Critic's Choice for the week of July 23-29, 2003 

A punk-iversary, cynical pop, hot West Coast indie hip-hop, "chromodal" jazz, and eccentric electronica, among other acts.


You, my friend, are old, old, old. Lookout! Records, classic Berkeley punk epicenter and cultural behemoth, has turned fifteen. Have your nurse toss your walker in the trunk and strap you into your Oldsmobile, 'cause Lookout! is throwing a two-day celebration at SF's Great American Music Hall featuring the label's latest leading lights: The Queers, the Mr. T Experience, the Enemies, and the Smugglers on Saturday; Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, the Pattern, the Oranges Band, and Communiqué on Sunday. 415-885-0750. (Rob Harvilla)


Fountains of Wayne is a perfect summertime diversion for Bay Area hipsters -- light, frothy, and sarcastic. Its latest album, Welcome Interstate Managers, is a critics' darling thanks to its offbeat power-pop hooks and the band's penchant for cynical lyrics. And the band has a video with Rachel Hunter -- what says summer fun more than that? Friday at the Fillmore. 415-346-6000. (Michael Gowan)


When he's on the mic, he likes to speak freely. His name is Wildchild, and Secondary Protocol, his solo debut (after a stint in the underrated but influential Madlib-led Lootpack), is turning ears from coast to coast. The album has emerged as perhaps the hottest West Coast indie hip-hop LP out right now, due in no small part to Wildchild's nifty flows. He'll be doing the damn thing live and in person at Studio Z on Saturday, along with Derrick D and DJ Zeph (who has just dropped a new twelve-inch, by the way). (Eric K. Arnold)


Conductor George Cleve's lauded Midsummer Mozart Festival Orchestra showcases a Bay Area treasure, 1997 Van Cliburn Gold Medal pianist Jon Nakamatsu, on Friday night in Berkeley's St. John's Presbyterian Church. Nakamatsu offers Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 27, his final work in that medium, surrounded by two other late works, Mozart's Overture to The Magic Flute and Symphony No. 40. 415-292-9624. (Jason Victor Serinus)


There's not space here to go into the "chromodality" concept of Iranian tenor saxophonist Hafez Modir (formerly Modirzadeh); just know that it's why Modir's been such an asset in the Asian-American, Latin, and African-American jazz realms. He knows what the music needs, whether the leader is Jon Jang, Zakir Hussain, Steve Lacy, or Omar Sosa. Now associate professor at San Francisco State University leading the Jazz and World Music Studies program, Modir steps out as a leader at Yoshi's Monday to celebrate the release of his Dandelion CD, playing with the album's quartet: pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Todd Sickafoose, and drummer Akira Tana. 510-238-9200. (Larry Kelp)


No one seems quite sure what unparalleled drum 'n' bass weirdo Squarepusher is actually going to do when he wanders into SF's Mezzanine for an ultra-rare live performance Wednesday night. Will he hide behind a laptop? Breakdance? Start bar fights? Weep openly? In any event, expect plenty of glitchy but relentlessly catchy electro-minimalism: "Red Hot Car" alone makes Kylie Minogue look like Angela Lansbury. 415-820-9669. (R.H.)


The acclaimed Afro-Peruvian folk ensemble De Rompe y Raja performs a music and dance born out of the docks of Lima, where enslaved Africans played spirited rhythms on wooden-box cajon drums and forged a complex web of Afro-Euro-Indio roots. De Rompe y Raja are premier ambassadors of this unique South American culture. Join them Friday at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley for a Peruvian Independence Day celebration. 510-849-2568. (Jesse "Chuy" Varela)


Ah, "jamgrass," that newfangled hybrid combining banjo-pickin' bluegrass dexterity with classic drive-home-to-make-sure-the-iron's-off-and-return-an-hour-later-but-the-same-song's-still-playing jam band gluttony. The String Cheese Incident represent the current gold standard for this joyous excess -- behold the mayhem Thursday through Sunday at SF's Warfield. See? Overdoing it as usual. 415-567-2060. (R.H.)


Sure, Bob James is known to millions of Americans as the guy who wrote the theme from Taxi, but to the hip-hop generation, he's revered as a pre-sampling-era ancestor, a breakbeat creator whose back catalogue has proved worthy of crate-digging expeditions time and time again. James' "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" provided the bells for Run-DMC's classic "Peter Piper," while "Nautilus" has been sampled by the Wu-Tang Clan, among others. While many jazz masters have grumbled about the appropriation of their works, James hasn't gotten mad, he's gotten even, by recently collaborating with turntablist composer Rob Swift. Big props, big respect. And a big show -- actually, eight big shows, all told -- beginning Tuesday, when the jazz-funk pianist makes his Yoshi's debut, which continues through August 1. 510-238-9200. (E.A.)


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