Music Festival

Treasure Island Music Festival 2008


It’s a Treasure Island Music Festival free-for-all, and we’re ready to rock and/or dance overboard with the all-star line-up at the gonzo weekend-long sonic blast. In the name of rockers, Sonic Reducer faces off against the dance-floor repping Super Ego over French electro-pop juggernaut Justice, headlining Saturday. What has the stylish duo wrought? Plus: we also look at TV on the Radio, Goldfrapp, Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend, prep school rock, and other artists appearing Sat/20-Sun/21. For the complete fest schedule and details, go to and dig for gold.

>>Sonic Reducer: No peace, so Justice!
Stressing on semiotics and skipping to the bomb-blast beat
By Kimberly Chun

>>Super Ego: Jabbing at Justice?
“Help! I’m drowning in shutter shades,” yells club kid
By Marke B.

>>No castaways here
Treasure Island jewels to drool over
Our Picks

>>Channel surfers
Flip the switch and begin anew with TV on the Radio
By Mosi Reeves

>>“Seventh” heaven
Goldfrapp ascends to the astral, while throwing roots down in the real
By Kimberly Chun

>>Does Vampire Weekend suck?
A critical mass of critical stabs at the afro-pop punks
By Brandon Bussolini

>>Class revolting
Chester French fronts the new school of college-rockers
By Brandon Bussolini

>>Hot Chip, ahoy
Fancy dress, hearing loss, pop highs
By Kimberly Chun

Sonic Reducer Overage: My Morning Jacket, Common/NERD, Menomena, and so much more


Shadow shag: My Morning Jacket’s “One Big Holiday.”

Feeling frisky, SF? There’s plenty to do besides Treasure Island Music Festival this week – more than we could fit betwixt our hot pages.

Prog, math, post-punk – whatev, dude. The Seattle collection of players from Botch, Kill Sadie, and Nineironspitfire is just as aggro as it’s ever been, from the sound of the upcoming CD, Tail Swallower & Dove (Suicide Squeeze). Wed/17, 9 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455.


Photons, gather round. The onetime Bay Area party-starters return to the scene of some many rhymes. Thurs/18, 8 p.m., $26.50. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 421-TIXS.

SF Electronic Music Festival


PREVIEW Five days, 18 performers, one ensemble, countless cords and magic boxes, and weird sounds times infinity. I mean, hell, if you’ve got an electric current and an instrument (in its broadest interpretation), you may as well use ’em together.

In this spirit, eight Bay Area sound-art wizards have organized the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival for eager electro-lovin’ ears for the ninth year in a row. Could there be a musical gathering more eclectic than this? Not likely. After nearly a decade of tapping into the electro-acoustic grab bag, the lineup is still stretching diversity to new levels, ranging the melodic-discordant gamut from drone to pop and contemporary chamber to industrial and then some. There’ll be internationally renowned pioneers such as sonic meditator Pauline Oliveros, and emerging artists like Oakland’s folklore-inspired pop duo Myrmyr. Many performances feature sfSoundGroup lending its modern improvisational twist. And don’t forget the science-derived computer music and harsh noise, synth-y innovations and rearranged Persian classics, electro-trombone and minimalism by way of New York City. You know you wouldn’t dare argue with an "intense noise artist" named Sharkiface.

SFEMF pummels the boundaries of your deconstructed notions of avant-garde postmodernism, then does it a few more times, till you’re left with the sharpened edge of experimental glinting through the soundwaves. Why not totally saturate your sonic-scape and save a few bucks with the five-day ticket? ‘Cause you love the Moog and the Mac, and for one week, you have it all.

SF ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVALWith Jen Boyd, Monique Buzzarté, Edmund Campion, Clay Chaplin, Ata Ebtekar, Hans Fjellestad, Christopher Fleeger, Phill Niblock, Tujiko Noriko, Carl Stone, Alex Potts, Akira Rabelais, Rutro and the Logs, Ray Sweeten, and Richard Teitelbaum. Wed/3–Sun/7, 8 p.m. (Sat/6 at 7 p.m.), $12–$17 per day; $55 all five days. Project Artaud Theatre, 450 Florida, SF. (415) 626-4370,

Zing go the strings


PREVIEW How do you tell a fiddle from a violin? No one cries when they spill beer on a fiddle. From Ireland to Scotland to Appalachia, the hearty fiddle followed the common folk wherever they settled. In pubs and on back porches, fiddle tunes trickled down through generations, learned by ear from fathers or friends. Styles evolved within the regional confines of community, variously emphasizing and echoing chosen parts of the homeland’s repertoire.

The 20th Annual Fiddle Summit reunites three fiddle masters from different styles under one roof: Alasdair Fraser, a Scottish fiddler, his bow heavy, his sound as thick and peaty as his brogue; Martin Hayes, an Irish fiddler with a high-lonesome, lilting style, his tempo wistfully stretched and yearning; and Bruce Molsky, an Appalachian fiddler, his sound percussively bright and bouncing, his melodies drawn chordally across multiple strings. Though each will showcase his own style for a set, the three end the show together, embracing the commonalities of their instrument and the debt each mode owes to the others.

As the opening night act for the Downtown Berkeley Music Festival, the Fiddle Summit is but one course in a brilliant banquet of sound. That morning, organist Will Blades and drummer Scott Amendola’s dueling solos will offer a gratis mind-blowing at high noon on the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza on Shattuck at Center. On Sunday, Chad Manning plays what the fiddle summit forgot: a set of bluegrass, Texas-style, and swing fiddling at Jupiter (2181 Shattuck), where you can try for yourself to tell a fiddle from a violin.

20TH ANNUAL FIDDLE SUMMIT AT THE DOWNTOWN BERKELEY MUSIC FESTIVAL Thurs/21, 8 p.m., $22.50. Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk. (510) 548-1761, Festival continues through Sun/24, see Web site for details.<

International Youth Music Festival


PREVIEW How brilliant my high school music career was: I got to travel around the world to impress international audiences with my mad piano skills, take master classes with professional musicians, and play and network with European wünderkinder whose gifts were equivalent to mine.

Oh wait, my high school music career actually consisted of taking weekly piano lessons from a 65-year-old German woman in a church basement, figuring out ways to make her believe I had actually practiced that week. But I guess more focused and, er, gifted students actually do get to join the jet set and showcase their talent in front of classical music lovers on different continents.

Youth Music International was formed in 2003 to facilitate a US-UK exchange program for talented youngsters specializing in chamber music, hoping to provide the adolescent musicians with superior technical instruction and a unique opportunity for cultural exchange amongst peers.

The group returns to San Francisco this year for a four-day stint after holding last summer’s concerts in Oxford, England. Wednesday’s performance is the festival’s finale, with orchestral masterworks as the concert’s theme. So if you can put your jealousy aside, come check these kids out at Grace Cathedral, an intimate and historic setting, before they’re touring with Yo-Yo Ma and you can’t afford the tickets.

