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What to Know Before You Go


Octastival 2007
8:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., June 1-2
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361;

There are some notable differences between last year's inaugural Octastival and its sequel. The five-band lineup has been expanded to seven, including newcomers James Hall (pictured), the Public, the Gubernatorial Candidates and the bALLY who?, and a second night has been tacked on to accommodate the bill. And surely, there are a few fans out there who already know just what exactly the Octastival is. For the uninitiated, the miniature fest is a locals-only sampling from the top shelf of New Orleans' under-recognized indie rock cache. Back in the fold are the Tomatoes, the City Life and the Fantastic Ooze, whose namesake magical octopus provided the revue's impetus. But the headline news here is Hall, doubtless the most magnetic Crescent City frontman in recent memory, returning to an area stage after a two-year absence. Though his now-defunct Pleasure Club long ago swapped Louisiana's soggy pastures for L.A.'s smoggy ones, Hall retains residence in the hearts of any denizens who worship at the altar of glam-rock gods such as Marc Bolan and David Bowie. Tickets $10, $15 for both nights. — Noah Bonaparte Pais


Lifesavas 11:30
p.m. Fri., June 1
The Parish at the House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999;

The story of the musician who simmered just under the radar for years before hitting a rolling boil is an old one, although the Portland, Ore., hip-hop duo Lifesavas takes it to the extreme edge. MC's Vursatyl and Jumbo met in P-town in the late '80s, when hip-hop was still something of a twinkle in Rick Rubin's eye, and worked together steadily for the better part of two decades before getting their hands on the brass ring. They were just named one of Rolling Stone 's Artists to Watch this year, on the strength of Gutterfly , their second full-length release for Bay Area hip-hop label Quannum Records. (The pair had released several albums previously on their own label.) Gutterfly is a West Coast soul stew of deep '70s groove samples and De La Soul-style feel-good rhymes with an overall vibe of blaxploitation cool (the album is, they say, the soundtrack to a Dolemite -style screenplay written by Baraka Feldman in the '80s.) The album's all-star guest list includes Fishbone, Digable Planets, Vernon Reid and the inimitable George Clinton. Strange Fruit Project opens. Tickets $12. — Alison Fensterstock


Back to the Beach
3 p.m. to midnight Sat., June 2; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sun., June 3
Laketown, Williams Boulevard at the Lakefront;

At the beginning of summer, it's time to think of fun in the sun, or at least more outdoor music cooled off by breezes off the lake. Boasting food, attractions and an impressive musical lineup, the 18th annual Back to the Beach Festival is sure to satisfy those missing the days when Lake Pontchartrain's man-made beach and amusement park was a weekend hotspot. While the boardwalk and Zephyr roller coaster are long gone, the music is what will have visitors flocking for this weekend. Local favorites including Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters and the Soul Rebels Brass Band take the stage on Saturday. Sunday features Bobby Cure and the Summertime Blues, the Top Cats and the Bucktown All-Stars. On Saturday, there will be both a half-mile and 2-mile run/walk starting at 7 p.m. Sunday features a car show with everything from custom-made bodies to antiques dating from the era of Pontchartrain Beach's glory days. The weekend festival will once again take place at Laketown at the end of Williams Boulevard in Kenner by the Treasure Chest Casino. Proceeds from Back to the Beach benefit the Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. Tickets $7 adults, $3 children. — Lauren LaBorde


8 p.m. Wed.-Sat., May 30-June 2; 3 p.m. Sun., June 3; through June 24
Southern Rep, The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., third floor, 522-6545;

A brilliant young scientist who's just earned her Ph.D., Kalima finds that her research on human genetics directly contradicts some of her parent's long-held beliefs. In Cassandra Medley's Relativity , science and social theories of racial difference threaten to come between Kalima and her parents, who are proponents of melanin theories. Her mother and late father founded the Melanin Institute, which perpetuates the idea that blacks are genetically superior to others due to the amount of melanin in their skin. Pressured by the contradicting views of her parents and her mentor, a known critic of melanin theory, Kalima is caught between her family's beliefs and what her research shows. Donna Duplantier stars as the ambivalent Kalima, with Sharon London as her mentor, Iris. Troi Bechet plays Kalima's mother, and Lance Nichols plays Malik, her boyfriend who is also a convert to the controversial melanin theory. The story is complicated by Kalima's white boyfriend (Trey Burvant). Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe directs the show's regional debut at Southern Rep. The play originally premiered in New York's First Light Festival, which shows works commissioned by the EST/Sloan National Partnership for New Plays Mainstage Initiative, an effort to encourage work that is scientifically credible and challenges common stereotypes of the scientific community. Tickets $15 for previews Wednesday to Friday, $30 opening night (Saturday), $24 Sunday. — LaBorde

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