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Sonic Reducer

Mother of all indie?


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Is indie rock back? Did it ever go away? Is it to safe to wax naïf and twee once more? Is my shirt ill fitting yet modest? Will Converse ever go out of style? Do the Strokes suck? Wait, who are the Strokes?

Thoughts worth flexing one’s gray matter around on the verge of the indie-oriented Noise Pop music festival — though, well, the RCA-aligned Strokes ain’t indie, really. Nor can one imagine their jumpy once-new-rock appearing on the shock chart topper for the week of Jan. 27: the Juno soundtrack. The disc bounded bashfully up Billboard’s Top 200 over the course of a month till it reached the peak at a mere 65,000 copies, allegedly delivering a first-time number one to Warner Bros.–affiliated Rhino Records and inspiring many a question mark. Such as, isn’t 65,000 awfully low for the number one album in the country — surely those crack six digits?

Well, no more, apparently, in the many-niched, entertainment-rich marketplace (the sole exception: triple or quadruple threat Jack Johnson?). Sure, geeks are once again chic — as Superbad, Rocket Science, Eagle vs. Shark, and numerous other awkwardness-wracked cinematic offerings could tell you. And don’t forget, brainy indie rockers à la the Shins and Modest Mouse have been making inroads in chartland of late. Even the woman pegged by mainstream movie critics as the soundtrack’s breakout star, the Moldy Peaches’ Kimya Dawson, has been around since the turn of the century, when she was banging her bleached ‘fro against Adam Green’s tennis headband onstage at the Fillmore. Please, indie, let’s not even go into how long Cat Power, Belle and Sebastian, and Sonic Youth have been doing the do — and how canonical the Kinks, Mott the Hoople, and Velvet Underground are. Has indie — and its primary sources — simply reached an apex of popularity by virtue of low overall CD sales?

Like its music, Juno the film doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel but instead delivers the hormonal, feminine flip side of Rushmore‘s protagonist, less an antihero than a talented misfit learning from a young person’s mistakes. Pregnant with meaning, Dawson’s frail, wobbly voice — buttressed by her verbose, brainy lyrics — embodies that character and aesthetic as much as her clear inspiration, the Velvet Underground’s Moe Tucker, who sings the ever-sweet-‘n’-lowly "I’m Sticking with You" on the soundtrack.

It’s not so much that everyone is discovering indie rock: instead, perhaps the soundtrack gets much of its shine from the fact that the music is such an intrinsic part of the film’s emotional power — it’s as memorable as Juno’s rapid-fire, perhaps overly arch one-liners. Playing the film’s title tyke, Ellen Page at times sounds like a 35-year-old woman in a 16-year-old’s body. And in its no-fail, crowd-pleasing selections, the soundtrack similarly plays like a cultured 35-year-old’s music collection in teen comedy maternity garb. Now how fair is that? I’m tempted to call foul for the outclassed Hannah Montana 2 soundtrack (Walt Disney/Hollywood). *


Thurs/21, 7 p.m., call for price

924 Gilman Street Project

924 Gilman, Berk.

(510) 525-9926



Six Organs of Admittance’s new CD, Shelter from the Ash (Drag City), rocks ‘n’ drones the most — but don’t expect the project’s winter tour–besieged Ben Chasny to scrape together too many thoughts on the making of the album: his "brain is on zombie mode," he concedes during a drive to Minnesota. Yet he does let on that the lovely Shelter was the result of simply bunking down, looking around his Mission District neighborhood for musical assistance (including from Comets on Fire kin Noel Harmonson and Fucking Champs chief Tim Green, who dwell nearby), and enlisting his live-in paramour, Magik Marker frontwoman Elisa Ambrogio, and Matt Sweeney, who happened to be in town for a wedding.

Too bad the Mars Volta had to swipe Chasny’s Ouija board rock ‘n’ roll thunder with their supposedly magic-derived new LP. "I was actually designing a Ouija board to sell during this tour — there are some really beautiful ones out there," he says. "And I ended up looking up Ouija on Wikipedia and found out about the Mars Volta, and I just gave up on the whole project." Of course, there are upsides to that downer. Chasny adds, "Elisa was, like, ‘It’s turning into a Six Organs tchotchke revue.’<0x2009>"


Sat/23, 10 p.m., $12

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF


Your funny Valentines


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "It’s 60 percent embarrassing and 40 percent hot. And the hotness is derived from how embarrassing it is. Or maybe that’s just me."

Talkin’ ’bout Valentine’s Day, the big VD, that bad case of lovin’ you, with a digest-to-impress din-din and a small but meaningful token of my esteem. Specifically, Club Neon organizer Jamie Guzzi, a.k.a. DJ Jamie Jams, is speaking of Club Neon’s fourth annual Valentine’s Underwear Party.

Yep, I know you know good times sans culottes have been happening for aeons — years, even — on a, ahem, more informal basis, way before Fuse TV’s Pants-Off Dance-Off. But guarens, it’ll be way sweeter and sexier at Club Neon: the first year at the Hush Hush, in 2003, "people were pretty tentative, and there were still lurkers," Guzzi says. "When you hear about these sorts of events, it’s more of a creepier crowd. When people first hear about it, they think it’s a Power Exchange or more Burning Man kind of thing — a lot of people you don’t want to see in underwear leering at each other. But this is a more indie crowd, and the kids are all cute and twee, and everyone shows up in American Apparel underwear." At least the clothing company’s soft tease is good for something more than selling terry cloth hot pants: vive le thunderwear as social equalizer!

"When you’ve got a couple hundred people in underwear, it’s pretty hard to front," Guzzi says, explaining that the idea emerged after he got frustrated with kids dressed to the nines vibing one another. The bonus: once stripped down at Club Neon’s key soiree, Guzzi claims, "you end up realizing that a lot of your friends are way cute. It shuffles the deck in terms of who’s attractive!"

And thank St. Valentine for dynamos like Guzzi. Sour grapes, bitter pills, badasses, bummed punks, gloomy goths, and hardcore realists have long realized all holidays have become co-opted as multimillion-dollar promotional vehicles to buy more, by playing off residual guilt, goodwill, or simply that overarching existential emptiness concerning life’s perpetual gerbil wheel. But what if you decide to suspend disbelief and descend into the commercialized maelstrom, mindfully participating in the recommended shopping, wining, and dining rituals? You’re accustomed to rocking outside the system, so what to do with your bad self when you need back in? Still no reservations? I’ve got a few ideas for every subculty cutie.

Indie Rock Ian Grub: fixed with a laid-back bike ride to Bernal Heights’ MaggieMudd for Mallow Out! vegan cones. Gift: an all-show pass to the Noise Pop or Mission Creek music fest or a steamy copy of the baby-making Juno soundtrack.

Hyphy Heather Grub: grind down on maple syrup–braised short ribs at the bupscale 1300 on Fillmore. Or for old times’ sake, snatch Sunday brunch at the latest Powell’s Place in Bayview (2246 Jerrold) now that gospel star Emmitt Powell has been forced to relocate. Gift: she voted for Barack Obama, but today she’ll swoon for Mac Dre’s Pill Clinton (Thizz Ent., 2007).

Metal Sven Grub: pick up a nice red wine and some stinky cheese for a Mountain View Cemetery picnic in Oakland — pretend you’re downing the fresh blood and putrid flesh of virgins. Gift: Santa Cruz combo Decrepit Birth’s Diminishing Between Worlds (Unique Leader) inspires … birth control.

Techno Cal Grub: nibble sour plum, shiso, and flaxseed sushi and other vegan Japanese delights at Medicine New-Shojin Eatstation. Gift: avert your eyes from the Versace boutique on your way outta the Crocker Galleria minimall, and here you go, the Field’s From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt, 2007)

Country Kat Grub: fried rabbit — oh hell, we’re in former cow country, go for the porterhouse at the deliciously ’40s-western retro-authentic Hayward Ranch. Tip the blue-haired waitress well — she’s gotta have the patience of St. Val to deal with you two after your fourth Bloody Mary. Gift: seal the deal with Queen of the Coast (Bear Family, 2007), a four-CD box set of tunes by Bonnie Owens, who stole both Buck Owens’s and Merle Haggard’s hearts.

Jam Band Jessie Grub: grab your nut cream at Café Gratitude and chase each other around the table with wheatgrass shots. New game: if you don’t make me utter the goofy menu item names, I will be grateful. Gift: crash into the Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds: Live at Radio City Music Hall Blu-ray DVD (Sony, 2007).

So hurry up and give your favorite pop tot some love — or you just might find yourself without on VD.


With DJs Jamie Jams, Emdee, Little Melanie, and Aiadan

Thurs/14, 9 p.m., $5

Make-Out Room

3225 22nd St., SF



J’adore Dengue Fever’s new Venus on Earth (M80), and the band provides the perfect post-love-in aperitif with Sleepwalking Through the Mekong. The John Pirozzi documentary on the Los Angeles combo’s trip to Cambodia ended up involving more than anyone anticipated. "Every contact was, like, ‘Don’t worry about anything! Just show up! Everything will be great!’<0x2009>" tour mastermind and bassist Senon Williams explains. "We’d be, like, ‘Where are we playing?’ ‘I don’t know. Just show up!’ So we were all nervous going over there. We had all our instruments, but we needed amplifiers and PAs and a crowd to play to." Fortunately, Dengue Fever were quickly booked to appear on Cambodian Television Network, and a two-song turn mushroomed into 10 numbers and a two-hour appearance. "Instantly, we became famous across the country," Williams tells me, "because everyone watches TV there."


Fri/15, 9:30 p.m.; Sat/16, 12:30 p.m.; $10.50

Victoria Theatre

2961 16th St., SF




› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "I get to go to the ball!"

Longtime Oakland soul hopeful Ledisi isn’t spilling the beans about what designer she’ll be wearing to the Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, but on the phone from New York City, where she’s as deep into the wardrobe as the lion and the witch, she guarantees, "I’ll be cute!"

Red-carpet frocks, on-and-off awards ceremonies, and nominations for Best R&B Album for last year’s Lost and Found (Verve Forecast) and, get this, Best New Artist ("People say I’m a new artist, and I am a new artist in this mainstream world," says the woman who put out her previous two CDs on her LeSun label. "I’ve never had third-party involvement in anything!") — it’s all high drama for Ledisi Anibade Young. Nonetheless, she knows she’ll be enjoying herself to the core and even more because she’ll be exactly where she wants to be: namely, comfortable in her own skin.

"I just feel like I’ve finally come into my own, meaning I’m OK with myself," the vocalist says, bubbling like de Brignac. "I’m still hungry, but I’m not begging anymore."

As we speak, Ledisi is floating, as she puts it, in more ways than one: she’s drifting between residences in NYC, Oakland, and Washington DC and lifting higher about the national spotlight that comes with her nominations, a recognition laid on a clutch of other once and present Bay Area artists like Keyshia Cole, Machine Head, and Turtle Island Quartet and local indie label Six Degrees (for Bebel Gilberto, Ce’U, and Spanish Harlem Orchestra). Regardless of how you feel about the continuing relevance of the Recording Academy paperweights — yes, the Best Polka Album category is still in place — the thrill a nominee like Ledisi feels is catching, especially when one considers the flights of ups and downs she’s undergone over the years.

"I didn’t think I wanted the pressure of being in the front again, with all the issues of image and the style of singing and choosing a category to be in — you know, all that kind of the pressure!" she says, recalling the times she thought about giving up performing. After her debut, Soulsinger (LeSun, 1999), won near-universal praise but garnered zero coveted R&B radio attention, she left Oakland and moved to NYC because, she says, she was "tired of going around in circles." With an understudy role in Broadway’s Caroline, or Change in her change pocket, Ledisi had begun developing the stage version of The Color Purple when she signed to Verve and dropped out of the production to work on Lost and Found.

But after working for a year and a half to get her deal, "the guy who signed me," Verve president Ryan Goldstein, was suddenly laid off among many others. She finished the record, took a breath, and went back into the studio, fearing the new powers that be would require further alterations.

Meanwhile, she adds, "I was finding myself in my personal life": she ended a long relationship and met her father. Her R&B vocalist mother had already told her that her biological father was Larry Saunders, but only when Ledisi traveled to Amsterdam and mentioned his name to a DJ there did she realize others knew The Prophet of Soul, the name of Saunders’s 1976 Soul International LP. "He said, ‘We know who he is!’ and pulled out his record," Ledisi remembers. Her parents had met on tour when Saunders was a starring performer and her mother a backup singer, and when Ledisi finally met her father, "it was just like peas in a pod. I never felt so complete. Now I don’t have those things around me going, ‘Who am I?’<0x2009>"

Ledisi also discovered that her father was the love child of blues vocalist Johnny Ace, who achieved legend as an early rock ‘n’ roll casualty, allegedly shooting himself during a Russian roulette game on Christmas Day, 1954. "When I found out," she says, "I was, like, ‘No wonder we’re all singers!’<0x2009>"

"You know this record is really powerful, with all this happening during its process," she says of Lost and Found, which eventually debuted at number 10 on Billboard‘s R&B chart. "I tell you, with all the stuff that went on, it’s all worth it. Win or lose, I’m just so complete. I just want to stay in the moment — couldn’t ask for a better moment to happen."



Everything’s OK with these tenderhearted crust-country kids. With I See Hawks in LA. Wed/6, 8 p.m., $12. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com


Dead Moon rising: "Walking Wounded" vets Fred and Toody Cole keep flying that lo-fi flag. With Black Lips. Fri/8, 9 p.m., $15. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com


Motor City kiddies trade in snot-laced cacophony. With Top Ten and Wylde Youth. Sat/9, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Gimmick or gimme-gimme? Brooklyn’s David Strackany followed in the footsteps of Suzan-Lori Parks with his "Song Diary" project: 365 songs, one written and recorded each day for a year. But his next trick after that media blitz? With the Blank Tapes and Eddy Burke. Sun/10, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


NorCal’s country music giant reaches east with 2007’s The Bluegrass Sessions (McCoury/Hag) — see where it takes him. Mon/11, 8 p.m., $65. Grand at the Regency Center, 1290 Sutter, SF. www.ticketmaster.com


The very newest sounds from the Venezuelans of disco derring-do? With Si*Se and DJ Franky Boissy. Mon/11–Tues/12, 8 p.m., $22. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Slim’s slimed


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER There are eight jillion stories in the naked, nervous-Naughties city, and one of the increasingly common tales is that of the wannabe slicker who lays out that down payment for a little piece of gritty ‘n’ shitty, gorgeous ‘n’ porous, wild ‘n’ wooly San Francisco. And then supposed slick realizes, "Hey, I’m tired of stepping over panhandlers, looking for parking, and listening to car alarms, building fans, BART musicians, construction blare, and city hubbub in general." Translation: "I actually want to live in Concord, San Carlos, or Corte Madera." So the square spoiler in this happily unholy round hole of a town decides to wreck things for everyone.

