Our Weekly Picks: July 21-27, 2010





There's no telling where Justin Champlin, clad in tighty-whiteys and a bunny mask, got his rabbit obsession, though Bunnicula comes to mind. Known for his stage antics, the Nobunny leader — and sole member, really, if you exclude the backing musicians shuffling in and out — is something of a rock 'n' roll animal classified in the punk rock phylum (or garage rock class). Love Visions (2008), with homages like "Chuck Berry Holiday," produced catchy tracks faster than a rabbit could procreate. Champlin's histrionics, and even messier sound, recall the Ramones or more recently, Hunx and His Punx. (Ryan Lattanzio)

With Spits, Scumby, and Carolyn the DJ

9 p.m., $12

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455





Five Easy Pieces

A few years after creating wannabe-pop group the Monkees, Bob Rafelson wrote — along with Carole Eastman — and directed 1970's Five Easy Pieces. Like Easy Rider (1969), it's a man-is-a-lonely-island-unto-himself picture starring Jack Nicholson and the squalid splendor of the American landscape. Bobby leaves his affluent family for the life of an oil rigger, but what he finds are consequences both understated and overwhelming. Nominated for four Oscars, Pieces is not an easy film. Like the literature of Cormac McCarthy or Hemingway, it's biblical, masculine stuff. Yet for all its ruggedness, it has a bittersweet side worth noting for Laszlo Kovacs' muted cinematography, as well as the weepy country tunes of Tammy Wynette. (Lattanzio)

7 p.m., $5.50–$9.50

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft, Berk.

(510) 642-5249




"Wondrous Strange: A Twenty-First Century Cabinet of Curiosities"

The medieval notion of a cabinet of curiosities or Wunderkammern holds great fascination to this day, even though a room filled with animal bones, coins, and unmarked pottery shards would seem a fairly undisciplined display format for scientific artifacts at this point. But if the Wunderkammern is academically anachronistic, the folks at SFMOMA Artists Gallery still find it a useful vehicle for conveying art and culture. The opening of "Wondrous Strange" will feature a time traveler costume contest, burlesque performance by the Burley Sisters, and music from the Grannies. The opening ceremonies will also extend to the nearby Long Now Foundation (also in Fort Mason's Building A), where interested parties can check out their prototypes for the 10,000 Year Clock. (Sam Stander)

Through Aug 28

5:30 p.m., free

SFMOMA Artists Gallery

Bldg. A, Fort Mason Center

Marina at Laguna, SF

(415) 441-4777




Behind the Burly Q

While relatively tame by today's standards, burlesque was once perceived as a scandalous art form. Featuring comedians, strippers, and satire, burlesque threatened conservative views about sex and sought to undermine accepted social norms. Even though vaudeville-inspired acts have recently made a nostalgic comeback, their roots remain widely misunderstood. Director Leslie Zemeckis' documentary Behind the Burly Q goes straight to the source to uncover more than just pasties. By interviewing many of the women and men who starred and worked in the industry, Zemeckis traces the often overlooked history of American burlesque and honors all those who managed to use a g-string as a political weapon. (Katie Gaydos)

Thurs/22-Sat/24, 7:30 p.m.;

Sun/25, 4 and 6 p.m., $6–$8

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2787






Along with most of the rest of his band, Cynic guitarist Paul Masvidal avoided an awkward '90s-metal swan song by disappearing into the jazz scene. Suddenly, in 2006, Masvidal and his main collaborator, drummer Sean Reinert, resurfaced with a renewed sense of purpose, and the release of 2008's Traced in Air ushered in an era of relentless touring that saw the prog-metallers quickly reestablish their towering reputation. This summer's Decibel-sponsored headlining tour features the band playing its 1993 classic Focus in its entirety, so prepare for Mixolydian assault. (Ben Richardson)

With Intronaut, Dysrhythmia

8 p.m., $17


333 11th St., SF

(415) 255-0333




Carmina Burana: Revisited

For a few years, choreographer Enrico Labayen disappeared from the local radar screen. He now has reemerged with an ambitious full-evening work based on two rituals from opposing sides of the planet. Turns out that Labayen, an early member of Alonzo King's LINES Dance Company who also has 15 years' experience as an independent choreographer, spent the intervening years in his native Philippines to study the matriarchal aspects of its culture that have long fascinated him. His new Carmina Burana: Revisited delves into Carl Orff's raucous reimagining of Medieval European Christianity for a work that explores the choreographer's own memory of Tadtarin, a Philippine ritual that celebrates femininity. (Rita Felciano)

Fri/23-Sat/24, 8 p.m.; Sun/25, 7 p.m., $30

Dance Mission Theater

3316 24th St., SF

(415) 273-4633





Portland, Ore.'s Liz Harris, who records and performs ambient drone music as Grouper, has composed a new piece specifically for the Berkeley Art Museum, which incorporates video as well as tape music and live instrumentation. This continues the "L@TE: Friday Nights @ BAM/PFA" series' dedication to avant-garde performance. Previously, L@TE has brought in such luminaries as Terry Reilly and the Residents; later this summer the series features sometime Grouper collaborator Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu. Grouper's premiere of "SLEEP" will be preceded by music from Eugene Petrushansky, who plays early music on a harpsichord of his own construction, an interesting juxtaposition and perhaps fitting complement to Harris' intense soundscapes. (Stander)

