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Tuning into the City

The Best Shows for May

1. MC RadioActive with Souls of Mischief , Trackademicks
Juxtapose/ArtSF Now Show
Saturday May 10th
Club Six
Doors 10pm, Show: Midnight
$10 before 11pm/$15 after

The Bay Areaís own man-on-the-mic, the Original MC Radioactive, will be flipping the freestyle flows at the Juxtapose Art SF Now party. Club Six has always been one of my favorite venues; this night features hip hop, live performances in the dark room, and Jah-Yzer spinning the reggae vibes in the bassment. MC Radioactive is one of the Bay Areaís true gems -- he has rocked the mic with Spearheadís Michael Franti (featured on the album Everyone Deserves Music) and I have seen him on-stage performing alongside everybody from the Greatful Deadís Bob Weir and Galatic to Ben Harper and countless others. Known for his stream of consciousness free-style flow and extraordinary beat boxing skills, MC Radioactive is one MC that truly can move the crowd. Check out his music at: http://www.myspace.com/theoriginalradioactive

2. Crowded House
Wednesday 14th and Thursday the 15th
The Fillmore
Doors 8pm, Show 9pm

After a great sold-out show last year at Oaklandís sublime Paramount Theater, Crowded House head over to this side of the Bay for two nights at The Fillmore. Rising from the ashes of Split Ends, singer and chief songwriter Neil Finn took his Beatles fixation to new levels to make the best happy-guitar pop of the late 80s and early 90s. With a string of hits including "Something So Strong" and "Donít Dream It's Over", Finn combined surreal lyrics that were oddly innocent or sweetly cynical and layered them on top of beautiful melodies and bright hooks. Brilliant live performers with a spot-on sense of humor, catch their latest revival on this current stop on their world tour.

3. This Charming Band with The Ghost of Curtis
Friday May 16th
Cafe du Nord
Doors: 8:30pm, Show 9:30pm

While we may have to wait years or even an eternity for the guys behind Coachella to get The Smiths to reunite, why not get your morbid 80s on with this double fix. First off, you get the highly acclaimed Smiths ďtributeĒ band -- This Charming Band. These guys have been playing up and down the west coast for the past few years and truly capture that special Morrissey/Johnny Marr magic.

Then for any new fans won over by the release of the Ian Curtis bio-pic Control this past year, here is your chance to see the Ghost of Ian Curtis channel his macabre madness that was once call Joy Division.

4. Stephen Marley with Gully Bank Sound
Wednesday, May 28th
The Independent
Doors: 8:30pm, Show 9pm

The youngest member of the celebrated Marley siblings hits the stage of The Independent bringing that ire vibe with positive roots rock reggae. Stephen has been performing with the Melody Makers since he was seven and has many great songs to his credit. Ironically, he is lauded as the reggae artist with the most Grammy Awards (who knew what the Grammy board was smoking while they slept on all the great records that his father, the late great Robert Nesta Marley made in the 70s and 80s). With his first solo album Mind Control he creates a polyrhythmic stew of reggae, hip hop, rock, R&B, flamenco and traditional nyabinghi rhythms. Despite his slick production, it still maintains the grit and flavor of the old Trenchtown Rock that his father sang about early in his career. So, as the saying goes, "itís time to talk to Bob" and groove with his son.

5. R.E.M. with Modest Mouse and The National
Saturday May 31st
The Greek Theater (Berkeley)
Doors: 6pm
$39.50 - $89.50

If looking forward to an early warm summer night under the Berkeley skies isnít enough to draw you across the Bay, this triple threat line-up would be just what the good doctor ordered. While I am a massive fan of R.E.M.'s early stuff -- the brilliant Murmur, Reckoning and Lifeís Rich Pageant, I had lost my proverbial religion somewhere along the road to mainstream success and declining record sales. So now with their latest, Accelerate (actually their 14th album!!!), they have brought me back into the fold with a revitalized sound and a solid return to form. Vocalist Michael Stipe sums it up best himself, "Music will provide the light you cannot resist."

Be sure to get there in time to check out Brooklynís The National and Modest Mouse with guitarist extraordinaire Johnny Mar -- the man responsible for the cool sound of The Smiths.