Fireworks, Death Metal, Circus Bella, '70s Americana

finnriggins2.jpg
Finn Riggins plays El Rio on Saturday

Bust out the barbecue, hoist up the flag and turn up the Americana jams. Yes, Independence Day is here again. Celebrate the founding fathers (and mothers) this weekend without breaking the bank. Here's our list of cheap summer holiday events for less than those illegal fireworks you've debated purchasing:

Landmine Marathon @ Kimo's (Fri.)
Hardcore-influenced metal band Landmine Marathon has a little something special that sets it apart in a crowded scene -- the Phoenix quintet's lead vocalist is the toughest female you've ever heard. Singer Grace Perry's alternating low and screamy death metal vocals tear through the group's already brutal sound. And of course, she's a babe. Pittsburg's Iron Lung, Black Hole of Calcutta and Vaccuum open. ($8, 8 p.m.)

Fillmore Jazz Festival @ Fillmore District (Sat.)
On Fillmore Street, in between Jackson and Eddy, San Francisco's historic jazz district throws itself a huge party every year with free concerts, swing dancing, street vendors and plenty of food. This year's Fillmore Jazz Festival includes performances by Bartron Tyler Group, Fil Lorenz Orchestra, Eric Muhler Jazz Quartet and Bayonics with special guest Big Brooklyn Red, among dozens of other jazz and big band bands. (Free, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.)

Circus Bella @ Yerba Buena Gardens (Sat.)
Is there such a thing as high quality circus acts? That was the question that got David Hunt and Abigail Munn moving when they created Circus Bella in 2008. The circus hopes to prove its point this weekend with two free performances of Gotcha!, a one-ring circus about mistaken identity and trickery. Among Hunt and Munn's bag of treats? Artists performing aerial acrobatics on the static trapeze, madcap clowning, balancing feats on slack rope and rola bola and acrobatic antics. All accompanied by a live, original music by local composer Rob Reich. (Free, 12 and 2:15pm)

John Lefler @ Red Devil Lounge (Sat.)
A quick scan of John Lefler's song titles reveals a serious sideman complex: "Hard Act to Follow," "Better Than You," "Afraid Anymore." But being the hired axe for uh-oh, Dashboard Confessional, is not as dire as it may seem: Dan Hoerner from Sunny Day Real Estate once took a turn, and Lefler put in a session with Old 97s' melodic genius, Rhett Miller. So Lefler's solo Better by Design may be powerpop boilerplate, but it's better than average boilerplate: think the Format clashing with Mercury Rev at its most Disneylike. The arrangement of "Hard Act to Follow" suggests a Dr. Dog pimped out by Jon Brion, and "Better Than You" tumbles like the Turtles' "Happy Together." If that's unexpected from an emo second-stringer, then, well, another title is "Up My Sleeve." Lefler plays with Acacia Collective, Midnight Sun. ($8, 9 p.m.) --Dan Weiss

Big Time Freedom Fest @ El Rio (Sat.)
El Rio's 5th annual Big Time Freedom Fest (presented by promoters Hippies Are Dead, natch) will showcase a wide variety of America-loving bands. There'll be the drugged-out country of Sands, the feel-good rock of Slow Trucks and the experimental prog-y indie of Idaho's Finn Riggins. The trio behind Finn Riggins is currently touring the country in support of their 2010 album Vs. Wilderness. In addition to live acts, The Soup Lady will be at the fest to ladle you some of her delicious, piping hot street food. That soup is worth the trip alone. ($8, 9 p.m.)

Sixth Anniversary on the Edge of the Western World @ The Riptide (Sat.)
The Riptide, which dubbed itself "the Bay Area's best little honky-tonk," looks like a classic small town beach shack from the outside, rustic lodge on the inside. During its weekend-long Independence Day plus bar anniversary celebration there will be music and food for all those beach bums blown in by windswept shores. Rocksteady San Franciscans The Impalers perform on Saturday night. Sunday's event includes a barbecue and live music by the Shi-Tones (members of the Mermen). (Free., 9 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday)

Midnight Strangers @ Hemlock (Sat.)

Moody, driving and synth-y, San Francisco's Midnight Strangers would have fit in with the late 1980s Manchester scene, save for the vocalist's conspicuous lack of a British accent. Instead singer Chris Swimley's passionate vocals recall dreamy new wave. Swimley won"Best Male Alternative Vocalist of the Year" at the 2007 L.A. Music Awards. The band will likely play tunes of its recent album Days of Decadence, which, among other accolades, garnered comparisons to U2. Apopka Darkroom and Dylan Haight will get things started at the Hemlock ($6, 9:30 p.m.)

Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration @ Pier 39 (Sun.)
It's a good year for national boosterism: We still have a black president, Barack Hussein Obama! We're quite aware he's not perfect. He is, however, black, and we just still really like that so hush for today, all you legitimate critics. A good place to get patriotic, if you've never done as much in your whole San Francisco life, would be the Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration. It's held yonder where the tourists go, but don't be afraid. Faaaabulous cover bands and a street fair atmosphere beckon you to join them, and to celebrate this great land of ours that has a black president. At night, a grand fireworks display, the kind that may have annoyed you under other, whiter administrations, writes large upon the sky our shared joy at having a super cute first lady. And a black president. (Free, 3 p.m.) -- Hiya Swanhuyser

Spirit of '76 Dance Party! @ The Make-Out Room (Sun.)
In the spirit of Independence Day, The Make-Out Room is spinning all-American '70s dance jams. Not British Invasion tonight! Sorry Beatles. There also will Red, White and Blue Costume Contest with prizes for Most Patriotic; Red Neck, White Trash, & Blue Ribbon Beer; Sexiest and conversely, Most Unpatriotic. There also will patriotic drinks specials flowing all night. (Free, 8 p.m.)

Mighty Dub Killaz @ Elbo Room (Sun.)
Mighty Dub Killaz (Janaka Selekta, Papa Roads, Anthony Dellavalle) successfully mix reggae and souls roots over electronic beats. Roads describes the group's music as "conscious dance music with heavy socio and political overtones." Indeed, the sound is pretty intense, and certainly worth the $8 cover. The San Francisco group will preview its upcoming album Real Talk. ($8, 9 p.m.)

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