INTERNATIONAL YOUTH MUSIC FESTIVAL Wed/13, 7:30 p.m., $10–$16. Grace Cathedral, 1100 California, SF. (415) 749-6300,,

Pitchfork fest day three: Tim Harrington trashed, Wu-Tang Clan clean up, Aussies take over


Sweet: Apples in Stereo. Photo by Matt Wysocki.

By K. Tighe

At every festival, I can’t help but keeping a running contest in my head. Friday night, July 18, went to Public Enemy, but Mission of Burma was only a smidge behind. Saturday, July 19, is a bit more complicated: !!! gave a raucous, undeniably fun showing, but Jarvis Cocker’s sleek, seasoned set was unforgettable. Of course, I’ve seen !!! countless times, and have seen them perform better countless times, and Jarvis was stubborn with the Pulp catalog – which means Saturday goes to Fleet Foxes, whose festival-suited, harmony-packed performance gained them thousands of fans in the span of 45 minutes.

Sunday, July 20, is a whole different animal: the final day of Pitchfork Music Festival 2008 boasts a lineup that no doubt kept many an indecisive hipster tossing in bed on Saturday night. With most of the heat packed at the end of the night, there was either going to be a shitload of running around or a lot of regrets.

Abiding Assistant and I arrived at the park just as Boris began. Between the fog machine sputtering in the blazing sun, the tight, a special appearance by guitarist Michio Kurihara (who collaborated with the trio on Rainbow, and the drummer who dove from behind a bright red kit into the crowd – he got some impressive distance, too – it’s safe to say that Boris effectively brought the rock. After the Japanese metal trio left the stage I saw something I hadn’t seen in years: a genuine call for an encore.

Pitchfork fest day two: Brits, mud people, and murder


Sucking? Vampire Weekend. All photos by Matt Wysocki.

By K. Tighe

I’m a bit of an evil sister. You see, I promised my little bro a good time during Pitchfork Music Festival. Kevin (the other K. Tighe), who is your typical unemployed drummer, flew in from Arizona under the auspice of a fun-filled weekend of great music – I never told him he’d have to work for it. This makes him something of an unwilling assistant, but since he’s preconditioned to do whatever his big sister tells him to, this also makes him quite abiding. So from here on out, we’ll call him my abiding assistant. His chief responsibilities include fetching beer, letting me know whenever the drummer fucks up, and lighting my cigarettes. Oh, and making breakfast. He’s a genius with eggs, which is why we didn’t arrive at the fest until the Caribou set was almost over.

It was clear the Caribou set went over remarkably well, and we managed to catch the crowd’s favorable reaction to the last songs as we headed over to the Aluminum stage for Fleet Foxes. It had rained all morning, leaving Union Park a soggy mess. Festival organizers attempted to clean things up a bit with wood chips and sod, but with little success. An ominous prairie sky loomed overhead as the Seattle quintet took the stage.

Fleet Foxes shine on.

The harmony-laden Fleet Foxes seem like they’d do better on a sunny day, but once they broke into the a capella serenade of “Sun Giant,” an ode to seasonal changes that rings like gospel and swells like field music, it was clear that undesirable weather wasn’t going to hold them back. Some of the festival’s trademark sound difficulties began to crop up toward the beginning of the set, but they quickly subsided – due, in no small part, to a massive effort on behalf of festival organizers to completely overhaul and improve the sound this year, which made an enormous difference throughout the weekend. Fleet Foxes spent the rest of the set doing their vest-wearing shaggy brethren proud, with tunes that managed to conjure notes from the Beach Boys as much as Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The crowd reaction was strong throughout, but swelled considerably during the impressive harmony showcase of “White Winter Hymnal.”

Pitchfork fest day one: Mission accomplished, believe the hype, and Seba-don’t,


MOB vs. the world? Mission of Burma at Pitchfork. Photo by Kevin Tighe.

By K. Tighe

We arrived in Chicago’s Union Park at the tail end of a 15-hour drive. Or, more specifically, the tale end of a one 15-hour drive, one backwoods Maryland carnival crabcake, one unfortunate bout of heat stroke, 12 too many energy drinks, three regretful sausage biscuits, and yet another 15-hour drive. But we arrived.

Just in time to hear the delightfully over-the-top punk whine of “All I wanted was a Pepsi” floating over from the Connector stage. Soon Mission of Burma’s Roger Miller, after chiding himself for being too old, was telling the patchy crowd, “Everybody put on your dancing shoes,” before knocking out a few strums and reconsidering, “OK, take ’em back off. It seemed like such a good idea to do that one, but as everybody out there knows, the next song is …”

Why does track order matter? Because this was Friday night, July 18, at the Pitchfork Music Festival, and the influential Boston post-punks had been invited by All Tomorrow Parties’ “Don’t Look Back” series to enlighten a new generation of hipsters with their 1982 opus, Vs. Enlighten they did: although the audience was still filtering in, Mission of Burma wooed even the reluctant Jumbo-tron watchers waiting for Public Enemy on the Aluminum stage.

Video: San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival 2008


Guardian videographers Rhyen Coombs and Eric Zassenhaus reported from the Bicycle Music Fest on June 21.

More Montreal Fringe Fest: Peg-Ass-Us, Zombie parties, faux kraut rock …


Nicole Gluckstern reports from the Montreal Fringe Festival. You can read part one here.

It’s Monday morning, three am. In the last week I’ve eaten my way through a pound of chocolate-covered espresso beans, a bottle of Excedrin, and countless bowls of $2 chow mein, and now find myself uttering the unlikeliest phrase of all: “I’ll almost be glad when the party is over.”

The plays, the pleasure, the poster. Photo by Barry Smith

Not that the party is ever truly over in Montreal in June. Montreal in June, like Madrid eleven months a year, is like an endurance marathon of frenetic activity. Sure — the Fringe Festival has come to an end, but tomorrow is Saint-Jean Baptiste — Quebec’s largest and proudest festival day of all, the one day a year that even the dépanneurs (beer stores) don’t stay open. Also happening as I type: the Suoni per il Popolo Music Festival, the First Peoples’ Festival, the Free Jazz Festival, a Baroque Music fest, and the Infringement. And it ain’t free–but I’ve still somehow managed to score myself a ticket to Leonard Cohen’s sold out concert on Wednesday. No, there’s no end to the party around here, but the Fringe, at least, c’est fini. Since last night was the official awards ceremony, I feel obliged to offer my own shortlist of totally subjective, unofficial awards, in no particular order, to celebrate my personal top ten favourite moments of the Montreal Fringe, 2008.

