the Chapel

The Selector: Oct. 8-14, 2014

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WEDNESDAY 8

 

King Khan and BBQ Show

King Khan is perhaps best known for his work with his garage-soul-punk outfit The Shrines, a tremendously noisy and riotously fun group of talented musicians. But it is his collaborations with Mark Sultan, a.k.a. BBQ, that will make you laugh, mist up, shake your groove thang, and fall in love. The pair has been working together since the late ’90s, first in Canadian punk band the space Spaceshits, and then again as a rock duo. Though the relationship has been tumultuous, there’s no denying that King Khan and BBQ are musical soul mates. Their (extremely) unique blend of doo-wop, punk, garage rock, and potty humor will steal your heart and sell your soul. (Haley Zaremba)

With Isaac Rother, The Phantoms

8pm, $16

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell St

(415) 885-0750

www.slimspresents.com

 

THURSDAY 9

 

Shocktoberfest 15: The Bloody Débutante

Horror and carnage! Songs and…chuckles? Local theater menagerie Thrillpeddlers — beloved for its hugely successful revivals of Cockettes musicals — never disappoints when it comes to putting a uniquely bawdy yet gore-gushing spin on Halloween entertainment. In addition to the trademark “Spook-Show Finale” (you may laugh yourself silly during the prior acts, but this part is genuinely freaky), the 15th Shocktoberfest boasts a titillating quartet of short plays. The title entry is by composer and music director (and original Cockette) Scrumbly Koldewyn; there’s also a circa-1903 entry from Paris’ legendary Grand Guignol, the Poe adaptation The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather, and two black comedies: Deathwrite and The Taxidermist’s Revenge. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Nov 22

Opens Thu/9, 8pm; runs Thu-Sat and Oct 28-29, 8pm, $30-35

Hypnodrome

575 10th St, SF

www.brownpapertickets.com

 

 

Imelda May

Taking the sounds of traditional rockabilly, blues and jazz and giving them an injection of her own infectious energy and style, Irish chanteuse Imelda May’s sultry and sumptuous voice can make listeners swoon at a ballad or jump up to the searing rockers that pepper her excellent new album Tribal (Verve), which was released last month in the United States. May has been rocking stages for well over a decade in the UK, and is finally gaining the popularity here that she and her talented band so rightly deserve — this is your chance to see the Dublin-born singer belt it out in a venue truly befitting her timeless tunes. (Sean McCourt)

With The Rhythm Shakers

8pm, $29.50

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-3000

www.thefillmore.com

 

FRIDAY 10

 

Arab Film Festival

The 18th annual Arab Film Festival, which focuses on independent films from the Arab world, opens tonight at the Castro Theatre with writer-director-star Cherien Dabis’ May in the Summer, about a Jordanian American writer whose impending marriage to a Palestinian shakes up her family. Alia Shawkat — yep, Maeby Fünke from Arrested Development — co-stars as her straight-talking sister. The rest of the fest sprawls across the Bay Area, with documentaries, shorts, and more; Tangiers-set drama Rock the Casbah closes it out Oct. 23 at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Oct 23, most shows $12

Various venues in SF, Oakl, Berk, and Palo Alto

www.arabfilmfestival.org

 

 

Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife first materialized in Osaka in the early ’80s. Working against the backdrop of J-pop, at the time a burgeoning movement, Shonen Knife drew equally from sunny ’60s-style pop and raw, ’70s punk. Using simple, solid songwriting and light-hearted lyrics in both English and Japanese, Shonen Knife have managed to remain a beloved mainstay in DIY and punk scenes around the world. Fans included Fugazi and Kurt Cobain, both of whom invited the band to open for them. (Shonen Knife did a whole European tour with Nirvana just before the band released Nevermind.) One of very few all-girl bands to come out of Japan in their era, not only are Shonen Knife (literally translated as Boy Knife) girl-punk pioneers, they are musical and feminist role models — with kickass haircuts and killer riffs. (Zaremba)

Death Valley Girls, Great Apes

9:30pm, $14

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St, SF

(415) 626-4455

www.bottomofthehill.com

 

 

Bay Area Book & Cover Design Exhibition

Litquake will sprawl across the city for another year of festivities to appreciate the written word, where, “against the backdrop of a technology-crazed San Francisco, writers [are] still drawn to the city.” For the 12th year, book lovers will have their cravings met, and this week-long exhibition will showcase the best in book and cover design from Bay Area publishers with books published between 2010 and mid-2014. This is a unique chance to take a closer look at the art and design that enclose masterpieces of text. The designs will be displayed at Chronicle Book’s Metreon store as well the SF Public Library Main branch.

Through Sat/18

6pm-8pm, free

Chronicle Books

165 4th St, SF

 

SF Public Library

100 Larkin, SF

(415) 369-6271

www.litquake.org/events/booksxdesign.com

 

 

Carmen Ledesma

The 9th annual Bay Area Flamenco Festival will debut Spain’s own Carmen Ledesma to the Bay Area as she celebrates the unique Gypsy flamenco traditions of Utera. Her performance is a representation of Sevilla’s legacy of female dancers and will be accompanied by a group of professional flamenco artists — including guitarist Antonio Moya and singer Mari Peña of the legendary “Pinini Clan.” Ledesma has performed with Spain’s National Ballet and is known as one of the “best flamenco dance teachers in Andalucía today,” so take advantage of her workshops during the festival, where you will get your chance to learn from one of the best.

8pm, $30-$100

Cowell Theater

2 Marina, SF

(510) 444-2820

www.bayareaflamencofestival.org

 

SATURDAY 11

 

Berlin and Beyond Autumn Showcase

Hot on the heels of the SF Silent Film Festival’s “Silent Autumn” comes another seasonal mini-fest: the Berlin and Beyond Autumn Showcase, showcasing a quintet of films ahead of the main B&B fest in January. First up is a 35mm screening of documentary Megacities, a tribute to its Austrian filmmaker, Michael Glawogger, who died of malaria earlier this year while working on a new project in Africa. Another doc, Enemies/Friends: German Prisoners of War, makes its North American debut, as does Dreamland, a Zurich-set ensemble drama. There’s also a repeat from the ongoing Mill Valley Film Festival — Volker Schlöndorff’s World War II nailbiter, Diplomacy — and Banklady, a based-on-true-events tale of a young woman who hones her bank-robbing skills in 1960s West Germany. (CherylEddy)

First film at 11am, $12 (full day pass, $50)

New People Cinema

1746 Post, SF

www.berlinbeyond.com

 

 

4th Annual Yerba Buena Night

Wander the streets in the heart of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena district and see it come alive for just this night. Music, video, art, and dance — you name it. The festival is back and better than ever with over 40 performances scattered across five stages. Kicking off the night will be the Yerba Buena Alliance Artwalk, where you can look in awe upon giant video projections, interactive installations, and explore galleries and exhibits for free. And later, if you’ve never seen live aerialists perform, now is your chance. Not to mention local buzzworthy bands like Ensemble Mik Nawooj, Roem and The Revival, Rin Tin Tiger, Robot Dance Party…the list goes on. For the first time, Off the Grid will make an appearance; you can also keep the festivities going late into the night — long after the streets have emptied — as neighboring businesses will offer all kinds of food and drink specials.

4pm-10pm, free

Multiple Locations

760 Mission, SF

(415) 644-0728

www.ybnight.org

 

SUNDAY 12

 

Bay Area Ladyfest Presents: Feminist Porn

Bay Area Ladyfest, a four-day smorgasbord of performances, DIY workshops, film screenings, and house shows celebrating the art and work of all self-identified women, will close out the festivities Sunday evening with um, a bang. “Feminist Porn and Self Pleasure: A Dialogue and Screening,” co-presented with Fucking Sculptures (which creates sex toys that double as fine art), will include a discussion with Fucking Sculptures’ owner, followed by screenings from local independent queer and feminist porn purveyors. Afterward, meet the performers and tell them just how much you enjoyed their work! (Emma Silvers)

18+, 6pm-10pm, $5 suggested donation

701 Bancroft, Berk.

www.bayarealadyfest.tumblr.com


TUESDAY 14

Culture Collide SF

For the first time in SF, the originally LA-based Culture Collide is bringing more than 35 bands from all over the world — Peru, Israel,the Netherlands, Turkey, Japan, in addition to the US — to venues throughout the Mission, all for a very-easy-on-your-wallet $20. This 21+ fest has bigshots like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Cloud Nothings, locals who are in the process of blowing up like GRMLN, and a whole slew of buzzy international folks we’ve been hearing about — the Netherlands’ Go Back to the Zoo, the UK’s Nothing But Thieves, Costa Rica’s Alphabetics, at Mission venues the Chapel, the Elbo Room, Mission Workshop, and Amnesia. Plus, comedy, music industry panels (SF’s Different Fur will host the Elbo Room stage), and events billed as “Beers of the World,” “Spirits of the World,” and “Best Mission Burrito” (if you don’t want to take the NYT’s word for it.) Best of all — no passport necessary.

Through Wed/15 3pm-12am, $20-$30

Venues through the Mission, SF

www.culturecollide.com

 

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The Aislers Set reunion welcomed with open arms, nostalgia at The Chapel

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By Rebecca Huval

After an 11-year hiatus, dream-pop lovables The Aislers Set played to a sold-out room swooning with nostalgia at The Chapel Sunday night.

Singer-songwriter AV Linton sang catchy melodies backed by a curtain of reverb and Yoshi Nakamoto’s chest-thumping, punk-infused drumbeats. Unlike the typical audience of young rapscallions drawn to Valencia, this late ‘90s band surfaced the 30- and 40-year-olds — and even had them jumping and dancing past 11pm on a Sunday.

In the late ‘90s and early aughts, the San Francisco-based Aislers Set drew comparisons to contemporaries Belle and Sebastian, and toured with Sleater Kinney and Yo La Tengo. But after Linton burned out on tour, the band went bust about a decade ago, much to the chagrin of its Bay Area and international fans, with members dispersing to New York, Germany, and Sweden.

But The Aislers Set is back — at least for now. Though Linton has moved back to California, the band’s members still span the states and Europe. They reissused 1998’s Terrible Things Happen and 2000’s The Last Match on Sept. 23, and they’ll reissue 2002’s How I Learned To Write Backwards on Oct.14, all via Slumberland.

On Sunday night, as a familiar chord broke the silence, the crowd clapped and laughed with relief, as if the distance between now and that year when they first heard the song had just dissolved. They were transported. Linton and Alicia Vanden Heuvel wore roomy T-shirts and sneakers, and they sounded as comfortable in their voices as they were in their clothes — not overly performative, but beautiful in the basics. They harmonized, occasionally going slightly out of key, but in a way that lent truthfulness to their anguished lyrics.

“I was so mistreated when you danced with me,” Linton sang to Nakamato’s deceptively cheerful beats and the trill of a tambourine. At the end of “I’ve Been Mistreated,” the crowd chanted “Yoshi, Yoshi!”

After a broken amp in the beginning of the set, the band smoothed out its kinks and had commandeered the audience’s hearts by halfway through. The wandering guitar riffs and piercing trumpet lines of “Mission Bells” filled the room, thrusting several fists into the air. Occasionally, an organist would pop up to play jingle bells or the glockenspiel, often in time to the disco lights sparkling around the ceiling.

