Stream of movement


DANCE Liss Fain borrowed the title of her most recent installation — the wondrous The Imperfect is Our Paradise, Sept. 11-14 at ODC Theaterfrom Wallace Stevens. But the work’s inspiration was William Faulkner’s 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury, an often stream-of-consciousness study of the Compson family in Jefferson, Miss. She employed fragments of the text, not unlike previous works in which she explored the words of Jamaica Kincaid, Virginia Woolf, and Lydia Davis.

For Imperfect, Fain turned again to previous collaborators Matthew Antaky (installation design), Frédéric Boulay (projection design), and Mary Domenico (costume design — great, ratty overalls), as well as composer Dan Wool, who has a lovely habit of including into his own scores a quote from classical music. They feel like nods to another world.

Fain now also has a fine, stable ensemble that beautifully realizes her strong, formally contained choreography. Returning dancers Jeremiah Crank, Katharine Hawthorne, sisters Megan and Shannon Kurashige, and Carson Stein were joined by Gregory DeSantis and Aidan DeYoung. They lent a workmanlike, stoic sense of inevitability to their performances, whether staring into the void or ensnaring partners every which way. This was true ensemble work.

Imperfect communicates with its intelligence, clarity of purpose, and rich, tight choreography. Antaky added his magic by designing 12 panels that hung high above the audience on all four sides. They first suggested a sense of enclosure with brick walls, then threats from nature, stockade-like fences, and finally a dead house on a hill. The stage floor looked like dry dirt, or as if covered with leaves. It made me think of Benjy, the Compsons’ disabled son, who loved the smell of trees.

About the use of Faulkner’s text, I am of two minds. In voiceover, it was often more difficult to decipher than, for instance, actor Val Sinckler’s live performance in the Kincaid-inspired work. If text is used, it should be comprehensible. That’s why it’s there. At the same time, those fragments I did catch — primarily those from Quentin, the book’s most contemporary and most tragic character — pulled me away from Fain toward Faulkner’s narrative, such as it is. I thought it distracting rather then illuminating.

Since Fain encourages audiences to walk around the perimeter of the stage, though few people do, she meticulously designed her choreography from the periphery, into and out of the center space. In the beginning, the dancers stood immobile, staring into the void, before slowly coming to life and offering us different perspectives of themselves. I expected characters to emerge, but they didn’t.

With the exception of Hawthorne, who throughout remained something of a wild card, this was a homogenous group that was caught in what was perhaps a common dilemma. The title’s slippery Imperfect refers to something flawed, but grammatically, it also references past actions that are finished in some languages; in others, they project into the present. If Fain had overreaching themes in mind, they might have been time and memory, past and present.

The choreography asks for strength with lots of elaborate partnering — mostly male to female, yet without a trace of romantic intent. These dancers engage each other almost impersonally as something that is inevitable and that will be repeated for who knows how long. Despite the few unisons — some triple duets, a few one-on-ones — Imperfect has a churning sense of commonality about it. An arabesque can turn into a backward somersault and end between a partner’s leg. The dancers engage each other by rearranging body parts — an elbow here, a foot there — and flipping in every direction. They entangle their bodies, lift and drop them. Often they sink to the floor but pneumatically rise again.

As she has in the past, Fain makes prominent use of the arms. People yank and pull at them like tug of wars. But they also lock elbows, as if going for a stroll, but then immediately slip out of this companionship into more robust moves, becoming burdens which can be dropped or gently let go.

When Wool introduces Bach, the tall and elegant Hawthorne and Crank look like they remember the ballroom decorum of an earlier era. If there is one “character” it is Hawthorne, an astoundingly versatile and detailed dancer. She can stand on the sidelines as if watching for a prey, with a single gesture break up a couple, and again and again tear across the space sweeping the floor clean with her tornado-like whipping turns, pleading arms reaching for the light.

With Hawthorne in control, you get the sense that Imperfect contemplates time — past and time as it is passing. It may all stem from Faulkner, and the watch that the Compson family patriarch gives to Quentin, his oldest son. *

Summer sounds



The debut full-length from this SF-based trio, out Aug. 26, is full of dance-worthy electro pop with what feels like a surround-sound wall of synth, recorded, layered, and perfected at our own Different Fur Studios. Jumpy, bright, but not too cacophonous for a hungover late August day at the park; it’d pair well with DIY mimosas, come to think of it. Catch ’em at a free in-store at Amoeba Aug. 23, or at the album release party at Bottom of the Hill Aug. 29.

Fake Mirror

Self-recorded using an 8-track tape over the course of four years, The Aerosols‘ sophomore record calls to mind bootleg recordings of your favorite sing-songy indie or punk bands getting weird and stoned and psyche-y in someone’s college house basement. I’m thinking here of a particular Weezer rarities compilation, but The Aerosols seem more committed to their weirdness than that, with a distinct, sneering Brit-pop overlay that never feels forced. Get far out at the album release show Aug. 31 at the Make-Out Room.

Dying Is Fun

We’ve been waiting on this one a long time — ever since this Oakland art-rock quartet started dropping darkly entertaining singles, with cut-above-the-rest grunge operatics thanks to singer Sivan Gur-Arieh’s stage presence and creative interpretation of the violin as a tool for punk rock. The band just signed to Tricycle Records for this debut LP, so we’re excited to see what’s next. Their next wild and woolly live show will be an album release party Sept. 5 at the Rickshaw Stop.

Uncle John Farquhar

The second full-length from this Americana four-piece — which draws its name from the town that’s equidistant between frontmen Avi Vinocur and Patrick Dyer Wolf’s homes in SF and North Carolina — is saved from falling down the alt-country cliché rabbit hole by seriously smart, cinematic songwriting. If Civil War stories and stomp-along choruses and lullabies for bank robbers are in your wheelhouse, you’re in luck.


Local boy makes good…moves to LA. Despite the Bay Area’s reigning king of effortless psych-garage-pop melody having recently abandoned the fog for sunnier (cheaper) pastures, we’re going to claim him as our own for at least the next decade — especially since this record, with its ’70s glam-rock, space-age guitar and lush T-Rex-esque vocals, is probably Segall’s best, most three-dimensional record yet. If we have to take a brief road trip to see him more often, so be it (sniff).

Ensemble Mik Nawooj: A Hip-Hop Orchestra

That album title might seem to say it all, but you really can’t understand what it’s like to hear Wu-Tang songs reimagined by a classical orchestra until, well, you’ve heard ’em. JooWan Kim, a Taoist Bay Area composer born in Korea and educated at Berklee, didn’t start listening to hip-hop until he was in his 20s, and the result is fresh, funky, disorienting, and interesting from start to finish. The orchestra will celebrate its debut album with a free release party at Intersection for the Arts on Sept. 6.

Boxing lessons


While still a child in early-’80s San Francisco, Boots Riley witnessed something he didn’t quite understand but that would stick with him for the rest of his life. Walking into a theater performance at the venerable Mission District art space Project Artaud, Riley saw actors in body paint writhing around him in apparent agony on all sides. It was meant as a simulation of the AIDS epidemic, with the actors portraying the afflicted. But it didn’t enlighten him much as a kid.

“It just scared the hell out of me,” Riley recalls. “You walk into this place, and it’s like a whole city, with people all around you.”

Given how Riley’s own work with long-running hip-hop group The Coup likewise mixes political activism with overwhelming performance energy, it’s fitting he would look back on this experience as the inspiration for The Coup’s new multimedia project, Shadowbox. Featuring the work of street artist Jon-Paul Bail, videographer David Szlasa, and a host of other bands and performers, Shadowbox casts the Coup’s music in the context of an all-encompassing artwork that attacks the audience from all sides. He’s debuting the project at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Aug. 16, but he hopes to eventually take it on the road to wherever an art establishment is willing to fund it.

Riley prefers to remain secretive about what the performance actually entails. He’s described it in the past as featuring puppets, drones and “Guantanamo Bay go-go dancers,” whatever those may be. To Riley, having the audience come in blind is key to maximizing the impact of the show.

“Some of the things that would make people probably want to come to the performance are things I don’t want to talk about before they happen,” Riley says.

What we do know is that it’ll feature multiple stages and a dizzying roster of collaborators, from socialist hip-hop militants Dead Prez to dream-pop duo Snow Angel, comedian W. Kamau Bell, chamber orchestra Classical Revolution, and the New Orleans-style second line unit Extra Action Marching Band. All of it will be encased by Bail’s black-and-white artwork, which will give the audience the impression of being in an actual “box of shadows.”

Bail, a Bay Area street artist perhaps best known as of late for his “Hella Occupy Oakland” poster, was one of Riley’s early heroes on the Bay Area art scene. The two met in the late ’80s amid a wave of neo-Nazi skinhead activity in the Bay Area, which the two of them helped fight to counter.

“When I was in high school I would hang out at Alameda Beach,” Riley recalls. “Back then Alameda was still a navy town and they didn’t like a lot of black folks coming around. Police rolled up to harass us, and the police insignia on the car was covered in a swastika. The first thing I thought was: ‘Who the fuck did that?'”

It turned out to be Bail, and the two artists quickly bonded, putting up anti-Nazi posters around the city. They’ve remained friends through the years, but they haven’t collaborated on a large-scale project until now.

“He was the first artist I ever met who was trying to do something more with art than just make art,” Riley says. “He had a collective at California College of the Arts at the time, which had the slogan — ‘no art for art’s sake.'”

The Yerba Buena Arts Center connected Riley and Bail with videographer (and Theater Artaud collaborator) David Szlasa, who helped design the video elements of the project. Together, they form Shadowbox’s core creative axis, responsible for the aesthetically overwhelming experience Riley hopes the project will be.

Though Shadowbox contains elements of both a gallery exhibition and a theatrical performance, Riley ultimately hopes that Shadowbox will feel more like a show than anything else, in line with the Coup’s high-octane concerts.

“A lot of the time when you’re doing something theatrical people just want to stand around,” Riley says. “But our shows have always been known to be a dance party, and we’re keeping the audience with us and not just watching us.”

The performers and artworks are intended to surround an audience, which will be able to move around and examine the exhibit at first. But as the room fills, Riley hopes the crowd will solidify and focus on the music. The musical element of Shadowbox will mostly consist of Coup songs, but each of the additional musical performers will play one of their own songs in addition to collaborating with the band.

The Coup didn’t write songs specifically for the performance, rather choosing to perform works culled from the band’s six-album, 20-plus-year catalog — including a few unreleased tracks and songs they don’t generally perform live. Though calling Shadowbox an augmented Coup concert would surely sell the event and its collaborators short, it seems as if all the key elements of a Coup show will be there: the songs, the audience-bludgeoning power, and especially the politics.

Though the title Shadowbox primarily refers to the effect Bail’s artwork creates on the performance space, Riley sees multiple meanings to the title. Shadowboxing is the practice in boxing of “fighting” an imaginary opponent to prepare for a match, and Riley sees parallels between this practice and the way in which the Coup “prepares” its listeners to fight real-life injustices. He’s aware political art can’t always change the world on its own, but it can inspire listeners to take action.

This gives rise to a third, even more poignant meaning to the title: that the social issues depicted in the work are only shadows of what’s really happening in the world, contained within the clearly defined “box” of the performance space.

“There are a lot of terrible things happening in the world that we’re talking about in the performance,” Riley said. “But the artwork is just a shadow of what’s really going on.”


Saturday, Aug. 16, 5 and 9pm, $25-$30

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF


Of borders and love songs


LEFT OF THE DIAL The way in which Diana Gameros first came to America is a world away from the heart-wrenching images we’re currently seeing in the news media of children who’ve been sent, on their own, to the U.S. border from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. At 13, she arrived on an airplane from her home city of Juarez, Mexico; the plan was to stay with an aunt who lived in Michigan for the summer. When Gameros visited her cousin’s school there, and saw that it had a swimming pool, among other luxurious-seeming facilities, her aunt asked if she wanted to go to that school and learn English. Gameros couldn’t say yes fast enough. She wound up staying three years, returning to Mexico for the second half of high school, and then moving back to the U.S. for college.

