Volume 41 Number 21

February 21 – February 27, 2007

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Feb. 26


Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche

Avant guitarist Nels Cline and experimental percussionist Glenn Kotche take a break from their day job providing dissonant textures for Wilco to wreak improvisatory havoc. While Cline employs a battery of effects pedals as varied as Kotche’s kit (which includes a fruit basket and orchestral bells along with the usual trappings), they’re as capable of reaching carefully measured plateaus of restraint as summoning noisy flare-ups. (Matt Sussman)

9:30 p.m., $14
Cafe du Nord
2170 Market, SF
(415) 861-5016



There’s no avoiding naked hippies in a movie called Commune, but Jonathan Berman’s documentary about the Siskiyou County, CA, enclave known as Black Bear Ranch is no mere nostalgia trip. It helps that the commune’s founding members are an honest, articulate bunch – and that they had access to camera equipment in the late 1960s and early ’70s to capture the ranch’s idealistic early days. Including the downsides is key; without them this well-rounded, realistic portrait would’ve been all flower, no power. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Feb. 28
Red Vic
1727 Haight, SF



Feb. 26


Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche

Avant guitarist Nels Cline and experimental percussionist Glenn Kotche take a break from their day job providing dissonant textures for Wilco to wreak improvisatory havoc. While Cline employs a battery of effects pedals as varied as Kotche’s kit (which includes a fruit basket and orchestral bells along with the usual trappings), they’re as capable of reaching carefully measured plateaus of restraint as summoning noisy flare-ups. (Matt Sussman)

9:30 p.m., $14
Cafe du Nord
2170 Market, SF
(415) 861-5016



There’s no avoiding naked hippies in a movie called Commune, but Jonathan Berman’s documentary about the Siskiyou County, CA, enclave known as Black Bear Ranch is no mere nostalgia trip. It helps that the commune’s founding members are an honest, articulate bunch – and that they had access to camera equipment in the late 1960s and early ’70s to capture the ranch’s idealistic early days. Including the downsides is key; without them this well-rounded, realistic portrait would’ve been all flower, no power. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Feb. 28
Red Vic
1727 Haight, SF



Feb. 25


Pablo Heising Memorial

Even though the unofficial mayor of Haight Street, Paul “Pablo” Heising, had to move away from his beloved neighborhood due to rent increases, you could still find him daily at Café Cole. Cofounder of the 34-year-old Castro Street Fair, the 30-year-old Haight Ashbury Street Fair, and the three-year-old Asian Heritage Street Celebration, Heising has a legacy that goes beyond mural preservation, and his unexpected death Dec. 20, 2006, was widely mourned. Join his surviving family and friends, Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Tom Ammiano, and performers in re-creating an indoor minifair to celebrate the man. (Nicole Gluckstern)

1 p.m., free
Kezar Pavilion
455 Stanyan, SF


Chinese New Year Celebration

Facts is facts: it isn’t Chinese New Year without a ton of firecrackers and lion dancing. Which isn’t exactly relaxing. However, the folks at the ACTCM have got you covered, because their event also features massage and acupuncture treatments, Tai chi and qigong workshops, and lectures on Chinese medicine. Not to mention refreshments – probably some soothing tea to work on that headache. (Duncan Scott Davidson)

Noon-5 p.m., free
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
555 DeHaro, SF
(415) 282-7600



Feb. 24


Benefit for AIDS/Lifecycle

Toph One has been kicking around SF clubs longer than he’d care to admit, most likely, since the old b-boy graffiti days of yore. No spring chicken myself, I met Toph while working the door at the Endup. He describes his sets as “hip-slop, junk rock, electro trash, jellyfish jazz, and lazy beats,” though I get the feeling he knows enough about music to play just about anything. Putting his mensch credentials on the line, Toph has been doing the AIDS/Lifecycle ride down to Los Angeles: this year will be his fourth ride with Team Wino, the wheeled faction of the RedWine DJs. The lineup for this benefit also features Timoteo Gigante, another Lifecycle rider, and Pam the Funkstress from the Coup. (Duncan Scott Davidson)

With DJ Smash and Sake-One
9 p.m., $10 donation
Elbo Room
647 Valencia, SF
(415) 552-7788


Ladybug Mecca

Leaving New York City rap group Digable Planets, where she demanded attention without raising her voice on the top 10 hit “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” to record her soul-bearing 2005 solo LP, Trip the Light Fantastic (Nu Paradigm), hasn’t softened Ladybug Mecca like an overripe avocado. Just watch her get all Brooklyn on your ass when she takes the stage at the Om: Hip Hop showcase party. So forego the Berkeley freestyle for a pop-and-lock in anticipation of her “Dogg Starr” remix, a beat-laden, bass-driven heavyweight track guaranteed to knock you out. (Joshua Rotter)

With Crown City Rockers, Strange Fruit Project, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science, Zeph and Azeem, Black Spade, and the One
9 p.m., $10
444 Jessie, SF
(415) 625-8880



Feb. 23


Monster Drawing Rally

Better bring your artistic A game to Southern Exposure’s seventh annual Monster Drawing Rally at the Verdi Club. Monster Drawing champs and alums will draw it out next to newbies in a series of four one-hour shifts. Drawing utensils, including paper, ink, and charcoal, will be provided for all contestants. Afterward completed drawings will be on sale for $50 each. All proceeds from the event benefit Southern Exposure’s exhibitions and support their art education programs. (Elaine Santore)

6 p.m., $5 suggested donation
Verdi Club
2424 Mariposa, SF
(415) 863-2141


“Black Choreographers Festival: Next Wave”

It’s fitting that the Black Choreographers Festival closes its third incarnation and three-weekend run of performances and workshops with a showcase devoted to new companies. Make no mistake, though: many of Next Wave’s featured choreographers are far from neophytes. Deep Waters Dance Theater leader Amara Tabor-Smith has been performing for 20 years. Ramon Ramos Alayo of the Alayo Dance Company is well-known for his dancing as a member of Robert Moses’ Kin, and he’s honed his fusion of modern and Afro-Cuban forms while teaching in Cuba, Hawaii, and the site where these shows take place, Dance Mission. (Johnny Ray Huston)

Also Sat/24
8 p.m., $10-$15
Dance Mission Theater
3316 24th St., SF
(415) 826-4441

San Francisco’s erupting skyline


San Francisco has always been a city defined by its hills and the bay. Our city has an image and character in its urban pattern that depend especially on views, topography, streets, building form, and major landscaping.

The bay is a focus of major views. Hills allow the city to be seen and, more than any other feature, produce a variety that is characteristic of San Francisco. This pattern — a visual relationship to hills and the bay — gives the city “an image, a sense of purpose,” according to the 1971 Urban Design Plan.

Since then it has been official city policy to recognize and protect this relationship.

In the last four years, Rincon Hill developers negotiated with two planning directors — Gerald Green and Dean Macris — to allow towers up to 550 feet tall between Folsom Street and the Bay Bridge. Nine have already been approved. Two under construction are already visible on the skyline. More are on their way. The Rincon Hill towers will be higher than the top of the bridge towers. Views of the bridge towers from Dolores Park, upper Market Street, and Twin Peaks are literally being eliminated.