1) Best passionate dissertation in musicology: Led Zeppelin was a Cover Band, by Stéfan Cédilot. Not a play so much as an exploration of the musical path leading from old beloved blues tunes to 70’s rock-and-roll, Cédilot’s love for his subject is evident in every anecdote and every rarity spun. His air guitar skills could use some polishing, but his enthusiasm couldn’t be better.

2) Best off-venue set design and use of space: The Beekeepers. Built into a tiny corner of a tiny cafe, The Beekeepers set is claustrophobic, spare, and entirely apt. Boarded up doors, a solitary bee box, wood floors, and a single suspended picture frame to serve as a window somehow conjure up the vision of an old wreckage of a farmhouse, barricaded against the rioting starving on the outside. We, the captive audience, are not even granted the cover of darkness, and the effect is as if we are watching an uncomfortable fight between a couple struck with cabin fever while sitting in their living room.

Fucking Zombie Party! Photo by Barry Smith

3) Best reason to stay up until 4 a.m. on a Monday (and a Tuesday, and a Wednesday….): The 13’th Hour. This Montreal Fringe variety show, which starts at one am.m every night of the Fringe, is a cornucopia of spontaneous hilarity and a showcase of the best (and worst) performers on the circuit. Suavely hosted by members of local improv troupe, Uncalled For, the hour often lasts two, punctuated by spins of the “money wheel” which leads to prizes the whole room can enjoy. Plus they threw a Zombie-themed party this year which somehow managed to surpass even last year’s Mass Wedding party in terms of sheers debaucherous entertainment.

Sealed with a fest



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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


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

DEMF: Girl Talk bumrush, Mr. De’s sexy beach, gettin’ Yeke


Marke “too many pills, you’re not 17 anymore” B is at Movement ’08: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival. Read part one here, and part two here. Apples! Apples everywhere! Downtown Detroit is a laptop orchard. “Mac should really sponsor these things,” said Hunky Beau, freshly arrived on the scene to improve my picture quality. But the answer is that Mac doesn’t have to — those glowing, half-eaten little beauties speak from the booths themselves. girltalka.jpg Oh, that Girl Talk. All pics by David Schnur DEMF’s day 2 was so pleasant it hurt, and the crowd was full of neon-festooned hipsters (they have them here too!) eagerly passing time before new old-school rap duo Cool Kids and sample-happy girly boy Girl Talk hit the the Red Bull stage, which overlooked the Detroit River. We passed the time in the sunny company of the great Mr. De’ featuring Greg C. Johnson, whose “Sex on the Beach” from back in the day is a protobooty classic. The crowd was going nuts — Mr. De’ schooled the “ghetto tech” kids on some real sensuality. mrde2a.jpg Mr. De’ sexing the keyboard mrdea.jpg Greg C. Johnson, pleased Cool Kids gave a predictably stunner set — even calling out to Detroit and pumping some rhymes over ancient electro — and then Girl Talk came on and the crowd went bananas. I’ve never really warmed to the Girl Talk phenomenon. We have great mashup artists in SF, and dropping some Public Enemy over a Toto sample is sooo 2005. Still, the man’s a genius when it comes to party music and self-promotion: who knew all you had to do was post several YouTube vids of kids stage diving off your laptop platform and you could be famous? Well, maybe everybody knows that now, but Girl Talk knew it first. And who am I to argue, even when he dropped his pants and mooned the crowd in his boxers for half his set while he leaned over his equipment. But this year is indubitably Richie Hawtin’s year — despite other hometown giants Kevin Saunderson, Carl Craig, Stacey Pullen, and Alton Miller on the roster — so after a few Girl Talk singalongs (oh yes, there was stage-diving) we went over to the Beatport tent to catch the Windsor homeboy in a harder mood tan the previous night, at least until he dropped Mory Kante’s “Yeke Yeke” and the dance floor exploded. richieha.jpg Richie Hawtin: Gettin’ Yeke

DEMF: Moby’s Go-go, Hawtin clogs, DBX shocks ’em, and too high to skate


Detroit native gadabout Marke B. hits Movement ’08: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival with a handbag full of what-what. Read part one here. The Techno Gods surely had a little laugh on the first (graciously sunny) day of the DEMF. Even though downtown’s sprawling, reinvigorated Hart Plaza on the waterfront – nestled in the shadows of the new casinos pumping serious cash into bigshot pockets and directly opposite the infamous “fist” statue that socks across-the-river Windsor, CA, in the kisser – was brimming with suburban kids and roaming tribes of fun-furred and mohawked candy ravers (love those kids!), and even though Moby (!) headlined, and started his closing DJ set by playing one of his own songs (albeit a remix of his classic “Go”), the old soul of the Detroit underground shone through in quite a few places. (Clarification: Oops my E must have kicked in then. See comment below.) demfdbxa.jpg Waiting for Moby Underground, quite literally. This year, promoter Paxahau Events has reopened the huge concrete-walled basement of the plaza, and has installed the soulful house DJs there, rather than the traditional hardcore noise experimentalists. By two o’clock, heavily muscled dance crews had stripped off their shirts and were throwing down – headspins included – to the sounds of Detroit classicists like Reggie “Hotmix” Harrell and Minx. (That night, freaky Terrence “The Phone Man” Parker and tribal-soulist Stacey Pullen would turn the underground area into a sweaty mass of writhing gay and straight bodies.) upsydaisy.jpg Upside-down to the morning beat demfsteven2a.jpg Terrence Parker hits So much for the house – and notably missing so far this year have been the little independent DJ setups sprouting about the plaza like tiny laptop-vinyl mushrooms – what about the four other stages? What about the techno? The main, video-projected-upon VitaminWater stage, where Moby would later thrash about like a puggle to his electroclash-tinged pop-techno throwbacks, got a slowish start with way-cerebral live sub-dub fractal burbles from local DJ-band hybrid trio nospectacle, which included Jennifer A. Paull, one of the few female knob-twiddlers at the fest. (I went with my fabulous mom, who seemed to be briefly into it.) The stage didn’t really seem to catch fire, though, until Canadian techno purist DBX aka Dan Bell hit the stage in the penultimate slot at 9pm. What Detroit techno used to look like: DBX’s “Electric Shock” from a TV dance show (I think “The Scene” in the late ’80s)

