Our Weekly Picks: August 1-7

Pub date July 31, 2012


Erol Alkan

A couple years ago it was easier to define Erol Alkan. He was electro. People would say it like it was the best thing in the world or the worst, but it was clear cut, straightforward, easily understood. Recently, though, the London producer’s already impeccable remix work — for bands including Tame Impala, Metronomy, and St. Etienne — has shown increased range, patience, and emotion. While his continued team-up with Boys Noize shows he’s not afraid to still go HARD, with Connan Mockasin’s “Forever Dolphin Love” (a song so nice, he reworked it twice) Alkan went in an entirely other direction, arguably surpassed the original, and created what might be the ultimate comedown track. (Ryan Prendiville)

With Omar (Popscene) 10pm, $10–$20


85 Campton Place, SF

(415) 433-8585




After a stint as a member of Bright Eyes’ touring band in 2011, Mynabirds frontwoman Laura Burhenn went back into the studio to work on her Saddle Creek indie collective’s sophomore release, Generals, a concept album about war, tragedy, and disarmament (inspired by Richard Avedon’s photo, “Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution”). The result is a protest record that embodies the spirit of the Occupy Everything movement. Burhenn’s soulful voice soars over percussive, full-bodied pop melodies to sing about a wide array of conflicts, both political and personal. In a concurrent side project called the New Revolutionists, Burhenn uses a portrait series to highlight women who have taken the initiative to be disarmers and activists in their own communities around the country. (Haley Zaremba)

With Deep Time

9:30pm, $12

Cafe Du Nord

2170 Market, SF

(415) 861-5016




“City Scenes: Installment Four”

Never spent time with David Bowie’s album Diamond Dogs? Beloved San Francisco musician John Vanderslice wants to change that. In the Vogue Theatre’s fourth installment of its ongoing “City Scenes” series, Vanderslice will perform Diamond Dogs, followed by a screening of Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep (2006). Vanderslice says he loves the film because of its “vulnerable and personal vibe,” and he considers the Bowie album to be one of the most underrated records, calling it “casual, rugged, and handmade.” Vanderslice adds that the record, which was inspired by Orwell’s 1984,”[was] his most drugged out, freaked out work.” Gondry’s film, which follows Charlotte Gainsbourg and Gael Garcia Bernal on a journey through the human psyche, certainly connects to a Bowie’d musical introduction exploring the confines of state control on the mind. (Shauna C. Keddy)

8pm, $15

Vogue Theatre

3290 Sacramento, SF

(415) 346-2228




Sure, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada are seasoned veterans of electronic powerhouse Warp Records, and rightly so; but where have they been lately? Squarepusher, on the other hand, has been churning out quality records for the UK label, with Woody Allenesque prolificacy, since 1996. From ’70s Miles Davis homages, to laptop geekfests, to Daft Punk nods, to virtuosic bass-guitar workouts worthy of a Steely Dan session player, Squarepusher mastermind Tom Jenkinson has built a career on defying expectations and constantly switching focus — which makes the prospect of a live appearance so damn interesting. (Taylor Kaplan)

With Eric Sharp 8pm, $30

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF

888) 929-7849



Buraka Som Sistema

There’s just something fascinating about watching a crowd attempt to dance along to a beat that is as unfamiliar as it is irresistible. That was the scene at last year’s Treasure Island Music Festival, during the performance of Portugal’s Buraka Som Sistema. Buraka’s a reportedly rough and tumble neighborhood in Lisbon; Som Sistema quickly translates to “sound system”; put it together and you have a partying collective of DJs, producers, MCs, and dancers spreading the Angolan-originated, techno and hip-hop influenced genre of kuduro. Understanding Portuguese is not a prerequisite, as the group’s seemingly competitive desire to hype up a crowd (with easily recognizable calls to “shake that ass”) proves immediate and universal. (Prendiville)

9pm, $20  


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421



Peaking Lights and Woods

One night, two up-and-coming bands with the blogosphere on their side. Woods might be from Brooklyn, but they forgo the New York state of mind in favor of a pastoral, sun-drenched, Byrds-worshipping brand of lo-fi pop, well suited to your next cabin retreat. Originally from the Bay Area, Madison, Wisconsin-based duo Peaking Lights weaves an infectiously stoney web of dub, Krautrock, and loopy, gloopy pop a la Panda Bear, seemingly tailor-made for record collectors and serial name-droppers. First acoustic, then electronic, on an enticing double-bill unlikely to result in any sense of redundancy. (Kaplan)

With Wet Illustrated 9pm, $16

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750



Birds & Batteries

With the impending release of their new album Stray Light, Birds & Batteries will once grace our ears with chirping indie-pop bliss smashed with heavy electronic beats. Like the name, the band embraces a meeting of the natural and the digital. While their sound embraces vast expanses, it’s also crisp and wound tight; if you want to wave your arms around in the air like you’re at a bonfire dance circle, but also jump up and down like you would at any good rock show, this will be a lovely fit for you The band kicks off its US tour this weekend at the Rickshaw Stop. (Keddy)

With Radiation City, Trails & Ways

9pm, $10–$12

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011



The Pharcyde

Gangsta rap was important and fun in the beginning — and, in retrospect, so kittenish that 50,000 white kids would end up singing along with an anachronistic hologram 20 years later in the California desert. But all the grim misogyny and hysterical homophobia sure got tired. Luckily, Cali also kept the flame alive in the ’90s for inventive, unabashedly intelligent hip-hop. Surreal lyrical genius-machine the Pharcyde blew up the charts with first album Bizarre Ride II in 1992, now original quartet members Fatlip and SlimKid3, with producers J-Swift and LA Jay, are giving the live full-band treatment to Bizarre. (Bootie Brown and Imani, who tried to jumpstart the band back in 2004 are doing their own thing, notably Bootie’s guest spots with Gorillaz.) SLICK, the graffitist responsible for Bizarre‘s cover, art directs the show. (Marke B.)

