Critic’s Choice for the week of May 30 to June 5, 2007

Our writers tell you what's hot this week.

Fire and Brimstone

Given Canada’s benign reputation, it’s somewhat surprising that one of the biggest bands to recently emerge from there, Arcade Fire, launched its career with an album pretty much about death (hence its title, Funeral). In the video for “Rebellion Lies,” the band pulls a “Where the Streets Have No Name” missionary-style field trip through suburban streets to resurrect haplessly bored? tired? dead? children in order to bury the lead singer at the end. On the band’s latest, Neon Bible, its members show they’re done with morbidity but not with turning societal malaise (MTV, war, America, etc.) into spirited reasons for living. At the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2. 8 p.m., $31.50. (Kathleen Richards)

Free World Fest

The fourth annual Berkeley World Music Weekend returns Saturday and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. with a cornucopia of dozens of bands and musicians from around the world who call the Bay Area home. Everything is free, with musicians and dancers performing on the sidewalks and in the cafes, restaurants, and book and record stores along Telegraph Avenue between Bancroft and Dwight. Name a destination and it’s represented, from Cajun dance music to Zimbabwean dance troupes, French musette to Indonesian gamelan. On Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., Congolese bandleader Samba Ngo headlines an upbeat lineup on the People’s Park Stage. See our music listings for more details. (Larry Kelp)

Renaissance Echoes

Eduardo Mendelievich’s Creative Voices, an eighteen-voice a cappella chamber choir, has received rave reviews of late for its graceful vocalism. In the fine acoustics of Berkeley’s St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, the Voices explore the works of Don Carlo Gesualdo and Claude Le Jeune, two composers who brought new life to the madrigal in the 16th century. Sunday, June 3. 4 p.m., $18-$15. (Jason Victor Serinus)

Revolutionary Afropop

Thomas Mapfumo is the biggest pop star Zimbabwe has ever produced, but his outspoken songs that praise the common folk and excoriate the powers that be made him a danger to the corrupt government. Since 2000 he has lived in exile in Oregon, but the move has only made his music more militant. His Blacks Unlimited Band blends the rhythms of the acoustic mbira (thumb piano) with electric guitars, rippling basslines, and passionate vocals that cry out for peace and justice. Tuesday, June 5 at Ashkenaz. 8:30 p.m., $15. (j. poet)

Shrieking Sisters

Plenty of women are fans of metal; however, fewer have broken through as musicians in the genre, especially singers. More recently, some have learned to master the gravelly black-metal growl previously considered the pinnacle of masculinity. Forget Evanescence and check out Angela Gossow of Sweden’s Arch Enemy and Oakland’s own Laurie Sue Shanaman of Ludicra. Both channel rage sufficient to blow amps but retain that certain feminine mystique likely to inspire a whole new generation of followers. Ludicra plays with Middian, Minsk, and Scorched Earth Policy on Tuesday, June 5 at the Uptown. 9 p.m., $8. (K.R.)

Free Torching

Oakland’s Art Murmur can surface some of the most painfully posturing hipsters, so the Stork Club’s decision to book a night of ballsy rock in the middle of the monthly arts fest seems decidedly on point. The lineup features San Francisco’s the Salem Lights (a band that often found its home at drunken Sunday sidewalk barbecues hosted at the now-defunct Ivy Room), Oakland’s Straggler (The Band Which Hath No Restraint), plus Mommie’s Friend and Cleveland. At the Stork Club on Friday, June 1. 9 p.m., free. (K.R.)

High Notes

Jazz goes high-rise for Friday’s benefit for Oakland School for the Arts. Saxophone great John Handy, singer Faye Carol, and drummer Kenny Washington join trumpeter Khalil Shaheed‘s East Bay all-star band in the Kaiser Center Auditorium on the 27th floor of the Kaiser Building (300 Lakeside Dr.) overlooking Lake Merritt. Shows at 8 and 10 p.m. $25. (L.K.)

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