Wraith Rock 

Love Equals Death grows up

SAT 7/16

The Dictators' "Haircut and Attitude" remains an effective prescription for rock fame: You gotta look good! You gotta act tough! Nowhere in the song does singer Handsome Dick Manitoba shout, You gotta be humble and self-effacing! Nevertheless, the appearance of modesty has become a matter of punk etiquette -- one that the black-clad foursome Love Equals Death doesn't appear to believe in. "There's no time for that," singer Chon Travis says. "We have to be somewhat confident -- you have to have something that the others don't." For example, most other bands don't claim to be "like a wraith returning from the dead to claim revenge," nor to "tear through all boundaries and genres," as does Love Equals Death in its official bio. Then again, many bands make up for their personal modesty with music that's overblown or confoundingly artsy. By comparison, Love Equals Death, which also includes guitarist Duffs, bassist Dominic Davi, and drummer Tonio Garcia-Romero, is almost earthy. They play highly strung California hardcore -- charging guitars and melodic vocals -- with bare hints of other influences, such as Travis' touch of rockabilly croon on "The Outsiders," from the band's 2003 debut, or the thrash-metal lining of "Sonora," from upcoming EP The Hucklebuck. Often compared to AFI, whose guitarist Jade Puget played with Travis in the defunct Loose Change, Love Equals Death is less gothy and grandiose. And the Ukiah-raised Travis, whose lyrics bear as wide a streak of anger as gloom, comes by both honestly. "I draw on my drug-addicted parents and my growing up too fast and taking care of myself when I should have been in school," he says. "I have basically lived this darkness. Some people glorify these types of situations, but have never lived them."

Honest angst or sheer power, something's working. Travis and flanks, who do look good and act tough, have played such high-profile gigs as the Vans Warped Tour, and opened for the Misfits and the Distillers. Saturday, Love Equals Death plays 924 Gilman in Berkeley (510-525-9926), with Thought Riot, Daggermouth, Broken October and Klonopin. Admission is $6; doors 8 p.m. -- Andrew Marcus

7/16-8/9

On the Road

No Turn on Read

At the freeway underpass, we have a choice of which direction to take: Gray Area straight ahead, White Noise left, Red Tape bear right. Artist Brion Sprinsock tampered with CalTrans signs (Photoshopped them, word is) to create his photo show, In Other Words: Vital Signs from the Road Less Traveled. To him, the poeticized road signs "are valuable as a distillation of thousands of years of human experience which expresses common truths." Of course, and they're also a pretty good prank. Sprinsock appears in person Saturday (5-8 p.m.) for the show's reception at the Gallery of Urban Art, 1266 66th St., Emeryville, 510-596-0020. For more info: TheGalleryofUrbanArt.com -- Kelly Vance

7/14-7/17

Grass Valley Is Greener

Imagine four days of family-friendly camping and music from all over the world, and you pretty much have the recipe for the California WorldFest, now in its ninth year at the Grass Valley fairgrounds. The United Nations-like lineup will be headlined by South African vocal choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo, as well as alt.country stars the Waifs, Hawaiian ukulele specialist Jake Shimabukuro, women's music giants Linda Tillery and Nina Gerber, Latin-hop big band O-Maya, Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, West African groovemasters Adaawe, Chicano rockers Quetzal. In fact, there'll be seven stages of music to peruse. Tickets are $35-$125 for adults, $5-$50 for kids (under-fives get in free). Info: WorldFest.net -- Eric K. Arnold

SUN 7/16

Light Rock

Well, it turns out Moby isn't a complete twit after all. The mainstream electronica icon has recently partnered with the American Museum of Natural History and MTV2 to develop SonicVision, a 38-minute audiovisual extravaganza that features a blend of contemporary rock and pop music and state-of-the-art digital animation. If you like Radiohead, U2, David Bowie, Coldplay, Boards of Canada, David Byrne, Brian Eno, Stereolab, Fischerspooner, White Zombie, Audioslave, or even Moby, imagine what they'll sound like under the Planetarium dome of Oakland's Chabot Space & Science Center. This show is too loud for small children, but teens and grown folks will think it's cooler than a polar bear. Opens Saturday. ChabotSpace.org -- Eric K. Arnold

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