House of Tudor

In 1997, three pretty young "women" from Japan jumped up onstage in the ultrahip environs of the Shibuya district and, despite their supposed lack of musical experience, completely captivated futurist studio guru Hoppy Kamiyama. In accordance with the eX-Girlmaster plan, it was only a matter of time before Kamiyama became the "Frog King," about which the women sang on their 2001 release Back to the Mono Kero!, the fourth full-length album Kamiyama produced with the trio in as many years. Kamiyama is still in their sway, as is every red-blooded record-store geek with a Bay Area zip code. Driven by a bizarre vision of a giant space frog and an inexorable buoyancy, the sprightly space nymphs from Kero Kero create dissonant melodies and fractured harmonies amidst candy-colored new-wave pogos and Casio-toned sheet metal sonatas; they sing about gravity, cucumbers, and monsters, cover their skin in fluorescent paint, cover the stage in Peeps, and wear matching pastel uniforms. They are out of their minds, out of this world, and utterly irresistible, which doesn't mean they are always good.

Like any ambassadors from an alien culture, the members of eX-Girl have had their difficulties while on Earth: personnel changes and creative differences (only bass player and otherworldly mastermind Kirilola remains from the first ground crew), and, on some occasions, a fundamental misconstruction of terrestrial tunes. Certainly, their stint as Punk Lady, a suped-up cover band of the famous '70s Japanese duo Pink Lady, left something to be desired for human ears, as did their sludgy a cappella effort Big When Far, Small When Close. 2001's Revenge of Kero Kero! seemed little more than an intractable echo of the resounding cosmo-punk of 1999's Kero! Kero! Kero! However, with the release of eX-Girl's fifth album, Endangered Species, Kirilola and her team are again mistresses of their own peculiar universe. A bristling space opera that charts the varied and inevitable demise of certain races, Endangered Speciesspeeds through complex prog-rock soundscapes filled with waves of warbling synth, syncopated guitar, thundering drums, shuddering bass, and off-world samples. As usual, all three girls sing, sometimes together, rising in great operatic swells, and sometimes at odds, stabbing each other with twee-voiced chirrups, fearsome wails, and strident commands (with the occasional nurserylike singalong thrown in to ensure auricular vertigo). As the true successor to Back to Mono Kero!, which was released on Mike Patton's Ipecac Records, Endangered Speciesis thick, dark, and Byzantine, and yet the trio's idiosyncratic sense of humor and deceptive effervescence shines through. There must be mighty strong stardust on Kero Kero. eX-Girl performs on Friday, May 28, at the Bottom of the Hill, with Gravy Train!!!! and Rock N Roll Adventure Kids opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 621-4455 or visit www.bottomofthehill.com.


The Vau de Vire Society -- named for a river valley in Normandy famous for the lighthearted tavern show that grew into vaudeville -- is a local neoteric-cabaret coterie that embraces dancers, actors, acrobats, musicians, aerial artists, contortionists, and sideshow performers who reflect their times while flirting with the past. Influenced by the gritty urban folk songs, or voix de ville, which once flourished in France, the Society aspires to be the "voice of the city." With that in mind, a homily of sorts will be held during "Sunday School,"a variety show that combines disparate art forms from local and touring talent. This month's lineup includes none other than Dr. Madd Vibe himself, Angelo Moore, the former-Fishbone-frontman-turned-poetic-phrase-flinger who has inspired, influenced, and worked with everyone from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Tijuana No!; the Gun and Doll Show, whose homegrown rock show could be considered a world-class variety act all by itself, as it more than occasionally involves full-frontal male nudity, synchronized dancing, matching uniforms, and giant cherry pies; Loop! Station, a mesmerizing duo comprised of classically trained cellist Sam Bass and powerful vocalist Robin Coomer, which builds ethereal tidal waves of sound through real-time sampling; Kid Beyond, otherwise known as Andrew Chaikin, the human beatboxer who becomes a one-man band through loops of hip hop beats, funk grooves, turntable scratches, house, techno, drum 'n' bass, Latin percussion, rock drum rolls, and Tuvan throat singing, all created with his own body; Raw B., co-host and mixmaster of Beatsauce, San Francisco's premium hip hop mix-show on KUSF; and Stink 69, an "all-girl," all-"opera" apocalypse. As usual, members of the Vau de Vire Society will host the evening, tantalizing the crowd with original sketches and routines between featured entertainers. And, yes, there will be a test. "Sunday School" begins on Sunday, May 30, at 9:30 p.m., and will continue every third Sunday of the month thereafter at Studio Z. Tickets are $10 with creative attire, $12 without; call 252-7666 or visit www.studioz.tv.

 
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