That sort of inane, fish-outta-water resolve is, unfortunately, threatening Slim’s, the linchpin of the 11th Street–SoMa club scene since chart topper Boz Scaggs first opened the respected nightspot two decades ago, the site of many a memorable night of music and a venue that, legend has it, bands like Built to Spill have pledged their loyalty to because of its dedication to stellar sound. One of Slim’s neighbors tipped me off last month that the hall — which has consistently passed all sound tests conducted by the city’s Entertainment Commission — was being besieged weekly by a lone complainer living in Juniper Alley. All of this came to a head in December 2007 when the accuser ordered citizen’s arrests of two of Slim’s night managers on three occasions — after, Entertainment Commission industry representative Terrance Alan says, police refused to issue noise-violation citations of their own because they couldn’t hear any vioutf8g sound issuing from Slim’s. The arrests have led the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control to bring an enforcement action against Slim’s liquor license, which may close the club for 15 to 25 days after an April hearing.

"She has been threatening to do this for a while," Slim’s co-owner Dawn Holliday told me. The complaining neighbor and her partner have been registering noise complaints for the past two years, Holliday added, though no other neighbors have complained, and in 2000 all of the area’s condo and live-work residents signed a deed restriction making it clear that the district is a mixed-use neighborhood subject to noise, odors, and other industrial activities 24-7. Nonetheless, Holliday continued, "she calls the police on average four nights a week. The Entertainment Commission has gone into their house and done readings in the house, done readings out in front of house, and we do readings in front of their house every night with a decibel meter on the most sensitive reading you can get, and we are always compliant. It didn’t satisfy them."

One of the charges against a Slim’s manager was dismissed, but both staffers are still due to go to court for the two arrests in February and March. "I’m hoping they let these kids off," Holliday said. "I’ve gone to [San Francisco Police Department’s] Southern Station and asked them to wait for me to come over or Boz to come over and arrest us. It’s not fair that employees get arrested. We’re the two owners that live the closest, and both of us would take tickets before our employees."

Holliday is confident — after going into mediation, consulting with sound guru Charles Salter, and taking actions like installing a new insulated roof and a special four-tiered back door — that a resolution is possible. Still, the idea that one sour grape can pull down another great venue is troubling. "This is a situation where you can see how the system, which was designed to have respect for all the citizenry, can be used by this vexed complainer," Alan said. "They’ve created this history of complaints based only on their complaints. It’s going to cost Slim’s a lot of money and cost their managers a lot of sleepless nights, who want to go on and have a life. And they won’t be able to if they are found criminally liable for this. Imagine, you’re just doing your job …"

And hey, that’s another reason why so many of us come to this cow town in the first place: to work and to cozy up closer to that golden cow pumping pomegranatinis, the raucous crafters of musical ambrosia, et al. Fess up: you didn’t move to SF to feel good about driving a Prius or down Starbucks. What you can’t find regularly in Concord or Corte Madera — and what so many of us continue to crave — is that non-government-regulated minimum requirement of fun: loud, smelly, still safe, inconvenient, sprinkled with homeless parking valets, and still unlike anything you’ll get in the sticks.

For more, see Sonic Reducer Overage at www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.


Howlin Rain and Comets on Fire’s Ethan Miller has plenty of news about: HR’s superfine new LP, Magnificent Fiend, will be released March 4 on SF’s Birdman label and HR’s new imprint, Columbia Records cohoncho Rick Rubin’s American Recordings. Why jump? Miller told me he was enticed by larger studio budgets and the opportunity to be produced by Rubin, whom the frontman praised as someone who "seems to chip away at all those extraneous things and just draw out the essential fluids onto the tape.

"Those are the reasons," Miller said. "This is not the type of record deal where you get a million-dollar check and drive away in a Rolls-Royce, and you’re, like, ‘Fuck, cool, man, they bought me a Corvette, and now everyone can just go get wasted on coke and it doesn’t matter now, man!’ And then, whoa, a year later you’re kicked off the label, and you’re, like, ‘Fuck, I blew my $2 million advance now. This sucks! Now I’m a fucking nobody!’ That’s not this."


With Black Mountain

Mon/4, 8 p.m., $14


628 Divisadero, SF


Video Mutants: Booby call


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Who can bring together cast-off crocheted critters and KISS? Early ’70s Ann Arbor, Mich., art noise and the Whitney Biennial? Vampires toiling in cubicles and Sonic Youth’s 1992 album Dirty (DGC)? Mike Kelley, man, can.

Ouch — the allusions get bumpy after almost three hours of mind-altering video candy. The medium may be the favored art material of the moment, but it’s only one weapon at the disposal of the cofounder of Destroy All Monsters — the Stooges’ weirder kissing cousins — and the Dirty cover artist. Kelley’s work can be found in major museum collections around the world, and he’s collaborated on video pieces with artists like Paul McCarthy in the past, but Day Is Done, which screens Jan. 31 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is his first feature, revamped as a narrative-ish stream from the installation version shown in 2005 at Gagosian Gallery in New York City.

Religious icons, ’80s modern dancers, lousy Nazi rappers, bad comedians, and spacey witches and vampires dance, sing, and hold forth throughout the video musical’s 32 chapters, augmented by a Kelley-written soundtrack that encompasses gospel and techno, light pop and monkish drone. Say I’m lost in pop idolatry, but the most wonderfully bizarre moment in this lengthy bizarre wonder arrives during a painful singles mixer furnished with irksome chair-desks as the differences among the assembled women — two African Americans, a white lost Hee Haw extra, a rocker in full KISS makeup, and a gloomy witch — are highlighted by portraits of their respective all-American idols: Kobe Bryant, R. Kelly, Garth Brooks, Gene Simmons, and Brandon Lee, all painted with clunky, thrift store–style passion. After getting an, erm, tongue lashing from the KISS girl for nattering about the largeness of some big stuffed bananas, the hick chick is forced to defend her painting of Brooks staring at a bare breast (in reality painted by Kelley). "But it ain’t even my tit — it’s my momma’s," the backwoods boob protests as the KISS fan sneers with all of Detroit Rock City’s blood-spitting wrath. "Gosh, I hope Garth don’t go for my momma and not for me!"

The rejoinder "That bitch is nuts!" might be a punch line to a half-cocked sitcom, but it’s also the perfect response to the old biddy dressing down a would-be school pageant Madonna for her posture or the blood-drenched hawker of a putf8um MasterCard that supports the "educational complex" — or any other denizen of Kelley’s jet-black-humored, bleakly antic fun house.

Looking back at the video now, however, Kelley can still picture changes to Day Is Done — each chapter a live-action re-creation of an extracurricular activity photo culled from a high school yearbook. For instance, the many students and office workers dressed as depressed vampires and gleeful witches seem a bit too trendy today, even for a man with a taste for monsters. "If I thought about it more, I would have done something less … au courant, I guess," Kelley drawls over the phone from his Los Angeles home. Does he still glimpse kids in full goth regalia? A heavy sigh, then, "Yeah. Also, it’s kind of gone into the art world. A lot of gothy art is being made."

A self-described "maximalist" who has made noise for years as part of Destroy All Monsters — a forerunner of experimentalists here and abroad — and later on his own, the man once pegged as a major proponent of installation-oriented "clusterfuck aesthetics" is clearly driven to strike out in fresh directions all the time. Day Is Done, for example, emerged from his work with repressed memories and his Educational Complex sculpture, a model of every school the Detroit native ever attended, with, he says, "all the parts I couldn’t remember left blank." The original idea for the video — shot over a few weeks in 2005 at an LA park, Kelley’s studio, and his alma mater, California Institute of the Arts — was to "fill in the blanks with screen memory."

"Also because this show was in New York, I thought doing something with a Broadway overtone would be funny because that’s something cultured New Yorkers are embarrassed about!" Kelley says, laughing.

Kelley is obviously still eager to venture into unexamined office parks of discomfort, provoking his viewers by pushing them into the dead spaces that fill the back lots of corporate break rooms and school yards. The artist’s well-known stuffed-animal works similarly evolved from an unspoken exchange with his audience. "When I first starting using that stuff, I was only working with things that were handmade, and it didn’t matter to me what they were — I was more interested in the idea of love and labor," Kelley explains. "But people were really, really fixated on the dolls, and I realized there’s a great kind of empathy for them, and also I realized that much of that empathy had to do with this kind of rise and fixation on child abuse and that whole victim culture that was coming up in the ’80s."

Shortly after one of those discarded dolls popped up on the cover of Dirty, Kelley, bandmate Cary Loren, SY’s Thurston Moore, and critic Byron Coley put together the 1994 three-CD retrospective Destroy All Monsters: 1974–1976 for Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! label to document the original lineup’s work before the arrival of the Stooges’ Ron Asheton and the MC5’s Michael Davis in the band. The founding group re-formed, while Kelley has continued to work sound components into his artwork and make and release music on his Compound Annex imprint.

Has music video ever been part of Kelley’s Wagnerian compendium of interests? "I’ve never been asked!" he says. "I don’t think I would do one for myself — who would show it? It’ll just be another thing that sits in a box in storage, like all my records." Still, his freshly edited feature might work. "It generated a tremendous amount of music," the artist muses. "In a sense, Day Is Done is one giant music video." *


Jan. 31, 7:30 p.m., $6–<\d>$8

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF



Pop op


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "Omigod, I totally love that." A doll-faced, teenage dead ringer for Zooey Deschanel gawks dreamily at a dabbed dwarf cactus drifting off the edge of a cream-colored sheet of paper — jaw a-dangling, china blue eyes a-gobbling. It’s not often you catch a snatch of pure rock ‘n’ roll idol worship amid the pristine white walls of a museum space, yet here it was, flowering quietly in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art room that hosts the shifting collection of Paul Klee prints gathered and loaned by San Francisco’s father of the pill, Carl Djerassi. These days the Klee pieces are sharing space with the whimsy-washed ink, watercolor, and graphite works by San Francisco Art Institute graduate and international psych-folk rock emissary (and Guardian copydesk swear-jar star) Devendra Banhart, who performs at the museum Jan. 17 in celebration of "Abstract Rhythms: Paul Klee and Devendra Banhart."

The small show opened quietly, but judging from the cool kids reverently orbiting the pieces, word is slowly leaking out about this charming clutch of images, which displays both opera lover Klee’s most music-inspired, antic pieces — is that the musical fruit of a bean burrito or bassoon emerging from a posterior in Der Fagottist (The bassoonist)? — and Banhart’s sweetly humorous paper pieces depicting a fictitious fan called Smokey, who’s also the center of his recent, somewhat decentered LP, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (XL). Banhart is clearly a man of many gifts: here, Flowering Corn Maiden Smokey and Banded King Snake and Thunder Maiden show off a playful yet refined eye and an overflowing though focused imagination with a transfigurative bent that conjures Giuseppe "Fruit Face" Arcimboldo.

While the word show is increasingly, happily confused in both its musical and visual art contexts — and the term pop becomes more relevant in the art world than in the shiny plastic disc marketplace — the exhibit arrives as yet another instance of the healthy, ever-bubbling and brewing cross-pollination going on between the two types of media since the turn of the century. That highly consensual crossover fever dream is evident at art openings throughout the Bay every first Thursday, and it’s heartening to know that just as music becomes a harder proposition to tackle commercially and art has become a bigger business, musicians are finding their way toward new audiences and artists are coursing toward pop. And while spaces like 21 Grand and LoBot Gallery weather their share of hassles, newbs like the month-old Fort Gallery are throwing open their doors undeterred. The last, a Mission District space, is currently showing collage and sculpture by Ryan Coffey by appointment only — "Until we quit our day jobs," co-owner Jesi Khadivi says with a laugh — but Khadivi and cohort Vanessa Maida promise a mix of art, barbecue, live music, and special soirees like the Jan. 16 movie night that will juxtapose Ranu Mukherjee’s Sustenance short with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s tripindicular The Holy Mountain (1973).

The blend of high art and lowdown sounds isn’t new, ace genre bender Chris Duncan asserts: music-art hybridization "has always been around on different levels, but I think most people who make art also make music, or are very much influenced by music. As far as different mediums and different ways of doing things, the lines are so blurred at this point. For me, I like to keep busy, and I like getting a lot of people involved in stuff. I can get lost in my studio for a long time, and it gets kinda lonesome."

This may explain why Duncan — whose visual art career has been far from dormant, considering his fall solo show at Gregory Lind Gallery — has been dipping his toes into other creative wellsprings: on Jan. 18 he’ll celebrate the first release of SF twosome Pale Hoarse’s The Gospels on his new label, the Time Between the Beginning and the End. Call it a handmade labor of love: Duncan stitched and silk-screened about 100 multihued covers for the limited-edition record. Each one — available at Aquarius Records and via Duncan’s Hot and Cold Web site — promises to shimmer with different tones beneath the pink fluorescent-ink silk screen.

It’s the first record the Oakland artist has made, though he once designed a cover for a Jade Tree split with Songs: Ohia and My Morning Jacket, as well as for Battleship’s Presents Princess (Ononswitch, 2005). "There’s a total Sub Pop Singles Club influence, for sure. Music has always been part of my whole trip, and record collecting was such a big part of my growing up," says Duncan, whose also recently edited his first book, My First Time: A Collection of First Punk Show Stories (AK Press), a project that mushroomed from a slim zine, and he’s embarking on the next issue of the wonderful art zine he assembles with Griffin McPartland, Hot and Cold. (The next issue sounds like a doozy and will include contributions from Colter Jacobsen, Chris Corales, and Hisham Bharoocha and a CD by Golden Bears, a new project from the Quails’ Julianna Bright and Seth Lorinczi.) "Making a record fulfilled the need to hand-make stuff," Duncan continues. "A lot of projects I do outside painting are about gathering and collecting things, doing records, zine assembling. Now I’m inspired to put out a record every year." *


With Sustenance and The Holy Mountain

Wed/16, 8:30 p.m., $5 donation

Fort Gallery

83B Wiese, SF



Thurs/17, 8 p.m., $15–<\d>$20

Phyllis Wattis Theater, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third St., SF



With Raven and Hannah, visuals by Chris Duncan, and shorts

Fri/18, 8 p.m., $6

Artists’ Television Access

992 Valencia, SF


For more, see Sonic Reducer Overage at www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.

Rain on me


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER How can two goods get mashed so bad? How can an act of generosity get so twisted? What sort of storm hath Radiohead wrought? And in an age of easy digital reproduction and reappropriation, a mashup era, what kind of rights do listeners have regarding music disseminated, seemingly so freely, online — namely, the United Kingdom band’s In Rainbows album? Why can’t hip-hop and indie rock values segue together as gracefully, as artfully, as Oakland DJ-producer Amplive’s trip-hop–tinged remix of "Nude," a suturing together of his group Zion I’s "Don’t Lose Ya Head" and Radiohead’s ethereal hum, with classic Yay touches of Too $hort?

