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Sonic Reducer

Shoot from the hip


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Def Leppard and Nickelback: you know I want my fantasy, and everyone is aware of how those cool, desirable, shocking, or subversive photographs are integral to fanning the flames of so many rock ‘n’ roll clowns’ dreamscapes. But it’s those moments when a picture delivers more than words that have inspired some to pick up a camera and keep shooting. Local noise-punk photog Lars Knudson can verify this, concerning one Arab on Radar show at Bottom of the Hill back at the turn of the millennium. "I saw this band Pink and Brown, and this audience of people who were absolute freaks, ultra-nerd ‘tards, hipsters, scenesters, or whatever you want to call it, and I felt so alive and so at home," Knudson recalls today from his work as a chef in San Carlos. "I tried to describe it to everyone I worked with, and they looked at me like, ‘Huh?’ Then I stumbled on these images that were taken by Virgil Porter [Burn My Eye] and showed them to people, and they said, ‘ooh!’"

As SF photographer Peter Ellenby [Every Day Is Saturday (Chronicle)] testifies, Jim Marshall put the Bay on the map for music photography and shooters like Jay Blakesberg have kept it there. But what about the newbs — armed with the latest digi point-and-shoot and inspired, à la Knudson, to begin capturing a fragment of the sound and the fury? Around the same instant everyone began to believe they could be a DJ, so too did all and sundry start to assume that they could also be an ace lens swinger.

John Vanderslice: Photo by Peter Ellenby

So how does one carve out a name as a music photog when the glut of images on Flickr and assorted photoblogs threatens to overwhelm? I gathered snippets of sage advice from a few area rock photogs: Knudson, Ellenby, and Debra Zeller, who honed her craft focusing on local indie combos via her Playing in Fog online project and concert series, has since expanded into professional wedding photography (originally shooting the nuptials of the Red Thread’s Jason Lakis), and currently books live music at the Make-Out Room.

Be a music lover, foremost. "That’s why I did photography part-time for so long — it’s really hard to make a living in music photography," says Zeller (www.playinginfog.com, www.dazrocks.com), who has shot Cat Power, among others, at the behest of their labels. "What magazines pay is absolutely ridiculous and getting the work is another challenge." Additionally, Knudson says, "Part of the reason I have good photos is I know when they’re going to rock out. If you’re not prepared to get lost in the moment, you should go home and be an artist, because it isn’t about you and what you got that night, it’s really about what the band did onstage that night." In the spirit of shareware and the scene he has documented, Knudson makes thousands of his images freely available to bands — and really anyone — on a not-for-profit basis at www.pbase.com/pistolswing.

Show everyone your work. "I showed my photos to as many people as possible," says Ellenby (www.ellenby.com), who photo-edited zines like Snackcake and Devil in the Woods. "All the bands and my friends knew I was for hire, and you have to not be afraid to be take criticism and set goals. When I was starting out my favorite band was Overwhelming Colorfast, and my goal was to shoot them, and Bob Reed would rip on them all the time."

Elliott Smith: Photo by Debra Zeller

Know the craft, natch. "I think it’s important to shoot in manual and really know how to work your camera," Zeller insists. "That’s how you get the images. If you just rely on program mode, chances are you’ll be lucky to get a couple of good shots."

"Don’t be afraid to work for a six-pack," advises Ellenby, who cofounded tech company GeoVector and is currently working on a Joe Strummer photo project. "Don’t think it’s your road to riches, either — especially if you like indie music. I would make more money if I wanted to, but I don’t like working for a giant music corporation. I like it better when I’m working one-on-one for a band — when you’re hired by a band you can let the creativity flow."

"My only other piece of advice is, shut up and push the button," Knudson says. "When you’re shooting live bands, you’re going to miss the shot if you’re busy telling your friend how cool you are."



Dulcet Midwestern pop-smiths take on Someone Else’s Déjà Vu (Saddle Creek). Wed/6, 9 p.m., $8. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


Malevolent Houston beats call up the ground-control SF bass-meister. With Skozey Fetisch. Thurs/7, 9 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Punk supergroupers grope classic hits anew with Have Another Ball! (Fat Wreck Chords). Sat/9–Sun/10, 8 p.m. $15. Parkside, 1600 17th St., SF. www.theeparkside.com


A revolution in rock-hip-hop pairings begins with Linkin Park, Chris Cornell, Bravery, Ashes Divide, Busta Rhymes, Hawthorne Heights, and Street Drum Corps. Sat/9, 2 p.m., $34–$77. Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View. www.ticketmaster.com


Private eyes, they’re watching you, watching you, watching you-o-o-o-o-o. Tues/12, 7:30 p.m., $49.50–$78. Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce, Saratoga. www.ticketmaster.com



› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Of the many unsung, possibly fabulous, potentially limitless unexplored combos floating round in the ether — up there with the now-familiar chocolate and peanut butter or pizza flavoring and dog-biscuits-for-humanoids — has to be rock music and housework. Natch, Heloise would probably be in hell contemputf8g the crusty state of most band’s vans or rehearsal spaces. Few jam it home-econo.

Leave it to Dawn McCarthy of Faun Fables — a Bay Area player who has been consistently reimagining old music and traditional folk with an often theatrical, punky sensibility — to rescue the most mundane of tasks, so far from the neggy decadence and glam hysterics of most rock and pop cliché-peddlers, and bring together music, hearth, and home on her new EP, A Table Forgotten (Drag City). Coproduced by Nurse with Wound’s Matt Waldron, Table is a palate-tickling, four-track taste of Faun Fables’ 2009 full-length — roving compactly from the Irish bodhran drum beat and "happy clinks" of spell-casting opener "With Words and Cake" to the spine-tingling, fiddle-swept "Pictures" to the epic "Winter Sleep," cowritten with Björk producer Valgeir Sigurdsson, whom McCarthy worked with on Bonnie "Prince" Billy’s The Letting Go (Drag City, 2006).

The focus on home and family came in part from McCarthy’s residency at Idyllwild Art Academy in the San Jacinto Mountains, where she began to develop some of these songs as part of a student musical theatrical production, although she’s been meaning to undertake this ode to home work for a while. "I’m going to sound like an Amish woman or something," she says with a chuckle by phone from Oakland. "But over the years I found a lot of solace and joy in doing household stuff. It’s kind of one of those hidden arts. And I find that it’s those little day-to-day things that make or break my happiness."

McCarthy’s family is expanding: she’s pregnant and expecting her child around the time of year she herself was born, Oct. 30. "I have pregnancy brain," she says after one inadvertently long pause. And her home is shifting: after living near the Oakland zoo for eight years in an old rustic cottage "that time forgot," as she describes it, and more recently in an artists’ warehouse near Jack London Square, she’s hoping to move to Sonoma. In the meantime she hopes to make edible saleables like vinegar pie for her Café Du Nord merch table. "The singing and performing and shows feel amazing," she says. "I can tell the baby is happy with it."

FROM THE GUT On the bill at Faun Fables’ upcoming Du Nord show: über-productive bicoastal player Bonfire Madigan Shive, who also headlines at the Henry Miller Library Aug. 2. The activist-musician dazzled all and sundry who caught the recent American Conservatory Theater production of John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore where she performed, suspended above the stage and outfitted in angel’s wings, ripping alternately dulcet and dissonant unearthly sounds from her cello and thereby commenting on, counterpointing, or lamenting the gory, incestuous goings-on below.

"Now that it’s wrapped, I’m proud and happy with what I created for that," Shive says of her "duets for hair and gut," as she dubbed the music she composed for ‘Tis Pity. "For me, it was a lot of surrender, getting out of the way of preconceived notions and focusing on the style and time and being a part of this world, to work on this text that’s 400 years old, and how that world reflects this one."

Up amid the sensuous lines of ‘Tis Pity‘s almost futuristic discotheque set, Shive told me — speaking in the ecstatic, enthusiastic streams of an earthbound angel — she’d often study the audience’s reactions from on high. "I would have moments when I’d zone in on a person and they’d realize, ‘I’m a part of this show.’<0x2009>"

Shive is likewise often pulled into others’ shows: since we last spoke she’s toured or played with the Good, the Bad, and the Queen; Laibach; Carla Bozulich and Silver Mt. Zion members; Kimya Dawson; and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark. Somehow she’s also found a moment to publish an essay in Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction (Seven Stories Press), and she’s looking forward to self-releasing her next album, which includes contributions from Joan Jeanrenaud and Jolie Holland. Apparently it’s just one fastball after another from the onetime member of the Guardian softball team.

"I’ve known Dawn [McCarthy] for a long time now," Shive says. "When she moved from New York to the Bay Area, she came to my apartment and said, ‘I heard you’re a yodeler. Yodel for me!’ Dawn’s one of those kindred spirits. It’s all about community and art."


With Bonfire Madigan

Thurs/31, 9 p.m., $12

Café Du Nord

2170 Market, SF




Clem Snide, we never knew ye. So meet the band’s songwriter, touting a new solo CD, Lose Big (429). Wed/30, 8 p.m., $14. Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com


Hot on the heels of Same as It Never Was (!K7), London’s Ollie Teeba turns in a DJ set. Fri/1, 10 p.m., $12. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. www.sunsetpromotions.net


"Sausalito" is the name of one song on the Bright Eyes’ front-guy’s first solo LP in 13 years, Conor Oberst (Merge). Fri/1–Sat/2, 10 p.m., $25. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


Glen Rock, N.J.’s finest, Titus Andronicus, dust off and spit-shine a rustic punk-pop. Sun/3, 9 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Haunted by Fela Kuti and Francis Bebey as well as Can and Miles Davis, the new Ghost Rock (Ubiquity) finds the Michigan collective ushering a new post-rocky fusion. Tues/5, 9 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

No Age ways


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER No Age is in dire need of some vulture repellent. The much-acclaimed Los Angeles duo might have been decreed the future of rock by cultural gatekeepers like those yuksters at New Yorker, sailing forth via the freedom-first joys of "Miner" and negativity-bemoaning "Teen Creeps" on their urgent latest, Nouns (Sub Pop), but that doesn’t mean all is peachy keen in No Ageland, says drummer-vocalist Dean Spunt.

"We get e-mails all the time from managers and people who want to make our merch for us — I call them the vultures. Everyone kind of wants a piece of whatever’s going on," explains Spunt, 26, keeping it casual and amiable from LA as he and guitarist Randy Randall, 27, prepare to go on tour. "It’s like, ‘Hey, guys, I can charge you $8 for a shirt.’ I think most bands that aren’t DIY don’t know how much a T-shirt actually costs to make."

No Age happens to print its T’s at a silkscreen shop owned by Spunt’s mother. Making things there — and skate culture — left an impression concerning the hands-on pleasures and tangible economics of doing it yourself. "I really want to keep it fun for us, but it’s also now kind of become our living," Spunt confesses. "I think a lot of the vultures would try to have you not make it so fun. There’s a definite way, a cookie-cutter approach, that people take to music and bands, and I think a lot of people — the vultures I talk about — they just see it as that. It’s, like, ‘Well, hey, this is what bands do.’ But me and Randy don’t really do what bands do."

That goes for everything from taking money from their label to fund tours to renting a bus that costs the same amount a day as a van might per month. "I just like to keep the books clean," Spunt continues. "The whole Minutemen ‘jam econo’ thing — it sort of applies to us, you know."

DIY is far from dead for the band. Spout says he silkscreened No Age’s first seven singles by himself at his mother’s shop, as well as the band’s first "product": a bandanna, which the two ex-Wives members sold along with a DVD-R of art videos during their first tour. As much as any non-self-released album, Nouns reflects those values — born amid punk, fostered by riot grrrl and hardcore, and now nurtured by community at the Smell, in addition to those at like-minded venues like Gilman Project and 21 Grand (the latter is reportedly again under pressure to discontinue regular shows).

"We had an opportunity to record in a nicer studio," Spunt said of Infrasonic in LA and Southern Studios in London. "With Weirdo Rippers [FatCat, 2007] we were limited in terms of what we could do with sound, which is a big part of our band. The reason we’re two people is we kind of like the limitations being put on us so it makes us more creative and stuff, but we wanted to open the sound up a little more with Nouns, and I think we did. The noisier parts got noisier, and the poppier parts got poppier, and it’s a little more direct. The ambient stuff doesn’t run as long, and it just kind of gets you there." Mainly, he adds, they wanted to write songs that were fun to play live.

With Nouns, imagine No Age fingering its predecessors’ punk and post-punk garments longingly when it isn’t generating the larger-than-its-numbers blast of Hüsker Dü or Volcano Suns. The twosome looks directly back to an Alternative Nation for touchstones, while documenting a many-hued spectrum of faces and places in Nouns‘ accompanying booklet, snapping haunts and audiences that look startlingly alike, regardless of whether they were captured in Portland, Ore., or London. You might draw a line from one city, one space, or one gen to the next — from the 60-year-olds Spunt says write them fan e-mails to the 14-year-olds who might materialize at the all-ages shows. "It’s awesome," marvels Spunt. "It sort of goes with the name, I guess."

As for their future as "DIY professionals," as Spunt puts it, the pair simply want to keep making whatever they like. "I’m sure someday that will not be cool," he offers with a chuckle. "I’m waiting for the backlash."


With Mika Miko and Abe Vigoda

Mon/28, 8 p.m., $13

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF


Also Club Sandwich two-year anniversary

With Mika Miko, Abe Vigoda, and KIT

Tues/29, 9 p.m., $8

Lobot Gallery

1800 Campbell, Oakl.





More unforgettable noise pageantry from underground OG Grux. With Hans Grusel’s Krankenkabinet, Loachfillet, Amphibious Gestures, and Bones. Wed/23, 9 p.m., $10. Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com


That’s the spirit of UK retro rock with girlish sighs. With Aarrows and Scene of Action. Wed/23, 9 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill,1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


The seventh annual experimental music hoedown gathers such diverse players as No More Twist!, a "sound and light lie detector" No More Twist!, local Chinese American hardcore unit Say Bok Gwai, Moe! Staiano’s Mute Socialite; High Mayhem–ite Carlos Santistevan’s the Late Severa Wires, and Birgit Ulher Trio with Gino Robair and Tim Perkis. Wed/23–Sat/26 at Community Music Center, 544 Capp, SF. See www.edgetonemusicsummit.org for details.


