Alexandria's soon-to-be-shuttered Now! Music and Fashion store didn't only sell music. The store offered new and used LPs and CDs and vintage clothing and was a place where like-minded fans could meet and talk about their favorite bands. Often, they could also see those bands play at intimate in-store performances.

John Masters worked at the store for three years, at each of its changing locations, before moving on to start his own band, a trio called Metropolitan. When he heard that Now! would be closing for good -- a victim of high rents and low profit margins in the rough retail music world -- he decided to host a benefit concert featuring multiple bands to help the store pay off its debts and to celebrate its legacy.

"We've had hundreds and hundreds of free in-store shows in our years, so I don't think people will mind donating a little bit for this last one," Masters said in a interview last week. (There is no set amount requested, he says, but "between $3 and $5 would be nice.") "We just wanted to go out with a bang and try to get many good locals on the bill, especially people who came into the store and shopped at the store -- our comrades."

Masters describes Metropolitan's sound thusly: "We're a noisy band, but we're not unlike some of the alternative rock you hear on the radio."

The group has recorded two CDs and is working on a third. Frequently seen at the Black Cat, Metropolitan may also be playing this summer's Fort Reno series in the District.

Also on the bill are the Positions, local popsters led by the dual vocals of Nicole Stoops and Ivan Ramiscal. Ramiscal started the band in 2002 after his previous band, Barcelona, broke up. "I was looking to move away from the synth-pop electro-dance sound that Barcelona had to a poppier rock sound," he said.

The Positions are about to finish a full-length album, working with Archie Moore (Velocity Girl) at Rockville's Omega Studio, and there is talk of releasing it through an indie label out of Atlanta later this year. They will also be hitting the Black Cat this summer and will perform at the Athens Pop Fest in August.

Also scheduled to appear are Gavin Conner, Pash, Kevin Alvir of Lil' Hospital, Laura Burhenn with Come Down's Mark Pernice, Radel Esca, the Plums and the Caribbean. Each act will have about a half-hour to play, with music starting at 5 p.m. and wrapping up about 1 a.m. Adding some eclectic sounds to the mix is DJ Will Eastman of Bliss, who will be spinning between sets starting at 8 p.m. A full schedule and helpful links to performer Web sites are available at www.nowmusicandfashion.com/benefitshow.htm.

Singer-songwriter Meredith Bragg, who's listed to play at 8:15, seems to sum it up for all concerned: "I'm sad to see Now! close its doors. For those of us not living in the District, having a cool neighborhood record store right around the corner has been a big plus."

-- MARIANNE MEYER

Now! Music and Fashion is located at 615-A King St., Alexandria (near the intersection of King Street and Washington Boulevard, above the McDonald's). It's a short (and free) Dash bus ride from the King Street Metro (Blue Line). For more information about the store or the show, call 703-894-0468.