This fall Radiohead released their In Rainbows as a pay-what-you-will download, allowing listeners to grab the sounds for free if they chose and inspiring Amplive to remix their music as a measure of his admiration. The gesture conjures Dangermouse’s hybrid hijack of Jay-Z’s The Black Album (Roc-A-Fella, 2003) and the Beatles’ The Beatles (Apple, 1968), otherwise known as "The White Album," for his Grey Album (2004), though Amplive went as far as to get contributions from Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Jurassic 5’s Chali2na.

"I just did it to do it, and I love the In Rainbows album — it was just tight!" Amplive told me on the phone this week from the East Bay. "And especially in this age, with remix culture, a lot of people do them. I just did the same. I just wanted to do a hip-hop version of their stuff, and I guess I underestimated what would happened. It just took off."

Word spread, and listeners urged Amplive to remix the entire In Rainbows, a project he dubbed Rainydayz Remixes. As news arrived of the producer’s plans to give away the remix album free of charge online on Jan. 10 to those who had already downloaded In Rainbows or supported a Radiohead-favored charity, Friends of the Earth, the forces that be — i.e., Radiohead publisher Warner/Chappell — moved to put a stop to the fun and games, tribute or no tribute. Amplive had received 3,000 orders when, a few weeks ago, he was sent a cease and desist letter stating that he needed to get approval "before making arrangements of other writers’ work, especially if you have plans to commercially exploit the arrangements/remixes or make them publically available."

Preferring not to get into a legal battle royal and instead appealing to Radiohead online via a video posted on his MySpace page, Amplive decided to put the project on hold. Meanwhile Gigwise.com spoke to Radiohead’s manager Bryce Edge on Jan. 7; he claimed the issue was the use of an image of Thom Yorke to promote Rainydayz Remixes, which implied the Radiohead frontman was involved in the project, and that management had a problem with fans being asked to forward their In Rainbows purchase e-mail in order to receive a free remix LP, which he described as "a bit naughty!" "To be honest, I’m not sure the band have even heard [the remixes]," Edge continued, adding they will meet Jan. 8 to discuss the matter.

Perhaps Edge and company need to take a cue from "Don’t Lose Ya Head"<0x2009>‘s verses. Amplive told me he hadn’t used Radiohead images to promote Rainydayz and instead pointed to music blogs like Hood Internet, which regularly splices together photos of mashed artists. One wonders if Radiohead’s suits have scoped out the other mashups on that specific site (Eve and Thom together at last!) and whether they’re aware of how hypocritical the group appears in putting the kibosh on free remixes — from which Amplive stands to gain nothing apart from praise for his production skills — for what appeared to be a free recording. There’s little talk these days about the other Black Album remixes spawned by the tracks Jay-Z freely released: maybe those reworks failed to capture critics’ imaginations. Amplive’s remixes have caught listeners’ ears, making him the beneficiary, and victim, of too much positive press.

After being hailed as both visionary and realistic in their release of In Rainbows, Radiohead stand only to get a public relations black eye from this entire affair, and perhaps Amplive — who is working on Zion I’s new CD — simply made the mistake of doing deft work and getting more attention for it, from The New York Times among others, than some kid chopping beats on his PC in Pinole. "I just hope Radiohead listens to [the Rainydayz Remixes] and thinks, ‘This is pretty tight. As long as it’s free, let ’em do it,’<0x2009>" the humble Amplive said. "I definitely didn’t want to disrespect their management and infrastructure. I did it totally out of support and love for the group and the music. And it could give them a different kind of exposure — not that they need any help!" *


Sat/12, 9 p.m., $20–<\d>$22


628 Divisadero, SF



Mary Van Note has it made: in addition to hosting two nights of the San Francisco Sketchfest at the Hemlock Tavern, the local comedian and mistress of the monthly "Comedy, Darling" show at Edinburgh Castle (the next is Feb. 6) was recently tapped to make shorts for the Independent Film Channel, thanks to her online videos. Too bad the Gav had to ruin everything. "The videos were going to be about me getting a date with Gavin Newsom, and just the other day I saw he’s getting married," Van Note says. "Now it’s going to be about me breaking up his marriage."

Tues/15 and Jan. 22, 8:30 p.m., $10. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk St., SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


The San Agustin guitarist, onetime Thurston Moore collaborator, and Douglas McCombs cohort works a vein of electronic and acoustic composition and improvisation. With Tom Carter, Donovan Quinn, and Barn Owl. Wed/9, 9:30 p.m., $12. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com


Thrash like those eardrums never quite stopped bleeding. With Skin like Iron and Grace Alley. Sat/12, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


The Kill Rock Stars starlet hopes to make music more than a hobby once she graduates from college. With Ray’s Vast Basement and the Dry Spells. Sat/12, 9:30 p.m., $10. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com


The Cat Power–like Bay Area vocalist waxed hauntingly on her recent Dark Undercoat (Double Negative). With the Complications and Mylo Jenkins. Sun/13, 8 p.m., $6. Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St., SF. www.makeoutroom.com


The many moods of the beat poetess shift with each performance of this intimate, monthlong residency. Tues/15, Jan. 22 and 29, and Feb. 5, 8:30 p.m., $25–<\d>$30. Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. www.cafedunord.com



› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Does post-postirony still really translate as … irony? Or does any freaking thing matter at all, because the smirking, snarky ’80s are so very back that we’re backpedaling madly in our kooky plastic-and-who-really-cares-about-that-legendary-flotilla-of-plastic-in-the-Pacific-Ocean kiddie pool with what-the-hell carelessness, basking in apathy and gloss? Does that mean we’re ready to embrace our inner bigot? The jerkiest, knee-jerk reactionary responses from back in Grandpappy’s day, namely the Ronald Reagan era? Can our dingiest backward notions give us edge cred, convince us that we’re getting down as hard as those bad boys and girls of Vice et al., and provide fodder for schoolyard taunts, barroom brawls, dirty limericks, and — sweet — even songs? Aw, you’re so cute when you’re smug as a bug.

It’s hard to know what to think or feel or which cheek to plunge one’s tongue into while listening to Katy Perry’s "UR So Gay," off her self-titled digital EP and 12-inch (Capitol). Amazement or repulsion? Gay bashing in song can get as overt and stomach turning as Jamaica’s so-called murder music: see Buju Banton’s entreaties, on "Boom Bye Bye," to shoot gay men in the head and burn them alive. But it’s hard to parse the goofy novelty of "UR So Gay": it rides the new wave deca-dance rail between mild offense — for metrosexuals, gay straight men, gay men who want to own the word gay, and folks in favor of good music — and milky outrage. Has there been such a borderline-bashing Cali pop case since Josie Cotton’s 1980 "Johnny Are You Queer"? The Rizzo look-alike spun ’50s girl group tearjerker motifs — from the True Romance–style single cover art to her nyah-nyah-wah-wah plaintive bad-girl character’s delivery. "Why are you so weird, boy? / Johnny, are you queer boy? / When I make a play / You’re pushing me away," Cotton pouts. Oh, the perils of falling for someone who doesn’t flog for you — and never will. The conflicted "Johnny" hinged on tweaking the highly codified conventions of ’60s pop and doing the dirty by speaking the unspoken, even as an undercurrent of rage from a straight woman scorned surged beneath the number’s carefree contours.

In contrast, the blogged ‘n’ buzzed "UR So Gay" — riding on word of mouth for the woman who told me, "My mouth never shuts up, unfortunately" — references pop history, filtered somewhat through the ’80s, in Perry’s Cyndi Lauper–esque prom-queen styling. Apart from displaying a thick vein of social conservatism that disapproves of a metrosexual muddying of waters, songwriter Perry purveys all-’90s pop, swamped with an over-the-top arrangement, as the track’s heroine slags her ex: "I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf / While jacking off listening to Mozart / You bitch and moan about LA / Wishing you were in the rain reading Hemingway / You don’t eat meat / And drive electric cars / You’re so indie rock it’s almost an art / You need SPF 45 just to stay alive. You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys…. I can’t believe I fell in love with someone that wears more makeup than …"

Perry’s litany of insults, backed by a loping, going-nowhere beat, isn’t stereotypically gay — doit, what self-respecting stylish homosexual swain would get stuck on Mozart, Hemingway, and H&M? If anything, the list reveals the general throwaway nature of the tune and the cluelessness of the singer. Nonetheless, the "you’re so gay" chorus rankles, ever so softly, ever so wispily homophobically, in the way it detaches gayness from sexuality and attaches it firmly to notions of pretension, aloofness, and inaccessibility — under the guise of harmless good fun and quasi truth telling. It’s dumb and juvenile, and it makes straight women who watch their homophobia emerge when they lash out at men look bad. And much like Howard Stern and his ilk’s supposedly playful trash talking, that doesn’t mean it’s not hateful.

Of course, that’s not how Perry, a 23-year-old Santa Barbara native and star of Gym Class Heroes’ "Cupid’s Chokehold" video, whose music has appeared on MTV’s The Hills and Oxygen’s Fight Girls, sees it. The song, she said in a phone interview, is "provocative, and my mouth is a loose cannon. I speak my mind. I get into trouble." She sees herself in line with Lauper, Joan Jett, and "girls who aren’t afraid to take chances" — though you can’t ever imagine Lauper or Jett warbling "UR So Gay"<0x2009>‘s lines.

Perry wrote the song, she said, after "I was finally dumped by my ex shortly after a breakup that lasted twice as long as the relationship — you know how that goes." Stymied for a chorus, she said, she just blurted in frustration, "Oh, he’s so gay!" and at the urging of her roommate she made that the hook. "If you listen to the song, it’s not associated with sexuality," Perry said. "It’s about guys who use flatirons and gayliner. The general feeling when I play that song is that everyone’s laughing and singing along, and I’ve had girls come up to me and say, ‘I’ve had that boyfriend — thank you, homegirl, for writing that song!’ The positivity of the song means it’s not a negative thing."

It’s all positivity when you’re not gay, of course, and Perry isn’t suffering negatively on any level: this spring the song will usher in a full-length, which the songwriter worked on with Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, No Doubt), Dave Stewart (the Eurythmics), and Dr. Luke (Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne), among others. "Having a record release is a phenomenon these days because the music industry is a crumbling Babylon," Perry explained. Whatever it takes to rise above The Hills.

There will be blood


› Kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Bay Area, puh-leeze: can you get up, pull your shirt back over your treasured chest, trot your bad ‘elf over to the bar, and fetch me another New Year’s Eve teeny pomegranatini? I like them wet and wild and deliciously unsettling, like an extrabratty, ultraseasonal, El Nino–style holiday storm, or like the $1.99 drugstore silver glitter paint I dab on Bay-bee’s claws. And while you’re on your hind legs, kick those ugly Xmas sweaters to the curb along with those faded concert memories of souped-up Daft Punk, daffy Hannah Montana, and residencies by everyone from the Smashing Pumpkins to Morrissey. That heat rash from Coachella has healed nicely, so prepare to hoof with me over those white-watery storm drains toward this year’s choice musical New Year’s Eve entertainments. Yes, Mr. Area, you have to keep your pants on — though you’re allowed to doff the hoodie for the hangover-slung, hard-nippled, underwear-only touch-football game in honor of the first day of ’08. In the meantime, read it and reap.


Blowing up your punkoid politico consciousness for more years — and fixed gears — than we can count, This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb explode with post–Buy Nothing Day charm alongside zany Sacto melodikins Bananas at the Hemlock Tavern (www.hemlocktavern.com). Fruit rules! Shades of Josie Cotton: singer-songwriter starlet Katy Perry debuts her "Ur So Gay" laters to an ex in San Francisco at Live 105’s bash at Mezzanine (www.mezzaninesf.com), with Capitol Records kin Blaqk Audio, ever-popular popsters Moving Units, and a Junior Boys DJ set. The mind-blowing antics continue — lovin’ you big time and a long time — as the Mars Volta bust out the electrified and acoustic jams during a seven-hour splashdown at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (www.livenation.com). Betcha those guys never, never sleep alone. The Eternals, DJ sets by Peanut Butter Wolf and Nobody, and an old-school light show are a few of the big eve’s diversions. Also kicking out the post-punk heavy rawk weather is Alternative Tentacles’ newest Bay band, Triclops!, matching ecstatic earache bouts with the Melvins and wailin’ faves Comets on Fire at Slim’s (www.slims-sf.com). Raising consciousness in bigger rooms for longer than the Internet: Cake take it and bake it at the Warfield (www.livenation.com) alongside the Lovemakers’ dark delights.

BA needs some hair on his pretty pecs, so we’ll ask Old Grandad to put the grizzle in the shizzle and the metal in our muddle at the revived and reopened Bender’s Bar and Grill (www.bendersbar.com). Yet all that hair just won’t do for spunky Scissors for Lefty, who spit-shine and cuten up well-scruffed indie rock at Bottom of the Hill (www.bottomofthehill.com). It’s all about the brothel creepers and rockabilly jeepsters at Big Sandy and His Fly Rite Boys’ showdown at Bimbo’s 365 Club (www.bimbos365club.com) and then the debauched hard rock horseplay at Drunk Horse’s rendezvous at the Stork Club (www.storkcluboakland.com). Got a case of the Jam-a-lamas? Les Claypool’s third annual NYE Hatters Ball Extravaganza can take care of that for you at the Fillmore (www.livenation.com), as can ALO, Animal Liberation Orchestra (www.theindependentsf.com), applying a suave, boogie-based touch. Expect the dudes in untucked striped shirts in force.

Cover me, kid, when Fat Wreck Chords supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes put the punk rock spin on the AM-FM radio dial at Thee Parkside (www.theeparkside.com), whereas Wonderbread 5 yuk it up with oldies at Red Devil Lounge (www.reddevillounge.com). And for the real thing — sorta — old-schooly hardcores with refreshed Germs burns might want to catch the Germs and the Adolescents at the Uptown in Oakland (www.uptownnightclub.com). Still got hair in dire need of a band? Well, if you missed Y&T last NYE at the Avalon in Santa Clara (www.nightclubavalon.com), you can make up for lost time — if not lost locks — with the SF retro metalists and ex–Rainbow howler Graham Bonnet’s Alcatrazz. No escape from the rock, indeedy-do.


Massive is as massive does: True Skool, Dee Cee’s Soul Shakedown, and Daddy Rollo dreamed up a doozy with "Champions of the Arena 3: Clash of the Titans" downtown at Club Six, though there’s no CGI on dancehall star Shinehead or the Bay’s hip-hop ensemble Crown City Rockers. Expect everything from electro to reggaetón, hip-hop to breaks from DJs like Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist, Apollo, and DJ Sake 1. Uptown, those nice men in Crystal Method make you believe it’s the tweekend once again at Ruby Sky (www.rubyskye.com), lording over — say, what? — Trapezeworld (if the opening night of Kooza was any indicator, this could also be Almost-Slipped-and-Fell-to-the-Death World). School’s out, but Berkeley’s Lyrics Born is in at the Shattuck Down Low (www.shattuckdownlow.com). San Franthizzgo’s electronic new-schoolers Futuristic Prince, Lazer Sword, and Ghosts on Tape gather at Hotel Utah (thehotelutahsaloon.com). Brazilian Girls and Kinky strut sexed-up beats at "Sea of Dreams: Metamorphoseas" at the Concourse Exhibition Center (www.seaofdreamsnye.com). On the bluesier side of the street, expect award-snagging son of a big gun John Lee Hooker Jr. to turn up the temp at Biscuits and Blues (www.biscuitsandblues.com). Creole codgers the Radiators sonically spice BA’s Brut at Cafe du Nord (www.cafedunord), while Topaz cooks up a soul-funk-blues goulash at the Boom Boom Room (www.boomboomblues.com). And throw those jazz hands in the air at the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, ringing it in at Yoshi’s in Oakland, or at local soul songbird Ledisi’s stand with the Count Basie Orchestra at Yoshi’s SF (www.yoshis.com).