DEMF: Cold techno feet as big fest heats up


Native Detroit gadabout Marke B. hits Movement: The Detroit Electronic Music Festival That thing where you return to your hometown and immediately, or at least on the ride home from the ex-urb airport, begin to feel your former soul flood back into you – old or familiar buildings take on some weightier significance in the fading evening light, new buildings even more. And then you’re hooking up with old friends downtown, smoking a bowl or two, generally reminiscing and catching up, and driving around looking for a party, although you wouldn’t mind if you just stayed in the minivan bopping to 20-year-old Balearic beats and laughing your ass off with your BFFs. train.jpg The grand, abandoned Michigan Central Train Station, two blocks from my Corktown residence in tha D. (Don’t try to throw a party here, you’ll get srsly busted.) All of which is a belabored way of saying that I didn’t get much afterhours in here in Detroit last night, the “official” pre-party night of Movement: The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, now going on nine years. Sure there were big bonanza advertised shindigs – this festival attracts tens of thousands of globe-hopping techno-lovers to the bowels of the Motor City, no mean feat, that – but for me and my SF fairy-dusted baggage none of them grabbed on all night long. That’s OK: where else in the world but here would you find yourself on a dance floor with legendary DJs Juan Atkins and Eddie “Flashin’” Fowlkes — and 20 other people? Their party “The Fuzion of Science & Techno” had moved from the Detroit Science Center to the grand Majestic Theatre at the last minute, due to what I judge to be poor pre-sales. At first that was cause for a little alarm – the Science Center party is a bit of a tradition, and with a line-up that included Theo Parrish, Mike Clark, Kenny Dixon, Jr, and Alton Miller, the lack of draw was a shocker. Plus, the usual tiny panic hits: is techno really dead? Have the “neo-electro faddists,” as Detroit music journalist Hobey Echlin calls them, taken over and relegated soulful tech-house to another early grave? Aw, hell no, it was just midnight on a Friday in downtown Detroit. We were probably way too early, wot.

Summer 2008 fairs and festivals


Grab your calendars, then get outside and celebrate summer in the Bay.

>Click here for a full-text version of this article.


United States of Asian America Arts Festival Various locations, SF; (415) 864-4120, Through May 25. This festival, presented by the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, showcases Asian Pacific Islander dance, music, visual art, theater, and multidisciplinary performance ensembles at many San Francisco venues.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Yerba Buena Gardens, Third St at Mission, SF; (415) 543-1718, Through Oct, free. Nearly 100 artistic and cultural events for all ages take place at the Gardens, including the Latin Jazz series and a performance by Rupa & the April Fishes.

MAY 10–31

Asian Pacific Heritage Festival Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 Ninth St, Oakl; (510) 637-0462, Times vary, free. The OACC presents hands-on activities for families, film screenings, cooking classes, and performances throughout the month of May.

MAY 15–18

Carmel Art Festival Devendorf Park, Carmel; (831) 642-2503, Call for times, free. Enjoy viewing works by more than 60 visual artists at this four-day festival. In addition to the Plein Air and Sculpture-in-the-Park events, the CAF is host to the Carmel Youth Art Show, Quick Draw, and Kids Art Day.

MAY 16–18

Oakland Greek Festival 4700 Lincoln, Oakl; (510) 531-3400, Fri-Sat, 10am-11pm; Sun, 11am-9pm, $6. Let’s hear an "opa!" for Greek music, dance, food, and a stunning view at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension’s three-day festival.

MAY 17

Asian Heritage Street Celebration Japantown; 11am-6pm, free. The largest gathering of Asian Pacific Americans in the nation features artists, DJs, martial arts, Asian pop culture, karaoke, and much more.

Saints Kiril and Methody Bulgarian Festival Croatian American Cultural Center, 60 Onondaga; (510) 649-0941, 4pm, $15. Enjoy live music, dance, and traditional food and wine in celebration of Bulgarian culture. A concert features special guests Radostina Koneva and Orchestra Ludi Maldi.

Taiwanese American Cultural Festival Union Square, SF; (408) 268-5637, 11am-5pm, free. Explore Taiwan by tasting delicious Taiwanese delicacies, viewing a puppet show and other performances, and browsing arts and crafts exhibits.

Uncorked! Ghirardelli Square; 775-5500, 1-6pm, $40-45. Ghirardelli Square and nonprofit COPIA present their third annual wine festival, showcasing more than 40 local wineries and an array of gourmet food offerings.


Cupertino Special Festival in the Park Cupertino Civic Center, 10300 Torre, Cupertino; (408) 996-0850, 10am-6pm, free. The Organization of Special Needs Families hosts its fourth annual festival for people of all walks or wheels of life. Featuring live music, food and beer, a petting zoo, arts and crafts, and other activities.

Enchanted Village Fair 1870 Salvador, Napa; (707) 252-5522. 11am-4pm, $1. Stone Bridge School creates a magical land of wonder and imagination, featuring games, crafts, a crystal room, and food.

Immigrants Day Festival Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City; (650) 299-0104, 12-4pm, free. Sample traditional Mexican food, make papel picado decorations, and watch Aztec dancing group Casa de la Cultura Quetzalcoatl at the San Mateo County History Museum.

MAY 17–18

A La Carte and Art Castro St, Mountain View; (650) 964-3395, 10am-6pm, free. The official kick-off to festival season, A La Carte is a moveable feast of people and colorful tents offering two days of attractions, music, art, a farmers’ market, and street performers.

Bay Area Storytelling Festival Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area, El Sobrante; (510) 869-4946, Gather around and listen to stories told by storytellers from around the world at this outdoor festival. Carol Birch, Derek Burrows, Baba Jamal Koram, and Olga Loya are featured.

Castroville Artichoke Festival 10100 Merritt, Castroville; (831) 633-2465, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm, $3-6. "Going Green and Global" is the theme of this year’s festival, which cooks up the vegetable in every way imaginable and features activities for kids, music, a parade, a farmers’ market, and much more.

French Flea Market Chateau Sonoma, 153 West Napa, Sonoma; (707) 935-8553, Call for times and cost. Attention, Francophiles: this flea market is for you! Shop for antiques, garden furniture, and accessories from French importers.

Hats Off America Car Show Bollinger Canyon Rd and Camino Ramon, San Ramon; (925) 855-1950, 10am-5pm, free. Hats Off America presents its fifth annual family event featuring muscle cars, classics and hot rods, art exhibits, children’s activities, live entertainment, a 10K run, and beer and wine.

Himalayan Fair Live Oak Park, 1300 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 869-3995, Sat, 10am-7pm; Sun, 10am-5:30pm, $8.This benefit for humanitarian grassroots projects in the Himalayas features award-winning dancers and musicians representing Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Mongolia. Check out the art and taste the delicious food.

Pixie Park Spring Fair Marin Art and Garden Center, Ross; 9am-4pm, free. The kids will love the bouncy houses, giant slide, petting zoo, pony rides, puppet shows, and more at this cooperative park designed for children under 6. Bring a book to donate to Homeward Bound of Marin.

Supercon San Jose Convention Center, San Jose; Sat., 10am-6pm; Sun., 10am-5pm, $20-30. The biggest stars of comics, sci-fi, and pop culture — including Lost’s Jorge Garcia and Groo writer Sergio Aragonés — descend on downtown San Jose for panels, discussions, displays, and presentations.

