Critic's Choice for the week of October 5, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

THOSE PRONE TO WHIPPING IT

You can't blame Devo for MTV, but these guys were the first band to successfully exploit music videos, finding a mainstream audience for their brain-heavy, asymmetrical art-rock. Their philosophy of De-Evolution -- part put-on, part marketing ploy -- rings even truer today than it did in the band's heyday. Four of the five original members are on board Saturday at Oakland's Paramount, along with Bow Wow Wow, another quirky rhythm-heavy '80s outfit. $54-$64, 8 p.m. 510-465-6400 or ParamountTheatre.com (j. poet)

INDIE ROCK SUCH AS IT IS

Generally, Pitchfork-bookmarking, Live 105-rocking, PBR-drinking indie-rock tastemakers avoid Shoreline Amphitheater and its arena/shed overtones, but that changes Saturday at the ludicrously stacked Download Festival, a veritable avalanche of hip featuring the Killers, the Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, Doves, British Sea Power, the Lovemakers, and myriad other spry noisemakers. Go forth and be tastefully rocked. $29.50-$49.50, noon. BGP.com (Rob Harvilla)

"SPECIAL" RAPPERS

"Whachu ridin' on, man ... the yellow bus?" trumpets North Oakland-raised freestyle champ Mistah F.A.B. (an acronym for "Forevuh Aftah Bread") on his current answering machine greeting, which he'll probably chuck within a day. The rapper's new favorite slogan, Go dumb on the yellow bus, may not hold significance for the average person (neither do the verbs scrapin' or thizzin', for that matter). But his smart-alecky rhymes and ebullient personality have universal appeal. F.A.B. performs at Youth Movement Records' "Unplug Clear Channel" benefit at Berkeley's La Peña Saturday night, which also features Ise Lyfe, Rico Pabón, DJ TreatUNice, and guest host Brutha Los. Youth Media Council and La Peña Cultural Center cosponsor this event, which kicks off at 8 p.m. and costs $8. www.lapena.org (Rachel Swan)

ACID JAZZ-HOP

At six foot eight, Englishman Charlie Tate is often mistaken for a professional basketball player. But because it's hard to drink a beer while dribbling, Tate prefers to do his slam-dunking in the recording studio, and as the mastermind behind West Oakland -- an acid jazzy/hip-hoppish fusion record credited to Tate's alias, Colossus -- he has ushered in a new era of urban credibility at SF-based Om Records. His record release party goes down Tuesday at SF's Boom Boom Room, featuring Tate backed by a live band and buoyed by special guest emcees. $5 at the door. BoomBoomTickets.com (Eric K. Arnold)

ELECTRIC COMPASSION

The first time Jason Morgan and his electric boogaloo band, Harold Ray Live in Concert, performed in the dungeon of UC Berkeley's Cloyne Court co-op, they left a whole gaggle of preppy KALX devotees completely dumbstruck. In the language of music journalists, Harold Ray was "an odd blend of styles" (Delta blues, slatternly church-kid indie rock with tambourines) that somehow worked. Now, watch Morgan's new outfit, Jason Morgan & Ringo's Almost Stars Band, perform at Sunday's Jukebox Heroes, an all-cover benefit extravaganza benefiting a local musician friend whose life was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Other performers include Red Meat, Plain High Drifters, Dave Gleason's Wasted Days, Drunk Horse, Mike Therieau Band, and the Bellyachers. $5-$10, 4 p.m. IvyRoom.com (Rachel Swan)

WORLD

Sunday, Berkeley's Ashkenaz will host the American debuts of three talented female singers from Portugal and Azerbaijan, continuing the venue's acclaimed Taproots series, wherein world musicians discuss their lives and music prior to the concert. Portugal's Dona Rosa was a blind street beggar until she turned her emotion-laden voice to singing fado; she shares the evening with Azerbaijani singers Gulare Azafli and Zulfiyye Ibadova, who perform in the usually male-only Ashuq style rarely heard in the West. $15-$18, 7 p.m. 510-525-5054 or Ashkenaz.com (Larry Kelp)

JAZZ

Drummer E.W. Wainwright hosts the First Annual Memorial Concert for Oscar Brown Jr. at Anna's Jazz Island in Berkeley Sunday. The renowned singer, songwriter, actor, and activist passed away this May (at a robust 79 years), but left a deep legacy writing lyrics for jazz standards as well as his own original hipster themes like "But I Was Cool." Joining the stellar resident cast is vibist Rickey Kelly. $10, 8 and 10 p.m. $10. 510-841-5299. AnnasJazzIsland.com (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

FOLK ROCK

When Dan Bern appeared on the scene almost a decade ago, he was hailed as the "new Dylan" and groomed as folk music's punk-rock savior. Bern managed to transcend the labels by carving out his own unique niche with a style that alternates between inspired free-form rants and heartfelt ballads with unforgettable melodies. He has built up a considerable cult following with his endless touring, a modern troubadour with a style that's equal parts Lenny Bruce, Woody Guthrie, and Elvis Costello. See him Tuesday and Wednesday (October 11 and 12) at 8 p.m. at Berkeley's Freight and Salvage. $17.50 advance, $18.50 door. 510-548-1761 or TheFreight.org (j.p.)

OPERA

The most anticipated vocal show in town (besides SF Opera's Doctor Atomic) is tonight's much-heralded return of Cecilia Bartoli to UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall. Now at the height of her powers, the glorious mezzo joins the Zurich Orchestra la Scintilla for a Cal Performances romp through impossibly difficult baroque repertoire from the first decade of the 18th century. Judging from her recent Decca release, Opera Probita, this could be her finest and most technically awesome Berkeley recital to date. $50-$250, 7 p.m. 510-642-9988. (Jason Victor Serinus)

CAMBODIAN HOLIDAYS

Out of Los Angeles' self-important Silver Lake scene comes a band that actually is important. Dengue Fever represents a revival of the Cambodian pop-rock that nearly died out during Pol Pot's catastrophic regime, and while the surf licks and exotica rhythms threaten kitsch, the beautiful vocals and presence of Cambodian native Chhom Nimol see that it never arrives. The quintet plays with Brooklyn's Parts and Labour Friday at Oakland's LoBot Gallery. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. $5-$10 donation. 510-282-2622 or LoBotGallery.com (Andrew Marcus)

RAPPING GOLFERS AND VICE VERSA

Adventurous Wu Tang Clan mastermind the RZA is a veritable Renaissance man: Already boasting such achievements as a kung-fu hip-hop movie inspired by Tchaikovsky's Peter and the Wolf and a book chronicling the philosophy of Wu Tang, RZA is now venturing into new, uncharted terrain. With the help of Mack Daddy Caddy -- an events-planning group that specializes in "golf-themed" activities -- RZA is bringing hip-hop to (gulp) an SF Mission District country club and golf course. Saturday's Community Tee Off hip-hop show also features Bay Area artists Wasaname an 'Em, Evil E, Rasco, Jennifer Johns, RasCue, Sake 1, Prolific, Kevvy Kev, Romanowski, and more. Running from 10 a.m. till sunset, the event takes place at the Urban Country Club at 10th and Mission streets -- part of the proceeds will benefit the New Orleans Boys and Girls Club. $15. MackDaddyCaddy.com (R.S.)

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