Electronic Music

Retro future



MUSIC The sad truth of dance music is that the party necessarily ends. Tailor a song too much for the floor tonight and it’s lifeless on the street or in the car tomorrow. Factor in the conflation between EDM and electronic music, and the latter can be all too often stuck in the shadow of the club. With his latest solo album, Salton Sea, Danish music producer Tomas Barfod steps out into new territory.

Barfod — a.k.a. Tomboy, also the drummer for electro-rock act WhoMadeWho — has worked on more projects than I could count: producing, running a label, booking Copenhagen’s Distortion festival, and lots of DJing. But tired of nonstop club performances, he recently decided to refocus and moved to LA “It was about getting away from doing gigs and focusing on studio work, that was the main goal of going away,” Barfod said. “But also to start from zero in a totally different — and awesome — environment.”

This environment allowed Barfod to work with Leeor Brown’s burgeoning label Friends of Friends, home of talented producers including Shlohmo, Salva, and Groundislava. “I’ve always had a vision about where I wanted my career to go, and almost always ended there, but never on the path that I expected,” Barfod says. Working with FoF has been an unexpected path. “It started when MySpace was almost dead. I hardly ever checked my messages, but I got one from Leeor. It took us a couple of years to really figure out how to work together, but when I moved to LA there was no question that we should do an album.”

The result is Salton Sea, named after the California lake area that’s now largely an abandoned wasteland. (Imagine the post-apocalyptic setting for a Fallout video game or Mad Max movie.) In the early 1900s, an engineering accident flooded the area and created a lake that was for a few decades rebranded as a utopian resort town.

One track on the album recalls this, consisting of a single repeated lyric: “everybody came to party.” An ecstatic house track? A hedonistic rager anthem? Barfod affects another mood entirely. The voice is robotic, with zero emotion, over a brooding four to the floor bass beat. The lyric is a statement that begs a question: and then what happened?

Saline levels rose. Water became polluted. Fish became infected with botulism and washed up on the beach. In the case of the Salton Sea, the past returned, the party was over, the people left.

Barfod describes himself as a “retro-romantic” for “places where nothing has been touched for ages. It doesn’t need to be pretty, as long as it tells a story about the past.” He was working on music and collecting pictures of abandoned places and things — ships being cut up in India at Alang Beach; empty offices in Detroit — so when Leeor told him about the Salton Sea it was a natural fit. “It’s a really special place,” Barfod says, “the lake is kind of timeless.”

Similarly timeless is Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic set against an environmental dystopia. Not wanting to be too influenced by new music, Barfod cites the film, particularly Vangelis’s soundtrack, as something he listened to a lot while making Salton Sea. Its stamp is there, beginning with the racing arpeggio and slow synth chord progressions that open the album on “D.S.O.Y.”

But the influence is beyond references. A video posted by Barfod shows visual designer Syd Mead discussing minute details like parking meters as he creates the futuristic world of Blade Runner. Key to the aesthetic is building on existing layers so that buildings use ceiling fans in an era of flying cars, and a geneticist can create artificial humans but wears coke bottle glasses. It’s a regressive sort of futurism, but ages surprisingly well.

Listening to Barfod there’s a sense of wanting to make something that sounds good now, but will last. “I think it’s very hard to make something timeless. However my way of trying is that I tend to use analog sounds in my drums and synths, and acoustic instruments so it sounds somewhat retro, but on the other hand I use a lot of computer generated effects that are new and almost futuristic. I don’t know if it makes my music timeless but I like it like that.”

The lesson of the Salton Sea is that the future can’t escape the past. The lesson of Blade Runner is that the future can’t escape the past. Tomas Barfod is in a new home, with new collaborators, and a new label, but at the same time it’s not a complete break. (Among the new voices on Salton Sea is his WhoMadeWho bandmate, Jeppe Kjellberg. When we exchanged emails Barfod was back in Europe for gigs.) While he’s moving into the future, Barfod has his eyes and ears on the past.


Sat/21, 9pm, $15–$20

Public Works

161 Erie, SF (415) 932-0955


Our Weekly Picks: June 13-19



Rappin’ 4-Tay

More Champagne, Mr. 4-Tay? It’s been almost 20 years since Anthony Forté dropped the infectious Bay Area anthem “Playaz Club,” but I think it’s safe to assume the answer is still a resounding, “Yes.” Born and raised in the Fillmore District of San Francisco, the rapper will be performing at Mezzanine for the Tupac Birthday Celebration in honor of what would have been the fallen artist’s 41st name day. Presented by local emcee and activist Sellassie, a bevy of hip-hop stars will be joining Forté in the spotlight as they remember a musical pioneer. In 1996, Forté was featured on the track “Only God Can Judge Me” on Shakur’s critically acclaimed album, All Eyez on Me. Party forecast: Mostly cloudy with a heavy chance of champagne. (Julia B. Chan)

With Mac Mall, Ray Luv, Spice 1

8pm, $15 advance


444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880



Action Bronson

This NY-based loudmouth foodie rapper is not for the easily offended. When Action Bronson is not creating social media scandals (a too-far Instagram photo he’s since deleted and apologized for) or spitting tongue-in-cheek verses, Bronson, a former gourmet chef, can be found filming his YouTube cooking series Action in the Kitchen. Bronson’s appeal stems from his ability to seamlessly mix elaborate food imagery into otherwise raunchy-style verse. Who doesn’t want to listen to a song about both “bitches” and prosciutto? (Haley Zaremba)

9pm, $17

With Richie Cunning, Davinci


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421



Turtle Power Nightlife

Get aquatic at the Cal Academy of Sciences with a turtle-powered installment of their Thursday NightLife series. The diverse array of performances and activities offered will surely keep your head swimming: watch dance troupe Capacitor performing an excerpt from “Okeanos” (a portrait of the ocean as body, environment, resource, metaphor, and force), then show your skills in the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nintendo game. Talk to conservation groups and sea turtle researcher J. Nichols; next observe the sea turtle skulls on your own. Check out a dive show in the Philippine Coral Reef, and finally, take in some movies in the Planetarium (Sea Turtle Spotlight and Earthquake). Turtle power indeed! (Shauna C. Keddy)

With DJ Jaysonik (Hottub/Le Heat)

6pm, $10–<\d>$12

California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Drive

Golden Gate Park, SF

(415) 379-8000



The Slippery Slope

Take the lounge-lizard persona of Tom Waits circa Nighthawks at the Diner, sprinkle it with some surf and exotica overtones, and dunk it in the heady atmosphere of a David Lynch score; you might end up with something like Oakland’s the Slippery Slope. This self-described “psychedelic cabaret” ensemble recently expanded to a 10-piece, with the addition of a horn section, hinting at a funkier, groovier approach. However, with its sultry vocals, reverb-soaked guitars, and vast sense of space intact, the Slippery Slope’s warped vision of lounge music remains front and center. (Taylor Kaplan)

With the Bodice Rippers, Go Van Gogh

9pm, $10

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 626-4455



“DEEPER Architectural Meditations”

Site-specificity is a specialty of Lizz Roman and Dancers, and their upcoming CounterPULSE show, “DEEPER Architectural Meditations,” will not be an exception. Expect to see a side of CounterPULSE you might never have previously taken note of, as Lizz and her merry troupe reveal the hidden nooks and crannies of the space with their body of work, not to mention with their bodies. Exposing not just the architectural complexities of CounterPULSE but also those of the irresistible impulse to interact communally with our immediate environment, the Lizz Roman team will perform all over the CounterPULSE space with live backing from WaterSaw and guest DJ Jerome Lindner. (Nicole Gluckstern)

Through July 1, 8pm, $20–<\d>$25


1310 Mission, SF

(415) 626-2060



How to Dress Well

Like the rest of us, Tom Krell must dream in light and shadows. Unlike the rest of us, he is able to translate those dreams into signature ethereal compositions full of dark emotions and R&B passions. Experimental pop producer How to Dress Well has been well received among critics, bloggers, and music lovers alike since popping onto the radar by posting his own tunes online in 2009. Krell’s singing voice can be described as pleasant but when coupled with his piercing falsetto, is a force steeped in textures. His lo-fi, DIY approach to an urban-sounding kind of electronic music is well done and the result is hypnotic. Touring in anticipation of his Acéphale debut album Total Loss, Krell recently released first single “Ocean Floor for Everything.” (Chan)

With Babe Rainbow, Finally Boys 9pm, $14 Rickshaw Stop 155 Fell, SF (415) 861-2011 www.rickshawstop.com


Sarah Jaffe

Sarah Jaffe’s smoky voice should be a good kickoff for your weekend. Jaffe is an enthralling musician — this Texas crooner’s voice is as layered as her music is driving. She’s currently touring in support of her recently released album The Body Wins, hailed by Interview Magazine as “show[ing] a new shade of musical maturity.” Let her denser, still emotional sounds draw you in, and let the newfound musical complexity she displays on this album wrap around you like a balmy summer night. Secret Colours opens, a fun dance-rock band with a pyschedelic, “newgaze,” and garage rock sound. (Keddy)

9pm, $12

New Parish

570 18th St., Oakl.