The remnants of the Urban Design Plan are in tatters because developers and planning staff want to eviscerate height limits south of Market to create an artificial hill of residential towers up to 100 stories tall from Market to the bridge approach. Their avowed rationale is to develop a transit terminal at First and Mission streets — a terminal with a multibillion-dollar funding shortfall.

And all of this is happening under the political radar.

When staffers made their one and only presentation to the Planning Commission about this new mega-high-rise district, the meeting was not broadcast or even filmed. And this was for a presentation that depended on visuals.

Who will live in these towers? Empty nesters who can afford multimillion condos and people with multiple homes around the country and world.

The Planning Department claims these will be vital new neighborhoods. But they won’t be for families with children or government employees or hospitality industry workers or artists. They won’t be for people working in San Francisco who are trapped in a daily two-hour commute because housing costs are out of sight. They won’t be for the people working in San Francisco who are most in need of moderately priced housing.

There won’t be a single new housing unit for low- or moderate-income people in the new Rincon Hill. Every single developer opted to not build on-site affordable units.

What happens when people crossing the Bay Bridge can no longer see the hills in the center of the city? When people in the city face a wall of buildings so high even the Bay Bridge towers can’t be seen?

Entrances — such as the Bay Bridge — are important for a sense of orientation to the city. Blocking street views of the bay, distant hills, or other parts of the city can destroy an important characteristic of the unique setting and quality of the city.

Since the Gold Rush, people have come to San Francisco to make their fortunes. There is constant tension between those who want to make money off our city and those who want to live in the city.

San Francisco tore down the Embarcadero because it cut the city off from the bay. Now we are erecting another, much higher barrier. To the barricades!

Sue Hestor

Sue Hestor is a lawyer and activist specializing in land use and environmental issues.

Guardian Casualty Report (02-22-07)


Casualties in Iraq

Iraqi civilians:

26 civilians killed when U.S. troops battled Iraqi insurgents, according to the New York Times.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Iraq.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

3 civilians killed in second chlorine bomb attack in two days feeding concerns that insurgents are developing new methods of attack, according to Reuters.

98,000: Killed since 3/03

Source: www.thelancet.com

56,880 – 62,613: Killed since 1/03

For a week by week assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties, go to A Week in Iraq by Lily Hamourtziadou. She is a member of the Iraq Body Count project, which maintains and updates the world’s only independent and comprehensive public database of media-reported civilian deaths in Iraq.

Source: http://www.iraqbodycount.net

A Week in Iraq: Week ending 11 February 2007:

For first hand accounts of the grave situation in Iraq, visit some of these blogs:

Antiestablishmentarianism attitudes among Iraqi religious groups is fueling intolerance and violence towards homosexuals in Iraq, according to the UN.

Source: http://www.gaypeopleschronicle.com/stories07/february/0202071.htm
U.S. military helicopters are being targeted by insurgents, according to the New York Times.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/12/world/middleeast/12copters.html

The U.S. military said most recent of the seven helicopters shot down since January 20th was brought down by a sophisticated piece of weaponry, according to Reuters.

U.S. military:

3,375: Killed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq 3/20/03

Source: http://www.icasualties.org/

For the Department of Defense statistics go to: http://www.defenselink.mil/

For a more detailed list of U.S. Military killed in the War in Iraq go to:

Iraq Military:

30,000: Killed since 2003



151: Killed since 3/03

Source: http://www.infoshout.com/


The Bush administration plans to increase quota of Iraqi refugees allowed into the U.S. from 500 to 7,000 next year in response to the growing refugee crisis, according to the Guardian Unlimited.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2013034,00.html

Border policies are tightening because one million Iraqi refugees have already fled to Jordan and another one million to Syria. Iraqi refugees who manage to make it out of Iraq still can’t work, have difficulty attending school and are not eligible for health care. Many still need to return to Iraq to escape poverty, according to BBC news.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6293807.stm

1.6 million: Iraqis displaced internally

1.8 million: Iraqis displaced to neighboring states

Many refugees were displaced prior to 2003, but an increasing number are fleeing now, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ estimates.

Source: http://www.unhcr.org/iraq.html

U.S. Military Wounded:

47,657: Wounded since 3/19/03 to 1/6/07

Source: http://www.icasualties.org/

The Guardian cost of Iraq war report (2/14/07): Bush asks congress to approve $622 billion for 2008. So far, $368 billion for the U.S., $46 billion for California and $1 billion for San Francisco.
Compiled by Paula Connelly

Bush asked congress to approve $622 billion for defense spending, most for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in a $2.9 trillion budget request for 2008, according to Reuters.

Here is a running total of the cost of the Iraq War to the U.S. taxpayer, provided by the National Priorities Project located in Northampton, Massachusetts. The number is based on Congressional appropriations. Niko Matsakis of Boston, MA and Elias Vlanton of Takoma Park, MD originally created the count in 2003 on costofwar.com. After maintaining it on their own for the first year, they gave it to the National Priorities Project to contribute to their ongoing educational efforts.

To bring the cost of the war home, please note that California has already lost $46 billion and San Francisco has lost $1 billion to the Bush war and his mistakes. In San Francisco alone, the funds used for the war in Iraq could have hired 21,264 additional public school teachers for one year, we could have built 11,048 additional housing units or we could have provided 59,482 students four-year scholarships at public universities. For a further breakdown of the cost of the war to your community, see the NPP website aptly titled “turning data into action.”

Politics blog: Leno vs. Migden





Feb. 22


Max Wolf Valerio

From real-lifers Christine Jorgensen to cinematic renderings in Transamerica, male-to-female transsexuals have long been visible, while female-to-males get lost in the woodwork. One notable exception is SF trans poet Max Wolf Valerio, friend of Allen Ginsberg, inspiration to Adrienne Rich, and author of the critically acclaimed 1984 poetry collection Animal Magnetism. Valerio will discuss his growing sense of power and privilege post-transition as he reads from his new autobiography, The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male. (Joshua Rotter)

7:30 p.m., free
Books Inc., Castro
2275 Market, SF
(415) 864-6777


“Erotic Legacies”

Prior to the GayVN Awards’ opening reception of manscaped muscle studs and the men who film them, the GLBT Historical Society will shed some light on the history of nonheterosexual smut. From full-monty beefcake pinups to original editions of Straight to Hell, the society is offering a mini-exhibit of some of its juiciest and most salacious holdings, along with accompanying porn-oriented tours of its well-appointed archives. (Matt Sussman)

6-7:30 p.m., free
GLBT Historical Society
657 Mission, SF
(415) 777-5455



feb. 21



Oh, the ennui of rising success: tour with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone as both the opening act and Owen Ashworth’s backing band, make a record produced by Jason Quever of the Papercuts, accept the “genius” mantle bestowed by your hometown press. It can all get so very dull. But the Perrier has not gone to the heads of the Donkeys. This San Diego quartet’s paisley-bent tunes recall the lugubrious jangle of Dean Wareham’s twentysomethings, while singer-drummer Sam Sprague ably leads the band’s vocal harmonies. (Nathan Baker)

