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Friday

It would be easy to dismiss the leading stateside torchbearers of Latvian rock, Macitajs on Acid, as a joke band. Though formed more than a decade ago, the group has performed in fits and starts. The band members often seem to have spent more time thinking about stage props and costumes than on songwriting. And their refusal to sing in anything but Latvian could be seen by cynics as a gimmick. However, to dismiss Macitajs as a Baltic novelty act would be folly. These boys take their Latvian heritage seriously, just as the Latvian people take their rock ’n’ roll seriously: When the Latvians were asserting their independence and attempting to get out from under Soviet occupation, rock music became a catalyst and a voice for the people. The Macitajs have added another member, local psych-scene vet Damien Taylor, whose presence is conspicuous only in that his last name doesn’t end in the typical Latvian “-ins.” Perhaps Gustavs Mergins and brothers Laris and Kristaps Kreslins made Taylor an honorary Latvian by feeding him fermented birch sap and herbed vodka, then having him sing the national anthem (“Dievs, sveti Latviju!”) while wearing nothing but an Andris Biedrins Golden State Warriors jersey. If that’s the case, one can rest assured that the ceremony was performed as earnestly as possible. Macitajs on Acid performs with Owls & Crows and Sweatheart at 9 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $10. (202) 667-7960. (David Dunlap Jr.)