Quirky as Folk

Devendra Banhart's mystical trip

SUN 7/11

Devendra Banhart is a strange bird who refuses to be pigeonholed. You can't write him off as just another wandering-minstrel folk singer -- though he was named by an Indian mystic, has shaggy hair, and writes incomprehensible lyrics (sample: "My friend has my favorite teeth/ They bend backwards when she breathes"). Nor can you dismiss him as a talentless flavor-of-the-month buzz artist -- though critics from NPR and Britain's NMEmagazine have fawned over him. In truth, Banhart's both an eccentric and a star, his music a trendy yet timeless mix of lo-fi, psychedelia, and backwoods bluegrass. Think Jeff Buckley getting drunk with Syd Barrett to the strains of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

Devendra Obi (as in "-Wan Kenobi") Banhart grew up in Venezuela but cut his teeth on local stages, notably at Cafe Du Nord's Monday night showcase. Fittingly, he's wrapping his six-week U.S. tour here, along with Vetiver and baby-voiced local singer/harpist Joanna Newsom. Expect lots of improv from these close-knit artists, who might even make cameos during one another's sets, which start at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $13; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com.
-- Maya Kroth

Banhart: An eccentric and a star.
Alissa Anderson
Banhart: An eccentric and a star.
Franken: He's brooding. He's smoking. It's funny.
Franken: He's brooding. He's smoking. It's funny.
Brian Scott, Bill English, and Louis Parnell in The 
Fantasticks.
Adam Buck
Brian Scott, Bill English, and Louis Parnell in The Fantasticks.

< span class="storyhed">Pretty Kitty
Pop-punk on the prowl

SAT 7/10

The trio of scrappy punks in Here Kitty Kitty come from skate, surf, and rock mecca Santa Cruz, and you can hear it in their music. Down there, pop-punk is a beloved and long-standing tradition. And having successfully ignored the emo revolution, the band's members pound out the bouncy three-chord stuff with a defiant snarl -- though you can tell they're having too much fun to be pissed.

But watch out: The two ladies up front have been worshipping the Muffs' Kim Shattuck for years, so they're not likely to take any shit. The Ramones-y, girl-oriented sound is easy to love, and the no-crap lyrics balance out the sweetness ("Do you think he knows your name?/ Get up off your ass, it's time for the walk of shame!"). Secret Janet, Hunbot, and Hemi Cuda share the stage starting at 8:30 p.m. at Kimo's, 1351 Polk (at Bush), S.F. Admission is $5; call 885-4535.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Let's Be Franken
Reality not-TV

SAT 7/10

Somewhere in the nether regions between stand-up and sketch comedy (a place so fearsome and shadowy some refuse to believe it even exists) reigns a sovereign of indeterminate mental health. His name is Will Franken, and he plans to unveil a new performance, Things We Did Before Reality, which he insists (on his Web site) will involve things people did before reality set in, "such as believing in a president, adhering to antiquated notions of gender and identity, relying on political correctness as a measure of a person's ethics," and other bizarre rites. The solo show begins at 11 p.m. at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 826-5750 or visit www.themarsh.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Fan-Fucking-Tastic

ONGOING 7/7-8/21

The Fantasticks -- a tweaked Romeo and Juliet -- is history's longest-running musical, which in its 42 years on Broadway brought us such stick-in-your-head classics as "Soon It's Gonna Rain" and "Try to Remember." Now the curtain rises here, at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (with 3 p.m. Saturday matinees) at the Playhouse, 536 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Tickets are $30; call 677-9596 or visit www.sfplayhouse.org.
-- Brock Keeling

 
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