Related Articles: Music, All

Tuning into the City

The Best Shows for April

First off, big-up to Justice and Diplo for throwing down one of the best live shows of the year at the Concourse/Design Center. Who would have thought those two Frenchmen would rock our worlds so hard! Diplo really got the joint jumping with his M.I.A. and hip-hop heavy set -- making one of the week-night shows feel like a Friday night. Then over at The Independent, Mick Jones and his new crew Carbon/Silicon showed that they still got it going on in Badrock City. So here’s a quick look at the genre-bending mad men, sultry chanteuses, crazy party boys and sexy electro girls coming through town to bless up the sound in April.

1. Morcheeba with Federico Aubele, Mariee Souix
Friday, April 11th
The Fillmore
Doors: 8pm, Show 9pm

There was a time when you could not escape hearing Morcheeba’s The Big Calm's dark beats and spy themes everywhere you went. They were the reigning trip-hop chill out royalty. Then, after pursuit of a poppier sound and a change of vocalists, they seemed to have lost direction as well as many fans. Now with their sixth and latest release, Dive Deep, they are back to the sound that the brothers Godfrey, Ross and Paul, initially crafted on their first two releases. In a smart move to help get their songs out there for the DJ’s and mash-up remixers, they have all of the albums sans vocals available for free download at

2. Nick Lowe and Robyn Hitchcock
Saturday, April 12th
The Fillmore
Doors: 8pm, Show 9pm

England’s elder statesmen/hit makers Nick Lowe and Robyn Hitchcock join ranks for their rare double-bill at the esteemed Fillmore. Nick Lowe comes out in support the 30th year reissue of Jesus of Cool his seminal album featuring hits like “Cruel to be Kind" and “(I love the sound of) Breaking Glass". With an amazing career spanning more than 40 years Nick has been innovating pure pop music as a singer, producer and songwriter.

Robyn Hitchcock has been on a long strange trip of a career with notable highlights such as Jonathan Demme’s 1998 film Storefront Hitchcock. Best know for his witty, absurdist lyrics he remains in the quirky outer realm of music inhabited by the late Syd Battett but with the grounding musical touches of Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Songs such as “Balloon Man" and “Queen Madonna of the Wasp’s" cracked into our mid-nineties MTV consciousness. Robyn’s live shows come with his witty British humor which counter-acts the twisted darkness of his songs.

3. Girls with Guns
Monday April 14
924 Gilman in Berkeley
Doors: 7:30pm

Bridging the gap between the cool 60s girl group sound with the buzz-saw guitar of The Ramones, Girls with Guns simply rock! They have come to testify that "sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll will save your soul." Enough said. This awesome quartet of rock goddesses is led by La-ni on screaming lead vocals with a rhythm section of Sheila and Yasim and shred mistress Jenni on guitar. They gave it up at recent SF live shows at Du Nord and Bottom of the Hill and one would expect nothing less at 924 Gilman. Check out their tunes "Johnny" and "Tribute" on their myspace page

4. Halou with The Drift on the 16th and Nyles Lannon on the 23rd
Wednesday, April 16th & Wednesday the 23rd
Café Du Nord
Doors 8pm, Show 9pm

Joining this month’s "Wednesdays at Du Nord" concert series is Halou. Celebrating their 11 years as a band, Halou has refined their compelling live show, moving forward the sound of contemporaries such as Portishead and a more downtempo Massive Attack. The cool and sensual vocals of Rebecca mesmerizes us with her dulcet tones. With a line-up of live drums, cello, bass, guitar, various electronics, and Rebecca’s mesmerizing vocals, Halou plays their set to the backdrop of short films fully synchronized to the performance. Halou’s newest recording, Wholeness and Separation, recalls a wide range of sonic influences from DJ Shadow to Sinatra. Du Nord provides the perfect setting to take it all in.

5. Dengue Fever with Bat Makumba and French Disco
The Independent
Doors: 8:30pm, Show 9pm

With their latest release Venus on Earth, Dengue Fever’s sound provides the perfect mystery-themed soundtrack for Indiana Jones’s unchronicled psychedelic adventures in Southeast Asia in search of that forbidden pop groove. With swirling farfisa organ washes and spacey surf guitar providing the musical foundation, the radiant vocals of Chhom Nimol leap off to the outer dimensions as she sings in her native Cambodian tongue. Although I may never understand a word of their single "Sleepwalking through the Mekog", it was an instant favorite and I played it over and over, haunted and drawn in by her beautiful ethereal voice.

6. Chow Nasty with Trackademics and Hottub
Friday, April 25th
The Uptown in Oakland
Doors: 9pm

Looking for a good Friday night live one to help you bust out of your weekday working cage? Look no further than this short trip across the Bay to Oakland’s Uptown (semi-conveniently located near the 19th Street Oakland BART). The ultimate party bands Chow Nasty and Hottub are gonna get things down at the Uptown. After tearing it up at their raucous live shows, Chow Nasty hits hard like a "Sabotage"-era Beastie Boys who have come to fight for your right to party. With their break-through youtube video hit Ungawa and their party starting song "Boom Cha Cha" they are sure to move the crowd.