(510) 444-7474



San Francisco Black Film Festival

The San Francisco Black Film Festival kicks off tonight with Robert Townsend’s latest: based-on-a-true-story drama In the Hive, about a group of at-risk teens struggling to continue their educations (with the help of tough-love administrators played by Loretta Devine and Michael Clarke Duncan). The rest of the fest includes a “Focus on Fathers Family Day” featuring a new short doc by Kevin Epps; a games and animation-focused program topped off by a panel with Leo Sullivan (Fat Albert) and Morrie Turner (Wee Pals); and, of course, a huge slate of features and shorts, on a wide-cast net of subjects: pick-up basketball, hip-hop in Ghana, “good hair,” and more. Don’t miss mockumentary Thugs, The Musical — comedian Kevin Avery’s show biz satire in the vein of Townsend’s 1987 Hollywood Shuffle. (Cheryl Eddy)

Fri/15-Sun/17, $5–<\d>$50

Various venues, SF



Motion City Soundtrack

So pop-punk didn’t die with Avril Lavigne’s career after all. More than 15 years after its conception and 10 years past its life expectancy, Minneapolis rock band Motion City Soundtrack just released Go, its fifth studio album. Leaked by Epitaph Records almost a month early, the record is a continuation of singer Justin Pierre’s established flare for sunny melodies and pitch-black lyrics. With song titles such as “Everyone Will Die” and “The Worst is Yet to Come” listeners might expect to hear something much heavier than the danceable tracks that the quintet has become known for. Instead, Pierre explores his many neuroses in a soaring falsetto that promises to get stuck in your head. No headbanging required. (Zaremba)

8pm, $22

With the Henry Clay People, the Front Bottoms


333 11th St, SF

(415) 255-0333



Emily Jane White and Mariee Sioux

Lucky us, Amoeba Music is offering a free showcase for its Home Grown Independent Artist Series stars of May and June: Emily Jane White and Mariee Sioux. Sioux’s music is focused on narratives and sparse guitar work. White is also noted for her vocals and story-like lyrics. White’s third album, Ode to Sentience, finds her compositions as lush as ever, filled out with organ, pedal steel guitar, and electric guitar. In still images, White is often seen walking in a forest or sitting pensively by a pond, like some sort of mystical being in a painting — and her music allows you to close your eyes and picture that you too are traveling through a misty forest filled with rich stories and woodland creature secrets. Sioux and White will weave tales at this afternoon show. (Keddy)

4pm, free

Amoeba Music

2455 Telegraph, Berk.

(510) 549-1125




Formed in Sweden in 1990, legendary black metal group Marduk was designed, in the words of founding member Morgan Hakansson, to be “the most blasphemous metal act ever.” Although they draw from similar lyrical themes as other groups in their genre, with the requisite references to Satanism and gore, Marduk adds several other diabolical layers, notably adding historical imagery and themes from World War II in more recent recorded offerings. Last year’s Iron Dawn EP continued the band’s mighty campaign for metal dominance, and local fans won’t want to miss the only Northern California appearance on this blitzkrieg, er, tour. (Sean McCourt)

With 1349, Withered, Weapon, Black Fucking Cancer, DJ Rob Metal.

6:30pm, $25

DNA Lounge

375 11th St., SF.

(415) 626-1409




The boys are back in town! The former Mission dwelling, burrito scarfing, epic house party throwing trio — better known as Lemonade — is rolling back into San Francisco behind the release of the beautifully emotive and love-laced LP Diver. Now based in Brooklyn, singer Callan Clendenin, drummer Alex Pasternak, and bassist Ben Steidel (who is currently playing keyboards for their live shows) are embarking on pretty pop territory as the latest full-length finds them coasting on warm waves of synth melodies, tropical sensibilities, and a lush ambience layered in R&B grooves and coos — in easy-to-digest, 3-to-5 minute increments. The Rickshaw show will see the guys playing mostly newer tunes, with an ensuing dance party all but assured. (Chan)

With LE1F, Water Borders

8pm, $12

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011


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, 71 Stevenson Street, Second Floor, SF, CA 94105 or email (paste press release into email body — no attachments, please) to listings@sfbg.com. Digital photos may be submitted in jpeg format; the image must be at least 240 dpi and four inches by six inches in size. We regret we cannot accept listings over the phone.

Our Weekly Picks: June 6-12



Church of Misery

A preternaturally crunchy, riff-savvy stoner rock band from Tokyo, Japan, whose influences are culled from the back catalogues of ’70s esoterica — think Mountain, Sir Lord Baltimore, and my beloved Captain Beyond, played through the kind of crustified old school black metal sensibilities that seem to inform a number of Japan’s most popular heavy metal exports. There’s also the serial killer thing — the vast majority of Church of Misery’s lyrics treat America’s most infamous murderers and sadists. A sly commentary on our obsession with the vaguely menacing sexuality of our cock rock icons? They do a mean cover of “Cities On Flame with Rock and Roll,” too. (Tony Papanikolas)

With Hail! Hornet, Gates of Slumber

9pm, $18

Elbo Room

647 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788



Teen Daze

Recalling the Balearic escapism of Air France and the Tough Alliance, Vancouver’s Teen Daze specializes in a blissed-out, beach-bound approach to DIY-electronica. His upcoming full-length, All of Us, Together (to be released June 5 on Lefse Records), sees the producer taking a cleaner, less hazy approach to his chillwavy pop aesthetic than ever before. Laptop-based sets can leave a whole lot to be desired, so let’s hope this one-man project has what it takes to translate its vision to the stage in a compelling way. (Taylor Kaplan)

With the One AM Radio, Giraffage, Slow Magic

8pm, $12

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011



“BY Series”

In his new “BY Series,” Robert Moses formalizes a process he has engaged in over the years: inviting other choreographers to set work on his dancers. But why put Molissa Fenley, Ramon Ramos Alayo, and Sidra Bell — who probably have never even shared a cup of coffee, much less a stage — together? Like Moses, they speak with powerful 21st century voices from within the African Diaspora. Fenley spent formative years in Nigeria, Alayo in Cuba, and Bell, the youngest of the three, started her company as a community project in Harlem. Yet these artists couldn’t be more different from each other, and that’s the point. Also on the program will be the world premiere of Moses’ “Scrubbing the Dog.” (Rita Felciano)

Through June 17

Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm, $25

ODC Theater

3153 17th St., SF

(415) 863-9834



The Polecats

Neo-rockabilly legends the Polecats formed in London in the late 1970s, and brought back the ’50s rock genre with classic tunes such as “Rockabilly Guy” and “Make A Circuit With Me.” Although the group fractured for several years, with singer Tim Worman performing with 13 Cats, and guitarist Boz Boorer going on to play guitar and write music with Morrissey, they still find time to reunite occasional and play a show here and there. Don’t miss this rare local appearance, a warm-up gig before the Polecats head south to perform at the Ink-N-Iron Festival in Long Beach this weekend. (Sean McCourt)

With This Charming Band, Texas Steve & the Tornadoes

9pm, $12–$15


1928 Telegraph, Oakl.

(510) 451-8100




Globe-trotting Welshman Alexander Coe (a.k.a. Sasha) went from underground acid house DJ in the late ’80s to worldwide icon in the early 90’s when he paired with English DJ and producer John Digweed. Sasha and Digweed would go on to become one of electronic music’s most celebrated acts, producing mix albums and performing live together for a decade. The duo broke ground with their ambitious Delta Heavy tour across the US in 2002, proving electronic musicians had gained critical mass stateside. After the pair split, Sasha continued to venture into unchartered territory, becoming among the first DJs to remix tracks during live performances. While he’s bounced around genres throughout his career, his live sets typically carry a 4/4 beat and occupy the space between driving techno and house. (Kevin Lee)