9 p.m., $6
Make-Out Room
3225 22nd St., SF
(415) 647-2888


“Voting Rights and the American Blackout”

Hanging chads and recounts may have overshadowed the issue of black disenfranchisement in Florida 2000, but by Ohio 2004, Congressperson Cynthia McKinney had had enough. McKinney will present and lead a discussion about the documentary American Blackout, which follows her career as an open critic of the Bush administration. Directed by Ian Inaba, Blackout features interviews with journalists, voters, and Congressional leaders regarding the roadblocks both literal and figurative faced by black voters in America. (Elaine Santore)

7 p.m., $15
Grand Lake Theater
3200 Grand, Oakl.
(415) 255-7296, ext. 253

Here comes the neighborhood


TRASH TV This review of E!’s The Girls Next Door started with a vision of me à la Gloria Steinem for her 1963 Bunny Club exposé, only I was doing my research sitting on my boyfriend’s couch and eating Pirate’s Booty, sans notebook. I grew up in an überfeminist house (No Three’s Company!), spent a semester writing a paper on the sexism in Pretty Woman, and went to a once-all-women’s college that had an unwritten rule about using womyn in all campus postings. So I was mentally going to note The Girls Next Door‘s sexism, infantilism, and misplaced values. Then came the eye-popping bobble-head opening and the catchy "Come on, come on to myyyyy house" theme song promising candy — and candy I got in the form of bottle blonds Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson, and Bridget Marquardt (Bridg, to me).

The girls of Hugh Hefner’s reality TV series weren’t the dumb bimbos I’d envisioned — OK, Kendra didn’t know polygamy is illegal in this country and deemed Olive Garden the best. They have career aspirations: Babies! Broadcast journalism! Playmate of the Year! Who couldn’t relate to jealous Holly (Hef’s official number one girlfriend) when his ex Barbi Benton sashays into the mansion and declares, "Hef still has my bust!" to her bronze likeness? Who wouldn’t ooze with sympathy when brainy Bridg has to miss the nude shower shoot because her mean old prof refuses to postpone her semester final? And she studied!

It took only an episode for me to realize I wanted to leave behind my hardworking p.c. life and monogamous relationship and live in the Playboy Mansion. I want to order fried chicken and ice cream from the butler; watch movies with my two BFFs and boyfriend, all snuggled in a California King; and slip and slide down the mansion lawns in a red, white, and blue bikini. I want a murder-mystery birthday party and girls who watch my back when the psychic who claimed to connect with the spirit I saw in my bedroom turns out to be a fraud. I want backyard barbecues and luaus and as many puppies as my heart desires. Puffin — as Holly affectionately calls Hef — hasn’t called yet, but the good news is that with such episodes as "Mutiny on the Booty," "Clue-less," and "Eighty is the New Forty" under my belt, that doctoral thesis is practically writing itself! (Anna Mantzaris)

For The Girls Next Door dates and times visit www.eonline.com/on/shows/girlsnextdoor.

You like me!


DON’T FORGET TO THANK THE MOST HIGH "The Oscars of gay porn are coming! The Oscars of gay porn are coming!" I whinnied to my roommate Baby Char-Char, my girlish hands gesticuutf8g wildly. "Don’t you know what this means? Soon the streets will be absolutely crawling with porn stars!"

"So what else is new?" the lovely Char-Char humphed, settling back into his vegan chicken nuggets. Thus the rapturous ambivalence that greets the arrival of the GayVN Awards to San Francisco this Feb. 24. The GayVNs, which honor nominees in 38 categories — personal favorites: Best Music (really), Best Sex Comedy (you’re kidding), and Best Non-Sex Performance (you’re really kidding) — are awarded by the AVN Media Network, which also hosts the wild, mostly straight AVN Awards each year in Vegas.

AVN Media usually looses the GayVNs on a suspecting world in West Hollywood, but this year it’s holding them at the Castro Theatre. What does this mean, besides an influx of WeHo pay-for-plays with brassy home highlights shining like cross-eyed beacons through our February fog? For one, it means official recognition of San Francisco as the new ground zero of male-on-male video, the omphalos of anal erotica, if you will. For two, it means Craigslist will probably go down from all the traffic.

MCed by Kathy Griffin and also by the parts of Kathy Griffin made in South Korea ("I’m so glad that ‘My gays’ have asked me to join them for their big event," La Griffter declaims in press materials), the GayVNs — no relation to our fine mayor, alas — will keep fans and industry observers perched on the pinched tips of their seats to see just who’ll sashay away with a big fat rectangular piece of etched something in such categories as Best Actor (Shane Collins in Doggie Style? Justin Wells in Booty Thief ?) and Best Bisexual Video (Bi Back Mountain? Bi Bi American Pie 9?).

But really, isn’t it an honor just to be nominated? Sure it is!

I love gay porn — it’s ruined several of my more serious relationships, thank god — and it’s great to see the industry turn on its own and reward them. But the real question I have is what shall I wear to the ceremony? My Carnival of Venice mask with the ostrich plumes? My lace-up man corset with poly-mesh cape? One thing’s for sure: don’t even think about reaching for the leopard spots–zebra stripes guayabera–hot pants combo. Everyone will be wearing that. (Marke B.)


Sat/24, 7pm, $100–$300

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF



Worth a shot


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Sam Small (Jud Williford) is an unemployed man in a fraying bathrobe with a limp Jimmy Dean sausage in his pocket, living off the bacon brought (literally snuck) home by his wife, Mary (Beth Wilmurt), a waitress. Sam’s situation, aggravated by his well-thumbed copy of Hamlet, has led him to contemplate suicide.

Albert (Marty Pistone) — right across the hall from Sam and Mary’s apartment 86 in number 69 — is sympathetic. He’s on the rebound from a dot-bomb himself (not to mention a dead wife) but is rebuilding his future by recycling the detritus of a lavish consumer society on eBay and shooting Web-ready video with a well-worn vixen named Margaret (Denise Balthrop Cassidy). Joblessness need be no impediment, Albert proclaims. "Nobody has to hire you, Sam. It’s the 21st century!"

And then the brainstorm: Albert’s entrepreneurial instincts latch on to Sam’s suicidal tendencies to conjure a Web-based raffle for the right to Sam’s martyrdom. Soon various people-cum-causes come calling, and Sam and Mary’s fortunes are on the rise. This is the story of American Suicide, presented by Z Plays and the Encore Theatre Company.

It is also the story of American can-do despair in its most contemporary form: breathing the Internet ether of a post-postindustrial economy and the giddy dreams of the self-unemployed. That the play feels so effortlessly precise makes one appreciate even more the achievement of writer-director Mark Jackson, whose brilliantly staged adaptation of Nikolai Erdman’s The Suicide turns the Soviet playwright’s banned 1929 tragifarce into a piercingly funny satire on the American way of death.

