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Picks for the week of November 14-20, 2007

Wednesday Nov. 14
San Jose State Event Center
290 S. Seventh St.,
San Jose


THE GROUP got its start near the close of the '90s when 14-year-old Ben Moody introduced himself to 13-year-old Amy Lee at summer youth camp after hearing her play Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" on the piano. Soon after that, they became friends and began writing songs together. It wasn't until a radio station latched onto one of their independent recordings, a seven-minute gothic anthem titled "Understanding," that their popularity began to grow. The attention spurred hometown interest for this mysterious local band that seemed as elusive as the dissipating vapor it's named for. Evanescence's fluctuating lineup is, for the most part, irrelevant. It's Lee who's the main attraction. The classically trained pianist and former choirgirl leads the show, a sweaty siren dressed in vampish costumes and rocking out with the crowd.

Steel Pulse
Saturday Nov. 17
The Warfield
982 Market St.
San Francisco.

Cold War Kids

LIKE MANY jangly indie rock bands these days, Cold War Kids have, with persnickety persistence, embraced the imperfections of old recording equipment to create an unpolished, dated feel in their music that makes it sound like the Velvet Underground. Heavily influenced by Radiohead (and Thom Yorke in particular), the Long Beach–based band writes sparse and bluesy vocal stunners and catchy pop songs that stick in your head. But unlike most songs that get stuck in your head, Cold War Kids' "Hang Me Up to Dry" is actually good. A slower and simpler version of "My Sherona," the song's appeal comes from singer Nathan Willett's androgynous vocal performance, which sounds appealingly like the Pretenders' vocalist Chrissie Hynde belting out showtunes, with a bit of Devendra Banhart's vocal wobble. The band tours in support of Robbers and Cowards.

Steel Pulse
Thursday Nov. 15
Little Fox Theater
2209 Broadway
Redwood City

Benefit for Guitars Not Guns

GUITARS NOT GUNS started back in 2000 with the goal of hooking up at-risk youth with free guitars and lessons. A federally exempted nonprofit organization, GNG was founded by Ray and Louise Nelson, a foster couple looking to spread the stoke of music to any foster kid that might be interested. It turned out that a whole lot of kids were interested, and the organization took off on a countrywide mission of musical philanthropy. Thursday night's benefit concert features a handful of notable entertainers, including acclaimed singer/songwriter Amy Meyers. Also performing are Grace White, a.k.a. "That Old Hippie Chick," fusion duo Fountain's M.U.S.E., and San Francisco flower-power funk guitarist Groovy Judy.

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