MAY 18

Bay to Breakers Begins at Howard and Spear, ends at the Great Highway along Ocean Beach, SF; 8am, $39-59. See a gang of Elvis impersonators in running shorts and a gigantic balloon shaped like a tube of Crest floating above a crowd of scantily clad, and unclad, joggers at this annual "race" from the Embarcadero to the Pacific Ocean.

Carnival in the Xcelsior 125 Excelsior; 469-4739, 11am-4pm, free. This benefit for the SF Community School features game booths, international food selections, prizes, music, and entertainment for all ages.


Russian-American Fair Terman Middle School, 655 Arastradero, Palo Alto; (650) 852-3509, 10am-5pm, $3-5. The Palo Alto Jewish Community Center puts on this huge, colorful cultural extravaganza featuring ethnic food, entertainment, crafts and gift items, art exhibits, carnival games, and vodka tasting for adults.


San Francisco International Arts Festival Various venues, SF; (415) 399-9554, The theme for the fifth year of this multidisciplinary festival is "The Truth in Knowing/Threads in Time, Place, Culture."

MAY 22–25

Sonoma Jazz Plus Festival Field of Dreams, 179 First St W, Sonoma; (866) 527-8499, Thurs-Sat, 6:30 and 9pm; Sun, 8:30pm, $40+. Head on up to California’s wine country to soak in the sounds of Al Green, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, and Bonnie Raitt.

MAY 24–25

Carnaval Mission District, SF; (415) 920-0125, 9:30am-6pm, free. California’s largest annual multicultural parade and festival celebrates its 30th anniversary with food, crafts, activities, performances by artists like deSoL, and "Zona Verde," an outdoor eco-green village at 17th and Harrison.

MAY 25–26

San Ramon Art and Wind Festival Central Park, San Ramon; (925) 973-3200, 10am-5pm, free. For its 18th year, the City of San Ramon Parks and Community Services Department presents over 200 arts and crafts booths, entertainment on three stages, kite-flying demos, and activities for kids.


Healdsburg Jazz Festival Check Web site for ticket prices and venues in and around Healdsburg; (707) 433-4644, This 10th annual, week-and-a-half-long jazz festival will feature a range of artists from Fred Hersch and Bobby Hutcherson to the Cedar Walton Trio.

MAY 31

Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival North Shattuck, Berk; (510) 548-5335, 10am-6pm, free. Create chalk drawings and sample chocolate delights while vendors, musicians, and clowns entertain the family.

Napa Valley Art Festival 500 Main, Napa; 10am-4pm, free. Napa Valley celebrates representational art on Copia’s beautiful garden promenade with art sales, ice cream, and live music. Net proceeds benefit The Land Trust of Napa County’s Connolly Ranch Education Center.


Union Street Festival Union, between Gough and Steiner, SF; 1-800-310-6563, 10am-6pm, free. For its 32nd anniversary, one of SF’s largest free art festivals is going green, featuring an organic farmer’s market, arts and crafts made with sustainable materials, eco-friendly exhibits, food, live entertainment, and bistro-style cafés.

JUNE 4–8

01SJ: Global Festival of Art on the Edge Various venues, San Jose; (408) 277-3111, Various times. The nonprofit ZERO1 plans to host 20,000 visitors at this festival featuring 100 exhibiting artists exploring the digital age and novel creative expression.

JUNE 5–8

Harmony Festival Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa; $30-99. One of the largest progressive-lifestyle festivals of its kind, Harmony brings art, education, and cultural awareness together with world-class performers like George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Jefferson Starship, Damian Marley, Cheb I Sabbah, and Vau de Vire Society.

JUNE 7–8

Crystal Fair Fort Mason Center; 383-7837, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm, $6. The Pacific Crystal Guild presents two days in celebration of crystals, minerals, jewelry, and metaphysical healing tools from an international selection of vendors.


Sunset Celebration Weekend Sunset headquarters, 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park; 1-800-786-7375, 10am-5pm, $12, kids free. Sunset magazine presents a two-day outdoor festival featuring beer, wine, and food tasting; test-kitchen tours, celebrity chef demonstrations, live music, seminars, and more.


Haight Ashbury Street Fair Haight and Ashbury; 11am-5:30pm, free. Celebrate the cultural contributions this historical district has made to SF with a one-day street fair featuring artisans, musicians, artists, and performers.


Rock Art by the Bay Fort Mason, SF; 10am-5pm, free. The Rock Poster Society hosts this event celebrating poster art from its origins to its most recent incarnations.


City of Oakland Housing Fair Frank Ogawa Plaza; Oakl; (510) 238-3909, 10am-2pm, free. The City of Oakland presents this seventh annual event featuring workshops and resources for first-time homebuyers, renters, landlords, and homeowners.

JUNE 14–15

North Beach Festival Washington Square Park, 1200-1500 blocks of Grant and adjacent streets; 989-2220, 10am-6pm, free. Touted as the country’s original outdoor arts and crafts festival, the North Beach Festival celebrates its 54th anniversary with juried arts and crafts exhibitions and sales, a celebrity pizza toss, live entertainment stages, a cooking stage with celebrity chefs, Assisi animal blessings, Arte di Gesso (Italian street chalk art competition, 1500 block Stockton), indoor Classical Concerts (4 pm, National Shrine of St. Francis), a poetry stage, and more.


Sonoma Lavender Festival 8537 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood; (707) 523-4411, 10am-4pm, free. Sonoma Lavender opens its private farm to the public for craftmaking, lavender-infused culinary delights by Chef Richard Harper, tea time, and a chance to shop for one of Sonoma’s 300 fragrant products.


Stern Grove Music Festival Stern Grove, 19th Ave and Sloat, SF; Sundays 2pm, free. This beloved San Francisco festival celebrates community, nature, and the arts is in its with its 71st year of admission-free concerts.

JUNE 17–20

Mission Creek Music Festival Venues and times vary; Mission Creek Music Festival celebrates twelve years of featuring the best and brightest local independent musicians and artists with this year’s events in venues big and small.

JUNE 20–22

Jewish Vintners Celebration Various locations, Napa Valley; (707) 968-9944, Various times, $650. The third annual L’Chaim Napa Valley Jewish Vintners Celebration celebrates the theme "Connecting with Our Roots" with a weekend of wine, cuisine, camaraderie, and history featuring Jewish winemakers from Napa, Sonoma, and Israel.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival Mendocino County Fairgrounds, 14480 Hwy 128, Boonville; (917) 777-5550, pass, $135; camping, $50-100. Camp for three days and listen to the international sounds of Michael Franti & Spearhead, the English Beat, Yami Bolo, and many more.

