Critic's Choice for the week of May 19-25, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

MR. ROBOTO (1970s VERSION)

Cheesy '70s arena rock guilty pleasures await you Saturday night at the Chronicle Pavilion. Prepare to say "domo arigato" when recent car-commercial soundtrack suppliers Styx coheadline with former conditioner model Peter Frampton. If vocoders and talkboxes get you weak in the knees, how can you stand to miss the artists who brought you both "Mr. Roboto" and "Show Me the Way"? Remember, Frampton was an accredited Brit-rocker with Humble Pie before going solo and scoring the best-selling live album of all time, Frampton Comes Alive, the one that made the bombastic excess of that period seem normal. Styx, meanwhile, was more than just Middle America's substitute for Led Zeppelin; on a good night, it could rock as hard as any American band worth its spandex and platform shoes. Take "Blue-Collar Man," the classic ode to night-shift factory workers -- the very foundation upon which this great country rests. Sing along: Give me a job, give me security, make me respectable, man. Just don't turn me into a silver robot named Kilroy. Nelson opens. 7 p.m. $29.50-$50.50; 925-685-TIXS or CC.com. (Eric K. Arnold)

MR. ROBOTO (2004 VERSION)

Anticon now has its own P-Funk orchestra. The jarring electro-pop of Restiform Bodies will unnerve you even as it innervates you. Head Body Passage celebrates the release of his new solo platter, The Forcefield Kids, with a live RB performance Thursday night at the Stork Club with Odd Nosdam, Mr. Mixel Pixel, and Change! Give the drum machine some. $5, 510-444-6174. (Rob Harvilla)

OPERA

Given the superb multimedia treatment and fine cast Oakland Opera Theater's brilliant Tom Dean has promised for Philip Glass' Akhnaten, the Egyptian ruins of Oakland's Metro deserve to be packed. Performances run through May 30, Friday and Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 2. (510) 763-1146. OaklandMetro.org (Jason Victor Serinus)

SPIRITED PERCUSSION

According to Yoruban tradition, orishas are the divine African ancestral spirits who guide us through life. And if there's one good thing to be said about the colonial exploration of the New World, it's that it brought the orishas to this hemisphere, where, after being intermingled with Christian saints, they've become an integral part of Afro-Latin cultural and musical traditions. Obatala, Shango, Yemenya, Elegbua, Oshun, and the others will be invoked Sunday night at Berkeley's iMusicast by Grupo Orisha, who will render their songs of devotion on traditional bata drums. Also appearing is Latin jazz master Tito Garcia y Su Orquesta La Internacional, who knows a thing or two about percussion, rhythms, and claves as well. $5-$10; iMusicast.com (E.K.A.)

JAZZ PIANO

The latest Verve album from jazz pianist Danilo Perez is titled ... Till Then. Born in Panama, he draws from a repertoire of hemispheric popular songs by Violetta Para, Chico Buarque, Silvio Rodriguez, Joni Mitchell, and Stevie Wonder. The New England Conservatory of Music professor is in his element here, improvising over intriguing harmonies and rhythmic ideas. Taking a break from his gigs with Wayne Shorter, he rolls through Yoshi's in Oakland on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 May with Adam Cruz (drums) and Ben Street (bass). $16 8 p.m., $10 10 p.m. 510-238-9200. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

EXPERIMENTAL ORCHESTRAL

San Francisco's Kronos Quartet continues to present intriguing new music in a string quartet context. In a rare homestand, it'll also add multimedia artistry (visual projections, lighting design, and sound sculpture) to the Bay Area premiere of "Visual Music" Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The ninety-minute work, cocommissioned by San Francisco Performances, thematically combines separate works into one program without pause, with ten compositions by such disparate artists as Steve Reich, John Zorn, Bernard Herrmann, and Iceland's Sigur Rós. $26-$44. 415-398-6449. (Larry Kelp)

AFFORDABLE JAZZ

Last of the Kansas City jazz-blues greats, pianist and singing giant Jay McShann, joins the SFJazz All-Star High School Ensemble in a hundredth-birthday salute to Count Basie on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at San Francisco's Herbst Theatre. The evening features some of Basie's best-known charts, even a couple from the classic Afrique album (written and arranged for Basie by Oliver Nelson), performed by the high school big band that features players from thirteen Northern California high schools, nearly half from the East Bay. It's the spring SFJazz Fest's cheapest show, accessible to youngsters ($5) as well as adults ($10). 415-776-1999. (L.K.)

AFFORDABLE CLASSICAL

George Antheil, the bad boy of American music, was at one time one of America's most widely performed composers. The Del Sol String Quartet does its part in restoring him to notoriety with Saturday's affordable Berkeley Trinity Chapel world premiere of Antheil's complete string quartets, plus other enticing works. $8-$12. 8 p.m. 510-549-3864. (J.V.S.)

SKANKIN' BENEFITS

According to the TS Alliance Web site (TSAlliance.org), tuberous sclerosis complex, also known as Bourneville's Disease, is a genetic disease that affects multiple organs and can cause tumors throughout the body. Even gnarlier, there's no known cure for this disease, which afflicts more than one million people worldwide. But there is hope, and where there is hope, there is reggae. Get your bashment boogie on for a good cause on Sunday, when an all-female lineup of guest selectas -- including Jenicyde, Neta, and Mama L -- spin during Skankin' for a Cure, a benefit for the TS Alliance taking place at Berkeley's Shattuck Down Low Lounge. The proceeds go to the "Step Forward" walk on May 30, which will raise awareness about this little-known disease and provide funding for research. $10; 1-888-491-0306. (E.K.A.)

DRUM GODDESSES

Janet Weiss may never inspire Neil Peart-style drum geek adoration, but for years her volcanic percussive bursts have fueled two of capital-I Indie rock's finest combos -- Quasi (a smirking pop duo with her ex-husband) and the monstrous, needs-no-introduction Sleater-Kinney. Instead of going on the Atkins diet, it appears she intends to lose weight by pounding out back-to-back sets when the Q/S-K double bill hits the Fillmore in SF Saturday and Sunday. $15, 9 p.m. 415-346-6000. (R.H.)

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