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Sound Advice 

Monstrous rock, sourdough shapeliness, post-apocalyptic calligraphy, and "soul travel"

Wednesday, Jan 2 2002
The Phantom Limbs could not have chosen their appellation more carefully. Squalling about forgone appendages and carnival nightmares, lead singer Hopeless is the skeletal storyteller with the self-destructive vocal chords who propels the Limbs' rock 'n' roll monster, but it is Stevenson Sedgwick's amphetamine-driven chapel organ that gives the Limbs soul. This is rock music found in the depths of a catacomb and brought to shuddering, swirling life by Dr. Frankenstein's electrical psychosis. Thus amply fueled by static and doom, the Phantom Limbs tear apart old men and innocent babes with snarling rhythms and lurching melodies, both maddening and thrilling to those who have outgrown punk rock and goth but still shroud themselves in grainy black-and-white. The Phantom Limbs perform on Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Bottom of the Hill with Gault and the Mutilated Mannequins opening the all-ages show at 10 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 621-4455.

It was a sad, sad day in August when xylophone-band impresario and fashionable flesh-peddler Brian Lease swooped up his leading lady and moved to New York City. Thankfully, the Fisherman (as he is known to those in the dance-hall racket) has not forgotten our bayside burg. He returns -- for one night and one night only! -- to resuscitate Fisherman's Famous Burlesque. Past shows have included Miss Exotic World 1999 Lotus Derringer, Miss Exotic World 2000 Kitten DeVille, Sacramento's Cherry Malone, Oregon's Kitty Diggins, and Hawaii's Omaha Betty; this show, however, will focus more on home-grown attributes. Having left our fair west shores, the Fisherman has grown nostalgic for our special brand of sourdough shapeliness, including that of the Cantankerous Lollies, whose shadow skits inflame the imagination while their cancan routines fan the fire with ruffled skirts, fluttering feet, and more than a few frilly bottoms. Also returning are: the go-go boot mania of the Go Going Gone Girls; a belly-dancing sword swallower named Kaotika du Flambeau, who performs her act with a searing twist; the ill-dressed and highly illicit MC Mad Dog, a man destined to spend his life "pushing on doors marked pull"; the sideshow spectacle of Molotov and Felicity; the serpent enchantress ZiZi Zaheera; the faraway figurings and fingerings of Kitten on the Keys; the titillating stage and screen starlet Simone de la Ghetto; the exotica of Fisherman's Famous Xylophonic Brass Orchestra (featuring members of Mingo 2000, Polkacide, Frenchy, Merchants of the New Bizarre, Frisky Frolics, and Dead Kennedys); and, of course, a dancing gorilla or two. Fisherman's Famous Burlesque takes place on Sunday, Jan. 6, at the Make-Out Room at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 647-2877.

Since KUSF sent out its first broadcast in 1977, the college radio station has been an audio oasis for San Francisco listeners who might otherwise hang their heads in shame when pals visit from other "major" cities where the airwaves are not subjugated by Top 40 "oldies" from the last decade. Last week (like most), KUSF's Top 30 playlist drew from a diverse gene pool -- Robert Normandeau, the Arsonists, Jonathan Richman, Aphex Twin, the Langley Schools Music Project, Faust, Herbie Hancock, Erase Errata, the Mutated Christmas compilation -- keeping the bandwidth vital while commercial stations develop weak chins and atrophied limbs through mind-numbing repetition. Over the years KUSF's critical contribution has been acknowledged officially by Mayors Brown and Feinstein, who proclaimed citywide "KUSF Days." The station has also won countless public service awards and numerous readers' polls/critics' choice awards from local newspapers, as well as the love, support, and signed artwork of both Matt Groening and Charles Schulz. Of course, cartoons and accolades don't pay for 3,000 watts of stereo, so the occasional KUSF Benefit is in order. This one will feature Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, whose debut Grand Opening and Closing is a new station favorite. Founded by guitarist/ vocalist Nils Frykdahl and misbegotten instrument builder/bassist Dan Rathbun (both denizens of the much-loved black math band Idiot Flesh), Sleepytime Gorilla Museum creates post-apocalyptic calligraphy marked by hysterical rhythms, bestial howls, and a chorus of forgotten baby-doll heads. Don't be surprised if full-time "curators" -- violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt of Tin Hat Trio and Charming Hostess, industrial-waste percussionist Moe! Staiano, and Species Being drummer Frank Grau -- crawl out of cocoons, hover above the stage, eat raw flesh, or pad around in toddlers' sleepwear. It's all the same for Sleepytime Gorilla Museum in the drowsy space between history and nightmares. Faun Fables, Mark Growden's Electric Piñata, and the Splatter Trio open at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 6, at the Great American Music Hall. Tickets are $12; call 885-0750.

Nearly everyone has taken flight in a dream, soaring through the air unhindered by gravity of the physical or psychological world. To most dream interpreters, flight suggests the desire or faculty to break free of limitations. Edgar Cayce thought such "soul travel" was a precursor to lucid dreaming; of course, Freud deemed it an expression of sexual desire, Adler considered it a representation of ego dominance, and many others have said flying above the planet portends great global disaster. Still, for most people, becoming airborne in a dream is one of the more delightful human experiences -- one that artists Sven Newman and Kevin Fine have tried to simulate with their "Floating Machine." Part kinetic sculpture and part amusement park ride, the Floating Machine allows a single rider, counterbalanced by a complex system of weights, to glide through space simply by shifting his or her center of gravity. The experience is said to be as smooth, tranquil, and poetic as one may achieve outside of REM. Potential riders will be chosen by lottery and must weigh between 100 and 250 pounds. The Floating Machine Skylight will be open from noon to 4 p.m. on three Sundays, Jan. 6, 13, and 20, at the Exploratorium (3601 Lyon near Marina). Museum admission is $6-10; call 561-0360.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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