Between the Dials If the Go-Betweens' album Bellavista Terrace sounds familiar, it's not because the band is the next big thing: Founders Grant McLennan and Robert Forster signed to Rough Trade way back in '78 as students at Australia's Queensland University. And it's not because any of the songs on this greatest hits compilation were actually hits, at least in the commercial sense. You probably didn't see the group play, unless you caught them touring with Lloyd Cole in 1990, the year they broke up. And Go-Betweens albums are hard to find, although Beggars Banquet rereleased five of the six records the band put out over 12 years. No, if the Go-Betweens sound familiar, it's because they epitomize the best that college radio had to offer in the '80s: the jangly guitars, the irrepressible pop hooks, the wistful lyricism of a band that deserves more than a small but fervent cult following. Etienne de Rocher opens this KALX-sponsored show at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $14; call 885-0750.
The Not-a-Show Pre-Show Punk, minus long lines, steep ticket prices, convenience fees, Portosans, and commuter hassles, arrives in the form of a Sleater-Kinney in-store at Amoeba. Following the long-awaited release of their Kill Rock Stars album The Hot Rock, the Olympian threesome return to their workmanlike roots, warming up for their This Is Not a Festival! gig tomorrow night (with Sonic Youth and Guided by Voices) with a free show at 6 p.m. at Amoeba Records, 1855 Haight (at Stanyan), S.F.; call 831-1200.
Nothing Going On But the Rent The bitter battle brewing over the Mission's changing demographics isn't the first, as KQED's historical documentary The Mission points out -- trouble began as far back as the early '70s, when BART construction commenced. "Rage Against Rent!," a night of video selections and a panel discussion on the gentrification of the Mission, will present excerpts from The Mission along with two featured videos expounding on the problem. Christopher Daly and Tracy Hoare's On 16th Street (1999) contrasts the rise of trendy restaurants and precious boutiques with the residential hotel fires that have displaced local residents; Mike Kavanagh's 1999 video Defend the 'Hood! documents the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project and the debate it sparked. After the films, speakers from the Eviction Defense Network and other groups will discuss the desperate measures being taken by tenants and landlords alike over rents. The event begins at 8 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia (at 21st Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 789-8484.
The Sound of Music Paul Pena's road to Tuva was long and arduous, as the documentary Genghis Blues proves. A vast geographic expanse separates San Francisco from the ruggedly beautiful terrain straddling Siberia and Mongolia, and getting there from here entails a series of grueling plane rides and car trips. But part of what makes Adrian and Roko Belic's otherwise rudimentary film so engaging is the way they trace the odd circumstances that landed Pena halfway around the world in the first place. Pena, the blind San Francisco bluesman who wrote the Steve Miller hit "Jet Airliner" and performed with Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, and T-Bone Walker in his day, stumbled upon Tuvan throat singing (a multiharmonic vocal technique) through a shortwave Radio Moscow program. Pena taught himself the kargyraa technique, and so thoroughly amazed visiting Tuvan throat singer Kongar-Ol Ondar with an impromptu demonstration that Ondar invited him to a national throat singing competition. Though the Belics admit their inexperience upfront (this is their first feature), they got it right with Genghis; it's pure pleasure watching international barriers fall away as Pena and Ondar forge a musical brotherhood, and heartbreaking hearing Pena sing about leaving a place that finally feels like home. The film screens daily at 12:30, 2:45, 5, 7:15, and 9:30 p.m. (except July 11) through July 14 at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro (at Market), S.F. Admission is $6.50; call 621-6120.
The End Is Near The shining promise of the new millennium is that once it finally arrives, we won't have to hear so damn much about it for another thousand years. Until then, of course, we'll be seeing shows like Keith Reddin's Brutality of Fact, a black comedy on the widespread and often colorful religious extremism prompted by the uncertainty of a new age. Reddin, who debuted Brutality to critical acclaim in Chicago, was inspired by the events at Waco, but the sheer number of doomsday sects and religious cults that have surfaced since then suggest an accelerated search for meaning. Actors Theater stages the show, which revolves around bitter divorcee Jackie, a religious convert who distributes evangelical magazines with her elderly mother until the prodigal sister Jackie claimed was dead returns, occasioning a familial Judgment Day. Brutality opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Aug. 7) at Actors Theater of San Francisco, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Admission is $20; call 296-9179.
Do the Dead Dia de los Muertos comes early this year when Ruby Nelda Perez follows up Rosita's Jalapeno Kitchen (her 1995 collaboration with Bay Area playwright Rodrigo Duarte Clark) with the West Coast premiere of Rosita's Day of the Dead. The sequel, which debuted at San Antonio's Jump Start Theater, finds Rosita dishing up tamales, candy skulls, and gossip about her family: the teenage clairvoyant Marisabel, the suburbanite Connie, and Rosita's dead mother, Margarita, all of whom are pressuring her to reconcile with her dying father. Toothsome comedy and free recipes add to the appeal. The show opens at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through July 10) at El Teatro de la Esperanza, Red Stone Building, 2940 16th St. (at Capp), Second Floor, S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 255-2320.