So there you have it — don’t Tase me, bro Area — a brief menu of all the flavas of NYE love, with plenty of ear and eye candy for the senses, lots of places to watch the ball drop, and oodles of alleys to toss ye olde cookies in. What more can you want, Bayz? A "decadent breakfast buffet" to go with your $50-plus cover? Just remember, you can stand under my umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh. Under my umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh … [Fade from consciousness] *

Band together for 21 Grand


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER "Fuck New York. I can stick it out longer. I’ve got a masochistic streak!"

Cue divine, mad laughter. No, this isn’t a disgruntled renter pushed out by another owner move-in or a painter or sculptor resisting the draw of the trad national marketplace — the speaker is Sarah Lockhart, who runs 21 Grand, the jeopardized arts nonprofit and music space around the corner from the Mama Buzz Café, Johansson Projects, and other galleries participating in the insanely popular monthly Art Murmur walk set in what has become the grassroots-art epicenter of Oakland and the East Bay at large.

Going on seven and a half years downtown, Lockhart has been toiling in the trenches of ambitious music and arts programming longer than most. But in the past few weeks she and partner Darren Jenkins have had to close the doors and move shows after a troubling visit by the Alcohol Beverage Action Team, a unit of the Oakland Police Department that also ushered in the closure of underground music venues like the French Fry Factory and Oaklandish. "My thing is to work on this and fight it," the ever-feisty Lockhart continues. "We’re actually going to stay open and maybe provide inspiration for others. I want to have at least 10 years, because Tonic in New York City closed — they lasted nine years — but we’re still here." She chuckles, contemputf8g her tenacity and the vaunted East Coast experimental music club, which closed in April. "I get competitive about weird things! No money, lots of work — let’s see how long it takes before I totally burn out. This is our form of an endurance test."

Consider their current gauntlet the latest in the uncanny, imaginative struggle to provide a place for visual artists, film and video makers, poets, and, notably, musicians — working in every esoteric, noisy, experimental, rockish, improvy, and otherwise unclassifiable stripe — to show, speak, or sound out. Some of the best live music shows I caught in 2007 were at their space: Marnie Stern, the Gowns, the High Places, Lucky Dragons, and Breezy Days Band, which made the programming there the best in Oakland, if not in the running for tops in the Bay. Lockhart and Jenkins have survived nightmare landlords and condo push-outs — first at 21 Grand Avenue, then on 23rd Street — but this new challenge has to be their most frustratingly Kafkaesque.

On Dec. 1, ABAT officials were looking into Shashamane Bar and Grill, whose kitchen door shares the alley entrance with 21 Grand. The latter was closing for the night after a performance. Recycling buckets with empty beer bottles, a tip jar, and a cooler led one of the visitors to give Lockhart a card, saying, she recalls, "We don’t want you to have any problems in the future." Lockhart was alarmed enough to put a halt to most of December’s shows, explaining, "I’m 33 years old. I feel like I’m too old to risk horrible fines from the department and have to call my mother and say, ‘I have a fine for $10,000 — can you lend me money?’ That’s how things began, and then the ball started rolling and things started escautf8g."

It wasn’t enough for Lockhart to simply apply for a cabaret license; she had to navigate a bureaucratic maze of Byzantine proportions while she attempted to get special-event permits from the police in order to continue to put on a few larger shows by artists like Zeena Parkins and Eugene Chadbourne, which led to efforts to get approval from the fire and building departments. "For all they know, we’re a large firetrap that has raves for 4,000 people, so they weren’t signing off on anything," says the exasperated Lockhart, who recently put in 40 to 70 hours of footwork on paperwork and approvals. The nonprofit has been organizing shows for years using grants from the city, but 21 Grand’s hard-to-define, multidisciplinary programming has puzzled bureaucrats.

Still, the onetime Artists’ Television Access programmer is hoping that the few helpful city officials she’s encountered, who are familiar with the closure of spaces like Oakland Metro, can help the nonprofit. Lockhart wants to resume shows next month beginning with a Tom Carter and David Daniell performance Jan. 10, and in the meantime she’s trying to maintain a sense of humor: "the irony is not lost" on her that their recent fundraiser had to be moved to someone’s home and that new legislation allowing the Fox Theatre to be redeveloped as a live-entertainment venue within 300 feet of a school, library, or church might help 21 Grand, which has had its share of developer travails, to get a cabaret permit for their present spot near a Presbyterian church.

Going the private-club route like the 924 Gilman Street Project or heading underground isn’t an option. "Our goal is to have 21 Grand actually have a public presence," Lockhart says. "I want to do something that’s advertised and open to the public so a kid in bumfuck nowhere can see something about it and say, ‘This is cool. I’ll go to this.’ " *



The onetime Bay Area soul-funk-blues cult legend rolls into town — though not in his mythical ivory Rolls. With Nino Moschella and Wallpaper. Wed/19, 8 p.m., $10. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. www.rickshawstop.com


Welcome back the ex-Bay guitar-picking virtuoso as he plays with keyboarist Erik Deutsch and drummer Scott Amendola, and sit back and marvel alongside an audience of hotshots like Kirk Hammett. Wed/19–Sat/22, 8 and 10 p.m.; Sun/23, 7 and 9 p.m.; $16–$24. Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakl. www.yoshis.com


The proudly hippie group reassembles — surf or no surf — for butt-shaking holiday sets. Fri/21–Sat/22, 9 p.m., $20. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com


Take a hit off the bongos of this local experimento-psych combo. With Top Critters and NVH. Sat/22, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Turn up the volume


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER I read the news the other day, oh boy, and the dimming days of early winter appear to have gotten darker: the Xmas lights have begun to twinkle down my street, above the Red Poppy House, but they can’t draw attention away from the little shrine of bedraggled plastic balloons and dampened candles around the corner dedicated to 21-year-old Erick Balderas, who was shot to death at Treat Avenue and 23rd Street on Nov. 18. I hobbled home from No Country for Old Men and a lychee-infused cocktail just a few hours before he was slain only a block away, but I failed to hear the gunshots. Thinking about his death and that of 18-year-old Michael Price Jr., shot near the Metreon box office by, allegedly, another teenager, one wonders why nightlife has grown so deadly for the kids who can really use some fun.

Reading is a safe substitute. When going out seems to be getting more hazardous, who can blame a culture vulture for wanting to stay in and nest with a good book and a CD, preferably the two combined in one? Those in the market for juicy boomer-rock dirt will likely dig this year’s Clapton: The Autobiography (Broadway), ex Pattie Boyd’s Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me (Harmony), and Ron Wood’s Ronnie: The Autobiography (St. Martin’s) — survivor’s tales all. But perhaps this is also the moment to revisit a musician who perished as violently and mysteriously as autumn’s lost boys: Elliott Smith. Photographer Autumn de Wilde manages to skate between the coffee table and the fanzine rack with a handsome tome of photos, many snapped around the time of Smith’s Figure 8 (DreamWorks, 2000).

Figure 8 was a divisive recording, alienating early lo-fi lovers and seemingly reaching out to the "Miss Misery" masses, and Smith looked self-consciously awkward slouching in front of the music store swirl that turned into a shrine after his death. Talking to friends, exes, family, managers, and producers who haven’t gone on the record since Smith’s death, de Wilde gathers snatches of intriguing info — for instance, it was engineer ex-girlfriend Joanna Bolme who gave Smith the sorry bowl haircut that de Wilde documents — and thoughts on the art of capturing spirits like Smith on the fly. Centering Elliott Smith (Chronicle) on images from her "Son of Sam" video, a poignant reworking of The Red Balloon, she finds the innocence that made Smith’s songs — and their anger over quashed hope — possible amid the listener cynicism and the songwriter’s lyrical bitterness. The kicker: an accompanying five-song CD of live acoustic solo Smith tracks, culled from 1997 appearances at Los Angeles’ Largo, including a sweetly screwed-up rendition of Hank Williams’s "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down."

Another volume to really turn down the covers with is Wax Poetics Anthology, Volume 1 (Wax Poetics/Puma), a mixologist’s spin cycle of stories from the great mag. Editor Andre Torres taps interviews with golden era hip-hop knob twirlers Prince Paul, the RZA, and Da Beatminerz, as well as pieces on James Brown’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield, reggae producers King Tubby and Clive Chin, salsa giant Fania Records, Henry Chalfant of Style Wars, and much more than you can down in one chill evening. Extensive discographies aside, the only thing that’s lacking here is a soundtrack.

Not so with the much slimmer but no less passionate new issue of Ptolemaic Terrascope zine, once financed by the Bevis Frond. Mushroom drummer and Runt–Water Records consultant Pat Thomas has assumed the editorship. Apparently after 15 years and 35 issues, previous head Phil McMullen was "burned out, for lack of a better word," Thomas told me from his Oakland home, where he was happy to get away from a take-home exam on menstrual cycles. The new editor is even on the cover, looking appropriately put-upon; it’s the Alyssa Anderson photo shot in the Haight that was adapted for Devendra Banhart’s Cripple Crow (XL). Banhart is so ubiquitous these days that some Guardian staffers are tempted to start a swear jar to gather quarters every time his name is invoked. But he’s a natural cover star, also doing a jukebox jury piece with Thomas and Vetiver’s Andy Cabic within Terrascope.

United Kingdom folk luminaries like Shirley Collins and Davey Graham crop up in interviews and on the zine’s CD, which teems with wonderful unreleased tracks by the Velvet Underground’s Doug Yule, Willow Willow, Six Organs of Admittance, Ruthann Friedman, and Kendra Smith, among others, all playing off the issue’s Anglo-folk orientation, though pieces on Elaine Brown and the Black Panther Party parallel Thomas’s ongoing work assembling a box set for Water on the Panthers’ music and spoken word. The editor already has interviews with Wizz Jones and Ian Matthews ready for the next issue, but he’s tempted to put the zine on hold while he assembles a guidebook to black power music, foreshadowing new turns in Terrascope. "The magazine was always, for lack of a better word, very white," Thomas quips. "I want to blacken it up a little bit." 2

For more picks, see Sonic Reducer Overage at www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.


<\!s>The Kinks: All Day and All of the Night: Day by Day Concerts, Recordings, and Broadcasts, 1964–1997, by Doug Hinman and the Kinks (Backbeat, 2004)

<\!s>The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, by Michael Weldon (Ballantine, 1983)

<\!s>Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the Who, by Andy Neill (Virgin, 2005)

<\!s>Hollywood Rock, by Marshall Crenshaw (HarperCollins, 1994)

<\!s>The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, eighth edition, by Joel Whitburn (Billboard, 2004). "I can just sit down with that on an eight-hour flight and look at charts. I’m a total music geek!"

The Rubinoos open for Jonathan Richman, Thurs/6, 8 p.m., $15. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.musichallsf.com.

My Xmas Muzak or yours?


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Santa Baby, I wanna know: when did holiday music get hijacked by small children and their grandparents? At least that’s what it looks like perusing this year’s yuletide Brandy Alexander coasters: there’s The Coolest Kidz Bop Christmas Ever comp (Razor and Tie) for the ankle gnawers, and then there’s the reissued My Favorite Time of the Year (Rhino) by Dionne Warwick (dang, D, why did you lose your way from Burt Bacharach?) for their doting oldsters. But what became of the holiday music product for everyone between 18 and 48? The prim ‘n’ proper Josh Groban — touting Noel (Reprise) — can’t be expected to satiate several ornery, ADD-diagnosed generations. Have my people been written off as cynical, rabidly downloadin’ freeloaders too immersed in World of Warcraft to notice the onset of Buy Nothing Day?

I confess, we’re a tough audience. "<0x2009>‘Christmas Time Is Here’ — that one song more than any heavy metal song or whatever has always made me want to kill myself," SF comic and spoken word slinger Bucky Sinister tells me after holding forth about his new What Happens in Narnia, Stays in Narnia (Talent Moat). "Hear that and ‘Little Drummer Boy’ back-to-back, and if you don’t feel shitty, you’re just dead inside. It’s like a kindergarten dirge."

Holiday music hammers all of our hot childhood buttons, inflamed by years of Xmas TV specials and deflated expectations regarding those flash lumps of coal at the bottom of our stockings. Still, I’m willing to suffer on the cross of lousy jingle-jangle juju, so you, dear reader, don’t need to. After listening to about a dozen new holiday discs, I’ve garnered a new appreciation for the recordings that eschew the obligatory sleigh bells and easy heart-warmers and employ less familiar classics (James Brown’s "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto" pops up more than once), a sense of humor, or, sweet baby Jesus, new numbers.

SLEIGH BELL OVERKILL On Oh Santa! New and Used Holiday Classics from Yep Roc Records (Yep Roc), Los Straightjackets turn in a rousing "Holiday Twist," but they, along with half of Yep Roc’s finest, must have their sleigh bells taken away and destroyed. Worse, Jason Ringenberg and Kristi Rose’s "Lovely Christmas" massacres a goofy but venerable C&W he-said-she-said jokey duet tradition with saccharine cowpunk. The second half of the CD fares better with original, moody takes from the Apples in Stereo and Cities. On the opposite end of the bell-abuse spectrum, consider Disney Channel Holiday (Walt Disney), a cash channel dialed to tweensters and soccer mom ticket scalpers: the disc kicks off with Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana drawling "Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree" — and it’s decent in a relentlessly upbeat, cheerleader-on-a-sugar-high way. Cyrus has an adorable, slightly hoarse, Southern-inflected voice perfect for whoops and cheers, which stands out alongside the punky power pop Jonas Brothers and bubblegum Lucas Grabeel.

SMOOTH OPERATORS Christmas goes down as smoothly with R&B vocal stylings as Chivas and dorm room blowouts. I have to say, the glittery synth and silky vocoder action — very K-Ci and Jojo — made Keith Sweat’s A Christmas of Love (Sweat Shop/Rhino) the best of the lot in the mail. Dude totally sweats the C-word: six of the nine tracks must remind us that it’s Christmas by their titles. But Mariah fans will find more listening fun here — and enjoy would-be heartthrob Sweat’s bad posture on the cover and inner sleeve — than on, say, the more trad, jazz standards treatment of the Isley Brothers’ I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Island Def Jam). The Isleys are in fine vocal form — and furs! — though producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis definitely didn’t cut back the melisma meter. Nonetheless, the biggest disappointment has to be It’s Christmas, Of Course (Shout Factory) with Darlene Love. The voice of Phil Spector classics like "(Christmas) Baby Please Come" attempts holiday numbers made famous by the Pretenders, Tom Petty, and XTC, though her robust belt doesn’t quite mesh with the uninspired vanilla rock-pop backing. Better is Patti LaBelle’s Miss Patti’s Christmas (Island Def Jam), which has busy elves Jam and Lewis giving LaBelle well-upholstered grooves with touches of glittered Steinway. Primo for the mom who must get down.

