On a random Friday night, Britt Daniels (lead singer of hirsute pop combo Spoon) cozies up to the side of the stage as a dancer peels off her stockings to the razor-blade gurgles of Tom Waits. At the bar, a few members of local band the Dandy Warhols swivel their stools to take in the gyrations. But they soon decide that ordering another round of PBR is more interesting. While there are naughty bits flailing about on the main stage, it’s hard to think of the Magic Gardens as a strip club. It’s more like an X-rated black hole, where you go when you want to wipe yourself off the face of the world for a few hours. A place where unkempt indie-rock princes, pulp fiction caricatures and haggard boozehounds mingle in a seedy heaven woven from cigarette smoke—and where, at this very moment, a woman with holsters tattooed onto her hips is hanging upside down from a well-worn brass pole.

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