Indie rock rules the roost: Modest Mouse and Meat Puppets

A wealth of great talent has emerged from New Orleans over the years, but few artists from the last half century can match Allen Toussaint's contributions. Toussaint quickly rose from teenage session work on Fats Domino recordings to become the region's most successful songwriter and producer. Penning smashes and overseeing recordings for everyone from '60s soul icons Irma Thomas and Lee Dorsey to '70s groove merchants the Meters, Dr. John, and LaBelle, Toussaint helped shape the sound of southern R&B while scoring a few solo hits. He passed through town last year on a tour promoting his post-Katrina collaboration with Elvis Costello, but this SFJAZZ concert features a solo piano overview of the funky maestro's many career highlights on Saturday, May 11, at Herbst Theatre at 8 p.m. Admission is $25-58; visit www.sfjazz.org for more info. Dave Pehling


The most bizarre voice in rock these days belongs to Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock. His Tom Waits yowl guides an array of drunken characters through the churning guitar swirl that has been the band's bread 'n' butter since its earliest recordings with Calvin Johnson. Now proud members of the platinum album club, thanks to 2004's breakout single "Float On," Modest Mouse has set its bar even higher. Ex-Smiths ax-man Johnny Marr joined the fold, but he doesn't let his divine chops steal the show on the band's excellent new album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. The group hasn't let its star member or Top 40 dominance go to its head, though — this time out, frequent tour mates Love as Laughter and Philly's Man Man are along for the ride. Modest Mouse performs on Wednesday, May 16, in San Jose at San Jose State Event Center at 8 p.m. Admission is $35; visit www.livenation.com for more info. Jonah Flicker


In an era rife with alt-rock reformations, the re-emergence of psychedelic cow-punkers the Meat Puppets — with founding Kirkwood brothers Curt and Cris at the core — surely ranks as one of the more unlikely reunions. A cornerstone of SST Records, a favorite of Kurt Cobain (they famously guested on Nirvana's MTV Unplugged), and authors of a once-ubiquitous radio hit (1994's "Backwater"), the band essentially fell apart when bassist Cris Kirkwood descended into hard-core heroin abuse. In 2003 he was shot by a security guard during an altercation outside a post office, and subsequently spent 18 months in jail, where he finally got clean. Last year, he and singer-guitarist Curt reconciled after a decade of not speaking, and along with new drummer Ted Marcus they recorded the Puppets' forthcoming Rise to Your Knees. Material from that new album will be on preview during this (hopefully) triumphant return on Wednesday, May 16, at the Independent at 8 p.m. Admission is $20; call 771-1422 or visit www.theindependentsf.com for more info. Michael Alan Goldberg

 
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