The ex-Fugee brings out a full band. Wed/23, 9 p.m., $35–<\d>$50. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


Up from the ashes of Negative Trend and the Sleepers. With Cloud Archive and VIR. Fri/25, 10 p.m., $10–<\d>$12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


Harvey Milk lives — in the form of his namesake Athens, Ga., art-metal band, which plays live for the first time in SF. Sun/27, 8 p.m., $14. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com

Guilt to the hilt


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Watching the chopped and cropped black-and-white promo vid for Beck’s new album, Modern Guilt (DGC) — a study in cut-rate Super 8 ways to make static images of the reedy rocker and cohorts look exciting and fresh — I can’t help but think of Velvet Underground hanger-on/documenter Andy Warhol and his bricolage brethren and kindred experimentalist Bruce Conner, who sadly passed July 7. Memories of the toothpick-thin, turtlenecked Bay Area beat-gen grandpappy shaking and shimmying beside breakdance troupe Sisterz of the Underground on an impromptu dance floor at the Guardian‘s 2005 Goldies bash are burned forever in my olde retina, for sure — right alongside indelible images from Conner’s Ray Charles–driven Cosmic Ray (1962) and his Toni Basil-go-go-happy Breakaway (1966). Where’s the joy in contemputf8g Conner’s fierce life force — one that happily, darkly captured the pure products of America gone mad — finally breaking away and making a run for the ether? And likewise — in an era of diminished expectations, recession-inspired belt-tightening, and exploding oil prices — who cares to question why Beck has got the 21st-century blues but bad?

Readings of Modern Guilt‘s songs as covert Scientology tracts can wait: the overt critical prognosis is that Beck’s latest disc is terminally bummed. "Modern Guilt sounds like an obligation," writes Amy O’Brien of Vancouver Sun. "It sounds like Beck has disengaged from his music." Meanwhile, Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune theorizes that the songwriter and producer Danger Mouse’s collaboration "sounds like it was dashed off between appointments on Danger Mouse’s increasingly stocked calendar." All grouse about the overall darkness of Beck’s mood: there are ruminations on bones, abandonment, and corrosive rain on the gluey exotica-bop "Orphans" and on melting ice caps, hurricanes, and heat waves amid the blissfully brisk, purring pop "Gamma Ray." "Replica" takes on a drum ‘n’ bass face, bright chimes tolling with dread at the age of mechanical reproduction, whereas "Profanity Prayers" invokes a spanking Devo rhythm and inverts "Mr. Soul" motifs to encapsulate soulless urban drift. "You couldn’t help but stare like a creature with the laws of a brothel and the fireproof bones of a preacher with your lingo coined from the sacrament of a casino … ," Beck breathes. "You stare into space trying to discern what to say now and you wait at the light and watch for a sign that you’re breathing." We’ve heard such expressions of ennui before from Beck, but can the weariness of age — he made 38 on July 8, the date of Modern Guilt‘s release — lie at the heart of the album, behind the minimalist bass bumps of "Youthless"? Or is Beck simply saving such crowd-pleasers as last year’s Grammy-nominated digital-only single "Timebomb" — just check the homemade video tributes on YouTube — for some Gallic-inspired megarelease to come?

I doubt it. Modern Guilt is far from giddily upbeat. It’s no Midnite Vultures (DGC, 1999), the larkiest Beck has ever skewed, nor is it as self-consciously crafted as The Information (DGC, 2006). Instead it reads like the man who is in touch, as usual, with the moment — one that would make Philip K. Dick’s skin crawl. My favorite songs emerge when Beck plunges into a Mutations-ish darkness and Sea Change–like doom. Downed jet passengers drown amid viewer paranoia in the dreamy, Gainsbourgian "Chemtrails," which roils in a gorgeous funk, and the fatalistic "Volcano" turns out be one of the most beautiful, beautifully imperfect songs Beck’s ever written. Its trudging beats dissolve like a heavy heart into his weary "I’m tired of evil / And all that it feeds." He continues, "I’m tired of people who only want to be pleased / But I still want to please you / And I heard of that Japanese girl who jumped into the volcano / Was she trying to make it back / Back to the womb of the world," and the melody resolves, ever so briefly, before returning to its sorrowful grind. "I’ve been drinking all these tears so long / All I’ve got left is the taste of salt in my mouth. I don’t know where I’ve been / But know where I’m going / To that volcano." Beck’s protagonist doesn’t want to fall in — nirvana has not been achieved, nor has the promise of Beck and his generation been completely fulfilled — but those uncredited violins make the brief journey out, into silence, a guilty pleasure. *


Aug. 22, 5 p.m., $85–<\d>$225.50

Outside Lands Festival

Golden Gate Park, SF




Really, for reals. Wed/16, 7 p.m., $12. Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com


The K artist and ex–Wolf Colonel joins the aerobics and sock-puppet fun of the Unlimited Enthusiasm Expo ’08. With Harry and the Potters; Math, the Band; and Uncle Monsterface. Fri/18, 9 p.m., $12, and Sat/19, 1 p.m., $14. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


Chris Martin et al. were recently jumped by Lil Wayne at the top of the US pops, where they were perched with Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (Capitol). Fri/18, 7:30 p.m., $49.50–<\d>$89.50. HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose. www.ticketmaster.com


Bouncing with witchy hooks. With Gravy Train!!!!, the Floating Corpses, and Bridez. Sat/19, 9 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


The Sounds Are Active label head lets loose his Twilight and Ghost Stories (Asthmatic Kitty). Sat/19, 10 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Feeling horn-y? The Albuquerque, N.M., band recently hacked out a score for a documentary about cultural critic Slavoj Zizek. Mon/21, 8 p.m., $13. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Taste the Mochi


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "If you build it, they will come!" A few famous first words from David Wang — otherwise known as the ever-fruitful laptop lothario Mochipet — when we spoke recently, and something to ponder as I gazed around his so-chill, so-frolicsome, and oh-so-free Fourth of July barbecue bash in Golden Gate Park. In a green, leafy nook near the fields where the buffalo roam, a DJ tent is up and housing such pals as Phon.o and Flying Skulls. Funk ‘n’ Chunk fire the grill with impressive flamethrower action, and Christian of the Tasty crew plunges fish-sauce-marinated chicks into the hot grease for Filipino fried chicken. Throw a Tecate on the whole thing, pet your mochi, and call it an awesome party despite the fact that, as Wang confides, "we did get started a little late because there were some rangers sniffing around."

Mochipet, “Get Your Whistle Wet”

Wang is accustomed to building where few have ventured before — and as a collaborator extraordinaire who has worked with everyone from Spank Rock to Ellen Allien, he’s brought together communities of sorts in the most unlikely of locales (hence the name of his label, Daly City Records). Earlier that week we chatted by phone in lieu of digging into Hong Kong deep-fried pork chops and a sweet, cheap Filipino breakfast ("It’s like soul food for Asians — everything’s either deep-fried or smoked") at Gateway restaurant near the literal and spiritual home of Daly City Records. The occasion is his forthcoming Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival, an improv-y and likely collaborative performance, as well as a whopping release show at Club Six for his latest disc, Microphonepet (Daly City).

A formidable gathering of all of Wang’s work and collaborations since 2001, Microphonepet overwhelms with its awesome sonics, roving from "Tangle" with Salva and Epcot and "Get Your Whistle Wet" with the Hustle Heads, to "Vnecks" with 215 the Freshest Kids and "Lazy Days" with KFlay. Where has Wang been hiding his crazily deep-fried, deliciously bleepy hip-hop production skills all this time? "Guess it got to the point where last year I got 20 tracks, so I just put them out as a record, because some of them are really cool," he explains. "I thought they were really diverse and it would be a good segue to my next record."

Wang has been pouring plenty of energy into that coming disc, which may be released on Daly City or an imprint like Ninjatune. He describes it as more personal: he’s skating progressive, jazz, and South American musical influences off trad Korean and Chinese sounds, and acoustic guitar off heavy electronics. "I’ve always written traditional songs but I’ve never really been comfortable releasing it," says Wang, who describes his early aural interests as veering toward jazz and salsa. "All my records before this have been experiments — me trying new things. But they haven’t been as personal as this next record. I think of it as my first record, really. I’m a slow bloomer." *


MCMF show with Yoko Solo, Patrice Scanlon, and Blanket Head

July 18, 8 p.m., $7

Million Fishes Gallery

2501 Bryant, SF


Also Aug. 9

Microphonepet release show with Raashan, Mike Boo, Cikee, Daddy Kev, Dopestyles, Kflay, and others

9 p.m., $10–<\d>$15

Club Six

60 Sixth St., SF



No need to create a faux feud: fests that clash by night and warehouse shows are no problem. In response to learning that Diamond Days — Heeb magazine’s hoedown, newly transplanted from Brooklyn to Oakland — goes down the same week as this year’s Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival, founder Jeff Ray said, "I think it’s great. I like Heeb magazine. We haven’t completely settled on those dates, and I randomly picked this weekend — normally we do it in May. Next time we might do it the first week of August." OK, so both fests also happen to include some of the same performers — each has its unique attractions as well. Sparkling offerings at DD’s Ella Baker Center for Human Rights fundraiser include Los Angeles’ punky-garagey Audacity, Seattle’s rousing Whalebones, Ventura’s thrashy Fucking Wrath, and a mother lode of intriguing folk from the LA area ranging from the sibling sublimity of the Chapin Sisters to the resurgent pop of "Windy" scribe Ruthann Friedman.

July 17 and 20, Mama Buzz Café, Oakl.; July 17–19, Ghost Town Gallery, Oakl. For details, go to www.myspace.com/diamonddaysfest



The garage rockin’ good times stream off this Cuts–Parchman Farm supergroup’s debut, Boomtown Gems (Birdman). Wed/9, 9 p.m., $6. Elbo Room, 647 Valencia, SF. www.elbo.com


The London dubstep artist and Hyperdub label owner with a doctorate in philosophy gives a shout out to his boroughs. Thurs/10, 9 p.m., $12. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


The multi-instrumental wiz grabs for Solex’s crown with some goofy fun, like kitty-sampling "Cats R People 2" off her Art College (Young Love). With Settting Sun and the Love X Nowhere. Thurs/10, 8 p.m., $10. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. www.rickshawstop.com


A kinder, gentler Crooklyn combo? Rabid fans can expect polyrhythmic rock from LP3 (XL). Thurs/10, 9 p.m., $20. Slim’s, 33 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com


The SF indie rockers chime in on tabloid culture with their new, self-released Famous People Marry Famous People. Fri/11, 10 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com



› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "It’s like an old ship. Things break, things fall apart, and you just keep bailing water and hope you hit land someday!"

That’s Guy Carson, Café Du Nord owner and ex-Hotel Utah booker, on owning a 100-year-old club. Yes, there are the inevitable aches and pains attendant with a structure erected just two years after the great ‘quake, as well as eerie little trap doors and escape hatches from the Prohibition era. But, oh, the stories the Du Nord, House of Shields, and Hotel Utah — a troika of oases overflowing with libation and live music that have all hit the century mark in the past year — could tell. ‘Member the time PJ Harvey played a not-so-secret show at the Utah, triggering round-the-block queues? Or the first San Francisco show by rock legends the Zombies at the Du Nord? Or the rumored gunfight played out by Comstock Lode robber baron William Sharon in front of his then-men’s social club, now known as the House of Shields?

‘Course you don’t. So much has been lost in the mists of Bay Area mythology and Barbary Coast conjecture. But there’s always word of mouth — in full effect at the shambling, loving June 19 celebration of the Utah’s centennial, as Birdman Records’ David Katznelson presented witnesses like owner Damian Samuel, a ukulele sing-along by music writer Sylvie Simmons and Bart Davenport, and tributes by artists who have stomped Utah’s boards, including Paula Frazer and Greg Ashley.

Since its days as Al’s Transbay Tavern (name-checked in 1971’s Dirty Harry) through the years owned by screenwriter Paul Gaer (who brought in Robin Williams and puppet shows), the venue has not only been instrumental in establishing a beachhead for local bands — Cake was considered a resident outfit in the 1990s and Counting Crows, Jewel, and Tarnation were onetime regulars ("For a while I used to say that the Hotel Utah was Geffen’s A&R department," recalls Carson). Its communities include "open mic–ers, the regulars, and the people who live in the building," Samuel offers. "It’s a live amoeba of sorts that has its own direction." He says the UK’s Noisettes now call the Utah its home base, and past staffers include ex-booker Mike Taylor (Court and Spark), Cory McAbee (Billy Nayer Show), and Shannon Walter (16 Bitch Pile-Up). One of Samuel’s fave tell-alls: in 1997 he had to walk future Guns N’ Roses guitarist Buckethead around the block so he could make a dramatic entrance onstage. "Here I am walking him around in SoMa, a chicken bucket on his head," Samuel recalls. "He kept saying, ‘I didn’t realize this block was so long.’<0x2009>"

Uptown, a century ago, the House of Shields also threw open its doors — in a much more hush-hush way: the venue began life as a men’s social club, and the only women permitted in until the ’70s were, says owner Alexis Filipello, "working girls." These days, the venue that got its name from its ’30s owner Eddie Shields is more likely to see indie artists like Sean Smith and Beam than highly establishment swells sneaking a stiff drink, but the crowd remains raucous, gathered around the elegant bar originally meant for the Pied Piper watering hole in the Palace Hotel across New Montgomery. When artist Maxfield Parrish made his Pied Piper of Hamelin mural (1909) far too long for the piece, the bar was sent over to Palace cobuilder William Sharon’s other nightspot. After Filipello bought the watering hole in 2003, she restored the natural wood, refurbished the moldings, reupholstered the booths, and jettisoned the "funky" taxidermy. "It was just such a beautiful old location, a piece of San Francisco’s history," she recalls. "We did a lot of work to get it back up to its beauty." No plans, however, for the firmly closed underground passage that links House of Shields to the Palace. Persistent rumors have it that in 1923, President Warren Harding died, not in the Palace as officially reported, but in the Shields’ speakeasy, and was transported through the tunnel back to his suite to avoid Prohibition-period scandal.

The ground is still shaking, happily, around Café Du Nord, which hit its 100th in October. In the next year Carson hopes to create a coffeehouse/art space upstairs next to the club, where performers can show their work, then play a show upstairs at the Swedish American Hall — which has hosted performers ranging from Cat Power to Michael Hurley — or downstairs at the Du Nord. He also plans to install an elevator where the Du Nord women’s room now sits, renovating the space so he can do the unique, one-off shows he prefers.

Carson is striving to continue nurturing the creative spirit of the Utah. "The difference between then and now is that everything costs so much. Our overhead here is so high, you can’t fail," he says. Back in ’90 when Gaer hired him at the Utah, he adds, "it wasn’t a big financial nut to crack, and we ran it like a living art experiment. I really miss those days. It was fun!"