JUNE 28–29

San Francisco Pride 2008 Civic Center, Larkin between Grove and McAllister; 864-FREE, Celebration Sat-Sun, noon-6pm; parade Sun, 10:30am, free. A month of queer-empowering events culminates in this weekend celebration: a massive party with two days of music, food, and dancing that continues to boost San Francisco’s rep as a gay mecca. This year’s theme is "Bound for Equality."

JULY 3–6

High Sierra Music Festival Plumas-Sierra Fairgrounds, Quincy; (510) 547-1992, Ticket prices vary. Enjoy four days of camping, stellar live music, yoga, shopping, and more at the 18th iteration of this beloved festival. This year’s highlights include ALO, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Built to Spill, Bob Weir & RatDog, Gov’t Mule, and Railroad Earth.


City of San Francisco Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration Pier 39, Embarcadero at Beach; 705-5500, 1-9:30pm, free. SF’s waterfront Independence Day celebration features live music by Big Bang Beat and Tainted Love, kids’ activities, and an exciting fireworks show.

JULY 5–6

Fillmore Jazz Festival Fillmore between Jackson and Eddy;, free. More than 90,000 people will gather to celebrate Fillmore Street’s prosperous tradition of jazz, culture, and cuisine.


Midsummer Mozart Festival Various Bay Area venues; (415) 392-4400, $20-60. This Mozart-only music concert series in its 34th season features talented musicians from SF and beyond.


Music@Menlo Chamber Music Festival Menlo School, 50 Valparaiso, Atherton; In its sixth season, this festival explores a musical journey through time, from Bach to Jennifer Higdon.

JULY 21–27

North Beach Jazz Fest Various locations; Various times and ticket prices. Sunset Productions presents the 15th annual gathering celebrating indoor and outdoor jazz by over 100 local and international artists. Special programs include free jazz in Washington Square Park.

JULY 26, AUG 16

FLAX Creative Arts Festival 1699 Market; 552-2355, 11am-2pm, free. Flax Art and Design hosts an afternoon of hands-on demonstrations, free samples, and prizes for kids.


Up Your Alley Dore Alley between Folsom and Howard, Folsom between Ninth and 10th Sts; 11am-6pm, free. Hundreds of naughty and nice leather-lovers sport their stuff in SoMa at this precursor to the Folsom Street Fair.

AUG 2–3

Aloha Festival San Francisco Presidio Parade Grounds, near Lincoln at Graham; 10am-5pm, free. The Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association presents its annual Polynesian cultural festival featuring music, dance, arts, crafts, island cuisine, exhibits, and more.

AUG 9–10

Nihonmachi Street Fair Japantown Center, Post and Webster; 11am-6pm, free. Japantown’s 35th annual celebration of the Bay Area’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities continues this year with educational booths and programs, local musicians and entertainers, exhibits, and artisans.

AUG 22–24

Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival Golden Gate Park; View Web site for times and price. Don’t miss the inaugural multifaceted festival of top-notch music, including Tom Petty, Jack Johnson, Manu Chao, Widespread Panic, Wilco, and Primus.


Burning Man Black Rock City, NV; $295. Celebrate the theme "American Dream" at this weeklong participatory campout that started in the Bay Area. No tickets will be sold at the gate this year.


Sausalito Art Festival 2400 Bridgeway, Sausalito; (415) 331-3757, Various times, $10. Spend Labor Day weekend enjoying the best local, national, and international artists as they display paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and more in this seaside village.

AUG 30–31

Millbrae Art and Wine Festival Broadway between Victoria and Meadow Glen, Millbrae; (650) 697-7324, 10am-5pm, free. The "Big Easy" comes to Millbrae for this huge Mardi Gras–style celebration featuring R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and soul music, as well as arts and crafts, food and beverages, live performance, and activities for kids.


Art and Soul Festival Various venues, Oakl; (510) 444-CITY, 11am-6pm, $5-$10. Enjoy three days of culturally diverse music, food, and art at the eighth annual Comcast Art and Soul Festival, which features a Family Fun Zone and an expo highlighting local food and wine producers.

SEPT 1–5

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival Various Bay Area locations; This nonprofit organization presents free Shakespeare in the Park, brings performances to schools, hosts theater camps, and more.

SEPT 6–7

Mountain View Art and Wine Festival Castro between El Camino Real and Evelyn, Mountain View; (650) 968-8378, 10am-6pm, free. Known as one of America’s finest art festivals, more than 200,000 arts lovers gather in Silicon Valley’s epicenter for this vibrant celebration featuring art, music, and a Kids’ Park.

SEPT 20–21

Treasure Island Music Festival Treasure Island; The second year of this two-day celebration, organized by the creators of Noise Pop, promises an impressive selection of indie, rock, and hip-hop artists.


Folsom Street Fair Folsom Street; Eight days of Leather Pride Week finishes up with the 25th anniversary of this famous and fun fair.

Listings compiled by Molly Freedenberg.

Mad jags



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CO2 stew



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tingly for techno: DEMF lineup announced


First off: How old does it make me feel that some kid at UPenn is writing his dissertation on the techno parties I threw in Detroit in the early ’90s? *Ancient sigh*. Second off: the nine-year-old Detroit Electronic Music Festival, sometimes known as Movement for legal reasons but basically Mecca for tech-heads, has announced its initial lineup for May 24-26 (Memorial Day weekend). The big news is not that it’s sponsored by Big Boy this year (eek!) but that fest originator and knob-twiddling god Carl Craig is returning to perform. carl.jpg Carl Craig: BACK Carl bought my video camera in 1994 so I’d have money for Amtrak to move to SF (sweetheart!) so blame him for my presence here. Also performing will be a number of other wicked-wonderful characters from back-in-tha-D days, like my spiritual twin brother Alton Miller, who will be a highlite of the more complex, jazzy house side of the fest. altona.jpg Alton Miller: You should see him dance, really Other NAMES on the pretty soulful hitlist: Speedy J, Buzz Goree, Terrance Parker, Girl Talk, Moby, Mike Grant, Alex Under, Konrad Black, and for some hip-hop new old-schoolness Cool Kids. More lineup and info here. I’ll be there covering every backstage minute for SFBG. Put your hands up for Detroit. (That’s not me in the vid, it’s my cuz. I’m in no way responsible for his dancing or this entire music video.)

Switchboard Music Festival


PREVIEW While something like the Treasure Island Music Festival can be summarized in a nutshell — a day of indie rock and a day of electronica — the annual Switchboard Music Festival defies classification. Traditionally, a lack of stylistic consistency is frowned upon in the music world — some artists spend years searching for their own reliable sound — Switchboard organizers say times have changed. With file-sharing and iTunes inundating fans with music, composers have the opportunity to go wild. On a song-by-song basis, good music is good music, regardless of who produced it or what genre it is.

