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Thirteen may be an unlucky number for some, but Brandon Metz's first teen-age year saw the beginning of his first serious relationship ... not with a member of the opposite sex, but with a certain six-stringed instrument -- his guitar. With eardrums as his primary guides, Metz logged countless hours in his bedroom familiarizing himself with every inch of its glorious fret board. Radiohead occasionally lent a hand in the educational process. Ten years later, that knowledge is beginning to pay off.

Leer 43, the band Metz formed in junior high, is scheduled to headline 32 Bleu's Locals Live Showcase this Friday, Dec. 19. Though they have opened for several acts at the club including Superdrag and the Gin Blossoms, this will be their first headlining gig there. They deserve it, too. When Leer last rocked the bistro, the house was packed. Many of the teen-agers in the pit were screaming like little girls ... with good reason. Metz is a handsome young buck who picks his ax like a man possessed and launches into flawless falsetto whenever he feels the need.

How, exactly, did they end up in their current musical alliance? Metz and Brandon Cox shared mutual buddies in another band called Martyrs & Poets. When Leer's ex-bassist hit the road, Cox was willing to fill the void. Cox and Chris Combs used to be retail slaves at Graner Music's cash register. When Leer's ex-drummer hit the road, Cox vouched for Combs' skill and scored him an audition. The primary product bearing their moniker thus far is This is How I Believe, an 11-tune disc featuring "Movie Queen" and "Ocean in a Paper Cup." Artificial Ignorance claims responsibility for Believe, but Denver-based Bendiksen Productions plans to have a hand in its yet untitled follow-up after Combs bumped into Lance Bendiksen Lance CEO at a Little River Band gig in Cripple Creek.

-- Orange Peel Moses

capsule Locals Live Showcase w/ Leer 43, Welcome Harris, Knee Jerk, Acquiesce

32 Bleu, 32 S. Tejon

Friday, Dec. 19 at 9 p.m.

All ages, $5; 955-5664

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