Backwoods Table of the Elements crustastic jams? The Durham, N.C., trio also joins Akron/Family at the High Sierra fest for a Mega-Akron set. Wed/2, 8:30 p.m., pay what you can. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakl. www.21grand.org. Also Thurs/3, 9 p.m., $8. 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission, SF. www.12galaxies.com. Fri/4–Sat/5, check Web site for times, $30–<\d>$168. High Sierra, Quincy; www.highsierramusic.com


Kooky, crunchy spazz-tastic moves for kids? The SF band dons Baagersox guise for the first anniversary Lazerdance dance-off Thursday, then goes into seven-piece mode Saturday. Thurs/3, 10 p.m., $5. Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF. www.theknockoutsf.com. Also Sat/5, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


All-boy rock testimonials from Low’s Alan Sparhawk? Tues/8, 9 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Where there’s Will …


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER The cormorants know, the red-winged blackbirds have heard, and the quail would wail: the Marin Headlands and surrounding environs are imbued with more than a little magic. You don’t need to spend much time there to know this, rolling through pebbly Rodeo Beach or tromping down Tennessee Valley Road, soaking up the sagey scents and painting the digits dark red with crushed blackberries, as little girls wander by talking on seagull-feather faux cellies.

They will testify, as will Will Oldham — a.k.a. Bonnie "Prince" Billy, a.k.a. ace Palace Brother, singer-songwriter, and star of Old Joy (2006) and Matewan (1987) — to the area’s healing properties and the way its fresh breezes, rippled clouds, and hills in every hue of green ignite the imagination. After all, until recently Oldham was squirreled away at the Headlands Center for the Arts as an artist in residence. In one of the few interviews he’s consented to lately, Oldham told me he ended up doing much songwriting, including a commissioned piece with his Superwolf partner Matt Sweeney intended for a new Wim Wenders film.

"I felt super-fortunate," said the jovial, easygoing Oldham from Louisville, Ky., where he’d driven to from the Bay Area only three days previous. No matter that tornado warnings were all over the local media as he cast his mind back. "It was kind of a dream situation, because out there in the Headlands, there’s no cell phone reception. And once you cross through that tunnel, you’re in something you can imagine as wilderness and by the sea, and there’s a fair amount of wildlife — snakes and skunks and turkeys and deer and coyotes and bobcats and seals, which, if you choose to, you can see more of than you see any human being on any given day."

He’ll be back in the Bay after touring Europe and playing a handful of US dates, ending in San Francisco. The occasion is Lie Down in the Light (Drag City), Oldham’s worthy, rootsier follow-up to the transcendent The Letting Go (Drag City, 2006). If the latter is colored by the otherworldly ambience of its Icelandic origins, then the new album is touched by the tender humidity of its Tennessee recording site, encompassing, according to Oldham, "a couple songs that sort of address — using terms of love, devotion, and even lust — songs themselves."

"I think," he offered, "at the end of the day, sometimes it can be the truest form of comfort, especially if you’re a singer. You can find in music just about any ideal emotional landscape you crave, whether it’s angst or rebellion or celebration or union or dissolution. It’s all there, and none of it’s going to call you back or text you at four o’clock in the morning or blame you for anything you did or didn’t do or slap you with a paternity suit."

Not that Oldham can speak on paternity suits. "My lawyer says I can’t answer questions like that," he demurred mirthfully. Meanwhile there’s some heavy weather to consider. "I do have a cellar," he said, not worried at all. "But I’m not the hiding kind. I want to see it if it comes. I think I can run faster than a tornado." *



Kicking it blue-collar style, the comp celebration includes Rademacher, Tigers Can Bite You, and Light FM. Wed/25, 10 p.m., $4. Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF. www.theknockoutsf.com


Kicking it Krautrock, the Citay collaborator’s Kranky release promises near-exotica grooves. Wed/25, 9:30 p.m., $5. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Kicking it old-school, the Los Angeles underground hip-hoppers unleash The Release Party DVD in July. Thurs/26, 9 p.m. doors, $20 advance. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


Kicking it Vivaldi styley, if the composer wore Converse. The ethereal Sub Pop indie-rockers get with their folk label mate Sera Cahoone. Sat/28, 9 p.m., $13. Slim’s, 333 11th., SF. www.slims-sf.com


Kicking it free-noise mode — with such Oakland exploratory musical surgeons as Moe! Staiano, Ava Mendoza, and Liz Allbee. Sun/29, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


It takes a lot of g-g-guts to name your act after the Queen tune "Radio Gaga," ‘fess up to the fact that you attended Catholic school alongside Nicky Hilton, and make it your personal mission to make pop cool once more. Lady Gaga, 22, has the moxie to undertake all of the above, having gone from setting hairspray afire on fringy NYC stages and attending Tisch School of the Arts at NYU to hammering out songs for Britney Spears, and making her own brazen dance-pop à la "Beautiful Dirty Rich." Why did she name her debut, The Fame (Streamline/Interscope)? "The concept is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you have, as long as you can embody a sense of inner fame and value of your own ideas, you can really be whoever you want," Lady Gaga opined huskily on her way to a Raging Waters gig in San Dimas. "I was nobody, and I’ve been jerking people for years into thinking I’m somebody I’m not. I used to get into clubs like when I was 16. I’d usually just walk right in because of the way I carried myself, the way I dressed, the way I spoke to people."

Sat/28, 8 p.m., $45. Temple, 540 Howard, SF; www.templesf.com. Sun/29, 6:10 p.m., Pride Festival, Civic Center, SF; www.sfpride.org

Bag drag


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER As a once-impressionable protein unit who wrapped my eyeballs around any and all TV comedy, I’m slightly abashed to say I haven’t caught Saturday Night Live regularly in many a year. So I was surprised to hear rumors a while back that the series was allegedly biting off one of the Bay Area underground music scene’s fave figures: Jibz Cameron — known and loved for her garage-rock spaz-outs with the Roofies and her pretension-leveling levity behind the counter at Lost Weekend Video. And then there’s her super-girl-group of sorts, Dynasty, with Numbers drummer Indra Dunis and Neung Phak vocalist Diana Hayes, and her solo spin-off project, Dynasty Handbag.

“I don’t watch it either,” Cameron says from Brooklyn, as pet Chihuahuas struggle over a chew toy in the background. “But I get a phone call every other Saturday, ‘Omigod, you won’t fucking believe it…’ and I say, ‘I already know.'” She’s talking about SNL‘s house DJ Dynasty Handbag, a character that first popped up on the show in 2005, hosting a faux-MTV talk show. The occasional Kenan Thompson character is a far cry from Cameron’s Dynasty Handbag, a crazed kitsch-waver — a kind of schizo Bride of Peaches and Krystle Carrington — that Cameron developed on petite SF music stages before moving east four years ago. The project started life as the portable version of Dynasty and turned into a multi-referent alter ego.

The SNL character hasn’t reappeared in the last year, but it still offends. “It’s still on their DVDs, and I do performance that’s comedy-related,” she says. “People research me on the Internet, and my site comes up first, but they’re there, though I’m the OG, the OD, the OGD.” She says she sent SNL a cease-and-desist letter and when “that didn’t go anywhere, I took it to Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. I’m not in a full-blown lawsuit with them, but we’re sort of in discussion with them.” At press time, SNL representatives have not responded to requests for comment.

Cameron says she does have a new “plan of attack.” Her friend Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio will be producing a podcast radio show called Radio Woo Woo, which she will cohost. “My plan is to just keep talking about it on the air,” she says, adding that the podcast will premiere TV on the Radio’s new album this fall.

The low-broiling brouhaha hasn’t stopped Cameron from developing her Dynasty Handbag performances into narratives. This week she’ll unveil three short pieces at CounterPULSE. One, Bags, revolves around Cameron’s relationships with five empty shopping bags: “Each one sucks my soul in a different way, like bad relationships in my 20s. One is really needy; one’s really demanding; and one just wants to get fisted.” A work in progress, O Death, sees Cameron attempting to bury her own dead body.

Cameron has been far from dead and buried in New York: within months of moving to the Big Snapple she was crowned Miss Lower East Side in Murray Hill’s annual pageant, and she has presented solo shows at PS 122 and Galapagos Art Space. “Everybody works so hard here — it’s really influenced me to go ahead with my stuff. And there’s just the intensity of seeing so many insane people every day,” says Cameron, who was raised by hippie parents in Mendocino County (“My childhood was peppered by characters with beards and long, droopy fun bags”). “That’s really helpful, too.” *


Thurs/19 and Sat/21, 8 p.m., Fri/20 and Sun/22, 10 p.m., $20


1310 Mission, SF



Southend-on-Sea, UK’s These New Puritans purvey an austere, twinkling breed of synthetic/organic art-pop — one that evokes both Wire and the Klaxons. Who suspected the murky mystical inclinations embedded in the band’s debut, Beat Pyramid (Domino)? “Pyramids are about secrets and chambers,” vocalist Jack Barnett, 20, offers from his band’s tour stop in Chicago. “Some of the songs have to do with magic.” He claims 16th-century occultist-mathematician John Dee plays into his searching New Puritans as much as the Wu-Tang Clan, which Barnett praises for the “eerie, tiny little sounds in the background” of their productions.

Now the combo is attempting to write music that marries “the round canons of Steve Reich” with the beats of dancehall — provided Barnett manages to dodge the projectiles heaved by his drummer twin, George. When making music with your twin, Jack says, “you’re honest to the point of getting completely out of hand. As in drums being thrown at me. On a regular basis.”

Thurs/19, 8 p.m., $12–$13. Popscene, 333 Ritch, SF. www.popscene-sf.com




The 1908 edifice where Robin Williams, Cake, Counting Crows, and countless others broke out brings back witnesses and whoops it up. With Penelope Houston, Paula Frazer, Jesse DeNatale, Colossal Yes, Greg Ashley, Blag Dahlia, and others. Thurs/19; reception 7 p.m., ceremony 7:30 p.m., music 9 p.m.; $8 show. Hotel Utah, 500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300



The bookish Long Island chanteuse flirts with song stylings slouching betwixt Feist and Keren Ann. Thurs/19, 9 p.m., $12. Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. (415) 861-5016



He’s never going to dance again through this sort of arena show, the UK pop star hinted recently. Thurs/19, 8 p.m., $56–<\d>$176. HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose. (415) 421-TIXS



Narrow Stairs finds the Seattle cabbies stretching into darker realms. With Rogue Wave. Sat/21, 8 p.m., $39.50. Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Berk. www.apeconcerts.com


Mo’ Jello


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER What do you give a 50-year-old punk icon who has everything? A silver-studded dog collar? A reason to believe — or rebel? Peace of mind?

"Boy, I can’t think of much," Jello Biafra, né Eric Boucher, says with a chuckle at the question of what to gift him for his 50th birthday June 17. "I’m already such a pack rat, the last thing I need is more stuff. The main vice is vinyl, but I archive a lot of stuff. I’m a librarian’s kid."

Instead, the ex–Dead Kennedys vocalist, in characteristically against-the-grain fashion, will gift celebrants at his birthday-bash-to-end-all-bashes, the two-day "Biafra Five-O" at Great American Music Hall, with turns alongside the Melvins and a newly assembled band, the Axis of Merry Evildoers, which includes Victims Family’s Ralph Spight on guitar, Faith No More’s Billy Gould on bass, and Sharkbait’s Jon Weiss on drums. Oh yeah, and each punk-rock fire-/party-starter will receive a poster, or if it arrives in time, a 7-inch of Biafra and members of Zen Guerilla covering Rev. Horton Heat’s "Speed Demon" and Frankie Laine’s "Jezebel."

So what gives with the very public celebration of three decades of punky monkey-wrenching? "I saw the Stooges on Iggy’s 60th last year, and that was a great show," Biafra tells me while snacking in his San Francisco digs. "I got carried away with the moment and promised myself, if he’s that good at 60, I better be a tenth as good at 50 and get something together."

Expect Biafra’s new group to be part of a continuum: one that began with Dead Kennedys and has manifested in collaborations with the Melvins, DOA, No Means No, Al Jourgensen, Mojo Nixon, and others. "The hope is you’re still going to get a pretty sharp set of teeth," he promises. And speaking of DK, the man who would be SF’s mayor ("It was done as a prank") — and who was nominated as the Green Party’s 2000 presidential bid, right on the coattails of Ralph Nader ("It kind of got dumped in my lap") — is also recognizing the 30th anniversary of the Dead Kennedys, which played its first show in July 1978 opening for the Offs, DV-8, and Negative Trend, despite an extremely acrimonious lawsuit between the vocalist and his bandmates that led a jury to award control of the catalog to the rest of the group.

Despite intimations of a reunion on the part of the remaining Dead Kennedys, the bitterness of the conflict still rankles, with Biafra confessing with a wry chuckle, "I’ve had battles with suicidal depression — especially after that ugly Dead Kennedys lawsuit." Further, he says, "I really resent all the times they played these so-called reunion shows advertised as reunions, and there’s my picture in the ad. I think we have a new genre of punk, and it’s called fraudcore!"

Nonetheless, he hasn’t completely ruled out a reconciliation: "Sure, if those guys were ever willing to undo every last bit of damage they’ve done, I’d consider going back on stage with them. But so far they’ve been way too greedy and way too cowardly to even consider it."

So leave it to the Melvins to convince Biafra to tackle a few DK songs in honor of his birthday. The once SF-based band — in a near-original lineup including Mike Dillard — also will attack early hardcore tunes culled from a 1984 demo sent to Biafra. It turns out those pack-rat tendencies, coupled with Biafra’s abiding love of music, led him to hold onto that ancient tape, which the Melvins lost long ago. "It’s a good thing I saved these things," Biafra says. "They’d forgotten those songs existed." *


With Jello Biafra and the Melvins, Biafra and the Axis of Merry Evildoers, the Melvins, and (Mon/16) Drunk Injuns and Los Olvidados, and (Tues/17) Triclops! and Akimbo

Mon/16–Tues/17, 8 p.m., $22-$40

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF



Moanin’ and groanin’ has never been so hammily hilarious. Comedian Neil Hamburger has a brand new hat — namely, a sorry-ass Stetson — to go along with his new bag: the recently released Neil Hamburger Sings Country Winners (Drag City). Teaming with longtime Bay Area–ite Dave Gleason on guitar, Amoeba Music co-honcho Joe Goldmark on pedal steel, and Todd Rundgren cohort Prairie Prince on drums, Hamburger, a.k.a. onetime Bay stalwart Gregg Turkington, plans to stir misery-loving odes to classic backwoods grimness ("Please Ask That Clown to Stop Crying") into his archetypal miasma of whining/joke-telling during his present tour. So why turn to C&W, which currently seems to consist of "songs about shopping," rather than tears, beer, and chicken dinners? "A lot of rock ‘n’ roll is just people screaming," groans Hamburger from Los Angeles, far from the SF storage locker he claims to have once dwelt in. "You hear enough of that in San Francisco on the streets. With those big, bushy beards and screaming — what’s the difference between a contingent of homeless guys carrying signs and the Doobie Brothers?"

