EVERYONE WILL BE THERE for the Hives, a quintet of Swedish neo-garage meatballs, but show up early on Tuesday night at the 9:30 club and catch the opening act. The Reigning Sound is led by Greg Cartwright, who reminds you of what's missing from most of the retro rock being made these days: great songs. In a former incarnation, with the much-missed Compulsive Gamblers, Cartwright wrote "Stop and Think It Over," which is one of those ageless tracks that don't seem composed so much as discovered -- as if it were always there, waiting to be stumbled over. With the Reigning Sound, Cartwright has channeled the spirit of '50s doo-wop through his vintage amplifiers, to memorable effect on an album called "Time Bomb High School." The band's latest, "Too Much Guitar," draws from more modern inspirations and seems every bit as inspired.

-- David Segal

At the 9:30 club, 815 V St. NW. Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. $16. Call 202-393-0930 or visit www.930.com.


THIS SEEMS TO BE a summer of swords with such whangers and bangers as "Troy," "King Arthur" and the soon-to-be-released "The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi." Well, why not go back to where it all started? Films on the Hill, the redoubtable film buff enterprise on Capitol Hill, will be showing one of the earliest and greatest swashbucklers Wednesday. That's Doug Fairbanks's "Iron Mask," his sequel to "The Three Musketeers," which had already netted him a fortune. It's a late silent -- 1929 -- when sound was on the horizon, but it's an extremely lavish, romantic film. Alan Dwan directed; this showing features spoken narration and recorded musical soundtrack. It will be preceded by Charlie Chaplin's "Easy Street."

-- Stephen Hunter

At the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh St. SE. Wednesday at 7 p.m. $5. Call 202-547-6839 or visit www.filmsonthehill.com.


IF YOU FEEL like visiting some countryside this week and can't, try a trip to the National Gallery instead. On the lower level of the West Building, a small gallery has been devoted to a permanent collection show called "Drawings of Town and Country." It is the latest in a line of mini-surveys highlighting works donated to the gallery by the legendary magnate and collector Armand Hammer. There's a tiny, stunning gouache of cowslips made by Albrecht Duerer in 1526. And there's one of Rembrandt's spare, almost stenographic pen-and-inks, showing a landscape with farm buildings. And there's a "Rustic Bridge" drawn by Francois Boucher in about 1740; it's almost as sexy as any of his decadent, ancien regime nudes. It looks as if artists have always been eager for a taste of rural life in summer: This show's many country scenes outnumber its few views of town.

-- Blake Gopnik

At the National Gallery of Art, on the Mall between Third and Seventh streets at Constitution Avenue NW, through Nov. 14. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Free. Call 202-737-4215 or visit www.nga.gov.