Base Seven-Year Anniversary

10pm, $25


85 Campton, SF

(415) 433-8585



The Shants

Plenty of Americana tunes will be offered at this Starry Plough show thanks to co-headliners the Shants and Sean McArdle. Sit back and enjoy the musical complexity and lyrical beauty of the Shants, then let their faster songs bring you to your feet to dance. Such classically rural sounds as the pedal steel guitar bring their sound a weary and rich twangy soul, and the use of harmonica gets the boots stomping. Their latest album Beautiful Was the Night features Brianna Lea Pruett and Quinn Deveaux on vocal harmonies, as well as violin by Howie Cockrill and horns by Ralph Carney; and in the past they’ve shared the stage with artists such as Canadian alterna-folk autoharpist Basia Bulat. This week they play both the Starry Plough tonight, and the Great American Music Hall Sat/9. (Shauna C. Keddy)

With Paige and the Thousand, Sean McArdle

9:30pm, $7–$10

Starry Plough

3101 Shattuck, Berk.

(510) 841-2082


With Dirty Hand Family Band, the Famous, the Rogers, the Hot Pink Feathers

Sat/9, 8:30pm, $13

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750


This Will Destroy You and A Place to Bury Strangers

Two headliners; two brands of face-melting guitar-rock. Hailing from San Marcos, Texas, self-described “doomgaze” outfit This Will Destroy You is sure to devastate, with its mountains of distortion and extreme dynamic range. A Place to Bury Strangers (a.k.a “The Loudest Band in NYC”) should overwhelm in equal measure, with its suffocating barrage of squalling guitars, insistent basslines, and unrelenting drums. With two distinct walls-of-sound to get lost in, this double-bill should offer up one of the most viscerally affecting evenings of music this town has seen in a while. Bring earplugs… or, don’t. (Kaplan)

With Dusted

10pm, $14

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455



“I Call the Shots: New Works By Ben Venom”

Local artist Ben Venom’s signature quilts, stitched from chopped band tees, are spectacular to behold. A featured artist at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ “Bay Area Now 6” exhibit last year, Venom combines traditional hesher motifs (skulls, wolves, Satan, Slayerrr!) with traditional crafting techniques. (As his artist’s statement points out, “even the beasts of metal need a warm blanket to sleep with.”) Venom’s new solo show, “I Call the Shots,” includes wing-themed quilts I Go Where Eagles Dare and War Bird West (you could spend hours staring at each, picking out all the band logos embedded within), plus embroidered jean jackets and pillows suitable for cradling lazy demon heads. And speaking of heads, they will bang: local rockers Hazzard’s Cure and Dalton perform live at the opening. (Cheryl Eddy)

Also featuring work by Adam Feibelman

Through July 7

Opening reception tonight, 7-11pm, free

Guerrero Gallery

2700 19th St., SF



Superman: The Movie

Ever had the urge to watch Christopher Reeve valiantly save a busload of helpless schoolchildren on Golden Gate Bridge… in front of the bridge itself? Well, here’s your chance. In commemoration of the SF landmark’s 75th anniversary, The Presidio Trust and the Walt Disney Family Museum are curating “The Bridge on the Big Screen,” a series of seven bridge-centric films to be screened outdoors over the coming weeks, and Superman: The Movie is the second installment. Stay tuned for Hitchcock’s Vertigo, to be shown next Saturday. And remember to bring a blanket or low lawn chair. (Kaplan)

6pm, free

Main Post Green

Presidio, SF



Corrosion of Conformity

It’s not every band that can wear two hats, or wear them both as well as Corrosion of Conformity. The Raleigh, NC outfit began in 1982 as a frenzied hardcore band before evolving into a slower, fuzzier stoner rock beast, starting with 1991’s Blind. More than 20 years later, though, the frenzy is back, courtesy of a stripped-down, power trio lineup and a new, self-titled album. With bassist Mike Dean taking over vocal duties from guitarist Pepper Keenan (busy playing in Down), COC have returned to their hardcore roots. Expect high tempos and chaos in the pit. (Ben Richardson)

With Torche, Black Cobra, Gaza

8pm, $21


333 11th St., SF




Sunset Island

Now in its fourth year, this annual “electronic music picnic” from the generous party mavens at SUNSET comes with a fee for the first time. But given the music on offer — including live sets from Magda, the always enticing genre-crossing daughter of Berlin and Detroit, and shadowy UK producer BNJMN, who made a double album debut last year with Black Square and Plastic World — the tickets still are coming at a steal. And that’s not factoring in the possibility of nice weather, a pleasant crowd, and an unparalleled view from one of the best venues/lawns in the Bay Area. Just, uh, remember to pick up your trash. (Ryan Prendiville)

With Eddie C, Galen, Solar, J-Bird

Noon, $5–$15

Great Lawn, Treasure Island



Here We Go Magic

A four-piece band of Brooklynites, Here We Go Magic received a notable nod from one Thom Yorke in the summer of 2010 — he said the act was his favorite at Glastonbury that year. Since then, songwriter Luke Temple and friends have continued making saliently synthy music while touring the globe, and even picked up a hitchhiking John Waters along the way. The indie-poppers are performing in support of their third full-length album A Different Ship, a percussion-driven record that is also purely melodic in its nature. Here We Go Magic at the Independent will be a chance to catch this fast-rising band at a smaller venue before the summer festival season is upon us, and before several high-profile tour dates with Coldplay in July. (Julia B. Chan)

With Harriet

8pm, $15


628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421


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, 71 Stevenson Street, Second Floor, SF, CA 94105 or email (paste press release into email body — no attachments, please) to listings@sfbg.com. Digital photos may be submitted in jpeg format; the image must be at least 240 dpi and four inches by six inches in size. We regret we cannot accept listings over the phone.

I Love This City’s tasteful use of confetti, fog, and lighting


When I first heard that the inaugural I Love This City festival was moved from AT&T Park to Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater, I thought fate (or Live Nation) was twisting my arm.

The last time I visited Shoreline was a decade ago, when Moby headlined a nationwide tour and invited top electronic DJs to spin. One of the side stage’s top acts was a Dutch mixer taking Europe by storm: Tiësto. It was the first electronic music show I ever attended.

More than 10 years later at I Love This City, Tiësto was one of the main stage headliners and I’m pushing the age when attending an event that allows high school sophomores is questionable at best. But I was actually eager to attend ILTC. For one thing, the event promised, at the very least, a lineup chock full of well-known talent, ranging from Steve Aoki to DFA co-founder James Murphy to Man-of-the-Moment David Guetta, voted number one in DJ Magazine’s annual Top 100 List in 2011.

In full disclosure, my sentimental side was pulling for success for this inaugural event, just to soak in my trance-filled Tiësto nostalgia. Venue change and all, Live Nation did a pretty good job of holding things together. Here’s a rundown:

The Good
David Guetta: The man knows how to work a crowd, and he had to. He had to follow Tiësto, an unenviable task given the Dutch DJ’s enduring popularity. But Guetta won over listeners with his infectious grin and antics, which included dancing on the DJ equipment table and gesturing to the crowd like a conductor guides a symphony.

Crystal Method: On the Bass Stage, Los Angeles duo Scott Kirkland and Ken Jordan threw down a storming set of big beats that was only derailed by technical glitches at the very end. Kirkland was jamming buttons and strumming strings on an original and fascinating contraption, a CD turntable and a mini-keyborard fused to two guitar necks.

The Visuals: Whoever handled visuals for the main stage DJs did a tremendous job. In fact, the graphics were so stunning, I couldn’t help but wonder if the headliners had their playlists prepared in order to sync up with the montages. Regardless, the production crews should be lauded for tasteful use of confetti, fog, and lighting to lend some extra oomph to the shows. The side stages also had elaborate lighting and visual setups.

The Swaps: Transitions between sets were grab-a-beer-go-to-the-bathroom short. The production teams were well-oiled machines, setting up gear and visuals.

Shoreline was a success: The amphitheater ended up being a fantastic scene for the headliners. The effect gave a truly condensed focus on the DJ, something that might have been lacking at AT&T Park. The folks on the grass had a view and still has reams of bass blasting from the speakers. And the seats gave a much needed reprieve from concert goers, who wanted to take in music and crowd.

