Critic's Choice for the week of April 25-May 1, 2007 

A Hoodstock preview, Ms. Wine in the House, and one crushing Mastodon.

Quannum Party

Call it "Hoodstock": Portland rap act Lifesavas gathers the stars on its bomb-ass new release Gutterfly — including George Clinton, Dead Prez, Vernon Reid, Camp Lo, Fishbone, and Digable Planets — for three amazing live shows. Vursatyl of Lifesavas says Hoodstock is in the cards, but for now, fans of Gutterfly's blaxploitation-soundtrack goodness will have to survive on a handful of shows opening for Marin's DJ Shadow, who continues to support last year's The Outsider. Both are associated with Bay Area label stalwart Quannum. Go support your boys at the Fillmore in SF Thursday, April 26. 8 p.m., $37.50. (David Downs)


Mastodon may not be as crushingly gorgeous as ISIS or as time-signature-challenging as Meshuggah, but the Atlanta band's recent Grammy nomination proved that its chugging metal appeals to a wider audience — from straight-up Slayer fans to arms-crossed hipsters. That may explain the current lineup of Mastodon's seemingly disparate tourmates: Fat Wreck Chords' folk-punk Against Me!, arty indie-rockers Cursive, and ISIS' little cousins Planes Mistaken for Stars. Catch this transcendental rock show on Wednesday, May 2 at the Warfield in SF. 7 p.m., $25. (Kathleen Richards)

Venus in Song

Cal Performances' Hertz Hall program this weekend focuses on Theater in Song, showcasing songs and theater pieces by Jake Heggie and Ricky Ian Gordon. Featuring performances by mezzo Frederica von Stade and soprano Kristin Clayton, the afternoon includes the West Coast premiere of "At the Statue of Venus," a musical scene that represents Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's first collaboration since their riveting Dead Man Walking. Sunday, April 29. 3 p.m., $62. (Jason Victor Serinus)

Clapp Your Hands

For fans of lo-fi indie pop, Sunnyvale songwriter Allen Clappis somewhat of a legend. Since the early '90s, he has written some of the catchiest and most ambitiously composed homemade singles, both in his band the Orange Peels and as a solo musician. His candy-sweet innocence even caught the ears of Coca-Cola's advertising execs, who featured his music in an ad last year. In September, the bespectacled musician released Something Strange Happens, a collection of out-of-print singles, B-sides, and obscure recordings, and since has turned his attention to melancholic, vocal-rich songs under the moniker Fairwood Singers. The Orange Peels open for Seattle's Central Services, with Indiana Hale, on Saturday, April 28 at the Stork Club. 9 p.m., $5. (K.R.)

#1 Beats
When Konono No. 1 was introduced to the West on the Congotronics series, its music blew the minds of hardcore Afropop disciples and jaded hipsters alike. It wasn't just its impeccable sense of melody and rhythm — qualities you can find among innumerable African groups — but the impressive otherworldly tonality of its grooves. Most listeners had never heard anything like it, which is understandable when you consider that the members of Konono No. 1 make their own electrically amplified likembes (thumb pianos) from recycled and/or salvaged materials, then back them with a traditional rhythm section. The result is a combination of progressively energetic Hendrixesque melodic distortion and deeply Central African sensibilities — sort of a post-futuristic take on contemporary African music. Imagine how great it'll sound at the spacious Great American Music Hall Saturday, April 28. DJ Jeremiah, aka Mr. Afrobeat, opens. 9 p.m., $20. (Eric K. Arnold)

Warm Fuzzies

Minneapolis' the Winter Blanket is a case study in suggestive band naming. Singer Stephanie Davila wraps listeners in her warm voice and languid lap-steel while bandmates Doug Miller, Todd Hansen, and Dave Campbell provide soft downy fuzz with guitars, piano, and bass. With song titles like "Sleepy Eyes," you'll have trouble not curling up into a fetal position. They play with the Trenchermen and Lindi Wiggins at the Starry Plough on Thursday, April 26. 9:30 p.m., $6. (K.R.)

Chinese Bluegrass

When banjoist and singer Abigail Washburn visited China to fulfill her Asian Studies requirement, she found an ancient culture that was strangely congruent with the Appalachian music she was also discovering. She assembled the Sparrow Quartet (Bela Fleck, second banjo; Ben Sollee, cello; Casey Driessen, fiddle) for a tour of China and Tibet, and their Chinese-influenced old-time music and Washburn's affecting vocals will create an evening of unique music making. At the Freight & Salvage Wednesday, May 2. 8 p.m., $29. 50 advance, $30.50 door. (j. poet)

Too Much Good Stuff

Also don't miss: UK soul phenom Amy Winehouse intoxicating Popscene and SF rockers Birdmonster feeding chicks at the Independent (Thursday); the Kaiser Chiefs invade at the Warfield and disgraced rapper-actor (ractor?) Ice Cube raps at the Fillmore (Friday); UK supergroup The Good, the Bad and the Queen holds court at the Grand Ballroom (Sunday); LCD Soundsystem maxes out Mezzanine's soundsystem and the Kooks get weird at Slim's (Monday); metal-glammer Pop Levi at Bottom of the Hill and superb alt-rockers Ladyhawk at Great American Music Hall (Wednesday).


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