Critic's Choice for the week of September 7-13, 2005 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

DANCERS AND THUGS

KMEL radio personality DJ Backside is famous for dishing out the sass, even if she's named for, uh, that other thing. Saturday afternoon, she'll cohost what's sure to be a bomb-ass hip-hop dance competition alongside Mob Figaz pals the Jacka and Huslah, two up-and-coming turf rappers and protégés of C-Bo (who's no longer rapping the jailhouse blues, uh, barring the unforeseen). Kicking off at 3 p.m. at the East Oakland Youth Development Center (8200 International Blvd.), this party also features performances by Wasaname An Em, D-Labrie, K-Doe, Allianc Wit No E, GTA, and Black Bizness. Admission is $3, or $5 to compete for $500. Info: EOYDC.org or 415-346-3740. (Rachel Swan)

ROCK

On Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's latest disc, Howl, the Bay Area noisemakers offer up a surprisingly unplugged set that falls someplace between progressive Americana and acoustic rock, with more than a hint of gospel and R&B in the arrangements. How will the Club balance the crushing feedback of its earlier, hipper efforts with this newer, quieter sound? Find out Monday night at SF's Great American Music Hall. $18, 8 p.m. 415-895-0750 or MusicHallSF.com (j. poet)

BREATHTAKING INNOVATION

Coming up as a rocker in San Francisco's gritty Mission District, Luis Monterrosa -- aka the Genie -- picked up his first guitar in 1988. After years spent emulating the fancy fretwork and hooky grooves of his hard rock and reggae idols, the Genie invented his own musical style -- a mélange of hip-hop, drum 'n' bass, and Middle Eastern rhythms dubbed "scratch guitar" -- by combining slide guitar with beatboxing, vocal vamps, and live sampling. In print, it's exciting; done live, it's breathtaking. See him perform Thursday at ArtAuction05, a benefit for the Coalition on Homelessness, also featuring the salsa and reggaetón band Bayonics, plus live graffiti by Spie-1, spoken-word by YouthSpeaks poets, Sake 1 on wax, and Elena doing live quilting. The event kicks off with a buffet dinner at 6 p.m. at SomArts Gallery (934 Brannan St.); tickets cost $30. SomArts.org (R.S.)

OPERA

Several months after receiving ecstatic acclaim for the German premiere of Handel's opera Atalanta, Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra bring most of the same cast to Berkeley's First Congregational Church for this weekend's concert performances. In addition to the superb sopranos Dominique Labelle and Susanne Rydén, attention turns to the US debut of mezzo Cecile van de Sant. $28-$62, Saturday 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 7 p.m. 415-392-4400 or Philharmonia.org (Jason Victor Serinus)

LATIN

Fabulous Oakland venue Kimball's Carnival celebrates its Latino heritage Sunday with an afternoon bash featuring rockers Puro Bandido and salsa jazzers Ojada and Mariachi Mexicanismo. Led by timbalero Richard Segovia, the extremely talented Bandido is the highlight here, flaunting a Latin boogaloo sound with a metal twist. $20, 3 p.m. 510-444-6979. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)

PEACEFUL HOEDOWNS

This year's Power to the Peaceful lineup is so potent, you might even catch a pro-war supporter there -- an estimated fifty thousand folks will flock to Golden Gate Park's Speedway Meadow Saturday afternoon, spreading the gospel of peace, love, granola, and environmental consciousness. PC poster boy Michael Franti and Spearhead will be there, as will vocal acrobat Marie Daulne of Zap Mama, spoken-word czar Saul Williams, hip-hop femme fatale Jean Grae, punk provocateurs Anti-Flag, dubtronic scientist J-Boogie, house-music hero Miguel Migs, and newly single SF mayor Gavin Newsom. Besides the music, this year's festival has an ecologically certified skate ramp demo with Danny Way and other pro boarders, massage and yoga, a DJ tent, and much more. Best of all, unlike gasoline and petroleum, it's free. The fun starts at 11 a.m. (Eric K. Arnold)

AVANT-GARDE

Ah, the perils of being an underground arts space in downtown Oakland. Just ask Sarah Lockhart and Darren Jenkins, two of the six heady organizers who founded 21 Grand in a storefront gallery in April 2000. In the five years since its genesis, the space has survived two evictions and three grand openings, which means countless hours of peeling back drywall and fixing gas pipes. Yet through its ungainly lifetime, the constantly shifting space has been a hub for experimental and avant-garde musicians, indie filmmakers, spoken-word poets, bike-coalition zealots, and activists of all stripes. Come celebrate its fifth anniversary benefit (titled Second Illuminated Corridor) Saturday at Oakland Ironworks with performances by Big City Orchestra, Cinepimps, Youthsounds, Overdub Club, Oaklandish, and many more. $3, 8 p.m. 21Grand.org (R.S.)

BLUES

Master harmonica player and singer Birdlegg has been playing the Oakland blues with his Tight Fit Blues Band for more than thirty years, and still shouts, shimmies, and hollers like a man half his age. Bird has often said he doesn't play music, he is music; a boast he'll amply back up Friday at Albany's Ivy Room. $7, 10 p.m. 510-524-9220 or IvyRoom.com (j.p.)

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