The seven letters to the famed Motown classic "Respect" will have multiple meanings this weekend when belted out by the tenors and basses of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. For one, the group's spring concert, titled "Oh, Happy Day!," is a powerhouse tribute to African-American musical heritage, summoning a wide array of gospel, blues, and soul with classic songs like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and the infectious "Dancing in the Streets." For another, the chorus is one of the world's finest vocal acts, commanding plenty of r-e-s-p-e-c-t.
But the concert also calls for respect of another group: LGBT members of the cloth. Hosting special S.F.-based guest ensemble Transcendence Gospel Choir -- the world's first all-transgender chorus -- the SFGMC makes heavenly tunes the theme of the evening. In this celebration of gayness and godliness, members wear the stoles of LGBT spiritual leaders who have been excluded from service because of their unaccepted ways of lovin'. Sing the praises of freedom and unity with these two historic vocal groups at 8 p.m. on Saturday and 5 on Sunday at the Murphy Auditorium, Mission High School, 3750 18th St. (between Dolores and Church), S.F. Tickets are $10-40; call 865-3650 or visit www.sfgmc.org.
-- Karen Macklin
Digital DJs scrap in S.F.
At one long-ago Burning Man, I witnessed a Casio keyboard playoff, organized by a friend sick of listening to drum-circle hippies pounding away. Huddled in a bunch, the would-be Brian Enos bleeped and blooped on their tinny machines, creating something that would have been music if it hadn't been so darned absurd.
The planners behind this weekend's "SF Laptop Battle" put a competitive spin on the notion of an electronica sound-off, inviting those with a laptop computer, some sound-tweaking software, and a knack for creating groovy audio to enter what promises to be the least chaotic battle of the bands in history. Each pair of contestants squares off for six minutes, and judges ultimately choose a winner who'll go on to compete in a Seattle contest; listen up starting at 9 p.m. at Club Six, 60 Sixth St. (at Jessie), S.F. Admission is $5; call 863-1221 or visit www.clubsix1.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
The Thomas Guide
A real soul man
The retro-soul singer you've been waiting for has arrived. Earl Thomas is obviously inspired by the musical-historical moment when R&B was church-uptight but about to bust loose into the late 1960s. A fixture on San Diego's local scene, Thomas has perfected his high style, drawing heavily on Otis Redding, Ike & Tina Turner, and the Temptations. His vocal charm and cutie-pie looks are backed up by incredible songwriting skills: His tunes have been recorded by giants like Etta James and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Big Bones opens at 9:30 p.m. at the Boom Boom Room, 1601 Fillmore (at Geary), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 673-8000 or visit www.boomboomblues.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
As anyone who's gone through hell and emerged with an interesting story can attest, the worst tribulations make the best comedy. Indian-Canadian funnyman Russell Peters, who transforms cultural alienation into sly gibes in his comedy show "Go West Brown Man," proves our point starting at 9 p.m. at the Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St. (at York), S.F. Admission is $20-25; call 647-2822 or visit www.jalebigirls.com.
-- Joyce Slaton