Food Trucks: An extremely welcome addition, though they were placed between the side stages, out of the way of the concession stands flanking the amphitheater. Thankfully, the food trucks didn’t seem too inclined to mark up the prices of their own offerings, and I very much would rather have an $8 Curry Up Now burrito over a $6 meat tube in a bun. But that’s just me.

The Bad
Where was the afterparty? The one big drawback with relocating ILTC to Shoreline was the surrounding neighborhood. Once Guetta finished his set and cooed to the restless crowd that he could not play any more music, Mountain View became Bay Area electronic music limbo just before midnight, caught between San Francisco and San Jose. If only nearby Google headquarters had been open, surely the search engine conglomerate could have thrown a kick-ass shindig.

Three stages: There was an impressive collection of talent to be had at ILTF. The Bass Stage made a lot of sense, a refuge where concert-goers could get their fill of low-end frequencies and throbbing drums. But some very good electronic artists got kind of lost in the fray at the Park Stage, which seemed like it was the everything-but-trance-and-dubstep venue. James Murphy, Holy Fuck, Apparat, and Cut Chemist all got shoehorned into an area that struggled to draw a significant following simply because of the size of the other two stages. A main stage and a strong alternate stage likely would have been sufficient.

The nickle-and-dime: $15 to park. $10 for a beer. $4.50 for bottled water. This after $60 for one-day tickets or $100 for two-days. And that’s without any, shall we say, “extracurricular activities.” Today’s electronic festival-goer seems like they have to be more part of the 1% than the 99%.

Gotye‘s ubiquity: No fewer than three main stage headliners threw in a redo of “Somebody That I Used to Know” and the crowd went absolutely crazy, shouting “You didn’t have to stoop so low” every time. C’mon DJs! You didn’t have to milk the crowd so much.

Headliners referring to the crowd as “San Francisco”. I know Tiesto, Afrojack, and David Guetta are all from Europe, but it was kind of awkward when pretty much everyone kept saying “San Francisco!” when the city was a 40-minute drive away. Then again, if the 49ers move to Santa Clara, I guess anything in between can fall under the San Francisco title.

Movement Detroit day one: Sweetest Kiss-Over (or, I Feel French)


Not much gets better than dancing with 33,000 people in downtown Detroit at the fantastic 12th annual Detroit Electronic Music Festival, aka Movement, to the techno music that was invented here.

The first day of three, a bit stormy weatherwise but warm and squiggly on the musical front, saw the five stages brimming with choice DJ segues like Greg Wilson into Todd Terje, David Squillace into Seth Troxler with Guy Gerber, SBTRKT into Roni Size, Derrick Carter into Lil Louis — and the triumph (for me, and native Detroiters) of last night, young techno keepers of the flame Kyle Hall and Jay Daniel, playing a smooth classics timewarp set, into quintessential DJ’s DJ Mike Huckaby, who took us all the way into wiggy jazziness.

The lovely vibes, zillion afterparties, surprising diversty, and distinctly non-pop energy are already helping compensate for some of the fest’s dogged disappointments — only five women out of about 100 DJs this year, all bunched up into opening sets, and only two San Franciscans by my count. (In a wee slap on both ends, one of this year’s most exciting techno up-and-comers, SF’s Christina Chatfield, is relegated to afterparty status. Next year please!)

But how can I complain when shirtless, buffed up, pecil-mustachioed house sage Lil Louis closes the main stage with his iconic “French Kiss” that breaks expertly into Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover” during the slow part, and then Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” (sounding absolutely aces on a huge system) when everything gets fast?

Louis didn’t let some horrifying technical glitches get in his way — when his complex set-up melted down, he mixed headphoneless and rode a thick bass beat like a trooper while festival technicians actually built a whole new one practically from scratch next to him. No one can say Detroit industriousness is dead.

The big overarching narrative of techno right now — and one that has huge reverberations at the festival — is how the many established strains of techno, and its more adventurous community of listeners and connoisseurs, are reacting to the current spectacular pop success of EDM (electronic dance music represented by commercial juggernauts like Dead Maus and Tiesto, and heard at Movement’s evil twin fest, Electric Daisy Carnival) and the droves of American youth pumping watered-down dubstep of the Skrillex variety into their earholes.

No, the all-ages Movement was not a snob-fest, and already it seems to be channeling its old underground, alternative energy again, now that all of its subgenre variations have something to unite about and rebel against. Teens flocked to the Red Bull stage for its more global bass lineup — but I only heard two wub-wub dubstep drops while I was there, and the neon-drenched kids did just fine with an onslaught of good ol’ polyrythmic UK two-step (the progenitor of dubstep) and old school live Brit-accented MCing, with hectically beautiful snippets of vocal garage house (dubstep’s other progenitor) floated over top. It was a fine education from the likes of Brenmar, Photek, and Bok Bok, indeed.

And then Derrick Carter started slaying the main stage with passing train-horn sounds that rattled 10,000 bones — his joke on the dubstep drop? — and everybody laughed and screamed.          

On the Cheap May 9-15, 2012




They Make Us Dangerous author reading and chitchat Modern Times Bookstore Collective, 2919 24 St., SF. (415) 282-9246, www.mtbs.com, 7-10pm, free. Step onto the Cold War battlefield that was Bolivia from 1964 to 1980, as you listen to the first hand account of a Catholic nun from the US’s Midwest whose doctoral research takes her to this mesmerizing but poverty-stricken region. As revolution clashes with oppression and boils over in dictatorship, author Frances Payne closes the book to answer and discuss your thoughts and inquiries.

Local Authors Night Hayward Area Historical Society, 22380 Foothill Blvd., Hayward. (510) 581-8172, www.haywardhistory.org, 7pm, free. Prepare your have your hairs stand on end as East Bay author Alec Nevala-Lee reads part of his thriller, The Icon Thief, and buckle up for an emotional ride as David Teves, also of the East Bay, reads his novel, A Matter of Time, and takes you one man’s journey through his own personal hell.



Plantosaurus Rex prehistoric plant exhibition and time warp Conservatory of Flowers, 100 JFKennedy Dr., SF. (415) 831-2090, www.conservatoryofflowers.org, 10am-4pm Tuesdays-Sundays, $5 general for youth, seniors, students and those with proof of SF residency. $7 general. Today, the Conservatory kicks off a five-month exhibit (ending Oct. 21) that transports you 250-65 million years back in time on a journey through the living plant life and model animals of the Mesozoic Era.



MFA Graduate Student Art Exhibition opening reception Phoenix Hotel, 601 Eddy St., SF. www.sfai.edu. noon-10pm, free. The San Francisco Art Institute introduces you to the love-labors of 100 MFA grad students to tantalize your senses with work from across the artistic disciplines, as you meander through the open guestrooms and poolside courtyard of this funky hotel.

SFAI MFA Student Film Screening SFMOMA, Phyllis Wattis Theater, 151 3 St., SF. www.sfai.edu. 1pm-3pm, free. From an experimental documentary about the Occupy movement to an animated short starring an otter and lemur living in a submarine, these works by graduating MFA film students will introduce you to the filmmakers of the future.



Making Mothers Visible Pop-Up Photography Arts Event San Francisco Main Public Library, Civic Center, 100 Larkin St., SF. www.imow.org. 10am-3pm, free. Just in time for Mother’s Day, the International Museum of Women invites you to celebrate moms the world around. Watch as volunteers install more than 50 large-scale photographs of mothers and midwives on the exterior of the library. This family-friendly day also features free art activities including face painting for kids and a hands-on art workshop for adults.

Paradigm Shift Pagan Festival and Parade Martin Luther King Jr., Civic Center Park, 2151 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley. www.thorncoyle.com. 10am-5:30pm, free. March amid belly dancers, storytellers, music, and merriment in the eleventh annual procession of the Pagan Festival. You and your brood could win a best costume award if you arrive decked out in your finest tribal attire.