10pm-4am, $20–$25

1015 Folsom, SF.



Castro Theatre’s 90th anniversary

Single-screen movie palace the Castro Theater opened in 1922 — and 90 years later, it’s still going strong, with a robust calendar of festivals, first-run movies, rep screenings, and special events. Celebrate this happiest of birthdays by stopping by this weekend’s festivities (special programming, including a John Huston series, continues throughout August). Today, there’ll be a screening of 1964 classic Mary Poppins (presented sing-a-long style — chim-chim-chir-ee!) plus a Howard Hawks double feature of The Big Sleep (1946) and Where Danger Lives (1950), hosted by Noir City’s Eddie Muller, all with pre-show musical entertainment. Head over tomorrow for a couple of films you might have heard of (1941’s Citizen Kane, 1939’s Gone With the Wind), or mark your calendar for upcoming must-see-on-the-big-screen entries, including Roman Polanski’s 1974 Chinatown (Aug. 28). (Cheryl Eddy)

Mary Poppins, 2 p.m., $8.50–$15

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF



The English Beat

In 1979, the Beat (known in the US as the English Beat) emerged from struggling, blue-collar Birmingham, England. In an era of widespread unemployment and sociopolitical conflict, the band responded by writing simple, fun ska tunes about something we can all agree on: love. The Beat was an overnight success with its chart-topping cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown.” These legendary musicians, now considered pioneers of two-tone ska along with the likes of the Specials and Madness, have been touring consistently since they reunited in 2003. In today’s similarly tumultuous political climate, perhaps a little love and skanking is what we all need. (Zaremba)

With the Champions Inc.

8pm, $25

Bimbo’s 365

1025 Columbus, SF

(415) 474-0365



Drift of a Curse

Supergroups of our time: Bad Company, Damn Yankees, Traveling Wilburys, uh … Asia? Does Asia count? Dunno. What’s important is that local supergroup of sorts Drift of a Curse (it started as an Old Grandad side project, and also features members of Hammers of Misfortune, Aerial Ruin, and Hazzard’s Cure) is reuniting for its first shows in two years. Tonight’s gig prefaces a mini tour to points Northwest; expect to hear songs off 2008 album The Wrong Witness, recorded before the band had played any live shows, and more in the vein of the group’s self-described sound: “melodic vocals, clean tones, and psychedelic soundscapes” with “elements of metal and rock.” Super! (Eddy)

With Hazzard’s Cure

10pm, $6

Bender’s Bar

806 S. Van Ness, SF

(415) 824-1800



Radio Moscow

This power trio is a blast from the psychedelic past. Drawing from Cream, Hendrix, and ZZ Top, the Story City, Iowa garage rockers play new-old stoner rock with fuzzed out guitar solos and bluesy, experimental jams as long as their Zeppelin-inspired hair. After the band handed a demo to Dan Auerbach at a Black Keys concert, the retro-rock guru got them signed to Alive Naturalsound Records and produced their first album, released in 2007. The band has since relocated to Northern California and after months on the road to support their third full-length, Radio Moscow is ending its national tour in San Francisco. (Zaremba)

With the Dirty Streets, Coo Coo Birds

8:30pm, $12

Cafe Du Nord

2170 Market, SF

(415) 861-5016



Sutekh Hexen

Juggling noise and ambience with a shrewd sense of balance rarely seen among metal outfits, SF’s own Sutekh Hexen specializes in that rare brand of distortion-based guitar chaos in which the darkness is completely convincing. Like Sunn O)))’s dronier passages, approached with the relentless tunnel-vision of Metal Machine Music, this trio’s output is as mentally/physically draining as it is hypnotic and bliss-inducing. Their newly released full-length, Behind the Throne, might as well be titled Ambient 5: Music for Melting Your Face Off. Might wanna bring some earplugs; this one’ll be a doozy. (Kaplan)

With Hallow, Rain and Endless Fall, Rigis

Elbo Room

647 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788


The Guardian listings deadline is two weeks prior to our Wednesday publication date. To submit an item for consideration, please include the title of the event, a brief description of the event, date and time, venue name, street address (listing cross streets only isn’t sufficient), city, telephone number readers can call for more information, telephone number for media, and admission costs. Send information to Listings, the Guardian, 71 Stevenson St., Second Floor, SF, CA 94105; fax to (415) 487-2506; or e-mail (paste press release into e-mail body — no text attachments, please) to listings@sfbg.com. Digital photos may be submitted in jpeg format; the image must be at least 240 dpi and four inches by six inches in size. We regret we cannot accept listings over the phone.