Like many of the acts throughout the day, San Francisco’s Aaron Novik seems to put his eggs in more baskets than the Easter Bunny. Novik is a self-described "clarinetist, composer, bandleader" who clearly has a propensity toward variety, as his projects span anywhere from psychedelic jazz to metal. At the festival, Novik will lead his traditional Jewish folk band the Yidiots, which includes Guardian editorial intern Dina Maccabee on violin.

Fellow musical butterfly Amy X Neuberg, the festival’s headliner, will demonstrate her wide range of musical manifestations. Oakland composer Neuberg’s performance centers on creative uses of her own voice, including some over-the-top opera, soft jazz tones, and spoken word — all looped in real time through a sequencer to create harmonies. Genres will bend and tear within her set and those of others, only to shatter with the first note of the following act.

SWITCHBOARD MUSIC FESTIVAL With Christopher Adler, Dan Becker, Del Sol String Quartet, Edmund Wells, Erik Jekabson, Gamelan X, Ian Dicke, Ian Dickenson, Inner Ear Brigade, Jonathan Russel, Robin Estrada, Ryan Brown, and Slydini. Sun/30, 2–10 p.m., $5–$25. Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., SF. (415) 826-4441,

Jewish Music Festival


PREVIEW Few genre-themed music festivals enjoy as much freedom in programming as Berkeley’s Jewish Music Festival, now in its 23rd year. For who’s to say what the criteria are? Jewish music expresses joy and pathos, success and failure, the thrill of adventure and the solace of tradition, assimilation, ostracism, whimsy, and gravity, as much as music — and only music — can. And so goes the festival, staking out its territory with challenging and alluring forays all over the Jewish cultural map.

Klezmatics frontman Frank London opens the proceedings with "A Night in the Old Marketplace," a newly commissioned song cycle based on a Yiddish play penned in 1907 by I.L. Peretz. Of course, if Berkeley is the birthplace of slow food, you might call "The Ark: Cyclical Rituals," the most ambitious program of the festival, "fast music." In the space of a week, nine notable performers, including London and influential Bay Area composers John Schott and Jewlia Eisenberg, will board a creative Noah’s Ark, devising a collaborative debut on themes of ritual and tradition.

Two more sure bets: violinist Kaila Flexer and oud player Gari Hegedus of the acoustic ensemble Teslim play Middle Eastern and Sephardic traditional music with understated mastery of melody and ornamentation. And, straight out of the promised land of New York City, the punk-rock klezmer band Golem expands the limits of the shtetl songbook with show-stopping stage presence and a remarkable grasp of Yiddishkeit.

JEWISH MUSIC FESTIVAL Fri/22–Sun/30. (510) 848-0237, visit for specific times and locations.

Mother of all indie?



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

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

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

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

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


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

924 Gilman Street Project

924 Gilman, Berk.

(510) 525-9926


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

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


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

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

Hey, hey. hey



Dear Andrea:

I’m getting superfrustrated. I don’t have the highest sex drive, but it is there. However, I can’t understand why my brain and my body tell me I want to do something that inevitably makes me uncomfortable and unhappy. Even with lube, sex leaves me sore for hours. I try to just give my boyfriend blow jobs so I can avoid having to have sex. I’m 21 and have been sexually active for about three years, and I just always figured everything would get better.

And it’s not just intercourse. I can’t even get satisfaction from oral sex or masturbating. It feels good, but then, instead of feeling really good, like you’d expect an orgasm to feel, suddenly the pleasure just kind of floats away. If that’s an orgasm, it freaking sucks. It is unpleasant. What is wrong with me?


Can’t Get Me No

Dear No:

Well, you’re feeling unsatisfied because you are unsatisfied, but I don’t suppose that observation will be much use to you. I believe that your sex drive is still hanging in there because you’re a normal, healthy girl, albeit one who apparently has some issues (we call them issues when we don’t know what else to call them) about sex. In fact, I’m not even sure you have issues. I think maybe you’ve just had some pretty disappointing sex, and now you’re so expecting it to be disappointing that you’re just kind of jumping straight to the disappointment part and saving yourself some time.

I hate to punt this over to the usual suspects, but I think I have to: there are books — lots of them — on learning to masturbate and becoming orgasmic, and there are some spectacular toys out there now, toys so good that I am not altogether positive I can still promise that using them will not interfere with partnered sex, but that is obviously a topic and a worry (an issue) for another time. The old classics are Lonnie Barbach (reads like a therapist writing for Redbook) and Betty Dodson (reads like someone you’d meet at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival circa 1989, naked), but they have accumulated an Amazon wish list full of competition. Poke around in the reviews and see if you can find someone whose voice you can stand, buy their book or DVD and whatever basic toys they recommend, then buy yourself some time and use them. Oh, and if there’s a boyfriend in the picture, tell him to just hang on — you’ve got some stuff to do, after which he’s welcome to come back and try again. If this works, it should be worth the wait.



Dear Andrea:

I’m a 20-year-old girl, and I’ve only had one sex partner in my life (high school to the present). My problem seems pretty basic: sex doesn’t feel all that great. I mean, the desire’s there, but after a few minutes the pleasure part just kind of slips away, despite my best efforts to keep it there, and the rest either feels like smushing body parts or else is unpleasant and sort of painful. I don’t understand how it can start off feeling good and then just go away. Maybe I’m on the right track: When I first started having sex (three years ago), it always felt pretty neutral. Now at least it feels good for a little while. I can’t masturbate to orgasm either. It is incredibly frustrating to want to have sex even knowing I always go away from it unsatisfied. What is wrong with me? How do I fix it?’


No, No, No

Dear No:

I had to reread very carefully to make sure you and your doppelgänger are not the same person, but look — you’re slightly younger! And very, very faintly less hopeless, I think, but that is open to interpretation. I do find it slightly heartening that you are experiencing a bit of pleasure now, since I’d have to agree that it would be difficult to get motivated in the complete absence of anything more exciting than "neutral" sensation.

It’s neither fair nor just but is common for women to be out of touch with their sexual-response cycles in a way that simply doesn’t occur very often in males. I hesitate — nay, refuse! — to get into any historical-political reasons why this might be so. (It’s not that they’re not interesting, but they are unfruitful and dreadfully distracting, which is exactly what we don’t need when we’re already having trouble concentrating.) I’m afraid you too will have to buy media products and a vibrator that tickles at least your fancy, put the boyfriend on hold, and get practicing. I wish I could wave a magic wand for you, but I think the motor in mine is burning out. They don’t last forever.



Andrea is home with the kids and going stir-crazy. Write her a letter! Ask her a question! Send her your tedious e-mail forwards! On second thought, don’t do that. Just ask her a question.