Throughout the set, The Aislers Set exuded polite wholesomeness. Vanden Heuvel exclaimed “Thanks for coming out on a Sunday night!” and threw her arms akimbo, as if she was about to hug the crowd. When she accidentally spoke over Wyatt Cusick, she said, “Oh, sorry to interrupt you!”

Then, Wyatt introduced the one song he sang, the sweet “Chicago, New York,” by saying, “It’s so nice to have so many people ask to play your only song.”

After a decade away from their fans, The Aislers Set seemed genuinely grateful to be back. And we were happy to have them.

Two-fer Tuesday: New music videos from Cathedrals and The Stone Foxes

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Because nothing showcases the breadth of music being made in the Bay Area better than some chilled-out electro R&B followed by a driving blues-rock sprint of a song: Here are the latest music videos from local faves Cathedrals and the Stone Foxes. 

The Cathedrals‘ first music video, for their song “Unbound,” marks one year since the duo began releasing music online — beginning with that tune, with Brodie Jenkins’ seductive singalong of a chorus over a layered symphony of Johnny Hwin’s guitar and synths. For the video, released today, the pair recruited Maria Kochetkova, a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, to perform in front of a light sculpture called Sugar Cubes, by SF artist Alex Green. Cathedrals’ debut EP came out this month on Neon Gold, and they’ll play Treasure Island Music Festival Oct. 19.

And in an entirely different vein, The Stone Foxes,  who are home this week after a whirlwind tour of the West Coast, gave us this brand-new video for “Locomotion,” in which our heroes — showcasing a good sense of humor alongside their lack of physical prowess — challenge a bunch of guys who actually know how to play basketball to an ill-fated game. “We thought, what kind of video could encapsulate the song’s story of the [band members] Koehler Brothers’ great grandfather running away from the authorities in newly communist Russia? A sports movie of course!” wrote the band by way of explanation. Gonna call that one a slam dunk.

The band promises to release new music the first Friday of every month for the next year, building up to an album in late 2015. For now, the Stone Foxes will kick off a residency at The Chapel Nov. 1 with Strange Vine. 

 

Tough decisions ahead: The Bay Area Record Fair, the Oakland Music Festival, and more

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Ever get so overwhelmed by all the awesome events in the Bay Area on a given weekend that you give up on trying to decide between any of them and find yourself just hanging with whomever you can get to come to your house to drink with you and your cats? Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, venturing 50 yards down the street to watch baseball at the closest bar with a TV?

Haha, me neither! Just kidding; that person sounds like a loser who is definitely not me. ANYWAY, this is one of those weekends where you’re going to have to make some tough calls. It’s called being a grownup. Here we go.

FRI/26

San Franciscans may think they have the market cornered on psychedelia, but things sound a little different in the desert — dusty, moody, lonely, and super atmospheric. All of these are apt words for decker., a Sedona-based “desert folk” act led by singer-songwriter Brandon Decker that won hearts with its soulful live act at SXSW, among other stages. This show at Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St, SF), which serves as a record release party for the band’s fifth album, Patsy, will actually be a double-helping of soul: Oakland favorites Whiskerman, with multi-instrumentalist Graham Patzner’s vocal chops at the helm, will help open the evening.

Bob Mould, Castro resident and extremely well-spoken guy in addition to being an exceedingly talented guitarist and legendary all-around frontman, is coming home — and his welcome party’s at the Fillmore (1805 Geary, SF) tonight with Cymbals Eat Guitars. Mould’s new record, Beauty and Ruin, has been on repeat in certain headphones; check our interview with him in this week’s paper for more.

 

SAT/27

The Bay Area Record Fair, aka the best new acronym to come out of the local music scene since possibly ever, is throwing the second edition of its schmooze-fest/record sale/party this Saturday at Thee Parkside (1600 17th St, SF) and the surrounding blocks. This free shindig, thrown by local label Father/Daughter Records alongside promoters Professional Fans, will feature live sets from Happy Diving (whose excellent debut LP is out next month), Hot Flash Heat Wave, Wild Moth, and Flim Flam and The Jet Stars of Three O’Clock Rock. All of that while you swing by tables from more than 30 Bay Area record labels, who’ll be hawking CDs, LPs, t-shirts, stickers, that one weird rare flexi-disk you’ve been looking for forever, etc. The party goes down from noon to 5pm, but $5 gets you early entry (first access to the crates, you fiends) at 11am. RSVP here. Oh, and here’s our review of the last one.

Over on the other side of the Bay, the second annual Oakland Music Festival highlights the best in local-ish hip-hop, funk, R&B, dance and electronic music, with a few folky singer-songwriters in there for good measure. The daylong fest has four stages throughout downtown (21st, 22nd, and Grand Streets between Broadway and Webster) with headliners like rapper Dom Kennedy, beatmaker Esta, soulful singer SZA as headliners, while the legendary Chuy Gomez and hometown heroes Trackademicks and 1-O.A.K hold down the DJ stage. Plus, you know, food, beer, a beautiful day in the East Bay sunshine. Tickets (for $28 or $35, unless you go VIP) right here.

 

SUN/28

How do you get away with throwing a bonkers dance party on public Ocean Beach in broad daylight? Pipe the music directly into the crowd’s headphones, that’s how. The Silent Frisco crew has found the ultimate underground vibe, above ground, with HushFest. Here’s how it works: Gather at the party spot (imbibe your libations beforehand, please, no drugs or alcohol on the beach), pay $20 for special wireless headphones, and dance in the sand with a huge gaggle of other wildly, silently gesticulating aficianados — all for $20, kicking off at 11am. DJs at this annual event around include genius duo Psychmagik, who rejigger deepest funk-rock memories of the 1970s, Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation, and Fort Knox Five. Yes, you can still yell “woo!” (Marke B.)

The Aislers Set, Cold Beat, and the Mantles at The Chapel (777 Valencia, SF). This here’s an SF triple-threat, with the Brit-influenced, late ’90s/early aughts indie-pop veterans The Aislers Set making their much-awaited return tonight. Hannah Lew’s (ex-Grass Widow) Cold Beat will lend a harder edge to the evening, sandwiched alongside the Mantles’ 60s-tinged dream-pop. Also for $20, we can think of worse ways to stave off the Sunday night blues.

 

 

Ruinous beauty

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esilvers@sfbg.com

LEFT OF THE DIAL Bob Mould seems like a good multi-tasker. The legendary singer-guitarist is just signing out of a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session as he answers the phone in New York for our interview Sept. 9; he’ll play at the Bowery Ballroom the following night.

“Sorry, we went a little over because there were technical difficulties at the beginning,” he says, when I explain that I’ve been watching for the last hour in real time as his superfans — as well as guitar nerds of all stripes, from all over the world — ask him questions.

These queries range in topic from pleas for his explosively influential punk band Hüsker Dü to get back together (“Some things can’t be replicated, and those eight years are best left untarnished”) to interest in his diet and exercise regimens (little to no starches, lots of running staircases when he’s home in SF), wrestling opinions (Mould at one point wrote music for the professional wrestling industry) to “what positions were your guitar pedal knobs at when I saw you play this one particular show?” (generally, 3pm for both).

If the fans seem all over the place, it’s for good reason: Mould’s career is as varied as the people who count him among their heroes. After fronting Hüsker Dü in the early ’80s; he ushered in a higher standard for hard-hitting alt-rock in the ’90s with a new band, Sugar. His solo career has taken him into melancholy singer-songwriter territory, then back to all-consuming wall-of-deafening-sound guitar rock, with forays into the aforementioned wrestling business. In 2011, after decades of being known for his intense love of privacy, he penned an acclaimed memoir about his life thus far, including his tortured early years spent closeted, at times using meth and cocaine to cope.

After that 180, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Mould’s most recent work, Beauty and Ruin (which came out June 3 on Merge), grapples with highly personal territory.

In the first half of 2012, Mould was riding high off the book’s success. He’d just been honored by dozens of younger rock titans who consider him a god — Dave Grohl, Spoon, Ryan Adams — at a tribute performance in LA. He had a new record out, the critically acclaimed, harder-than-he’d-rocked-in-a-while Silver Age, and was celebrating the 20th anniversary of Sugar’s much-loved Copper Blue. And then, in October, Mould’s father died.

“It was not unexpected, but it was still tough nonetheless,” says Mould, who has written candidly about his complicated relationship with his father — an alcoholic who was physically abusive at times, but also introduced him to rock ‘n’ roll, and acted as one of Hüsker Dü’s biggest supporters in the band’s early years.

“[Losing a parent] is something most of us go through, but I don’t think I’d realize how a loss of the size really shifts your perspective…it was an emotional time. And that became the marker for the next 12 months of touring, dealing with my relationship with my family and my work.”

The record takes on four key themes or acts, says Mould: “There’s the loss, and the reflection, and then acceptance. And then there’s moving on to the future, which is how the album closes out. It’s a work about a really confusing experience.”

Backed by Jason Narducy on bass and the tireless Jon Wurster on drums (Mould shares Wurster’s time with Superchunk and the Mountain Goats), Mould channels that confusion into a something like a condensed, theatrical rock ‘n’ roll epic. (His tour for the record brings him to The Fillmore this Fri/26.)

Considering its subject matter, it’s hardly a downer of a record. “I’m sure it confuses some of the longtime fellow miserablists [to hear the bright, upbeat tunes],” says Mould with a laugh. “It’s a heavy record; it’s got its own darkness, but it has an equal amount of light to keep it balanced out.”

Beauty and Ruin also demands to be heard as an album: As a listener, even if you were to shut off the part of your brain that comprehends lyrics, it’s the cathartic, hook-driven guitar thrum throughout these missives — which builds to unrelentingly passionate levels on “The War,” marking the end of side 1 on the record, if it were an LP, before sliding into the naked clarity of “Forgiveness” — that engages your full body, that makes you question whether or not aging affects Bob Mould the way it affects regular humans, because the man honestly sounds like he could sing and play electric guitar and run a marathon at the same time.

Not so, Mould says. On days off when he’s on tour, he tries to talk as little as possible to protect his voice. “I sing really hard, probably too hard for my own good, and naturally it gets a little tougher to recover from that each night.”

When he’s not on tour, of course, he’s home in San Francisco — he’s lived in the Castro for the past five years. And yes, as a guy who made $12 playing Mabuhay Gardens in 1981 with Hüsker Dü, he’s noticed that the scene here has changed in the last few years. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

“I’ll still go to the Independent, Bottom of the Hill, Great American to see shows. I like the Chapel. There are still great clubs. But yeah, historically, when there’s been development — especially these big condo developments — when that’s on the rise in the city, at first, the neighbors are going ‘Oh, we love living next to the nightclub!'” says Mould. “Then they have their first kid, and the nightclub keeps them up at night. And they start fighting the nightclub, and if they get it closed down the neighborhood turns into a really boring place, and they don’t know it until it’s too late. I’ve seen it happen in so many cities around the world.”

“…I’m not certain how anybody can live in San Francisco, with the cost of living and the rents. It’s just such a massive change,” he continues. “Cities change. And we can fight City Hall, fight the developers…but cities evolve. And people who make art for their living are leaving for other places, which is tough because San Francisco has such an amazing history with music and how it’s affected world cultures. I’ve honestly just learned to deal with it.

