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Great Night Out

May turns electric, eclectic and experimental. The Bay Area has always been home to the great experimenters. The next few weeks bring in a amazing array of boundary pushing talent from Buckethead to the highly visual multimedia shows of the Kronos Quartet and RJD2. Salty old punks the New Model Army come over from across the pond to play the DNA. And the good old East Bay delivers two of their finest: Rogue Wave and Hyim & the Fat Foakland Orchestra all roll into town for your Great Night Out.

1. Wednesday, May 19th
New Model Army
with Faith And The Muse, with DJs: Decay (Death Guild), Dangerous Dr. Dave
location: DNA Lounge
time: Doors 8 pm
admission: $12, 21+

Although New Model Army formed way back in the '80s, they are a modern punk band. They are more melodic than many of their classic counterparts, but still widely respected by their loyal core who follow their working-class ethics and politics. Fronted by guitarist/vocalist Justin Sullivan, he leads their intense, angry, and powerful sonic assault showing how music can create change. True to their causes, New Model Army has raised many thousands of dollars for drug rehab centers, striking miners, for environmental causes by means of genuine benefit concerts with no 'hidden expenses' or backhanders. So lace up the old Doc Martins and join the faithful for this rare Bay Area appearance.

2. Friday, May 21st
Hyim and the Fat Foakland Orchestra
location: Cafe Du Nord
time: doors at 9 pm
admission: pre-sale tix $10, 21+

What is not to love about a band called the Fat Foakland Orchestra?? Bay Area Native Hyim is not only a singer/songwriter, pianist, and poet, but also possesses an internationally eclectic palate of arrangement & delivery styles. His music, reflects his diverse yet converging influences: Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop, Folk, Salsa/Son, Jazz, World Beat, and Classical. This all-star band features drummer Michael Faiella (Wyclef Jean), bassist Mark Calderon (Leo Nocentelli of The Meters, Carter Beauford of The Dave Matthews Band) and percussionist Ajayi Jackson (Omar Sosa).

The California Music Awards recently nominated Hyim & the Fat Foakland Orchestra for the Outstanding Jam Band for 2004, so you know things are going get a little bit hot tonight at the Du Nord.

3. Friday, May 21st and Saturday, May 22nd
Kronos Quartet
location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
time: 8 pm
admission: $26, $44

See the music, hear the sculpture and feel you're part of an international new music adventure like no other. The Kronos Quartet are true musical pioneers. Since their inception in 1973 they have epitomized artistic vision and dedication to experimentation. They have assembled a body of work unparalleled in its scope of expression and range.

After a brief tour of Italy earlier this month, they come to the Yerba Buena center for the Arts for their groundbreaking multimedia production, Visual Music. This production explores the boundaries between music and visual images. Kronos' program includes the other-worldly sounds of the Sonambient sculptures of Italian-American furniture designer Harry Bertoia; Steve Reich's lighthearted homage to John Cage in which the instruments are microphones and loudspeakers; and showing that Space is indeed the place Terry Riley's meditation on space and earth's place in it.

4. Saturday, May 22nd
RJD2 (Def Jux)
with Diverse (Chocolate Industries) / Romanowski (Future Primitive Sound) / A 2 Z (featuring DJ Zeph & Azeem)
location: Club Q
time: doors at 9 pm
admission: pre-sale tix $15. 21+

With a new long-player set to drop next week, RJD2 helps break in the new Club Q. Another pioneer integrating diverse sonic soundscapes, RJD2's master ability to layer unusual samples with complex drum patterns, funky grooves, and original vocals continue to inspire. His critically acclaimed, debut release Dead Ringer was voted one of the best underground hip-hop releases of the year and firmly established his place among greats such as DJ Shadow and DJ Spooky. RJD2's productions serve up the outer realms of pop culture for nuggets of psyche garage, obscure funk, and wobbly blues records. RJD2's appearance offers the opportunity to see him just four days after the release of his new album "Since We Last Spoke" and in a unique, multimedia context that perfectly suits his eclectic style.

Future Primitive Sound's Romanowski's also appears in support of his latest release RockSteady.

5. Friday, May 28th and Saturday, May 29th
Buckethead's Giant Robot
location: The Independent
time: doors at 8 pm / show at 9 pm
admission: $20, 21+

Well we did say from the start this month is all about experimentation. Buckethead is different to say the very least. He's got reams of technique, but he also writes great songs with infectious, fun melodies. Half-Man half-??, Buckethead has traveled around the world playing guitar, dropping records, and learning the secrets of embalming, theme park engineering and martial arts. He recorded many albums with himself or his friends or in bands like Praxis, Giant Robot, Giant Robot or some of Bill Laswell's side projects. Buckethead is great musician showcasing just how far he can push the boundaries and yet bring us safely back to orbit for a challenging yet surreal musical journey.

6. Monday, May 31st
Rogue Wave
with Show Me State, From Bubblegum to Sky and Calling All Monsters
location: Cafe Du Nord
Time: 9 pm
Admission: $8, 21+

Bringing this year's 8th annual Mission Creek Festival to the Du Nord this weekend, I have been hearing great things from Rogue Wave over the past few months. With a sound described as perfectly infectious blend of pop music mined from an undiscovered vein that recalls all the best idiosyncrasies of the Pixies, Guided by Voices, and the Beach Boys, Rogue Wave blends wistful vocals over and under blankets of their sonic wave of mutilation. Their 2003 debut "Out of the shadow" showcases their complex layers of intertwining vocals and instruments leading to hypnotic melodies that continue to emerge after many listens.