Cellos kick butt. Violas are sweet. Violins rule. And if you thought the only stringed instrument that rocked was the type slung by the likes of Slash, Hendrix and Page—then, you Philistine, the Kronos Quartet’s got a fret to pick with you. The pushing-40 string ensemble from San Francisco—the brain child of violinist David Harrington—has clocked in a discography that includes 40 studio albums and five soundtracks, but this rosin-packing bunch’s also garnered an iconoclast’s earmarks for their choice of non-chamber covers, such as tunes by artists as diverse as Jimi Hendrix (You’ve gotta see that YouTube video of “Purple Haze!”) and Television. Their cool team-up with Café Tacuba and studio recordings with Faith No More and Amon Tobin have also given them street cred with folks younger than your parents. Plus, how many musicians can boast of having performed live with Allen Ginsberg and David Bowie? Sure, someone threw them a Grammy in 2004 (Best Chamber Music Performance) but it was their appearance on Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero Remixed from last year that gets your inner music geek switching your rolling papers for sheet music. With Harrington still manning things and with a lineup that currently features John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello), the Kronos Quartet have got an hour and a half set at UC Riverside that seeks to shatter the “A Special Evening With . . .” blahs and expectations. Now that’s classic(al) rock!
The Kronos Quartet at University Theatre, UC Riverside, 900 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 827-4331; www.ucriversidepresents.ucr.edu, www.kronosquartet.org. Thurs, Nov. 19. 8PM. $20 student, $20-40 regular admission.