The fact that San Francisco is one of only six destinations for "Japan Nite" after its Austin SXSW showcase means one of two things: Either homogenization hasn't yet stripped us of our cool-city cred abroad, or "Japan Nite" was eager to pick up the East Bay-based Terracotta Troupe. Led by dynamic, bilingual MC Shing02, the Terracotta Troupe erects towers and tanks of multitextural, multicultural hip hop that transcends the genre without the slightest betrayal of effort. On the Troupe's sublime double-CD Homo Caeruleus Cerinus, rock guitar and bass lie inside intricate arrays of down-low backbeats, samples, and scratches accented by a woman's voice and a reed flute line as relentless and delicate as the imperial chrysanthemum. Even within a seemingly serene collage of sounds, Shing02's raps transmit a restless tension and political dissonance that, given the right circumstances, could easily incite riots or, at the very least, humble admiration. But that's not all. For the same low price, you get Lolita No. 18, easily the greatest all-girl punk group I've heard, whose fierce, maniacal, and relentlessly funny music has drawn both Joey Ramone and Olga of the Toy Dolls into the fold as producers; a somewhat less-inspired chick quartet called Mummy the Peepshow that makes a sprightly cacophony in matching baseball jerseys; the Japan-rock group Number Girl that spawned quite a hubbub at last year's SXSW; and the "spacey, speedy, spooky" Spoozys who perform high-grade new psychedelic surf wave while wearing unisex spacesuits. "Japan Nite" is held on Friday, March 24, at the Paradise Lounge at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8-10; call 861-6906.
Picture Marilyn Monroe risen from the dead, bloated and disheveled, bowling a seven-three split -- much to the delight of Kurt Cobain, who seems to barely notice the breeze on the exposed remainder of his brain as he adjusts his customized bowling glove and shambles up to retrieve his sparkle ball. This is "Dead Celebrity Bowling," a sort of Beetlejuice dream come true, held less than a ball's-throw away from a comfortable and eternal resting place, in a town where the dead already outnumber the living, during the inescapable witching hour. Spooky, no? Hilarious, yes. "Dead Celebrity Bowling" will be held on Friday, March 24, at Serra Bowl in Colma at midnight (bwaa-haa-haa-haa). Ticket price is only $3.75 per game, plus $1.25 for shoe rental, but costumes are utterly and absolutely mandatory; call (650) 992-3444 for directions or (510) 701-0861 for suggestions.
Down on Third Street, just past Cesar Chavez in a friendly little compound known as Cyclone, people have demolished televisions, survived pirate ship rides, enjoyed stale popcorn and drive-in movies, gambled on rat roulette, hung from rafters, and generally run amok in an atmosphere of beer, dust, and goodwill toward freaks. Now it's time to give a little back for the sake of construction, expansion, and better viewing for all. The Cyclone Rejuvenation Project, helmed by the folks who brought us "Kill Your TV," "C.O.R.E.'s Entertainment for the Apocalypse," Idiot Flesh, Neurosis, and "Big Top 23," offers a one-night reunion of Ovarian Trolley with Touched by a Janitor, Broken Horse, and Terri Weist also performing to raise funds on Saturday, March 25, at Cyclone Warehouse (1842 Illinois, at Marin) at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and up; call 648-9294.
The Bay Area is a hotbed of robotic creation, from the fear-inspiring contraptions of Survival Research Laboratories to the primordial artistry of Omnicircus, so this seems a logical locale for the International Robot Sumo Wrestling Competition. Sadly, the rules say that competing robots cannot exceed 6.5 pounds, or be capable of shooting fire, jamming rival radio signals, or hurling objects of any kind into the audience. This excludes most of the robot enthusiasts I know, but anyone who has marveled at the insect robots in Fast, Cheap & Out of Control knows that a robot designer doesn't necessarily have to be a destructive madman to be a fascinating compulsive. Unlike fleshy sumo wrestling, in which nothing but the soles of the Rikishi's feet are allowed to touch the surface of the sumo ring, robot sumo requires that one machine knock the other machine out of the Dohyo, which, in this case, will be no more than 1 meter in diameter. Robots may be radio controlled or independently controlled with microcomputers or sensors, but all combatants must have a Shikona (fighter name). The International Robot Sumo Wrestling Competition will be held on Tuesday, March 28, at the Exploratorium with sign-up at 11 a.m. and competition at 1 p.m. Tickets included with $2.50-9 museum admission; call 563-7337.