So no, no one ever sent her out on foot for the border, hoping that on the other side lay someone or something that could mean a brighter future.

And yet: “I’m kind of a fanatic when it comes to following this country’s immigration system and its history,” says Gameros, a fixture in San Francisco’s singer-songwriter scene for her thoughtful, melodic story-songs that contain both English and Spanish (she’s been referred to as the Latin Feist).

“I think there’s a lot that most American people don’t know. You hear people judging, calling these parents irresponsible…it’s so much more complicated than that,” she says. “People don’t know how the U.S.’s actions have affected these countries. People are risking their children’s lives because they need to be here. It’s not for the American dream, they’re not here to buy a nice car, a big house. They’re here because they want to eat, have a roof over their heads, fulfill basic necessities. It’s frustrating. There’s so much ignorance.”

Her unique perspective on border issues is one reason Gameros was selected to perform at MEX I AM: Live It to Believe It, a nearly weeklong festival organized by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in conjunction with SF’s Consulate General of Mexico. Bringing together musicians, actors, visual artists, and academics from throughout Mexico from July 31 through Aug. 5, the festival includes classical, indie, and pop music and dance, lectures and discussion of Mexico’s achievements and challenges, and a meeting of minds around border issues.

The program in which Gameros will perform, on the evening of Friday, Aug. 1, is called “Ideas: North and South of the Border,” and aims to explore innovation in the sciences, arts, and culture in Mexico. Among the other speakers: astronaut Jose Hernandez, who grew up in the Central Valley as the son of immigrant farmers; he’ll discuss his journey from childhood (he didn’t learn to read or speak in English until he was 12) through getting a degree in electrical engineering and eventually being tapped by NASA. Rosario Marin, the first Mexican-American woman to serve as Treasurer of the United States, will also be present, along with Favianna Rodriguez, a transnational visual artist whose work “depicts how women, migrants and outsiders are affected by global politics, economic inequality, patriarchy and interdependence” and the director of CultureStrike, an arts organization that works to organize artists, writers, and performers around migrant rights.

On the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 2, actress-dancer Vicky Araico will perform her award-winning monologue Juana In a Million, which chronicles an undocumented immigrant’s quest to find home.

The other musical performances throughout the week run the gamut from Natalia Lafourcade, a two-time Latin Grammy winning pop singer, to Murcof + Simon Geilfus, an electronic audio-visual collaboration, the award-winning percussion ensemble Tambuco, renowned composer and jazz musician Hector Infanzon, and more.

Gameros, whose 2013 album Eterno Retorno (Eternal Return) features a song called “SB 1070” (after the racist Arizona law designed to prosecute undocumented immigrants), says she thinks her music can be a subtle form of education, an artistic entry point for people who might not know or think much about immigration issues.

“It’s a topic that touches me deeply, so my protest music is my offering, my way to say I’m with you and I stand with you,” she says. “Though if you listen to my lyrics you might think many [songs] are love songs, or written to a lover who didn’t treat me right.”

Gameros adds that she hopes the Latino community in San Francisco will embrace the festival and show up, a sentiment that carries a particular weight as housing prices in areas like the Mission are changing the local face of the local Latino population. “Unless its the symphony doing something with a Mexican artist, we don’t really have access to events like this that are mainstream cultural celebrations, normally,” she says. “And there’s such a fascinating group of people all here for it — I just hope as many people as possible take advantage of it, that they come and hear these stories we have to tell.”



July 31 through Aug. 5, prices and times vary

Most events at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2700

New classics


DANCE It took Los Angeles-born Melody Takata, founder and artistic director of Japantown’s GenRyu Arts, four years to convince her parents to let her study dance. It was her older sister’s “fault” — she had studied ballet for a while but didn’t like it and stopped. “So my parents didn’t want to go through that experience again,” Takata remembered. But Takata was living in a Japanese American community that embraced traditional arts, and ballet wasn’t what she had in mind.

When she finally got her way, she went all out, starting at eight with Odori (Japanese dance), including Bon Odori, a popular circular community dance integral to the Odon festival that honors the ancestors. At 10, she began studying Nihon Buyo (Japanese classical dance) and did so for a decade. During that time, she acquired a repertoire of some two dozen solos drawn from Kabuki. “Some of them, I perform excerpts only; they are too long for an audience to sit through,” she observed. They are also expensive to perform because they have to be licensed, and the elaborate costumes (up to $10,000 a piece) are costly, even on loan. Yet recently, Takata reprised her studies with her 93-year-old Nihon Buyo teacher, wanting to deepen her insight into this noble art.

So what attracted her to this rigorous and highly stylized form that includes — besides dancing from within heavy costumes — an intricate gestural vocabulary of fans, swords, scarves, umbrellas, and even canes? “I just liked becoming all these different characters,” she smiled.

Adding to her dance studies, at 13 she started on the shamisen (“three-stringed”) instrument; at 15 she joined the Taiko group Los Angeles Matsuri. “Dance is my first love, and music is part of that,” she explained. Taiko sharpens rhythmic acuity, but for Takata, it’s also part of a communal experience.

She creates multifaceted works in which she wants “to explore our story” through Taiko, spoken word, contemporary movement, music, traditional Japanese dance, and video. Regular collaborators include Francis Wong and Asian Improv aRts, as well as actor-comedian Todd Nakagawa and Chicago filmmaker, bassist, shamisen expert, and Taiko drummer Tatsuo Aoki.

Though steeped in tradition, Takata doesn’t want these practices to become enshrined as museum pieces. In 2012, as part of Chicago’s annual Taiko Legacy festival, Takata — dressed in a black evening gown and elbow-length white gloves — performed her solo Yodan, which melded dance and Taiko. Her works may examine issues particular to her community, but they also resonate with broader audiences. In 2010, Tsuki no Usagi (Rabbit in the Moon) was created to mark the centennial of the Angel Island Immigration Center, where 60,000 Japanese passed through 1910-1940. The work is rooted in a popular myth in which a rabbit was willing to sacrifice its life for others. As a reward it was lifted to the moon where, Takata said, “it can be seen on either side of the ocean.”

The themes of 2011’s Fox and Jewel — which added jazz, animation, and poetry into the dance-and-Taiko mix — no doubt resonated with Bay Area audiences. Fox is a magical shape-shifting being who comes to the aid of humble folks; in this piece, it’s a mochi-shop owner who takes on real estate speculators who continue to threaten the existence of the local Japantown.

Takata’s newest work, Shadow to Shadow, premieres Sat/12 as part of this year’s Japan Week. The hourlong piece draws inspiration from Junichiro Tanizaki’s poetic In Praise of Shadows, in which he wistfully looks at Japan’s increasing Westernization and the essential differences between two cultures that are still learning to coexist.



Physically, Enrico Labayen may be small, but in importance, he stands tall. Faced with multiple physical challenges and exorbitant medical bills, the choreographer and artistic director of Labayen Dance/SF is in the fight of his life. So the dance community is stepping up with “Encore for Enrico,” a benefit performance to help one of its own. Though he was an early member of Lines Ballet and a longtime ballet teacher, Labayen may best be known as a prolific and wide-ranging choreographer for his own company. But he also is a generous supporter for those who come here from other places, as he did. Recent arrivals like Victor Talledos and Daiane Lopes da Silva found an early home in his company. Health permitting, Labayen will perform a new solo, Will You Still Be There? *


Sat/12, 2 and 7:30pm, free (donations accepted; sign up for free tickets at

Tateuchi Hall

1830 Sutter, SF


Sat/12, 7:30pm, $25-$30

Dance Mission Theater

3316 24th St, SF

This Week’s Picks: July 2 – 8, 2014




Be Calm Honcho

As Be Calm Honcho’s lead singer croons about her love of California on the band’s debut album, differences between the SF-based band and an LA-based band quickly emerge. (Yes, LA. You can stop bragging about being able to bath in sunshine at the beach 365 days a year.) Be Calm Honcho recorded the album in Stinson Beach, where Karl the Fog must’ve frequently drifted in, comfortably settling into his guest role on the album. The tunes sound effortlessly dreamy — even a little gloomily hopeful. The band is joined, fittingly, by fellow local bands, The She’s and Owl Paws, at its record release show tonight. (Amy Char)

With The She’s and Owl Paws

8pm, $10

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011




For the past three years, these hometown heroes have managed to charm the pants off of critics and fans alike with their powerfully emotive mixture of black metal and shoegaze. The band’s most recent album, Sunbather, a sad, seething record about the melancholy of perfectionism and unattainable ideals, was a critical darling that brought Deafheaven onto the national stage in a flood of gushing reviews and end-of-the-year best-of lists. Though they are a relatively new band, with only a few years and two albums under their belt, Deafheaven both record and perform with a masterful confidence and unabashed willingness to break the rules, creating a sound that has been described as “post-everything.” You don’t want to miss the chance to see them shred on their home turf. (Haley Zaremba)

With Wreck & Reference

8pm, $16

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750




Answer Me! A Comedy Game Show

A thick layer of dust covers your high school quiz bowl trophy in your childhood bedroom. Between Netflix marathons of Orange Is the New Black, you sort of yearn for an intellectually stimulating challenge. Take everything you know about Piper Chapman and head over to the Mission for tonight’s pop culture game show. (While you’re at it, consider renting a video or two to support Lost Weekend Video before the competition begins.) Two teams, each comprised of two local comedians and one randomly selected audience member, duke it out for frivolous fame and useless trinkets. Plus, your teammates are sure to be more entertaining than that awkward mouth-breather back in high school. (Amy Char)

8pm, $10

The Cinecave at Lost Weekend Video

1034 Valencia, SF

(415) 643-3373




Legendary Stardust Cowboy

Inspired by his obsession with space travel, Norman Carl Odam became the Legendary Stardust Cowboy in 1961 and has been honing his maniacal psychobilly style ever since. “The Ledge” is as interested in cars and girls as he is in sci-fi, toilet humor, and the political issues of whatever era he happens to find himself in (“They signed the treaty in Kyoto, Japan!” he screams on “Global Warming,” as if a UN conference was as exciting as a sockhop.) His absurd subject matter and often incomprehensible vocals have earned him fans from outsider-music guru Irwin Chusid to David Bowie, who covered “I Took A Ride On A Gemini Spacecraft” on his album Heathen. The Ledge’s upcoming Stork Club show should demonstrate why he’s considered one of America’s best — or at least most polarizing — touring musicians. (Daniel Bromfield)

9:30pm, $5

Stork Club

2330 Telegraph, Oakland

(510) 444-6174




Venetian Snares

Winnipeg-based electric music artist Andy Funk, better known as Venetian Snares, has been releasing bass-heavy odysseys of albums since the early 1990s. His artistic diversity and tendency to reinvent himself has led to a scattered but unbelievably prolific output — he’s put out 26 formal full-lengths for 8 different labels since 1998 alongside hundreds of EPs, singles, and mixes. While Venetian Snare’s time signatures, samples, and equipment are constantly in flux, his music stays abrasive and challenging no matter the set-up. His newest album, My Love, is a Bulldozer, released two weeks ago, juxtaposes modern classical elements — particularly strings — with extended drum machine and bass breakdowns and irreverent, often hilarious lyrics. Known for his live mixing and aggressive sets, expect both IDM aficionados and raging moshers to be showing up in full force. Avoid the trite fireworks and head to the Independent for some real explosives. (David Kurlander)

8pm, $15


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421



Gilman Benefit

924 Gilman has gotten some flak recently for hiking up the prices of its shows, deviating from its original $5-a-show credo in order to satisfy the demands of its $4,500 rent. Luckily, Gilman will will be hosting not one, but two benefit concerts in the first two weeks of June — and both will only set you back a paper Lincoln. The first will take place on the 4th of July and features a host of local bands, including The SoundWaves (San Leandro), Flip & The European Mutts (San Jose), and Black Dream (San Francisco) — plus Drinking Water, an Arizona ska-punk trio that’s toured in the US and Mexico. Though benefit No. 2 features a higher proportion of indie rockers, this one is as punk as anything the Gilman’s ever put on. (Daniel Bromfield)

7pm, $5

924 Gilman

924 Gilman, Berkeley

(510) 524-8180




The Fresh & Onlys

Though they rose to fame with the San Francisco garage-rock explosion of a few years back, the Fresh & Onlys eschew the punky pulp-horror aesthetic of many of their contemporaries in favor of a romantic sound that’s more Heart Shaped World than “Heart Shaped Box.” Though their early recordings (Grey Eyed Girls, Play It Strange) are as fuzzy as anything Ty Segall or John Dwyer’s ever done, the Fresh & Onlys have always been more pop than rock, more brain than body, more introverted than extroverted. But that doesn’t mean they can’t hold it down live — whether as an opener or headliner, they can bend their style to suit just about any live setting and keep the party going. (Daniel Bromfield)

9pm, $15

The Chapel

777 Valencia, San Francisco

(415) 551-5157





“Brakhage, Brakhage, Brakhage!”