For every individual fantasy in this country rests on the bones of some victim or other. In this case, it’s Sam, the classic American little guy, whose iconic aspects Williford expertly underscores to comic but also telling effect with a Depression-era clip to his speech. Sam’s gotta die, or no dice. But the deal is so sweet even he gets caught up in it.

Our hapless hero even finds himself pursuing a lifelong dream of becoming an actor (lifelong — ay, there’s the rub), which pitches him into the middle of another squalid little tale of diminished lives and desperate schemes. This one involves a washed-up film director (Michael Patrick Gaffney) and a 22-year-old Norma Desmond named Chloe Banks (Jody Flader), who’s bent on a comeback via a torrid suicide note from a leading man–slash–lover. Both are played, like all the characters in American Suicide, as delightfully precise caricatures by a very fine cast. This includes Delia MacDougall, whose larger-than-life turn as major thespian Gigi Bolt, a representative of the embattled American theater living down the street from Sam’s apartment building in her car, effortlessly projects to the back rows and back several times over.

The histrionic theme is one of the more self-referential of Jackson’s many original contributions to Erdman’s story line, and he clearly has fun with it. So bright is the suicide scheme’s promise to all involved that not even the scandal-starved Chloe’s willful intrusion into the conjugal poverty of Sam and Mary’s water-stained studio apartment (a principle component of James Faerron’s slick and versatile set design) throws a wrench into the works. Indeed, the hard-bitten note in Mary’s natural sweetness at the outset of the play drops away completely by the time worldly fortune and a life of leisure appear on the horizon. Wilmurt’s excellent and endearing play on the supportive wifey adopts something of the wide-eyed, guileless, endlessly grateful manner of a game show contestant.

Liam Vincent rounds out the terrific cast in the roles of two mysterious men who together push the play’s social critique a notch higher, or lower, into the realm of politics and an ever-encroaching state power.

The issue of martyrdom naturally calls forth from among the other eager suicide opportunists a certain bearded fellow (played with wonderfully dignified comic assurance by Vincent) in Middle Eastern garb. Jackson eschews cheap shots here, instead going for the jugular with some of the play’s funniest dialogue as Sam’s political ignorance (a classic American virtue never too far from an equally classic rapaciousness) before the jihadist prompts the latter to narrate a kind of preschool allegory of anti-imperialism — a story later used for cross-purposes by a shadowy government trench coat (Vincent again) who’d like to use Sam to do something about the dearth of Americans willing to die for ideas. *


Through March 11

Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; $25–$30

Thick House

1695 18th St., SF

(415) 437-6775



Chorophobics, beware


For the last decade four baseball players have been staring at me as I sit at my computer. They never say anything, but their presence is uncanny. I first encountered them in a downtown office building where I was working. Every time I walked into that sterile lobby, they looked at me. There was something about those burning eyes, open smiles, and striped uniforms that made these players look more like skeletons than athletes. I couldn’t ignore them, so I took them home.

A couple years ago choreographer Kim Epifano became similarly hooked on Fears of Your Life, a book about the dreads and anxieties that haunt our days and invade our nights. It was written by Michael Bernard Loggins, who — just like baseball-player painter Vernon Streeter — is an artist at Creativity Explored, a nonprofit that helps adults with developmental disabilities make, show, and sell their art.

Epifano proceeded to create a dance theater piece inspired by Loggins’s little red book. At the time, she had gone back to grad school and was full of her own anxieties. She asked the mixed-ability AXIS Dance Company to collaborate with her, figuring that "Michael has one kind of disability, and some AXIS dancers have [others]." She also realized that "many of Michael’s fears are also my fears — everyone’s fears. The overlap is astonishing." Fears of Your Life became Epifano’s MA dissertation at UC Davis in 2006; the piece "was just such a lovely way to bring my academic and my professional life together."

At the first stage rehearsal in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, site of the piece’s three performances Feb.23–25, large puppets (by sculptor Mike Stasiuk) sat at the edge of the stage waiting to join the show, as did clunky white shoes covered in writing, including a letter to Epifano.

Performers executed wheelies or spread on the floor like puddles; technicians hooked up cables for the boom box; dancer Katie Faulkner tuned her guitar; and Stephanie Bastos worked on her beatbox moves while coaching narrator C. Derrick Jones on his Portuguese. The atmosphere was one of relaxed attentiveness as the performers acclimated to the new environment. But then the fears begin to splatter in words and movements: fear of hospitals and needles, black cats, schools and dentists, spiders and monsters, cars at intersections, and strangers. And then there is "the fear of taking your own life away from yourself," demonstrated by Jones making a protective tent out of his raincoat.

The most moving sections of Loggins’s litany offer insights into what it means to be different in this society. He talks of his fear of the bus going too fast, being exposed to ridicule from strangers, and "people being just mean to him," Epifano says. "He gets pulled over by the police all the time because they think he is some kind of weirdo." Has Loggins come to any rehearsals? "He sure has, all the time," Epifano says. "He made us change one thing. He won’t let us say ‘shit,’ so now we say ‘aw shucks.’ " (Rita Felciano)


Fri/23–Sat/24, 8 p.m.; Sun/25, 2 p.m.; $21–$25

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-ARTS



Death drove a cliche


With the mayor’s race opening up rather unexpectedly, the power-involved now have a little something extra to think about: should I or shouldn’t I, come autumn? I shouldn’t and won’t — though I love autumn — but if I did, my platform would include some provision to the effect that writers who use clichés should be put in prison. Well, not really. As a society, our fetish for putting people in prison is matched (and perhaps exceeded) only by our fetish for objects and acts military. Also, we would not have remotely enough prison capacity.

But reprieve or no from the next mayor, writers should shun cliché — even go to war against it, as the British writer Martin Amis suggested a few years ago. Clichés are cheap plastic doodads from seedy dime stores about to go out of business, and to write in cliché means to think in cliché, and that means shoddily. The cliché is prima facie evidence that the writer has failed to meet the basic obligations of all writing: to have valuable thoughts to impart and to impart them in language that is fresh, original, and alive.

Food writers might or might not be under a special obligation here, but I know that when I, as a reader of a food or restaurant piece, happen upon such phrases as "earned his chops," "finger on the pulse," "came on board," and "cutting-edge" — these are all real and recent examples, by the way, published locally — it’s as if I’ve struck a pothole and a wheel flies off and I hit the guardrail and flip over: the journey is over. One cannot keep one’s attention focused against a fusillade of prefabricated language and autopilot writing any more than one can take seriously a Hollywood set that consists of propped-up facades with a void behind them: a one-dimensional world whose only dimension is obviousness.

Deadlines impose their pressures and deformations, certainly, and it’s possible to defend some triteness as a kind of shorthand. We do all know what these threadbare expressions mean. Clichés also have real value to ironists; strings of tired words can acquire a comic sheen, like bits of kitsch, if placed in the proper surroundings. But there is an art to this, and it is the antithesis of the unthinkingness that propagates the clichés in the first place.

