Volume 42 Number 37

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

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PREVIEW World premieres are not what you expect in traditional, culturally specific dance. But the myth of the unyielding art form passed from generation to generation dies hard, perhaps because there is comfort in believing that "some things don’t change." Sorry, but the village square has gone the way of stoop sitting. So-called ethnic dance started to change the minute it moved from the grange to the stage. What’s great about the enduring appeal of World Art West’s San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival — celebrating 30 years this year — is that its producers encourage rethinking traditional forms so that they honor the past while embracing the future. It’s the only way an art can survive. To put more than moral support toward that effort, SF EDF gave out four 30th-anniversary commissions this year. Ensambles Ballet Folklorico de San Francisco presents its commission, Las Cortes Mayas, a celebration of Mexico’s regal past, this weekend. Another highlight is the first appearance of one of India’s classical dance genres, Kuchipudi, which is related to but faster-paced and more feathery than Bharatanatyam. Sindhu Ravuri’s solo is inspired by Indian temple sculptures. Hailing from Oakland is hip-hop/modern dance troupe Imani’s Dream in a premiere that reflects the youth group’s everyday reality. What else can you expect on this second of four weekends of cultural dance offerings? Afro-Peruvian footwork, Middle Eastern belly, Korean memorializing, Chinese court, Caribbean-flavored flamenco, and Scottish ritual dance. You’ll also hear a lot of live music: these days, EDF is almost as much a world music as a dance festival. And if that’s not enough to lure you in, throughout the month of June, World Arts West is offering a series of low-cost participatory workshops that welcomes all comers.

SAN FRANCISCO ETHNIC DANCE FESTIVAL June 1–29. This week: Sat/14–Sun/15, 2 p.m. (also Sat, 8 p.m.). $22–$44. Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon, SF. (415) 392-4400, www.worldartswest.org

Daughters

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PREVIEW "I’ve been called a sinner, wrong-doer, evildoer, worker of iniquity, transgressor, bad example, scoundrel, villian, knave, miscreant, viper, wretch, the devil incarnate" — make no mistake, it’s a warning from Daughters vocalist Alexis Marshall, delivered via the apparent thesaurus in his head and the intentions of bad behavior in his heart. Whether you call it noise, mathcore, grindcore, chaos-core, or noisegrind, the sound of Providence, R.I.’s Daughters resembles absolutely nothing that will put you gently to sleep at night (John Mayer fans, run away as fast as you can). Chuckle if you must at their me-so-clever song titles ("And Then the C.H.U.D.S. Came," "A Room Full of Hard-Ons and Nowhere to Sit Down," "The Fuck Whisperer"), but the Daughters are no joke. Loud, aggressive, caucophonous, spazzy (yet technically accomplished), and with interludes that occasionally resemble the sound of nails on a blackboard, this is the kind of band that makes people ask, "Uh, what are you listening to?" when what they really mean is, "Sweet Jebus, what is that godforsaken racket?" Not for nothing was Daughters’ last studio release dubbed Hell Songs (Hydra Head, 2006). If your ears can take it, you won’t want to miss their set opening for Chicago’s Russian Circles, whose epic instrumentals should provide a reasonable amount of balm for any lingering, teeth-rattling reverberations.

DAUGHTERS With Russian Circles and Young Widows. Thurs/12, 9 p.m. Slim’s, 333 11th St, SF. $13. (415) 255-0333. www.slims-sf.com

Valet

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PREVIEW I admit I was a little skeptical on first receiving Valet’s Naked Acid (Kranky) in the mail. I was burned out on Terry Riley–inspired meditation music even before seeing the garishly New Age "vibe painting" gracing the sleeve. It took a couple of weeks for me to get around to actually listening to the thing, and I’m glad I waited: the album begins with bell chimes, distant drums, and a what sounds like a thumb-piano loop, but what follows is hardly Tubular Bells, part two. Naked Acid is a drone album, but an incredibly brave one in which emotions are laid bare and a surprising range of musical textures flow from a minimalist sonic palette. Take three tracks in their chronological order: "Drum Movie"’s milky growl sounds fit for a David Lynch movie. "Keehar"’s reverb-licked guitar plays like celestial rock. "Fuck It"’s scraping drawl evokes Patti Smith played at half-speed or a duskier Mazzy Star.