THE ODDS ON THE ENDS Is that all there is? I ended up glomming on to unexpected offerings that dive into the kitsch-flavored eggnog, like Homeless for the Holidaze, a self-released benefit CD for Seattle homeless charities from an Ensemble of Lonesome Fellas (ELF). You have to love the intentional bad taste of pairing a hobo rant next to a holiday version of "The Stripper" and their goof take on "Super Freak," retitled "Jesus Super Freak." Hey, camp and Christmas belong together, like raised lighters and teased locks in flames; hence, a little love to the quickie-looking hair band comp Monster Ballads Xmas (Razor and Tie). Nelson massacre "Jingle Bell Rock," but ya gotta appreciate Dokken applying every candy metal cliché in the book to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," including screaming axes and a malevolent "Watch out!" as if the imaginary big guy were a refugee from Goblin. And then there’s the schlockiday Muzak and sleigh bell dysfunction of Wreck the Halls/Christmas Rock Records, sister label of Rockabye Baby!, the geniuses who dreamed up lullaby versions of Nine Inch Nails, etc. Green Day’s "Holiday" sounds downright crazed, yet the pomp of Metallica’s "Nothing Else Matters" off … And Christmas for All! actually works, and the holidays take on a nice absurd tinge with a nerve-jangling version of AC/DC’s "Big Balls." *


Sat/1, 9:30 p.m., $5

Edinburgh Castle

950 Geary, SF


For more music picks, see Sonic Reducer Overage at www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.

Gobblin’ Cobain


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER For too many, Thanksgiving is all about high-priced, high-stress flights home for the holidays, foul fowl, sad slipcovers, and relatives who rove the spectrum from irksome to inspirational. Why the last? I have to say that one miserable Turkey Day spent on the outskirts of Des Moines, Iowa, meeting a squeeze’s enraged and estranged parents while his jock brother dented my Geo Metro during a show-off game of tag football brought me closer to thoughts of suicide than ever before. Thanksgiving: the most annoying event before and since Oracle OpenWorld (only with a tad fewer leering conventioneers)? Discuss.

So it’s fitting, then, that soon-to-be uncomfortably bloated thoughts once again turn to the late Kurt Cobain with the Nov. 30 theatrical release of Kurt Cobain about a Son and the Nov. 30 droppage of Unplugged in New York, the DVD release of Nirvana’s 1993 MTV Unplugged appearance. I watched both 14 years to the day after the band’s Unplugged taping, on Nov. 18. If I weren’t already terrified of tying on the turducken, I’d be totally spooked by the synchronicity: are you sure Halloween is over?

AJ Schnack’s doc About a Son reads like a ghostly document: Cobain’s disembodied voice floats over its entirety, drawn from tapes of 1992–93 interviews conducted by coproducer Michael Azerrad for his book Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana (Main Street, 1993). Beneath the songwriter’s thoughts, Schnack chooses to float images of everyday romance and poetry captured in Cobain’s northwestern haunts: power lines shoot across the sky, dead birds rot beneath burnished sunsets, kids play music in alleyways. Relying on an evocative score by Steve Fisk and Ben Gibbard and songs by Queen, David Bowie, and others that are related to the interviews, Schnack eschews Nirvana’s music and even their photographic image until the very end. He prefers to immerse the viewer in the edited, intimate thoughts of Cobain, who can genuinely touch and surprise a listener with stories of how he felt abandoned by his father and his honesty about his misanthropy (coworkers "get on my nerves so bad I either have to confront them and tell them I hate their guts or ignore them"), heroin use (of his $400 per day self-medicating efforts to stem his chronic stomach pain, he says, "I was healthier and fatter than I am now"), and hatred of the media ("the most ruthless life form on Earth"). By turns moving and excruciating, About a Son raises as many questions as it answers.

Eerily dovetailing with About a Son by way of a cover of Bowie’s "The Man Who Sold the World" and a Queen joke regarding ex–Germs guitarist Pat Smear, the Unplugged performance has long been loaded with the stuff of quintuple-putf8um legend and fan speculation regarding Cobain’s death, which occurred just four months after the program aired on Dec. 14, 1993 on MTV. How else to parse the lyrical references to guns, the white lily set decorations (Cobain’s idea), and the set list’s intermittent aura of doom? In any case, Nirvana completists will want to snag this for the unedited 66-minute concert, which includes two numbers excised from the original 44-minute broadcast: Nirvana’s "Something in the Way" and the Meat Puppets’ "Oh Me." The mistakes and occasional sour notes remain. I was surprised by the general lack of energy in the band; the ordinarily forceful Dave Grohl sounds painfully unsure on brushes. But the conviction, seriousness, and soulfulness of Cobain’s vocal performance make this entire endeavor worthwhile — despite the gritted-teeth grin and protruding tongue that follow the first few songs.

You strain to hear the dialogue between the band members and betwixt Cobain and the audience. When the band seems to dither over the last song, one female audience member yells, "<0x2009>‘Rape Me’!" "Is that Kennedy?" someone asks, referring to the noxious alterna-VJ of the day. "I don’t think MTV will let us play that," Cobain replies with an insouciant, knowing air. If you’re still looking for that classic Gen X cynicism, look no further than MTV, which seems to have ditched music programming in general.

So why did Cobain sing for his TV dinner in the first place? Was it simply because In Utero (DGC, 1993) wasn’t selling well? Just months before his passing, Cobain already looked like another pop idol prepping to die young and leave a gorgeous corpse. Or not. Nonetheless, here, bird-boned with downcast eyes, he edges closer to that beautiful boy outlined in Elizabeth Peyton’s paintings, ready to assume his place in a pantheon of perpetually doodled, iconographic heartthrobs, right after Jim Morrison and James Dean. Nirvana was a great band — but as so many know who were there, cognizant, and occasionally coherent when Nevermind (Geffen, 1991) hit, there were lots of great bands. Ever the authentic article, Cobain knew this as much as any other, which is why he always gave a hand to forebears, bringing on the Meat Puppets (much to the disappointment of MTV, according to an accompanying DVD short) and sporting a T-shirt of the SF all-female art-punk combo Frightwig for this performance. Did it simply take Cobain’s dramatic death to, as an MTV executive dork opines in the short, turn an "interesting, eclectic performance" into "a masterpiece"? Neither of these spooked offerings really fits that descriptor, but for the faithful they might do till another comes along. *


Opens Nov. 30

See film listings


For live music picks, see www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.

Man with a mission


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER J Church’s Lance Hahn was possibly the only vocalist-guitarist ever to front a punk band wearing slippers (translation for mainlanders: flip-flops). A longtime presence in the Mission District anarchist punk scene until his move to Austin, Texas, in 1999, Hahn died down south Oct. 21 at 40 from complications after a lengthy battle with kidney disease. Although we were both from Honolulu, and the same small but spunky punk scene at that, I never really knew him, though throughout the ’90s I saw him around town and behind the counter at scruffy, sunny Epicenter, the punk zine HQ and hangout high above 16th Street and Valencia.

He really found a home here, on the other side of the Muni tracks that inspired his band name. That much was evident Nov. 11 at Hahn’s packed memorial, organized by friends like ex–J Church drummer and current Aquarius co-owner Andee Conners. Watching the Super 8 films of Hahn as a child and surrounded by copies of old J Church posters, I was struck by the realization that an era — not just a man — had truly passed. He’d had an impact on punk scenes here and elsewhere. Never mind that he played guitar for Beck from 1994 to ’95 — Hahn was more than that. He was an unassuming everyguy who happened to front a fine punk unit named after the streetcar line that carted him to work and provided a space for his songwriting — and an artist who touched a lot of people with his music, the words he wrote in zines like Maximumrocknroll, and his presence in the ’90s SF anarchopunk scene.

At a time when punk so often comes off as yet another stale, mall-purchased arena pose, Hahn is a reminder of how politicized the music was in the ’80s and even the ’90s — and what an act of will it was to be hardcore in those prewired days. You had to make the effort to scour Factsheet Five to find the zines to connect with other voices in the wilderness or to get your grubby meat hooks on the 7-inches that you could never find in your small-town record store. When I first encountered Hahn, he was playing with a few of the smarter, more committed local misfits in Cringer, a Honolulu punk combo known for its superior songwriting. Other like-minded, passionate souls were few and far between, which may have been why Hahn garnered a reputation as a warm, approachable figure, even as J Church found punk renown.

I heard he had moved to Los Angeles to work for nuclear disarmament group SANE/FREEZE and then finally relocated to San Francisco, where he worked for the activists as well as Revolver and recorded with J Church for such imprints as Lookout! and Honest Don’s. The year he moved to Austin, Hahn was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and in 2006 with kidney failure and — once again — congestive heart failure. In the months before his death, he went through numerous outpatient surgeries, struggled through dialysis, and stressed out about his lack of insurance, although he continued to plug onward, running Honey Bear Records, publishing his zine, Some Hope and Some Despair, and working on a tome of anarchopunk history.

He’ll doubtless be a part of that history, thanks to fans and friends like Gits drummer Steve Moriarty, who e-mails, "Lance’s purpose was more than to be a musician in a punk band. He was an inspiration and center of a very positive and progressive music scene during the ’90s" — and Adam Pfahler, who drummed for J Church as well as Jawbreaker and Whysall Lane. "Aside from being one of the smartest, funniest people I’ve known, he was a Mission District fixture and the glue that held the San Francisco punk rock community together through J Church, setting up shows, his writing, volunteer work, and most importantly, his friendships," Pfahler writes in an e-mail. "Even though he moved to Austin years ago, he was somehow magically just around the corner ready to pick up right where he left off. I wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up to his own memorial, going, ‘Oh holy shit! What’s going on?’<0x2009>"


Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart has a lot going on: a new book, Xiu Xiu: The Polaroid Project (Mark Batty), of postshow Polaroids tirelessly snapped by tour manager David Horvitz and culled from three tours’ worth of film sent by fans, and an album, Women as Lovers (Kill Rock Stars), due Jan. 29, 2008. Now the Oakland dynamo’s helping to put together "Give In," a Nov. 16 dance party benefiting the Nyumbani AIDS orphanage in Kenya, with Kill Rock Stars matching all donations. Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki and Why?’s Yoni Wolf will DJ along with Stewart, who dreamed up the idea with friend and orphanage volunteer Angela Seo. Like gloom with your get-down? Stewart will satisfy: he told me he plans to play only Joy Division, Smiths, and Cure songs during his 40-minute set. "People are either going to love this or hate this!" he says gleefully. "It’s my idea of heaven on earth. Hopefully, it will be other people’s as well." 2


Fri/16, 9 p.m., $7–$20, sliding scale

LoBot Gallery

1800 Campbell, Oakl.




› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER If life is a cabaret, disco, or Costco excursion, then what about the sweet or sucky hereafter? Whether one believes in the interminable after-parties of the afterlife or not, one must get into the spirit of the season as a deathly chill breezes through the bones and the night shadows lengthen; try melting into the 15,000-strong crowd crawling down 24th Street and into Garfield Park during the Day of the Dead procession Nov. 2. The doors of perception are swinging wide — might as well stumble through and over a Burning Man–style performance art project, a random garage studio wine-ing passersby, or a shrine that speaks to you.

And what would the dead (not to be confused with RatDog) say? Would they wonder if that’s Devendra Banhart striding purposefully up 24th Street — or the ghost of luxuriantly locked Cockettes past? Why are the cash boxes of beloved nightspots like Thee Parkside and 111 Minna Gallery being hit by thieving tricksters? People and possessions come and go, but sometimes, mysteriously, they stick around. I was once terminally creeped out by an overnight stay at the Highland Gardens Hotel in Hollywood, where Janis Joplin slipped from this world into the next. Even otherwise sober arena rockers like those in Maroon 5 get the willies, as I found earlier this fall during a gang conference call on the edge of their current tour.

I asked frontperson Adam Levine why he ended up writing most of the songs on this year’s zillion-seller It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (Octone/A&M), and he chalked it up to an overflowing creativity inspired by intense solitude. I suppose alleged hookups with tabloid hotties like Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson equal crap songcraft, so I wondered, "It didn’t have anything to do with the Rick Rubin house [where Maroon 5 recorded their album] or the ghost in it, supposedly?"

"Well, no," Levine replied. "That definitely kept me away from the house when I was wasn’t working, because of the strange spiritual goings-on."

Apparently, guitarist James Valentine, who stayed at the former Harry Houdini residence because he was "homeless at the time," had a solo encounter one night with a female phantom that walked into a room, then vanished. But spookier still is how catchy "Makes Me Wonder," off It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, is. One, two, even three hit pop singles don’t necessarily add up to the ghost of a chance in today’s fickle musical marketplace — and the predictable love-thang lyrical fixations of "This Love" and "She Will Be Loved" don’t necessarily appeal to sardonic souls who want to hear songs about vampires, aliens, and their favorite Suicide Girls. ("We’re certainly not reinventing the wheel or necessarily putting a flag anywhere," Levine confessed.) Still, one must appreciate the band’s attempt at levity with their cover of "Highway to Hell" on 2004’s 1.22.03.Acoustic (Octone/J). And AC/DC-style lasting power seemed to be on the minds of the Grammy-winning, multiputf8um group, which name-checked Prince and the Stones.

"I think that we don’t want to burn out," Levine said, "and there’s definitely this mentality that’s very strong these days about cashing in, and we’re much more interested in longevity. We’re also interested in cashing in to some extent — who wouldn’t be?" Valentine snickered as Levine continued, "We want to be taken seriously as a band, and there’s things that you need to do in order to make that happen.

"I think those artists that you mentioned have done that in order to stay relevant. I think that we just need to try as hard as we can and make sure that we’re not always taking a check just to take a check. I think that at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing, which is writing good music." Waving a lighter and building an altar won’t fly?