Add about 397 more “Brakhages” to the title of this Yerba Buena Center of the Arts tribute to the late, great experimental filmmaker, and you’ll have the approximate number of films he created over the span of his career. Three programs highlight both familiar and rare works from the celluloid wizard. Up first is today’s “Self and Other,” films from 1974-86 that examine “how autobiography and portraiture can be represented with motion pictures.” Later programs are “Sound Films” (1962-74), spotlighting some of the oft-silent artist’s soundtracked pieces; and a vivid, gorgeous array of late-career works represented in “Hand-Painted Films” (1993-2002). (Cheryl Eddy)

2pm, $8-$10

Also July 10, 7:30pm; July 13, 2pm

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission, SF



The San Francisco Symphony

The San Francisco Symphony heads west to the Sunset on Sunday for its annual appearance at the free Stern Grove Festival. The outdoor affair, picturesquely located in a green basin of rocks and picnic tables, will feature a mostly 20th-century program conducted by charismatic former Symphony Resident Conductor Edwin Outwater. More unconventional programming, including several offerings from Howard Hansons 1930s opera Merry Mount, join standard overtures and waltzes by Bernstein and Richard Rodgers. A potential second-half highlight comes in the form of Ravel’s heartbreakingly gorgeous “Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte” and exhilarating “Bolero,” both presented with jazz improvisations from prolific pianist Makoto Ozone — the reworking of these iconic classics into new styles should lead to striking new modalities and moods. Pack up a cheese plate and your best white capris and head down to the Grove for an alternately meditative and rousing journey through the modern classical canon. (David Kurlander)

2pm, free

Sigmund Stern Grove

19th Ave. and Sloat, SF

(415) 252-6252





Cloud Nothings

Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings have been indie darlings since the band’s formation in 2009, but have received special praise for April’s Here and Nowhere Else. The new work sees the group embracing a punchier punk aesthetic — lead singer and rhythm guitarist Dylan Baldi spins confused, remarkably catchy choruses over staccato guitar lines and astonishing drum fills by hitherto unknown new addition Jayson Gerycz. Their present tour, which winds around iconic mid-size theaters in the West and Midwest before a European leg, promises a taut, kinetic setlist that includes all of their new album and a few scattered cuts from their three preceding LPs. These guys may be melodic, but they embrace involved and improvised instrumental interludes onstage that lend each show unpredictability and showcase Gerycz, Baldi, and excellent bassist TJ Duke. The stately Great American Music Hall provides an ideal locale for the group’s blend of flash and homage. (David Kurlander)

8pm, $20

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750



Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Eccentric doesn’t really being to cover it. Nick Cave is a madman with a burning spark of genius propelling his frenetic presence and unparalleled career, careening from genre to genre, turntable to page to screen, and implanting his gritty, unmistakable thumbprint into everything he touches. With an almost four-decade career, the onetime frontman of Australian punk and post-punk bands the Lost Boys and the Birthday Party, and current frontman of Grinderman and the Bad Seeds, Nick Cave is a legendary force of nature. Everything about Cave’s musical style is unique, but it is his lyrics that set him apart as one of the most imaginative and unapologetically confrontational artists in the industry. Stained pink with blood, sweat, and semen, his songs are a visceral journey that only Cave, one of the most energetic and impassioned performers alive, could properly deliver. His sneer and snarl are a sight to behold. (Haley Zaremba)

With Jonathan Richman

8pm $53

The Warfield

982 Market, SF

(415) 673-4653

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, 225 Bush, 17th Flr., SF, CA 94105; or e-mail (paste press release into e-mail body — no attachments, please) to 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.

Comedy without limits means ‘No Happy Endings’ for SF’s Granny Cart Gangstas


Sexy granny panties? Up-and-coming San Francisco comedy troupe Granny Cart Gangstas recently proved this isn’t an oxymoron. Taking a cue from the Kids in the Hall — one of member Ava Tong’s biggest inspirations — who were once photographed wearing bras over suits, the troupe decided to do something similar (one member flaunted a pair of leopard-print granny panties) for a photo shoot ahead of its Sat/28 show, “No Happy Endings,” at SF’s Little Boxes Theater. 

Founding members Tong and Aureen Almario dreamed about creating their own comedy troupe since 2006. The two met at San Francisco State University, where Tong was Almario’s teaching assistant in an Asian American studies class. “Then she ended up being one of my friends’ girlfriends and I was like ‘Oh … hey!’ and I saw her at Bindlestiff [Studio] and it was like … ‘Can’t get away from you, Aureen!’” The two finally created the troupe in 2011, with five total members, and continued to expand by inviting women associated with Bindlestiff that they worked well with. 

The name of the comedy troupe, Granny Cart Gangstas, juxtaposes two contrasting concepts. Tong said Almario, who came up with the name, was inspired by the pedestrian lifestyle of granny-cart owners in the midst of the hustle and bustle of certain SF neighborhoods. “That’s like, ‘I don’t care. I’m going to do my thing and I don’t care what anyone else thinks,’” Tong explained. 

Lauren Garcia, who joined the troupe last October, expanded on the name’s connotations. “If you have a granny cart, you know, you can’t politely, say, go through the bus or the street, and go ‘Excuse me, excuse me.’” (Tong interjected, “You’re just unapologetic.”) Garcia continued, “You just run over those people’s feet.”

When it comes to the troupe’s material, this mindset is always relevant. Its material is solely comprised of things that make its own members laugh. And even though members grapple with worries that no one else will find certain things funny, they’ll keep them in anyway.

“No Happy Endings” opens with a piece that pays homage to grannies — one of the first pieces where the members assume the role of grannies. “You’ve got to respect grannies,” Garcia said. “They’re grannies — they’ve been through shit.” In the sketch, the troupe members are nursing home residents (sans granny carts, unfortunately), comatose as a nurse administers their daily medicine. Before the nurse leaves, she switches on a radio, which starts playing classical music. But one of the grannies won’t have that and slowly trudges to the radio — with the assistance of her walker — and changes the music to something more modern: Beyoncé’s “Grown Woman.” Instantly rejuvenated, the grannies begin to dance. 

The troupe returns to this scene later to close the show. “Grown Woman” is still playing. “We actually bust out into our younger selves and we do a short synchronized dance,” Tong said, “kind of saying that every granny is young inside them. They have that young person that lived there before.” Combined with the young souls’ dance, Beyoncé’s lyrics “I’m a grown woman / I can do whatever I want” only serve to further drive this message home.

“I feel like so many people forget that older people were young once and they are people — they’re not the sacks that people treat them as,” Garcia said. As a nurse, she said she constantly witnesses incidents of verbal elder abuse where nurses and other people in the hospital condescendingly speak to elderly patients. 

Besides the geriatric piece, the group likes to write about womanhood. For their first show, “Rise of the Red Dawn,” the group performed a sketch titled “Look At This Betch.” “We’re making fun of the idea that women sometimes … have this competition with each other,” Garcia said. “They’re cutthroat and catty and will cut other women to get ahead when they should be helping other women. They know what it’s like to be a woman in this world.”

However, Tong said the group noticed that much of the last show focused on the negative aspects of womanhood. To depict women in a more positive light, it included a sketch titled “Vag Save” in the upcoming show, which also includes films and stand-up. Garcia introduced “Vag Save” to me through a mock movie trailer voiceover: “Save your best friend’s vagina. Coming soon, this Saturday, June 28, we will be saving … your vaginas.”

The sketch follows a group of women at a club banding together to protect each other from the unwelcome advances of creepy men. “Not everybody sees that world,” Tong said. “Guys definitely don’t know when other guys are being creepy — or when they’re being creepy — and this is how women see it.”

The troupe is entirely comprised of women of color. Members write cultural references sparingly — one of the lines in sketch “Spanx” plays with how similar the word “backpack” and the Tagalog word for “vagina” (pekpek) sound: “Reach into my pekpek” — because they don’t want to alienate any audience members. Sometimes they’ll include references if a character has an accent (the references are usually improv ad libs), but they stray from writing references that aren’t obvious or explained. 

At the same time, Tong and Garcia appreciate San Francisco’s diversity and open-mindedness. “I think we take advantage of that,” Tong said. “We almost take it for granted. We don’t think about having to be sensitive.” The two joked that they might have things thrown at them on stage or their citizenship papers checked in more conservative states. Most of the members are Bay Area natives, but live in cities as spread apart as Walnut Creek, San Francisco, and Hayward, which Tong admitted makes getting together for rehearsal tough.

Inspiration can hit the troupe at any time — sources range from people, such as Beyoncé, or the minutiae of daily life, such as putting in a Diva Cup. (A Diva Cup is an eco-friendly alternative to a tampon. Garcia shared some tips from a YouTube how-to video she watched, where an upside-down wine glass served as a model vagina: improper nail length can quickly make the experience unpleasant and one of the tricky things is “getting it into a little ball and making sure it goes in before it pops open … because then that’s painful and you don’t want to do that, let me tell you.” Tong was a little hesitant about this sketch idea.) Throughout the interview, Tong and Garcia effortlessly bounced new ideas off each other, assuring me they could even parody the interview we were having. “You’ll be in this,” Garcia told me. “Come watch our stuff; you’ll see yourself.”

Six days before the show, at least one troupe member’s grandmother was confirmed to attend “No Happy Endings.” Garcia’s mother purchased tickets for several family members — before her daughter explained that the not-so-family-friendly show was “mature, sexual, and raunchy.” Garcia complained that her grandmother would simply have to sit through performances such as “Octopussy,” where she sings “I’ve tried everything / You could possibly do / When you’re in bed with two / Wheelbarrow, doggy style / Missionary, 69 / It feels so fine / But he can’t make me cum.”

“We’ll apologize later if you need us to,” Tong reassured Garcia. 

Emphasis on “need.” After all, a true granny cart gangsta is never apologetic if they can help it. 

Granny Cart Gangstas’ “No Happy Endings”

Sat/28, 8pm, $15

Little Boxes Theater

1661 Tennessee, SF

(415) 603-0061

Eight up


DANCE The 36th annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival opened with an ambitious agenda: presenting India’s eight classical dances in one program. Yet this first weekend — EDF continues at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through June 28 — didn’t quite meet the high expectations the festival had set for itself.

In part, this was because a shadow fell on the show. Last week, great kathakali practitioner K.P. Kunhiraman, who was to make his farewell appearance, died unexpectedly in India. With his wife, Katherine Kunhiraman, he had directed Kalanjali: Dances of India, one of the Bay Area’s oldest Indian dance schools, teaching both folk and classical Indian dance.