June 11, 9 p.m., $13–<\d>$15. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. (415) 885-0750, www.gamh.com


They may be pegged as part of the so-called shitgaze underground — thanks to their pals in Psychedelic Horseshit who coined the term — but Columbus, Ohio, trio Times New Viking are as grounded as a trio of Midwestern ex-art-schoolers can be. Keyboardist Beth Murphy met guitarist Jared Phillips and drummer Adam Elliott while attending Columbus College of Art and Design, and the three found that their education came in handy when it came to playing together nicely — and noisily, particularly on their new Matador album, Rip It Off. "When you’re in art school you’re always forced to critique your work and think about everything you’re doing," Murphy, 26, explains from her hometown. "That got, like, really annoying to have to validate every mark you made. But now I think it’s kind of like ingrained in us, so we can’t help but think about every aspect of what we do." Their creative approach to music-making? "One of the first rules we set up was 300 percent creative control," she says. "We all have 100 percent say in everything, and we don’t ever tell each other what to do."

With Hank IV, Psychedelic Horseshit, and Fabulous Diamonds. Fri/13, 9 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Sealed with a fest


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "Obviously I wanted to be part of this wealthy cause … whoops, I mean, worthy cause — a Freudian slip!" blurted Seal to amassed gowns and tuxes at a packed Davies Symphony Hall May 31. Well, it was pretty B&W at this, the Black and White Ball 2008. He went on to explain that he was more than glad to play the benefit bash for the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music education program, until he realized that night’s event was just a day before wife Heidi "And sometimes you’re out … in the doghouse" Klum’s birthday. "Even though it was written almost 20 years ago, I never knew what this song was about till four or five years ago," he drawled graciously, before easing into a swooningly romantic "Kiss from a Rose." The coiffed and painted debs swayed in the seats behind the stage like tropical palms, the gray-tressed oldsters in tuxes yawned as if their jaws would dislocate, and all the right — and leftie — blondes flitted to the front as if drawn to a gyrating, white-scarfed flame. The irony that Seal was putting in a high-energy set and working in an establishment-jabbing anthem titled "System" — "but you won’t get to hear it here because record companies aren’t what they used to be, but this isn’t that kind of show," according to the UK crooner — was not altogether lost on the assembled partygoers at this very establishment affair.

Still, the Grey Goose quaffing, shrimp chomping, and dance-it-up musical offerings lining the closed-off swath of Van Ness added up to a surprisingly solid good time — not to mention further confirmation of the latest urban SF curiosity: packs of underdressed, strapless-clad or micro-miniskirted, microclimate-besieged fashion victims who insist on braving hypothermia sans outerwear. Is it really that toasty over the bridge and through the tunnel?

Nonetheless I got a kick out of Extra Action Marching Band, its flag girls drooling faux-blood while chilling, kicking it iceberg-style beneath the polka-dot-lit, fireworks-bedecked City Hall. Pete Escovedo still had what it took to pull me to the dance floor and get the salsa out. Hot on the heels of Harriet Tubman (Noir), Marcus Shelby riled up Strictly Ballroom wannabes in the bowels of the War Memorial Opera House, and upstairs DJ Afrika Bambaataa turned in an unforgettable old-school hip-hop and rock-pop set, sweetly warbling, "I just want your extra time … " to Prince’s "Kiss," as a mob of gorgeous freaks mobbed the stage. Be it ever so old-fashioned and ever so obligatorily glammy, the B&WB was such a ball that I was inspired to use it as the barometer of sorts for a few other music-fest contenders.

B&W BALL BY THE NUMBERS Kilts: two. Turbans: three. Closeted waltz-heads eager to make the Metronome Ballroom lessons pay off: more than a dozen. Misguided ladies who looked like they tried to repurpose their wedding gowns as white formalwear: two. Gavin Newsom look-alikes: a toothy handful. Jennifer Siebel look-alikes: hundreds. Former hippies in formalwear: six. Men in all-white who looked like they stepped out of an alternate "Rapture" video: two. Burning Man references as City Hall was bookended by pillars of fire at midnight: two. Screeching highlights-victims upon seeing their girlfriends: more than two ears can handle. Sneaky types who looked like they’ve probably worn the same thing to B&WB every year since 1983: more than designers and luxury goods manufacturers would care to know.

HARMONY FESTIVAL (June 6–8, Santa Rosa, harmonyfestival.com, including Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Arrested Development, and Mickey Hart Band) Expected Gavin look-alikes: zip unless you count the Cali boys who look early Gavin — with dreadlocks. Rich hippies with perfect hair and lavishly embroidered coats: three.

BERKELEY WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL (June 7, Berkeley, www.berkeleyworldmusic.org, with Dengue Fever, and Sila and the AfroFunk Experience) Expected turbans: the Sufi trance music guarantees at least a couple. Kilts: zero. Swirlie dancers: a dozen-plus.

OUTSIDE LANDS (Aug. 22–24, SF, www.sfoutsidelands.com, including Radiohead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jack Johnson, Wilco, Beck, and the Black Keys) Expected bikes piled in the racks: a thou. Concert-goers overcome by heat: C’mon, this is San Francisco.

TREASURE ISLAND MUSIC FESTIVAL (Sept. 20–21, Treasure Island, treasureislandfestival.com, with Justice, the Raconteurs, TV on the Radio, and Tegan and Sara) Projected number of great views of SF: innumerable. Gold-trimmed "ironic" sunglasses: a gazillion. Concertgoers who discover far too late that shorts are only ideal for an hour a day: 135.

LOVEFEST (Oct. 4, SF, www2.sflovefest.org) Ever-recyclable ’70s-style bells: a couple-dozen. Fabulous-faux hairpieces: Wigstock is forever. Swirlie dancers: you got ’em.



Eke out a few tears of valedictorianism: it’s an Absolutely Kosher explosion of untrammeled, happily eccentric talent. Fri/6, 9:30 p.m., $10–<\d>$12 Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com


Lo-fi dust-ups coupled with folkie meanders are a–Foot Foot, flanked by the solo musings of ex-Guardian-ite Sarah Han. With Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. Sat/7, 9:30 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Taking a break from the sweltering, disco-imbued exotica of Quiet Village and its Silent Movie (K7), producer Matt Edwards dons his dark techno persona, Radio Slave. Sat/7, call for time and price. Endup, 401 Sixth St., SF. (415) 646-0999, www.theendup.com *

Burn this


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER More power, I say, to sibling twosome Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger of Fiery Furnaces. FF’s forthcoming 51-track, double-CD/triple-LP retrospective, Remember (Thrill Jockey), has been burning up my ear holes for more than two hours now, charged with the power of fraught familial relations, rock-out thunderbolts, and mysterious blueberry boats. And I confess, part of my wonderment at their artistry stems from the fact I could never be in a band with my own bro. Judging from our childhood knock-out, tooth-and-claw smack downs, we’d be at each other throats within minutes of our first band practice — and triumphantly playing bad vibes with the vanquished’s finger bones. Those are our kind of family values.

I get the impression the Friedbergers’ relationship is just as intense, if less bloodied, talking to a chatty, quirky, and disarmingly frank Matthew on the phone from New York City. "We weren’t friends growing up necessarily," he concedes. "We were friends after I left home, but we have to talk to each other so much now that we aren’t friends in the same way. We have to spend so much time together that it’s … ridiculous." Doubling back on himself, the ever-analytical 35-year-old guitarist-keyboardist-vocalist just as quickly shrugs it off. "But that’s the way it goes."

Still, we all know that family bands traditionally have sold the dream of togetherness: feather-light musical fun with none of the fighting-for-grub-at-the-dinner-table heaviness. Seventies ensembles like the Osmonds cozied up to those warm ‘n’ fuzzy associations in the genre’s TV-pop heyday — at the very moment that the generation gap seemed its widest — while more recent combos such as Danielson Famile somewhat self-consciously play off of them. Not so with Fiery Furnaces. An electrical, emotional current between the magnetic, sexily verbose vocalist Eleanor and musical mastermind Matthew runs like a live wire through their songs, many of which show up on Remember, which splices together reworkings from various shows in 2005 and onward. Overall the collection — set for August release but available on tour — is musically formidable, capturing the aggression of their live performances alongside drummer Robert D’Amico, percussionist Michael Goodman, and bassist Jason Loewenstein, and coming off as a little overwhelming.

"Yeah, it’s long. It’s long. It’s long," Matthew drawls somewhat wearily. "People sometimes resent the idea that they have to sit down and listen to the whole goddamn thing. So we wanted to make it clear: you needn’t do that. Please use it as you wish." Consider it, he says, chuckling, "straight background music. I mean, I could say that it’s meant to be an opera about the band, starring the band." Or — Matthew adds, rearranging his thoughts like a tune — look at the songs as objects that show the group "aging." Or try it this way: "It made sense to have the record be about the songs traveling, so to speak. What kind of journeys the songs went on, I say with a smirk," he says, a playful smirk clearly audible over his cell.

That searching sense of play — and enthusiasm — has kept the pair going as FF, which Matthew readily admits he never thought would last this long. Growing up in Oak Park, Ill., he performed in teenage rock combos before his younger sister summoned up the courage — with encouragement from friends and her broheim — to make music. The Brooklyn twosome decided to record their songs in 2002, he recalls, and "then we thought, well, we’d better try to be good."

"It’s no accident we have the same taste," he explains, though they aren’t the type of sibs who were "giving each other supportive hugs all the time." "That’s because our taste was formed by the same things, given to the extent she heard all the records that I listened to when I was a teenager. She’s younger than me, so she heard them at the same time, whether she wanted to or not, because I played them loudly. Even more than that, we understand each other — the things we refer to when thinking of what’s meant to be good in rock."

For the FF, that means making songs with the scraps of ephemera found in audience members’ pockets, otherwise known as their "Democ-Rock" project, launched in honor of the 2008 election season, which the ever-prolific band will record in the near future, and a funk companion album to last year’s ’70s-rock-esque Widow City (Thrill Jockey). It’s all grist for the mill, agrees Matthew, although Remember will stand as the document he feels the most emotional about. "It’s the story of my life in the last few years," he says, laughing. "It sounds like me trying to work hard and do something nice." *


Thurs/29, 9 p.m., $15

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF



REM’s Peter Buck was a proto-indie-rock guru of sorts back in the late ’80s day — thanks to his impeccable taste and his way of shining a light on then-unsung predecessors like the Velvet Underground. So it wrecked my head to hear back in 2001 that he was charged in an air-rage incident with allegedly assaulting flight attendants and smashing up a first-class British Airways cabin, all of which he was later cleared of. Anger, however, has its uses, as his band has found on their new, energized CD, Accelerate (Warner Bros), a recording that tackles the tension between REM and its enraging world, rather than creating an otherworldly realm for the listener à la their early works. "I think it’s kind of hard to live where we live, at the time we live, and not be a little frustrated with the way the world is and the way our country is run," Buck says with a sigh, from his Seattle home. "I have to say, I don’t really trust people who aren’t angry about life in general or particular issues."


May 31, 6 p.m.; June 1, 5 p.m.


Greek Theatre

UC Berkeley, Berk.


Fly boys


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER I never swooned over Jemaine Clement when his clueless geek-goon was busily copping quasi-Street Fighter moves in 2007’s Eagle vs. Shark, and I never noticed the spacey Middle Earthly beauty of Bret McKenzie when he was striking sultry elfin poses in The Lord of the Rings. But somehow, two discs of season one of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords and a couple jillion listens to the duo’s new self-titled Sub Pop album later, I’m hooked. I woke up this morning with the cyborg-gut-busting "Robot" roving through my head ("The humans are dead / We used poisonous gases / And we poisoned their asses…. It had to be done / So that we can have fun"), and I silently sang the lusty-nerd verses of "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)" ("You could be a part-time model / But you’d probably have to keep your normal job") to myself for the rest of the morning. Apart from those lyrics, I’m at a loss for words — for a change. All I can say, doltishly, is "uhhh, they funny." Otherwise I’m considering a leg transplant and dye job so I can become the "Leggy Blonde" of FOC dreams — or at least a Rhys Darby tat.

What have they done to deserve such gushery? The way they sweetly snark at my rock, garbed in the amiable skin of a fumbling indie-rock-folk duo. The manner in which they poke at pop clichés, letting them fly well above the heads of those who don’t grasp the Shabba Ranks and Marvin Gaye references — and somehow those unfortunates still crush out on FOC. The botched trysts and fumbled musical careers of the pair, played by the half-Maori Clement and the sometime reggae musician McKenzie, which make all and sundry adore them that much more. Their humanizing humor, which stems primarily from FOC’s New Zealanders-straight-outta-Middle Earth naïveté.

Much has been made of the rise of so-called indie rock comedians like David Cross and Eugene Mirman — who both, coincidentally or no, are FOC labelmates — but lo, Clement and McKenzie are the real thing. They have the facial hair. They swill water. They hail from the land of the Clean and Tall Dwarfs. They combine pop-savvy wit and wiseacre lyrics, while sending up genres ranging from between-the-sheets R&B swoons ("Business Time") to backpacker hip-hop ("Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros" with Clement trotting out a ringer imitation of Del tha Funkee Homosapien) to art-rock nipple-antenna anthems ("Bowie"). A good deal of FOC’s appeal hinges on the fact that pop is so utterly ripe for lampooning — after all, doesn’t the title of E=MC2 (Island) sound like Mariah Carey is attempting a self-conscious, FOC-style jab at her own intellectual prowess?

It also helps that FOC come so often with the hooks: I can’t stop replaying "Inner City Pressure" — and reveling in its low-budg, pseudo-seedy Pet Shop Boys video tropes — repeatedly in my skull. My only critique of their recently released full-length might be that the songs cry out for a DVD clip or eight: while some tracks sport lyrics with built-in yuks that allow the songs to hold their own, still others like the puzzling opener, "Foux du Fafa," completely lose the original, necessary context — FOC was hitting on patisserie workers while frolicking through a color-coded Scopitone-esque Gallic pop reverie — that justifies, for instance, its litany of French baked goods. Some numbers such as "A Kiss Is Not a Contract" are sweet and strong enough to include on the CD, though you miss the series’ accompanying Serge Gainsbourg video parody even if the tune itself bears little musical resemblance to Sir Serge’s oeuvre. Still, most of FOC’s soaring sonic moves don’t fall too far from the tree shaken during the more larky outings of producer Mickey Petralia’s other client, Beck. And who knows, this high-school-friendship-turned-comedy-act could be the start of a beautiful musical career, considering that the other would-be beautiful "Loser" kicked off his illustrious catalog with what many considered a joke song as well: there have been stranger flights of fantasy. *


Tues/27, 8 p.m., $32.50

Masonic Auditorium

1111 California, SF

Also May 29, 8 p.m., $32.50

Davies Hall

201 Van Ness, SF




Dan Bejar pulls Destroyer out of the garage, while intriguingly minimal nouveau-’80s-popper Devon Williams unleashes Carefree (Ba Da Bing). Wed/21, 8 p.m., $15. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com


Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel polish their indie-pop to a bright sheen on Re-Arrange Us (Barsuk). Thurs/22, 9 p.m., $17–$19. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com


Yes, we’re weirded out that Jimmy McNulty’s spawn dug Dead Meadow on The Wire. The Bay’s Dame Satan cast a spell with the new Beaches and Bridges (Ghost Mansion). Sat/24, 9 p.m., $15. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com


The definitive book on awesome atonal negheadedness is fêted by author Marc Masters and no wave authority Weasel Walter. Sat/24, 2 p.m., free. Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight, SF. www.amoeba.com; Sat/24, 9 p.m., pay what you can. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakl., www.21grand.org; Sun/25, 5 p.m., $6. Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia, SF. www.atasite.org


The NYC nibblers have been ruling the boroughs since the announcement that they were joining Radiohead on ATO subsidiary TBD. Tues/27, 9 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Kills thrill


› Kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "So … what kind of drugs inspired the record?"