Paul Reidinger

› paulr@sfbg.com

Feeling the spirit


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Yeah, I was a club kid once. It’s a bit of a blur, but somehow somewhere in the ’90s I went from punk and indie to baggy pants and glow sticks in the flick of a switch. I put away my Fall records and picked up endless white-label 12-inches and compilation CDs with titles like Ultimate Techno Explosion. Or something to that effect. Like I said, it’s a blur. I remember the dancing, though — suddenly my punk ass liked to shake! It’s a shame most of my indie friends chose to stay behind, but this was the ’90s. In those days, never the twain shall meet….

It’s now a full decade later, and — finally! — the indie kids are cutting loose without fear of bruising their street cred, thanks to artists such as the Rapture, !!!, and LCD Soundsystem. Turns out rock and dance music don’t have to be mutually exclusive terms. Need further proof? Take Austin’s finest ambassadors of electropunk mania, Ghostland Observatory. The duo — composed of vocalist-guitarist Aaron Behrens and keyboardist-drummer Thomas Ross Turner — whip up a mighty frenzy of swaggering rawk bravado and delirious vocal acrobatics delivered with a come-hither fluster over sweltering beds of booty-bouncing beats. Music for getting hot and bothered, certainly — or maybe songs for unleashing demons. Take your pick.

"We’re two entirely different people," Turner says, chuckling, over the phone from the Texas capital, in explanation of how their quite dissimilar influences have coalesced into the flipped disco of 2005’s delete.delete.i.eat.meat and last year’s Paparazzi Lightning (both Trashy Moped Recordings). "Aaron’s more into the rock showman thing — people like Prince and Freddie Mercury. For me, Daft Punk pretty much are my heroes — they got me into electronic music and club culture. That’s where we’re each coming from."

They might be coming from different places, but their destination is clearly shared, as evidenced on Paparazzi Lightning. Picture an evening of unbridled debauchery — one in which a club night teeters on the brink of collapse — condensed into 35 frantic minutes, and you’re on your way to understanding the Ghostland Observatory vision. Behrens can clearly work a room into whatever mood he sees fit, whether through stomping and yowling with wanton glee on the thundering "All You Rock and Rollers" and "Ghetto Magnet," or the seething taunts of "Move with Your Lover." Meanwhile, Turner effortlessly guides us on the emotional travelogue of a never-ending night, flashing away with the urgency of red-carpet paparazzi as he peppers the album with synth shrieks, squelches, and Daft Punk–worthy rhythms.

Asked about their live shows, Turner gives fair warning: "It’s really nonstop. We just give and give until everybody’s wiped out and goes home." All right, indie rockers and club kids — you heard the man. Better start stocking up on energy drinks. *


With Honeycut, the Gray Kid, and Landshark

March 3, 9 p.m., $15


444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880


Noise Pop: Revisiting the Clinic


Liking a band for more than three albums is getting harder these days, as many fall apart by that point. Even when groups do make it, most stop being musically interesting or otherwise start sucking. Clinic almost did that: Their third album, Winchester Cathedral (Domino, 2004), wasn’t bad but didn’t find the band progressing. Their distorted Farfisa started to sound routine and cliché; their trance-inducing rhythms begat yawning.

Clinic’s recently released full-length, Visitations (Domino), finds the Liverpool quartet back in form. All the elements that make Clinic’s unique sound are still there — the organ and the beat, fuzzed-out guitar, dubbish bass — but they sound just a bit better this time around. "Family" starts the album on a vaguely major note, a krauty stomp with a snaky blues riff that devolves all over the song. The album ends quietly and morosely with the title track, hushed strumming, hand drums, and melancholy keyboard building into a sinister waltz over broken glass. In between, the band’s economical songwriting creates an overwhelming sense of eeriness within the confines of three-minute pop songs. When they really hit their stride, on "Gideon," for instance, they create a palpable feeling of dread that almost manifests physically by the track’s end. Even on less heavy tunes such as the garagey "Tusk" and the vaguely funky "Animal/Human," Ade Blackburn’s taut and desperate vocals make sure nothing goes down too easy.

For a band to make it past number three is hard enough. For a band to pull itself out of a rut and create a stunning fourth album is outstanding. I don’t know if they’re still wearing surgical gowns onstage, but they needn’t bother with the gimmick when they perform as part of Noise Pop. (Gene Bae)


With Earlimart, Sea Wolf, and the Mumlers

March 3, 9 p.m., $17


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421


Noise Pop: Basking in their luster


Oh me, oh my, love that country pie, and oh me, oh my, the influence of Devendra Banhart and Will Oldham is now as long and thick as their beards. Actually, Brightblack Morning Light’s Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes were opening for Oldham when Banhart was making the leap from homemade cassette to Young God. But in the autumn of 2006, around when they landed a primo spot opening for Os Mutantes at the Fillmore and then walked onto the cover of Arthur like it was a throne lying in wait for them, the applause for and catcalls about their group really began to fly back and forth. Spiritualized acolytes old enough to have gone high-igh-igh with Spacemen 3 the first time around praised Brightblack’s "heroin-gospel" sound, while other older folks who’d seen one too many white people claim an American Indian great-grandmother cried foul. Younger fans espoused nature love as their more cynical peers held their noses — that is, with whichever hand wasn’t masturbating an iPod with carpal tunnel–ridden thumbs. At the end of last year, as rock critics assembled top 10 lists, there were many rivers to cross — some leading to the Walkmen’s cover of Harry Nilsson’s Pussycats — and yet just about all roads led to the Rhodes-dominated sound of Brightblack Morning Light (Matador). This show should offer some hints about the follow-up. (Johnny Ray Huston)


With Women and Children, Mariee Sioux, and Karl Blau

March 3, 8 p.m., $14

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750


Noise Pop: Nilsson rating


You may not have heard of Harry Nilsson, but you sure as hell have heard his music. The singer-songwriter was responsible for everything from "Without You" ("I can’t live, if living is without you") to "Coconut" ("You put the lime in the coconut, you drink ’em both up"), from "One" (famously covered by Aimee Mann for Magnolia) to "Everybody’s Talkin’ " (which he sang for Midnight Cowboy). So why haven’t more people heard of Nilsson, one of the most prolific, talented, and experimental artists of his generation? That’s what John Scheinfeld’s 2006 documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why Is Everybody Talkin’ about Him?) seeks to answer — and to remedy. This engaging, affectionate film follows Nilsson’s life and career throughout its tumultuous, triumphant, tragic course, from his start singing demos to his collaboration with the Beatles. Interviews with an eclectic cast of colleagues — including Yoko Ono, May Pang, Terry Gilliam, Robin Williams, Micky Dolenz, and Randy Newman — round out the picture of this profoundly creative but fatally self-destructive genius. With its stellar nostalgic soundtrack, Who Is Harry Nilsson is a must-see for rock ‘n’ roll lovers, Beatles fans, and the people who already know and love Nilsson — which, after this screening, hopefully will include you. (Molly Freedenberg)


Feb. 28, 7 p.m., $10

Roxie Film Center

3117 and 3125 16th St., SF

(415) 863-1087


Noise Pop: Midlake of the storm


It makes sense that Denton, Texas, quintet Midlake will be giving an afternoon performance at Noise Pop. Not only do their music videos, which often feature strange creature masks and nightmarish situations just on the edge of reality, stay with me well into the next day’s daydreams, but their music deserves our full attention. After they were signed by the United Kingdom’s Bella Union, they started playing Europe, and the castles-and-robbers imagery in their "Bandits" video may come from sneaking into the hills while on tour. Wherever it comes from, it doesn’t let up, and neither does the spell cast by their dreamy sounds.