While bringing these classic forms together was a noble idea, EDF should have presented them on equal footing. This is particularly true because while bharatanatyam, kathak, and to a lesser extent odissi and kuchipudi are well known to Bay Area audiences, kathakali, manipuri, mohiniattam, and sattriya may have been unfamiliar even to many of the Southeast Asian families who attended the festival.

Performed by guest artists from out of town, these new-to-us genres were set to music that came out of loudspeakers. For a first exposure to an art, which so intimately depends on instruments and the human voice, recorded music was a disservice to both the practitioners and the audience.

One only had to look and listen to tabla player Samrat Kakkeri (and his colleagues) with the first-rate Chitresh Das Dance Company, which closed the program, to realize that the subtle give-and-take that flows between dancers and musicians should not be given up to expediency. No wonder the Chitresh dancers managed the intricacies of the multiple rhythmic patterns in Das’ kathak yoga with such confidence and joy. Many dance genres do just fine with unrelated music or no music at all. Indian dance, as this program proved, does not.

Also, while some of the less familiar dance forms might have been given more stage time — some others could easily have been shortened. What intrigued most in these first EDF appearances was how little use was made of the sophisticated rhythms that we have come to know as Indian dance.

More drama than dance, kathakali’s spectacular performances can last all night. The excellent Sunanda Nair gave us a glimpse of a work in which an evil demon — in the shape of a seductive woman, wouldn’t you know — gets her comeuppance from baby Krishna. She returned later in an example of mohiniattam which highlighted articulate arms and feathery hands. It was thrilling to see how her torso contrasted with her legs planted into wide plies, from which she smoothly sank into and rose from the ground.

Sohini Ray’s snippet of manipuri, however, disappointed because it looked stiff, and didn’t really develop those wonderfully gentle whipping turns that make the dancers look prayer wheels. She communicated much better in what seemed a more folkloric form of manipuri in which leaping, running, and turning on the knees conversed with a dual head drum.

Intriguing in its use of unisons and rolling wrists, sattriya — performed by two women, one in pants — conveyed the gently rocking geniality of two friends on the road. I have to assume that the one with a hat was Lord Krishna. For those familiar with the mudras, Indian dance’s gestural language, they were so beautifully clear that they were easy to follow. I recognized three for sure: a welcoming gesture, shooting an arrow, and riding a horse.

In its first appearance at the EDF, San Francisco’s Nava Dance Theatre proved itself a fresh, spunky, and musically-aware bharatanatyam company. In its piece, a love-struck young man (a dreamily handsome Arun Mathai) was comforted by a bevy of young maidens. A spectacular, theatrically savvy soloist, Bhavajan Kumar, may yet do for bharatanatyam what Joaquín Cortés did for flamenco.

In their celebratory kuchipudi — bharatanatytam’s younger, looser sister — the nine young women of San Jose’s Natyalaya school of dance handled the rigors of their geometries with considerable grace. Maybe one day we’ll see them perform to live music.

Charming, yet very serious in odissi were Maya Lochana Devalcheruvu (age 11) and Akhil Shrinivasan (10). Young as they are, they already showed odissi’s curved body position and light footwork. With good stage presence, they knew what they were aiming for. The duo then welcomed Sujata Mohapatra, an exquisite odissi dancer light but firm on her feet, floating on her toes, and her rippling neck enhancing the facial expressions.

Though in mourning, Kalanjali: Dances of India performed Tillana, the final section in a bharatanatyam performance, for which the dancers pull together everything they learned. These women probably did. *


Through June 29, $18-$58

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater

700 Howard, SF


The Selector June 11-17, 2014



Luke Sweeney

“Miss Me?” Luke Sweeney asks in the lead track from his forthcoming album Adventure:Us, and in response I’d probably deny, avoid eye contact, but then demurely say, “Um…maybe a li’l bit.” Truth be told I’ve been quite won over by the album, maybe because of the apparent shared affectation for Mark Bolan’s swinging shuffle, George Harrison’s weepsy guitar, Jeff Tweedy’s pop twang, and a little bit of Question Mark and the Mysterians mysterious…something or other. Now Sweeney is returning to SF from a California tour with a homecoming show at Monarch (of all places.) Luke, please don’t leave us like that again. (Ryan Prendiville)

With Farallons, Tidelands

9pm, $5 – $8


101 6th St, SF

(415) 284-9774




Guided By Voices

Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard is one of the most insanely prolific songwriters in rock history. Since its inception in 1983 in Dayton, Ohio, Guided By Voices has released 22 studio albums, 17 EPs, and 39 singles. Each of these records contains around 20 songs, most hovering around the one-minute mark. Within these little vignettes of genius (read: insanity) Pollard explores surrealist narratives, charmingly compact and catchy melodies, and genuine emotional impact. 30 years into their career, GBV play hard, drink hard, and make much younger rockers look washed-up and tame. The band also rarely tours, so don’t miss tonight’s show. There’s no knowing what they’ll play, but it’s going to be a night to remember. (Haley Zaremba)

With Bobby Bare, Jr.

8pm, $38

Regency Ballroom

1300 Van Ness, SF




San Francisco Black Film Festival

At a time when cultural landmarks like Marcus Books are being evicted from the historic Fillmore district, this festival, which celebrates African-American contributions to cinema, might strike a more poignant tone than ever before. Now in its 16th year, the three-day fest aims to present films that “reinforce positive images and dispel negative stereotypes” and connect Black filmmakers from around the Bay Area and beyond. This opening evening features the Life of King, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Eugene Brown, who turned his life around after 18 years in prison, funneling his passion for chess into a way to help inner-city youth in Washington, D.C. (Emma Silvers)

Through Sun/15

Prices and showtimes vary, see website for details

Jazz Heritage Center

1320 Fillmore, SF





Alice Glass

Alice Glass is one of the most dynamic frontpeople in the music industry. Half of Toronto’s infamous electro-duo Crystal Castles, Glass’ clear, piercing voice and fiercely frenetic stage presence make her a stunning vocalist and onstage force of nature. Hard-partying and un-compromising, Glass is a born performer, commanding arenas and collecting a following of cult-like fans with ease. Since she ran away at 14 to join a punk squat, fronting an all-girl crust-punk band called Fetus Fatale, Glass has been making a name for herself as a skilled musician and magnetic personality. Combining punk and hardcore aesthetics with harshly catchy electronics, Glass’ music is a unique concoction that will make you dance your ass off. (Zaremba)

With Sad Andy, 28 Mansions, We Are Isis (side room)

10pm, $17.50

1015 Folsom, SF

(415) 431-1200




Hayes Carll & Bob Schneider

“The World’s Greatest Living Songwriters of All Time” is a pretty cocky name for a tour, but this team delivers. Both singer-songwriters from the state of Texas, Carll and Schneider are performing together for the first time in their careers. Carll, from just outside of Houston, has been lauded as a modern songwriting heavyweight among the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Carl’s songs sound timeless, although his content speaks to a modern world. Bob Schneider has been making music in Austin for decades with various bands: Joe Rockhead, the Scabs, Ugly Americans. Schneider’s output reaches across pop, rock, folk, and country, while his uncensored songwriting has some labeling his music “adult alternative.” This is a show songwriters can’t miss.

8pm, $21

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750




#MyGreatCat Pop-Up Photo Gallery

You’d be lying if you said you’ve never been victim of the Internet black hole dedicated to cats. There’s no denying that the world wide web is the best thing to have happened to our pets. Take a look at the @Cats_of_Instagram account and you’ll find 1.4 million people who are just like you! From the silly to the cuddly to the serious, these fuzzy fellows have a wide range of adorable emotions, which is why @Cats_of_Instagram are hosting a pop-up photo gallery in the middle of Union Square for your viewing pleasure. “What’s so great about a cat” is the theme of the exhibition. Last month, Instagram users were encouraged to post photos and the hashtag #MyGreatCat for a chance to be part of the exhibit. Photos by teenage pet photographer Jessica Trinh will also be on display and the founders of @Cats_of_Instagram will be at the event too. Cat lovers unite for a heart-warming night that (you’ve been warned) may leave you melted into a pile of goo. (Laura B. Childs)

11am-7pm, free

Union Square, SF




Queer Women of Color Film Festival

Now in its tenth year, the Queer Women of Color Film Festival kicks off Pride Month with 32 short films, all of which are captioned for the benefit of deaf and hearing-impaired audience members — a presentation choice that reflects the festival’s quest to empower (and entertain) its diverse community. Standout programs include the doc-heavy “Seeds of Resistance,” spotlighting themes of cultivation and community organizing; “Girl Power!,” with films celebrating the younger generation; and a panel discussion with queer cinema pioneers Cheryl Dunye and Madeleine Lim on “the art and transformative power of film.” (Cheryl Eddy)

Starts Fri/13, through Sun/15, free ($5-$10 suggested donation)

Brava Theater Center

2789 24th St, SF




Commercially, the Roland TB-303 was discontinued in ’84. Should have been obsolete, but when a trio from Chicago got their hands on the bass synthesizer the next year, they discovered something else: the sound of the future. On Phuture’s seminal “Acid Tracks” the overdriven sound that gave birth to acid house is unmistakable. Perhaps feeling the impact of their legacy on music more than ever, original members DJ Pierre and Spanky (along with Lothario “Rio” Lee) are prepping a new album and performing together again, on a tour that brings them from a recent gig at the Sydney Opera House to Sunset’s annual picturesque bayside “electronic music picnic.” (Ryan Prendiville)

With Kyle Hall, Beautiful Swimmers, Awesome Tapes from Africa, J-Boogie, Galen, Solar, J-Bird

Noon-9:30pm, $20 – $30

Great Lawn, Treasure Island




Buzz Osborne

Having earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the heaviest purveyors of down-tuned, sludgy rock as the leader of The Melvins, Buzz Osborne likely turned some heads when he announced he was putting out an acoustic album. That release, This Machine Kills Artists (Ipecac Recordings), which hit stores earlier this month, isn’t as much of a departure as one might think, however — songs like “Dark Brown Teeth” aren’t fluffy folk, they’re still vintage Osborne. When Nirvana thanked him at their Rock N Roll Hall of Fame induction, it was for good reason; he helped shape the sound that defined hard rock in the early ’90s, and he continues to do so today. (Sean McCourt)

8pm, $15

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750



Tupac Birthday Celebration

Tupac Shakur lives on — in holograms, in our hearts, and tonight, at the Elbo Room. In honor of what would have been the late rapper’s 43rd birthday, the club is hosting a birthday party featuring the music of Tupac and other special guests, hosted by Bay Area rapper/activist/event producer Sellassie. Enjoy the moving and eloquent music Shakur left behind and celebrate the impact he still has on hip-hop and culture today. (Childs)

9pm, $5

Elbo Room

647 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788



Yann Tiersen

Yann Tiersen wants you to know that he is more than just composer of film soundtracks. Perhaps best known for his musical score for the french film Amélie, the Breton musician’s passion lies in touring and recording studio albums. His music just happens to fit seamlessly into films. Though renowned in France for his studio albums, Tiersen remains mostly known as the guy who created the magical accordion and piano driven tunes that fuel Amélie’s imaginative adventures. However, tonight at the Regency Ballroom, Tiersen will play from his own albums, his most recent, “Ï” (aka Infinity) in particular. Those expecting a classical performance will be sorely disappointed. Heavily influenced by punk music, Tiersen’s minimalist tracks range from noisy to melancholic with his five-piece band. The musical influence of each of his nine album varies greatly, but his musical style simple and recognizable. With each album, he shows a new facet to his talent, proving that he is so much more than an orchestral composer. (Childs)

8pm, $25

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF

(415) 673-5716

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, 225 Bush, 17th Flr., SF, CA 94105; or e-mail (paste press release into e-mail body — no attachments, please) to 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.

Still hungry


THEATER A figure wanders into the void — a pristine wooden stage, that is, pinpointed by four delicate weights hovering pendulum-like at the corners, alive to the slightest ripple of air. In the back, behind a scrim and awash in crepuscular light, a large and blooming tree floats exquisitely in space. For the wanderer, the time (if such a thing can be said to exist here) is ripe. “This must be bardo, then,” thinks the ghost. “I’m cool with that. I was beginning to think I’d live forever.”

