Underground Conspiracies

Mission Creek Music Festival is a must-hear

We're living through music festival overload. Whether you're sun-burning brain cells at Coachella or blabbing industry-speak at South by Southwest, there's no lack for all-the-hip-bands-on-the-planet lineups around the country. So to maintain a real edge on the game, promoters have to make their events something the competition can't package elsewhere. Now in its 11th year, the Mission Creek Music Festival is the best fest by far in the city, bringing together truly unique noisemakers from around the world while simultaneously pulling our local savants out of the woodwork. Founder Jeff Ray curates two week's worth of music, art, video, and general underground mayhem, and his efforts are much appreciated by those ferreting through the far limits of indie culture.

MCMF runs from May 10 through May 20 at various venues throughout the city (check www.mcmf.org for the rundown). This year you can get baptized into the Extra Action Marching Band clan at the Eagle (May 10), rock to Gosling's bombastic glam at 12 Galaxies (May 11), and whip pop subgenres with extreme prejudice with Black Fiction and Lemonade(May 12, also at 12 G's). Little Teeth charm the whacked-folk outta ya at the Knockout (May 18), while Comets on Fire pair with Sic Alps to eviscerate common sense with relentless feedback (May 17, Café du Nord), a definite highlight for this fortnight.

But Mission Creek's grand Kahuna for the second year in a row is Mr. Vincent Gallo, he of the sperm-selling, film-making, controversy-courting streak. The guy knows how to twist the public's titties with outrageous and hilarious demands, (such as charging 50 grand for his presence as your escort). But when it comes to talent, the man backs that shit up. Gallo was a Mission Creek highlight last year, taking the stage at Bimbo's to perform King Crimson-influenced folk with the same nuanced, damaged beauty displayed in his films. Onstage he was at turns witty, self-effacing, elegant, and arrogant, and audience interaction was as much a part of the show as those dirgy ballads. If you only see one Mission Creek show this round, don't miss Gallo on Saturday, May 19, at the Swedish Hall (he's performing as RRIICCEE with Corey Lee Granet and Eric Erlandson). But you're not going to see just one Mission Creek show, right? Here are some select highlights below to help jam-pack your social schedule (with a few more to follow next week).

Mariee Sioux

Nevada City-based songwriter Mariee Sioux spits piney rhymes over oaken-tuned acoustic plucking. Her twilight narratives detail encounters with ghosts, myriad woodland creatures, and her mom. But with a voice that bends around the branches with more flexibility than her fellow folk-nymphs, you couldn't pick a better guide for your night-hike. (Thursday, May 10, Argus Lounge, 7:30 p.m.)

I Am Spoonbender / Steven Stapelton

Subliminal messages are the, um, "underlying" theme of the latest I Am Spoonbender album, Buy Hidden Persuaders. So prepare to be subconsciously manipulated when this local group performs its hyperkinetic Numanoid synthwave for the first time in three years. Steven Stapleton of legendary experimental group Nurse With Wound serves up a special prepared DJ set, and openers Ariel Pink and Phase Chancellor (comprising local electronics wizards Matmos and Lesser) ensure an unusual evening. (Friday, May 11, Mezzanine, 9 p.m.)

Kid 606, Trackademicks, Lazer Sword, Luke's Anger, DJ Shane King

This showcase is anything but by the numbers, but we've got its digits. And those are 303, and 606, and 808 — the model codes of vintage Roland beat and bass generators. Now take those percolators, filter them through gagging laptops, and let them spurt quick as R. Kelly tracks make babies and you'll see MCs and DSP MVPs slap it up, flip it, and rub it down ... "it" being freq-y, bassbin-threatening fractured funk. (Friday, May 11, Rickshaw Stop, 8 p.m.)

Acid Mothers Temple and Mammatus

Though Mammatus' new album is called The Coast Explodes, this show with Japanese psych-culters Acid Mothers Temple reminds music heads of the seismic phenomena across the rim that triggered the band's rock blast. AMT paved a sugar cube-bricked path for the young Californians, and tonight both groups will arrive at an elysian field where Marshall stacks tower and acid showers are frequent and welcome. (Saturday, May 12, Bottom of the Hill, 10 p.m.)

Blectum From Blechdom

From 1998 to 2002, local female duo Blectum From Blechdom flipped cutting-edge electronica on its ass by taking a madcap approach to laptops, samplers, and electronic toys. The avant-goofy music of Blevin Blectum and Kevin Blechdom could range from squelchy twitch-beats to absurdist electro-pop and Dadaist sound collages. After a few estranged years, Blectum From Blechdom is back, and will present two different audio/video performances at the Lab's "Double Headed Double Header." (Tuesday-Wednesday, May 15-16, the Lab, 8 p.m.)

Cheveu

France's Cheveu is loud, cheap, and smart. It jitters out menacing Franglais rants and tales of sexual misconduct over rattling bass, dark Casio work, and thuggish blues guitar riffs. R'n'R purists have called Cheveu the best band in its home country. For proof, you could hunt down its 7-inches, check its MySpace, or shit, just show up tonight and see how long it takes you start hip-shaking like a total imbécile. (Friday, May 18, Hemlock Tavern, 9:30 p.m.)

Chamber Strings

Kevin Junior, the Chamber Strings' main-man, is Midwestern born 'n' bred. However, seeing his Brit-fop appearance, you'd swear he was in the Stones in 1966, Faces circa 1973, or the Heartbreakers in '77. Junior lived in England briefly, accompanying ex-Swell Maps Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks. Drawing inspiration from the aforementioned, the Chamber Strings marshal aspects of lean, unkempt rock, classic melodious hooks, and wry melancholia, judiciously balancing debauched scruffiness with stylish finesse. (Friday, May 18, Café du Nord, 8 p.m.)

¡SoCiety!

As a genre, the term "white boy Afrobeat" sounds so wrong. And yet the grooves pouring out of San Diego's white boy Afrobeat band ÁSoCiety! sound so right. With a touring membership hovering somewhere around a dozen people — including a pair of preternaturally talented twin brothers and their tatted-out backup dancers — the ÁSoCiety! live show is completely unpredictable and in a class all its own. (Saturday, May 19, Café du Nord, 8 p.m.)

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