Their Milkmaid Grand Army EP (Basement Front), put out by the band while attending the North Texas School of Music and reissued last year by Basement Front, isn’t very good. It’s rock. It’s fine. But it doesn’t simmer and shine like The Trials of Van Occupanther (Bella Union, 2006), which is nothing short of awesome. From recreating the majesty of falling snow on "It Covers the Hillside" to testing the world on "Van Occupanther" ("They told me I wouldn’t / But I found an answer"), the ensemble finds an elegant niche between CSNY-style harmonies and the deeply affecting use of textured layers of sound, reminiscent of the Flaming Lips at the turn of the century. They may be in the middle of the lake, but their light refracts in crazy constellations, far and wide. (Ari Messer)


With Minipop, Ester Drang, and Minmae

March 4, 1 p.m., $10

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

Noise Pop: Blag, guts, and pussy


› duncan@sfbg.com

Love ’em or hate ’em, the Dwarves are as close to punk rock royalty as San Francisco is ever gonna have. They’ve been in the game since emigrating from Chi-town in the ’80s, with nary a letup for soul-searching acoustic meandering or trips to rehab.

"What you wanna do, B? What you wanna do?" a voice queries in "Demented," from 2004’s The Dwarves Must Die (Sympathy for the Record Industry). "I wanna fight, fuck, and destroy like they used to" is vocalist Blag Dahlia’s answer.

Dahlia, born Paul Cafaro, and the ever-naked (except for a Lucha Libre mask) Hewhocannotbenamed on guitar have been the core of the Dwarves for longer than some of their audience members — and dates — have been alive and got the band booted from Sub Pop in 1992 for engineering a Hewho death hoax. Living in San Francisco, one can count on good burritos, high gas prices, and experiencing six or fewer degrees of Blag separation at all times. I made out with a girl who claimed he’d stolen her spiked belt when they lived together. On a snippet from Thank Heaven for Little Girls (Sub Pop, 1991), an audience member at a Dwarves show says, "The lead singer’s a fucking shithead, man. He broke a fucking glass onstage. I get bumped by the crowd. The next thing you know, my hand’s fucking sliced." I could swear this happened at a show I was working security for at Slim’s.

While Dahlia has certainly created an impressive myth, just how worthy of their legacy — or relevant — are the Dwarves in 2007? The Dwarves Must Die has the middle-aged Dahlia rapping, of all things, to hilarious effect on "Massacre," on which he spouts the line "This one goes out to Queens of the Trust Fund: you slept on my floor, now I’m sleeping through your motherfucking records," which led to a much-publicized dustup with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme at a Hollywood club. I’ve even spotted Dahlia playing around town as MC Blag. He takes swipes at "fake punkers" Good Charlotte, but he’s apparently cowritten songs with them, as well as produced more than one Offspring album.

"I don’t ride a skateboard and love what you hate for / And don’t give a fuck about punk-rocking no more," Dahlia raps on "Massacre." To me, it’s this willingness to not be punk rock that makes the band even more so. Musically, things took a turn for the poppy on 1996’s The Dwarves Are Young and Good Looking (Epitaph), and that’s when they got interesting. Far from being merely a glass-smashing nihilist, Dahlia is also a frustrated romantic, a ’50s protorock crooner like Dion or Del Shannon in fingerless leather gloves (see Must Die‘s warped piss take on Shannon, "Runaway #2").

According to one of Dahlia’s ex-lovers, "He’s very mellow and affectionate. I’d get random 3 a.m. voice mails with him singing old soul songs where every word that was romantic would be changed to my name." She went on to say that despite his onstage calls for violence, during their time together she’d never seen him in a fight: "He’s kind of a pacifist."

All this, of course, is neither here nor there. As far as I’m concerned, after 1990’s death blast Blood Guts and Pussy (Sub Pop), with its iconic, Michael Lavine–photographed cover of two naked women and an equally buck-ass midget drenched in blood (the midget appears to be making nice with a bunny rabbit), they could have basically shit in jewel cases for the rest of their career and still worn the crown. That record is basically the punk rock version of Slayer’s Reign in Blood (Def Jam, 1986): 12 tracks in 13 minutes and six seconds — pure punk bliss. And they were smart enough to not try to repeat it every record. Really, what’s Josh Homme have that can hold a candle to that? *


With Girl Band and the White Barons

March 4, 10 p.m., $12

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455


Noise Pop: Cats have nine lives


Few numbers are as loaded as three. From the Holy Trinity to the three main spiritual channels in our bodies described by kabbalists and yogis alike, spiritual triads exist alongside musical forms of threeness: the exponential sound of the power trio, great albums named III, and, indeed, Loudon Wainwright III.

The trio Sebadoh, early harbingers of indie rock, had their own III back in 1991, trading off instruments and artistic wills to make 23 wonderfully unpredictable tracks of folk-core meanderings and spastic noise rock shape-shifting. It’s pretty much universally acknowledged that this record rocked in ways previously unknown. But what really went on between the three original members, Eric Gaffney, Lou Barlow, and Jason Loewenstein? They had all gone on to solo careers before announcing last year both the reissue of III on Domino and a gig at the Great American Music Hall for Noise Pop, an early stop on the Sebadoh "reunion" tour from the West Coast to Toronto and back again.

But Sebadoh’s members aren’t surprised to find themselves together again. "Sebadoh have never reissued anything," Barlow said recently on the phone from his house in Los Angeles, while his young daughter seemed to be taking a noise rock solo in the background. "I think Pavement were reissuing things within two years of being together. The question is, actually, why didn’t we ever reissue things before?"

The new III is fantastic, complete with a bonus disc including the prescient Gimme Indie Rock! EP, the original four-track demo of "The Freed Pig," and "Showtape ’91," a noise and word collage that’s a flashback to the original supporting tour for III. The reissue process was typically strenuous but also cathartic. It was partly to deal with Homestead Records, the album’s original label, Gaffney explained in a recent e-mail. "Signing to Homestead turned out to be a bad idea, so years later I filed a lawsuit … to try to get paid and get the masters back."

