Critic's Choice for the week of August 1-7, 2007 

In this week's picks: Dub on toast, grazing at Stern Grove, and furry rockers at the San Francisco Zoo.

DUB TOASTER

You hardly ever hear the phrases "pot smoker" and "raving lunatic" put together in the same sentence, but in the case of Jamaican reggae artist Lee "Scratch" Perry, "raving, pot-smoking lunatic" once seemed like a sensible epithet. Famous both for his musical innovations — Perry is credited with helping popularize the reverb-heavy mixing-board technique known as "dub"— and for his apparent multiple-personality disorder — he went by such aliases as "Pipecock Jackson" and "the Upsetter" — Perry always got extra mileage from his madman reputation. In an interview with British TV personality Jools Holland (search YouTube for "Lee Scratch Perry"), the famed reggae singer walked through fire, referred to himself as the Atomic Man, and proudly pointed to the toaster affixed to one of the fence posts at Black Ark, the studio he built in his backyard (it burned down in 1978). The toaster was apropos, Perry said, because it symbolized his special talent for "toasting" (the Jamaican term for freestyling over a beat). In the ensuing decades, this raggedy-voiced septuagenarian jettisoned both his marijuana stash and his past eccentricities. But he still makes infectious music. Lee "Scratch" Perry performs Saturday, August 4, and Sunday, August 5 at the Independent in SF. 9 p.m., $25. IndependentSF.comRachel Swan

WAITING IN THE GRASS

You have to get up early to get the good seats in Stern Grove's outdoor concert series, but for this Sunday's free 2 p.m. show the wait is worth it. South African trumpeter and activist Hugh Masekela leads his band through songs from his forty-year career, from "Grazing in the Grass" to "Mandela" and "Stimela." It's powerful jazz-pop politics with those irresistible South African rhythms (which inspired Paul Simon to hire Masekela's band for his Graceland tour in 1987). Opening the outdoor afternoon is Oakland's own larger-than-life singer Goapele, who — like Masekela — uses her music to bring up social issues. SternGrove.orgLarry Kelp

STRANGEST OF THE STRANGE

Billed as the San Francisco Zoo, this eight-act lineup at the Great American Music Hall on Sunday features some of the Bay Area's most unusual animal-themed performers. Headliner Cookie Mongoloid, a dadaistic Cookie Monster-fronted speed-metal band, is joined by a DJ in a pink and green bunny suit (DJ Neon Bunny), an electro-dance-punk outfit from El Cerrito featuring Muppet costumes and fly girls (The Zoopy Show), and a burlesque-loving gorilla (Gorilla X). Also slated to appear: Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, Vima Burlesque, Kellita of Hot Pink Feathers, and Phat Fly Girls. 8 p.m., $15. GAMH.comNate Seltenrich

NEW WORLD MEN

Rush has always been a band whose intellectual lyricism was only trumped by its freakish virtuosity; adored by hardcore fans and bashed by critics who feel cerebral songwriting within a hard-rock context is an oxymoron. But by being one of the tightest and most instrumentally exciting outfits in the biz, Rush has rightfully cultivated a devoted fan base despite the scorn of the intelligentsia. The Canadian trio's new album, Snakes and Arrows, has plenty of heady songs about religious fundamentalism and other philosophical quandaries, but the band's musicianship is at the heart of these songs. And what better reason to see Rush than to witness Neil Peart continue to expand and reshape the parameters of playing drums? Wednesday, August 1 at the Shoreline Amphitheater. 7:30 p.m. $25-$79.50. ShorelineAmp.comDave Gil de Rubio

AQUATIC MISCHIEF

The East Bay's classical pickins may be slim in the lazy days of summer, but the lighter fare is delicious. The Lamplighters, a venerable Bay Area institution, dock at the Dean Lesher Center this week just in time to anchor what we hope will be a fresh take on Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Thursday, August 2. 8 p.m.. $11-$46. Tickets: 925-943-7469 or Lamplighters.org. — Jason Victor Serinus

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