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May 11 - May 18: Mad Like Eldridge Cleaver


THURSDAY, MAY 11
The OC High School of the Arts presents its funk/fusion/jazzshowcase, part of a grade-A tradition of funky classroom calisthenics. DJ Shadow's Schoolhouse Funk comps put a cute name to a long discography, but with-it high school band teachers from Cincinnati to West Texas figured out early on that J.P. Sousa's tenure as Minister of the Super Heavy Funk was about to expire—"James Brown forever, 'Stars and Stripes' never!", as the cheerleaders used to chant. Now marching bands aspire to Grammys guest spots when they used to just be happy to put a little fusion on the football field at halftime, but kids learning to cover "Scorpio" is still better than kids learning to cover "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart." At the Coach House.

PLUS: Mark E. Smith hit me and it felt like a kiss; the Fall at the Glass House.

FRIDAY
Gabriel Hart and His Upset Black Guitar
, ex-Starvations and current Fortune's Flesh (death doo-wop band) singer solos here with a wrote-upon acoustic that says THIS MACHINE KILLS FASHIONISTAS. Detached from the electrified rock & roll, solo Gabe is Tav Falco by way of Skip Spence, Skip Spence being the unsung Lizzie Borden of troubled-loner blues—Skip took an axe to his band mates and Falco just took an axe to his own hairdo, and that's why Skip's record got such poor distribution (Devendra Banhart wants to reissue it, though). Support from Johnny Witmer, the Stitches guitar player, appearing here also in rare acoustic form, performing a set that no man can yet predict. With the Flying Saucers (what up!) and the Digits at King Neptune's in Sunset Beach.

Saturday: Tutti frutti. Photo by Autumn DeWilde
Saturday: Tutti frutti. Photo by Autumn DeWilde

AND: Prog monster Robert Fripp packs up the 'tronics for a collaboration with Peter Buck (REM) and others called Slow Music at the Coach House; the bleach boys in Nine Black Alps find nirvana at the Glass House; Warrant likes cherry pie but would probably settle for a scoop of hash browns on a nice clean plate at the Blue Cafť.

SATURDAY
Weenies sizzle in the sun at the KROQ Stadium Internment Camp and Weenie Roast, this year enlivened a bit by Wolfmother, who come from Australia to make a dedicated go at the hallowed genre of shit-rock (which is: Sabbath + weed + Detroit + death before your time). They got the spirit pretty good on songs like "Dimension" and "Woman" (a word that in shit-rock must always be followed by: "You are the master heartache!"), but it's still kind of a shallow reading of the storied shit-rock history. You get the feeling Blue Cheer blew these guys' minds so hard they quit looking for anything else; that plus some Jimi and some Sabbath is pretty cool for 1971, but it's 35 years later, and if you plan to step into the shit-rock Thunderdome—for Australians, the Thunderdome is as sacred a cultural touchstone as the Vietnam War memorial is for us—you better be ready to guzzle Bedemon and piss Dust, else you are just a dad-rock band with a frat-boy crowd. Still, this is going to come off as heavy as "I'm Mad Like Eldridge Cleaver" at the Weenie Roast. If you lug around this kind of frothin'-at-the-mouth-pissed sound on relentless repeat in your head every waking moment—so loud and constant that you can't even make out the words any given cop or female might be saying to you on any certain night—then Wolfmother to you is gonna come off as nothing but a hopeful low hum. But if you are still a happy young KROQ kid, this will probably eat the plaque right off your teeth. At Verizon with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and 100 haircut bands like Panic! At The Disco, She Wants Revenge, Angels & Airwaves, etc. Plus Matisyahu, who isn't good but who sure is easy to write about!

PLUS: Also mad like Eldridge Cleaver (or like Robert F. Williams) is dead prez, rapping about Panthers taking a stand with an M-1 Garand. Last record actually had guest spots by Jay-Z and revved-up major-label production, but the title (Revolutionary But Gangsta) and songs like "Hell Yeah" (seductively detailed instructions on running credit-card scams) and "I Have a Dream, Too" (POW/MIA list of COINTELPRO casualties like Eddie Conway and Sundiata Okole) directly demonstrate that they're still into conducting the same kind of conversation. Radio free at the Vault with Ras Kass.

AND: Ikey Owens presents the first of many Mama's Gun Clubs with his Free Moral Agents, Ray Barbee, Coaxial and Create(!) at Open in Long Beach.

SUNDAY
Bif Naked has some improbable personal history—raised by wolves and traded to American missionaries for a tattoo gun and a copy of the Runaways live record; amazingly, Kim Fowley is not involved with promoting her—and an improbable sound to go with it, inasmuch as Kelly Clarkson will probably never get the chance to cut tracks with Insane Clown Posse. But what if . . . at Chain Reaction.

PLUS: Mama's guns for one last round and the live debut of Look Daggers (Ikey Owens and 2MEX doing crossover Can-style) at Open.

MONDAY
My I-don't-have-to-type day.

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