“Because you never know what’s going to happen. Things change. Maybe it’ll change back.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNuR5KPCn0M

BOB MOULD

With Cymbals Eat Guitars

Fri/26, 9pm, $25

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

www.thefillmore.com

Don’t call it retro

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esilvers@sfbg.com

LEFT OF THE DIAL Musician Bart Davenport, Oakland native, LA resident, has one caveat for discussing his move two years ago. He might’ve broken a few hearts, but he wants to make it clear that he did not head for the southlands for the same reasons many fed-up, underfed Bay Area musicians are making the same trek these days.

“My story doesn’t have anything to do with the changes that have been happening in the Bay Area the past few years. And it really wasn’t a career move. It has to do with changes I needed to make happen within myself,” says the singer-songwriter-guitarist. “Besides, I don’t even stay away long enough to miss it — I’m up there at least once a month.”

Lucky for us, one of those trips will take place next weekend, when he helps kick off the Mission Creek Oakland Music & Arts Festival with a daylong block party Sept. 6. Davenport headlines an eclectic lineup of acts that also includes the psych-rock-folky sounds of The Blank Tapes, B. Hamilton, Foxtails Brigade, and more at this opener to the fifth incarnation of Oakland’s 10-day, 14-venue music fest, which began as an offshoot to San Francisco’s in 2009. (If there are any lingering questions about the East Bay’s music scene holding its own at this point, this is the kind of lineup that answers ’em.)

Davenport has had a pretty hectic touring schedule since his most recent LP, Physical World, dropped on Burger Records in March of this year. There were the adventures in Madrid, the opening slots for Echo & the Bunnymen at LA’s Orpheum Theatre. Last week, playing guitar in Marc & the Casuals, he co-hosted a special one-off soul music-comedy-storytelling night at The Chapel. The day after he plays the MCO Festival, he’ll be driving “like a madman” back to LA to catch a Burt Bacharach show (as an audience member). He’s gotten used to life on the road.

As a kid, though, he mostly moved back and forth between Berkeley and Oakland, where he grew up near Lake Merritt — across the street from the humble, Disneyland-inspiring wonder that is Children’s Fairyland, with its old-school talk boxes that have been narrating fairytales at the turn of a key since 1950. (He’s still enchanted by it, but — as this reporter has also discovered during some routine research — adults wanting to visit the park are required to bring a kid along.)

Nostalgia might seem to be an easy catch-all theme for someone prone to memories of kids’ amusement parks, especially someone whose most recent record conjures the synthy New Wave anthems of ’80s with almost eerie authenticity one moment, then veers backward toward Buddy Holly the next — with each song seemingly narrated by a different character named Bart Davenport, and all of it so shiny that you can never quite tell when he’s being tongue-in-cheek. Davenport’s known for clear changes in genre and sound from record to record, but the shift from 2008’s Palaces (a Harry Nilsson-esque affair with Kelley Stoltz’s fingerprints all over it) to the distinctly palm tree- and pink pollution sunset-scented Physical World (which is full of soul and jazz chord progressions, and where Davenport seems to be channeling, by turn, Hall & Oates, The Cars, New Order, and Morrisey) is probably his biggest departure yet.

The singer takes issue with critics who would simply call him “retro,” however — though it’s not because he finds the term offensive.

“I actually think it’s insulting to purist retroists, people like Nick Waterhouse, maybe, who’ve gone to great lengths to recreate certain sounds really exactingly,” says Davenport, who credits longtime collaborator Sam Flax with sending him in a New Wavey direction after producing his power-poppy 2012 single Someone2Dance.

“And I don’t even think of myself as a very nostalgic person. I think of [my influences] more like shopping at the thrift store, and finding gems that you want to repurpose to say something new,” he adds. “It’s also that I guess many people try to avoid arrangements that sound like the way things were being done 20 or 30 years ago, and I tend to not really think about anything but what I like, what I think sounds good. It’s not about taking you to 1984 or taking you to right now, it’s about taking you into your own little world. The little world of that particular song, for just three minutes.”

Reticence to talk up LA in the Bay Area press aside, Davenport will allow that one of his major influences was his newly adopted city.

“It’s definitely an LA album,” he says, noting that about two-thirds of the record was written there, and it was recorded in Alhambra, near East LA. “I think the constant sunlight breeds a kind of optimism in people. Then there’s the scenery, the palm trees, the long crazy streets. The taco trucks. Where I live, the majority of people are Latino. It’s just a different mix.” Angeleno bassist Jessica Espeleto telling him she’d play in his band if he moved down south was one thing he had in mind, as well, before making the leap.

And yet: There’s no place like home? “The entire Bay Area has great venues,” says Davenport, as we discuss the new crop of venues that have sprung up in the East Bay over the last few years. “And yeah, especially with the musicians getting priced out of San Francisco, I think it’s great that there’s the whole East Bay for them to go to. Really, thank God for Oakland.”

Amen.

BART DAVENPORT

With The Blank Tapes, B. Hamilton, many others

Mission Creek Oakland Music & Arts Festival Block Party

Sat/6, noon-8pm, free (fest runs through Sept. 13)

25th Street at Telegraph, Oakl.

www.mcofest.org

A show a day: Your fall music calendar

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What’s going on in Bay Area music these next three months? Glad you asked. 

Like a daily multivitamin wards off the sniffles, getting the SFBG’s official recommended dose of live shows is crucial to maintaining optimal mental health, fun levels, and skin tone, especially as the days get shorter and the weather turns ever-so-slightly cooler.

Here’s your musical agenda from Labor Day through Thanksgiving, with highlights from our favorite fall festivals (see this week’s issue for lots more).

Aug. 28 Black Cobra Vipers with French Cassettes The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Aug. 29 Blind Willies Viracocha, SF. www.viracochasf.com

Aug. 30 Mistah F.A.B. Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Aug. 31 LIVE 105’s Punk Rock Picnic with The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise, and more. Are you a late-thirties/early-forties punk rock guy or gal who can’t agree on much of anything with your 13-year-old these days? Doesn’t get much better than this lineup. Bonus points for screaming along to all the swearing on The Offspring’s “Bad Habit.” Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.theshorelineamphitheatre.com

Sept. 1 Hiero Day. Souls of Mischief, Del, and the rest of the guys have promised some pretty big guest stars at this week’s fest, but even without ’em — a free block party with beer from Linden Street Brewery and music from some of the Bay Area’s best underground rappers? Guests, schmests. Downtown Oakland, www.hieroday.com

Sept. 2 Ghost & Gale Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com

Sept. 3 Joey Cape Thee Parkside, SF. www.theeparkside.com

Sept. 4 Carletta Sue Kay Hemlock Tavern, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Sept. 4-13 Mission Creek Oakland Music & Arts Festival. With a range of heavy hitters — from B. Hamilton and Bill Baird to Whiskerman — this is a showcase of the fertile ground that is Oakland’s indie rock scene right now, most with door prices you’re not likely to see from these bands again. Venues throughout Oakland,www.mcofest.org.

Sept. 5 Sam Chase with Rin Tin Tiger Uptown, Oakl. www.uptownnightclub.com

Sept. 6 Bart Davenport, Foxtails Brigade, more Block Party, downtown Oakland, www.mcofest.org

Sept. 7 Coheed and Cambria, Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 8 The Rentals Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Sept. 9 Wild Eyes Knockout, SF. www.theknockoutsf.com

Sept. 10 Kyrsten Bean New Parish, Oakl., www.thenewparish.com

Sept. 11 Sonny & The Sunsets Eagle Tavern, SF. www.sf-eagle.com

Sept. 11-14 Downtown Berkeley MusicFest. A range of bluesy, folky, dancey bands from all over the Bay — especially recommended: the First Person Singular presentation of Beck’s Song Reader Sept. 11 and The Parmesans at Jupiter Sept. 14. Venues all over Berkeley, www.downtownberkeleymusicfest.org

Sept. 12-14, 15th Annual Electronic Music Festival Brava Theater Center, SF. www.sfemf.org

Sept. 13 The Breeders Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 13-14 Forever Never Land, “California’s only 21+ music festival,” Avila Beach Golf Resort, www.foreverneverland.us

Sept. 15 Vulfpeck Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortar.com

Sept. 16 Lil Dicky Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Sept. 17 Anais Mitchell The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 18 Silent Comedy and Strange Vine Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Sept. 19 Blake Mills, The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 20 Old Crow Medicine Show The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Sept. 20-21 Berkeley World Music Festival All over Berkeley, www.berkeleyworldmusic.org

Sept. 20-21 Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival, with Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, more. www.russianriverfestivals.com

Sept. 21 Oakland Music Festival with The Coup, Kev Choice, more Downtown Oakland, www.oaklandmusicfestival.com.

Sept. 22 La Roux Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 23 Cello Joe The Chapel Bar, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 24 Skeletonwitch, Black Anvil DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Sept. 25-28 Philip Glass’ Days and Nights Festival Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur; Sunset Cultural Center, Carmel-by-the-Sea, www.daysandnightsfestival.com

Sept. 26 Bob Mould Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 27 Wu-Tang Clan Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Sept. 27 Redwood City Sala Festival Courthouse Square, Redwood City, www.redwoodcity.org

Sept. 28 Sam Smith Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 29 Motown on Mondays Legionnaire Saloon, Oakl. www.legionnairesaloon.com

Sept. 30 Pixies The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 1 Rhymesayers presents Brother Ali, Bambu Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Oct. 2 Lorde Greek Theatre, Berk. www.thegreektheatreberkeley.com

Oct. 3-5 Berkeley Hawaiian Music Festival Freight and Salvage, Berkl. www.thefreight.org.

Oct. 3-5 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com

Oct 3-5 TBD Festival. Emerging Bay Area acts like 8th Grader mingle with the big kids (Blondie, Moby, Danny Brown, Kurt Vile) at this seventh annual celebration of “music, art, design, and food.” A low-key vibe and great chance to see some huge acts in a seemingly unlikely location. Riverfront, West Sacramento. www.tbdfest.com.

Oct. 4 Cibo Matto The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Oct. 5 Bombay Bicycle Club Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Oct. 6 The War on Drugs with Cass McCombs Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 7 Thurston Moore Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 8 The King Khan & BBQ Show Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 9 Imelda May Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 10 Too Short Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.shorelineamphitheatre.com

Oct. 11 Pomplamoose Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 12 Jack Beats Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com

Oct. 13 Mutual Benefit Independent, www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 14-15 Culture Collide. This new-to-the-Bay-Area party has been rocking LA for the past few years, but it seems to have taken on an appropriately Mission-esque flavor for its first Mission takeover: Local kids like Grmln alongside national acts like Cloud Nothings and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah alongside a whole host of buzzy Korean, Australian, and UK bands? Yeah, we’re there. Up and down Valencia in the Mission, with multiple stages including the Elbo Room. www.culturecollide.com

Oct. 15 Of Montreal Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 16 Russian Red Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 17 Pup Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 18-19 Treasure Island Music Festival, with Outkast, Massive Attack, more Treasure Island. www.treasureislandfestival.com

Oct. 20 Kimbra Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 21 Melvins Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 22 Kat Edmonson Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 23 The Blank Tapes Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 24 Foxygen Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 25 Titan Ups and Carletta Sue Kay DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Oct. 26 Bridget Everett Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 27 Warpaint Regency Ballroom, SF. ww.theregencyballroom.com

Oct. 28 Broken Bells The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 29 King Tuff Great American Music Hall, SF. www. slimspresents.com

Oct. 30 Tycho Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Oct. 31 LIVE 105’s Spookfest with Chromeo, Alesso, more Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.live105.cbslocal.com

Nov. 1 Stone Foxes with Strange Vine The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 2 Citizen Cope Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 3 The Black Keys Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.coliseum.com

Nov. 4 Frankie Rose with Cold Beat Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 5 Finch, Maps & Atlases Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 6 Bleachers Independent, SF. www.theindependent.sf.com

Nov. 7 Slowdive Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Nov. 8 Shovels & Rope Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 9 Mirah Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 10 Psychedelic Furs, Lemonheads Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 11 Mac DeMarco Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 12 Shakey Graves Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 13 Generationals The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 14 Deltron 3030 Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 15 J. Mascis Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 16 Hot Water Music Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 17 Culture Club Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Nov. 18 The 1975 The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Nov. 19 Har Mar Superstar Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 20 Minus the Bear Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 21 Seu Jorge Bimbo’s 365 Club, SF. www.bimbos365club.com

Nov. 22 Peanut Butter Wolf Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Nov. 23 Lucero Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

A show a day: Your fall music calendar

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FALL ARTS What’s going on in Bay Area music these next three months? Glad you asked.

