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[whitespace] Winter Music Guide 2002


Where: Oct. 25 at the Cat Club; Oct. 26 at 111 Minna; Oct. 27 at The Fillmore
Tickets: $20 (Ticketmaster)
SUPPORT: Peaches, Chicks On Speed, W.I.T., Tracy + the Plastics, Larry Tee
Latest Record: Peaches: 'The Teaches of Peaches' (reissued 2002); Tracy + the Plastics: 'Muscler's Guide to Videotronics' (2001); W.I.T.: 'Whatever It Takes' (2002)

'Electroclash" is one of those music terms--like "emo" and "no wave"--that every indie-minded artist loves to hate. The description was coined by New York DJ Larry Tee as a way to label underground bands whose nostalgia for New Wave compelled them towards Casio keyboards, drum machines and Lycra tops. Yes, sweetie, in case you hadn't noticed, the '80s are back, and it turns out that Blondie was way more influential than even she ever dreamed. The proof is in this incarnation of the Electroclash tour, which showcases electro vixens W.I.T., mix myth Wynne Greenwood ("Tracy" of Tracy and the Plastics--a.k.a. the only breathing member of the band), internationale art-band Chicks On Speed (who, among other accomplishments, make their own clothes out of paper and tape), and bitch-slapping, potty-mouth, electro-hop headliner Peaches (soon, it is rumored, to be seen in a John Malkovich film project). Electroclash is no stale Flock of Seagulls snack food--this is electronica informed by riot grrrl. This is a post-personal computer/cyborg dance music retro-volution. Finally, the robots are taking over, and all we have to do is dance.

Dashboard Confessional

Where: Wed, Oct. 30 at The Galleria Design Center, 101 Henry Adams Square, San Francisco
Tickets: $16 advance/$18 door (Virtuous.com)
Support: Hot Rod Circuit, Rhett Miller, Noise Ratchet
Latest Record: 'The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most' (2001); MTV Unplugged (12/2002)

Don't dis the Dash. Dashboard Confessional might be the toast of wimpy rock lovers cloaked in tight T-shirts but the moans have it. Chris Carrabba of Further Seems Forever has a magnificent voice and a talent for capturing the lowest valley with pinpoint accuracy. It is a bit much to witness the hero worship being flung at Carrabba, who performs his songs solo acoustic and with a three piece band. The adulation can get downright undignified, hinging on Morrissey-like convulsion. Rock & roll tastemakers Buddyhead love to make fun of DBC and its fans. The website bestowed The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most a spot on their "20 Worst Albums of the Year" list with this proclamation: "The pinnacle of mall emo. Pure evil. The scariest thing about this record is that these are the songs that will be playing when the deflowering of all those 300-pound emo gorilla girls in light blue 'princess' T-shirts you see hanging around Hot Topic happens. Yikes." Get past the cliques (the criers and the haters) and savor the elegiac songs about breakups and misunderstandings. Dashboard is living high right now, pegged for an MTV Unplugged release in December.

The Strokes

Where: Oct. 31 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Tickets: $26.75 (Ticketmaster)
Support: Mooney Suzuki, The Realistics
Latest Record: 'Is This It' (2002 reissue)

The Strokes' lead singer Julian Casablancas is exactly what the rock world needs--a reincarnation of Lou Reed (What? Lou Reed's not dead yet? Are you sure?). This five-member band formed when several celeb kids (yes, this is that Casablancas) dropped out of their New York colleges and decided to pursue lanky hair, lanky corduroys, and lanky, super catchy avant-rock. Predictably, it was up to the U.K. music press to make darlings of the lads, but the stateside press caught on quickly--maybe because the music of the Strokes so strongly recalls the Rolling Stones and the Velvet Underground darlings of the modern music critic. The incredible hype that's surrounded the Strokes has, alas, not turned enough people off them, so their Bay Area show is sure to be crowded, sweaty, fun and sold out.

Sigur Ros

Where: Nov. 23 at the Warfield Theatre
Tickets: $25
Support: Amina, Siggi Arman
Latest Record: '()' (2002) 'Agaetis Byrjun' (2001)

Winter's twin engines of foggy calm and thunderclap couldn't have a more appropriate soundtrack than Sigur Ros. Imagine epic sonic soundscapes with rock's passion and chamber music's sensibilities--all with lyrics sung in Icelandic. Electronics play a role, too, as do uncompromising philosophies and an explorer's internal compass. There's a knowing sense of mystery surrounding the Icelandic creative rock ensemble. Its first two albums, 1997's Von and the 1998 remix album Recycle Bin, were available only through import. And none of the group's four albums feature pictures of the Sigur Ros members, opting instead for graphics and also haunted artwork that harks back to the 23 Envelope work found on 4AD albums from the early '80s on. The band's Coachella set was one of the festival's high points and previous Fillmore and Warfield shows sold out.

