Stern Grove goes 'Aquatic'

Noise: it's hip, it's underground, and a growing number of young people are doing it — that is, feigning insanity onstage while kicking up storms of epileptic percussion and squealing-pig distortion. Unfortunately, a lot of these scenesters aren't too terribly weird (much less threatening). And that's why checking out the Laundry Room Squelchers, a loose-knit collective of authentic outsiders from Miami, is such an imperative. Led by this dude Rat Bastard, a veteran noise freak who also annihilates his electric ax as a member of To Live and Shave in L.A., the Squelchers not only turn rock ‘n' roll into a derailed locomotive and slam it straight into a brick wall, but the group comes off as a huge what-da-fuck mess of psychologically damaged soldiers AWOL from that army known as American society. So if you wish to witness the novel Twinkle Twinkle, Killer Kane transformed into an atonal musical, then catch the Laundry Room Squelchers on Thursday, June 15, at the Li Po Lounge at 9 p.m. Admission is $6; call 982-0072 for more info. Justin F. Farrar


It was a little disheartening to find a National Geographic Society map stuffed inside of the recent Baaba Maal CD and DVD. Let's hope handsome profit came with the attention; lately, Maal simply falls flat when he gets it. On recent efforts, he's stratospherically missed trying to incorporate Cuban son and Latin sounds, and his toying with over-produced reggae and hip hop have unnecessarily dampened a catalogue of traditional Senegalese music among the best ever recorded. Fortunately, his spontaneous outbursts, his colorful Wolof-tailored duds, and his trance-inducing voice doesn't hide live. He still seduces a la-Fela, and like on his 1991 acoustic outfit Baayo (the Afro Pop Blonde on Blonde), is still brilliantly nasal as ever. And if the band is playing a son groove, that crying sound isn't from the audience — it's Maal, and it still hurts pretty good. Baaba Maal performs Friday, June 16, at the Nob Hill Masonic Center at 8 p.m. Admission is $25-$60; visit www.masonicauditorium.com for more info.Chris Coomey


The careers of most American double-threat actor-musicians fall somewhere between booty-driven, lowest-common-denominator pandering (Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez) and hilarious embarrassment (Keanu Reeves, Steven Seagal), but Brazilian Seu Jorge has managed to acquit himself admirably in both fields. By the time he starred as Knockout Ned in the Oscar-nominated favela gangster epic City of God in 2002, Jorge Mario da Silva had already left critically acclaimed group Fanofa Carioca, adopted his stage name, and recorded a solo album with longtime Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato. Jorge's acoustic, samba-flavored readings of classic David Bowie songs from the Ziggy Stardust era in director Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou introduced the talented artist to a worldwide audience and helped push his most recent effort Cru to solid sales in the States last year. Expect a vocal contingent of Seu Jorge fans when the songwriter opens for headliner Aimee Mann at this concert kicking off the 2006 Stern Grove Festival on Sunday, June 18, at 2 p.m. Admission is free; visit www.sterngrove.org for more info.Dave Pehling

 
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