Here’s your musical agenda from Labor Day through Thanksgiving, with highlights from our favorite fall festivals.

Aug. 27 Terry Malts Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickand-mortarmusic.com

Aug. 28 Black Cobra Vipers with French Cassettes The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Aug. 29 Blind Willies Viracocha, SF. www.viracochasf.com

Aug. 30 Mistah F.A.B. Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Aug. 31 LIVE 105’s Punk Rock Picnic with The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise, and more. Are you a late-thirties/early-forties punk rock guy or gal who can’t agree on much of anything with your 13-year-old these days? Doesn’t get much better than this lineup. Bonus points for screaming along to all the swearing on The Offspring’s “Bad Habit.” Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.theshorelineamphitheatre.com

Sept. 1 Hiero Day. Souls of Mischief, Del, and the rest of the guys have promised some pretty big guest stars at this week’s fest, but even without ’em — a free block party with beer from Linden Street Brewery and music from some of the Bay Area’s best underground rappers? Guests, schmests. Downtown Oakland, www.hieroday.com

Sept. 2 Ghost & Gale Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortarmusic.com

Sept. 3 Joey Cape Thee Parkside, SF. www.theeparkside.com

Sept. 4 Carletta Sue Kay Hemlock Tavern, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com

Sept. 4-13 Mission Creek Oakland Music & Arts Festival. With a range of heavy hitters — from B. Hamilton and Bill Baird to Whiskerman — this is a showcase of the fertile ground that is Oakland’s indie rock scene right now, most with door prices you’re not likely to see from these bands again. Venues throughout Oakland, www.mcofest.org.

Sept. 5 Sam Chase with Rin Tin Tiger Uptown, Oakl. www.uptownnightclub.com

Sept. 6 Bart Davenport, Foxtails Brigade, more Block Party, downtown Oakland, www.mcofest.org

Sept. 7 Coheed and Cambria, Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 8 The Rentals Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Sept. 9 Wild Eyes Knockout, SF. www.theknockoutsf.com

Sept. 10 Kyrsten Bean New Parish, Oakl., www.thenewparish.com

Sept. 11 Sonny & The Sunsets Eagle Tavern, SF. www.sf-eagle.com

Sept. 11-14 Downtown Berkeley MusicFest. A range of bluesy, folky, dancey bands from all over the Bay — especially recommended: the First Person Singular presentation of Beck’s Song Reader Sept. 11 and The Parmesans at Jupiter Sept. 14. Venues all over Berkeley, www.downtownberkeleymusicfest.org

Sept. 12-14, 15th Annual Electronic Music Festival Brava Theater Center, SF. www.sfemf.org

Sept. 13 The Breeders Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 13-14 Forever Never Land, “California’s only 21+ music festival,” Avila Beach Golf Resort, www.foreverneverland.us

Sept. 15 Vulfpeck Brick and Mortar, SF. www.brickandmortar.com

Sept. 16 Lil Dicky Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Sept. 17 Anais Mitchell The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 18 Silent Comedy and Strange Vine Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Sept. 19 Blake Mills, The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 20 Old Crow Medicine Show The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Sept. 20-21 Berkeley World Music Festival All over Berkeley, www.berkeleyworldmusic.org

Sept. 20-21 Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival, with Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, more. www.russianriverfestivals.com

Sept. 21 Oakland Music Festival with The Coup, Kev Choice, more Downtown Oakland, www.oaklandmusicfestival.com.

Sept. 22 La Roux Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 23 Cello Joe The Chapel Bar, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Sept. 24 Skeletonwitch, Black Anvil DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Sept. 25-28 Philip Glass’ Days and Nights Festival Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur; Sunset Cultural Center, Carmel-by-the-Sea, www.daysandnightsfestival.com

Sept. 26 Bob Mould Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Sept. 27 Wu-Tang Clan Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Sept. 27 Redwood City Sala Festival Courthouse Square, Redwood City, www.redwoodcity.org

Sept. 28 Sam Smith Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Sept. 29 Motown on Mondays Legionnaire Saloon, Oakl. www.legionnairesaloon.com

Sept. 30 Pixies The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 1 Rhymesayers presents Brother Ali, Bambu Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Oct. 2 Lorde Greek Theatre, Berk. www.thegreektheatreberkeley.com

Oct. 3-5 Berkeley Hawaiian Music Festival Freight and Salvage, Berkl. www.thefreight.org.

Oct. 3-5 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Golden Gate Park, SF. www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com

Oct 3-5 TBD Festival, Riverfront, West Sacramento. Emerging Bay Area acts like 8th Grader mingle with the big kids (Blondie, Moby, Danny Brown, Kurt Vile) at this seventh annual celebration of “music, art, design, and food.” A low-key vibe and great chance to see some huge acts in a seemingly unlikely location. www.tbdfest.com.

Oct. 4 Cibo Matto The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Oct. 5 Bombay Bicycle Club Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Oct. 6 The War on Drugs with Cass McCombs Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 7 Thurston Moore Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 8 The King Khan & BBQ Show Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 9 Imelda May Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 10 Too Short Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View. www.shorelineamphitheatre.com

Oct. 11 Pomplamoose Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 12 Jack Beats Mezzanine, SF. www.mezzaninesf.com

Oct. 13 Mutual Benefit Independent, www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 14-15 Culture Collide. This new-to-the-Bay-Area party has been rocking LA for the past few years, but it seems to have taken on an appropriately Mission-esque flavor for its first Mission takeover: Local kids like Grmln alongside national acts like Cloud Nothings and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah alongside a whole host of buzzy Korean, Australian, and UK bands? Yeah, we’re there. Up and down Valencia in the Mission, with multiple stages including the Elbo Room. www.culturecollide.com

Oct. 15 Of Montreal Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 16 Russian Red Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 17 Pup Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 18-19 Treasure Island Music Festival

Oct. 20 Kimbra Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 21 Melvins Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 22 Kat Edmonson Great American Music Hall, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Oct. 23 The Blank Tapes Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Oct. 24 Foxygen Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Oct. 25 Titan Ups and Carletta Sue Kay DNA Lounge, SF. www.dnalounge.com

Oct. 26 Bridget Everett Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Oct. 27 Warpaint Regency Ballroom, SF. ww.theregencyballroom.com

Oct. 28 Broken Bells The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Oct. 29 King Tuff Great American Music Hall, SF. www. slimspresents.com

Oct. 30 Tycho Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Oct. 31 LIVE 105’s Spookfest with Chromeo, Alesso, more Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.live105.cbslocal.com

Nov. 1 Stone Foxes with Strange Vine The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 2 Citizen Cope Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 3 The Black Keys Oracle Arena, Oakl., www.coliseum.com

Nov. 4 Frankie Rose with Cold Beat Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 5 Finch, Maps & Atlases Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 6 Bleachers Independent, SF. www.theindependent.sf.com

Nov. 7 Slowdive Warfield, SF. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Nov. 8 Shovels & Rope Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 9 Mirah Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 10 Psychedelic Furs, Lemonheads Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 11 Mac DeMarco Fillmore, SF. www.thefillmore.com

Nov. 12 Shakey Graves Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 13 Generationals The Chapel, SF. www.thechapelsf.com

Nov. 14 Deltron 3030 Catalyst, Santa Cruz. www.catalystclub.com

Nov. 15 J. Mascis Independent, SF. www.theindependentsf.com

Nov. 16 Hot Water Music Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 17 Culture Club Fox Theater, Oakl. www.thefoxoakland.com

Nov. 18 The 1975 The Masonic, SF. www.masonicauditorium.com

Nov. 19 Har Mar Superstar Bottom of the Hill, SF. www.bottomofthehill.com

Nov. 20 Minus the Bear Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Nov. 21 Seu Jorge Bimbo’s 365 Club, SF. www.bimbos365club.com

Nov. 22 Peanut Butter Wolf Brick and Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusichall.com

Nov. 23 Lucero Slim’s, SF. www.slimspresents.com

Hump day music news: The Masonic gets a facelift, that dancey new Toro y Moi side project, and more

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— The venue formerly known as the Nob Hill Masonic Center will re-open next month as “The Masonic,” a 3,300-seat music venue booked by Live Nation (as it was before), with new bars, food options, and a state-of-the-art sound system, after spending much of 2014 under construction. The lineup of shows so far has some pretty big hitters, with the Pixies, Broken Bells, Modest Mouse, and, um, Hall & Oates taking the stage in the coming months. Nob Hill neighbors! Please be chill! Except about the two-night Train stint. We’d be upset about that too.

— If you are a fan of fuzzy, melodic, riot grrl-influenced, lo-fi pop goodness, you should probably go to 1-2-3-4 Go! Records tonight [Wed/20] at 7pm or the Rickshaw Stop tomorrow [Thu/21] at 9:30pm for lovely British weirdos Joanna Gruesome — who may or may not blow up when their upcoming split with Perfect Pussy (plus comic book!) drops later this year.

— Bluesy-rock party starters The Stone Foxes are doing a three-week residency at The Chapel in November, with some pretty sweet openers, including Strange Vine, Annie Girl and the Flight, and the Bhi Bhiman band.

— Everyone is freaking out about this new record from Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick, under the Berkeley resident’s dancey side project Les Sins. This new track, “Bother,” is a teaser for Les Sins’ first full-length LP, Michael, out Nov. 4. Bonus: Members of Oakland’s own Waterstrider on backup vocals.

Here are some shows that have nothing to do with Outside Lands

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What’s that you say? VIP wristbands for $600, special-issue high-end ice cream, and tiny cups of organic sulfite-free wine aren’t exactly your thing? 

We’re headed to the park momentarily to support some of our favorite local bands who are doing their thing at OSL this year, but if you have a strong desire to stay far, far away from it all — well, let’s just say we understand that too.

For you live music lovers looking for something a little more low-key this weekend, here are your best bets. Most of them pair well with Tecate in a can.

