Critic’s Choice for the week of January 31-February 6, 2007

Hillbilly goth, strings with electronics, and incendiary flamenco.


Though it was recently elected among the Worst Band Names of 2006, San Francisco’s the Fucking Ocean has undoubtedly made a name for itself, but not because of its unfortunate moniker. The trio’s debut album, La Main Rouge, released last November, recalls Gang of Four, Minutemen, and Fugazi with angular guitar sounds, alternating screaming and singing, screeches of noise, and frenetically danceable start-stop rhythms, all packed into fun, three-minute punches. It plays with Portland’s Wet Confetti and the Joy Division tribute band, the Leaders of Men (their final show) on Thursday, February 1 at the Uptown. 9:30 p.m., $6. (Kathleen Richards)

Hillbilly Goth

The Earl Brothers have carved out their own niche in the Bay Area folk scene with a sound that combines hardcore bluegrass pickin’ with an early-’50s honky-tonk attitude steeped in cigarette smoke, sawdust, and cheap booze. The forlorn harmonies of banjo ace Bobby Earl Davis and guitarist John Earl McKelvy are as sharp as a razor, while Larry Hughes’ mandolin and Rob Mellberg’s bass give the band a foundation as solid as Gibraltar. This gig is part of the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival. Circle R Boys and Dyad open. Tuesday, February 6 at the Freight & Salvage. 8 p.m., $16.50 door, $15.50 advance. (j. poet)

Inflamed Flamenco

Outside of the Gipsy Kings, no one has done more to popularize the fiery art of flamenco than Paco de Lucía. For more than four decades, the fleet-fingered Spanish guitarist has stunned audiences with his passion, lyricism, virtuosity, and uncanny ability to fuse the blood, sweat, and tears of the Andalusian caravan with the stylized sophistication of the jazz concert hall. While the Gipsy Kings smooth flamenco’s edges for maximum Top 40 appeal, de Lucía applies a similar makeover for erudite audiences, who prefer a controlled blaze to a full-blown conflagration. Of course, as a hot-blooded improviser, the guitarist doesn’t always restrain himself — and that’s when his performances reach the level of his rep. Feel free to stoke the fire with strategic shout-outs when he plays UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall with his latest septet on Wednesday, January 31 and Thursday, February 1. 8 p.m., $32-$62. (Sam Prestianni)

Strings and Electronics

Tuesday night brings a rare opportunity to hear the adventurous Left Coast Chamber Ensemble perform in the East Bay, when it brings its unusual Beethoven and His Legacy program to the Berkeley City Club. The evening, part of the Berkeley Chamber Performances series, includes Beethoven’s String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131, and three works commissioned by the ensemble — one with electronics — that have been inspired by Beethoven’s masterpiece. Tuesday, February 6. 8 p.m., $20. (Jason Victor Serinus)

Beatboxing Goes Global

Keith Terry revolutionized stage performance with his “body music.” Today his innovations are used everywhere from modern dance to beatboxing. Using the body as a percussion instrument, then adding singing and dancing, and a troupe of talented artists, Terry brings his sextet, Slammin’, to Ashkenaz on Friday, February 2 as it gears up for its New York City debut. For those in the know, it’s an all-star band (for everyone else, it’s an embarrassment of talent) featuring Zoe Ellis, Destani Wolf, beatboxer Steve Hogan, vocal acrobat Kenny Washington, and Bryan Dyer, joining Terry in a precision-choreographed program of familiar and new music. 9 p.m., $15/$13 advance. (Larry Kelp)

Drunken Stampede

As far as local lineups go, this one doesn’t get much better, or more diverse. Fans of earnestness and whiskey drinking will appreciate the stripped-down acoustic country soul of the Mike Therieau Band. But before you drown, the lush progressive arrangements of Rhodes piano, sci-fi synthesizers, and sax blasts of supreme instrumentalists Crime in Choir will assault your senses (in a good way). The big payoff will be Drunk Horse‘s galloping grooves and Eli Eckert’s flaming guitar licks. The stampede happens on Saturday, February 3 at Cafe du Nord in SF. 9 p.m., $10. (K.R.)

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