Rolling Stones

Where: Nov. 8-9 at Pacbell Park; Nov. 12 at Oakland Coliseum Arena
Tickets: Probably more than you can afford
Support: Sheryl Crow
Latest Record: 'Don't Stop' (Oct. 29, 2002)

By now, the jokes about dinosaurs, dentures and canes are almost as wrinkled as Mick Jagger's lips. In case anybody had forgotten--or needed a new introduction--this summer's massive rerelease orgy from ABKCO Records confirms what we always knew: the Stones weren't kidding when they called themselves the world's greatest rock & roll band. With a song catalog as thick as a Pottery Barn mailing, the Stones have been mixing and matching with abandon on their current 40 Licks Tour. One lucky audience in Boston even got to hear them do "Rock Me Baby" with Buddy Guy, a reminder of the secure blues foundation that has always propped up the band's music.


Where: Nov. 16 at the Cow Palace, San Francisco
Tickets: $35
Support: Disturbed, TRUSTcompany
Latest Record: 'Untouchables' (2002)

Emotional scar tissue scraped raw for the world to see. A tormented frontman whose dark secrets fall out in his lyrics like so many bones scattering from a closet. Tack on bludgeoning riffs and bagpipes in a funky new metal mix and you've got Korn circa 1994. In the early days, Jonathan Davis seemed terrified of performing, yet he drained himself emotionally at every show while his band mates watched on with nervous awe. As Korn's popularity grew, so did its ego, and by the second album, Life Is Peachy, Davis' tone had become arrogant and bloated. The band has since recovered with the rap- and electronics-heavy Follow the Leader and Issues, which chronicled the bands struggles with fame. While its latest, Untouchables, may not reflect the millions and millions of dollars sunk into the recording, it is a harsh, stomping affair that hit No. 2 on the Billboard charts. Korn's twisted kingdom shows no sign of being overthrown anytime soon.

Kid Koala

Where: Nov. 16 at the Gallery
Tickets: $15 (Ticketweb)
Support: Fingerbangerz, Rocky Rock
Latest Record: 'Carpal Tunnel Syndrome' (2000), 'Bullfrog' (2001), new album due in Fall (2003).

Kid Koala is the patron saint of bedroom DJs--not the ones cramping their fingers learning a four-finger click, but the ones who find inspiration from lesser-known sources: talking parakeet records, music for plants, instructional hair cutting and spoken word joints. In 1996, he recorded an amazing calling card Scratchcratchratchatch, a 30-minute tumble through 154 separate vinyl sources ranging from Bjork to Charlie Brown to Monty Python to Bernardo Bertolucci. The tape showed Koala's sense of humor and skill for conveying movement (he cut up a Run-DMC sample into a four-beat waltz). It caught the attention of found sound cultists Coldcut, who quickly signed him to their Ninjatune label. The cassette also made it into the hands of Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, who hit him off with work on Deltron 3030, Lovage, Handsome Boy Modeling School and Gorillaz. Today, the turntable technician has released albums solo and with his New Orleans-style funk band Bullfrog. In 2001, Radiohead asked the Kid to open a string of dates on its Amnesiac tour. An accomplished illustrator, he's about to release his first book, Nufonia Must Fall, that comes with an original soundtrack. For his San Jose appearance, Koala takes his 'tables and mixer on the road for a solo tour that should bring out bedroom DJs en masse. [More previews start on pg.24]

Guns N' Roses

Where: HP Pavilion on New Year's Eve
Support: Mixmaster Mike
Latest Record: 'The Spaghetti Incident' (1993), 'Chinese Democracy' (when cows fly)

Well, the fan sighs, better an Axl-fronted cover band than an Axl-less GNR. The devotion that Guns N' Roses amassed during its 1992 peak has only flourished in the healthy fertilizer of time and speculation. The current incarnation is a full-on freak show with Axl Rose and Dizzy Reed the sole holdovers from the band's previous lineup. Three guitarists make their debut: Robin Finck, formerly of Nine Inch Nails, Buckethead and Richard Fortus. Then there's Tommy Stinson (fittingly from the Replacements) on bass, a second keyboard player Chris Pitman, and Primus' Brian "Brain" Mantia on drums. Axl's focused, fit and happy with his revamped lineup which roared to life at its Vegas millennium eve show and at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. There's no shortage of fans craving the last of the Hollywood Boulevard hair bands; the group's show at New York's Madison Square Garden sold out in 15 minutes. That seems to put the naysayers in the vocal minority. As Axl puts it, on the GNRonline website, "To the ones who are negative and want to see either myself or the new band fall on their faces, personally I can't pass up an opportunity to upset so many of them in one quick swoop. I get misty-eyed just thinking about it."