FRI/8

Crocodiles and the Tweens: One of the key figures in the noisy San Diego rock scene, Crocodiles have come a long way from their Jesus and Mary Chain-aping early days, with four albums and a feud with notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio under their belt. The band has released an album every year since 2009 (except 2011, but they put out an extra EP in 2010 to make up for it) and are showing no signs of slowing down, gigging relentlessly with a variety of bands. A live Crocodiles show tends to sound like a sockhop in a sheet-metal factory, with rock ‘n’ roll riffs and yelps bouncing around a nightmarish industrial landscape. This is their second time at the Chapel. — Daniel Bromfield. $15, 9pm, The Chapel, www.thechapelsf.com

Freestyle Fellowship with Aceyalone, Myka 9, more: Independent West Coast hip-hop at its finest. $15, 9pm, The New Parish, www.thenewparish.com

Those Darlins and Diarrhea Planet: This Nashville rock ‘n’ roll two-fer pairs a couple of bands that will almost certainly be playing much bigger stages next time they’re in town. Diarrhea Planet, in particular, is known for a pretty explosive (sorry) live show. $12, 8pm, Leo’s Music Club, www.clubleos.com

SAT/9

Woods: Mix Best Coast with mid-’70s Eno and you’re left with Woods, the lo-fi Brooklyn outfit that has released a prolific seven albums over seven years. The band’s most recent, With Light and With Love, is their most melodic work yet — generally known for their rampant experimentation and unpredictability, the group isn’t entirely eschewing their eccentricity, but are making their work more accessible. Lead singer Jeremy Earl, whose nasal vocals don’t exactly scream pop, is surprisingly adept at more smooth and singable melodies. The group will likely still be high from their annual Woodsist Festival in Big Sur, which features their friends and occasional collaborators Foxygen and Real Estate. Steve Gunn, the former guitarist in Kurt Vile’s The Violators, will open with cuts off of his acoustic and meditative 2013 release Time Off — David Kurlander. 10pm, $15, Brick & Mortar Music Hall, www.brickandmortarmusic.com

Gold Panda: Gold Panda hit post-Dilla paydirt five years ago with “Quitter’s Raga,” a brief, volatile single that remains one of the most fascinating works of 21st-century producer music. Since then, he’s established himself as one of the most singular and intriguing producers in the electronic world, merging pristine minimal techno with loping hip-hop rhythms and influences from South and East Asian music. His debut, Lucky Shiner,  remains a high-water mark of the last half-decade of electronic music, featuring the absolutely devastating lead single “You” and a host of other speaker-ready songs. Though last year’s Half Of Where You Live found him taking a more Spartan approach to his craft, it’s still comfort-food music, accessible across a wide spectrum of genres, demographics, and consumed substances. — Daniel Bromfield 10pm, $20, www.mezzaninesf.com

Forrest Day: A little bit funk, a little bit punk, a little bit hip-hop, a little bit all over the place — the East Bay native (and singer/sax player) for which this band is named is known for a rather captivating stage show that keeps you guessing and, most likely, dancing. 9pm, $12, Bottom of the Hill, www.bottomofthehill.com

SUN/10

Darlene Love: Just in case you weren’t already in love with the unsung ’60s girl group singer — who repeatedly got the shaft from producer Phil Spector when she tried to launch a solo career as opposed to singing backup for very little money and even less glory (Spector actually released her work under a different girl group’s name) — last year’s award-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom  likely did the trick. Her voice sounds strong and joyful as ever, and the warmth and effusiveness that pour from her live performances are undeniable. If the masses at Outside Lands aren’t quite your thing, this free show should bring out a different kind of mass, indeed. 2pm, free, Stern Grove, www.sterngrove.org

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x78Et7Cv24

Apogee Sound Club: Pure punk ethos with just enough pop in their hooks to keep your head bobbing. These local kids are gearing up for big things with a brnad-new LP in the second half of the year — catch ’em on home turf and you can say you knew them when. Violence Creeps will make for a nice, noisy appetizer. 8:30pm, $6, Hemlock Tavern, www.hemlocktavern.com

This Week’s Picks: August 6 – 12, 2014

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sockhop in a sheet-metal factory

THURSDAY 7

 

Post:Ballet’s Five High

Most choreographers start small, slowly developing skills — and an audience for their work. In 2010 Robert Dekkers’ Post:Ballet burst onto the local scene like a comet. Dekkers hasn’t stopped since. His choreography can flow like warmed honey; he works with excellent collaborators and, above all, being a very fine dancer himself, he choreographs with the ballet trained body in mind. He doesn’t — yet — have a permanent ensemble, but he gets exceptional dancers who seem to thrive in his contemporary choreography. This year they include four from Smuin Ballet, and two LINES Ballet alumni. The new ourevolution (with a score by Matthew Pierce) will be joined by field the present shifts (2013) — with Robert Gilson and Catherine Caldwell’s spectacular set — and the 2012 quartet Mine is Yours. (Rita Felciano)

Through Sat/9, 8pm, $30+

YBCA Theater

700 Howard, SF

(415) 978-ARTS (2787)

www.tickets.ybca.org

 

 

 

Mikal Cronin

Mikal Cronin is one of the San Francisco garage-rock scene’s most omnipresent figures. Though he was once best-known for his frequent collaborations with Ty Segall (they played together in Epsilons and Ty Segall Band, and they’ve got a collab album awesomely titled Reverse Shark Attack), he’s got two very good solo albums of muscular yet shamelessly catchy power pop that have established him as a formidable presence on the scene in his own right. Unlike most of the scene he’s associated with, Cronin actually moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles, and as such, he’s showing no signs of abandoning his hometown fans. If you can’t catch him at Outside Lands this year, this night show at The Independent might be slightly more intimate. (Daniel Bromfield)

9pm, $20

The Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421

www.theindependentsf.com

 

 

 

“Mythological Bird”

Birds in San Francisco are usually nothing special. Pigeons? Please. But when it comes to the parrots of Telegraph Hill, you admittedly revere them. Extinct birds, for the most part, are cast in the same mould. Under the careful eye of some local artists, they’ve majestically flown back to life. The exhibition is a multimedia experience characterized by digital projection — which creates an alternate world for the birds that viewers can step into and thoroughly engage with the art — and more conventional art mediums. The last time the birds were alive may’ve been in the distant past, but the exhibition is a proper modern tribute to their beauty, spirit, and memory. (Amy Char)

Through Sept. 7

6pm, free

Incline Gallery

766 Valencia, SF

(415) 879-6118

www.inclinegallerysf.com

 

 

 

Beardyman

Beardyman isn’t just a beatboxer. While the London-based performer can lay down rhythmically astonishing beats and juxtapose his lines with melodic or bizarre vocal elements, his ability to use live loops is what makes him such an exhilarating live act. Often, Beardyman will start with a simple pattern that, after some fooling with his one-of-a-kind live rig, the Beardytron 5000 mkll, will grow into a layered and almost impossibly complex musical collage. He still is working on transferring his live chops to recording — uploads of his performances have garnered far more attention than his one album to date — but his new project, the long-awaited Directions, may very well change that. After being forced to cancel his last Mezzanine show because of illness, Beardyman looks to pull out all the stops this time; don’t be surprised if costumes, political invective, and incisive cultural commentary make their way into the act. (David Kurlander)

8pm, $18

Mezzanine

444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880

www.mezzaninesf.com

 

 

 


FRIDAY 8

 

Crocodiles

One of the key figures in the noisy San Diego rock scene, Crocodiles have come a long way from their Jesus and Mary Chain-aping early days, with four albums and a feud with notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio under their belt. The band has released an album every year since 2009 (except 2011, but they put out an extra EP in 2010 to make up for it) and are showing no signs of slowing down, gigging relentlessly with a variety of bands. A live Crocodiles show tends to sound like a sockhop in a sheet-metal factory, with rock ‘n’ roll riffs and yelps bouncing around a nightmarish industrial landscape. Their upcoming show on August 8 with Tweens is their second time at the Chapel. (Bromfield)

$15, 9pm

The Chapel

777 Valencia, SF

(415) 551-5157

www.thechapelsf.com

 

 

 

Youth for Asian Theater’s Perfect Pairs

Following what must be an age-old tradition, adults often don’t take teens seriously. However, this theater company, completely comprised of local youth from a range of ethnic backgrounds, explores different cultures and the experience of growing up Asian-American through writing, directing, and performing original plays — these youth have already accomplished so much more than some adults have! In the midst of a productive summer, the company’s 14th annual production includes promising plays, such as one described as “Austen-tatious” that follows “prideful, sometimes prejudiced” characters. The theater scene is in good hands with these talented — and well-read — teens. (Amy Char)

6:30pm, free

San Francisco LGBT Center

1800 Market, SF

(415) 865-5555

www.yfat.org

 

SATURDAY 9

 

Woods

Mix Best Coast with mid-’70s Eno and you’re left with Woods, the lo-fi Brooklyn outfit that has released a prolific seven albums over seven years. The band’s most recent, With Light and With Love, is their most melodic work yet — generally known for their rampant experimentation and unpredictability, the group isn’t entirely eschewing their eccentricity, but are making their work more accessible. Lead singer Jeremy Earl, whose nasal vocals don’t exactly scream pop, is surprisingly adept at more smooth and singable melodies. The group will likely still be high from their annual Woodsist Festival in Big Sur, which features their friends and occasional collaborators Foxygen and Real Estate. Steve Gunn, the former guitarist in Kurt Vile’s The Violators, will open with cuts off of his acoustic and meditative 2013 release Time Off. (Kurlander)

10pm, $15

Brick & Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission, SF

(415) 800-8782

www.brickandmortarmusic.com

 

 

 

Gold Panda

Gold Panda hit post-Dilla paydirt five years ago with “Quitter’s Raga,” a brief, volatile single that remains one of the most fascinating works of 21st-century producer music. Since then, he’s established himself as one of the most singular and intriguing producers in the electronic world, merging pristine minimal techno with loping hip-hop rhythms and influences from South and East Asian music. His debut, Lucky Shiner, remains a high-water mark of the last half-decade of electronic music, featuring the absolutely devastating lead single “You” and a host of other speaker-ready songs. Though last year’s Half Of Where You Live found him taking a more Spartan approach to his craft, it’s still comfort-food music, accessible across a wide spectrum of genres, demographics, and consumed substances. (Daniel Bromfield)

10pm, $20

Mezzanine

444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880

www.mezzaninesf.com

 

 

SUNDAY 10

 

 

Darlene Love

Just in case you weren’t already in love with the unsung ’60s girl group singer — who repeatedly got the shaft from producer Phil Spector when she tried to launch a solo career as opposed to singing backup for very little money and even less glory (Spector actually released her work under a different girl group’s name) — last year’s award-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom likely did the trick. Her voice sounds strong and joyful as ever, and the warmth and effusiveness that pour from her live performances are undeniable. If the masses at Outside Lands aren’t quite your thing, this free show should bring out a different kind of mass, indeed. (Emma Silvers)

With the Monophonics

2pm, free

Stern Grove

19th Ave. and Sloat, SF

www.sterngrove.org

 

MONDAY 11


The NBA’s Jason Collins

At the end of the 2013 basketball season, after becoming a free agent, with one of the most-discussed Sports Illustrated cover stories of all time (that wasn’t a swimsuit issue), 35-year-old NBA center Jason Collins became the first publicly gay pro athlete in any of the four major American sports leagues. Lauded for his honesty and bravery, Collins signed with the Nets in February, but we’re guessing that little in his life has returned to “normal.” This event, hosted by the Commonwealth Club as part of the 2014 Platforum series The LGBT Journey, will see Collins in conversation with Jose Antonio Vargas, producer-director of the documentary Documented, who has been open about his status as a gay, undocumented Filipino American, for a discussion of American identity that doesn’t fit neatly into any one box. (Silvers)

6:30pm, $10-$20

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6350

www.castrotheatre.com


TUESDAY 12


The Coathangers

Joking ideas can be surprisingly fruitful. Rather than forming a band to appeal to their musical dreams, these four Atlanta-based women just wanted to have a good time while playing shows (conveniently ignoring how none of them knew how to play a musical instrument), which helps explain why their live energy is just as raw eight years later. The Coathangers eventually warmed up to the musical intricacies behind writing songs. Their efforts culminated in Suck My Shirt, the band’s fourth album, which reflects the newfound, thoughtful spirit while retaining their well-honed DIY garage-punk sound. They’re still as flippant as ever with their song titles: “Love Em and Leave Em.” (Amy Char)

With White Fang, Twin Steps

8pm, $12

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011

www.rickshawstop.com

Happy Hour: The week in music

9

Happy Friday, friends, and welcome to August. We’re only about a month away from summer weather!