Rocket Dog Rescue Happy Hour Benefit Bliss Bar, 4026 24 St., SF. (877) 737-3647, adopt@rocketdogrescue.org. 5pm-7:30pm, free with $10 recommended donation. Bliss out at the bar with fellow K-9 lovers as you enjoy the music of Bright Side Band. All proceeds will benefit dogs in need via Rocket



How Weird Street Faire, Electronic Music Festival Howard and 2nd St., SoMa SF. www.HowWeird.org. 12pm-8pm, $10 donation requested. When the Dalai Lama was asked what the average person could do to promote world peace, he replied, “They can make festivals, bring people together.” So: 13 stages of music will dot 13 city blocks for this 13th annual party to celebrate peace and creativity via technical sounds, visual innovations and thousands of people.



Coit Tower celebrate historic murals at Booksmith The Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., SF. (415) 863-8688, www.booksmith.com. 7:30pm, free. On the June 5 ballot, local voters will consider Prop. B, an initiative asking the city to prioritize restoration and preservation of 27 New Deal-era murals at Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill. This literary evening is dedicated to reading about and reliving the history of Coit Tower and its art-laden walls.

SHOUT Storytelling Grand Lake Coffee House, 440 Grand Ave., Oakl. www.theshoutstorytelling.com. 7:30pm, $5–<\d>$20, pay what you will. Listen to true but incredible 10-minute stories from the lives of local raconteurs in an informal coffee house setting that will feel like a party in your own living room (that you don’t have to clean up). Feeling the gift of gab? Throw your name into the hat in hopes of getting picked for one of the six-minute wild card slots.



Feast of Words; A literary potluck to laugh with a funny lady SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St, SF. Feastofwords.somarts.org, feastofwords@somarts.org. 7pm-9pm, $10 advance, $5 with potluck dish, $12 at door. Following a nationwide tour, Oakland-based funny girl writer, Cassie J. Sneider, reads from her new book Fine, Fine Music at this monthly potluck. This intimate party brings writers, foodies, and any combination of the two, together to — well — eat, write, and laugh.

Nite Trax: Sisterz of the Underground re-fresh the Bay


Sometimes being a nightlife writer feels like getting stranded on Techno Dude Island. Not always cuuute. So when I got wind that the classic Sisterz of the Underground hip-hop party crew was hitting the Bay for a huge 10-year anniversary celebration Sat/31 including a party at Public Works and a day of tech workshops and empowerment talks at CellSpace, I jumped on the chance for a breath of fresh female air and an indepth talk with folks who inspired me back in the day to try a few dance floor moves I probably shouldn’t have.

SOTU founder Sarah “Smalls” McCann, creative director Traci P, and organizer Crykit moved away from the Bay a little while ago (and the groundbreaking in-school hip-hop education program they started, Def Ed, is currently in hibernation mode), but the international Sisterz of the Underground network they helped establish is still thriving and inspiring women to discover and transmit the roots of hip-hop dance, art, music, creativity, and culture. The 10th anniversary party reflects that all-encompassing approach with live music from Kid Sister, DJ Shortee, Green B, Jeanine da Feen, and tons more, plus a 1-on-1 dance battle, art and vendor fair, live painting, nail booth… It’ll be a much-needed femme attack in this age of War on Women, hip-hop style acrimony, and the mainstreaming of street spirit. 

I communicated with the trio over email in anticipation of their return, and got not only the trademark Sisterz blend of energy, outspokenness, and positivity, but some juicy tidbits about Bay hip-hop history, the current state of rap and dance, and the ladies’ current doings as well. Check it.      


Sat/31 at Public Works and CellSpace

Details and tickets: sisterzunderground.eventbrite.com

Facebook Invite is here.


SFBG It’s been a minute since you’ve been on my radar. Can you introduce yourself and tell us what’s going on with y’all now?

TRACI P I moved to Las Vegas a little over a year and a half ago after an almost decade stint in San Francisco throwing events and creative directing the Sisterz of the Underground. Currently I am the managing partner of RAW Entertainment (www.raw-e.com) which is both a booking agency and event production company based here in Sin City. I book for a variety of artists, like BReal of Cypress Hill,  two-time DMC champ DJ SHIFTEE, and NYC club and fashion DJ Roxy Cottontail. Aside from artist bookings I continue to produce local events here in Vegas as well as a monthly in San Francisco called Femme Fatale at John Colins, every second Thursday — it features an all-female lineup and highlights music, fashion, and art. The next one is Thu., April 12, and will feature live painting, a guest performer and a dubstep DJ line-up including Lotus Drops, Sculltrain and Smashletooth. I also write music interviews for Thrasher Magazine, mostly about hip-hop and rap artists.

SARAH “SMALLS” MCCANN I’m the founder of SOTU and also a B-girl in the Extra Credit Kru. After years of being in the Bay and running SOTU and Def Ed, our hip-hop education program, I moved down to Los Angeles at the end of 2006. Since then, most of my experience has been selling events at various venues including House of Blues Hollywood and Jillian’s Universal. Currently, I’m the marketing sales manager at Pacific Park, the amusement park at the Santa Monica pier while also being a partner in Clique Events Society and a board member for the tour and travel marketing association of Southern California.

On the side of all of that, I also run an entertainment company with my husband, B-boy Machine, called Hit the Floor Productions (www.hitthefloorproductions.com), help direct our in-house dance company, West Bound, and manage Bboy Machine as an artist. When I’m not busy being the business guru that I am, I’m still just a hip-hop head and a die-hard B-girl with Extra Credit Kru! However at this present moment, I’m not breaking as i’m almost 8 months pregnant with my first child!

CRYKIT Hey hey! I’m Michelle, aka Crykit, aka Miss Crix 🙂 I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, moved to the Bay Area in 2000, LA in 2010, and currently in Las Vegas since 2011. I started DJing, popping,  and breaking in 2002. The rave scene of 98-02 is really where it all began for me. For the last eight years B-girling has been my main focus. I’ve been a member of Extra Credit Kru since day one and with this crew of amazing talented inspiring ladies we’ve taught in schools and studios, entered hundreds of battles, performed at some pretty epic events, been featured in music videos and short films, traveled nationally and internationally

When I moved to LA I manifested what originally was an idea for a hip fashion line with the perfect balance of masculine and feminine HAPPY MEDIUM, into a dancy DJ duo that encompasses everything from dance to art to fashion to music. My partner in crime is a funky stylin’ B-girl I met back in the Bay: Faye aka 13 Moons. (She is DJing the 1-on-1 female dance battle at our Public Works party.)


SFBG You must have a lot of memories of SOTU — how did it all come together and what stands out for you most from the past decade?

TRACI P Sarah’s the founder, but I can tell you a bit about how I started with the collective. I moved to San Francisco when I was 19 after leaving UC Davis. Having decided to take an alternate educational path towards my ultimate goal of working in the music industry, I decided to intern at as many record companies and entertainment-oriented entities I could. This included Bomb Hip Hop, Look Records, Live Up Records, and Quannum Records. A boyfriend of mine at the time introduced me to Sarah. I loved the idea of women in the music industry and hip-hop, and felt an overwhelming sense of welcome and support in the collective. I pushed Sarah to let me do whatever she needed and learn more about how she produced events and operated. I started coming in everyday. I had such a respect for her vision, dedication, and the energy she put into making this collective so visible and tangible for women all around the globe. From then on she became a mentor to me. Both she and the Sisterz of the Underground changed my life forever.

SMALLS Well, this is always a long answer for me, as even though I’m pregnant with my first child, I always saw SOTU as my real first child. This all started back in 2000 when I was approached by the owner of the Justice League (now the Independent) about doing a hip-hop event at the venue. I was super inspired by two females in my life at that time: Arouz, a female graff artist, and Inchant, a female MC. i thought it would be super dope to produce an all-female hip-hop event that included all elements of hip-hop (MCing, breaking, graffiti, DJing, beatboxing, etc.). I spent about a month scouting talent from all over and found B-girls from UC Berkeley, Syndel from old dominion, and many more. I asked Medusa to be the headliner and threw a show on January 18, 2001 called Sisterz of the Underground.
The show had over 600 attendees and was a huge success! After the show, everyone was asking me who is Sisterz of the Underground… Well, I was in college at the time and didn’t really have any plans for who or what was SOTU. I decided to ask the girls involved if they were interested in forming a collective where women could comfortably express themselves, come together to share, and put on shows.