"What kind of drugs?" Allison Mosshart of the Kills has to puzzle only briefly over that question. "Mmm … none. No, we didn’t take any drugs when we were writing the record. None. No, ate a lot of kale, drank a lot of coffee, made cocktails if we were getting bored, but no … "

Mosshart thinks I’m totally high. But I’m not: I’m just going ever so slightly deaf — thanks to all those Marshall stacks I’ve cozied up to over the years and those songs I can’t stop cranking to 13. And it doesn’t help that I’m feeling a wee bit hungover, and that the SF-UK phone connection this way-too-early Sunday morning is somewhat linty. So instead of hearing Mosshart sincerely explain that for the Kills’ latest album, Midnight Boom (Domino), she and bandmate Jamie Hince "didn’t listen to music, so we did things like read books, and watch documentaries, and cut out pictures from magazines, and type on typewriters, and take photographs, and do drawings," I semi-consciously absorb all of the above — as well as a tantalizing " … and do drugs." This is your brain on too many sidecars and Sazeracs.

That’s not Mosshart, though. "You know how when you’re trapped in a building and you don’t ever go outside for a long time?" she says of the CD’s recording. "It’s quite important that you don’t eat like shit so you don’t go mad."

Yet that inspired madness, the classic creative negativity of rock ‘n’ roll romanticism — the kind one might find in the nicotine rasps of Jennifer Herrema, hooked on the Stones as filtered through a jillion crappy boomboxes, or in the tattered valentines of Berlin-era Lou Reed, gloomed-out on jet-set trash — is just what the Kills seem to mainline. I witnessed as much at the sweaty, sizable hotbox of a Domino showcase at this year’s South by Southwest fest, where the pair entered silently and quickly, noisily conjured the outta-hand spirits that most definitely don’t virtuously devour kale or read good books. Hanging on to her mic stand like a lifeline in roiling waters, swaggering with a familiar rock pirate insouciance, and sporting big-cat spots like a lady who wanted less to drink from Keith Richards’ "Loving Cup" than to be the Glitter Twin himself, Mosshart sang, swayed, and spat. Her eyes were hidden behind midnight bangs, as if daring you to gaze at anything else.

So the vocalist-guitarist’s bare-faced honesty and earnest willingness to analyze the Kills’ work comes as a refreshing surprise. For instance, of the press literature that accompanied Midnight Boom, which pointed to Pizza Pizza Daddio, a 1967 documentary about inner-city kids and their playground songs, she complains good-naturedly: "I wish I could rip that press release up because every time I do an interview, every 15 minutes someone brings up that same thing." Mosshart and Hince merely identified with the "simplicity" of the subject matter, saw its similarity to what they were doing, and liked the juxtaposition of "these seven-year-old girls singing with these huge smiles on their faces, and the songs are really dark. They’re about murder and domestic violence and alcoholism."

More than anything, she says, they wanted a third album — which includes beats and additional production by Spank Rock producer Alex Epton — that "sounds like now. The other two records [2002’s Keep on Your Mean Side and 2005’s No Wow (both Domino)] are quite retro, y’know. The first one sounds a bit like a Velvet Underground record, and the second one sounds like a Suicide–Cabaret Voltaire kind of record."

So the Kills hunkered down at the Keyclub studio in Benton Harbor, Mich., far from the distractions of London where the twosome is based. After more than half a year and a getaway to Mexico, they came up with a clutch of songs they were satisfied with.

The scathing "Cheap and Cheerful" revolves around "just being honest with yourself and honest with other people despite hurting other people’s feelings and sometimes making a real big mess of things," Mosshart offers. "But not quite burying your emotions for the good of everybody all the time. Otherwise you’ll completely explode."

Most of the tunes were the pure product of collaboration. UK native Hince, whom the American-born Mosshart met in 2000, is "my best friend," she says. "He’s kind of like the most perfect creative partner I’ve ever had. There are no rules in this band. It’s not even a band — it’s this thing, whatever we do."

It’s something even tabloid attention — now that Hince has been linked to Kate Moss — can’t tear apart. "It’s a different world, isn’t it?" Mosshart says, sounding subdued. "It’s not my world, and it isn’t really Jamie’s world so … it’s nothing I, like, care too much about. I care about him being happy. That’s about it."

Supermodels or no, the Kills will continue to stoke the flames of that chemistry. How do they work themselves into that state? "We just get nervous, y’know," Mosshart says modestly. "There are so many ideas and so few of us. When I’m onstage, I’m, in a way, daydreaming and trying not to think about anything that’s really happening around me. Other than Jamie and not falling over."


Sat/17, 9 p.m., $16


333 11th St., SF




OMG, the OG of dirty way before ODB. Anyone with the chutzpah to turn "What a Diff’rence a Day Makes" into "What a Difference a Lay Makes" can come play by me. Sat/17, 10 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


Marin County garage-rock legend/lurker Sky (a.k.a. Sunlight, a.k.a. Dog) Saxon at the legendary punk palais? Don’t push too hard. With Powell St. John and the Aliens, Kreamy ‘Lectric Santa, and Saything. Sun/18, 5 p.m., $8. 924 Gilman Project, 924 Gilman, Berk. www.924gilman.org


Surgical scrubs on wry. The sly Liverpool quartet continue to keep "funk, celebration, and soft metal" alive with Do It! (Domino) — unbeknownst to Nike. Mon/19, 9 p.m., $17. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Rhyme and reason


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "All rap is, like, ‘I’m rapping like a brain-damaged grandpa.’ All this ‘I’m so rich and ate so much. I’m not running on this beat, even if I have to.’ It’s arrogance — that’s the style these days. Y’know, savvy and wit still show up once in a while in this modern rap, but, uh, style, discipline, such things, are fucking gone."

Best to just jump out of the way of the barreling train o’ thought when the engineer is Adam Drucker, a.k.a. Doseone, a formidable, motor-mouthed MC in his own right — Subtle semiotician, Anticon collective co-padre, and a legendary freestyle battle rapper who went up against the then-raw Eminem at Cincinnati, Ohio’s Scribble Jam all of a decade ago. Add more descriptors to that ‘shrooming list of credentials: teacher, mentor, succorer of aspiring word-slingers.

When I called Drucker last week, he was thwack in the middle of evaluating the freestyle rap class of Oakland kids at Youth Movement Records. Drucker went in a couple months ago to talk about rap. "I didn’t really have an idea if I was gonna be, like, a white man coming in with a lot of unusable knowledge, because if they weren’t even in touch with recording equipment there wasn’t a lot I could tell them except funny stories about rappers they don’t know because they’re too young," he told me. Instead he walked in, and, he says, "I’m like, ‘Uhhh,’ while the guys who run this thing are trying to talk to me, and the whole time I’m looking at the cipher and I’m like, ‘Oh, shit, I wanna go rap!’<0x2009>"

All right, then. As Drucker confessed, "freestyling is a zen thing — you can’t really teach it," but he’s quick to add that "it will take these kids from rap writers to vocal personalities." YMR, at the very least, teaches the kids Reason software, how to make beats, and even better, records them. And in addition to his critiques, Drucker handed each student a "pivotal rap record to take home and memorize for the summer."

He was particularly psyched when one of the kids, a promising rapper and vocalist, started singing "5 O’Clock Follies," word for word, from the Freestyle Fellowship LP he gave him: "I was like, ‘Wow, there you go.’ I did one good thing, that’s for sure."

Even as Drucker is effecting change, his main project Subtle has been going through switch-ups of its own: take, for instance, the group’s new album, Exiting Arm (Lex), the latest installment in the mythical adventures of Drucker’s alter ego, Hour Hero Yes, which displays a softer, gentler, dare I say, even cunningly subtle side of Subtle, with Drucker doing more singing than slanging.

"It likes you, this record," he said happily, before quickly qualifying that thought. "Actually this isn’t a pop record. I’m not singing out about making out with three girls in one night on this motherfucker. There’s more doors and windows to a song. Things seem simpler. The tempos are more accepting — you’re not behind all the time."

Even Subtle survivor and onetime Amoeba Music hip-hop buyer Dax Pierson has weighed in positively on the new recording, reported Drucker, saying that it’s the happiest Pierson’s been with a Subtle record since the accident that left him a quadriplegic. Drucker said Pierson took control of "Gonebones," playing autoharp, creating basslines, singing, beatboxing, and programming drums.

Still, with Vanilla Ice back in the news and Mariah Carey at the top of Billboard‘s R&B/hip-hop charts, it’s hard not to follow Drucker’s choo-choo concerning the dubious state of hip-hop — just ask the Oaklander about Nas ("He talked about the streets and being gangsta, and he was on the verge of becoming a rapping man’s rapper, five mics, rap incarnate, and then he had to choose and he became the lesser of the two. He became the guy in the Versace pants."). But his disillusionment hasn’t stopped Drucker from continuing to apply the core hip-hop tenets — contrived or no — that he forged as a young fan to his music.

In case you were wondering, those beliefs include: (1) the thing where "you were always in the dark in a park and you hafta be ready to fucking fight for the meat on the hide — this battle mind," (2) "You can’t do the same thing twice — that’s for old people and studio gangstas," and (3) "Steal, steal, steal. But you do it with fucking respect — you want to be accountable for that shit, and you want to be able to see those people and somehow possibly say, without feeling like a douche-bag, ‘You inspire me. I made music out of your music.’<0x2009>"

Hell, Drucker added merrily, "It’s just a large-form steal. There are no boundaries. Unfortunately it’s a little annoying sometimes, but mostly all’s fair in love and hanging out with me."


With Facing New York and Clue to Kalo

Wed/7, 9 p.m., $15

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF




Hell Bent for Letters (Alternative Tentacles), indeed. The combo issues short, sharp metal bons mots to their beloved sci-fi and fantasy writers. Fri/9, 9:30 p.m., $8. Eli’s Mile High Club, 3629 MLK Jr. Way, Oakl. www.oaklandmilehigh.com. Sat/10, call for time, free. Dark Carnival Books, 3086 Claremont, Berk. (510) 595-7637. Sat/10, 9 p.m., $10. Annie’s Social Club, 917 Folsom, SF. www.anniessocialclub.com


With a new album in paw, the Hawaii-Chicago transplants puzzle over the folk-rock good times once again. Sat/10, 9 p.m., $21. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com


No, there is no Fern. Philly combo Fern Knight nurtures Margaret Wienk’s acoustic-electronic musings. Having transitioned from death metal to elfin folk, Ex Reverie’s Gillian Chadwick turns in a gorgeous The Door into Summer, released on Greg Weeks’ Language of Stone imprint. With Mariee Sioux. Sun/11, 9 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Cover me


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Cover albums — critics stuck on music-maker-as-auteur theories, singer-songwriter elitists, and band-as-prime-mover rockists have long believed them the easy way out. Cat Power has succumbed twice, Dirty Projectors once, Scarlett Johansson completely surrendered to the mix of her forthcoming Tom Waits covers long-player — only to be upstaged by the production of TV on the Radio’s David Sitek. Still, despite the presence of so many tuneless, karaoke-jacked wannabes ready to grab their 15 minutes, even the talented are tempted to linger in the shadows of giants, bringing their own ideas and sound to a few of the many great, perhaps forgotten, songs and stories swirling in the ether. Why look down on the cover disc?

San Francisco songsmith Andy Cabic, who plays Great American Music Hall with his band Vetiver on May 6 for the first time since August, dusts his shoulders of such snobbery. "I don’t know why there would be a critical bias against cover records," he opines outside Sacramento at the Hanger studio where he’s three days into the next Vetiver album of original numbers. "Maybe a critic should try to do a covers record and see how good it comes out before they say there’s something wrong with it."

Cabic’s not ashamed to point out that "throwback is all over" Vetiver’s new collection of offbeat covers, Thing of the Past (Gnomonsong). The retro album art depicting a pretty girl studying old vinyl was shot at Cabic’s Inner Richmond flat, highlighting just a fraction of his impressive stash of records — and the music was made by the band a group of old friends from North Carolina that Cabic assembled to tour Vetiver’s To Find Me Gone (Dicristina Stair, 2006).

Wasn’t it Bob Dylan and the Beatles who triggered so many critics to privilege songwriters over interpreters? "I was just having a conversation with someone about what caused it," Cabic says. "I think you’d have to attribute it to Bob Dylan. The Beatles’ first two records had covers. I still love those records that were put together by the whole machinery of an A&R person, a singer, and songs by the great writers of that moment. But I chose songs that weren’t of the moment — songs that were timeless or not easily heard today, songs I thought we could do well." Well is an understatement: Thing is a lovely, tenderly rendered amalgam of the band’s distinctive sound, Cabic’s hushed voice, unusual covers — which run the gamut from Biff Rose’s "To Baby" to David Brock and Hawkwind’s "Hurry on Sundown" to San Jose mystery songwriter Dia Joyce’s "Sleep a Million Years" — and guest turns by underground folk luminaries like Michael Hurley and Vashti Bunyan. "The interesting aspect of doing covers is that there’s a mixture of restraint and freedom in doing them," Cabic muses.

Another recent notable cover project is Shelby Lynne’s sensuous dust-up with Dusty Springfield’s catalog, Just a Little Lovin’ (Lost Highway). Lynne, who plays the Fillmore on May 1, has caught her share of acclaim for this spare collection — sans the plush arrangements of Springfield’s versions and teeming with Lynne’s tremulous, haunted soul. So why covers, apart from the fact that Lynne’s chum Barry Manilow suggested it? "I think people want to hear good stuff," she says from her Houston tour stop, with sharpshooter directness and the twangs of a tempestuous girlhood spent in Alabama. "Not a lot of good out there. I’m talking about if you wanna listen to classic music, you always reach back."

What Lynne loved about Springfield was "the song selection — and she was a great honest singer. The production I love — it was Jerry Wexler and the Memphis sound," though she quickly adds, "I was trying to stay away from that. That’s why I left it bare."