The bardo, the in-between state between one life and another in the Buddhist cycle of reincarnation, affects different people in different ways — our wanderer is only one of 28 characters we come across — but throughout New York playwright Chiori Miyagawa’s witty, dreamy, and discerning Bay Area debut, the bardo becomes a supreme vantage on a reality burdened by desire and that transubstantial baggage known as karma.

Now enjoying a splendid world premiere (in a limited two-week run) as part of Theatre of Yugen’s 35th anniversary season, Miyagawa’s This Lingering Life freely adapts nine 14th-century Noh plays, infusing them with a decidedly present-day sensibility. Under artistic director Jubilith Moore’s expert touch, the production amounts to an exceptional blend of modern Western dramatic style and traditional Noh influences. And at its best, it strikes one as some of the more contemporary theater around.

Miyagawa’s astute grasp of the human comedy of living and dying does not always translate with equal force across the various plots — which include, for instance, a mad woman’s desperate search for her abducted son; a Romeo and Juliet–like tragedy involving two drowned lovers; the suicide of an old man who falls in love with a spoiled young princess; and the fallout between a rich father and his disinherited son, in which the impoverished younger man goes blind but ultimately grows wiser than his father. Nevertheless, the majority of the scenes (underscored by a transporting sound design from Michael Gardiner, sitting with laptop offstage right) are remarkably successful, and cumulatively powerful as characters rub shoulders in the afterlife.

Moreover, the nine-member ensemble (composed of Theatre of Yugen’s Moore, Sheila Berotti, Sheila Devitt, Alexander Lydon, Norman Munoz, and Lluis Valls; joined here by Nick Ishimaru, Hannah Lennett, and Ryan Marchand) does fine work running the gamut of earthbound emotions, from visceral anguish to driving lust and petty cruelty, while freely trading genders too in a hint of the promiscuous cycle of rebirth. Particularly fine comedic performances make the most of the playwright’s hilariously down-to-earth dialogue, while expert Noh-inflected vocal modulations and movement add a frisson to decisive moments.

San Francisco’s dedicated practitioners of classical Noh and Kyogen styles, Theatre of Yugen has long been adept at channeling Western stories in these ancient Japanese dramatic forms, setting them in a highly ritualized context that can set off their content with surprising intensity. In fact, Yugen (which takes its name from the Japanese word meaning “mysterious elegance”) led off its anniversary season last November with a Noh-inspired staging of an enduring American tragedy and Civil Rights Era–case: a beautifully composed, movingly effective meditation entitled Emmett Till, a river. The hour-long poetical-musical treatment by co-writer Judy Halebsky and lead writer and composer Kevin Simmonds not only explored the role of individual action, or inaction, in the perpetuation of systemic racism, but also opened up a space for reflection, communion, and an unsettled yet pointed act of reconciliation with the past.

This Lingering Life in a way takes the opposite tack, and thus is something of a departure for the company, since it mines the contemporary in a Westernized, interlocking set of ancient Japanese stories — supporting it all with a few choice elements of the Noh aesthetic. The hybrid creation, spread over 24 scenes, retains a Buddhist worldview, however, in which a person’s actions in one life determine the nature of the next. This lends a particular moral force to what we see, including an abiding sympathy with the dead that is both affecting and thought provoking. But, as the play suggests, karma is not always destiny. In the in-between space of the bardo, clarity and free will can penetrate the hazy sleepwalking of existence, and even fate can be renegotiated.


Wed/11-Thu/12, 7pm; Fri/13-Sat/14, 8pm, $15-50

Z Space

450 Florida, SF

Rolling along


THEATER Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s groundbreaking 1927 musical, Show Boat, transformed one of Broadway’s major theatrical forms from a light and episodic operetta-style divertissement into a red-blooded American art form. Wedding spectacular entertainment (its producer was none other than super-showman Florenz Ziegfeld) with a full-fledged drama, Show Boat‘s expanded canvas came nearer the realm of classical opera, as all elements of the production, beginning with the music, orbited tightly around the story — which in addition to humor and hijinx sported complex characters and serious social content.

Since 1927, opera and musical theater have continued to grow closer at various points — most famously in the work of crossover composers like George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein. San Francisco Opera’s co-production of Show Boat, the first time the company has essayed the legendary musical, turns out to be a wonderfully successful case in point: a crowd-pleasing hybrid of musical-theater style, sharply delineated drama, rousing choreography (from Michele Lynch), and full operatic glory (including an appropriately-sized orchestra and chorus). It’s a muscular production with a light step and buoyant spirit that shows off the best in a story that not only affirmed a common humanity among those up and down the ladder of social status, but also registered the injustice and violence of the American racial caste system in tones boldly progressive for the time.

Of course Show Boat, for all its socially and artistically progressive aspects, was still a product of the 1920s. And while it has been revived many times, the dialogue and other details have also undergone revisions to keep pace with social attitudes, conventions, and sensitivities, especially with regard to race. The SF Opera production under Maestro John DeMain follows DeMain and General Director David Gockley’s former collaboration on the historic 1982 revival for the Houston Grand Opera, which restored for the first time since 1927 significant sections of the original dialogue and score. The opera opens on a beautiful riverside quay awash with Technicolor hues (in perhaps indirect homage to the 1951 MGM film version), while the backside of the ship rises from the stage at the War Memorial Opera House like a delicate three-layer cake in the first of set designer Peter J. Davison and lighting designer Mark McCullough’s consistently atmospheric scenic environments.

Based on the 1926 novel by celebrated author and Algonquin wit Edna Ferber (who with frequent collaborator George S. Kaufman brought The Royal Family to Broadway the same week that the musical version of Show Boat set sail), the story spans the 1880s to the 1920s and revolves around the crew and passengers of the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi show boat plying the river’s shoreline inhabitants with melodrama and comic fare. The boat’s operator is the warm-hearted Cap’n Andy Hawks (played by Broadway and local legend Bill Irwin in a memorable SF Opera debut) and his wife, the pants-wearing disciplinarian Parthy Ann (a comically fierce and ultimately redeeming Harriet Harris). Their innocent daughter and the story’s heroine, Magnolia (played with affecting pluck by a radiant Heidi Stober, the fine American soprano), falls for a rakish riverboat gambler named Gaylord Ravenal (baritone Michael Todd Simpson in a suave and graceful performance), whom she weds and follows to Chicago.

Magnolia and Gaylord’s doomed marriage, but enduring romance, makes up the central storyline, while a significant secondary plot involves the downward career of the talented actress and singer Julie La Verne (given a sultry and wrenching interpretation by soprano, and esteemed SF Opera regular, Patricia Racette). In an early scene, Julie’s husband, Steve (Patrick Cummings), fights with his wife’s spurned suitor (James Asher) and the latter takes revenge by tipping off the local sheriff (Kevin Blackton) to the illegality of their marriage under the state’s anti-miscegenation law. In this way we learn that Julie is of mixed-race ancestry. A bickering but loving African American couple among the Cotton Blossom‘s crewmembers, Queenie (the regal soprano Angela Renée Simpson) and Joe (bass Morris Robinson in a robust, beautifully measured performance), are also significant supporting characters. Indeed, the most of the show’s great songs are associated with these secondary characters, not least “Ol’ Man River” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.”

The show itself strikes a knowing stance with respect to narrative, making good fun of the stilted melodramas put on by Cap’n Andy while reveling in the backstage intrigue and the characters’ own double-playing onstage (a situation that nicely serves the woo-pitching in the number “Make Believe”). Even the fight that breaks out on the dock between Steve and Pete at the outset of the play gets co-opted by Cap’n Andy, who in a hasty bit of diplomacy tells the crowd it was just a preview of the night’s entertainment onboard. This covering is also an uncovering, however, since it hints at the complex relationship between the stories onstage and real life in all its messiness.

Of course, what “real life” the musical expresses is still very much idealized as well as stylized. But the SF Opera production proves there’s still a pulse to the 1927 narrative, and it’s as vital as the enduring score with which it’s intimately bound. With panache but also keen sensitivity, the show conveys Ferber’s original emphasis on the shared humanity of rich and poor, white and black, and the compassion a bird’s eye perspective on it all can breed. In Show Boat, absurd melodramas and life’s everyday triumphs and failures play out alongside each other as so many ripples on the surface of a deep and indifferent river — a dark and mysterious universe that, in the image of the show’s great recurring theme, just keeps rollin’ along. *


Through July 2, $24-$379

War Memorial Opera House

301 Van Ness, SF


Our Weekly Picks: May 28-June 3, 2014




In 1970, a singer-songwriter called Rodriguez, who had been discovered by a couple of music producers in a downtown Detroit bar, cut an album called Cold Fact. It bombed. After an equally-disappointing follow-up record, Rodriguez abandoned his musical career and faded into obscurity. Meanwhile, in South Africa, a bootleg copy of Cold Fact had become the soundtrack to the Anti-Apartheid movement. Rodriguez was completely unknown in the United States, and more famous than Elvis in South Africa. Decades later, two Rodriguez fans travelled from Cape Town to find out what happened to Rodriguez and research the rumors of his onstage suicide. Instead they found him working in construction and ready to continue his musical dreams. Rodriguez’ story is chronicled in the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugarman. His incredible story, however, is not what makes him worth seeing: As a performer he is tender, compelling, and well worth the 40-year wait. (Haley Zaremba)

With LP

$40, 8pm

The Warfield

982 Market, SF



Exclusive screening: The Pink Room

Never mind Elizabeth Raine, the med student who auctioned her virginity for a six-figure price tag. In many cases, prostitution is not a luxury, it’s slavery. In a country ravaged by genocide, many Cambodian children became orphans and forced into a life of child slavery and prostitution. The Pink Room documentary exposes the human trafficking and child sex slavery that runs rampant in Cambodia, threading together first-person accounts of those held captive and those helping to change the country where over 1 million children are sexually abused. One of the accounts comes from a Cambodian woman who was forced into the industry at a very young age, illustrating how Mien’s virginity was sold at a high price, but her value becomes lower with each purchase. After years of torture, she’s become a voice of hope and compassion in a country plagued by darkness. This screening will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s directors and producers. (Laura B. Childs)

7pm, $25

Letterman Digital Arts Center

Chestnut & Lyon, SF

(415) 897-2123





SF’s Power Women of Eventbrite, ModCloth & One Kings Lane

Talk about co-founders with cache — three local startup champions will share their success stories, including tales from the trenches of the e-commerce realm and insights on how they’ve won followers’ hearts. Julia Hartz’s Eventbrite has become the ticketing standard-bearer for events; Susan Gregg Koger’s ModCloth merges online couture shopping with a growing social network of fashionistas; and Alison Pincus’s One Kings Lane provides high-end furnishings and home decor directly to trendy tastemakers. They’ll converse with a fourth entrepreneur, BlogHer cofounder and media strategist Jory Des Jardins. (Kevin Lee)

6:30pm, $15-$45

The Fairmont Hotel, Gold Room

950 Mason, SF

(415) 597-6700



Bloody Beetroots

With a real name like Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, it’s hard to see why you would opt for a pseudonym, but the Italian producer has been successfully producing infectious and inspired dance and electronic music under the Bloody Beatroots moniker since 2006. Rifo was classically trained on guitar, learning to read by the solfege method and studying Chopin, Beethoven, and Debussy. His fascination with punk, new wave, and ’70s-era comic strips, however, pulled him out of this straight-laced territory and into a new musical world of his own creation. Rifo and his right-hand-man and sampler Tommy Tea are known for their rowdy, energized live shows, and the black Venom masks they wear throughout, never showing their faces. Dirty, fun, and hard to predict, the Bloody Beetroots guarantee a great, sweaty night. (Zaremba)

With J Boogie

$25, 8pm

The Regency

1290 Sutter, SF



SF Green Film Festival

San Franciscans are no strangers to tackling the subject of global warming. Whether we’re discussing the drought or trying to solve climate change by working less, the well-being of the planet is foremost on our minds. But starting tonight, we’ll let the pros take over: The Green Film Festival is a weeklong affair that will consist of environmentally-conscious documentaries, panel discussions with filmmakers and activists, and workshops with non-profits. The 4th annual festival kicks off with the San Francisco premiere of DamNation, an award-winning documentary that explores sea change and reveals how removing dams would bring rivers back to their natural state, helping to stabilize the ecosystem. Explore marine life, meet the filmmakers, and discuss the environment over sustainable food and drinks at the opening night reception, held at the Aquarium of the Bay. (Childs)

6pm, $50

Aquarium of the Bay & Bay Theater

Embarcadero at Beach, SF

(415) 742-1394





Animal Collective (DJ set)

Animal Collective guitarist Panda Bear is jamming on a nationwide tour solo, so some of the other members have elected to show off their digital record collections in select venues. What to expect from a set? Actual recorded footage of the band’s mixmastery is rare, but Soundcloud and YouTube have a two-hour tablets-and-mixer session that serves as an especially encouraging primer — a catchy blend of funk, psychedelic, uplifting vocal house, and brooding techno. The Collective members stitched together their tasteful selections through different techniques, alternating between tried-and-true beat-matching and masterfully weaving melodies. Much of the two-hour mix came off as both carefully curated and effortlessly engaging; hopefully there is more to come. (Lee)

With Slow Magic, Sophie

10 pm, $25

1015 Folsom, SF

(415) 431-1200



Risa Jaroslow’s What’s the Upshot?