After a few more successful shows in the Bay, I decided to organize a group of us to teach at a young women’s conference. At this time, we really didn’t know what we were doing, but we knew we had something to share. From that conference, we were contacted by two all girl groups to come and teach at their center. Well, the year was filled with many shows and many workshops and soon we were voted “Best Hip-Hop Monthly of the Year” in the Guardian and we created a hip-hop education program called Def Ed. Def Ed became such a success and grew into a program that was eventually serving over 3,000 youth a year and existing in 6 counties of the Bay Area.

It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite point of SOTU, but I have to say that my life wouldn’t be the same without it and i would not be the woman that I am without all of my Sisterz that I have met along the way.

CRYKIT I first found out about SOTU at an all girl weekly dance practice at Dance Mission around 2002. There I felt supported in learning all about the culture and its elements. I would sketch in a black book, create stencils, DJ parties, pop, break, freestyle in the car on battle road trips, hahaha. It just sort of became a part of me, a lifestyle. I’m so grateful to have had a collective of such eclectic, empowering, talented women to grow as an artist with, to jump in a cypher with, to create a mix tape with… And most of these women are like super hero goddesses LOL.. Nurses, firefighters, neuroscientists, designers, massage therapists, business owners… the list goes on and on.

My favorite story I guess would be connecting with and building friendships with girls from other countries like Sweden, Germany, and India through SOTU! It’s so cool the network and community has spread globally.


SFBG The lineup for this party at Public Works is absolutely insane! It really brings together some true female talent. With female MCs like Nicki, Azealia Banks, and Iggy Azalea all over, do you have any thoughts about the state of females in hip-hop right now?

Thank you first off for the compliment, that’s endearing! As far as the state of females in hip-hop, I would like to start by saying that hip-hop in general is in a state of transition as is the music industry as a whole. As the landscape of popular music shifts more and more to being influenced by electronic music, I think that hip-hop as well is starting to play into this trend. Nicki Minaj is a great rapper but some of her songs are SO far from rap or even hip hop. “Starships,” enough said. Iggy Azalea has got a lot of style and I am interested to see where she goes but I am not so confident in her skills as a lyricist.

Then there are one hitters like Kreayshawn whose success can be attributed to the beat of ‘Gucci Gucci’ being along a electronic-dubstep style as well as her look being right for the time. There is less and less attention paid to substance and more to image and look. Half of these girls can’t even perform live and are in a sense disposable because they have no stage presence. Just a pretty face with flashly clothes and jewelry. Then you have these record labels and agencies making it worse because the industry is so in the toilet that the SECOND they smell a lick of talent, they come along, swoop them up, charge ridiculous amounts of money to promoters, the artist never fully develops before being fed to the sharks, and ultimately fails!

But then you have girls like KID SISTER and MIA who steady hold it down. They have their own style and do a good job of incorporating current trends as well as keeping true to themselves and having a voice instead of being a puppet. I’m forever a student, however, and am interested in what’s to come in the music industry.

And the female DJ should also not be forgotten. As is evident in our line-up we respect all elements of hip-hop and the DJ is no exception. I feel as though the past few years have given rise to a great window of opportunity for female DJs and we’ve seen more and more emerge and tear it up! Living in Vegas I see a lot of plastic behind the decks but there are truly real women who can throw it down and rock a party and/or battle just as good as men, La Femme Deadly Venom for one, Pam the Funkstress, Spinderella, we have our own Crykit in Vegas killing clubs with style. It makes me happy to see this.

To be honest, I think hip-hop overall is ever changing and growing with different niches and styles that come through. As for females in hip-hop, we’ve definitely come a long way and are continuing to get out there and do our thing. If you look at the different eras of hip-hop, you’ll see how many female MCs were legends in their own right: MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante, Lil Kim, Raw Digga, Bahamadia, Nicki Minaj, the list goes on and on. I also think that female DJs have come along way and are continuing to show that they can rock just as hard or even harder than some male DJs. The thing that’s always been an issue for us women, or at least for me as a B-girl, was not wanting to be viewed as “just dope for a girl.” We want to be viewed as dope overall for our skill and not having anything to do with the fact that we may be a different sex.

CRYKIT I would like to hear better lyrical content in hip hop overall right now. I’m not really moved by too many female MCs at the moment. Wishing Missy Elliot did more, I feel like she can be true to herself but also bring it in at a commercial level. One thing I love about her is she always had real dancers in her videos.. she understands hip-hop as a whole and a community with all elements on display. I’m excited to bring Kid Sister to Public Works, I love her versatility, she sounds fresh on electro house tracks as well as hip-hop.


SFBG I feel like hip-hop in general in the Bay Area, while still lively, is slipping below the radar, on the down swing of a cycle — any thoughts about that?

TRACI P Hip-hop in the Bay is most def on a decline. It was once a mecca but is no longer a hub for new and exciting artists, unfortunately. I have a lot of friends in the rap and hip-hop industry here in the Bay Area whom I would NEVER discredit or whose music I would never put down but as a whole, but I haven’t seen much that’s exceptionally great coming from this sector of California as far as hip-hop is concerned. I would say that the RAP is still there but the hip hop is falling off. I would also like to take this time to say RIP to Special One of Conscious Daughters who hip-hop lost late last year.

SMALLS Unfortunately I don’t live up there anymore, but I have heard that the hip-hop scene has sort of died. Well, i can tell you that it’s not only in the Bay… it’s the same thing in LA. I remember places like the Justice League where you knew you were always going to find a sick hip-hop show whether it was Black Star or Wu-Tang and in LA going to Project Blowed every week. Now, you’re lucky if you can find a club that doesn’t have a dress code and won’t yell at the B-boys and B-girls for starting a cypher. I think this is one of the many reasons that we’ve tried to keep SOTU alive and always try to incorporate the true meaning of hip hop behind our events!

CRYKIT I would say the hip hop dance scene is still thriving in the Bay Area! There’s a lot of talented dancers from the Bay in videos, TV, movies. And currently there’s classes offered at studios like City Dance taught by dancers who have been in the scene for a long time and have learned from the OGs and originators. There are battles almost every weekend filled with high schoolers and up… So in that arena it is still thriving and is a genuine mecca for dancers.


SFBG I love that you’re having workshops during the day at CellSpace that cover both female empowerment and technical skills. Can you tell me a bit about what inspired you to turn the reunion into a true community event?

TRACI P Community is very important to us and key to the idea of empowerment. Obviously the nighttime events are geared toward adults, but we recognize the importance the youth has in shaping the world as a whole — and it’s always been important for us to reach out to the youth through hip-hop. We also founded a hip-hop education program called Def Ed years back, it is unfortunately no longer active, but we taught at many sites around the Bay and still have strong access to many of the kids around the area, it’s important that we maintain that connection.

Also, there is a lot more to the culture of hip-hop than just what you see on a stage or in a music video, the aspects of art, dance, production, and fashion are equally important. At a time when everything seems so fabricated it’s essential that people be exposed to the roots of music and the culture. It is our mission to teach and empower in any way possible. By having females host these workshops, you never know who might be inspired, because it’s not every day women are so praised in such a male dominated arena such as hip hop.

SMALLS This is easy: SOTU has always been about community, education, growth, expression, and hip-hop. This event marks more than 10 years strong as a female hip-hop collective and tying in all of these aspects was truly important to us. There’s no point in just putting on an event to make money (at least for us)….we wanted to produce an event that included the youth and our amazing sisterz sharing their knowledge along with a night time event to remember. We figured having workshops, battles, showcases, vendors, art galleries and all of the various things we are including in this event would show was SOTU has always been about — true hip-hop expression in an open environment that welcomes anyone and everyone!

Crykit SOTU events have always been community-based, that’s where we all began. I love that a part of the celebration is at Cellspace because that’s where we established our breaking practice eight years ago actually, almost a decade we’ve been working with them. It’s a piece of Bay Area dance history, and our practice is the longest-running established regular practice in the city of San Francisco. It’s always important to include the youth. We love the spirit, freedom, and creativity they bring!

SFBG Can I get a current top 5 from each of you?