As happy hour draws closer, here’s a look back at the best music and music news we heard and saw this past week:

Sharon Van Etten shone in a free, intimate (though packed-to-the-gills), Pandora-presented evening at The Chapel on Tuesday night [July 29]. “I wrote this song while living in my parents’ basement…I was 26,” she said with a laugh in her voice. “How many of you have ever tried to move back in with your parents’ when you were in your twenties?” [Loud whooping from most of the room.]

“I think that just usually means you’re trying to figure out who you are, that you’re still finding your path, you know?” she continued. “I mean, if you really knew who you were by the time you were 20, fuck you. No, sorry, that’s great. Anyway, this song is about trying to get your shit together.” Millennial anthem for the ages?

— New for this year at Outside Lands: an entire stage devoted to food events, called “GastroMagic.” Some of said events are paired somewhat hilariously with accompanying musical acts, like the “Beignets & Bounce Brunch with Big Freedia and Brenda’s French Soul Food,” in which audience members who answer the Queen of Bounce’s call to twerk will be “awarded with beignets.” No word on the distribution method, exactly, but we pictured t-shirt cannons?

freedia

This NPR piece on why band photos look the way they do is relevant to our interests. Specifically, if any banjo-laden alt-country/Americana band ever sends us an EPK that includes a photo shoot in an alley full of burning crash cans, we will run it.

Speaking of Americana: This is a fun piece from the Bay Bridged about the boys of Goodnight, Texas, who make it work despite being in what amounts to a four-way long-distance relationship. Are there Cosmo tips for that yet? Get with it, lady mags. Anyway, GN,TX’s new album Uncle John Farquhar drops Aug. 5, and it’s rather good.

Here’s a smart essay at Ebony about the shitstorm that ensued this week from Nicki Minaj’s new album, um, art for Anaconda.

Like much of the music-related Internet, we too got obsessed with a little-known Canadian singer-songwriter named Tobias Jesso Jr., who by all appearances is a young reincarnation of Harry Nilsson mixed with shades of Joe Jackson and who hasn’t even put out an album yet, but damn does he need to hurry up (quick, while Stereogum, Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, your local PTA president, etc., are addicted to this song):

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass keeps dropping hints about this year’s lineup. Listen here and tell us your guesses.

Andrew Bird is a self-deprecating sweetheart in addition to being very good at songwriting and whistling, as you can see in this SFist interview, and he’s playing Stern Grove for free this Sunday at 2pm.

Mastodong.

Carletta Sue Kay on strip clubs, literature, and dumpster-diving after art exhibits

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Not long after I sat down with Randy Walker, the male, non-performing ego of one of San Francisco’s most undefinable musical acts, vocal powerhouse Carletta Sue Kay (who performs at The Chapel this Fri/25), we talked a bit about college. Walker asked me the prerequisite questions about the social scene and my major, perking up at the sound of a humanities-centric discipline. I asked if he’d done the whole college thing. Walker chuckled, a glint in his eye, and said he had. “I went to Redlands College but didn’t graduate. Started out in Theater Arts, ended up switching over to English…but what are you really going to do with an English degree?”

As the conversation continued, however, Walker’s dismissal of the formal literary arts became increasingly incongruous with his mastery of language, the modern canon (from David Foster Wallace to Elizabeth McCracken), and allusion in his performances. The singer, whose music is a deft blend of Joplin-esque blues and far more cerebral and melodic existential examination, is anything but simplistic. As Walker’s mind opened up, we twisted and turned through a deliciously intellectual and sordid discourse about strip clubs, eccentric cousins, and the Swiss conceptual artist Thomas Hirschhorn. By the time we left the coffee shop, me with Carletta Sue Kay’s debut album Incongruent in hand, it was clear that Walker and his alter ego were far more complex (and hilarious) than the average wigged, pastichy, four octave-ranged singer-songwriter.

Carletta is a real person, says Walker. So was Walker’s last singing character, a plastic surgery-obsessed Belgian who Walker often presented with a variety of gauze pads and other bandages preferred by convalescents of cosmetic procedures. Both Carletta and the Belgian are Walker’s cousins (his last project was called Mon Cousin Belge). “While I was doing Mon Cousin Belge, I was writing songs at home that I thought needed to be sung by a girl. I thought, ‘I’m going to find some great female singers to record this stuff.’ But then I thought, ‘Hold on…’”

Carletta Sue Kay, Walker’s eccentric, ex-criminal cousin, was an ideal persona that he could put on to present his new works. “Carletta is a very troubled girl. She was involved with a guy and became very obsessed with him. She found out that this guy was sleeping with another girl and constructed a pipe bomb with the intent of killing him in his apartment.” Walker, clearly embracing the macabre underpinnings of the story, smiled and spoke with a bounce in his tone as he recounted her his cousin’s homicidal urges. “Well, they busted her and she went to prison. So the band became Carletta Sue Kay.” The more sorrowful of the band’s songs, which often focus on lost love and sadness, evoke the woeful tale. Now a free woman, the real Carletta has never agreed to see a performance by the band. “She’s completely chill with it. She’s a funny girl.”

The band’s inaugural performance is just as legendary as its naming. Mon Cousin Belge needed an opening act for a headlining gig at Bottom of the Hill, so Walker decided to unveil his new group. He crafted a Grecian arch, covered it in autumn leaves, sprayed it with glitter, and enlisted his friend, artist Greg Gardner, to create a cartoon rendering of his burgeoning alter ego on a piece of fabric curtain that hung down from the arch. “He drew a big fat naked girl. Her nipples were painted with pink glitter. They do the intro music (strum, strum) and I pull the curtain up to reveal myself standing there. The birth of Carletta!”

Throughout his contextualization of Carletta, Walker dropped hilarious one-liners and unexpected anecdotes about culture. I wasn’t surprised to hear The Magnetic Fields’ frontman Stephin Merritt’s name come up a few times, as Carletta Sue Kay has provided back-up vocals for several songs by the group. More surprising, however, was Walker’s invocation of Stephen Sondheim as a primary influence. And when a shirtless, seemingly inebriated man with an unruly mullet danced by in the front window of the café, Walker looked up and, without missing a beat, said, in questionably PC fashion, “It’s a character out of a James Fenimore Cooper book!”

While Walker sprinkled our conversation with bands, authors, and artists, his charisma was not so much in his prolific knowledge of and interaction with the art world, but rather how he used his experiences as a means of telling remarkably funny and compelling stories. In one such story, Walker told of his love for Thomas Hirschhorn’s installation “Utopia, Utopia = One World, One War, One Army, One Dress.”

The exhibit, which showed at the CCA Wattis Instiute of Art a few years back, included juxtapositions of camouflage wear in fashion and the military alongside globes with small camo-tinged tumors growing on them. “After the exhibition ended, they were tossing 80 percent of the work into the trash. So we’re like…dumpster dive!” After snatching nine of the globes used in the exhibition, Walker began to sell them off. “It’s ephemeral,” Walker retorted when I suggested that he was dealing in the conceptual art black market.

Walker informs his new songs, which he’s collecting for an upcoming record called Monsters (much of which he will sing on Friday), with a similarly diverse range of artistic interests as his stories. “It’s influenced by Hammer classic horror films — Creature from the Black Lagoon — anywhere from comical to kitschy, but always with a dark theme. But then it’s going to mixed with a lot of genuine sadness.” Stylistically, Carletta Sue Kay continues to move towards more piano-heavy, lyrical wandering in comparison to the high-octane blues of its initial incarnation. Walker is seemingly aiming, both in his tales and his music, for the intersection between poking fun at cultural elements and emotionally engaging with their deeper messages.

How we ended up talking about strip clubs I may never know (and I have a complete recording of the conversation). Seemingly, it branched out of a conversation about Walker’s boyhood home, Fontana, Calif., which he cited for its high methamphetamine rates and large Pentacostal population. Before we knew it, however, we were talking about a wide range of California strip clubs, from the sketchier SoCal ones that he saw as a younger man and more upscale ones like Mitchell Brothers. Walker, who is gay and has been with his partner for more than 20 years, goes with his straight friends seemingly as a means of understanding the culture and to have fun. His stories, however, soon entered surreal realms of aggressive strippers, extreme money-spending binges by his friends, and abstract deconstruction of the vibes inside various clubs.

Whatever the reason for the digression, it perfectly captured Walker’s unabashedly entertaining form of communication — simultaneously intellectual, pulpy, and laugh-out-loud funny. For a man with such powerful personae, Randy Walker is wholly himself. 

CARLETTA SUE KAY

With The Dead Ships and Titan Ups

The Chapel

777 Valencia, SF

www.thechapelsf.com

Grown-up GRMLN

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esilvers@sfbg.com

LEFT OF THE DIAL Yoodoo Park is the kind of musician who might make some people — people who didn’t find their calling until well into their 40s, or 50s, or 60s, aka lots of people — a little angry.

As GRMLN — a band name he chose when he realized the word “Gremlin” wasn’t Google search-friendly — the singer-guitarist’s new album, Soon Away (out Sept. 16 on Carpark records), is 10 tracks packed into 45 minutes of introspective yet confident, caffeine- and hormone-fueled energy, with nods to power pop and an eye toward the grittier side of the ’90s punk spectrum.

A follow-up to Park’s full-length, 2013’s far dreamier, poppier Empire, GRMLN’s sophomore effort (if you don’t count the self-produced EP he put out in 2011) still contains fairly simple songwriting, is still maybe a little overly concerned with being catchy — but on the whole, the album reads like evidence of maturation, of a songwriter stepping off the suburban curb and tentatively into the street; it’s the sound of someone picking up speed, realizing potential, realizing he’s just getting started. (He’ll debut songs from the record July 30 at the Rickshaw Stop.)

In the meantime, Park turned 21 last month.

“You know, we were in the van driving back from Texas, and it was, like, barren,” says Park, who’s Korean-American, but grew up splitting time between Japan and Orange County, of how he spent the milestone birthday. “I would’ve stopped somewhere to get a couple drinks just because, but there was really nothing.”

If the new weight and levels of distortion on this album (recorded and mixed at a breakneck pace at SF’s Different Fur) speak to the familiar pains of growing up — “Go, go, go outside/be the one you want,” Park urges in the album’s first single, “Jaded,” over the peal of an electric guitar hook that lodged itself in my head the first time I heard it — Park, the person, seems far less angst-ridden. Either that, or he doesn’t believe in showing it.