Having moved here barely a year ago, Risa Jaroslow is not yet a household name even within the local dance community. Yet she has brought with her a long, well-respected career of creating choreography in which movement — whether from highly trained dancers or common folks — has stories to tell about what it means to be alive today. “I always start with a question that has resonance for me,” she recently explained. The new What’s the Upshot? may well have been provoked by her move across the country. Here she is working with Sophie Stanley, about to join AXIS; Jordan Stout, who comes from contact improv; and Patrick Barnes, who brings a strong athletic background to dance. On Friday and Sunday, Peiling Kao’s Ludic Numerologies will join Jaroslow’s premiere. (Rita Felciano)

May 30 and 31, 8pm, June 1, 4pm, $15-$18

Shawl Anderson Dance Center

2704 Alcatraz, Berk.

(510) 654-5921





SPIRIT: Queer Asian, Arab, and Pacific Islander Artivism

The National Queer Arts Festival and San Francisco’s own community leaders Queer Rebels present the untold stories of queers, from Angel Island to the Arab Spring, in a two-day celebration of performance art and film. Saturday’s performances include drag performance duo BELLOWS, who opened Queer Rebels’ Liberating Legacies show earlier this month; Elena Rose, co-curator of Girl Talk: A Cis and Trans Woman Dialogue, which has run at the National Queer Arts Festival for five years; Modern Arabic Stage Style dancer Heaven Mousalem, and many more. Come back Sunday for an afternoon of films by a variety of artivists, including Queer Rebels co-founder and host Celeste Chan herself. SPIRIT is an opportunity to honor histories, talents, and intersections of identity that don’t make it to our televisions sets. Tickets for Saturday’s performances are available on Brown Paper Tickets, and tickets for Sunday’s films can be purchased at the door. (Kirstie Haruta)

Sat., 8pm, $12-20

African American Art & Culture Complex

762 Fulton, SF

(415) 922-2049


Sun., 3pm, $7-10

Artists’ Television Access

992 Valencia, SF

(415) 824-3890



SF Silent Film Festival

Fans of classic cinema are in for a treat this week with the return of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the annual celebration of the early years of film. Opening up the fete this year is a screening of 1921’s The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse — the film that propelled Rudolph Valentino to Hollywood stardom — which will be presented with live musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Other highlights include Douglas Fairbanks’ The Good Bad Man and comedy legend Buster Keaton’s The Navigator. Don’t miss your chance to see these films in one of the last surviving movie palaces from that time period. (Sean McCourt)

May 29 – June 1, times and prices vary

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120






Growing out of what was originally just going to be a “Silly Symphonies” short in the late ’30s, Walt Disney’s 1940 masterpiece Fantasia broke new ground in animation on a variety of levels, employing some of the finest artists and musicians of the day to bring his vision to life. Combining the magic of cartoons and classical music, the film featured famous conductor Leopold Stokowsi leading the Philadelphia Orchestra. This weekend the San Francisco Symphony will be performing live to screenings of selections from both the original classic and Fantasia 2000, including the beloved and iconic piece “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” (Sean McCourt)

8pm Sat.; 4pm Sun., $41-$156

Davies Symphony Hall

201 Van Ness, SF

(415) 864-6000






Perhaps today’s young’uns will come to know her for her relatively tame show on the Cooking Channel (Saucy & Sweet), but for the rest of us, Kelis will always be one of the bossiest, baddest ladies in radio R&B — not to mention that whole milkshake thing. The un-self-consciously sexy singer/rapper/larger-than-life-persona kicks off her first national tour in four years with this show in San Francisco, performing songs off her April release and sixth studio album, the straightforwardly-titled Food, which features rootsy, funky, electro-tinged tracks like “Breakfast,” “Cobbler,” “Jerk Ribs,” and “Friday Fish Fry.” Maybe eat before you go. (Emma Silvers)

With Son Little

8pm, $22.50

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF




Invisible Hands: Voices from the Global Economy

“Ziola said that the students would leave for the fields after breakfast, around 7 a.m., and would come back around 5:30 p.m. There were no days off. They were working on Sundays and holidays as well.” This is how a seamstress from Uzbekistan describes her daughter being forced by school officials to pick cotton for meager wages in a new book from McSweeney’s, Invisible Hands: Voices from the Global Economy. Her account is among 16 first-hand oral histories documenting the poor working conditions and hidden human rights abuses that laborers encounter in the U.S. and abroad. Invisible Hands‘ editor and San Diego-based immigration lawyer Corinne Goria will talk with Mother Jones editor Maddie Oatman about how the collection of stories came together. (Lee)

7pm, free

826 Valencia

826 Valencia, SF

(415) 642-5905


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, 225 Bush, 17th Flr., SF, CA 94105; or e-mail (paste press release into e-mail body — no attachments, please) to 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.

This Week’s Picks: May 14 – 20, 2014




KQED Presents an Evening With Ken Burns

Remember slowly drifting off while watching documentaries during history class on a warm afternoon? Well, if there’s anyone who can make a historical documentary interesting, it’s the great Ken Burns. If you’ve ever used iPhoto, iMovie, or Final Cut Pro, you’re familiar with “The Ken Burns Effect.” Known for bringing life to still photographs, the Ken Burns Effect is back with The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. Burns will present a sneak preview of his seven-part, 14-hour documentary after an onstage conversation about the film, which will premiere on PBS in September. The film takes the unique perspective of weaving together the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, illuminating the influential stories of how two presidents and a first lady played integral roles in shaping American history — from human and civil rights battles to the creation of National Parks to the defeat of Hitler. (Laura B. Childs)

7:30pm, $25

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6350




Rocking the robots

If you’ve never seen Sleepbomb do its thing at the band members’ main stomping ground, you’re in for a rare treat. This postindustrial improvisational band, made up mostly of Zeitgeist employees and regulars, will play a live soundtrack to Metropolis, the cult-classic silent film by German Expressionist filmmaker Fritz Lang. Sleepbomb has done live soundtracks to Metropolis and Nosferatu before in the Zeitgeist beer garden, and it’s always an eerie, artsy, urban, robotic, drunken good time. (Steven T. Jones)

8pm, donation-based


199 Valencia, SF




Anti-Nowhere League

British hardcore punk stalwarts the Anti-Nowhere League have made a name for themselves over the past three decades with an unabashedly aggressive and in-your-face approach, as evidenced by their signature songs “I Hate People” and the profanity-laced “So What” — the latter was even notoriously covered by Metallica. In a perfect pairing, Southern California punk icons T.S.O.L (True Sounds of Liberty), who became infamous for the police riots that would break out at their shows, and the tune “Code Blue,” an ode to the joys of necrophilia, join the bill for what promises to be one hell of show. (Sean McCourt)

With The Riverboat Gamblers and Dime Runner

9pm, $18-$20

DNA Lounge

375 11th St, SF

(415) 626-1409




Fou Fou fabulous

Fou Fou Ha, our favorite cartoon performance troupe, makes a big leap forward as it returns to its roots for its latest original show, In Living Colors. This psychedelic dance journey through an exotic world is described as “Alice in Wonderland meets the Forbidden Zone,” combining elaborate 3D pop-up sets and projections by Obscura Digital. It’s a new twist on the lively choreographed comedy that is classic Fou, but on an occasion that’s a little bittersweet for Mama Fou (aka Maya Lane) and the rest of Family Fou. The troupe got its start in this location back when it was CELLspace, the players kept it as their home during its evolution into Inner Mission, and now this looks like it will be Fou Fou Ha’s final performance in a space that is being shut down this fall and converted into condos. So come laugh, cry, dance, and laugh some more. (Jones)

9pm, DJ dancing until 1:30am

$25 advance, $30 door

Inner Mission

2035 Bryant, SF




Zion I

Last time Zion I was at the Independent was for a guest appearance during the venue’s 10th anniversary celebration. Tonight, the Bay Area indie hip-hop duo is back. Baba Zumbi and AmpLive of Zion I have been making music together for over 15 years. AmpLive brings the electronic dance beats that vacillate between reggae and drum ‘n’ bass, Zumbi carries the vocals with socially conscious lyrics. Originally formed in Atlanta, the Berkeley-based duo creates a relatable sound that’s difficult to define. Neither West Coast hip-hop, nor East Coast rap, the band’s musical influences remains deeply engrained in songs that deliver messages of unity and hope. (Childs)

9pm, $25

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421





Black Market SF Presents ‘Rendezvous’

Secrets, truths and lies…Black Market SF is hosting one of its legendary events tonight for the curious: Rendezvous. They say, curiosity killed the cat, but in this case, let your curiosity run wild. This clandestine discovery market will carry an assortment of local craft and food vendors as well as many secret activities to be discovered on the night of. Explore one of SF’s best-kept secrets in the intimate setting of the Folsom Street Foundry. If the city’s best craft artisans and food purveyors don’t pique your interest, an exclusive live set of up-and-coming acts will spearhead the dance party. This mysterious night will be one for the books. (Childs)

6pm-11pm, $8

Folsom Street Foundry

1425 Folsom Street

(415) 795-3644



‘Nomad: The Blue Road’

Many tribal people living on parched lands engage in ritualistic dances to encourage the falling of precious rain. Since water is the world’s most important and most endangered natural resource, we might as well try dancing. It just could help. For this weekend the bi-national Dance Monks, an interdisciplinary ensemble that works both in the Bay Area and Mexico, has enlisted local artists — Dohee Lee, NAKA Dance among them — to help out drought-stricken California. NOMAD: The Blue Road, takes audiences along the path of Strawberry Creek, Berkeley’s beloved small stream that still burbles and runs under the urban asphalt of downtown Berkley. The piece starts on the UC campus and winds its way along the creek’s trajectory with performances along the path. (Rita Felciano)

May 17-18, 11am, free

UC Berkeley Campus

Oxford and Center St, Berk.