The woman who played Johnny Cash’s mother in Walk the Line isn’t a vocalist to be trifled with. A survivor to the core (her father shot her mother and then killed himself when she and sister Allison Moorer were teenagers), she may have been, in her words, "too young to understand the heaviness" of duetting with George Jones on the same mic when barely 19 with producer Billy Sherrill behind the board, but she does know "it doesn’t hurt to have a Grammy," as Lynne says of her 2001 Best New Artist award.

And she knows she doesn’t want to collaborate with her sister — yet. "We have two very different kinds of things — I tell her maybe when she’s an old lady," Lynne drawls firmly. So listen closely to her turn on Springfield because next, Lynne says, "I’m gonna be writing songs. I’m not going to be doing covers again for a long time — if ever. This is it. I think you should be allowed one cover record per career." *

SHELBY LYNNE Thurs/1, 8 p.m., $25. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. www.ticketmaster.com

VETIVER Tues/6, 9 p.m., $16. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com


The Last Tycoon, the title of the new solo full-length by Peter Morén, one leg of Peter Bjorn and John, is only that — not a way of life, despite the omnipresent whistle of the group’s "Young Folks" last year. Morén swears that he’s no mogul — he just wants to gently mock the solo project conceit while referencing the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. "I thought it would be funny to have a grandiose, pretentious title for a homey album," he tells me from Montreal. Tycoon, which Morén describes as "low-key and folky," came about when he brought a song, "Le Petit Guerre," to the rest of his longtime band. "The other guys wanted to take it in a more German kraut-rock direction, but obviously with the French refrain I thought it should be more melancholy, chanson-like, dreamy, like it is on the record now. That’s what started the project." And the rest of the band approved. "I needed another outlet," says Morén, "because I’ve been playing with the boys since I was 15. So it’s nice when you have to make all the decisions yourself, even though it can be a little bit scary."

PETER MORÉN With Tobias Frobert and Big Search. Thurs/1, 7 p.m., $15. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com

Mad jags


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "That was just a major experience that I’ll never forget and I never, ever want to have again."

So sayeth 60 Watt Kid’s Kevin Litrow of the mind-render that occurred shortly after he moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles in 2006. "I was contacted — or I might have contacted them. I’m not really sure." He goes on to tell me of being visited one night by a "tornado" of energy that swirled fiercely through his room and knocked him "out of tune," while talking to him in his head. After his guest finally departed, Litrow says he was limping on one side. Finding no corollary for his experience among other UFO reports — "it physically didn’t look like the typically oval-shaped-face kids," he says — he discovered that, nonetheless, the experience "physically and mentally opened some doors." Can the glitch-garnished, knocked-askew psych of Litrow’s band 60 Watt Kid — captured on their intriguing self-titled Absolutely Kosher debut — be partially credited to a brain-tweaking twister from another dimension?

Alien visitations, madness, rehab, and Libya — last week I was lost on a vapor trail, looking down from a star called Planet Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, and waltzing to a psychogenic fugue only I could hear. But now I’m found. I’m told it’s in the water. One moment you’re staring at the cover of Us Weekly, wondering how onetime pedophile’s-wet-dream Britney Spears came to be transmogrified into Our Lady of Mental Health Issues. The next you’re waking up, kicked to the curb with surgical staples where your kidney once was. The price of gas is high, but tripping — and sometimes falling — through the mind’s eye, gets you even higher. April gusts have blown in a slew of artists, spinning yarns of spirits and out-of-body travels. They lived through this. You will, too.

PROVEN GILTY Free Gold (We Are Free) is the name of Indian Jewelry’s forthcoming recorded game, so surely IJ honcho Tex Kerschen knows how to get baby some bullion. "You’ve got to go and roll the rich," says the Houston experimentalist. "You gotta catch ’em leaving restaurants and saying goodnight to their chauffeurs. Wealth liberation has come to rest in our minds as the answer, since we personally slave for oil barons." Kerschen knows: he says he spent the last year working in a refinery while Indian Jewelry took time off to regroup and record. So Free Gold is simply wishful thinking? "You get pummeled with wealth here in Houston," he explains. "They’re building continuously — literally, gilded fortresses. I’ve had to hang terrible art for terrible people. We decided we’d gild the lily ourselves."

REHABIT IT "It’s nice that people are into it," Kimya Dawson says sweetly about the chart-topping Juno soundtrack that hurled her into the consciousness of the mainstream — or at least that of National Public Radio listeners. "But I’m not really the kind of person who keeps track or cares about numbers and sales. I make music, and it’s just kind of what I have to do. It’s what I’d be doing regardless of who was listening." The Olympia, Wash., artist started crafting tunes as part of Moldy Peaches in 1994, and she’s still writing — albeit with less introspection since the birth of her daughter Panda (she just completed a children’s album). Songwriting has been an outright necessity since she drank herself into a coma and entered rehab more than nine years ago.

"I popped out of rehab, and I was depressed and on medication, and I didn’t know how to function on this planet, and I picked up a guitar, and it made me feel better," Dawson explains. The first Moldy Peaches show happened two weeks after she got out. "It’s always been mutual therapy for me and the people listening to my stuff. I always figured if I stopped doing it I might go crazy."

LIBYA LIBERATION How can a stellar Oakland combo like Heavenly States top their last heroic act as the first US rock band to play in Libya after the lifting of a 30-year travel ban? To start, they spent about a year working on a film about the experience, relying on puppet reenactments and animation, before they woke up and asked themselves, why aren’t we making music? After selling the rights to their Libya adventures (producer Jawal Nga is writing a script tentatively titled Rock the Casbah), the band has come up with their most eclectic and confident recordings to date, Delayer (Rebel Group). The group’s next act? "We got asked to play in Iran at this music festival," vocalist-guitarist Ted Nesseth tells me. "But Genevieve [Gagon] couldn’t sing in public. Then someone e-mailed to say her friend was a journalist living in a North Korean village filled with musicians, so we have to figure out a way to go there and record. There’s absolutely no way any of that crap is going to happen. I think we have a lot of touring to do supporting this album, and then we want to make another one."

SPIRITED "You know," announces Triclops! guitarist Christian Beaulieu, apropos of neither the group’s new CD, Out of Africa (Alternative Tentacles) nor what vocalist John Geek describes as their "bung load of shows," "Sonny [Kay] from GSL recently called me the ghost of Dimebag Darrell."

"It’s really kind of impossible because you were born way before he died," I venture.

"Well, I told my friend I was the ghost of Steve Vai," Beaulieu continues, "and he said, ‘Holy crap! That’s the best news I’ve heard all day: Steve Vai’s dead!’ I’m just trying to figure out how to put a handle on my Telecaster." *

INDIAN JEWELRY Thurs/24, 9:30 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

KIMYA DAWSON Fri/25, 8 p.m., $20. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF. www.ticketmaster.com

TRICLOPS! Fri/25, 6 p.m., free. Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight, SF. www.amoeba.com

HEAVENLY STATES Sat/26, 10 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

60 WATT KID Sat/26, 9 p.m., $25. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

CO2 stew


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER It’s not easy being green, music lover. Because I’ve tried to shove my big fat cultural consumption hoof into a smaller carbon footprint, but I can’t dance around the numbers.

I’ve ponied up the green stuff for nonprofits, come correct at the composting and recycling bins, and threatened to finally get the crusty Schwinn into shape despite the near-death horror stories from bike messenger chums back in the day. But what can a music-gobbling gal do when faced with the hard if rough facts spat out by, for instance, the free online Carbon Footprint Calculator? After selecting "I often go out to places like movies, bars, and restaurants," I watched my print soar to Bigfoot proportions — thanks to my nightlife habit I supposedly generate around the US average of 11 tons of CO2 per person — rather than the mere 8.5 tons if I indulged in only "zero carbon activities, e.g. walk and cycle." Even if this out-late culcha vulcha flies on zero-emission wings to each show, I’m still feeding a machine that will prove the undoing of the planet, since the Calculator estimates that hard-partying humanoids need to reduce their CO2 production to 2 tons to combat climate change. We won’t even get into the acres of paper, publications, and CDs surrounding this red-faced, would-be greenster. I’m downloading as fast as I can, but I wonder whether my hard drive can keep up: hells, even MP3s — and the studios and servers that eke them out — add to my huge, honking footprint. Must I resign myself to daytime acoustic throw-downs within a walkable radius from my berth? Can I get a hand-crank laptop? Just how green can my music get?

Well, it does my eco good to know that a local venue like the Greek Theatre has gone green all year round: Another Planet has offset an entire season’s 113 tons of CO2 emissions; composted over two tons of cups, plates, and utensils; used recycled paper and soy-based ink on all their printed materials; and offered a $1 opt-in to ticket-buyers to offset their environmental impact. I can feel my tonnage shrinking just staring at the numbers. And while gatherings such as last year’s Treasure Island Music Festival sported zero-emission shuttles and biodiesel generators and this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will team with Amtrak to provide a free train that will move campers from Los Angeles’ Union Station to Empire Polo Field sans smog-spewing traffic jams, artists like José González have embarked on green tours, adding 50 cents to tickets to support nonprofits. Yet such efforts might prove more consciousness-raising than anything else, González concedes: "For me, playing mostly solo and touring with a small crew, I feel like the actual cut down on emissions is marginal comparing it to major artists, so it’s more about the symbolic value of it, and the ripple effect it might bring."

Still, CO2 spendthrifts like me need a swift kick in our waste-line. Lining up to deliver are such music-fueled events as the free South Lake Tahoe Earth Day Festival April 19 and the Digital Be-In 16 April 25 at Temple nightclub, organized by the Cyberset label with an "ecocity" theme aimed at sustainable communities. Green practices, Be-In founder Michael Gosney says, "may not be huge in of themselves, but they set an example for communities to take these practices back into their own lives." One such community-oriented musician is String Cheese Incident mandolin player Michael Kang, who’ll perform at the Digital Be-In and appear with Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks at the free Green Apple Festival concert April 20 in Golden Gate Park.

Organizing seven other free outdoor Earth Day shows throughout the country on April 20 as well as assorted San Francisco shows that weekend, the Green Apple Festival is going further to educate artists and venues — the usual suspects that inspire me to make my carbon footprint that much bigger — by distributing to participating performers and clubs helpful Music Matters artist and venue riders: the former encourages artists to make composting, recycling, and offsets a requirement of performances; the latter suggesting that nightspots consider reusable stainless-steel bottles of water and donating organic, local, fair-trade and/or in-season food leftovers to local food banks or shelters.

But how green are the sounds? Musicians like Brett Dennen, who also performs at SF’s Green Apple event, may have grown up recycling and composting, but he confesses that environmentalism has never spurred him to craft a tune: "Things as big as global warming have never moved me to write about it, even though I’m doing what I can." And Rilo Kiley’s Blake Sennett, who plays April 17 at the Design Center Concourse, may describe himself as a "recycling animal — I love it! I go through trash at other people’s houses!", yet even he was unable to push the rest of the his group to make their latest CD, Under the Blacklight (Warner Bros., 2007) carbon neutral.

So maybe it comes down to supporting those leafy green rooms, forests, and grasslands we otherwise take for granted. Parks are the spark for ex–Rum Diary member Jon Fee’s Parks and Records green label in Fairfax, which wears its love of albums on its hand-printed, all-recycled-content sleeves and plans to donate a percentage of all its low-priced CD sales to arboreal-minded groups like Friends of the Urban Forest. Fee and his spouse Mimi aren’t claiming to have all the answers in terms of running a low-carbon-footprint imprint, but they are pragmatic ("In order to support bands, labels need to give them something they can sell to get gas money," Fee says) and know their love of the outdoors segues with many musicians. "You develop that camping mentality from touring," he offers. "You’re not showering, and you’re hanging out for long periods of time. Everyone loves to be outside." That’s the notion even those too cheap to buy offsets can connect with — until the weird weather is at their doorstep.

Rock’s future, decades along


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER The money, the fame / And the public acclaim / Don’t forget who you are / You’re a rock and roll star." These bitter words by the Byrds roll over through my mind while watching the resurrection of three generations of rock hope realized — reappearing at a time when industry majors like Universal, Sony, and Warner Music are busy bowing to the social networking sphere, i.e., MySpace. The sands are shifting beneath the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and REM, all bands I’ve waved my adoring fangirl flag for, all once toasted as the future of rock ‘n’ roll when the form was the sexiest game in town. Well, the future — along with the classic LPs, the heavily referenced and canonical tunes, the wives, the money-printing tours — has come and gone, so why not step back from an eyeballful of IMAX and think about whether such once-seemingly-ageless, now-clearly-aging mortals are holding the course or moving forward? Does size still matter?

Lord knows — and Sir Mick Jagger surely realizes — you can throw money at a prestige project: the new Stones–Martin Scorsese business partnership, Shine a Light, is proof. Sure, it’s a decent, energized Stones performance — much better than their 2005 date at SBC Park — and certainly the band comes off well in their love for the music (Keith Richards) and artfulness (Mick Jagger). Ron Wood even gets off a nice solo or two. But why bother documenting a Stones live period — the "Bigger Bang" jaunt, otherwise known as the highest grossing tour of all time — essentially recognized for simply raking in a buttload of money for the band? Not only have the Stones been the subject of a much better concert film-documentary — the Maysles brothers’ Gimme Shelter (1970), which Scorsese bows to by enlisting Albert Maysles for some camerawork — but rock fan Scorsese has already made a much more multidimensional and affecting concert flick (The Last Waltz, 1978) and a more evocative and heartfelt documentary about a musical icon (No Direction Home, 2005).

Rather, the Stones appear to be recontextualizing their dirty blues-rock for a new, well-heeled generation that can afford them: denuding "Sympathy for the Devil" of its menace and recasting it as a party anthem, far from the madding Altamont crowd. Jagger’s toned, dancer’s physique looks downright expensive as he attempts to repurpose arena poses in the intimate Beacon Theatre, as pricey as Richards’ Louis Vuitton ad and as well-fed as the scrubbed and fratty crowd down front in Shine a Light. Is such a display of power and funds sexier — or offensive — during a recession? Still, the last laugh seems to belong to the Stones: how else to read the final image of Shine a Light as the moon morphs into the Stones tongue than as, "See ya, suckers"?

Springsteen’s aging, gray-tressed mob at HP Pavilion on April 5 would never tolerate such winking behavior. As earnest and idealistic in their Silicon Valley fleece and chinos as the so-called New Dylan so many decades along, they yelled back at the holy rollers picketing the front of the Shark Tank — o demon rock "Born in the U.S.A." — and dutifully lowed, "Broooce!" after each song. Springsteen returned their devotion in kind with two and a half hours of superhuman passion that drew from new releases as well as from Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River (both Columbia; 1978, 1980). Even as Broooce rocked "Reason to Believe," off Nebraska (Columbia, 1982), as a bluesy rave-up, or told stories of leaving wife Patti Scialfa at home to monitor their teenagers, his hard-working, well-meaning decency kept shining through. These days sax sidekick Clarence Clemons may find it necessary to sit out many songs on his throne/easy chair set to stage left and organist Danny Federici is sidelined by melanoma, but the leader still possesses a unflagging fire and expansive romanticism — even if it is spent stumping for Hillary Clinton as of late. On Saturday night, what was striking was less how indebted the latest long-players by younger artists like Arcade Fire and the Killers are to Broooce than the long arm of his influence on so much ’80s radio rock: everyone from Don Henley to Patti Smith to the Pointer Sisters to John Mellencamp.

