Our Weekly Picks: July 17 – 23, 2013

Pub date July 16, 2013



Nerd Nite SF

Did you ever watch Bill Nye (the Science Guy) as a child and think “man, I want to get that guy drunk and watch him drop knowledge live from a stage”? Me neither, but reread that sentence and tell me with a straight face that’s not something for which you would pay $8. Friends, that’s the gist of Nerd Nite, an institution in Boston, New York, Austin, Washington DC, Munich, and as of 2010, San Francisco. The Bay Area, especially as of late, is known for two things: rampant drunkenness and scientific innovations. The synthesis of these two in one monthly event represents where SF is at right now as a community. Past Nerd Nite SF events have included themes like “Paper Airplanes, Zombies and Space Hacking!” where the 2012 Guinness Record holder for paper plane flight distance came to teach plane-making and discuss the previous record holder’s attempts at sabotage. This month’s theme is “Yeast, Science Beer Tasting, and Games User Research!” which promises to teach about fermentation’s 5,000 year influence on the world and why it’s not your fault that you’ve killed all the bad guys on Level 7 and there’s no clear direction where to head next. (Ilan Moskowitz)

7:30pm, $8

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell Street, SF

(415) 861-2011




Bandaloop: Harboring

There is a lot more to Bandaloop than daredevilry on mountain cliffs and skyscrapers. Over the years, Amelia Rudolph has developed a vocabulary in which climbing and rappelling become tools for poetic purposes, creating a genre appropriately called “vertical dance.” Watching the company in that delicate moment when it transitions from the floor to where ever it is rising up to, often offers thrills almost equal to hanging 30 feet above where mortals tread. Harboring is both an exploration and a tribute to the physicality of Fort Mason’s Pavilion as well as its history and the memory it keeps generating. Master Designer Jack Carpenter will provide the art direction; the trio of Gideon Freudmann, Mark Orton and Jesse Olsen Bay the music. (Rita Felciano) Thu/18-Sun/21, 8:30pm (also Sat/20, 2pm), $20–$35

Fort Mason Center Pavilion

Two Marina, SF

(415) 421-5667




Bay Area Playwrights Festival

From over 400 submissions, six were chosen — so you know the getting’s gonna be good at the 2013 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. In its 36th year, the Playwrights Foundation presentation contains works by authors from both the Bay Area and New York. Frequent theatergoers may recognize the names of the locals: Erin Bregman, who contributes metaphysical drama Before & After; Prince Gomolvilas, whose The Brothers Paranormal is about a pair of Thai American siblings who launch a ghostbusting business; and longtime SF Mime Trouper Joan Holden, whose FSM takes on UC Berkeley’s student protests. Other programs include Laura Schellhardt’s The Comparables; Kimber Lee’s brownsville song (b-side for tray); and Jiehae Park’s Hannah and the Dread Gazebo. (Cheryl Eddy)

July 19-21 and 26-28, $15

Thick House Theater

1695 18th St, SF




“Sights and Sounds of Mexico”

There’s likely nary a genre as energetic as Son Jarocha, a regional jazz and pop fusion that originated in Veracruz, Mexico. This Friday Nights at the de Young event includes a performance by Son Jarocha music-makers Ilan Bar-Lavi and Sonex. Together, Bar-Lavi — an accomplished Mexican-Israeli guitarist — and Mexican band Sonex blend jazz, pop, and funk with Middle Eastern influences and flamenco, a rather broad reach of cultural sounds. The event also includes a lecture on poet Rose Mandel, and painter’s studio activities in celebration of painter Richard Diebenkorn’s “passion for light, color, and shapes.” That means there’ll be a colorful pop-up show of local painters of Mexican descent, and tips on the Maugard method, named after Adolfo Best-Maugard’s idea to teach children to draw and paint focused on simple forms in nature. (Emily Savage)

5-8:45pm, free


50 Hagiwara Tea Garden, SF




Blind Willies

Alexei Wajchman is one worldly fellow, and this translates in his live performances. His vocals are tame and collected at times, but his lyrics can range all over the map. As a whole, the group’s sound is more than straightforward rock’n’roll. The introduction of horns on some tracks gives a surprisingly fitting kick, and there’s also some stand-up bass, cello, and mandolin filling out the guitar-heavy sound. You might have trouble pinpointing the exact style you’re listening to, but Wajchman makes it extremely easy not to care. Live, the show should be an enjoyable experience if you value the unpredictability of the open road. (Hillary Smith)