Bay to Breakers people-watching

If you have friends participating in the race but, like so many of us, you also feel a local’s urge to get the hell out of town during Bay to Breakers weekend — or at least as far away from the costumed, beer-soaked debauchery as possible — get the best of both worlds by hitting one of the rival Hayes Street house parties along the course, with DJs, more than you could ever want to drink, and probably very little pressure to be athletic in any way. Alternatively, hit Alamo Square for an amazing view of some 30,000 people all making their way up the Hayes Street Hill. Just remember: The cops have pledged a zero-tolerance policy for public drunkenness this year. We’ll see how that all shakes out. (Emma Silvers)

All day, free

Throughout SF

Check for the official route and other events




Iggy Azalea

First things first, she’s the realest. The Australian beauty and hip-hop performer, Iggy Azalea, has been making waves in this hemisphere since her Clueless-inspired music video for her hit single “Fancy.” With sassy raps and catchy hooks about the glam life, Azalea’s sound is reminiscent of the “it” girls of the early 2000’s. Think Gwen Stefani’s vocals and Lil’ Kim’s beats, but this former model adds personal flair with her zero-fucks-given charisma and unabashed obsession with America. She’s opened for household names such as Beyoncé and Rita Ora, but since the release of her debut album, The New Classic, Azalea is on the prowl with her Monster Energy Outbreak Tour. (Childs)

8pm, $35

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-6000


Ben Folds with the San Francisco Symphony

In the 17 years since his old band, Ben Folds Five, burst onto the national scene with “Brick” — likely the catchiest, most radio-friendly song ever penned about an abortion at Christmastime — pianist-singer-songwriter-storyteller Ben Folds has proven to be so much more than a flash in the pan. On this tour, he’s been performing solo with orchestras and symphonies around the world; if you’re not quite sure how his songwriting would stand up to such elaborate instrumentation, search for videos online of his performances with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra. This one-off show should be a treat for devotees of the singer’s nearly three-decade career as well as symphony fans — nothing like a little pop-rock-classical synergy on a Monday night. (Silvers)

7:30pm, prices vary, see website for details

Davies Symphony Hall

Grove between Van Ness and Franklin, SF



Write Club SF

Who says writing isn’t a contact sport? The monthly Write Club, which bills itself with the motto “literature as bloodsport,” pits local lit figures against each other in a competitive readings series, with writers arguing such topics as “snow vs. fire,” “ham vs. turkey,” and “Santa vs. Jesus.” This month’s will see six writers, including Caitlin Gill, Rachel Bublitz, and founders Steven Westdahl and Casey Childers arguing over topics such as “beginning” vs. “end.” The audience picks the winner, and proceeds go to a charity of the winner’s choice. Reading, arguing, a full bar — what’s not to like? (Silvers)

8pm, $10

Make-Out Room

322522nd St, SF

Damien Jurado

Serious Damien Jurado fans — and the folksy indie-rocker does seem to inspire a certain (well-deserved) fervor amongst a certain set — know the songwriter’s gift for storytelling owes as much to a willingness to get weird as it does to playing with narrative. Jurado’s latest release, January’s Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, is the third piece in a three-part collaboration with producer Richard Swift, and it shies away from neither the religious overtones nor the heady, spaced-out hero’s journey type of tale 2012’s Maraqopa laid out; it’s more stripped-down, if anything, so those themes are laid bare. Live, he’s known for making even large rooms feel intimate; this show shouldn’t disappoint. (Silvers)

8pm, $15

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF


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, 225 Bush, 17th Flr., SF, CA 94105; or e-mail (paste press release into e-mail body — no attachments, please) to 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.

Promo: Win a VIP ticket package to SFCMP’s Sweet Thunder Festival!


SFCMP’s Sweet Thunder Festival welcomes some of the nation’s leading alt-classical performers for four unprecedented days and nights of music at Fort Mason Center, April 24-27. 
Alongside SFCMP, the Bay Area’s “premier new music ensemble,” Sweet Thunder presents:

  • The first SF appearances of  ICE (The International Contemporary Ensemble) – whoThe New Yorker says sets “the new gold standard for new music,”
  • JACK Quartet – “one of the Best New York Alt-Classical,” according to NPR,
  • San Diego’s red fish blue fish percussion ensemble, who rocked Ojai North last summer,
  • The “Grandfather of electronic music,” 81-year-old legend Morton Subotnick, in a rare and special SF performance,
  • And many beloved heroes and heroines of the Bay Area taped music and electro-acoustic scene.

Don’t miss the biggest new music event of the year, with free events, installations, panel discussions and more. Get single tickets and passes, and more info at

Enter to win a VIP ticket package including a pair of Sweet Thunder Festival passes (good for all shows) AND a pair of Thursday night Launch Party passes here!

Thursday, April 24 — Sunday, April 27 @ Fort Mason Center, SF

Record Store Day: Where to get your (musical) high tomorrow


You did it! It’s Friday!

This weekend will see a convergence of two holidays that, come to think of it, overlap rather nicely given their impact on chocolate sales. Whether you’re celebrating the resurrection of Christ by donning an elaborate hat for church or the recent renewal of your medical marijuana card by finding new and creative ways to mainline THC (word to the wise: be careful in public this year), Sunday, April 20 is shaping up to be a fine day for people-watching in this city.

But hey, fellow music nerds: We all know both of those pale in comparison to what’s going down on Saturday. Yes, like the first esoteric, vinyl-collection obsessed, possibly slightly-condescending-at-times robin of Spring, Record Store Day is upon us once again. Tomorrow, Sat/19, will be a pretty good day to visit just about any (actual, brick-and-mortar, non-Internet-based) record store in the Bay Area. Now in its seventh year, the holiday — which, its website notes, was kicked off in 2008 at San Francisco’s Rasputin, by none other than the boys from Metallica — is celebrated at stores on every continent except Antarctica.

No need to pack your bags though: Here’s what’s going down at a few Bay Area establishments that sell music in all its excellent tangible, physical forms.

From the Mission’s Aquarius Records, owner (and Minor Forest drummer) Andee Connors wrote us the following when we asked what he was stoked on this year:

1. A Minor Forest, Flemish Altruism / Inindependence, 4 LP reissue on Thrill Jockey, both albums from this nineties math/post/noise rock band [acknowledgement of personal bias here]

1. The Ghostbusters‘ glow-in-the dark 10″

3. Ron Jeremy, Understanding and Appreciating Classical Music With Ron Jeremy, 7″ (only a 7″??)

4. Cardinal 2/t LP, vinyl reissue of this seminal baroque indie-pop classic

5. Scharpling & Wurster, Rock, Rot & Rule LP, vinyl reissue of maybe the funniest record ever, especially for music nerds

I think our customers are probably excited for those, but they’re / we’re also looking forward to the Heatmiser (Elliott Smith’s old band) LP reissues, the four soundtrack LPs on Death Waltz, Pussy Galore reissue, Rodion G.A. reissue, the Space Project compilation…also, we have a new release from local band Twin Trilogy, featuring Sean Smith, the first in a series, ONLY available at aQ on RSD, and on Sunday, Twin Trilogy will be playing a special in-store at aQ. Record store day part 2!!! [Ed. note: Should pair well with your other Sunday celebrations].


Across the Bay at Oakland’s 1-2-3-4 Go!, a full-day party will kick off when the store opens at 8am. “Last year people started lining up around 4:30am, to give you a heads-up if you plan on coming for the opening,” advised owner Steve Stevenson, adding that they’ll have coffee from SubRosa and donuts from Pepples (while supplies last) for those of you who line up early.

Giveaway: A test pressing of the Green Day Demolicious 2xLP, autographed by Berkeley boy Billie Joe Armstrong. The first 100 people in line will get a raffle ticket; once the 100th person has handed in their ticket, the drawing will commence.

James Williamson of The Stooges will be doing a signing and chatting with fans from 10am to 11ish. (Ed. note: !!!!)

Hella Vegan Eats will be on hand making breakfast and lunch throughout the day. “Not free, but well worth it even if you’re not vegan,” says Steve. They’ll also have a couple of kegs from Linden Street Brewery for over-21 folks, for free, after noon.

Bands: Ghoul will be playing a very special “surf” set from their RSD Hang Ten 10″ out on Tank Crimes at 3pm, with Occultist opening. 


An entirely non-comprehensive list of what’s happening at other stores:

Amoeba Berkeley — In-store DJ sets from Jonah Nice and DJ Inti; 20 percent off all turntables, posters, and some other accessories; giveaways TBA.

Amoeba SF — Same sales as above, plus live silk-screening from 11am to 2pm with special RSD 2014 designs, one by Zach of Saintseneca; t-shirts and totes available for purchase, with all proceeds going to the San Francisco Rock Project. Plus a full day of guest DJs, including folks like Andy Cabic of Vetiver and Ezana Edwards and Ryan Grubbs from Blood Sister.

Rasputin Berkeley: Free acoustic show by Phillip Phillips.

Groove Merchant Records (Haight): Cool Chris’ hand-picked “batch of 300+ Rock, Soul, Jazz, Italo Disco, and Post-Punk records (LP’s, 12”s, & 7”s),” selected especially for RSD.

And now a word from your Record Store Day 2014 ambassador, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, whose duties coincide with an RSD reissue of a very fine 1988 album. Happy crate-digging!

East Bay Beats


LEFT OF THE DIAL Dayvid Michael, a West Oakland native and member of the CaliMade hip-hop crew, clearly has some mixed feelings about his debut record, Frienemy.

“I mean, I wrote those songs when I was 18,” says the rapper, drinking boba milk tea during an interview in downtown Oakland. “I’m still proud of them, but I’ve learned so much since then.”

That album dropped the last week of December 2012 — which means Michael’s reminiscing at the ripe old age of 21. But, to be fair, the past couple years have been big ones for someone who calls himself a “reluctant rapper” (until about age 17, he mostly wanted to sing and play guitar).

With CaliMade, a loose collective of Oakland-born guys who’ve been friends from elementary school, as well as other young DJs and producers, he performed at Hiero Day, steps away from Bay Area hip-hop legends. He’s guested on a few songs by Iamsu, a rapper whom, Michael rightly notes, you will hear if you put on 106.1 KMEL for more than 15 minutes right now; CaliMade is now working closely with the (slightly) elder rapper’s own crew, the HBK Gang. And 2014’s shaping up to be a big one: He just got done recording a new project with Azure, an Oakland rapper poised for big things in his own right as well as being Iamsu’s DJ, and Clyde Shankle, another member of CaliMade. Michael’s also working on his sophomore solo album, which will be out by the end of the year.

In other words, he’s an Oakland kid to keep your eye on — which makes him a perfect selection for Oakland Drops Beats, a new free, all-ages, quarterly music festival that features some 30-plus East Bay artists, spread out over 10 different stages and venues in downtown Oakland; the kickoff festival is April 19.

Its lineup is, in and of itself, a testament to the range of music coming out of Oakland right now: From the jazz-hip-hop blend of the Kev Choice Ensemble to the underrated indie rock of Oakland mainstays B. Hamilton to the funk-soul dance party music of Sal’s Greenhouse — not to mention a distinctly family-friendly vibe courtesy of Bay Area Girls Rock Camp and the presence of Youth Radio — the music “crawl,” as organizers are billing it, aims to serve as both a celebration of the city’s established artists and a new platform through which up-and-coming musicians can get some stage time.

Inspired by the Venice Music Crawl in LA, musician-organizer-founder Angelica Tavella first began reaching out to Oakland event producers over the summer, with the idea in mind that there are lots of community organizers and promoters “already doing cool stuff in other parts of Oakland, but really doing their own thing,” she says.

“This was, here’s a space where we could all do that together, for a couple hours, on this one day. And I really had in mind that it should be downtown Oakland — specifically not in Uptown, which already has the Art Murmur…there are a lot of great small shop owners, a lot of great energy, and cool new things going on downtown. But there aren’t a lot of venues for something like a public music performance to happen.”

Tavella was quickly overwhelmed by the level of interest and enthusiasm from business owners and event producers — especially considering that the festival is all volunteer-run for now (including pro bono performances by musicians). The goal for the next one, which will take place in the last week of July or the first week of August, is to fundraise enough to pay musicians for their performances, while keeping admission free to the public.