Where: Nov. 14 at the HP Pavilion
Tickets: $35.25 (Ticketmaster)
Support: The Distillers, No Doubt
Latest Record: 'Beautiful Garbage' (2001)

The last time Garbage played the Shark Tank, it was as an opener for Alanis Morrisette. By the end of the show, it was apparent that the slots really should have been flip-flopped. Ms. Ironic would have had a strong, tight all-hit set, and Garbage could present all of its singles, B-sides and album track goodness. The same double switch could be made for this show, with similar results--though headliner No Doubt has an admittedly broader appeal than Garbage. But Garbage's songbook goes deeper. "Cup of Coffee," "So Like a Rose" and "The Trick Is to Keep Breathing" bring out a reflective melancholy drawn from age and experience, while "Shut Your Mouth" and "Supervixen" draw on a sass similarly time-earned. Manson at once leads and charms her audiences, and drummer Butch Vig and guitarist-keyboardists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson are among the best out there at coolly combining live playing with preprogrammed beats, samples and sequences.

Peter Gabriel

Where: Dec. 14 at the Oakland Coliseum
Arena; Dec. 15 at the HP Pavilion
Tickets: $48.25-$137.50 for Oakland; $46-$131 for San Jose (Ticketmaster)
Support: Blind Boys of Alabama
Latest Record: 'Up' (2002)

Bill Clinton was in his first term of his presidency the last time Gabriel played in the Bay Area. He finally returns in support of his first album of new songs in 10 years, and the sound is more percussive and primal than his last two efforts. In his three-plus decades in music, Gabriel has gone from theatrical art rocker (first with Genesis and then in his early solo career) and global activist to international music ambassador and interspecies collaborator. (Up features songwriting collaborations he did with apes from the Language Research Center in Atlanta.) His WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance) organization now includes a studio in Bath, England, a record label and a festival in England, Europe and the U.S. The visuals for Gabriel's "Growing Up Live" tour are reportedly fantastic, reflecting Gabriel's longtime interest in multiple media. The start of the tour was actually delayed in order to meet all the production specs.

Del the Funky Homosapien
Where: Nov. 21 at Spy
Tickets: $20 (Ticketweb and Streetlight)
Support: People Under the Stairs, Motion Man, Kutmasta Kurt, Lifesavas
Latest Record: 'Both Sides of the Brain' (2000)

Del has completed a comeback that has taken years of struggle and determination. The Oakland rapper (and cousin of Ice Cube) emerged during the second golden era of hip-hop lyricism--1991-1993--with a huge record, the P-Funk scented I Wish My Brother George Was Here. By the mid-'90s, after releasing No Need For Alarm, he was dropped from his label. Del survived by working at a record store, recording demos and collaborations, and doing half-ass shows. Then two things happened. Del's low ebb coincided with the arrival of the World Wide Web, which he and his Hieroglyphics crew quickly seized upon and laid the groundwork for independent marketing and selling of their tapes and merchandise. Second was Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, the San Francisco producer who blew up with Dr. Octagon. He formed a Kurosawa-Mifune relationship with the rapper, enlisting him on various projects. In 2001, one of those projects, Gorillaz, scored a hit single in "Clint Eastwood." Del's syncopated rhyme flow got heard on modern rock radio. It was an unexpected high point for a rapper whose career was given up for dead just six years earlier. Del's journey continues with his headlining stint on the CaliComm tour with People Under the Stairs, Motion Man, Kutmasta Kurt and Lifesavas.

Box Car Racer

Where: Nov. 21 at the Warfield Theatre
Tickets: $20
Support: The Used, H20, Taking Back Sunday
Latest Record: 'Box Car Racer' (2002)

Anything Blink-182 does turns to gold--maybe not in terms of gold records, but in terms of street cred with American youth. You'd think these guys were still 16 by the way they sing about life and relationships. This Blink spinoff band, driven by frontman and guitarist Tom Delonge with drummer Travis Barker as his co-pilot, places punk over pop and takes a heavier, slightly more serious approach to songwriting. There's a dark moodiness to Box Car Racer you just don't find in Blink songs. Revved up by the popularity of singles "There Is" and "I Feel So," the band is ready for a lap around the track with H20, the Used and Taking Back Sunday. An SJSU Event Center was curtailed for whatever reason so this show is the only Bay Area date.


Where: Nov. 14 at Shoreline Amphitheatre
Tickets: $75.50/$55/$35
Support: Kid Rock, Run-DMC
Latest Record: 'Just Push Play' (2001)

Not so long ago at Shoreline, Aerosmith's sexy frontman Steven Tyler spent a good portion of the show kissing all the girls in the front row--and we're not talking innocent little pecks on the cheek either. After three decades of rocking arenas, the band from Boston may not be setting trends, but it's still pretty damn relevant. Every album since the mid-'80s has done well. Most recently, the band contributed the theme to the Spider-Man soundtrack and released a song titled "Girls of Summer." On this tour, Aerosmith is joined not only by Kid Rock, but by Queens legends Run-DMC. This union affords the chance to see the 1975 classic "Walk This Way" done the way that put Aerosmith back in the game in 1986. It's enough to make up for the pop spectacle of *NSYNC and Britney Spears joining Aerosmith at last year's Super Bowl halftime show.

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From the October 24-30, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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