Though Valet springs from the same Portland, Ore., DIY scene as White Rainbow, guiding light Honey Owens’ musical family tree includes Austin, Texas’ Jana Hunter, Finland’s Lau Nau, and fellow Portlander Grouper. All these women are pushing the female singer-songwriter format into new atmospheric, painterly territory, taking advantage of loop pedals and thick layers of reverb to collapse the distance between performance and production. Naked Acid‘s constant dissolve hovers uneasily between Karen Dalton remove and electronic opacity. After 40 minutes of enclosed drifting, Owens finally bobs to the surface on "Streets," turning a few pirouettes over a bustling programmed beat before clipping it off in noisy heat.

When Owens opened for Atlas Sound here last March, she was plagued by sound problems and seemed lost in the gestalt of her multiplanar drones. This time she plays at two smaller venues — Hemlock Tavern and a Mission District underground space — better suited to her diffuse blues, though it may take something else for her to shake something indelible from what, for now, remains ineffable.

VALET With Galactic Core, Kawabata Makoto, and Numinous Eye. June 18, 9 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. (415) 923-0923, www.hemlocktavern.com

Daddy issues

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REVIEW Stuffy writer Blake Morrison (Colin Firth) struggles to come to terms with his father’s imminent death, hoping that, in their last days together, that they can finally make peace. A dying father? I know the premise is more than a little grim, but what When Did You Last See Your Father? lacks in levity it makes up for in heartfelt storytelling and powerful performances — trusty Jim Broadbent shines as Arthur, the overbearing, attention-seeking (possibly philandering) paterfamilias. We first encounter this force of nature as the film, set in the late 1950s, opens. Blake is eight, and his family is stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. But not for long: Arthur breaks ranks and rides the shoulder, zooming past the long line of cars, waving a stethoscope in the air to justify the blatantly arrogant maneuver. This devil-may-care attitude inspires admiration in young Blake and animosity in slightly older Blake, when he grows into a surly, socially inept teenager. Adapted from an award-winning memoir and directed by Anand Tucker (Shopgirl, 2005), the film flows seamlessly in and out of flashbacks, fleshing out Blake and Arthur’s complex dynamic. Any film centered around a father-son relationship, especially when the father is terminally ill, pretty much lends itself to schmaltzy sentimentality. But When Did You Last See Your Father? avoids slipping down that syrupy slope. Instead, it is a poignant, sincere, occasionally funny — Arthur’s frank discussion of gonorrhea and masturbation during a camping trip had me chuckling — exploration of a man’s complicated history with his often uncouth but always larger-than-life father.

WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER? opens Fri/13 in Bay Area theaters.

“You Make Me Make You”

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REVIEW We photograph stuff and immediately pass it on to everyone who has Internet access. We ingest news events recorded only moments ago — and expect information on the next event even before it has completely unfolded. Artist Suzanne Husky is also driven to document what is happening right now: from social concerns to what she witnesses in her community. But she doesn’t give it to us flat, like so much documentation via electronic media. Instead, Husky renders her vision in 3-D and makes them potentially huggable.

In her current show at Triple Base Gallery, Husky has sewn, stuffed, and collaged a miniature wonderland that merges her social network with ecological and pop-cultural concerns. The initial effect of the installation is like seeing a grade-schooler’s attempt to recreate a Christmas window at FAO Schwartz. But these toy-size dioramas were designed for adults to contemplate. That desire to immediately disseminate information, the urge to make real what is only flat onscreen, and seeing the big picture are some of the ideas that come to mind when viewing her work — after you’re done chuckling over details like the composting toilet (Humanure). Husky wants her viewers to become social anthropologists and make their own connections. Using photographs for doll faces so there is no mistaking who is represented, the artist gives us Kobe Bryant dunking a basketball, her friends at a gallery opening, and that ever-present naked guy doing yoga in Berkeley Hot Tub. The herd from the Highway 5 stockyards, Chinese factory workers, and an activist aloft in the University of California, Berkeley oak trees also are reproduced with sad and funny results.

YOU MAKE ME MAKE YOU Through June 29. Artists Amy Franceschini and Michael Swaine discuss Husky’s work at a dinner lecture, June 27, 7 p.m.; e-mail triplebase@gmail.com for reservations. Thurs.–Sun., noon–5 p.m. Triple Base, 3041 24th St., SF. (303) 909-5481, www.basebasebase.com