Traci P

MIA, “Bad Girls”

Slaughterhouse, “Hammer Dance”

Schoolboy Q, “Hands on the Wheel”

Joey Bada$$, “Survival Tactics”

J. Cole, “can’t get enough’’


1. B.Bravo “Swing My Way” remix

2. Flying Lotus/ Thundercat “$200 TB”

3. Trina “Red Bottoms”

4. Mark Ronson “Animal” remix

5. Rye Rye & M.I.A “Sunshine”


If I can twist this and get you my current top 5 reasons for still being a true hip hop head:
1. The feeling I get at a live show when everyone has their hands pumping in the air
2. The feeling I get jumping into a hot cypher where the DJ is killin’ it and everyone wants to get in
3. The feeling i get seeing the little girls of Extra Credit Kru enter a battle with us OGs
4. The feeling I get watching my hubby, B-boy machine, smoke someone on the dance floor
5. The feeling I get knowing that no matter how commercial hip-hop has become, that there’s still so many folks doing it right in the community


Success won’t jinx Sharon Van Etten’s ability to write sad love songs


Ed. note – Ahead of Sharon Van Etten’s long-sold out show in SF this week, Ryan Prendiville had the chance to catch up with the rising indie folk singer-songwriter (who recently released critically lauded third album ‘Tramp’) to discuss her songwriting process, lessons of South by Southwest pasts, and the influence of Nick Cave:

SFBG: How many shows are you playing at SXSW?

Sharon Van Etten:
Just two. Last year we did eight in three days. It was really stupid. I burnt out and lost my voice for three days when we had just started a tour. I decided this year it just wasn’t worth it.

You’re going to be touring nonstop for probably the rest of the year, are you not too worried about burning out?

SVE: I have to worry about burning out. These songs are more intense vocally with more band members, which I’ll still have to sing over. If the drummer loses his voice it’s one thing, but if I lose my voice we can’t really play. Before I just played as many shows as I could whereas now I realize that five in a row is kind of the max before we all start losing our minds.

SFBG: Are you thinking more of the long-term now?

SVE: I’m realizing that if I can learn how to perform in a healthy way, I’ll be able to do this for a long time. I know it sounds kind of adult or something. But for every record, if you really want people to hear it, you have a responsibility to tour at least a year, cover as much ground as you can, and play the best show that you can everyday. So you should take care of yourself. You’ve got to have fun, of course.

SFBG: Since your music is generally pretty sad, is there any danger, with your career going well and having fun, of hurting your ability to make similar music?

SVE: Some people are concerned that I’m going to start writing happy songs now that I’m doing well. The whole joke is, if you’re not miserable you’re not going to write as well. I’m not too worried about that. If I write differently, I write differently. I’m pretty at peace and proud of what I’m writing. I don’t want to jinx myself and say that people will like it just as much, but you don’t have to be miserable or tortured to record or be successful. So far most of my songs have been written in intense periods where I’ve been going through a hard time, but I think I can write songs just as well when I’m happy.


SFBG: There’s a bit of a stereotype that female musicians are often more personal, writing from their own life experience, than their male counterparts. Obviously a great aspect when it’s true, but can downplay a creative aspect.

SVE: Writing more emotional songs doesn’t makes a person less creative. I think a lot of men avoid it while women tackle it, and that’s just a difference in genders. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just how most people are. Men are often more storytellers and detach themselves from an actual event, but I don’t think that makes them not passionate. I’d like to learn to be more of a storyteller, it just doesn’t come naturally to me right now. I’ve been listening to a lot of Nick Cave, and he’s really, really good at that. It makes me want to try a different way of writing next time.

Are you working on new material while you’re touring, or do you kind of give yourself a mental break?

SVE: I’m always kind of writing, I just don’t know what it will turn into. I have different side projects that I’m working on but who knows if they’ll fuse together into something someday. I have piano music. I have electronic music. I have really minimal stuff but I also want to write more rock songs. Right now i have a lot of ideas, but can’t call them songs yet.

Sharon Van Etten
With the War on Drugs
Weds/21, 8 p.m., sold out
628 Divisadero, SF
(415) 771-1421

Gamer: Sony PlayStation Vita top picks (and games to skip)


Read Peter Galvin’s review of the Sony PlayStation Vita in this week’s Gamer column.

Most of the Vita’s launch games exist to show off what the system can do. Mini games, short races, puzzlers; a lot of this initially sounds like phone gaming. But, even with all of Sony’s efforts to ape the success of Apple’s app store, don’t discount the Vita’s sticks and buttons, a fundamental that phone gaming has yet to overcome. Real games have buttons, people.

Little Deviants
This mini-game collection came as a pack-in with early orders of the Vita and seems specifically designed to show off the system’s novelties. Think WiiSports, but instead of a remote, you have touch screen games and “augmented reality” that uses the rear camera to allow you to shoot aliens in your house. Each game is fairly one-note and, for all but children, the novelty will grow old fast.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss
For everyone who thinks their phones can play games, play Golden Abyss. While this third-person shooter may stack less favorably against its console brethren, as a handheld title it’s simply stunning. An Uncharted adventure with very few concessions, Golden Abyss is closest to a home experience you’re likely to get on a handheld.

Super Stardust Delta
A score-attack twin-stick shooter where you wipe out asteroids as a tiny spaceship, Stardust has been a fixture on the PlayStation, and this handheld version might be the prettiest and most addicting entry yet.

Escape Plan
Early shoo-in for most unique downloadable title in the launch, Escape Plan has a gloomy black-and-white aesthetic that recalls Limbo and early Tim Burton. Basically a point-and-click adventure game, Escape Plan probably tries to do too much, but its distinct style is worth a look.

WipEout 2048
The best racing game at launch, WipEout offers a lot of content, a great sense of speed and a steady increase in difficulty — and it means you can skip the depressingly shallow ModNation Racers: Road Trip and Asphalt Injection.

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
This entry in the Hot Shots Golf series is largely uninterested in the Vita’s touch-screen, but golf mechanics are tight and short rounds create an addicting “just one more hole” experience that would seem to go against the sport’s generally calming nature.

Lumines Electric Symphony
Lumines may be the most addictive puzzle game. The Tetris-esque gameplay seems simple, but Lumines is more of an audio-visual experience that challenges you to beat your own — and the world’s — high scores to some pretty rave-y electronic music. Wear headphones!

Rayman Origins
Rayman Origins may be a port, but it’s a port of a full length console game and remains one of the best platformers of this generation. Even without co-op play, the colorful and fast-paced stages are masterfully designed and it’s nice to have them on the go.

The organ, the laptop, and ‘Digital Loom’


The SF Symphony’s awesome-looking American Mavericks festival — which will present a “wild side” of contemporary and modernist classical works not often heard on a Davies Hall scale (Meredith Monk! Jessye Norman singing John Cage!) — kicks off next week with a host of edgy aural goodies. 

And this Sun/4, in a kind of pre-fest wallop, Quebecoise organist Isabelle Demers will take advantage of the enormous Davies pipes to play a number of neat pieces, including one by SF’s electronic-adventurous Mason Bates, entitled “Digital Loom,” (hear a sample here). “Digital Loom,” from 2009, embodies Bates’ signature fusion of techno-ambient effects, often laptop generated, with symphonic elements to create something not quite Sci-Fi, not quite rave, not quite Stravinsky at his most cosmic-colorful, but all quite cool.


The Symphony has featured Bates before, you could spot him with his laptop in the midst of the players on one particular brain-tickling, multi-media occasion, generating drum patterns and swoops and swooshes for his major piece “The B-Sides” in 209. He also DJs around town as DJ Masonic, and hosts his occasional dancefloor-meets-classical party with young conductor Benjamin Schwarz, Mercury Soul.

It will be a total treat to hear the super-dextrous Demers take on “Digital Loom” on a Sunday afternoon (partly to see how she actually performs it), in the midst of an ambitious program that also includes Bach, Prokofiev, Henry Martin, and Rachel Laurin. Organ and electronica fanatics unite!


Sun/4, 3 p.m., $20-$30

Davies Symphony Hall

201 Van Ness, SF


Complete event details here

Everlasting Noise



NOISE POP Thao recalls hosting impromptu beer trivia with Mirah during their joint show a few years back, a festive moment she says is telling of Noise Pop. Cursive vocalist Tim Kasher retained playing one of the “most hungover shows imaginable” many years ago at Bottom of the Hill and it still being one of his favorite shows. Archers of Loaf bassist Matt Gentling has a fuzzy memory of playing the fest in 1997 with Spoon and Knapsack. Roddy Bottum and Jone Stebbins of Imperial Teen once declared themselves “King and Queen of Noise Pop” due to a tireless week creeping nearly every show.

