Finntroll; Download Festival; Bill Callahan; Black Crowes; the Go-Gos

In the forsaken hinterlands of Finland roams a band of evil trolls who sing in Swedish (one of the country's two national languages), and consume copious amounts of beer. Forging an unusual merger of grandiose black metal and bouncy, local folk music (called humppa), Finntroll has inspired headbangers to dance a jig and have a boozy good time. However, former members of the band have not fared as well. Ex-vocalist Katla retired from the group because of a throat tumor, while guitarist Somnium died from an alcohol-related tumble off a bridge. The remaining members have released Finntroll's fifth record, Ur Jordens Djup, and will pillage the city on Thursday, Oct. 4, at Slim's at 9 p.m. Admission is $21-24; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com for more info. Adam Bregman

Funny how in the whole media deluge about the Kate Hudson/Chris Robinson breakup a while back, the editors at US Weekly never once ran a pic of the Black Crowes frontman on the cover. Guess his whole beard, braids, and beads look doesn't quite sell those kinds of rags. Regardless, Robinson, bro & co. continue to pack 'em in on the rock circuit. And why not? The Crowes sit perched atop that Rock of Ageless (meaning Stones, Zep, Faces, Burrito Brothers, Humble Pie, southern soul) with bluesy chops, long locks, and gospel grooves to spare. Long ago perfected ("Remedy" still kicks), the Robinson brothers are assuming that same southern mantle as the Allmans. The Black Crowes perform on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland at 8 p.m. Admission is $43.50; call 510-465-6400 or visit www.paramounttheatre.com for more info. Andy Beta

It's hard not to love the Go-Go's. Beyond the glint of prom memories and assorted '80s nostalgia, this legendary girl group has been rocking stages and inspiring young bands for two decades. At this week's show, expect to hear the classics — the perfect pop melodies of "Our Lips Are Sealed" and the summertime exuberance of "Vacation" — but also look out for 2001's "Unforgiven," co-written with Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, among other newer songs. Not content to settle back into their influential niche in music history, these gals continue making fun, positive music to this day. Dress to sweat when the original Go-Go's perform on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Independent at 9 p.m. Tickets have sold out; call 771-1422 or visit www.theindependentsf.com for more info. Toph One

Download's annual festival opens Halloween season with goth-granddaddies the Cure. Getting a gander at Robert Smith and his crooked lipstick is probably the main reason pale kiddies will be studded out in their deepest black attire at the Shoreline this weekend. A.F.I. and She Wants Revenge also headline, in true men-of-melodrama spirit. The rest of the Download lineup is pretty much your standard alt-rock fodder — Kings of Leon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and the mainstay of all radio festivals these days, Metric. Revel in the concept that boys don't cry — they croon — at Download on Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. Gates open at 2 p.m. Admission is $29.50-89; call 650-967-3000 or visit www.livenation.com for more info. Jennifer Maerz

Bill Callahan composed nearly two decades' worth of lo-fi albums under the Smog moniker before releasing Woke on a Whaleheart one of this year's best records — under his own name. Compared with 2005's somber A River Ain't Too Much to Love, Whaleheart is a downright hootenanny, flirting with R&B and country melodies. But Callahan's strongest weapons remain his acoustic guitar and quivering baritone. His haunting songs are vessels for unsentimental poetry and storytelling that feels vibrant, if from another era. Bill Callahan performs twice on Sunday, Oct. 7. First he'll be at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass' Porch Stage in Speedway Meadow at 2:15 p.m. Admission is free; visit www.strictlybluegrass.com for more info. He'll also be at the Independent at 9 p.m. Admission is $15; call 771-1422 or visit www.theindependentsf.com for more info. Ben Westhoff

 
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