With the Hives and Phantom Planet

Tues/6, 7:30 p.m., $39.50–$50.50

HP Pavilion

525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose




I’m high on the massive hand claps and grinding riffage of the Philly-Brooklyn band’s "Mirror on You," from Grass Geysers … Carbon Clouds (Touch and Go). Thurs/1, 9 p.m., $10–$12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


Zero publisher Larry Trujillo and pals soup up the sound, lighting, and decor to showcase rock acts, live burlesque on Mondays, and electro nights on Saturdays. Birdmonster and the Morning Benders play. Fri/2, 9:30 p.m., $10. Uptown, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl. www.uptownnightclub.com


Making thoughtful prog instrumentals for the 21st century with You, You’re a History in Rust (Constellation). Sat/3, 9 p.m., $15 advance. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


Fresh from getting fingered by BBC Radio 1’s Steve Lamacq, the SF dream poppers unfurl A New Hope (Take Root). Sat/3, 8:30 p.m., $10. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. www.rickshawstop.com


Not to be confused with dung. The London nouveau folk band strum, detune, and jingle something fierce on Good Arrows (Thrill Jockey). Mon/5, 9 p.m., $10–$12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


WWKT: what would Kurt think? The Load Records combo pens tunes like "Missing Dick," off 2006’s Nevermind. Tues/6, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Cheap, loud, and reunited


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Hey, dude, while you were busy abiding, you totally snoozed on last year’s Budget Rock Showcase. We came, we were conquered, we rocked, we rolled, we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons at the Stork. Oh yeah, and we wet our lips, shook our hips, and swore we’d never dip back into that pretty, pretty poison of a garage rock fest, yet said soiree kept dragging us back the weekend of Nov. 10, 2006, for more wonderfully ear-piercing, guitar-centered punishment from the Guilty Hearts, the Shrugs, SLA, the Omens, and the Original Sins, spotlighting a barefoot and blissfully uncontrite Brother JT singing an awesomely odd cover of "I Want Candy." All crack for the rawboned rock ‘n’ roll crank.

This year’s Budget Rock busts the bank with two reunions to squander your spare change on and write home to your pasty-faced, pageboyed collector head–fanbo about. Primo: Boston’s real punk lost treasures the Real Kids, now pushing fiftysomething and still playing the gloriously hook-laden songs off their 1977 self-titled debut (Norton). Yeah, they looked like the Ramones, but the Real Kids eschewed comic book music stylings for heartfelt, rockin’ teen angst more in line with early wavers like Eddie and the Hot Rods or Rockpile. They looked forward by stripping down and glancing back to teen dreams and prepube debauchery.

And yeah, most of their songs are about girls, but that doesn’t mean the tunes haven’t stood time’s tests, which is why pockets of fanatics can be found from France ("They like us and Jerry Lewis," vocalist-guitarist John Felice says) to Japan, especially since the Real Kids regrouped in 1999 to play the Purple Onion. The group is only now rebounding after a year and half of casts and three surgeries on Felice’s left hand, injured by years of playing and arthritis, but the Realest Kid is looking forward to meeting old fans like Rancid’s Lars Frederickson, who came out for their Onion show. "He turns out to be a big Real Kids fan. The first records he ever got, from his older brother, were a Ramones album, a Voidoids album, the Sex Pistols album, and the Real Kids album," Felice recalls. "We had an influence on him!"

Influence can go all sorts of ways. Secundo on the Budget Rock reunion tip are the Bay’s all-female garage punk–surf combo the Trashwomen, who haven’t played since ’95. Trashwomen drummer Tina Lucchesi — late of the Bobbyteens and co-owner of Oakland salon Down at Lulu’s — remembers the band as the brainchild of Phantom Surfer Mike Lucas back in 1991. Guitarist Elka Zolot was already in the punk band Eight Ball Scratch, but Lucchesi and bassist Danielle Pimm had never played before. So, Lucchesi confesses, her boyfriend Russell Quan, once of the Mummies and now of the Flakes, taught her to bash three weeks before their first show. "We were shitty, so shitty," Lucchesi remembers, though the band managed to generate a fun Estrus album. In the interim, she says, "I’ve learned a lot. I’m a better drummer now. We’re older now. We’re not little girls. We’re not young and out of tune." *


With the Trashwomen (Fri/26) and the Real Kids (Sat/27–Sun/28)

Call for times and prices

Stork Club

2330 Telegraph, Oakl.

(510) 444-6174



There can be such a thing as too much of a good time, attests Adam Stephens, 26, of Two Gallants, who call San Francisco home when they aren’t gallanting around the globe. The duo’s new self-titled Saddle Creek LP has got to be their best yet — and it’s their first working with a producer, Alex Newport, an experience that came with some tough love. "If he thought there was something inappropriate or inconsistent, he would point it out to us, which is really hard for us because Tyson [Vogel, the Gallants drummer] and I use our first takes as much as possible."

After their forthcoming shows at the Independent and a six-week European sortie, Stephens is finally hoping to chill out in the Bay. "When you’re touring as much as we are your sanity comes into question," the SF native admits. "I have a very deep love affair with the city, and after being gone so much I like to reexplore it. To me that’s a really peaceful, rejuvenating thing to do, just bike around the city all day and try to reclaim it." *


Fri/26–Sat/27, 9 p.m., $16


628 Divisadero, SF




Carve out a niche for There the Open Space (Misra). With Man Man. Thurs/25, 8 p.m., $13–$15. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com


Electro über Alles. Fri/26, 10 p.m., $15. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


After delivering one of the best shows of 2005 at Bottom of the Hill, electronic-rock maestro Don Snaith, a.k.a. Manitoba, comes back with Andorra. Sat/27, 9 p.m., $13–$15. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com


Tunes about pizza and the movie Twins. Sat/27, 2 p.m., call for price. Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 444-6174, www.storkcluboakland.com. Sun/28, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Boasting a dynamic War Stories (Surrender All), the UK production collective makes its maiden live outing. Sat/27, 9 p.m., $20. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com

Pay to play


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Some of the sweetest words to deliver to impecunious types like myself: pay what you can. This I can work with — be it a noise show at 21 Grand or the new Radiohead album. After blowing my newspaper wage-slave paycheck on rent, ramen, recreational intoxicants like lychee jellies, and sticker pics of my homegirls in goth Lolita getups, there’s not much cheddar left to slap on surplus grillables. So taking a cue from Radiohead, what say we pretend this is a just world where we have the leisure and the leeway to bitch the would-be Hills cast member behind the counter down a cent or two for that Elvis Reese’s cup? How much would we fork out for these recent releases?


They get at least $5 for getting us talking again about wiping the high prices of CDs and putting the music out there on the imaginary block: how much is this worth, unheard? More than a million queued up for a taste and an alleged average of about $8 per album download. A bargain compared to iTunes’ $1 per track.

But what about the songs themselves? The sly wink lodged behind the downloadable album’s flexible price has kept in check the ear-popping pressure of creating another masterwork on par with 1997’s OK Computer (Capitol). In keeping with the darkly miniaturist mode of Thom Yorke’s 2006 solo disc The Eraser (XL), In Rainbows is a subtle, contained meditation on love, trapped in a bell jar when it doesn’t soar into creamy, cumulous, string-strafed regions ("Reckoner") or dip into the red, bristling with distortion and thumbing its nose at wincing audiophiles ("Bodysnatchers"). Fidelity is the last thing on the mind for this band off the leash, as on "House of Cards," on which burly bass lines buzz, glassy synths shiver, and Yorke oozes, "I don’t want to be your friend / I just want to be your lover." How about $9.99 and rising as I find new reasons to love In Rainbows?


"Crank That (Soulja Boy)" gets about $2.50 for putting a crystallized Caribbean spin on crunk and imbuing steel drums with a certain refried dementia. SB also snatches 25¢ for working Robocop into the rhyme. But I’ll take that 25 back for the doofus idea of writing an ode to a Sidekick, pandering to the ringtone market. I’ll drop another $1 for the album title, which triggers flashbacks to the late ’90s, when every new business felt the need to add a ".com" to its handle. The final price.com: $1.25.


The way these Seattlites juxtapose ex–Hint Hint vocalist Pete Quirk’s adenoidal croon with skiffle snare, guitar drone, and nodding tambourine on "Seeds of Night" scores them at least $3, as does the barn-raising thrum of the eerie "Helen." But the group hug on the cover lands them in the $8 range. Is it ironic — a poke at the freely folkish movement from onetime rockers like former Pretty Girls Make Graves bassist Derek Fudesco? "It’s pretty genuine, actually," Quirk told me last week from his native New Jersey. "It’s not supposed to be a joke. We don’t really take ourselves too seriously, and we usually have a good time with the things we do — we do the group hug a lot!" Sounds like Cave Singers are actually pretty sensitive dudes. "That was our first band name, Sensitive Dudes, but it was taken," Quirk joked. My bid: $8 and a standing invitation to a friendly clinch.


I’d throw out $10 and a pint of blood for a daily dose of the superenergized Proof. Mastermind Ian Parton makes extremely aggro joy, collaborating with the rest of his band and working with Chuck D (embedding him in the bustling funk of "Flashlight Fight"), the Double Dutch Divas, Rapper’s Delight Club, and Solex. The up-on-the-upbeat Proof resembles a giddy kidsploitation action flick score on a Fruity Pebbles sugar high. Most important, the band has coalesced into a living, breathing entity. "The world doesn’t need another laptop geek onstage," a sober Parton explained from London. "I wanted to make it a real gang, if you know what I mean, with people who are quite different. I didn’t want to be just another indie band. I look beyond the NME." Kid’s rate: $10, give or take a box of Kix. *


Fri/19, 9 p.m., $15 advance


444 Jessie, SF



Oct. 24, 9 p.m., $12–<\d>$14


628 Divisadero, SF




Pop sublime from Santa Rosa, Seattle, and Philly. Wed/17, 9 p.m., $12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


Motor City’s microhouse might finds an indie-pop thread with Asa Breed (Ghostly). Thurs/18, 9 p.m., $22 advance. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


The songwriter untethers a wide-screen ambition on her The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams (Emarcy). Mon/22, 8 p.m., $25. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com


Free jazz, noise, punk, and electronica come out to play when XBXRX guitarist Steve Touchton brings together chums to celebrate ADE’s debut, Winter Weapons (Heathen Skulls). Tues/23, 9:30 p.m., free. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Civilians (Anti-) issues timeless stories from the home front. Tues/23, 8 p.m., $20. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.gamh.com

Gimme lip


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Do you believe in magic? Or voodoo? Or the links between ecstasy and long-term memory loss? If you’re a firm believer in the last, then you probably can’t recall the good ole days of garage rock — and no, I’m not talking about ’60s snarlers like the Seeds, the Standells, and the Chocolate Watchband nor ’80s revivalists like the Fleshtones, the Chesterfield Kings, and Holly Golightly. I’m searching the motley gray matter for that fuzzed-out, lo-fi, house-rockin’ turn-of-the-century blast from the early ’00s past, the one that teetered forth in the crusty, musty, mop-topped form of the Hives, the Von Bondies, the Vines, the Dirtbombs, the Strokes, the Detroit Cobras, the White Stripes, the Makers, the Datsuns, et al. In ’02 you were crap on a cracker if you didn’t come with the thes and the esses and the three chords and the loud, plowed, and way-too-gristly grizzly rock ‘n’ roll.

So where did all the good times go, troglodytes? The initial ’60s American garage rock siege was hopped up on the rawboned, blues-indebted British Invaders. But this time around did the bands simply get bored of the same few chords? Or weary of the uniforms? Was it simply another historical hiccup in musical trend cycles, a brief burst of energy fed by pink-slipped creatives and millennial joie de vivre?

Still, longtime listeners know garage rock never quite stops. The ahistorical trendoids who leaped aboard the bandwagon — who didn’t know your Kingsmen from your Chesterfield Kings or "Louie Louie" from "Talk Talk" — may have moved on to the next flavor of the weak. But snotty rock springs eternal — like mucus. Among the main remaining perpetrators today are those bone-deep bad boys with one foot in rock’s past and another in the future the Black Lips, the kid bros of all of those ’00s garage third wavers, who arrived kitted out with a tumescent, prepubescent sense of humor, a hot and sweaty live show, innumerable 7-inches, and now four full-lengths. I remember taking a listen to the Black Lips’ first self-titled Bomp! CD four years ago and finding that it rose above the pile of garage-bound by-the-bookers like so much toxic, nonnutritious, black-flecked, punky foam.

The Atlanta group’s latest CD, Good Bad Not Evil (Vice), finds them name-checking girl-group matresfamilias right up front — looking to a line from the Shangri-Las’ "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" with the album title — while still plying their grimy tricks: they sing the praises of "Magic City titties," strike pseudoreverent poses with "How Do You Tell the Child That Someone Has Died," and invoke the spirit of Professor Longhair and the 13th Floor Elevators while slamming the "ruthless old bag" that swept through N’awlins on "O Katrina!" The epicenter of Good Bad Not Evil might be "Veni Vidi Vici," punctuated by creepy slaps and skin-crawling licks as vocalist-guitarist Cole Alexander mocks, "Mirror, mirror on the wall / Who’s the greatest of them all / My man Muhammad, Boy Jesus too / ‘Cause I came, I saw / I conquered all / All y’all, all y’all, all y’all / People look towards Mecca’s way / Sistine Chapel people pray / It don’t matter what you do / Holy World War will come for you." Call it flower punk, as the Black Lips are wont to do, or conscious garage rock or backpacker bop, but it sounds like the scamps are reaching past the retro toward some real issues these days.

Of course, the Black Lips won’t spill the goods. Not that they can, when talking to Alexander, 25, turns out to be an exercise in total frustration. On a mobile and on the move through Indianapolis with the rest of the combo, the vocalist kept dropping out — or hanging up — betwixt juicy tidbits on dating Osama bin Laden’s niece Wafah Dufour ("We discussed making some instrumental tracks and hung out. She was really nice and pretty and cool, so we’ll just see how it goes") and giving equal Lip to Israel and Palestine, performance-wise ("These things make it seem like we’re more politically involved, but we just like to have fun. None of the Palestinians were able to come to see us, so we played in front of a mosque with just guitars. There are posters everywhere of suicide bombers’ faces — those guys are like rock stars there. But the kids loved it and were really intrigued that a punk band would play for them"). Still, after spending more time yammering to dead air than engaging with the vocalist — and finding "Veni Vidi Vici" inexplicably skipping on my copy of the new LP — I finally understood: these kids were born under a bad sign, and how. Good bad, though, not evil. *


With the Spits

Mon/15, 8 p.m., $15

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF




With the departure of bassist Hisashi Sasaki, drummer Tatsuya Yoshida goes it alone, boosting the virtuosic noise spasms and live and unreleased skronkercise of Refusal Fossil (Skin Graft). With Good for Cows and Birgit Ulher Quintet. Wed/10, 9 p.m., $10. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


The noise-peddling umpteenth iteration includes Winters in Osaka, Pink Canoes, Mykel Boyd, Kukie Matter, Mr. Mercury Goes to Work, Ozmadawn, and Head Boggle Domo. ‘Nuff said. Thurs/11, 8 p.m., pay what you can. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakl. www.21grand.org


Chris Cohen, once of Deerhoof, and Nedelle Torrisi dust off their new Asthmatic Kitty combo, Cryptacize. With Half-Handed Cloud, Lake, and Joel. Sat/13, 7 p.m., $5. Mama Buzz Café, 2318 Telegraph, Oakl. www.mamabuzzcafe.com


News flash: ebullient indie rocker overcomes stolen gear and The O.C. associations. Tues/16, 8 p.m., $14. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell, SF. www.musichallsf.com

Now there’s a Cure


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Are you for reals? Seriously, dude, when the going continues on its war path, peace-promoting Buddhist monks land in Myanmar jails, and Pamela Anderson grasps at marriage straws once again — with Paris Hilton sex-vid jock Rick Salomon, yet — we can all safely say that reality looks to be drastically overvalued.