Chances are, if you’ve been in a touring band at any point in the past two decades, or you’re a Bay Area music fan, you’ve got a Noise Pop memory or 20. My own? That incredible moment a couple years back when Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon were rejoined on the ornate Fox stage by Deerhoof, Petra Haden, Harper Simon, and a half dozen more for a stage-audience sing-along of “Give Peace a Chance.”

Longtime Noise Pop co-producer Jordan Kurland clearly has endless stories from the fest. Sitting casually in the bright, spacious Mission office of his own Zeitgeist Artist Management, he smiles as he quietly recounts his life within Noise Pop; Guided By Voices at Bimbo’s in 2002 playing an encore of the first eight songs off 1994’s Bee Thousand, taking duel legends Frank Black and John Doe out to breakfast the morning after their co-headlining show, watching Joanna Newsom — a soon to be star — play her third ever show opening for Cat Power.

He then begins methodically ticking off great shows of NP past: Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, Creeper Lagoon, Death Cab, Rodriguez (M. Ward’s early act) at Great American Music Hall, Two Gallants, Superchunk at Bimbo’s, Wolf Mother at Bottom of the Hill — Lars Ulrich happened to be in the crowd for that one. “When you look back at some of the bills, it’s pretty amazing — and the fact that people still come and appreciate it, it’s gratifying,” he understates. Later he mentions, “we’ve had some misses over the years too, stuff that just doesn’t connect.” But he’s too polite to indulge those.

The Noise Pop festival began in 1993, founded by Kevin Arnold who continues to this day, along with Kurland, to produce it. That first year, there were five bands playing one venue, one day. This year, there are 128 bands, playing 19 venues spread out over six days. Plus there’s the Noise Pop-Up pre-events, and the Thurs/16 pre-party with Class Actress, a Painted Palms DJ set, and Epicsauce DJs at the California Academy of Sciences.

“It’s changed so much,” Kurland says. “When Kevin started [Noise Pop], it was about celebrating a scene that really wasn’t well recognized, and most of the bands were like Hüsker Dü or Replacements, you know, noisey pop.” Now, he says, “it’s really just about independently-minded artists. It doesn’t mean that every band that plays the festival is on an independent label, it’s just a certain approach to the craft.”

He adds that they’ve expanded over the years to include electronic music, dance music, and underground hip-hop. “I feel like we’re all getting older — I know, weird. But our staff is immersed in the culture of this so we have a good sense of what people are listening to — I mean, we’re not going to start booking yacht rock.”

Kurland joined Arnold in 1998, the sixth year of Noise Pop. “At that point, Kevin had been saying for the past five years, ‘this is the last year,’ ‘this is the last Noise Pop, I can’t do it anymore.’ He had a day job in the technology industry, but I was working for another management company so it was easier to weave [booking bands] into the fabric of my day.”

The year Kurland joined, the Flaming Lips did the momentous boombox experiment (pre-Zireka) at Bimbo’s, and Modest Mouse played its first show at Great American Music Hall. In the years that followed, the organizers introduced the Noise Pop Film Festival, which screens music-enwrapped flicks, and have toyed with different music education forums. There was once Noise Pop Night School, this year, there’s Culture Club at Public Works, where you can learn how to bounce with Big Freedia, or all about art, animation, and film with Aaron Rose and Syd Garon. The fest, which began a small indie music creature, is now a many-headed culture beast.

This year is a significant year for Noise Pop, as Kurland is well aware. “You only get one 20th anniversary…so for this year it was a big effort to bring back bands that have played.” He and Arnold called up acts such as Flaming Lips, Archers of Loaf, Bob Mould, and Imperial Teen, all of which played early on.

There’s also Thao and John Vanderslice, locals who have both separately played Noise Pops past in different incarnations, and who this year will co-headline Bottom of the Hill. At that show Thao will be testing out five to six new songs, and says “depending on the reaction, they may or may not go on the new album.”

There is, however, one act that will be brand new to Noise Pop this year and yet, is still part of the tradition in a sense. Kurland has been trying to nab Built to Spill for the fest for the past 14 years, to no avail, though it did once play Treasure Island (also part of Noise Pop Industries). His annual reach-out for the act has become a tradition in its own right. “Every year it’s like a joke, I call them up, and it actually worked this year!”

That Built to Spill show at the Fillmore, however, is long sold out, as are many of the big names — Flaming Lips, Atlas Sound, Imperial Teen, even comparatively newer acts like Grimes. Though those who purchased badges will still have the opportunity to check them out, and there are dozens of other impressive lineups. “It’s definitely moving quicker this year,” Kurland says when the rate of sell-outs is pointed out. “I think there’s more attention on the festival.”

“It seems obvious, but I feel every year we get a little more established,” he adds. “I feel like not that long ago people who should know what Noise Pop is, didn’t.”

Noise Pop also inevitability brings a whole batch of artists wandering the city. Stebbins from Imperial Teen is hoping to catch Archers of Loaf at Great American Music Hall, Christie Front Drive at Cafe Du Nord, and Craig Finn at Bottom of the Hill, among other fellow artists. Interestingly, Kasher from Cursive also mentions those exact shows. Kurland, the eternal music fan, is also ready to haunt SF’s venues yet again. “I’m kind of stressed about some of the nights, I’m like, okay, Saturday night I’ve got Surfer Blood, but also Archers of Loaf…”

Time again to start marking those schedules, fanatics.


Feb. 21-26

Various venues, SF



On the Cheap Listings


Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.


Glen Canyon habitat restoration Elk and Chenery Sts., SF. www.sfrecpark.org. 9 a.m.-noon, free. Glen Canyon Park has been to quite a few things over the years, from Alfred Nobel’s Giant Powder Factory to today’s multitudinous flora and fauna. Volunteers work tirelessly towards the urban oasis’s restoration and maintenance.

Chanukah Night 8: Jeremiah Lockwood concert The Tivka Store, 3191 Mission, SF. www.idelsohnsociety.com. 7 p.m., free with RSVP (see website). The Idelsohn Society, dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of classic Jewish music, hosts a psych rock folk jam by Jeremiah Lockwood, Luther Dickinson (The Black Crowes, North Mississippi Allstars), and Ethan Miller (Comets on Fire, Howlin Rain).


Kwanzaa celebration Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, 1601 Lane, SF. www.sfpl.org. 3-6 p.m., free. Ujima, the third day of Kwanzaa, honors communal work and responsibility; fittingly, the SFPL and YMCA team up to put on a veritable blow-out of a holiday. The celebration is part of a seven-night series celebrating the guiding principles of Kwanzaa.


I Like Ludwig concert Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness, SF. www.sfchamberorchestra.org. 8 p.m., free with RSVP online or to (415) 692-5258. Nothing like some Beethoven to violently, excitably ring in the New Year. L.V.B.’s Second Symphony and Violin Concerto get the royal treatment by soloist Robin Sharp.


Last Vampire Tour California and Taylor Streets, SF. www.vampiretoursf.com. 8 p.m., $20. Vampiress Mina Harker has been alive for 100 years and leading Gothic tours of Nob Hill for 10. Tonight marks her last gory and guided gallivant.

All Day Punk Rock New Year’s Eli’s Mile High Club, 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Oakl. www.elismilehigh.com, 2 p.m. – 12:30 a.m., $10. Considering we’re about to embark upon another year full of economic gloom and doom, the band names from Eli’s lineup aren’t too uplifting. But at least they’re angry. World of Shit, Short Changed, Society Dog, and others perform in deliciously spirited form all day and all night.

1984 New Year’s Eve Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. www.mighty119.com. 9 p.m.-2 a.m., free. Light on the Orwellian totalitarianism and heavy on ceaselessly pumping ’80s music, Mighty throws a period-themed New Year’s Eve soiree complete with champagne toast.

New Year’s fireworks show Pier 14, Embarcadero, SF. 12 a.m., free. The damp, strength-sapping chill of midnight on the Embarcadero is still worth the 15 minutes of promised pyrotechnic glory. Ring in the New Year with thousands of San Franciscans huddled together under the sky.


Opulent Temple New Year’s Day party Mission Rock, 817 Terry Francois, SF. www.missionrockcafe.com. 6 a.m.-4:20 p.m., $5 with RSVP. Dedicated to maintaining their sacred space in Black Rock City for top-notch electronic music, OT holds an all-day fundraiser commemorating its 10th year of existence. Music, food, bathrooms, and familiar faces grace Mission Rock.