Sebadoh never got them back. So how did a reissue happen? "We worked on the bonus disc, and then it was remastered at Abbey Road from a store-bought III CD and the vinyl," Gaffney wrote. "I found a lot of old band tapes for the ‘bonus’ CD. Good stuff."

Barlow agreed, sort of. "A few years ago, Eric and I had an e-mail conversation … an e-mail war … where we just basically went point-by-point through every misunderstanding we had between us, and it all culminated in the reissue. I really just kind of had to let Eric choose what went on the extras disc. But it was totally worth it just to get the record out." They both got what they needed out of the process, Barlow said. "And then it just kind of came up that, well, I guess we could play some shows. Let’s up the ante here! What’s the next logical challenge?" III is an important Sebadoh disc partly because the clash of wills and styles made the music sound so driven. If their accomplished solo projects are any indication, the tour should rock hard and sweet, and that’s all that matters. They plan to play off the crowd, Barlow said, and sets may include material from any time in Sebadoh’s history. "It’s when we get lost in the moment and enjoy the music and drop the phony power plays, that’s when it’s happening," wrote Gaffney, who lives and breathes right here in San Francisco. In other words, the third time — Sebadoh with Gaffney, without, and now again with — is a charm. (Ari Messer)


With the Bent Mustache, Love of Diagrams, and the New Trust

Feb. 28, 8 p.m., $18–$20

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750


Noise Pop: Miss him?


› a&eletters@sfbg.com

The first time Roky Erickson performed in San Francisco was in the summer of 1966, fronting his Austin, Texas, band the 13th Floor Elevators, whose garage rock classic "You’re Gonna Miss Me" was rising up the national charts. Sharing the bill at the Fillmore with Grace Slick’s first band, the Great Society, Erickson sang of psychedelic reverberations and reincarnations in both sagely reassuring croons and blood-curdling yelps. The Elevators’ name shows up on Fillmore-Avalon posters so often that even today they’re still thought of as an honorary San Francisco psychedelic band of sorts.

The last time Roky performed in the city was in the early 1980s, and he was singing of two-headed dogs and aliens from the most tawdry of B-grade horror films. Times had changed, yes, but Erickson had changed more, irreversibly fried by a three-year stint in a maximum-security Texas state hospital after he was declared insane in 1969. The one thing undeniably the same was that one-of-a-kind voice, crushing Little Richard, James Brown, and Buddy Holly through the blender of a particularly Texan brand of acid-baked dementia.

Performers from GWAR to Marilyn Manson have made a lucrative career by fashioning an act from gothic horror. Erickson, to all appearances, has actually lived it, and if his record sales have been tiny in comparison to those of others, the fervor of his cult following is second to few. "Roky’s aesthetic rings true with younger music-media fans," says Billy Angel, who played autoharp as part of Erickson’s backup band the Aliens when Erickson reemerged in the late 1970s. "He brought to vision many years ago the now-contemporary experience of rock music coming through the sound system while film noir beams from the video screen."

Erickson’s first San Francisco appearance in about 25 years — as part of Noise Pop on March 1 — comes at a time when most fans had given up hope of seeing him onstage. Withdrawing from music entirely for about a decade, he began performing again in late 2005 after a bitter fight for his custody between his mother and his brother Sumner — the latter also a renowned musician but quite a different one: a tuba player for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. You couldn’t make it up, but we know it’s true because the whole battle was caught on film, in the mesmerizing and disturbing documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me (screening at the Roxie Film Center on Feb. 28).

As his family feuds over what’s best for its prodigal son and praise pours in from such interviewees as Patti Smith, Erickson wanders through the film like a ghostly observer. Apparently neither gratified nor agitated by the attention of either fanatical fans or would-be caretakers, he’s more interested in adjusting his army of televisions and stereos to just the right impossibly painful, cacophonous loudness. As much as most everyone on camera gushes over his genius and tragedy, what Erickson thinks about his cult and incapacitation remains a mystery.

There’s just one scene in the 90-minute film in which he seems at ease and makes one suspect his upcoming show might not be the psychodrama we fear. A therapist asks him to play a song; Erickson starts to strum an acoustic guitar and sing with folky, gentle tenderness, his vocal chops fully intact. Suddenly, he doesn’t seem like a nearly inert burnout fawned and fought over like a familial football. Music courses through his system — his thoughts and voice are clear and calm. It might be the only psychic skin he has left, but he wears it well. *


Feb. 28, 9:15 p.m., $10

Roxie Film Center

3117 and 3125 16th St., SF

(415) 863-1087


With Oranger, Howlin Rain, and Wooden Shjips

March 1, 8 p.m., $25

Great American Music Hall

850 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750


Noise, pop — two great tastes in one!


FEB. 27


Song scribe extraordinaire Har Mar ripped it up at Thee Parkside a few Noise Pops back, and buzz band Tapes ‘n Tapes made the South by Southwest crowd go nuts (and crawl the wall outside), so you know this is gonna be a blast. Watch for those low-flying groupies of indie comedy fave David Cross too. (Kimberly Chun)

9 p.m. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. Free if you sign up at www.noisepop.com/freedm

FEB. 28


In Northern California we are all familiar with the term hella, typically used to convey abundance. This same definition can be applied to Sacramento’s math rock savants Hella, whose chaotic brew of avant musical equations can be compared to a piano falling down an elevator shaft or the sonic vibrations of a song trapped in a quasar. Once made up solely of guitarist Spenser Seim and drummer Zach Hill, Hella has since morphed into a full band with the addition of guitarist Josh Hill, bassist Carson McWhirter, and vocalist Aaron Ross, making for a more contained noise that verges on the fringes of prog. Opening is London’s Pop Levi, who describes his slithering psych pop as "Prince making out with Bob Dylan in Syd Barrett’s bedroom," and Romy Hoffman, better known as Macromatics, who makes punk-rooted hip-hop and has been known to shout out to Lemony Snicket and Melanie Griffith in the same breath. (Hayley Elisabeth Kaufman)

8 p.m. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. $12. (415) 621-4455


Sure, I remember the first time I heard Josh Ritter, who plays a solo acoustic set as part of Noise Pop. There I was, driving beneath a huddle of midnight pines in the middle of nowhere when a warm drawl lured me off the dirt road and into the airwaves with tales of Patsy Cline’s ghost and girls with wooden-nickel smiles — all delivered with the urgency of a young Bob Dylan and the intimacy of Townes van Zandt. Five years later, the Idaho-bred indie folkie still slays me with the Americana mythology of "Golden Age of Radio," and the storytelling voodoo he has cast ever since makes me wish they’d start giving out the O. Henry Award for songwriting. Ritter could be the first winner. (Todd Lavoie)

7:30 p.m. Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market, SF. $15. (415) 861-5016



This Noise Pop show is a warm reminder that all is not lost in contemporary rap music. Yes, it’s still possible for hip-hop to both move your butt and stimulate your mind. Prime examples of this are longtime Oakland political wordsmith Boots Riley and his funk-fueled live band the Coup, who are blessed to be back after a recent tour bus accident. With headliner Quannum MC Lyrics Born, who has proven himself a tireless performer at 150 shows a year, you have a hip-hop concert that’s guaranteed to deliver on all levels. (Billy Jam)

