Off your Gourd and into the StereoLab: A little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' electro

It's been barely three years since Stereolab co-singer/guitarist Mary Hansen was struck and killed while riding her bicycle in London (a tragedy that was audible in singer Laetitia Sadier's gorgeous voice on the band's last album, Margerine Eclipse). But the group has continued to tour, create new material, and collect old rarities (as the recent box set Oscillons From the Anti-Sun evinces). This swing through town will find Stereolab unveiling its three new, limited-edition singles: "Whisper Pitch," "Excursions Into," and "Eye of the Volcano." But with a considerable discography, don't be surprised to hear selections from all eras of Stereolab. San Francisco has always been one of the band's most supportive markets, and it will return the favor by playing not one but two shows here: Thursday, March 2 (with Okay), and Saturday, March 4 (with Hot Chip), at the Fillmore; call 346-6000 or visit www.thefillmore.com for more info.-- Tamara Palmer


"Funny" musical performers have notoriously brief shelf lives -- if you want to be more than a blip on the radar screen of pop culture (Weird Al, Mojo Nixon, Dead Milkmen), you need durable songwriting as a basis for your satiric humorousness (Zappa, They Might Be Giants). The Gourds -- an Austin mainstay since 1992 -- understand this. They've adapted Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice" and Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" to their Pogues-jovial, down-home, roots-rock style, and their original "Pick and Roll" references Star Trek ("Your Romulan ale is flat") and Eartha Kitt's TV Catwoman. While similar outfits try to outdo each other, seeing which can sound the most earnestly authentic, the Gourds immerse themselves in verities of honky-tonk country, Cajun, Tex-Mex styles, and more, to the point where their permutations come out artlessly, sans posturing or overstatement. Mixing garage-rock cheekiness with funky twang recalling Big Pinkera the Band, these Gourds fill what is empty, and empty what is full -- grasp them on Friday, March 3, at the Great American Music Hall. The comparably swell Mammals open; call 885-0750 or check www.gamh.com for more info.-- Mark Keresman

 
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