7:30 p.m., $5

Berkeley Art Museum, Gallery B

2625 Bancroft, SF

(510) 642-0808





Tori Spelling

The Oxygen Network — the equivalent of an unclaimed baggage room for celebrities past their prime — still airs Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood, where Tori Spelling can be seen redecorating her house or renewing her vows (eep!) But unlike most stars in the dreary constellation of reality TV, Spelling actually isn't that dumb. With a resume longer than the New York Times best seller list she topped in 2008, she's the ultimate media mogul. In her new book, uncharted terriTORI, she returns to the Narcissus pool of sTORI Telling with some fresh anecdotes like her bout with H1N1 and her life as a Twit. Err ... I mean, a Tweeter. (Lattanzio)

7 p.m., free

Books, Inc.

2251 Chestnut, SF

(415) 931-3633




"Salsa on the Fillmore"

Why watch Dancing With the Stars when you can dance under the stars? All right, the summer fog might not stay away long enough for us to actually see any stars, but thanks to dance festival "Salsa on the Fillmore," we can safely say, for once, a night in SF will be hot and sweaty. Forget bar hopping in the Mission. With open dance floors and live music at Yoshi's, Rasselas Jazz Club, Sheba Piano Lounge, and 1300 on Fillmore, it's time to go rumba hopping! Start off the night at Fillmore Center Plaza with free salsa lessons by Bay Area Latin dance instructors Juan Gil and Rebecca Miller, and live music by Los Bolores. (Gaydos)

7 p.m.–2 a.m., free–$25

Fillmore between Eddy and Geary, SF

(808) 352-4315




Bay Area Rockin' Solidarity Labor Chorus

If you have any affinity at all for the American labor movement, these are depressing times. All that populist energy generated in the wake of 2008's financial meltdown seems to have been wasted on fruitless antigovernment paranoia, while essential state services are being eliminated nationwide, taking thousands of union jobs with them. Those sympathetic to the cause of social justice can be forgiven for not feeling much like singing. On the other hand, nothing rabble-rouses like a good anthem, and no movement ever got far on despair. The Bay Area Rockin' Solidarity Labor Chorus realizes this, and is presenting, as part of the Bay's yearly LaborFest, a program of union songs old and new, celebrating victories won and anticipating those still to come. (Zach Ritter)

7 p.m., $5

ILWU 34 Hall

801 Second St., SF

(415) 648-3457






Queensryche and burlesque. On the one hand, it's a completely arbitrary juxtaposition, akin to, say, "submarines and kumquats." On the other, it makes perfect sense. The veteran Seattle prog-metal act have always had a flair for the theatrical, the lushly orchestrated, the ever-so-slightly over the top. And during a break in the recording of its new album, the band decided to really go for broke, setting out on the road with the "world's only adults-only rock show," featuring contortionists, trapeze artists, jugglers, and other delights. If you've been waiting your entire life to combine scantily clad women and immaculately composed concept albums, wait no longer. (Richardson)

8 p.m., $40

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF

(415) 673-5716




Bomba Estéreo

While our government issues frantic safety advisories to Colombia-minded travelers, Locumbia ticks out a merry beat toward a perch atop South America's creative culture heap. Medellín, Bogotá, Chico Trujillo, the via-L.A. party tunes of Very Be Careful — this a land where you festivate like you mean it, even if a decades-long battle between the guerrillas and army rages in the hinterlands. Lucky for media-boozled us: the international tour. Bomba Estéreo mixes hawt psychedelic cumbia beats with Caribbean folkloric sound and enough echo to qualify as a dance group. Speaking of dance group — start one under the Stern Grove green at the group's free show. (Caitlin Donohue)

  With Jovanotti

2 p.m., free

Sigmund Stern Grove

Sloat and 19th Ave., SF

(415) 252-6252






The album cover for Obits' I Blame You claims it is "Xtra Compressed for Maximum Listener Fatigue," and, while 41 minutes doesn't seem like such a short album these days, the music itself has a tight, claustrophobic intensity that really good garage rock delivers so well. Lead guitarist Rick Froberg, formerly of Hot Snakes and Drive Like Jehu, journeys through all manner of rock in those 41 minutes, skewing the familiar sounds of surfer twang and post-punk into a nonstop groove that leaves the listener just as breathless as the cover promises. Obits knows you don't have to break any musical barriers to crack a few eardrums. (Peter Galvin)

With Night Marchers and Moonhearts

9 p.m., $14

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St, SF

(415) 621-4455




"Visions of the Gameocalypse"

In a world where gaming is "no longer just for kids!" or nerds, and where major members of the artistic establishment (cough-Ebert-cough) take up arms against the perceived aesthetic immaturity of videogames for no good reason, it would do us all a little good to get a firmer grasp on how computerized gaming has developed. Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games and author of The Art of Game Design: a book of lenses, will be presenting his thoughts on the "social, cognitive, and technological trends" in gaming. We can only hope the event's gloomy title, "Visions of the Gamepocalypse," is tongue-in-cheek, though it definitely implies a refreshingly futurist approach to games. (Stander)

7:30 p.m., $10

Novellus Theater

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

700 Howard, SF

(415) 978-2787


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