8 p.m. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. $25. (415) 346-6000


Hybridizing jangled guitar treatments and shrill electronics, No Age make ambient basement rock that sounds like the Stooges if Iggy had moved the rest of the band with him to Berlin. For the past year, this LA duo — embodying two-thirds of the short-lived maniacal punk outfit Wives — has wed lo-fi with New York noise. On "Dead Plane," a song featured on the band’s MySpace page, a slow burner of dainty hums builds then takes a backseat to a three-chord commotion of dismantled sounds. Matt and Kim, Erase Errata, and Pant Pants Pants round out this rocktastic happening. (Chris Sabbath)

8 p.m. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. $10. (415) 621-4455


At first glance, Scissors for Lefty remind you of those dudes down the block who your friends keep telling you are going to make it big. The video for their latest single, the new wave "Ghetto Ways," off Underhanded Romance (Pepper Street Music), works in clips from the 1970s horror flick The Dead, the Devil and the Flesh. The result: pure camp, including an impressive dance break by vocalist Bryan Garza. Lest you forget SFL hail from the Bay Area, "Mama Your Boys Will Find a Home" gives a shout-out to the Mission and girls who "breathe new life into checking our voice mail." (Elaine Santore)

8:00 p.m. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. $15. (415) 255-0333



The gears of this much-blogged-about sextet’s musical engine are greased with an all-engaging medley of brash experimental pop and electronic folk. And like kindred spirits Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Arcade Fire, the Annuals back up their buzz with a punch of indie rock delight: their 2006 full-length, Big He Me (Ace Fu), has scored a favorable reception from critics and fans alike. Led by singer-songwriter Adam Baker, the Raleigh, N.C., group’s captivating live show promises to be one of the highlights of Noise Pop. Simon Dawes, Pilot Speed, and Ray Barbie and the Mattson 2 also perform. (Sabbath)

9 p.m. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. $10. (415) 861-5016


A dreamlike fusion of languid atmospherics and apocalyptic noise, Autolux’s futuristic dark pop is fit for a fembot. The LA trio is composed of bassist Eugene Goreshter, guitarist Greg Edwards, and drummer Carla Azar, whose pounding percussion echoes with an ominous clamor. On songs such as "Turnstile Blues," from Future Perfect (DMZ/Epic, 2004), austere vocals, lush musical landscapes, and fuzzed-out, droning guitars inspire comparisons to the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine, the moodiness of Slowdive, and the artful dissonance of Sonic Youth. Their sound may borrow from distortion-heavy bands of the past, but Autolux appear to be ushering in their own version of sonic modernism. (Kaufman)

9 p.m. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. $14. (415) 771-1421


The Dandy Warhols: you either hate to love them or love to hate them. But regardless of their arrogant pomp, overt cheekiness, and swaggering vocalist Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s pretentious double-hyphenated name, this foursome still comes through with catchy, pop-laced psychedelia that successfully blurs the boundaries between the underground and the mainstream. The Dandys — who made a splash with their 1997 single "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth" and later garnered attention as the sell-out antagonists to the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s incorrigible madcap Anton Newcombe in the 2004 documentary DiG! — continue to find commercial success while staying true to their original sound. This show’s openers include the Bay’s Elephone and Oakland’s Audrye Sessions, whose sweeping, romantic indie rock lullabies will thaw even the most jaded heart. (Kaufman)

9 p.m. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. $30. (415) 625-8880


What hath Vashti wrought? Here they come round the mountain, like Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls Wilder in the credit sequence for Little House on the Prairie — yes, indeedy, the fair maidens with granny hankies of acoustic stringed Americana seem to be multiplying endlessly or cloning themselves through antique alchemical methods such as MySpace. Yet many deliver the goods — and I don’t just mean personally sewn CD packaging; I mean singing and songwriting. Such is definitely the case with the palindromically named Alela Diane, who hails from Joanna Newsom country — Nevada City — but favors guitar over harp and resuscitates Karen Dalton’s quaver with less affectation than Newsom. Humming through teeth, tying tongues in knots, and finding flatlands within mouths, Diane has a definite flair for oral imagery and aural spells: "My Brambles" vividly invokes a favorite word or pet cat, while "The Rifle" and "Lady Divine" flirt with danger instead of falling prey to it à la Marissa Nadler’s eerie murder ballads. (Diane’s handsome friend Rubio Falcor also has a way with a song, if his MySpace cabin is anything to go by.) Along with Zach Rogue and Thao Nguyen, Diane will open for Vic Chesnutt, who is dusting off his shelves and ghetto bells for a few California shows. (Johnny Ray Huston)

7:30 p.m. Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market, SF. $15. (415) 861-5016



Followed by a trail of critical acclaim inundated with joint-smoking references and marijuana puns, Dead Meadow are frequently and unfairly categorized as drugged-induced hard rock. Instead the Washington, DC, group possesses a genius far surpassing the clownish gimmickry of unsophisticated stoner jams. As musically intricate and ethereal as they are untamable and beastly, Dead Meadow take inspiration from rock greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin but inhabit a unique and mystical domain where early incarnations of metal coexist with swirling, murky psychedelia — the perfect soundtrack for a druid ritual or black magic spell casting. Starlight Desperation and Spindrift open. (Kaufman)

9 p.m. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. $12–$14. (415) 861-5016


Chicago’s Ponys are making dangerous music. You know, the kind of stuff you don’t want your little sister listening to for fear that she might become seduced by the unduutf8g rhythms, or worse, that she’d fall for the shaggy-haired drummer. This tough-as-nails garage quartet is the sonic kick in the pants that music fans have been craving. Saddled with thundering guitars and ferocious bass lines, the Ponys bring grit and musical malevolence to a famously frenetic live show. Even better, Jered Gummere’s sneering vocals evoke Richard Hell’s, lending an old-school flavor to a feral yet infectious racket composed of equal parts DIY primordial punk, dirty psych à la Blue Cheer, and Love’s irreverent melodicism. Lemon Sun, the Gris Gris, and Rum Diary open. (Kaufman)

9:30 p.m. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. $10–$12. (415) 621-4455


If you own a television, you might already know the Spinto Band — or at least their song "Oh Mandy," which provided the soundtrack to a Sears commercial. But don’t hold that against this quirky, energetic group from Delaware. While you’re dancing to their melodic, happy, and bouncy brand of indie rock, you’ll forget all about sweaters and washing machines. Also on the lineup: Dios Malos, who offer catchy and experimental SoCal suburban indie pop; the Changes, who make romantic, earnest pop that made them one of Paste‘s bands to watch; and the Old-Fashioned Way, who produce danceable indie with a sense of humor straight outta the Tenderloin. (Molly Freedenberg)

9 p.m. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. $12. (415) 861-2011

For more Noise Pop picks, check out next week’s Guardian.

For more info, see www.noisepop.com/2007