Still, there’s a musical genealogy here that calls to mind Weezer’s most jagged, honest (best) stuff, a little Teenage Fanclub here and there, with a breezy understanding of pop-punk structure that he seems to have learned by osmosis (Orange County tap water?) and a tone that could maybe be described as “what you sound like when you grow up thinking of Social Distortion as senior citizens and then start a punk band. “

“I guess writing-wise I got way more darker and aggressive on this one,” he muses in the easy, sunny, pseudo-stoned drawl of which only kids who grow up in Southern California are truly capable. “This album is about how a lot of things don’t work out the way you want to, and how in life in general, getting attached to things really isn’t good, emotionally or materialistically. I’ve been reading about Krishna, and how the best thing you can do to make yourself a better person has to do with letting things go…so, yeah.”

What kind of things is he letting go of at the moment? Well, there’s school, for one. He just talked to his counselor from UC Santa Cruz, and it turns out he could graduate in one quarter but he’d have to take a lot of credits, which sounds like a lot on top of touring. So the plan right now is to move to SF and take the whole next year off for playing live, which is, he says, “way more fun” than any other aspect of being a musician (especially now that he and his friends can drink legally). It probably helps that his band is made up of his brother, Tae San Park, on bass, and a friend from high school, Keith Frerichs, on drums.

To be fair, he knows he has it good. “Part of what I wanted with this record was to send a message about how life really isn’t that bad,” says Park. “Life is great in California, but if you pay attention to what’s happening in the world, you watch any documentaries, see how people live other places&ldots;I’m really blessed. I think people take it for granted.”

GRMLN

With Everyone Is Dirty, Mall Walk (Different Fur showcase)

July 30, 8pm, $10

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

www.rickshawstop.com

 

Fests, fests, fests

Just like the line for Bi-Rite ice cream on a day when the temperature climbs above 70 degrees, summer festival season seems to be getting longer all the time. This past week brought the announcement of two different festivals that promise solid lineups of local acts alongside serious grub, hopefully warm weather (as is usually the case when fall begins) and, of course, fine excuses for day drinking. The 20th Street Block Party, a free food and music festival brought to you by Noise Pop and the darlings of the SF culinary world (Thomas McNaughton and David White’s love-child of a restaurant group, made up of flour + water, Central Kitchen, Salumeria, and Trick Dog), will take over, yes, 20th Street in the Mission on August 23 for performances by Rogue Wave, Melted Toys (whose new release we highly recommend), Cayucas, The Bilinda Butchers, Myron & E, and more. Oh yeah, did we mention it’s all free? www.20thstreetblockparty.com

And on Oct. 14 – 15, the Culture Collide Fest, a long-running favorite in LA, will debut its first Bay Area event, with a thoroughly international lineup of bands from the US, Korea, the Netherlands, and Costa Rica: Cloud Nothings, Beat Connection, GRMLN, Go Back to the Zoo, Glen Check, Glass Towers, Alphabetics, KLP, and more. Participating venues include The Chapel and the Elbo Room; we’ll have more as the party gets closer. www.culturecollide.com

This Week’s Picks: June 18 – 24, 2014

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raucous as it is tender

WEDNESDAY 18

 

 

Zara McFarlane

You’ve got to be plenty ballsy to venture a cover of “Police and Thieves,” the immortal 1976 reggae track by Junior Murvin (produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry, no less) and transformed into a rock classic by the Clash on their debut 1977 album. But this fascinating Jamaican-British singer’s version, a hypnotic cabaret-jazz version floated by a voice clear as a bell, earns the praise heaped upon it. Included on McFarlane’s new album, If You Knew Her, “a tribute to women, from the alpha female to the housewife,” puts a feminist spin on the spooky lyrics that decry “scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition, from Genesis to Revelation.” With her classic poise and lucid style (Roberta Flack springs to mind), it’s easy to see why global soul guru Gilles Peterson snagged McFarlane quick for his Brownswood label. (marke B.)

8pm, $18 advance

Yoshi’s SF

1330 Fillmore, SF

(415) 655-5600

www.yoshis.com

 

THURSDAY 19

 

Mugwumpin 10

Mugwumpin, San Francisco’s ensemble-driven experimental theater company, celebrates its 10th anniversary season this month with a host of performances by itself and others (including A Host of People, from Detroit) as well as a series of symposia, workshops, and “occurrences.” It’s a big deal for a small company devoted exclusively to devised work and should be full of good things, including two revivals and a work-in-progress production of the company’s latest, Blockbuster Season — a duet of disaster featuring co-founders Joe Estlack and Christopher W. White. Beginning this week, you can whet your appetites and explore them too, as Mugwumpin remounts its 2010 hit, This Is All I Need. (Robert Avila)

‘This Is All I Need’

8pm, $25, $40 Two-show pass

June 19-22, July 2-3, 5-6

ACT Costume Shop Theater

1117 Market, SF

www.mugwumpin.org

 

 

mewithoutYou

Ten years ago Philadelphia’s experimental post-hardcore outfit mewithoutYou released their sophomore album, Catch For Us the Foxes. Now, a decade and three albums later, Foxes is still a beloved fan favorite and the defining album of mewithoutYou’s lyrically rich and musically unique career. The album, which borrows its name directly from the Song of Songs, tackles the band’s usual themes of spirituality, nature, and literature in their trademarked spoken (well, shouted)-word vocals over beautifully melancholy, churning instrumentals. In honor of the record’s 10th birthday, mewithoutYou will be playing the entire record start to finish, followed by a set taken from the rest of their catalog. (Haley Zaremba)

With The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Dark Rooms

8pm, $16

Slim’s

333 11th St, SF

(415) 255-0333

www.slimspresents.com

 

 

 

Fresh Meat Festival

There are probably other LGBT festivals in the county. But — call me a chauvinist if you must — there is none like the gay-friendly Fresh Meat Festival, which focuses on transgender-based performance, the way this homegrown three-day event does. Now in its 13th incarnation, it is as raucous as it is tender, and as political as it is personal. Above all, its artists are impressively professional, with the know-how to present one heck of a show, whether they perform ballroom, hip-hop, Taiko, voguing, disco, circus, or music. Whatever their chosen discipline, they make quality work about who they are — comfortably, honestly, joyously. For many of them, and their audiences, it is a gathering of the tribes. Sean Dorsey, the brain and heart behind the festival, is showing excerpts of his yet to-be-born next piece. (Rita Felciano)

Through Sat/21, 8pm, $15-25

Z Space

450 Florida, SF

www.freshmeatproductions.org


FRIDAY 20

 

Animate Your Night: Choose Your Own Adventureland

For more than 50 years now, a collection of fine, feathered friends have been greeting and entertaining visitors at Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room, singing up a storm of tropical-themed tunes in a show that was the very first to showcase audio-animatronics. Fans can pretend they’re at the theme park tonight at the Animate Your Night: Choose Your Own Adventureland party, and celebrate the arrival of a “barker bird” addition to the The Walt Disney Family Museum’s collection with a tiki-themed party to welcome it, complete with live music and dancing, cocktails from Smuggler’s Cove, presentations, and a host of other activities. (Sean McCourt)

7-10pm, $12-$30

The Walt Disney Family Museum

104 Montgomery, SF

(415) 345-6800

www.waltdisney.org

 

 

 

Dean Wareham

While his sharp tenor has gotten a bit lower and his hair is noticeably grayer than it was during his days fronting Galaxie 500, Dean Wareham has remained astonishingly consistent since his burst onto the burgeoning indie rock scene almost 30 years ago. His eclectic and minimalist guitar work and profoundly detached lyrics are on display once again on his eponymous first solo album, which came out in March. To celebrate the occasion, Wareham has embarked on a tour of intimate venues along with his stellar four-piece band. Wareham’s wife and frequent collaborator Britta Phillips, who was an instrumental creative force in Wareham’s post-Galaxie 500 group Luna and on several duet albums since, will also perform with the group. The Chapel, with a capacity of a few hundred, provides the perfect venue to examine Wareham’s instrumental and emotional subtlety, a set that he has promised will include tracks from throughout his career. (David Kurlander)

9pm, $20

The Chapel

777 Valencia, SF

(415) 551-5157

www.thechapelsf.com

 


SATURDAY 21

 

 

Nightmares on Wax

With a career that now spans two and a half decades, producer George Evelyn (aka DJ E.A.S.E., aka Nightmares on Wax) is credited with being among the first to merge early New York hip-hop

With the British B-boy and graffiti scenes of the ’80s, forming what would come to be known as trip-hop. Work with greats like De La Soul followed, but Evelyn has evolved with the times — he’s still considered a go-to inspiration and dream collaborator for today’s up-and-coming hip-hop, dub, and funk hopefuls. He also just released a two-disc “best of,” N.O.W. Is the Time, so this show should be a good time to time-travel a bit — while dancing your ass off, of course. (Emma Silvers)

With Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist

9pm, $22-$25

Regency Ballroom

1300 Van Ness, SF

www.theregencyballroom.com

 

 

Summer Solstice Celebration in the Redwoods

What better way to mark the longest day of the year than by savoring the fruits of summer while strolling among 100-year-old redwoods? And by fruit we mean wine, of course, which is complimentary at this annual celebration thrown by the SF Botanical Garden. Local cheeses will also be available for tasting as you stop to savor natural beauty, exploring the trails of lush wilderness that are at our fingertips right here in the city, in what’s likely to be the prettiest twilight you’ll see all year. No togas or complicated flower headdresses required. (Silvers)

6-8pm, $20-$30

San Francisco Botanical Garden

1199 Ninth Ave, SF

www.sfbotanicalgardensociety.org

 

 

SUNDAY 22

 

 

North Beach Bacchanalia

The local record label Name Drop Swamp Records is hosting an all-day music and poetry festival at the Emerald Tablet gallery, a self-described “creativity salon.” Bands include electric chamber folk-rock group Muralismo, the ambient and existential Devotionals, and several more groups with remarkably alluring names — Edwin Valero, named after the legendary Venezuelan boxer who killed his wife and himself in 2010, is sure to be compelling. Poets include Collaborate Arts Insurgency co-founder Charlie Getter and prolific writer and labor activist Paul Corman-Roberts. The Lagunitas Brewing Company sponsorship suggests that the ale will be flowing, while the Beat Museum support ensures snaps aplenty. (Kurlander)

12pm, free

Emerald Tablet

80 Fresno, SF

(415) 500-2323

www.emtab.org

 

 

Waka Flocka Flame

Born in Queens and raised in Atlanta in a musical family, Waka Flocka Flame has been surrounded by hip-hop his entire life. But he never wanted to be an MC. It wasn’t until he was 18 and his mother started managing rapper Gucci Mane (with whom he has been infamously feuding since 2013) that Waka Flocka began experimenting with the mic himself. Now, with three albums, 18 mix tapes, and 111 guest appearances under his belt, Waka Flocka is going hard in da motherfuckin paint and has made a huge mark on the southern trap scene. Aggressive, crisp, and catchy, Waka Flocka’s distinctive beats and rhymes will make for a high-energy show not to be missed. (Haley Zaremba)

With Chanel West Coast, DJ Sean G

9pm, $35

Mezzanine

444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880

www.mezzaninesf.com

 

 

TUESDAY 24

 

Withered Hand

Jack Kirby aside, I wouldn’t expect to like anything titled New Gods, but the latest album by that name by Slumberland artist Dan Wilson, aka Withered Hand, seems to have a purely grounded worldview. Beauty on the album is of the here-in-the-moment variety; if an afterlife did exist, Wilson seems to wryly propose on the album opener “Horseshoe,” “we could kill our friends, we could sing a song that never ends.” And on “King of Hollywood” there’s a searing bit of self-righteous egotism in the lyric “Some of you guys should get with my God / He hates about everything / Well everything except me / I’m the anomaly.” Now that’s theology anyone can get behind. (Ryan Prendiville)

Opening for Owl John

9pm, $15

The Chapel

777 Valencia, SF

(415) 551-5157

www.thechapelsf.com

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Gimme 5: Must-see shows this week

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Happy Monday, y’all. I know, it’s rough. I hope at the very least that your weekend was better than this guy’s.