Year in Music: Move me


It was during my early teens that the obsession struck. I oversaw the building of a stage, booked a bunch of bad garage bands, and charged $10 for admission to boondocks Maryland’s first semiannual Punk Fest. During my high school years I snuck into the seediest venues that Baltimore and Washington DC had to offer — still the scariest I’ve seen to date. By my arrival in San Francisco, I was a full-fledged music scene devotee, immediately taking a job at the Great American Music Hall to pay the rent during college. My SoMa warehouse hosted concerts a few times a month — my bed was a futon unrolled over a segment of 58 Tehama’s stage. For years my drinks were comped, my seats were great, and I was always on the guest list.

It wasn’t until the final months of 2006 that I realized I’ve spent most of my postpubescent life inside concert venues. It was getting increasingly difficult to ignore my ringing ears, to justify the copious waves of shift-off cocktails, and to keep my love for music intact. Flag down any soundperson, bartender, or bouncer working anywhere in the city tonight, and they’ll tell you the music industry breeds bitterness.

How to live in San Francisco without working in the music business? At least my job kept me firmly in the so-called creative class — a label that made me feel much better about my financial situation. Moving to a less expensive city could mean a better standard of living and a way to cut the industry apron strings for good. My husband, having spent more than a decade working in music stores, was game. His only stipulation was that he would not, under any condition, be taking a record store job ever again.

We caught a train to Chicago, where my husband promptly took a job at a record store. I managed to stay away from music for a month, instead focusing my energies on writing food reviews for local publications. But by the time the festival season rolled around, the prospect of seeing Patti Smith perform against the impressive skyline of my new hometown ruined everything. The University of Chicago recently published a study comparing the music scenes of American’s top metropolises. Chicago kicked some serious ass. The study described Chi-town as "a music city in hiding."

I doubt I’ll ever shake music totally, but living in Chicago has taught me it doesn’t have to be a way of life anymore. When it comes to the scene these days, I’m nothing more than a music fan in hiding.

TOP 10

1. During my last night at the Great American Music Hall, I danced like crazy to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

2. Tyva Kyzy. Anyone who missed this all-female group of Tuvan throat singers is probably still kicking themselves.

3. Barbarasteele’s 7-inch release party at Cafe du Nord blew some minds. Rest in peace, Mike J.

4. Patti Smith performing at Lollapalooza in the pouring rain.

5. No, I wasn’t among the Milanese elite who got to see Ennio Morricone at La Scala opera house, but just knowing about this show makes me a better person.

6. Rediscovering Townes Van Zandt’s Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas (Snapper UK).

7. The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir (Bloodshot).

8. Thanks, Sopranos, for making Journey relevant again.

9. Happy centennial to the glorious buildings that house the Great American Music Hall and the Cafe du Nord.

10. De la Soul closing out the Pitchfork Music Festival in style — with a little help from Prince Paul.

Year in Music: Grievous angel


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An archival recording can assume many forms, contexts, meanings. This year saw the reissue of an album unappreciated in its time (Jim Ford’s The Sounds of Our Time [Bear Family]), the compilation of genre-bound obscurities (Numero Group’s Eccentric Soul series), the live performance (Gram Parsons Archive, Vol. 1 [Amoeba]), the stripped acoustic set (Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall 1971 [Reprise]), the radio sessions (Judee Sill’s Live in London: The BBC Recordings 1972–1973 [Water]), the reconstructed unfinished work (John Phillips’s Jack of Diamonds [Varese Sarabande]), the singles collection (Vashti Bunyan’s Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind: Singles and Demos 1964–1967 [FatCat/Dicristina]), and, perhaps closest to the bone, the fabled home recording.

Of course, some vocalists bend these categories by the nature of their performance style. This is certainly the case with Cotton Eyed Joe (Delmore), a double CD documenting a lovely set by Karen Dalton at a Colorado coffeehouse in 1962. It might as well be a home recording for the intimacy of the performance space — owner Joe Loop explains in the liner notes that his club held only 50 — and the entrancing, private nature of Dalton’s folk arrangements. Such a record is notable for a performer as studio-phobic as Dalton: she only recorded two albums in her lifetime (1969’s It’s So Hard to Tell Who’s Going to Love You the Best [Koch] and 1971’s In My Own Time [Light in the Attic]), and rumor has it the takes for her debut were captured on the sly, when she didn’t know the tape was rolling.

All of this would be mere intrigue if it weren’t for the fact that Dalton was one of the major talents of the first folk revival, though mostly unappreciated in her own time. She died in 1993 after a bitter struggle with drugs and alcohol. Cotton Eyed Joe is educational in contextualizing this mystery voice in terms of the coffeehouse circuit, but any such historiography quickly fades when faced with her strange, time-stopping interpretations of traditionals and tunes by the likes of Ray Charles, Woody Guthrie, and Fred Neil. The voice shakes with unresolve, surrounding you and then disappearing before you can pin it down, buckling with some unknowable duress, slipping into untold dimensions.

It only takes a few bars of Dalton’s possession of Charles’s "It’s Alright" to cast the spell. Her minimal 12-string guitar work drags on the tune, her voice searching the depths of the verse for a smoldering, emotional core. Elsewhere Dalton runs through the songs she would record for her studio albums, and it’s bracing to think how long she lived with these ballads. Forty-five years later, we hear a unique act of disembodiment, a self-eulogizing worthy of critic Greil Marcus’s illustrious "Invisible Republic."

Each glimpse deepens the appeal of so many other performers from that era, and it’s tempting to see these collections as filling a specific niche in today’s music market: a hunger for mystery, substance, and story in the face of a downloader’s paradise. As more music is rendered instantly accessible, many of us wish to burrow further into the secret histories of rock, folk, and soul. We sift for treasure, perhaps wondering if the Internet isn’t inherently anathematic to the idea of discovering forgotten greatness. Such recoveries can and will proliferate online, but ground must first be broken elsewhere — in a magazine or a basement, among audio tapes or old notebooks. Performers and promoters are becoming increasingly canny in using the Web to deliver icons and bylines, but it takes a set like Cotton Eyed Joe to make the singer a saint. *

TOP 10

Panda Bear, Person Pitch (Paw Tracks), and Animal Collective at the Fillmore on Sept. 17

Jim Ford, The Sounds of Our Time (Bear Family)

Jana Hunter, There’s No Home (Gnomonsong)

Karen Dalton, Cotton Eyed Joe (Delmore), and Judee Sill, Live in London: The BBC Recordings 1972–1973 (Water)

Entrance at the Ben Lomand Indian Summer Music Festival on Sept. 1 and at the Cafe du Nord on Nov. 18

The Dirty Projectors, Rise Above (Dead Oceans)

Lightning Bolt at LoBot Gallery on April 9

Michael Hurley at the Cafe du Nord on April 18

Neil Young, Live at Massey Hall 1971 (Reprise)

Little Wings, Soft Pow’r (Rad)