How else to explain the fact that the biggest music news in the past week was pranked out as now-it’s-true-now-it’s-not-now-it’s-true-again fiction: the would-be Meg White sex tape starring a black-haired lady who looks absolutely nothing like the besieged drummer — no wonder White’s acutely anxious; sometimes they really are out to get you — and a faux Radiohead new-album announcement that shuffled you toward a YouTube page flying a pretty hee-hee-larious music video for furiously hip-swiveling ’80s pop star Rick Astley’s "Never Gonna Give You Up." Then hot on Astley’s wiggly behind came the real — I think — announcement of Radiohead’s Nigel Godrich–produced seventh, In Rainbows; the band’s fan service is now taking your order at radiohead.com for the MP3 download (arriving Oct. 10) and blown-out double vinyl and CD "Discbox" including exclusive art and photos, a CD of additional songs, and bundled MP3s, all of which sounds like a way for Radiohead to test the self-release waters à la Prince.

So what’s the next reality hack, hoaxsters? An imminent Led Zeppelin reunion spotlighting the reanimated corpse of John Bonham, thanks to Jimmy Page’s rumored Aleister Crowley connections? A "Big Girls Don’t Cry"–flogging Fergie auditions for the Pussycat Dolls, fronted by Jersey Boys–revived, "Big Girls Don’t Cry" flailer Frankie Valli?

Going against the tide of such prankery is UK goth pop vet Robert Smith of the Cure, famous for his singles-chart cri de coeur "Boys Don’t Cry." I’ve never been a rabid Cure fan, but I must admit that the voluble, down-to-earth Smith won me over with his earnest intelligence in a call from his studio outside Brighton, where the band is embroiled in its forthcoming double album. Making further inroads against fakery, Smith told me he’s been writing more "socially aware lyrics" than he normally pens. "Obviously I live in the real world, contrary to what a lot of people think," he said. "I get angry about things, and I thought it was time for me to put those things into songs."

"It’s just kind of insane," he continued. "The world seems to be reverting almost to the Middle Ages, with the rise of the idiocy of religion. The whole policing of thought and action is anathema to any artist. Any artist has to react!" He described "Us or Them," off the band’s last self-titled LP (Geffen, 2004), as the closest he’s gotten to writing a song protesting "childish, black-and-white portrayals of the world — that isn’t a world I want to live in!"

It’s just been a matter of fitting the words to the right music; otherwise, Smith said, "it sounds like I’m singing, quite literally, from a different hymn book." The band recorded more than 25 songs two years ago, rerecorded them last year, and is back at work on them, although the Cure will take a brief break to play the Download Festival in the Bay Area despite pushing the rest of their North American tour to next year. "We can postpone 27 shows, but we can’t postpone Download Festival," he said. "So we’re just doin’ it! We’re coming over on the Friday, playing that Saturday, and then home on Sunday and going back to the studio. So it’s quite a bizarre weekend for us, but good fun."

The return of on-off guitarist Porl Thompson seems to have inspired the Cure’s latest surge in creativity, though the shock-headed vocalist’s involvement in the band’s recent live DVD, The Cure: Festival 2005, interrupted progress on the double album, which Smith said he will mix and Geffen will release at the same price as the single-album version, which someone else will mix. Smith is wagering most listeners will want to buy the double CD for the price of one. "The difficulty now is to get the digital domain to accede to our wishes and price two songs at the price of one," he said, though ultimately he’s not worried. "I’m at the stage now — well, I’ve always been at the stage — of making music primarily for myself, that I enjoy, and then for Cure fans. So whether or not it’s commercial is not a great concern."

The plan so far is to release three singles, he said. "One is a very heavy, dark single, one is an incredibly upbeat, stupid pop single, and one is out-and-out dance, so that shows you the variety of stuff on the record."

Stupid? How can anyone as obviously smart as Smith go for that? "I’m saying that most good pop singles are stupid — otherwise they’re not good pop singles," he demurred. "I’m from an age when disposable wasn’t necessarily a bad thing." *


Download Festival

Sat/6, 2 p.m., $29.50–$75

Shoreline Amphitheatre

1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View




Ex-Guardian staffer and guitarist Gabriel Mindel returns to the scene of so much aural mayhem alongside electronic blitzkrieg Pete Swanson. With Mouthus and NVH. Wed/3, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Psych pop meets Larry David? What else from the former Beta Band–niks? With Augie March and Kate Johnson. Fri/5, 9 p.m., $15. Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. www.slims-sf.com


Norwegian nü ravers pop it up with Foreign Born. Fri/5, 9 p.m., $13. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. www.rickshawstop.com


Organizer Mael Flowers busts out the bands, belly dancing, spoken word, art, and free barbecue at this benefit for local groups helping those living with HIV/AIDS. Sat/6, Mama Buzz Café, 2318 Telegraph, and the Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph, Oakl. For more info, go to www.girlstock.com

Mad chatter


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER What flying snacks do not kill me only make me harder, better, faster, stronger — come all ye children of Kanye West and Friedrich Nietzsche. I love San Francisco. Where else can you catch hell and come this close to getting brained by a pupusa hurled by a nattering, nutty nutbag in orangey pink stretch pants? I’m all the rage, ready for the crème de la Salvadoran vittle missiles.

I’m just cranked on shady luck like that, and was oozing my everyday allotment of pure, untrammeled harassability on a recent Sunday, just minding my own bad bidness strolling through the Mission District. Plenty of lukewarm trade in cell chargers and black velvet paintings of howling wolves and solemn American Indians with ghostly hands emerging from over their maws. Fresh-faced, black-eyed kids in Sunday finery toddled by as I finally landed in Las Palmeras to sample yuca frita con chicharrón. The familias around me were busy cracking crab when an elderly lady with an extremely fashion-damaged Phyllis Diller fright wig cruised alongside me and started in with "You better understand …" before launching into a diatribe en espagnol. Oh, to be the object of so much obsession — as she hobbled outside in royal snit, returning only to yell at me further through the restaurant window. Later, when the good folks at Las Palmeras handed her a conciliatory pupusa — balm to all that ails ya — she flung it, as hard as she could, at my offending, chomping image. Oh, but I don’t understand — I really, really don’t.

Ah Ess-Eff, as if you could ever stop providing safe harbor — or serving up mucho psychotic triggers — for so many mad men and women. You needn’t throw a pupusa far to find classic only-in-SF, Emperor Norton–<\d>style eccentrics or lunatics everywhere you wander. Yet my favorite inspired obsessive this week has to be Chicago’s Galactic Zoo Dossier zine impresario and psych king in his own write-right Steve "Plastic Crimewave" Krakow (least beloved: food-fighter lady marma-lardbutt).

Now out in all its hard-to-read yet lovely-to-behold DIY hand-drawn glory, Galactic‘s issue no. seven, published by Drag City, discharges a wealth of info — and interviews with the Incredible String Band’s Clive Palmer, Gary Panter, Ed Askew, the Strawbs, and Kevin Coyne — for all of us acid- and otherwise damaged lysergic eminencies. Ravin’ spot-on spotlights on dark psych creators like Sam Gopal and Crushed Butler make you wanna bolt out the door — or start up the eBay eye strain — to acquire these jewels. Krakow does give you a taste of the mind expansion under way with the included hot-rockin’ double CD of aged rarities like the Ukuleles of Halifax (a more than 30-strong, all-teen-girl ’70s Canadian uke orchestra) and contempo freak-beaters headed up by Bay Area locals like Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, Charalambides, and the Stooges’ Steve MacKay and his Radon Ensemble. Shoving in a track by his wondrous Plastic Crimewave Sound and sprinkling his writing with more wells and OKs than a high school speech class, Krakow coughs up 100-plus pages for this issue — making it more booklike than zine-ish.

Still, Galactic foregrounds the fan in fanzine and hews more closely to the spirit of an obsessively handwritten letter than to that of a more sterile blog. And Krakow’s sincerity, knowledge, and breadth of taste — dude delves into Giorgio Moroder and the Banana Splits, revisits overplayed hit makers like the Bee Gees, and resuscitates faded pharaohs like Edwin Starr — inspire you to penetrate his dense scrawl. Also beyond cool: sheets of Astral Folk Goddesses and Damaged Guitar Gods trading cards — collect ’em all, from Jacqui McShee and Erica Pomerance to Jukka Tolonen and Keith Cross, shop hobbits! So this is new reading material for those wondering where to take their Windowpaned stares post–<\d>Ptolemaic Terrascope (now under the editorial leadership of Oakland drummer Pat Thomas of Mushroom and Runt/Water) and Arthur.

Being a lamezoid at crucial moments, I missed the previous six installments of Galactic, but you can catch the first four 300-run issues in the Galactic Zoo Dossier Compendium book-CD (Drag City). Don’t pooh-pooh, sir — you’re as likely to learn about Santa Cruz supergroup Druids as vanguard blues distortion peddler Pat Hare. And you just might like the way your mind feels, blown.



The dreamy former Film Schooler taps a new CD, Pressure (Badman). With Pancho Sanza and the Matinees. Wed/26, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Office boys and girls come out for the baile funk cuties’ armed and dangerous With Lasers (Domino). With JuiceBoxxx and Magic Bullets. Fri/28, 9 p.m., $13. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. www.theindependentsf.com


When you’re 21 you’re no fun, but then you can get in to see a rare live performance by the English combo. With Great Northern. Sat/29, 10 p.m., $25 advance. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


Nick’s sis, Gabrielle Drake; producer Joe Boyd; and songwriter Jolie Holland talk about the late artist. Tues/2, 8 p.m., $19. Herbst Theatre, War Memorial Veterans Bldg., 401 Van Ness, SF. www.cityboxoffice.com

These charming men


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Last night I dreamed that Morrissey played San Francisco. And waking, stumbling out of the top bunk, and triggering an avalanche of promo CDs, I was happy in the haze of that Estaban-drunken hour, but heaven knows I’m wondering, what difference does it make when that charming man has teased us so often before? Now I know how Joan of Arc felt, charging into Mr. Steven Patrick Morrissey’s onetime Los Angeles hood to flyer his street with mash notes. And on the cusp of Mr. Smith’s first San Francisco–<\d>proper shows since his two-night stand at concrete box Maritime Hall in 1999, I can’t help but wonder, my PETA poster child, why you have ignored your acolytes so, playing seemingly everywhere but here since canceling your 2004 Now and Zen Fest turn due to sinusitis and laryngitis. Do we make you sick? Is it my forlorn fashion sense? Our inability to untangle your artful Gordian knots of pop-song allusion? Is it my Kahlua breath?

Pop professionalism is such touchy subject these days — poke it with a stick and turn it over to find the now-chastened Britney Spears. Give it another nudge and find, on the other shining side, perhaps Prince and Morrissey, who’s fired away at his share of prefab stars who have no business fingering the hem of his tear-away dress shirt. Regardless of his latent music- and cultural-crit tendencies, Mr. So-Called Bigmouth is one of the greatest performers alive. I finally saw him in 2002 at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, opening for Los Jaguares and utterly besotting the seething mass with "The World Is Full of Crashing Bores," "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," and plenty of scrumptious previews of his You Are the Quarry tunes, and his magnificent feints and swoons, his fetal and Christlike poses during "Meat Is Murder," his heartfelt "Mexico," and the moment he tossed his shirt to the snatching crowd made me badger anyone who’d listen to give Morrissey a regular Vegas gig, years before Prince held down a brief lounge act there. So all those who have been missing the King (or are so green they don’t even remember one) or never believed he left the building, take (Irish blood, English) heart — Morrissey carries forth his flaming rock ‘n’ roll torch, embodying all the sexiness, expressionism, originality, professionalism, and subversion of long-gone rock regents like Elvis Presley. If you are a follower, this will only fan the fire. If you’re not a fan, you will be. Maybe Brit would have been forgiven if she had mumbled, "Gimme Moz," instead.

SOUNDING OFF James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem knows of what I speak, rasping amiably from New York City before embarking on a tour with the Arcade Fire. Hot on the heels on the infectious electro rock ‘n’ disco of Sound of Silver (DFA/Capitol), Murphy talked up the forthcoming vinyl and CD release of his "Nike thing," 45:33 (DFA) ("It was just a download thing, which infuriates me because MP3s sound like shit!") and a comp EP of remixes evocatively titled A Bunch of Stuff (EMI). Why the release frenzy — add in a Fabriclive mix CD by Murphy and LCD drummer Pat Mahoney — when the DFA Records cofounder could be enjoying his downtime watching The Fashionista Diaries and Ultimate Fighting with the missus?

"I don’t like things coming out on difficult formats," Murphy, 37, grumbles. "I don’t like it if something’s not on vinyl or CD, so I kinda regularly remember my roots as a big Smiths fan, scrabbling around. I know they put out [Louder Than] Bombs and Hatful of Hollow, where they compile all the little things so that you can find them on the right format. I try to diligently do that."

At least he can look forward to some carefree, cutthroat fun with the Arcade Fire. "We have band crush!" raves Murphy, who’s expecting to battle Win and Will Butler over a steaming croquet set. "Win is very competitive — there’s no i in team, but there is one in ‘Win’!"

Not to mention a declarative "Win." But what does the a in "James" stand for? "Aaayiii!"


Sun/23–Mon/24 and Sept. 26–27, 8 p.m., $65


1805 Geary, SF



With the Arcade Fire

Fri/21, 6 p.m., $26–$46

Shoreline Amphitheatre

1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View


For more of the interview with James Murphy, go to the Noise blog at www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.



The mind-morphing NYC psych songstress partners with Tom Carter and Christian Kiefer in Oakland and Giant Skyflower Band, Glenn Donaldson’s "bummer psych" outing, in San Francisco. Wed/19, 9 p.m., sliding scale. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakl. www.21grand.org. Thurs/20, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


After editing the film Favela on Blast, Wesley Pentz touches down in Jessie Alley with collaborator Switch. Sat/22, 10 p.m., $20 advance. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


The fusion guitar maestro offers a taste of the SFJAZZ fall season. Sat/22, 8 p.m., $25–$80. Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California, SF. www.sfjazz.org


The Dead live! Brooklyn’s bucolic sing-alongers strum along with Oakland’s indie chantey rockers Mist and Mast. Sat/22, 10 p.m., $10–$12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Looks that kill


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER When does music news boil down to a form of disaster reporting? Behold the universal slagging that accompanied the tepid Sept. 9 Video Music Awards performance by a sluggish, underwear-clad Britney Spears, postpreggers bulgy and freshly toasted from a supposed turn at Burning Man (yet another sign of the event’s apocalyptic death throes, scuttling my long-dreamed-of plans for a Playa Hater’s Camp at Black Rock?). OK, Brit is a mess — the nonstop media slam dance is starting to nauseate me, despite Spears’s unconvincing pleas to give her more.

