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MAY 18

Since his early days with the Beatnigs and, more recently, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Michael Franti has upgraded his musical impulses to better suit his revolutionary rhetoric. For Spearhead, the band Franti fronts, this step doesn’t mean toughening the beats to signal that there’s a riot going on—which might have seemed a logical musical progression for Franti when the clamorous Heroes split up. Franti may be a herb-loving Cali-kid who sounds a little like Chuck D, but the guy’s a throwback nonetheless. On Spearhead’s latest, Chocolate Supa Highway, “Keep Me Lifted” and “Food for tha Masses” play like church spirituals. And while the band does sample covers, the main order of business is to stoke the kind of soulful sounds that Sly Stone, Bob Marley, and Marvin Gaye used to defuse unrest instead of contributing to it. An equal-opportunity crew, as well as one of hiphop’s few great live acts, Spearhead plays it loose onstage, letting R&B, reggae, and old-school funk drift in and out of the mix like ganja smoke. When Camp Lo opened for DJ Shadow and Jeru the Damaja a few weeks back, its set started with a nifty cut-and-paste sampling of ’70s nuggets that most of the kids in the Capitol Ballroom were too young to remember but too hip not to enjoy. Tonight, let’s hope that Camp Lo is given more time to ride the nostalgia trip out to a finish. With Coolbone at 7:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $15. (202) 393-0930. (Brett Anderson)