And whither goes the next greatest rock band, after Springsteen, to attain critical mass: REM? The combo drew kudos for their recent South by Southwest turn — and as with Brooce and the Stones, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, and Peter Buck have chosen to grow louder with age, writing their new album on electric guitars rather than toning it down with dinner background Musak. More than 25 years into the band’s history, REM’s 14th album, Accelerate seems to plonk down in the Stones’ tax bracket with the opening "Living Well Is the Best Revenge," if not for the clearly articulated, biting irony of Michael Stipe’s lyric, "Baby I am calling you on that." Favoring rock ‘n’ roll blast in a compact 34 minutes, with only traces of the Velvety subtlety and Southern primitive melodicism I once treasured the band for, REM has instead picked up where "It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" left off, retuning its glib soothsaying for post-WTO riots, post-Katrina times, driving it through a pop filter, and sprinkling "Sympathy for the Devil" whoos on the closer, "I’m Gonna DJ." "Look at the world and see plenty of reasons to be angry," guitarist Peter Buck has said, describing Accelerate. We’ll see if they still rage, live.


With Modest Mouse and the National

May 31, 6 p.m.; June 1, 5 p.m., $39.50–<\d>$89.50

Greek Theatre

UC Berkeley, Berk.


Metal maidens


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER How are we driving — in terms of womanly representation in the Bay Area metal scene? The verdict: we’re pretty bitchin’, but we could do better.

Anyone who’s gotten an eyeful of hoary ole hair-band imagery, courtesy of Headbanger’s Balls of yore, is all-too-familiar with the form’s sexism — excused by such critics as Chuck Klosterman and Robert Walser in Fargo Rock City (Scribner, 2001) and Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music (Wesleyan, 1993), respectively, with claims that it’s beside the point to even critique the genre and that the music was simply "shaped by patriarchy." Nonetheless, when I wondered where all the girl groups had gone, following the demise of Sleater-Kinney, Destiny’s Child, and le Tigre (see "Band of Sisters, 07/18/06), I might have found solace in the fact that the Bay Area’s headbanging underground is fairly bangin’ for ladies: women can be found onstage in heavy bands ranging from Hammers of Misfortune, Ludicra, and Totimoshi to Bottom, Embers, and Laudanum.

The New Jersey–raised Leila Rauf is in a position to know as the guitarist-vocalist of the four-year-old Saros: female metal musicians are still "rare," she said, "having lived in other cities where that was the case. I think a lot of it has to do with the political climate in the Bay Area. Maybe there’s more women just not participating in traditional gender roles and you find women doing lots of things that women normally don’t do in more conservative parts of the country — being in a metal band being one of them."

Her San Francisco group is just completing their new untitled album, which they’re in the midst of mixing with producer Billy Anderson (High on Fire, the Melvins, Neurosis). Over the phone on her way to meet her Amber Asylum/Frozen in Amber bandmate Kris Force, Rauf described the recording as "still metal, but there’s more going on — a lot more singing, a lot more harmonic, and a lot more acoustic." It’s part of the evolution she and cowriter-guitarist Ben Aguilar have undergone since their five-track release, Five Pointed Tongue (Hungry Eye, 2006). "We’re just getting bored playing the same thing, loud all the time, technical all the time. We’re trying to get more negative space into the songs."

Still, even an accomplished, intelligent figure such as Rauf — who was working on a PhD in speech pathology at Purdue when she dropped out to pursue her muse — has had to wash out the nasty taste of Neanderthal behavior, even in the relatively forward-thinking Bay metal scene. In a later e-mail she recalled multiple instances of violent passes at San Francisco metal shows, including an time when "a really big dude grabbed me and tried to stick his tongue in my mouth. Eww." All of which pales next to other moments of intense sexism, she added: "I have been denied band auditions before — later finding out that it was due to my gender — but being told to my face it was because they didn’t think I had the chops. I even read an ad on Craigslist recently for a metal band looking for members that made it a point to exclude women. To believe this is happening in 2008 … "

One is loathe to think that the local metal resurgence is linked to a kindred revival in gender stereotypes. Are they still so charged, now that the music and its imagery seems to have moved toward less-biased turf? While there are still bastions of all-boy metal exclusivity — thrash, Rauf noted, is one of them, which parallels the general absence of women in chart-topping hard rock — area players should be quietly (or loudly) proud of its estrogen-friendly underground. It will only make for more unique work — and a new generation of girls who aren’t afraid to kick out the jams. *


With Graycion and Embers

April 19, 9 p.m., $8

El Rio

3158 Mission, SF



With Black Cobra and Mendozza

April 24, 9 p.m., $7

Annie’s Social Club

917 Folsom, SF

(415) 974-1585



Something wicked heavy — and ambitious — this way comes with the opening of the Shaxul Records storefront at 1816 Haight. Scheduled to throw open its dark doors on April 1, the shop takes over the narrow, shoebox-like spot across the street from Amoeba Music, where Reverb Records once purveyed dance 12-inches — after much delay, said co-owner Stone Shaxul, a.k.a. DJ Shaxul of Rampage Radio on KUSF 90.3 FM. There are reasons why this will likely be the only metal store in the Bay, he wrote in an e-mail, citing the high cost of San Francisco retail space and the Haight in particular as prohibitive to most metalheads as he madly prepped the operation, which carries vinyl, CDs, and 7-inches focusing on Bay Area underground metal scene and the label’s releases (including the vinyl version of Above the Ashes by lost ’80s local thrash unit Ulysses Siren), as well as T-shirts, books, patches, and other "blasphemous goods."

"We want Shaxul Records to be a place where real metalheads can come and be proud and where new metalheads can learn what the real stuff is about. We also want to give all the metalheads from around the world who visit a place to go that acknowledges our great metal tradition when they visit," Shaxul offered. Does he have any misgivings considering the struggles of music retail? "Not many people," he philosophized, "get a chance to live their dream."

Now “Voyager”


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Carla Bozulich is a force of nature. And nature in all its sweetest Central Texas manifestations — crisply twittering songbirds, spring sun glinting off the tin-sided porch, a slight breeze blowing in from the Colorado River — responds gently in kind, encircling the half-renovated cottage where she’ll be playing a small house show on the outskirts of South by Southwest. The former Geraldine Fibbers leader piles out of the van along with the rest of her virtuosic, dusty, somewhat road-dazed ensemble Evangelista. We’re a long way — more than a decade — from the time Bozulich’s disintegrating ’90s alt-rock combo opened for Iggy Pop at Austin, Texas’s largest intersection for thousands of SXSW onlookers.

"I have a potential with my voice of — I don’t know how to say this without sounding really ridiculous — but I’ve frightened bears away from attacking," Bozulich says, laughing slightly, tucked into a porch a few weeks back and tackling each question with the driving eloquence of a woman who’s spent plenty of time behind the wheel of her passions. "Wild dogs at another time when I was with Tara." She imitates the hounds barking meekly then crawling away, whining. "I just consider it something that I was born with, and a lot of times when I sing, I’m kind of holding it back because it’s sort of too much. So I just kind of decided when I started doing Evangelista that I was going to sort of work on a project where I didn’t hold back and I would try to use it to really inspire people to blow off the kind of trendy, lethargic, like, boundaries — you know, the boundaries you don’t cross in terms of not embarrassing yourself!"

We’ve ducked onto the porch as Scary Mansion plays in back to talk about Evangelista’s new album, Hello, Voyager, Bozulich’s second on the great Constellation imprint — her first, titled Evangelista (2006), was the indie’s first non-Canadian release — and the stunning show she gave the other night. It was likely one of the best of the fest, with Bozulich howling into her mic, pacing the stage during the new LP’s title opus, uncoiling sharp, eloquent shards of noise, and hopping in place with a contented smile as her band — a relatively new incarnation that includes longtime bassist-collaborator Tara Barnes, cellist Andrea Serrapiglio, and guitarist Jeremy Drake — generated a moving, glorious din. "The west is the best and the wind knows my name," Bozulich told the heavens — and you believed her.

Unfortunately the heavens opened up and poured down misfortune last November while Evangelista toured Europe. "I got hurt really bad in Paris. I was hit by a random madman on the street, who broke my cheek," Bozulich recalls of the incident, which occurred while she was singing and being interviewed on the street. Her face still feels shattered. "It was completely random. In a nutshell, he hit everybody, but he broke my cheek." But instead of crawling home to a friend’s couch and recuperating, she decided to stay on the road. "It was a weird decision, but looking back I’m really glad I did," she says. She saw Pompeii, Rome, and Tuscany, though her face was purple and swollen, and it was, she allows, "hard to sing." Yet, she adds, "I was having the adventure of my life."

Bozulich’s tactic in the face of disaster perfectly parallels her desire to venture out on a limb in every way. "I don’t take drugs or drink and haven’t for many years," she confesses. "So for me the ultimate high I’ve discovered after all these years is really — I have to say — embarrassment, doing something that might not be supercool. It separates a room, and there will be some people who will be like, ‘Yeah, fuck it! I’m sick of this, too. I really want to express who I really am.’" And in a sense Evangelista’s music is a very specific response to wartime disenfranchisement, written by an artist who describes herself as a "really, really far-left progressive, politically, and I feel like music is one of our only ways that we can organize. Fundamentalists still have that leg up on us. They aren’t afraid to join together."

Bozulich has done it before: fronting her old group Ethyl Meatplow — during which the shy girl who once sang behind drum kits "really learned to be a badass" — she changed lives: "People still come up to me saying really great things like, ‘We conceived our child in the bathroom at an Ethyl Meatplow show.’ And there’s several people who have said, ‘I came out of the closet just from listening to Ethyl Meatplow’ — and that’s political. That’s great!" She stares out at the fast-food drive-throughs that surround even this tiny show, and the sweet recording deals, massive crowds, and Iggy Pop opening slots don’t seem like much after all. "I’ve just been very lucky, you know."


Thurs/27, 7 p.m., free

Amoeba Music

2455 Telegraph, Berk.


Also Fri/28, 9 p.m., $10

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF




Channeling Joni Mitchell and even dreamier Laurel Canyon lasses alongside hand-drummer Andres Renteria and bassist Joshua Abrams (Prefuse 73), Todd has bewitched the Arthur mag crowd with her seventh full-length, Gea (City Zen). With Jose Gonzalez. Thurs/27, 8 p.m., $25. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. www.ticketmaster.com


The SXSW smoke clears as the Texas hip-hop odd mob mess around in San Fran town. With Vital, Ryan Greene, Chris Lee, DJ D, and Jamie Way. Sat/29, 9 p.m., $15. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


The SF singer-songwriter serves up "tea metal" backed by Erase Errata drummer Bianca Sparta. With Ora Corgan, and Gabriel Saloman and Aja Rose. Mon/31, 6 p.m., $5. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

South by Cynic


By Kimberly Chun

› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Date night, March 15, the closing Saturday eve of the South by Southwest music conference, and I swear, the biggest thrill around is my offroadin’ pedicab ride on my way to the Diesel:U:Music bash atop Mount San Jacinto, through the remains of the Mess with Texas 2 music-comedy day-party in Waterloo Park. How sad is that?

"I do yoga, so that helps," explains my "driver" Liam (his name changed to protect the innocent). The spines of his spindly, highly waxed mohawk shiver like excited mushrooms beneath a forager’s greedy digits and his wire-rimmed spectacles gently mist as he steps up and pedals hard, climbing the park’s slopes as the Texas Capitol shines reprovingly above. "Hopefully it’s not all blocked off — this is my favorite shortcut."

Some shortcut: we career down too-tight paved paths, nearly get decked by a hat vendor stand, then head off onto the grass and through the woods, plunk down a curb — with minimal lady-passenger spillage — and then get back on a path and through a parking structure and finally, somehow, we’re on San Jac. Saint Jack ‘n’ Coke be praised. Liam glances back, mildly beatific: "Wanna smoke a bowl?"

Hey, I’ve only downed a few gratis cans of Lone Stars and a tall sweet tea ‘n’ vodka so far tonight — and with only a giveaway energy bar to absorb it all. Welcome to Austin, Texas, and SXSW, the now unfailingly polite, organizationally fine-tuned, and increasingly disappointing group-grope-n-grip for the increasingly somber, not-so-extravagantly partying music biz. Sure, the numbers are there — the fest appears to be doing well, with more than 123,000 attendees and 1,500 showcased acts, while pouring more than $77 million in expenditures into Austin coffers, according to 2007 stats — and the nontoiling gawkers and stalkers still filled the streets for what has become the nation’s fave musical spring break. But how to quantify the new wave of malaise? Roughly parse the leavings in the tea cup: where were the conference heavies when Dolly Parton bowed out due to health issues, as did, ahem, the Lemonheads? Was 60-ish ex-Oakland R&B elder Darondo’s much-talked-of Ubiquity appearance the best of the fest — or was it Yeasayer or Vampire Weekend? Does Ice Cube really wanna forsake Friday for the rap game? Can all the Euro and overseas showcases sub for the dampened-down US major label presence due to layoffs and cutbacks? At the troubled heart of 2008’s decentralized music biz, few could be heard whooping it up or mourning over at the fall of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who as the state’s attorney general oversaw the uncovering of $50 million in unpaid royalties to musicians and served subpoenas against labels while investigating payola. Is it true, as so many I spoke to at SXSW have said, that "everything I’ve seen that I’ve liked, I’ve already seen before"? My, South By, how lame you were this year. (Can this trend bottom out? See Sonic Reducer’s 2007’s judgment: "But for a three-time SXSWhiner like myself … the fest generally underwhelmed this year," and 2006’s description of "the ground-level, vaguely dissatisfied vibe at this year’s fest — one studded with sentiments ranging from "there’s too many people here" to "everyone I’ve talked to is complaining about working too hard and not having any fun.")

Sure, there were plenty of free shows and oodles of guest-list jockeying, but when the most talked-about soirees were Perez Hilton’s hush-hush hoedown, Rachael Ray’s bid for day-party indie cred ("There better be good food!" one warily groaned), and natch, the Playboy after-hours warehouse rave — complete with more empties and Porta-Johns than you can shake a Hefty bag at — you can just toss the teacup and throw up your multi-wristbanded hands. The truth: do these brands, celebs, or marketing pipe dreams have anything to do with music? The sonic sustenance of SXSW has become secondary to product placement, relegated to background noise amid a recession-jittered hard sell. No surprise that my extremely random sampling of music lovers were uniformly disgruntled. They weren’t hearing the sounds that made it worth braving the yeehawing and puking hordes, risking podiatric agony for five whole nights.

