Thinker was on his knees, and the crowd was on its ear.

"I hope she's not following us South," laughs Adam Schlesinger, Fountains of Wayne's bass player & co-lyricist, sipping his iced coffee before the band's July 22 show at Dante's. No worries. Liz Phair's sell-out presence at the Crystal Ballroom on the same night didn't stop the tri-state rockers from packing the place and turning in a fan-freaking-tastic live set for the candy-pop archives. While Phair inelegantly courted the mainstream a few blocks west on Burnside, Fountains of Wayne made it look all too easy. New tunes from Welcome Interstate Managers sparked a few air guitars (especially on "Stacy's Mom," an ode to teenage voyeurism straight outta Fast Times at Ridgemont High that would make Ric Ocasek and Rick Springfield proud), and old tunes like "Denise" had the crowd screaming along.