Critic’s Choice for the week of March 21-27, 2007

'Balas, Blue Oysters, and some Turf Talk.

Jam with Caliban

Norwegian folksinger Lief Sorbye was a wandering troubadour smitten by the Incredible String Band until he ended up in Oakland, where in 1979 he started the lilting Celtic folk band Golden Bough. Nine years later, he went electric, launching Celtic rock band Tempest. On the side — his fiddle and folk duo/trio Caliban. To celebrate his fiftieth birthday at Ashkenaz on Friday, Sorbye has put together a mini-festival featuring all three groups, including jams with guests, former members, and friends, especially fiddler Sue Draheim, who will sit in with all three bands. Friday, March 23. 9 p.m., $15, $10 students. (Larry Kelp)

Fear the Reaper

Blue Oyster Cult may not be filling arenas anymore, but these guys are still stomping like Godzilla as they roam from coast to coast retaining their reputation as one of the hardest-rocking and most anomalous bands in the history of pop. They were labeled heavy metal, hard rock, and dark psychedelia but their intelligent, sci-fi-flavored boogie still defies categories. The current lineup includes founding members Eric Bloom, Allen Lanier, and Buck Dharma with bassist Richie Castellano and drummer Jules Radino. At Slim’s in San Francisco on Thursday, March 22. 8 p.m., $27. (j. poet)

Crank Up the Apples

Apples in Stereo enters its fourteenth year in 2007, which is a long time to play such upbeat pop. But the Beach Boys and the Beatles seem to offer endless influence for the band, gaining them fans such as Elijah Wood and Stephen Colbert. Their recent album New Magnetic Wonder was just released on Wood’s Simian label, and singer Robert Schneider appeared on The Colbert Report in December. Though longtime drummer Hilarie Sidney recently left the band, the six-piece shows no signs of slowing. Catch its peppy live show when the Apples in Stereo play with Casper & the Cookies and the Explorers Club at the Independent in SF on Friday, March 23. 9 p.m., $15. (Kathleen Richards)

Explore Alternative Tunings

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber‘s “Mystery Sonatas” (aka “Rosary Sonatas”) leave no question as to their beauty. The Berkeley Trinity Chapel performance features the middle set of these exquisite works, composed in the 1670s, which depict the sorrow of Christ. Each sonata requires a different tuning, deepening its emotional impact and difficulty of execution. Violinist Cynthia Miller Freivogel, cellist Joanna Blendulf, and lutenist Daniel Zuluaga are three early music specialists whose playing has graced any number of first-rank ensembles. Saturday, March 24. 8 p.m., $8-$12. (Jason Victor Serinus)

Club Metal

How twisted is this? Metalchicks is two women from Japan who have a penchant for dressing like characters in Kill Bill and channeling late-’80s Headbangers’ Ball metal with, like, an Enya party thrown at 1015 Folsom. Their second album, St. Wonder, released last year, is bizarre but kinda cool: “Eye of the Evil” drones and thrashes, while “We Will Survive” offers an alarmingly suspenseful unsa-unsa house beat. Metalchicks play with Crime in Choir and This Isn’t It at Bottom of the Hill in SF on Thursday, March 22. 9 p.m., $8. (K.R.)

Funk Your Guns

Part sweaty jungle dancefloor ritual, part mock-political tribunal, 100 percent groovy, Antibalas concerts are anything but boring. The Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band (whose name means “bulletproof”) has long been a favorite of in-the-know hipsters, Fela Kuti aficionados, and those who like to dance to music that doesn’t insult their intelligence. Well regarded for its live shows, Antibalas is earning critical raves for its latest studio album, Security (Anti), which finds the bandmembers honing their original compositions to a jazzy sheen while building on the social commentary-meets-superfunky grooves of previous efforts. All of this bodes well for the band’s appearance with DJ Motion Potion at the Great American Music Hall on Wednesday, March 21. 7 p.m., $19/$21. (Eric K. Arnold)

Get High on U2

It’s amazing how much influence U2 has had on contemporary indie rock, but that’s hardly a negative comment. For instance, Oakland’s Montana takes cues from the Edge’s atmospheric guitar and shrilling tones for “I Get It,” which appears on the band’s forthcoming debut album. But there’s a lot more going on here, too, such as elements of Swervedriver, Ride, and Joy Division. Montana’s mix leans toward early-’90s with an ear for something you can move your hips to. Get a taste when the band plays with Oceans of Fire and Halcyon High at the Starry Plough on Saturday, March 24. 9:30 p.m., $7. (K.R.)

Break in Case of Emergency

Also this week: Oakland doom-metal prodigies Sleepytime Gorilla Museum at Slim’s Saturday, March 24; indie-rock champs TV on the Radio at the Fillmore Wednesday, March 28; dope hip-hop from Oakland’s Jern Eye at the Metro Saturday, March 24; and hyphy scene and DJ Shadow collaborator Turf Talk at 2232 MLK Saturday, March 24.


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