Critic's Choice for the week of September 29, 2004 

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.


Normally, we don't get too excited about artist in-store appearances at retail outlets, which generally are little more than self-serving promotional events for folks with new albums dropping. But that was before we found out that the Federation -- the East Bay turf kingpins responsible for "Hyphy," the most marvelous piece of West Coastish slump in many moons -- would be showing up at Tower's Stonestown outlet in SF Tuesday at 5 p.m. to sign some CDs and maybe even kick a lil' somethin'. Perhaps our atypical giddiness can be understood, because these Federation cats -- Doonie Baby, Goldie Gold, Mr. Stress, and producer Ric Roc -- have had a lot to do with the local rap resurgence that has returned Yay Area representatives to the commercial airwaves. Honestly, who among us can say they aren't feeling rather mobbish because of this latest turn of events? We at the Express know we be hyphy, and you should be, too. 415-681-2001. (Eric K. Arnold) brilliant elvis


The mighty El Vez unveils his new show, El Vez for Prez, tonight at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (it'll also launch YBCA's Hecho en Califas concert series). All music lovers owe it to themselves to experience El Vez at least once, and this is certainly his most topical show, proving he's the candidate with the best hair, the best music, and by far the most insight into American politics, especially relating to different cultures and borders, particularly the Mexican one. "El Vez is more than an Elvis impersonator," Rolling Stone recently proclaimed. "He's an Elvis translator, a goodwill ambassador for the Latin culture." What he does, brilliantly, is lead a great rock band, and put new lyrics to old Elvis hits, both funny and politically pointed. 8 p.m., $25. 415-976-2787 or (Larry Kelp)


American ska legends the Toasters were founded by British expat Rob "Bucket" Hingley in 1982 to give the colonies a taste of the 2-Tone movement that swept England after punk burned out. After 22 years and innumerable personnel changes, Toaster-induced mayhem continues with the return of '90s trumpeter Lord Sledge. New Blood Revival and Monkey open. Friday at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph in Berkeley. $10. 510-928-0068 or (j. poet) hip-hop activist


In case you haven't noticed, this is an election year. And even if you "just don't give a fuck" (to quote Eminem) whether Kerry or Bush should be our president, local organizers and activists want members of the hip-hop generation to be aware of ballot initiatives like Prop. 66 (which would reform the controversial three-strikes law). To get the word out, BayLOC, the local arm of the National Hip-Hop Politics Convention, is organizing an edutainment-oriented voter-reg throwdown this Sunday at Laney College. Speakers and invited guests include politicians Keith Carson and Barbara Lee, playground legend Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell, and Oakland superstars D'Wayne Wiggins and Goapele. There will also be live performances by E40, Casual, Pep Love, Company of Prophets, Kalasol, and a special appearance by dead prez, so don't say nobody told you.,, or 510-301-2386. (E.K.A.)


Noise for anything but noise's sake is the name of the game when it comes to the Whole Noyse, one of America's finest early-music wind ensembles. With its possible combination of cornet, shawm, slide trumpet, recorder, and/or curtal with two sackbuts, Saturday's enticing San Francisco Early Music Society program in Berkeley St. John's Presbyterian Church traces the development of the European wind band from the 15th into the 17th century. $25, 8 p.m. 510-528-1725. (Jason Victor Serinus) new wave


Nick Lowe has done it all: legendary songwriter ("What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding"), producer (Elvis Costello and Rockpile), former son-in-law of Johnny Cash, and rock 'n' roll maniac. His timeless blend of pop, soul, country, and rock still sounds fresh today, as he roams the world with his acoustic guitar and winning stage presence. His longtime pal and collaborator Geraint Watkins opens. Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall in SF. $22-$25. 415-885-0750 or (j.p.)


This Friday, as part of the fifth annual Hecho en Califas Festival at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, there will be a Latino Alternative battle of the bands. Featuring $4,000 in prizes, the event represents a collaboration with Padrisimo Magazine, a Peninsula-based Latino pop publication. The show is titled Last Band Standing, and invitations have gone out across California. In the true spirit of the Hecho Fests, it will showcase young Latino bands with something to say about today and tomorrow. 8 p.m., $10. 510-849-2568 or (Jesse "Chuy" Varela).


As its name implies, the Antibalas Afrobeat Liberation Orchestra isn't your by-the-numbers big band. (Of course, if you're counting, the band's roster generally ranges from between ten and twenty people, depending on the size of the horn section.) What makes Antibalas -- Spanish for "anti-bullet," loosely translated as "bulletproof" -- so special isn't just the group's gratuitous musical chops and affinity for extended groove sessions; no, this is a band with a conscience, believing wholeheartedly that the world can be cured of its sins, woes, and ills through the transformative nature of Afrobeat, the Yoruban funk-jazz genre created by Fela Kuti. Antibalas has incorporated Fela's penchant for seriously long (but never boring) songs and biting social commentary into its own material, and the group's recent album, Who Is This America?, honors Afrobeat's tradition while forwarding the genre's sound into contemporary Western sociocultural/sociopolitical relevance. Okay, now let's review: Antibalas is highly PC, but perhaps more to the point, its music has a good beat, and you can dance to it -- all night long, if need be. Saturday night at the Great American Music Hall. $16-$18, 9 p.m. (E.K.A.)


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