SONIC REDUCER As the summer squeezes out its last warmish days, we can safely say that we’re glad for one thing: that with the end of the season comes those last nagging reminders of the Summer of Love, all that was great and good about hippie Frisky, the perpetually remarketable, oh-so-remarkable boomer musical legacy, and how radical it was that so many acolytes drifted here four decades ago to gobble acid and find themselves. Yet are we in the clear to say that we’re all a bit weary of the free-floating miasma of hype? By Jerry’s beard, it happens only every five to 10 years, when the once anti-establishment boomer establishment turns on, tunes in, and pats itself on the back yet again as the 25th, 30th, or 45th anniversaries roll around. I know an overweening sense of self-importance seems to be an intrinsic part of one’s duty as an American citizen, but has there ever been a more self-congratulatory generation than the one that birthed the Summer of Love? Can we now unofficially rename it the Summer of Self-Love? Can I be excused from the creaky, walker-bound group grope that will accompany the big five-oh?
Yep, hippie-bashing, at this queasy, war-wracked juncture, is a tired, predictable, oft-rightie-instigated contact sport that’s far too easy to indulge in. Still, has there ever been a wave of so-called progressives so determined to look back, so intent in repackaging their relics for resale? You can stuff mewling protests against ageism in your tie-dyed Depends. Boomer rockers have been so busy crowing from the rooftops about their accomplishments for so many years that they’ve failed to notice how incredibly bored youngsters — and even not-so-young ‘uns — have become with Grandpappy’s zillionth sing-along to "Love Me Do." Indeedy, nothing can ever compare to your old-time rock ‘n’ roll, your first trip, orgy, no-nukes protest, Jell-O wrasslin’ bout, ad infinitum. But must we still hear about it? This from the same gen, captains helming a capsizing music industry, that turned the phrase “classic rock,” that has insisted on recognizing every anniversary of ’60s-era recording classics, from the Beatles to Sly Stone to Jefferson Airplane to brrrzzzzzzz …
Grrrzzzdhoooh-ha! Oh, were you saying? By the way, when the music’s over — turn off the light, OK? I know hippies weren’t the ones to self-aggrandizingly dub themselves the Greatest Generation. And perhaps we’ve all come to expect far too much from our self-promoting, self-obsessed, yet always self-critical forebears. Yet when word of bickering between competing SF Summer of Love events in August began drifting hither — rumors that Summer of Love 40th Anniversary producer Boots Hughston tells me are simply that: rumors (“We’d been promoting Summer of Love for a year and a half. They had been working on the Hope and Beyond AIDS project in other countries, but this year they decided to change the name of the event — we have a lot of respect for them”) — it seemed like a little peace was in order. After all, the entire purpose behind the Sept. 2 event, Hughston explains, is to “remind people there are other things rather than taking over other countries and going to war over oil — like compassion and understanding. Why not remind people where it all began in 1967?” That’s why Hughston says Country Joe McDonald, Taj Mahal, Canned Heat, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and others are performing free, in between the spiritual and political speakers.
Good intentions go far with even crankaholics like yours truly. But how did the event — which could have used some younger, relevant artists indebted to the San Francisco Sound in its lineup (look for a sampling at this weekend’s Ben Lomond Indian Summer Music Festival) — come to fall on the very day most of its younger demographic might be burning elsewhere? “There is a strong synergy between us and Burning Man, you’re right,” Hughston says. “But you can always go to Burning Man, and you can’t always go to the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.” He believes some burners will be leaving early to return for his 40th event. Smokin’.
SUMMER OF LOVE 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Sun/2, 10 a.m.6 p.m., free with flower
Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF
EVERY BLOOMING SHRINKING VIOLET
One of the most seriously wonderful folk-rock LPs to come down the pike of late has to be Marissa Nadler’s Songs III: Bird on the Water, out last year on UK’s Peace Frog label and recently picked up for US distribution by Kemado. It’s anything but a purist artifact "The reverb probably gives it that haunting quality. It’s something I’ve always used in abundance on my voice to many people’s distaste," Nadler, 26, says with a laugh, speaking from outside Boston.
Alas, Nadler has often struggled with intense shyness in presenting her creations. "Maybe it’s a masochistic thing that I want to put myself through the pain of performing," the songwriter says. "But at no point is the first song easy." Ever considered Blues Brothersstyle shades? "I’ve definitely thought about it," she confesses.
Wed/29, 9:30 p.m., $8
1131 Polk, SF
BURN TO SHINE?
BEN LOMOND INDIAN SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL
Is this where today’s summer lovers are really headed? Bay Area and Los Angeles creatives like Entrance, Paula Frazer, and Mammatus converge. Fri/31Sun/2, $12$18 per show; $40$45 three-day pass. Henfling’s Tavern, 9450 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond. www.myspace.com/benlomondindiansummer
D-day for Bey? Fri/31, 7:30 p.m., $75.95$143.57. Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakl. www.ticketmaster.com
Sweetwater stemmed? The Bay Area singer-songwriter bids farewell to the historic club with its last show, the day before it shutters due to a drastic rent increase. Fri/31, 9:30 p.m., $15. Sweetwater Saloon, 153 Throckmorton, Mill Valley. www.ticketweb.com.
POLAR GOLDIE CATS
Paws for LA’s feral chamber post-punkers. Fri/31, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com.