Eventually, Tavella hopes to have the free daytime performances segue into a nighttime music crawl that would bring business to the venues in downtown Oakland. And with more and more musicians and artists getting priced out of San Francisco and heading East, organizers shouldn’t have too hard a time finding fresh talent to fill a bill every three months.

Dayvid Michael will be performing in the afternoon with the CaliMade crew at Le Qui Vive, a gallery at 15th and Webster. He feels at home there — it’s one of the first venues where CaliMade began performing a few years ago, and he says the folks behind it are part of the community that makes him feel so lucky to be calling Oakland home.

“When people from outside the Bay Area think about the Bay Area, they think of two things — we’re hyphy, we know how to have fun; and also the diversity of the city,” says Michael, who also does graphics work for Youth Radio (he basically “hung around” until they let him). “I feel like as representatives, the HBK Gang and Cali Made can fulfill both of those perceptions. And my personal goal is to show the world that we’re more than just party music. We can do that too — but we want to offer more than that.”

“This place is so rich in culture, intelligence, legacy. I love it here,” he says, and thinks for a minute. “If Oakland had waterfalls, I would never go anywhere else.” Fair enough.

Oakland Drops Beats
Sat/19, 2pm (all day), free
10 venues between Broadway and Harrison/14th and 19th St, Oak.  


 Talk about “left of the dial.” If you’ve only been in the city a couple years, you might not be aware that there was a time when KUSF — that’s the student-run radio station of the University of San Francisco — wasn’t in exile. It’s been over three years since the university sold the station (which had been broadcasting since 1963 at 90.3 FM) without public input or comment, for $3.75 million, to the Classical Public Radio Network, aka CPRN, via a complex three-way deal between the University of Southern California, that station, and the corporate broadcasting giant Entercom.

Since that time, KUSF DJs and friends of the station have been operating the station online, 24 hours a day, from the Lightrail Studios, growing a registered nonprofit arm with a new name: San Francisco Community Radio. All the while, those who love the station have been embroiled in — to use the technical legal terminology — a bureaucratic shitshow, as they try to prove that the sale was illegal. They’ve had some small successes in proving certain aspects of the transaction were unlawful, and currently have an appeal before the FCC.

Then, at the end of 2013, the FCC began issuing low-power FM licenses for the first time in about a decade. KUSF-In-Exile has an application in for 102.5 — but they’re up against at least seven other groups, including, as KUSF members understand it, a mega-church. The central goal, say organizers, is simply to get back on the (non-internet based) airwaves, one way or another. But “It’s a lot of hurry up and wait,” says SFCR board member and treasurer Damin Esper of the situation. “Which, obviously, isn’t very satisfying to us or to our supporters.”

In the meantime, the station has been throwing fundraiser shows to help pay for ongoing legal fees, and the one this April 20, naturally, is the third incarnation of their annual stoner-rama affair. Oakland punks Violence Creeps, who’ll be opening for the current incarnation of Black Flag at Brick & Mortar in May, will be headlining, alongside psych-rockers Mondo Drag and plenty of other wild, weird, woolly favorites; visuals, should you happen to have ingested anything that would make you want to look at cool visuals, will be provided by veteran stock-footage auteurs Oddball Films. All of the funds raised will go to SFCR’s legal fight; there will also be members on hand to talk volunteer opportunities — college radio-loving grantwriters, are you out there?

When it comes to the original sale, Esper says, “It’s clear that laws were broken. It could be found to be illegal in court…but one of the reasons the big guys always win in situations like this is it’s hard to keep people engaged, reminded of the situation. This is bigger than just KUSF. This is happening all over the country. College radio is under attack.”

SFCR’s Blown-Out, Blowout Benefit III
Sun/20, 8pm, $7
Thee Parkside 1600 17th St, SF

Oh, one last thing: There’s also a little event called Record Store Day coming up, so get out that piggy bank — this is what people mean when they talk about having an “emergency fund,” right? Anyway: So much going on, so little space. Check the Bay Guardian’s Noise blog this week for special in-store events and one-day-only releases.

This Week’s Picks: April 9 – 15, 2014




The flower children of the 21st century will be playing at the Fillmore tonight and tomorrow night kicking off their North American tour. Haim, an LA-based rock band, consists of three sisters that look like they jumped out of a fashionable Tumblr. An edgy rock sound with breathy vocals and ’80s beats, the band’s debut album Days Are Gone was touted as one of the best rock albums of 2013. The trio has often been compared to Fleetwood Mac — in some circles, the highest of compliments in the music world. Three Stevie Nicks for the price of one!

7pm, $25

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-6000





Installations are a way of reaching audiences bored with buying a ticket and sitting down for the next two hours. They give the viewer a choice of how she might want to see a work — a sort of slow motion or fast-forwarding button on a TV remote control. Sometimes, however, putting a piece into a specific context makes a lot of sense. Take FACT/SF’s new Invidious, choreographer Charles Slender’s “domestic dance theater piece,” which hits home (if you’ll excuse the language) with issues surrounding the so-called American dream and the price it exacts emotionally, intellectually and financially on all those who still believe in it. What better way than to plant such work in an actual home? (Secret revealed: it’s in the Mission). (Rita Felciano)

Through April 13, 6:30 and 9pm, $40

Exact location in SF revealed after ticket reservation


Matt Taibbi

Known for calling Goldman Sachs “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity,” former Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi has dedicated his entire career to revealing the slimy underbelly of our country’s key institutions and formative events. Furthering his mission is Taibbi’s new book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. In it, he draws a scathing portrait of American injustice, denouncing how the country turned poverty into a crime and wealth into a “get out of jail free” card. Tonight, he’ll speak about the connection between mass incarcerations of the poor and the unpunished crimes of the rich, with guest speaker Clara Jeffrey, co-editor of Mother Jones, joining the conversation. (Laura B. Childs)

6:30pm, $20

Commonwealth Club

595 Market St, SF

(415) 597-6700



Future Islands

Future Islands’ frontman Samuel T. Herring is so awesome he’s achieved one of the internet’s highest levels of honor — he’s now a meme. Herring ascended to memedom after Future Islands’ bonkers performance on Letterman last month, at the end of which, Letterman — who feigns interest for a living — expressed genuine excitement about their performance, exclaiming “I’ll take all of that you got!” Watching Herring perform is like witnessing someone doing a rain dance while being exorcised at the same time; if you watched the show without sound you’d likely still enjoy it. The band is touring of their latest synth-punk LP, Singles. (George McIntire)

8pm, $20

The Chapel

777 Valencia, SF


Harold Ramis Tribute

The world lost a comic genius far too soon when Harold Ramis — writer-director of Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Groundhog Day, as well as acting in Ghostbusters, among others — passed away in February at the age of 69. Lucky for us, his sweetly irreverent, deceptively smart work lives on, not only on the big screen but in the films of countless younger writers and directors who took their comic cues from him (see: the majority of screwball comedies made since 1990). This two-day tribute starts out with the subtly brilliant Groundhog Day and classic golf send-up Caddyshack on Friday, followed by a triple-feature Saturday with National Lampoon’s Vacation, Stripes, and Animal House. We think Ramis would be pleased, though that’s wholly unnecessary; it’s likely he’s already achieved total consciousness. (Emma Silvers)

7 and 8:55pm, $11

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF


Teen Night: “Visions of an Abolitionist Future”

Hey, let’s build more jails and put everyone who we don’t like in them! That seems to be America’s M.O. at the mo’. The intrepid youth of YBCA’s Young Artists at Work program are looking at the malignant growth of the prison-industrial complex and the moral and economic price of mass incarceration — and theorizing strategies for intervention, change, and liberation. They do this through provocative art, producing video, illustration, sculpture, multimedia installation, and performance (including one stunning dance piece utilizing live, beamed-in choreography performed by prisoners themselves). The YAAW program gathers together youth from high schools around the Bay Area for a year-long artistic inquiry into hot topics: This Teen Night is where you can hear and support the creative, inspiring, and so far free voice of our youth today. (Marke B.)

6pm-10pm, free


701 Mission, SF

(415) 978-2700




Willie Nelson

This octogenarian still has a lot to say. With a six-decade career and over 200 albums in his catalog, and more than 200 nights per year spent on the road, Willie Nelson has earned every bit of the retirement he has no interest in taking. Performing with his two wickedly talented sons, Nelson has lost none of his charm and still plays all the hits. Well, not all the hits — that might take all night. For those who’ve never seen Nelson live, don’t miss what might be one of your last chances to see his incredibly tender and heartfelt act. Nelson still cares about a lot of things —farm workers’ rights, the legalization of marijuana, gay rights —and his fans clearly rank toward the top of this list. So fire up a joint and raise it (and pass it) to this living legend tonight. (Haley Zaremba)

With Drive-By Truckers, Shovels and Rope

7pm, $49.50

Greek Theatre

2001 Gayley, Berkeley

(510) 548-3010




According to members of the band Goat, the group’s origins can be traced back to a remote village in Sweden, and an ongoing collective of different group members over the years, each remaining somewhat anonymous behind masks and costumes, both in photos and during live performances. Goat’s first major release, World Music, came out in Europe in 2012, and Sub Pop Records released the band’s first North American single, “Dreambuilding,” last year; expect a wild mix of ritual drumming, chanting, and a bit of voodoo mythology strewn over dizzying psychedelic rock. (Sean McCourt)

9pm, $20


333 11th St, SF

(415) 255-0333



Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

If your allergies are too much to handle this spring, rejoice in this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown. You won’t be a victim of itchy eyes, sneezing, or a red nose during this weekend’s celebration of Japanese culture. From sumo-e ink painting, calligraphy and origami demonstrations to classical and folk performances, indulge in a two weekend-long affair. Traditional Japanese music will fill the air as well as taiko and karaoke concerts. Just in case, pack an extra Claritin for the bonsai and ikebana flower arranging exhibits!

11am-5pm, free

April 12-13, 19-20 (parade is 1pm on April 20)

SF Japantown

(415) 563-2313




KUSF’s Rock ‘N’ Swap

For over 25 years, this record swap has promised (and delivered) some of the best hard-to-find vinyl, CDs, posters, and other music paraphernalia that any good audiophile could ask for. Out-of-print jazz records from 1932? The original Annie soundtrack on cassette? Stickers from that punk show you’re too young to have actually been to? Step right up and state your case at this KUSF-organized staple, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation — if you have esoteric tastes, this is a pretty good place to make new friends, too. (Emma Silvers)

7am-4pm, $3-$10

McLaren Hall, USF Campus

2130 Fulton, SF

(415) 386-5873



Toy Dolls

Fun-loving British punk band The Toy Dolls are celebrating 35 years of joyfully madcap songs like “James Bond Lives Down Our Street,” “Yul Brenner Was A Skinhead,” and their biggest hit, a cover of an old English children’s song, “Nellie The Elephant.” Though the band has gone through innumerable lineup changes over the years, they continue to be lead by founding member and singer-guitarist Michael “Olga” Algar, and now perform as a power trio, having toured across the world. The Toy Dolls come to the states this month in support of their latest album, 2012’s cheekily titled The Album After The Last One. (Sean McCourt)

With Swingin’ Utters

8pm, $25-$27

The Regency Ballroom

1300 Van Ness, SF



Thanks to their 2012 single “Hurricane,” MS MR have exploded into buzz blogs and newsfeeds internationally. Even if you think you you’re not familiar with this nascent New York duo, you are. “Hurricane” was a runway favorite at Fashion Week and on every pop station, while “Bones” was featured in the trailers for Game of Thrones’ third season — you’ve probably even caught yourself humming along to the band’s mega-catchy sound. Comprised of two Vassar alums, one singer-songwriter and Neon Gold founder and one dancer-choreographer, MS MR is a both a dream team of immediately accessible alt-pop and an explosive stage presence. And hey, if Westeros approves, what is there left to discuss? (Zaremba)

With Jagwar Ma

8pm, $25

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-3000