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Thursday's Harbor gig was one of the most highly anticipated of the summer season, at least for alternative rock fans.

The Jesus and Mary Chain unleashing their unholy wall of squalling feedback and ribcage-rattling bass on the Buffalo Waterfront?

For free? Really?

Yes, thank you very much.

The crowd wasn't at maximum size, but it was certainly a large crowd that came down to party like it was the mid-'90s, the Continental was still open, and life's possibilities seemed endless.

They'd have to wait a while for their band to get down to business. The Scottish onslaught known as brother William and Jim Reid wouldn't take the stage until nigh on 8:30 p.m.

Suffice it to say that this band has lost nothing but hair over the years. The rich blend of guitars, the merciless bass, the way it all worked together -- even though it shouldn't have -- all were in ample evidence.

While waiting for the Reid brothers and Co. to make their casual, off-handed appearance, those who'd assembled were offered a serious treat. Buffalo's own ambassadors of the weird and wonderful, the Irving Klaws, warmed things up with a killer set blending the band's trademark psycho-billy with more recent influences ranging from gospel to straight up rock 'n' roll.

Fronted by guitarist/vocalist Dave Guitirrez and bassist/vocalist Rob Peltier, the Klaws did what they've been doing for years -- they made us laugh while forcing us to shake our hips. And Guitirrez waved his arms near his theremin, creating a whoosh of sound that Frank Zappa might've lovingly referred to as "Cheepniss."

The Klaws are a Buffalo institution. The outfit that followed is seeking to become one of those too, and by this point, is well on the way to doing so.

Toronto's the Ruby Spirit has made Buffalo a target of its love over the last few years, with shows at the Town Ballroom and Mohawk Place serving to endear the new wave-influenced group to Western New Yorkers. Thursday's show most likely sealed the deal.

Fronted by the lovely performance artist/vocalist Paige Boy, the band made an indelible impression with its addictive marriage of sugary pop hooks, new wave guitar figures, and vocals that soared heavenward. The Ruby collective is in town to record at Robby Takac's GCR studios, and the music that is emerging from these sessions has "hit" stamped boldly all over it.

email: jmiers@buffnews.com

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Thursday at the Harbor with the Jesus and Mary Chain

WHEN: Thursday evening

WHERE: Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf