Critic’s Choice for the week of May 9-15, 2007

Death metal, free-folk, and a magic flute.

Shock and Margaritas

The 2005 documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey raised the question: Is metal shocking and extreme simply to be shocking and extreme, or do some bands actually believe in the morbidity they espouse? Certainly, interviews with the steely-cold Gaahl of Gorgoroth, who responded that Satan was the band’s primary influence, and members of Mayhem, known for making necklaces out of pieces of their bandmate’s self-inflicted shotgun-blasted skull, raised some hairs. So it’s somewhat reassuring that members of fellow Norwegian black-metal band Dimmu Borgir count margaritas among their favorite beverages and U2 and Chris Isaak among their favorite bands. They’re currently on tour in support of their latest, In Sorte Diaboli, an epic composition of operatic influence, industrial grind, and melodic black metal. They play with Unearth, DevilDriver, and Kataklysm at the Warfield on Sunday, May 13. 7:30 p.m., $25. (Kathleen Richards)

East Bay Folk-Funk

Oakland singer-songwriter Shelley Doty is comfortable with blues, rock, jazz, folk, funk, and R&B, combining them all in the music she plays in the Shelly Doty X-tet. The “X” in the band name refers to the unknown; members and genres cycle frequently according to Doty’s mood and the venue. Despite her own impressive chops, she gives her musicians ample opportunity to show off their skills with quirky arrangements likely to spin off in unexpected directions. Saturday, May 12 at the Starry Plough. 9:30 p.m., $8. (j.poet)

Dear Diary

After a brief hiatus and the departure of two members, Cotati’s much-heralded the Rum Diary returns to the postrock scene with a headlining appearance at the Mission Creek Music & Arts Festival, the grassroots version of Noise Pop. About the now-trio’s in-progress new album, Daniel McKenzie says the vocals and basslines will be in line with past releases, but the addition of drummer and multi-instrumentalist Jake Krohn will be the biggest difference. “Without getting too electro on everyone, we are trying to introduce some interesting digital elements to the songs,” McKenzie wrote in a recent e-mail. Also thrown into the mix are the members’ side-projects: McKenzie’s ambient electronic work and Jon Fee’s acoustic Americana musings. Check them out with French Disco and Empty Rooms at the Hemlock Tavern on Friday, May 11. 9:30 p.m., $7. (K.R.)

Dreaming of Vienna
Though she’s often compared to Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos, San Francisco singer-songwriter Vienna Teng insists her piano-centered pop is mostly influenced by ’70s-era folk like Simon and Garfunkel and James Taylor. The 27-year-old’s classical upbringing and skills at the piano remain her defining quality, however. Her latest release, Dreaming Through the Noise, shows her delicately crafted sound stretching the genre — from the romantic English-novel charm of “Now Three” to the jazzy “I Don’t Feel So Well.” She plays with Jenny Owens Young at the Palace of Fine Arts on Thursday, May 10. 8 p.m., $27.50. (K.R.)

Got Magic Flute?

The mellifluous sounds of the Gold Coast Chamber Players fill the Bentley School’s theater in Lafayette on Saturday as San Francisco Opera’s principal flutist Julie McKenzie joins the excellent ensemble for the aptly titled program Magic Flute. The music, by Bondon, Debussy, De Brezille, Saint-Saéns, and Takemitsu comes replete with images of the natural world. 8 p.m., $10-$30. (Jason Victor Serinus)

Soulful Folk

Possessed of a far better voice than most of today’s more renowned singer-songwriters, Chris Webster never seemed interested in pursuing fame. So fans have caught her playing rub-board and sax with Davis dance band Mumbo Gumbo, or singing with just guitar backing as an opening act at the Freight & Salvage. A few years ago she teamed with classical singing sister Cassie for some duo shows. But now she returns with a new CD, Something in the Water, and headlines the Freight, backed by guitar master Scott Nygaard and harmonica ace Bill Edwards. Wednesday, May 16. 8 p.m., $19.50. (Larry Kelp)


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