Critic’s Choice for the week of May 31-June 6, 2006

Jailhouse metal, Frisco funk, and oral choral.

Save the Metalheads!

Former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri’s Mondo Generator plays irreverent, vice-embracing rock debauchery that scares the heebie-jeebies out of folks down in West Memphis, Arkansas. West Memphis, as you may have heard, is the kind of town that convicts three teenagers of triple murder — seemingly because of their dyed black hair and appreciation of heavy metal. Musicians like Tom Waits and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder have helped raise money for the West Memphis 3’s defense, and this week an Awareness Day in six countries and seventeen states includes this San Francisco show at the Cafe du Nord. With Blag, Girlfriend Experience, and Dave Dalton of Cell Block 5 Saturday, June 3. $15. 9:30 p.m. (Kathleen Richards)

Fighting the Jailhouse Blues

If you’re not into half-naked screaming dudes but want to help the West Memphis Three, this lineup at the Great American Music Hall in SF Saturday satisfies with some of the Bay Area’s most prominent and emotive folk, country, and blues songwriters. Former Red House Painters and current Sun Kil Moon singer Mark Kozelek will be joined by bluesmith Chuck Prophet and the haunting voice of Tarnation’s Paula Frazer. Speakers Jonathan Richman and former SF Supe Matt Gonzalez join the bands. $20. 9 p.m. (K.R.)

Tango Overload

Delightful Bay Area chamber group Tango No. 9 takes an intimate approach to the tango, with romantic results. Tango No. 9 made its mark with a CD of Astor Piazzolla’s lesser-known compositions a few years back. The quartet (violinist Catharine Clune, pianist Joshua Raoul Brody, accordionist Isabel Douglass, and trombonist Greg Stephens) returns with a new recording, Radio Valencia, and a huge CD release concert at SF’s Cafe du Nord Tuesday, June 6. The show includes singers, a troupe of fourteen tango dancers, and DJs. $7. 8 p.m. (Larry Kelp)

Vocal Aphrodisia

Voci Women’s Vocal Ensemble teams up with the Marsh in Berkeley to present Aphrodisia, a performance piece by Stephanie Weisman, Ellen Hoffman, and Ellen Webb involving music, dance, and spoken word to create an original meditation on love, life, creativity, and betrayal. The ensemble prefaces tonight’s performance (also seen June 1, 3, 4, 7, and 10) with choral works by pioneering women composers, ranging from medieval nun Hildegard von Bingen to Libby Larsen and other contemporaries. Wednesday, May 31. $20-$35, $50 reserved. 7:30 p.m. (Jason Victor Serinus)

Wry Jazz Covers

Long time Bay Area resident Karen Blixt trades on fine phrasing and an innate sense of rhythm. On Saturday, June 3, at Berkeley’s Jazzschool, she’ll probably feature selections from her latest CD, Spin This, a “greatest hits” collection with inventive arrangements for tunes both familiar and obscure, such as Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” and the wry Rodgers and Hammerstein antiracist song “Carefully Taught” from South Pacific. $15. (j. poet)

Indie Rock makes Waves

For the past four years, Seattle’s Pretty Girls Make Graves has been among the most underloved American indie rock groups. Sure, critics have heaped praise on the band’s three records, each of which has improved in scope and execution on the last’s postpunk fury. Yet the band remained on indie labels (first Berkeley’s Lookout, then Matador), and has failed to garner the same attention as many of its contemporaries offering less talent and imagination. Find out what we’ve been missing when Pretty Girls Make Graves headline a killer bill at the Great American Music Hall featuring Giant Drag and Whalebones Sunday, June 4. $15. 8 p.m. (Nate Seltenrich)

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