Sure, there were revelatory moments: the grinning electro-diva Santogold, the crowd-entrancing the Whip, and teased blonde soulstress Duffy (dimpled Kate Bosworth-like everygirl to Amy Winehouse’s trouble-lady) were fab, as were Sightings and Evangelista. Lou Reed cracked mordantly wise even while hawking his new concert doc recreating Berlin (RCA, 1973), shades of Neil Young and Heart of Gold two years ago. SXSW organizers oughta take a cue from the packed "Vinyl Revival" panel, the teeming unofficial shows off the beaten Sixth Street path, where Monotonix raised the roof — and drum kit — at the Typewriter Museum, and where experi-punks screeched under sunny skies at Ms. Bea’s at shindigs hosted by Brooklyn party-starter Todd P, who was given his own official showcases this year. You can already make out signs of the next-gen underground filtering into Moby’s Girl Talk–like Playboy finale and folkie Liam Finn’s noise climax on DirectTV. Is the life-support-via-corporate-sponsorship worth the tourist buck, South By? Next time bring the focus back to the truly smokin’ sounds.

Also glad I saw: Black Moth Super Rainbow (spewing glitter and piñata), Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong (let the nouveau-mod boy-band revolution begin), Ra Ra Riot (kids love Arcade Fire!), High on Fire and Motorhead, Blitzen Trapper with Adam Stephens on harmonica, Justice and Moby’s DJ sets, Torche, High Places, Half Japanese (with a wiggly David Fair and Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan on sax), Deer Tick, Scary Mansions, Inca Ore and Grouper, a musically unimaginative but enthusiastic Carbon/Silicon, Goat the Head, Lightspeed Champion, Sons and Daughters, the Kills, "Body of War," Yacht, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Smalltown Supersounders Lindstrom and Kim Hiorthoy, Naked Raygun, the Dicks, the Ting Tings, Paper Rad, Samara Lubelski, and Black Helicopter.

Regret I missed: the Rascals, the Wombats, Barbara Mason, Jaymay, Bun B, the Bo-Keys, Game Rebellion, These New Puritans, Robyn, Pete Rock, Ruby Suns, Napalm Death, the Touch Alliance, Snowglobe, Kayo Dot, Ola Podrida, Bowerbirds, Dark Meat, White Rabbits, White Rainbow, El-P, Herman Dune, Holy Ghost!, Digitalism, Arp, Juiceboxxx, Supagroup, Daryl Hall, Meneguar, Black Ghosts, the Mirrors, Van Morrison, 17 Hippies, Afrobots, Working for a Nuclear Free City, Boyz Noize, Peggy Sue and the Pirates, Death Sentence: Panda!, Christian Kiefer, Megafaun, Salvador Santana Band, Psychic Ills, Devin the Dude, Passenger, the Morning Benders, the Tennessee Three, the Switches, Sera Cahoone, Little Freddie King, A-Trak, Kid Sister, the Clipse, Headlights, Los Llamarada, Pissed Jeans, Rob G, Wale, Dax Riggs, Neon Neon, These Are Powers, WILDILDLIFE, Clockcleaner, Look See Proof, the Cynics, Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, Rahdunes, Stars Like Fleas, and Cheveu.

Pigeon vs. Fuck: Pidgeon, the Pigeon Detectives, Pigeon John, and Woodpigeon go up against Fuck Buttons, Holy Fuck, and Fucked Up, umpired by CunninLynguists.


Wed/19, 9 p.m., $12

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

Keeping it raw


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Who took the sex outta my rock ‘n’ roll? You gotta wonder, watching the Virgins — looking all of 12, collectively, and working the style and charisma of boys whose mothers still dress them — who played a Noise Pop show March 1 at Mezzanine. Sure, the New York City combo can write a good song — far better than those by the old-enough-to-know-better Gutter Twins, who were messing with almost two-decades-old, decayed grunge tropes across town at Bimbo’s 365 Club that same night. But they weren’t kidding when it came to picking a name: far be it from the Virgins to be mentally undressed. They looked like they were safely tucked into fresh, clean underwear — no holes bitten through by groupies — much like those other hotties in prep clothing, Vampire Weekend.

Where to find lusty, lascivious pop? Even Mariah Carey is giving brain cells top billing with her upcoming album, E=MC2 (Island). When it comes to the once-squeaky-clean Jacksons, "Don’t go there" Michael tops "Yeah, that’s sexy, sexy, sexy" Janet with his 25-year-old classic Thriller (Sony) — despite the former’s hopes in picking up where Control (A&M, 1986) left off by focusing on the dance floor with her likable, pillow-talking Discipline (Island). Sex? There are no bejeweled nipples in sight — and as for Jacko, the gloves are off and Neverland Ranch has been foreclosed. And the Vampires and Virgins definitely aren’t providing any.

Perhaps it’s time to turn to more wholesome pleasures like, say, jogging. Yoni Wolf of Why? — a self-proclaimed member of the Bronson Pinchot Fan Club, Anticon stalwart, and stealth heart-rate-raiser — will turn you around. "I can tell you right now, if you don’t know the power of endorphins, it’s a beautiful, wonderful thing," raves Wolf, 28, on the line from his Oakland abode. "I’ve never been a jock because I’m not coordinated. But to jog, you just have to move your legs around. You don’t need to catch a ball or hold a ball and get knocked down. I don’t even remember why I started doing this — probably ’cause I got a little gut and I gotta knock this off. Yeah, eat a midnight snack … "

Yep, it’s funny how passion plays out. Why?’s new disc, Alopecia (Anticon), returns to the lost love pined over on Why?’s last album, the breaking-through-after-breaking-up Elephant Eyelash (Anticon, 2005), and settles happily into its own sense of resignation — or as Wolf puts it, "hopeful frustration" — about that girlfriend and about life. Honestly, Wolf bedazzles with bared-belly, gutsy rhymes about jerking off in museums, "blowing kisses to disinterested bitches," a childhood fear of that ShowBiz Pizza bear, "eating pussy for new fans," "sucking dick for drink tickets at my cousin’s bar mitzvah," and "using Purell till my hands bleed and swell" — and that’s just in one track ("Good Friday").

Working with Why? cohorts — brother Josiah and Doug McDiarmid — as well as Fog’s Andrew Broder, Mark Erickson, Thee More Shallows’ D. Kessler, and ex-Beulah-ite Eli Crews, Wolf has stripped off the stray mustaches he’s been hiding behind to fully expose his pungent, punchy, stream-of-consciousness rhymes. Highly specific, yes; weirdly sexy, uh-huh — right down to the CD title, named for the mysterious disorder in which hair follicles halt production.

"You don’t suffer from alopecia?" I venture.

"What are you trying to say, I’m hairy?" jokes Wolf. "I’m a monkey? I actually suffered from it for a minute — on my penis."

Nah, nah, nah, the vocalist actually had a coin-size patch of affected skin for two years: "I have a theory why mine started happening — the hand of god came down and touched me on this one spot — no, I stepped on a bottle in a river and I got some sort of infection." It lingered throughout the period that Why? wrote, recorded, and mixed the new full-length, like an uninvited sweetheart. "It was looming and ominous and weird. At first I thought it was a fucking STD," Wolf says.

Slug of Atmosphere ended up setting him straight at a show in Baton Rouge, La., Wolf continues, and in the end, the bald patch "symbolized that period of my life for me, the creation of this record. For me, it was this little patch of honest skin: honest flesh with no covering or pretenses of an attempt to cover itself up, a little patch of baby skin that was really soft. That’s what I was thinking, a return to the raw." Oh, and it’s a tad sexy: "It’s a pretty word," Wolf adds. "It sounds like a flower." *


With Dose One, Cryptacize, and DJ Odd Nosdam and DJ Jel

Thurs/6, 9 p.m., $13

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF




The Portland indie-psych outfit love them some land of the dead — and some Robotech. Thurs/6, 9 p.m., $6. Hotel Utah, 500 Fourth St., SF. www.thehotelutahsaloon.com


SF’s Crucial Blast ambassadors resurrect classic rock, post-punk, and sludge for giggles. With Old Time Relijun and Tea Elles. Thurs/6, 9:30 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Libya rocks — thanks to the Bay’s Heavenly States, who invest a whole lotta soul into their forthcoming Delayer (Rebel Group). With Citay. Fri/7, 9 p.m., $12. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com


The atonal Aussie Siltbreezers eschew bone meat, instead cutting to the ‘core with militant vegan deconstructo-noise. Opening as Tomes, Loren Chasse and Glenn Donaldson delve into the dark, dank folk flip of Thuja. With Curse of the Birthmark. Sat/8, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF.

Don’t phunk with my hope


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER You probably can’t tell, but I’m totally high. I gotta be because I can’t stop watching this Kennedy family endorsement and that Texas debate clip, this crushed-out cult of personality vid and that hip-hop remix ode. I’ve admitted I’m powerless over my addiction — that my life has become unmanageable. And I’ve come to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. That power is will.i.am — I mean, Barack Obama. Look, I know I got a problem: I can’t stop watching Black-Eyed Pea will.i.am’s celeb-studded "Yes We Can" video in praise of the Illinois senator. Frankly, I lo.a.the the Peas — "Let’s Get Retarded," yo, I didn’t think up that title — and I can’t stop wanting to repunctuate will.i.am’s gooberish stage handle, and even "Yes We Can" is a bit embarrassing.

But the tune is queued up there along with the Oprah clips, the 60 Minutes sound bites, and the "john.he.is" parody. You know Obama’s got something going on when his speechifying inspires such spontaneous music-making — and oh yeah, I’m tripping on the fact that we went to the same Honolulu prep school, and I’m drunk on the possibility of electing the first African American president, and I’m getting dizzy looking back through the media’s looking-glass lens at him, myself, and a shared past through yearbook photos of a now strikingly diverse-looking Punahou school. Sure, he complained about the school in his memoir, much like me and my friends have — at the time it seemed like a lily-white beacon of privilege on a brown island. I feel like I’m tumbling down a historically revisionist rabbit hole, seeing it as both exotic — and for presidential candidates of a certain age, class, and region, it is — and familiar. Now it looks like the culturally diverse rainbow gathering of kids that civil rights activists were fighting for. Maybe I’ll have to write a song about it.

Get on the Bus, Part Two Hope is in the air, and I’m feeling it, listening to Evil Wikkid Warrior’s John Benson talk about his recent troubles with the Bus, the 40-foot AC Transit behemoth he converted into a vegetable oil–swilling clean machine and mobile-as-a-dinosaur, all-ages, all-fun free underground music venue. Noise and party starters from here and away like Warhammer, Fucking Ocean, and Rubber O Cement have been playing down-low shows in the vehicle while it was parked on quiet, oft-industrial San Francisco and East Bay streets, but that all seemed to screech to a dead halt when, on Dec. 22, 2007, after a West Oakland show put on by a Benson cohort, the Bus was vandalized.

Bored neighborhood youth, Benson theorized, smashed all its glass windows, busted its solar panels, and threw bricks on top of it. "It was probably just a bunch of bored kids in the middle of the night. They saw this big thing, and it was like, ‘Duh, throw rock at big thing,’<0x2009>" offered Benson, who at the time was on a trip to Detroit. When he returned a few days later, the former A Minor Forest and Hale Zukas member faced compounding problems: the winter rain had flooded the exposed interior, damaging the electricity, warping the wooden floorboards, and causing the oriental rugs to molder.

Benson had planned to take the bus to Mexico to shoot a film, but that was out of the question. "The police told me that I wasn’t allowed to keep any vehicle on the street with a broken windshield and windows and they’d have to tow it," he recalled. "But then I also wasn’t allowed to drive a vehicle with a broken windshield. It was a catch-22, and with no place to keep it, the cops visited me on a daily basis." He also couldn’t find glass that would fit in the windshield, since most of the AC Transit fleet from back in the Bus’s day had been sold to Mexico, according to Benson, and it appeared that the only glass available would have to come from there — at more than $1,000 a piece.

Fortunately Benson’s friends and the noise community-of-sorts came together to support him. Guardian contributor George Chen threw a benefit that raised about $300, and word got out on the message board Spockmorgue that Benson needed money to repair the bus and a PayPal account was started on his behalf. Benson told me, "I did spend a lot of money on new solar panels and new skylights," but what kept him going were the many people "e-mailing me privately, saying ‘Keep it up, John. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.’ I just got a huge amount of support from people I don’t even know." One Boston member of the message board donated $100 simply because he said he had heard about the Bus through his friends who had performed on it and wanted to help.

An artist friend welded new metal frames to fit the vintage 1962 windshield glass that Benson discovered were the closest fit for the Bus, and after a few months of work the Bus was finally completed at the beginning of February. "It was miserable," he remembered. "We were literally working in rain under tarps, broken glass everywhere, bleeding fingers, miserable. There was a 24-hour paint job with a lot of volunteers. Someone said it was like Fitzcarraldo — there were so many times we were burned and bloody and freezing cold in rain, trying to the get floor replaced and carpet. Definitely insane."

Fortunately, work was completed in time for Benson to drive the mammoth vehicle down to Miami for the International Noise Festival, picking up pals and playing shows along the way. Later this spring he’ll head back to Florida to do more work on the Bus — it’s resting in Orlando in a friend’s backyard — and then drive it north for an East Coast tour. "In terms of love the bus is doing better than ever," Bensons said happily, while eating chicken with his 12-year-old daughter, who’s also his Evil Wikkid Warrior bandmate. "Mechanically it’s just a little wrinkled." *



Pretty! The Concretes’ Victoria Bergsman (who contributes vox on Peter Bjorn and John’s "Young Folks") takes to dreamy chamber indie, written around her love of arboreal life, with Open Field (Rough Trade, 2007). With White Hinterland. Sat/1, 9 p.m., $13–<\d>$15. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com


The Oakland rock ‘n’ roller cuddles up to classic ’60s and ’70s pop values at his CD-release show while playing drums and guitar simultaneously, somewhat like "that sad guy in the straw hat at Six Flags whose eye contact you and your punk friends made sure to avoid," according to Robinson. With the Dilettantes and the Pandas. Sun/2, 9 p.m., $10. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com


Detroit’s Animal Disguise artisto embraces a darker breed of death-beat mesmerism, alongside Manslaughter, a "stupor group" including Sixes and Noel von Harmonson. With Chinese Stars and Pod Blotz. Sun/2, 8 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


The Philly native gives a few hard hugs to a freewheeling brand of full-band electric folk on his soon-to-be-acclaimed Langhorne Slim (Kemado). With Nicole Atkins and the Sea, and the Parlor Mob. Mon/3, 8 p.m., $12–<\d>$14. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com