With Supermule and James Nash and The Nomads

9pm, $13

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750




“A Celebration of Fela Kuti” featuring Tony Allen

If Afrobeat is a sound born out of the African Diaspora — Afropop highlife combined with funky jazz rhythms and James Brown soul — it’s fitting that the legend of its Godfather, Fela Kuti, is still spreading. More than 15 years since his death, Kuti’s figure and influence looms larger than ever with the recent success of the Fela! musical. Here, the legacy lives on with a live performance from Tony Allen with Najite and the Olukon Prophecy, a massive 16-piece ensemble featuring Kuti-collaborator Allen. The source of Afrobeat’s beat, and “perhaps the greatest drummer who ever lived” according to Brian Eno, Allen has recently worked with Damon Albarn, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Sébastien Tellier. (Ryan Prendiville)

With Rich Medina, Lagos Roots Society, Afrolicious, Damon Bell, King Most, Izzy Wize

10pm-3am, $10–$20

1015 Folsom, SF




Lia Rose

Lia Rose is one of those performers who you won’t fully appreciate until you see live. And when you do, you’ll most likely become transfixed upon the tiny singer with hauntingly rich vocals. Rose’s pure vocals lingering alongside acoustic guitar and steel pedal make for a dreamy setting. One that is very easy to get lost in. By far the most compelling aspect of her sound is how she translates the moods of her songs in every note — her tunes are often laden with themes of true love, loyalty, and nostalgia. Note her troop of band members on the steel pedal guitar, percussion, and acoustic guitar, whose craft carries the songs to new heights. Rose is a beautiful, delicate balance of acoustics and angelic vocals. And she is beyond engaging on stage. (Smith)

With We Became Owls, Annie Lynch, and Michaela Anne

9pm, $15


777 Valencia, SF

(415) 551-5157




David Byrne and St. Vincent

This is a match made in weird pop heaven (how great would it be if that actually existed?). When David Byrne, the experimental rock king with a four-decade reign, slipped into the audience at one of Annie Clark’s early shows as St. Vincent, he fell under her spell. In their subsequent meetings, the boundary-testing artists came up with the idea to write together for a brass band. Why not? What emerged in Love This Giant (2012) is a seamless collaboration that is sometimes dark, sometimes humorousness, and of course, always delightfully bizarre. Though weird pop heaven is only a fantasy, it will feel very real Sunday night at the Fox. (Laura Kerry)

8pm, $45–$55

Fox Theatre

1807 Telegraph, Oakl.

(510) 302-2250




Shady Maples

Self-described as Latin folk rock, the Bay Area group Shady Maples straddles the lines between rock, folk, and all the ground in between, in the cleanest possible way. The vocals are haunting, the slide guitar creates an almost human voice, and the songs themselves become a smooth concoction of harmonies, mandolin, electric guitars, and percussion. The balance of acoustic, lap steel, and electric guitars in the hands of Shady Maples band members makes for a great live show. Often transitioning from a soft, melodic Latin number to an explosive rock tune, frontperson Owen Roberts takes the audience for a scenic ride on stage. (Smith)

With Roadkill Ghost Choir, Anjus Pale Blue Eyes

9pm, $10

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 626-4455




Colleen Green

Stoney LA rocker Colleen Green has the basics down: “sparse electric guitar, a tinny drum machine, and Green’s gorgeous voice,” as her official bio reads. The DIY rocker also has a clear reverence for lo-fi sounds and early punk music, and has recorded some great covers of Descendents songs, but slowed down to a California chill ride. Check paradoxically pleasant “Heavy Shit” off March’s Sock It To Me (Hardly Art), for a good starter course in the study of all things Green. Then go back and listen to 2011’s Cujo — it’s even got a crudely markered cartoon on the cover of Green, in the vein of the Descendents’ Milo (as does Green’s cassette Milo Goes to Compton) — to hear how her sound has evolved. (Savage)

With SISU, Burnt Palms

8pm, $12

Café Du Nord

2170 Market, SF




Black Flag

Legendary punk band Black Flag blazed the path for underground American music in the 1970s and ’80s with its rigorous work ethic, groundbreaking recordings, and relentless touring that built a network and foundation for independent artists that still exists today. Recently resurrected by Greg Ginn, the founder-guitarist-primary songwriter and sole continuous member, the new lineup also features Ron Reyes, who sang on the Jealous Again EP, and isn’t to be confused with that other group of former members out on the road these days calling themselves “Flag.” You’ve seen the iconic “bars” logo everywhere out there — now see and hear what it stands for live and in person. (Sean McCourt)

7pm, $25–$28

Oakland Metro

630 3rd St., Oakland

(510) 763-1146