But maybe in a microfragmented, nano-niched pop universe, we’re all just looking for a few things to agree on, like: Rihanna embodies class (is it the Posh Spice asymmetrical bob?), Justin Timberlake looks good next to his Mickey Mouse Club ex and his Sept. 12 Shark Tank opener Good Charlotte, and Spears needs a handler she can trust so we can cease critically burning her. There is such a thing as too much freedom — as several Mötley Crüe-dites have proved of late. San Jose native Nikki Sixx’s collection of ’80s journal entries The Heroin Diaries — out Sept. 18 — shows that it’s never too late to exploit one’s excesses, while Bret Michaels from Poison’s VH1 series Rock of Love takes The Bachelor‘s formula to a skanksome low, as his prospective mates — coldly self-promoting, sharky rock chicks all — manage to outshine the shameless star with their backbiting, bitchery, and oh so many looks that kill.

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Witness, a galaxy away, the communal, mammalian planet Animal Collective. Much has been made in the past five years or so of the collectivist spirit infusing art groups like Hamburger Eyes, Royal Art Lodge, and Space 1026. Music collectives have been overshadowed, although San Francisco’s Thread Productions collective seems to be finding its rhythm via Tartufi, Silian Rail, Low Red Land, Birds and Batteries, and Sky Pilots, and a few art ensembles like Forcefield persist via recordings.

Through it all, though, Animal Collective have continued to fly their fellow-feeling flag high, despite multiple solo outings, loudly thumping the drum for the notion of continual artistic exploration and Strawberry Jam (Domino), their latest, almost poppily upbeat album. All the members possess the freedom to leave anytime they want to — and to combust messily all over blogosphere gossip sites if they care to — but they choose to stay and play with their happily bent song structures.

Panda Bear, né Noah Lennox, has seen his share of success with this year’s solo Person Pitch (Paw Tracks) and has had to struggle with the tug of his Lisbon, Portugal, home, where he’s lived for more than three years with his wife and daughter, and touring with the loose collection of onetime Baltimore schoolmates now scattered between New York City and Washington, D.C. Stuck in traffic with Avey Tare (David Portner), Geologist (Brian Weitz), and Deakin (Josh Dibb) outside Toronto, where they have a show, the 29-year-old Lennox says earnestly, "I hope people show up. I get nervous about performing — it takes over from the worry about whether people are going to be there."

Strawberry Jam‘s title came to him during a dreamy airline encounter. "On the little tray of food was a packet of strawberry jam. I opened it up and looked at that stuff," he explains. "It was futuristic looking, gooey, but it also looked sharp in a way. I thought it would be cool if it we could get the music to sound like that."

The final recording, produced by longtime Sun City Girls producer Scott Colbourn, who also oversaw Feels (FatCat, 2005), drones and shimmers with fewer overdubs than they’ve used in the past, surging with the band’s trademark bell-shaking, ethereal gloss ("#1"), an almost Madchester bounce ("Peacebone"), and infectious, nearly melodic manifestos ("Winter Wonderland"). "I guess we wanted to do something different than anything we’d done before and hopefully different from anything we’d ever heard before," Lennox says. "That’s what we get psyched about overall."

Having only to dread the retread, Lennox even embraces that three-letter word — jam — in reference to the band. "Maybe there’s a bit of a crossover," he says sweetly. "That’s cool. There’s a lot of Grateful Dead fans in our band."


Mon/17, 8 p.m., $25


1805 Geary, SF




Coalition of Aging Rockers just keeps on noisily aging: Charalambides’s Tom Carter and other acolytes pay tribute to the fab space rock fossils of Hawkwind. Wed/12, 6 p.m. $5. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


The Kindercore survivors play alongside Thread Records collectivists Silian Rail and Sky Pilots. Wed/12, 9 p.m., $8. 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission, SF. www.12galaxies.com


Sunshine State crunk-punkers promise to pick up where ESG left off. Wed/12, 9 p.m., free with RSVP at going.com. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


Ex–<\d>SF riot grrrl cellist Madigan Shive joins the local Best Wishes. Thurs/13, 9 p.m., $8. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. www.bottomofthehill.com


Finland band generates eerie cryptonoise alongside Skaters spin-off project. Fri/14, 9 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


The Southern dance rockers bring their comets. Fri/14, 9 p.m., $15. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com


Spaceman 3 alum Sonic Boom helms one of the finest free street-fair experimento lineups ever at the Polk Street Fair. With Triclops!, TITS, Los Llamarada, and Lou Lou and the Guitarfish. Sat/15, noon–7 p.m., free. Polk and Post, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com


Wolf Parader Dan Boeckner breaks out his silky Sub Pop side project. Mon/17, 8 p.m., $10–$12. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF. www.rickshawstop.com


Death be not proud, the Oakland metallists claim, waving a fierce new Relapse disc, Death Is This Communion. Tues/18, 7 p.m., free. Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight, SF.

Calling all island girls


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Oh, island music — the soft swish of silky trade winds, the gentle rustle of swaying palms, and the way-organic click-hop drone of crickets. From where I’m lounging at press time, in a humid picture-postcard tourist paradise outside the ’20s-era pink pachyderm of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, it’s also the sound of a few bruddahs playing a 12-string and electric bass version of "Brown-Eyed Girl." That was my island soundtrack growing up in Honolulu, along with the music of the Rascals and Earth, Wind and Fire, though surprisingly little Beach Boys, who had the vocal interplay Hawaiians adored but sounded like they probably didn’t really surf.

The Beach Boys just liked the idea of it, but then, don’t we all, buying into the seductive constructs of island fantasias, though we native born have always had a complicated hate-love relationship with the visiting cultural imperialists who drive the tourism-focused economy. Little surprise locals use the term transient like it’s a dirty word.

Speaking of island music, locally we have the Treasure Island Music Festival, the first two-day music event of its size on the human-constructed isle built to boost San Francisco pride by proximity and buoy the 1939 World’s Fair. The lineup, by the way, banishes memories of pop-period Van Morrison (though not fond thoughts of Hawaiian music materfamilias Aunty Genoa Keawe, who still plies audiences with her dulcet falsetto every Thursday at the Waikiki Marriott’s Moana Terrace) and includes Modest Mouse, Thievery Corporation, Spoon, Built to Spill, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, M. Ward, Gotan Project, MIA, Ghostland Observatory, Dengue Fever, and Mocean Worker, in addition to a bevy of talented locals like DJ Shadow (with Cut Chemist), Two Gallants, Zion-I, Honeycut, and Trainwreck Riders.

Noise Pop founder and IODA CEO Kevin Arnold, 38, told me the event has been a long-cherished dream for himself and Noise Pop co-organizer Jordan Kurland. The organizers had expanded NP in the past, to Chicago, before pulling back; they’re now venturing out again, working with Another Planet Entertainment. And why this fantasy island? "Because it was there," Arnold says. "We spent a lot of time looking around San Francisco and where people have been able to stage concerts in the past and make the event stand out. The island has all of that going for it: the location is pretty idyllic and beautiful, and it seemed like a fun thing to do."

Arnold and Kurland had come to a turning point with Noise Pop 14, and lately, he says, "we felt like it was time to really go for it and see if we can expand and actually make some money on what had been a large hobby for a long time. [Noise Pop] had broke even but had not done much more." So they took a loan out, hired staffers like general manager Chris Appelgren, Lookout! Records’ last head, and are now — in addition to coproducing a series of music-oriented City Arts and Lectures talks — putting on an event that, at an estimated 10,000 attendees per day, threatens to consolidate SF’s rep as a ground zero for must-catch music fests. And who can resist the chance to see these acts with an open-air backdrop of the city, glistening across the water? "I think for a lot of people, it’s this big question mark in the middle of the bay — what is it?" Arnold says, recalling that he witnessed a Robot Wars event there a decade ago but has never tangled with the military police once positioned there (ask a certain Oakland hip-hop star about that). "I think it’s a neglected space, and it’ll be good to educate people about what the island is."

SHAPE-SHIFTING CLUBLAND Venues come and go and morph radically — hey, maybe Treasure Island will become our next no-parking Speedway Meadow. Thus, while the Make-Out Room has been getting a makeover, to be unveiled Sept. 7, and scales live music back to Fridays to Sundays, word comes from D’Jelly Brains’ John Binkov that legendary SF punk joint Mabuhay Gardens will reopen at 443 Broadway, under the aegis of punk and metal bookers Tambre Bryant and Tonus Atkins. D’Jelly Brains join Victim’s Family member Ralph Spight’s Freak Accident for the revived Fab Mab’s first show Sept. 7. "Hard to believe," he e-mails. "Went by there to check it out last night. Locked and shuttered…. But at least no sports bar, yuppie tunnel crowd, meat market."<\!s>*


Sept. 15–<\d>16, 12:30–<\d>10 p.m.; $58.50 per day, $110 for a two-day pass



With D’Jelly Brains and the Radishes

Fri/7, 9 p.m., $8

Mabuhay Gardens

443 Broadway, SF



Are Tinsel Town train wrecks responsible for Austin, Texas, band Okkervil River’s latest CD, The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)? Inspired by documentaries about Clara Bow, various show folk, and the poet John Berryman, vocalist-guitarist-songwriter Will Sheff wrote the album in a cheap rental in Brooklyn, a vast change from the rustic origins of 2005’s Black Sheep Boy. There, he found several lyrical themes running through the songs, concerning "having to be a fan and having to do with entertainment and what happens to you when you’re on the furthest extreme of life after entertainment. But it wasn’t necessarily as if I was trying to make some sort of finely tuned point, because if I wanted to do that I would write an essay and post it on the Internet."

To read the full interview, see the Noise Blog at www.sfbg.com/blogs/music.


Wed/5, 8 p.m.,$13 (sold out)


628 Divisadero, SF


Also Thurs/6, 6 p.m., free

Amoeba Music

1855 Haight, SF


Trust anyone over 50?


› kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER As the summer squeezes out its last warmish days, we can safely say that we’re glad for one thing: that with the end of the season comes those last nagging reminders of the Summer of Love, all that was great and good about hippie Frisky, the perpetually remarketable, oh-so-remarkable boomer musical legacy, and how radical it was that so many acolytes drifted here four decades ago to gobble acid and find themselves. Yet are we in the clear to say that we’re all a bit weary of the free-floating miasma of hype? By Jerry’s beard, it happens only every five to 10 years, when the once anti-establishment boomer establishment turns on, tunes in, and pats itself on the back yet again as the 25th, 30th, or 45th anniversaries roll around. I know an overweening sense of self-importance seems to be an intrinsic part of one’s duty as an American citizen, but has there ever been a more self-congratulatory generation than the one that birthed the Summer of Love? Can we now unofficially rename it the Summer of Self-Love? Can I be excused from the creaky, walker-bound group grope that will accompany the big five-oh?

Yep, hippie-bashing, at this queasy, war-wracked juncture, is a tired, predictable, oft-rightie-instigated contact sport that’s far too easy to indulge in. Still, has there ever been a wave of so-called progressives so determined to look back, so intent in repackaging their relics for resale? You can stuff mewling protests against ageism in your tie-dyed Depends. Boomer rockers have been so busy crowing from the rooftops about their accomplishments for so many years that they’ve failed to notice how incredibly bored youngsters — and even not-so-young ‘uns — have become with Grandpappy’s zillionth sing-along to "Love Me Do." Indeedy, nothing can ever compare to your old-time rock ‘n’ roll, your first trip, orgy, no-nukes protest, Jell-O wrasslin’ bout, ad infinitum. But must we still hear about it? This from the same gen, captains helming a capsizing music industry, that turned the phrase “classic rock,” that has insisted on recognizing every anniversary of ’60s-era recording classics, from the Beatles to Sly Stone to Jefferson Airplane to brrrzzzzzzz …

Grrrzzzdhoooh-ha! Oh, were you saying? By the way, when the music’s over — turn off the light, OK? I know hippies weren’t the ones to self-aggrandizingly dub themselves the Greatest Generation. And perhaps we’ve all come to expect far too much from our self-promoting, self-obsessed, yet always self-critical forebears. Yet when word of bickering between competing SF Summer of Love events in August began drifting hither — rumors that Summer of Love 40th Anniversary producer Boots Hughston tells me are simply that: rumors (“We’d been promoting Summer of Love for a year and a half. They had been working on the Hope and Beyond AIDS project in other countries, but this year they decided to change the name of the event — we have a lot of respect for them”) — it seemed like a little peace was in order. After all, the entire purpose behind the Sept. 2 event, Hughston explains, is to “remind people there are other things rather than taking over other countries and going to war over oil — like compassion and understanding. Why not remind people where it all began in 1967?” That’s why Hughston says Country Joe McDonald, Taj Mahal, Canned Heat, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and others are performing free, in between the spiritual and political speakers.

Good intentions go far with even crankaholics like yours truly. But how did the event — which could have used some younger, relevant artists indebted to the San Francisco Sound in its lineup (look for a sampling at this weekend’s Ben Lomond Indian Summer Music Festival) — come to fall on the very day most of its younger demographic might be burning elsewhere? “There is a strong synergy between us and Burning Man, you’re right,” Hughston says. “But you can always go to Burning Man, and you can’t always go to the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.” He believes some burners will be leaving early to return for his 40th event. Smokin’.


Sun/2, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., free with flower

Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF



One of the most seriously wonderful folk-rock LPs to come down the pike of late has to be Marissa Nadler’s Songs III: Bird on the Water, out last year on UK’s Peace Frog label and recently picked up for US distribution by Kemado. It’s anything but a purist artifact — "The reverb probably gives it that haunting quality. It’s something I’ve always used in abundance on my voice to many people’s distaste," Nadler, 26, says with a laugh, speaking from outside Boston.

Alas, Nadler has often struggled with intense shyness in presenting her creations. "Maybe it’s a masochistic thing that I want to put myself through the pain of performing," the songwriter says. "But at no point is the first song easy." Ever considered Blues Brothers–style shades? "I’ve definitely thought about it," she confesses.


Wed/29, 9:30 p.m., $8

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF




Is this where today’s summer lovers are really headed? Bay Area and Los Angeles creatives like Entrance, Paula Frazer, and Mammatus converge. Fri/31–Sun/2, $12–$18 per show; $40–$45 three-day pass. Henfling’s Tavern, 9450 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond. www.myspace.com/benlomondindiansummer


D-day for Bey? Fri/31, 7:30 p.m., $75.95–$143.57. Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakl. www.ticketmaster.com


Sweetwater stemmed? The Bay Area singer-songwriter bids farewell to the historic club with its last show, the day before it shutters due to a drastic rent increase. Fri/31, 9:30 p.m., $15. Sweetwater Saloon, 153 Throckmorton, Mill Valley. www.ticketweb.com.


Paws for LA’s feral chamber post-punkers. Fri/31, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com.