So Long, Sosa! Europe may be cosmopolitan, but it hasn't got Cuban pianist/composer Omar Sosa, at least not yet. Sosa's intense, wholly international flavor derives from Cuban folk music and Yoruban culture, hip hop, and an American jazz tradition spanning Thelonious Monk to Chick Corea, with the occasional funk lick thrown in for good measure. Sosa and his quintet -- drummer Elliot Kavee and former Midnight Voices rapper Will Power will be flying in from New York to perform -- leave the country July 6 for a European tour that includes stops in France and at Holland's North Sea Jazz Festival. As a prelude to that trip, they'll be playing work from Sosa's latest CD, Spirit of the Roots, plus new material developed for a recording project in Ecuador. The show begins at 8 p.m. at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $15; call 863-9834.
Lofty Aspirations The Board of Supes may or may not debate Sue Bierman's proposed moratorium on loft construction this summer, but the San Francisco Mime Troupe will most definitely air the issue in parks all over the Bay Area with its musical summer show City for Sale. City targets the shift in Bay Area economics which has led to the proliferation of artists' lofts that most artists can't afford. Amos Glick plays a developer who capitalizes on building codes to convert low-rent studios into highly profitable live-work spaces, to accommodate people like Agnes (Stephanie Taylor), a young Web site designer who's willing and able to pay big for spacious digs in a happening urban neighborhood. Velina Brown plays a certain embattled mayor trying to reconcile business and neighborhood interests. Longtime Troupe member Bruce Barthol has composed an original score for the show, which opens at 2 p.m., preceded by music at 1:30 p.m., in Dolores Park, Dolores between 18th & 20th streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 285-1717 for the Mime Troupe's complete summer schedule.
Splendor in the Grass Classical music, despite its best efforts, still seems ill at ease around the Fourth of July. Conductors nationwide tend to celebrate the most American of holidays in one of three ways: with rousing odes that aren't American, like Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture; American music that isn't classical, like Gershwin; or American classical music that's an utterly predictable choice, like Aaron Copland. How do music directors balance classicism, patriotism, and accessibility, knowing that part of their audience will have a pretty good chardonnay buzz going anyhow? Well, let's see: This year's California Symphony program has plumbed the country's cultural depths for its "Back to the Future: A Celebration of American Heritage Through Music, History, Film, and Popular Culture" (6 p.m. at the Concord Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass, Concord, 776-1999; $12.75-27.75). The San Francisco Opera, meanwhile, has made a few concessions to American pop culture with selections from West Side Story and the Boys From Syracuse, before saying to hell with it and adding excerpts from Carmen and Wagner's Ring cycle to its "Opera in the Grove" program. It begins at 2 p.m. at Stern Grove, 19th Avenue & Sloat, S.F. Admission is free; call 252-6252. For a complete list of Fourth of July events, see Page 36.
Playtime for Workers Harry Bridges, the vaunted labor leader of San Francisco's 1934 maritime workers' strike, is the first big name to be celebrated at LaborFest '99, a monthlong salute to solidarity. After that, the defiant Emma Goldman gets her due in the drama Emma Goldman: Love, Anarchy, and Other Affairs (July 8-31 at Theater Rhino); writer/activist Tillie Olsen reads and speaks (July 17 at the Women's Building); and Howard Pflanzer reads the play Lucy Parsons: Anarchist (July 24 at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, July 25 at New College). The festival couches American labor history in an international context with a photo exhibit on the Puerto Rican General Strike (July 9 at Mission Cultural Center) and "Irish Labor Music Night" (July 25 at New College), and the festivities conclude with a dance party featuring live accompaniment from Musicians Union Local 6. LaborFest begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight with a commemoration and party at Harry Bridges Plaza, adjacent to the Ferry Building, Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; call 642-8066 for event schedules and information or go to www.laborfest.net.
Where There's a Will Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace Brothers, Palace Flophouse, Palace Songs, and just plain Palace are all Will Oldham, with various incarnations of the Oldham family and friends playing along. Oldham's disarmingly heartfelt delivery, quavery and off-key though it can be at times, lends a special poignancy to Celtic- and Appalachian-inspired folk balladry and lovely, nihilism-laced tales of equestrian mishaps, roadside wrecks, shattered love affairs, aimless quests, and various other kinds of pain that put the depression right back in No Depression. It's why ardent fans will happily sit through the name changes and the occasional live show conceit like radio static channeled through an amp. Anomoanon opens for Oldham at 9 p.m. at the Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck (at Prince), Berkeley. Admission is $8; call (510) 841-2082. Oldham also plays at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 7, with Supreme Dicks and Anomoanon at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $10; call 885-0750.