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Billy Idol's rebel yell, Seu Jorge's Brazilian croon, and Portastatic's maudlin moan

Wednesday, Sep 21 2005
Those with a lingering fondness for the '80s -- and, judging by the enduring popularity of Bay Area cover bands like Tainted Love, there are more than a few of you -- can get their nostalgia fix when leather-clad icon Billy Idol struts his aging stuff at Alice Radio's annual Now & Zen Festival. Sure, he's dropped his cyberpunk posturing and returned to his new wave roots, reuniting with longtime guitarist Steve Stevens and producer Keith Forsey for his first collection of fresh material in 12 years, Devil's Playground, but fans needn't fear a set heavy on the new stuff. Instead, brace yourselves for vital Idol: Year after year, the forever-blond rocker plays to sellout crowds, dutifully banging out spirited renditions of hits like "Rebel Yell," "White Wedding," and "Cradle of Love." He'll join Maroon 5, Natasha Bedingfield, and Josh Kelley on Sunday, Sept. 25, in Golden Gate Park; visit for more info. -- Rossiter Drake

While Seu Jorge (pronounced "SAY-oo ZSOR-zsee") is best known in the U.S. as an actor -- for his role as a street kid in the Brazilian film City of God and then as the dude crooning David Bowie covers in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou -- in Brazil he's best recognized as a singer. His profile here may change soon, as the former street urchin tours the States for the first time. Jorge's latest disc, Cru (which translates as "raw"), is one of the best Brazilian pop albums in years, a mix of breezy, stripped-down pagode ballads and swinging electro-funk, all topped off by Jorge's elegant, buttery vocals. There's even some unusual social commentary, as the singer chronicles life in the slums on "Eu Sou Favela" and rails against rampant breast implantation on "Mania de Peitao" (which translates as "Large Chested Mania"). Seu Jorge mixes the sacred with the profane on Monday, Sept. 26, at Bimbo's; call 474-0365 or go to for more info. -- Dan Strachota

Portastatic -- sprung from the big, busy, prolific brain of indie-rock icon Mac McCaughan, best known as the frontman for Superchunk and founder of Merge Records -- used to be exactly what its name implies: a humble four-track, lo-fi pursuit. Along with help from his pals in Polvo, singer/guitarist McCaughan got the party (OK, the subdued conversation) started with 1994's wonderful I Hope Your Heart Is Not Brittle (a title Chris Carrabba surely wishes he'd gotten to first) and kept it going throughout the '90s with sporadic releases of varying quality featuring differing lineups, though he never really promoted or toured behind them. But with Superchunk having spent the past several years, Fugazi-like, in "indefinite hiatus-land," McCaughan's turned Portastatic from a quaint side project into his main creative outlet, averaging almost a disc a year since 2001. The just-released seventh album, Bright Ideas, is Portastatic's first proper studio recording (it was done right here in town, at John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone). Songwritingwise, it's the most satisfying since Brittle, though a decidedly fuller-sounding, more rockin' affair -- it would be fair to say it sounds a bit like vintage Superchunk, actually. And Portastatic is indeed a stable band now, with Mac's brother Matt on drums and Superchunk bassist Jim Wilbur rounding out the trio. If this whole world of Portastatic is new to you, now's a perfect time to play catch-up when the group drops by on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Bottom of the Hill; call 621-4455 or visit for more info.-- Michael Alan Goldberg


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