If not, don’t despair! Here are some rad shows to look forward to this week from the Bay Guardian team. As the late great Casey Kasem (aka Shaggy) would say, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars. Keep your friends close, and your pizza closer. (Okay, that second part’s just me.)

WED/18

Zara McFarlane
You’ve got to be plenty ballsy to venture a cover of “Police and Thieves,” the immortal 1976 reggae track by Junior Murvin (produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry, no less) and transformed into a rock classic by the Clash on their debut 1977 album. But this fascinating Jamaican-British singer’s version, a hypnotic cabaret-jazz version floated by a voice clear as a bell, earns the praise heaped upon it. Included on McFarlane’s new album, If You Knew Her, “a tribute to women, from the alpha female to the housewife,” it puts a feminist spin on the spooky lyrics that decry “scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition, from Genesis to Revelation.” With her classic poise and lucid style (Roberta Flack springs to mind), it’s easy to see why global soul guru Gilles Peterson snagged McFarlane quick for his Brownswood label — Marke B.

8pm, $18 advance
Yoshi’s SF
1330 Fillmore, SF.
(415) 655-5600
www.yoshis.com

THU/19

mewithoutYou
Ten years ago Philadelphia’s experimental post-hardcore outfit mewithoutYou released their sophomore album Catch For Us the Foxes. Now, a decade and three albums later, Foxes is still a beloved fan favorite and the defining album of mewithoutYou’s lyrically rich and musically unique career. The album, which borrows its name directly from the Song of Songs, tackles the band’s usual themes of spirituality, nature, and literature in their trademarked spoken (well, shouted)-word vocals over beautifully melancholy, churning instrumentals. In honor of the record’s tenth birthday, mewithoutYou will be playing the entire record front to back, followed by a set taken from the rest of their catalog. — Haley Zaremba

With The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Dark Rooms
8pm, $16
Slim’s
333 11th St, SF
(415) 255-0333
www.slimspresents.com

FRI/20

Dean Wareham
While his sharp tenor has gotten a bit lower and his hair is noticeably grayer than it was during his days fronting Galaxie 500, Dean Wareham has remained astonishingly consistent since his burst onto the burgeoning indie rock scene almost 30 years ago. His eclectic and minimalist guitar work and profoundly detached lyrics are on display once again on his eponymous first solo album, which came out in March. To celebrate the occasion, Wareham has embarked on a tour of intimate venus along with his stellar four-piece band. Wareham’s wife and frequent collaborator Britta Phillips, who was an instrumental creative force in Wareham’s post-Galaxie 500 group Luna and on several duet albums since, will also perform with the group. The Chapel, with a capacity of a few hundred, provides the perfect venue to examine Wareham’s instrumental and emotional subtlety a set that he has promised will include tracks from throughout his career. — David Kurlander

9pm, $20
The Chapel
777 Valencia, SF
(415) 551-5157
www.thechapelsf.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSIe4eGaT0M

SAT/21

Nightmares on Wax
With a career that now spans two and a half decades, producer George Evelyn (aka DJ E.A.S.E., aka Nightmares on Wax) is credited with being among the first to merge early New York hip-hop with the British B-boy and graffiti scenes of the ’80s, forming what would come to be known as trip-hop. Work with greats like De La Soul followed, but Evelyn has evolved with the times — he’s still considered a go-to inspiration and dream collaborator for today’s up-and-coming hip-hop, dub, and funk hopefuls. He also just released a two-disc “best of,” N.O.W. Is the Time, so this show should be a good time to time-travel a bit — while dancing your ass off, of course.
 

With Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist
9pm, $22-$25
Regency Ballroom
1300 Van Ness, SF
www.theregencyballroom.com

SUN/22

Allah-Las
Fresh from an appearance at Hickey Fest in up in Medocino County, the psych-garage quartet will bring their grooved out, British Invasion-influenced swagger to the stage at GAMH. It makes sense that three of four Allah-Las members met while working at Amoeba in LA; their sound comes off like they’ve absorbed the entirety of the ’60s soul and pop sections of a record store, thrown in a healthy handful of ’70s psychedelia and surf-rock, mixed them all together, and now can’t help but have the dark-tinged, dreamy result basically leaking out their musical pores. It doesn’t hurt that lead singer Miles Michaud channels Jim Morrison eerily well (in vocal tone, hopefully not in recreational drugs of choice).
 

With Dream Boys, Old Testament
8pm, $16
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell, SF
www.slimspresents.com


There is too much going on this weekend: The Congress, Not Dead Yet Fest, and more

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Y’all ever have that thing where a week or two will go by without a show you’re particularly stoked on, and then all of a sudden there’s one weekend where you want to go to everything? But you can’t, because you’re human, and science is too busy ensuring you’ll have nightmares of outstanding proportions tonight to get on that teleportation thing, so you have to make all these god-awful decisions?

Yeah, me too. This is one of those weekends. Here we go:

FRI/6

The Congress with Andy Allo and Wil West at the Great American Music Hall:

A self-described Army brat who moved around for much of his youth, composer-singer- trumpeter Marcus Cohen grew up on gospel music in church, with a magnet arts school in Philadelphia nurturing his obvious talent at a young age. That explains the unmistakable soul coursing through the veins of The Congress, the 10-piece purveyors of a very danceable funk-soul-hip-hop-R&B stew, who’ll bring their unique sound to the GAMH Friday.

“I tend to write when I’m in transit — on planes, subways,” says Cohen, who recently moved to LA after nine years in SF. We can forgive him the wanderlust if it keeps producing songs like those on last August’s Conversations. Since then, Cohen has been working on new material, adjusting the band’s lineup, and singing more — the record he’s begun writing over the past year sounds more like where he’s at right now, he says. This show should be a good, sweaty dance party, and a good chance to hear some new tunes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82MONdiYGN0

French Cassettes with Major Powers and the Lo-Fi Symphony at Awaken Cafe in Oakland: Because nothing says First Friday like a local two-fer, featuring crazy-nerdy-glam-rock-costumed-piano-funk (fresh off a spot at BottleRock) followed by danceably infectious indie pop hooks from these SF scene darlings (fresh from the Locals Stage at BFD). All of it for the low price of zero dollars!

 

Scraper with Midnite Snaxx and So What at Hemlock: Classically and somehow reassuringly misanthropic punk rock with a sense of humor. Yes please.

SAT/7

Oakland’s own tUne-yArDs with dream-team electro-funk-pop East Bay openers (and Goldie winners) The Seshen at The Fillmore: Duh.

Not Dead Yet Fest with Strange Vine, Cellar Doors, Annie Girl & the Flight, Ash Reiter, and tons more at Thee Parkside: Don’t believe the hype — not every single SF musician is deserting for more affordable pastures. It was with that in mind that the Bay Bridged organized this one-day fest, with a nice, diverse lineup of local indie kids. Fresno’s Strange Vine in particular put on a weirdly alluring psychedelic shitshow of a good time.

Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang with Reformed Whores at Great American: Music writer and lady with good taste Haley Zaremba says: Les Claypool has an amazing eye for weirdness. His band Primus has made a decades-long career out of defying every possible genre classification, wearing monkey masks onstage, and naming their albums things like Pork Soda and Sailing the Seas of Cheese. Now Claypool is going the opposite direction, creating the most minimalist, deconstructed music possible, with one vocal, one bass, one guitar, and one makeshift percussion tool — but don’t worry, it’s still bizarre.
In his Duo De Twang, which was originally organized as a one-off for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Claypool teams up with longtime buddy and collaborator Bryan Kehoe to play originals and tasty twang covers (including the Bee Gees and Alice in Chains). The show promises down-to-earth, intimate weirdness, plus seriously incredible musicianship.

Lagos Roots Afrobeat Ensemble at The Chapel: How often do you get to see a 17-piece afrobeat ensemble in a room like the Chapel’s? Led by Geoffrey OMadhebo, these musicians will temporarily make you forget exactly what decade and continent you currently inhabit, in a good way.

Pink Mountaintops get weird at The Chapel

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By Jordannah Elizabeth

The Pink Mountaintops performed last night at The Chapel in the Mission District to a loyal crowd of friends and fans, who patiently waited for McBean and his new line up — which includes Dead Meadow’s Steven Kille, Will Scott, and Gregg Foreman of Cat Power — to take the stage.

McBean strolled through the venue with a peaceful flow in his step, but the night was colored by a dark undertone, thanks to a number of quiet quips that from McBean that mounted into a surprisingly violent climax at the show’s end.

“I don’t know, maybe it’s just that weird thing of life and pushing through it, the beauty of it, the sadness and the happiness of it,” McBean had said of his new album, Get Back, while he slowly sipped his first cocktail at the bar a few hours earlier. “The more you’re on the planet, the more amazing things will happen to you, and the more terrible things will happen to you, and you have to have the ability to constantly shake it off.”

pm

While the hazy, eerie atmosphere coated the venue, LA’s Giant Drag was able to play a sensually dark set of songs, completely appropriate for the early evening. The crowd slowly trickled in throughout the night, not quite filling the room, and people seemed to shift and cycle through the venue, never standing in one place for too long. There was never a moment where there was a complete loss of the crowd’s attention, but there was quiet level of distraction going on. Whether it was because everyone had a chance to drink was much as they could possibly consume by the time Pink Mountaintops stepped onto the stage or whether the band’s hazy wall of sound was slightly lost in translation was not really clear. (“Me and Kille are the drunks and Gregg and Will are the sober guys,” Mc Bean had noted earlier.)

After opening with “How Can We Get Free?” and a fresh song, “Ambulance City,” from the new album, Stephen McBean broke a string and took his time to service and tune his guitar while the rest of the lineup improvised a song. Steve Kille swayed back and forth across the stage with his signature dance that closely resembles a confident swagger. After McBean got his guitar back in order, the set became more coherent and solid. The band flowed through “Wheels,” “Plastic Man You’re the Devil,” and “The Second Summer of Love” and the crowd began settling in, planting their feet on the The Chapel’s floor, finally beginning to engage with the music they were hearing.

Gregg Foreman, who has played with McBean as a duo and the sparsest version on Pink Mountaintops, shined. His erratically blissful guitar playing sewed the rest of the band’s slightly eclectic instrumentation styles together. Kille and drummer, Steve Scott, are very different musicians. If not for Forman’s unique experimental psych guitar style, the band would have lacked an off-kilter characteristic that kept the crowd’s attention during the middle and end of the show.

pm

Everything seemed to flow peacefully as the show ended with the songs “New Teenage Mutilation,” “Sweet 69,” and “The Last Dance.” McBean played solo for the last song, and it was endearing and really lovely to watch — until McBean suddenly smashed his guitar over his amp, hurling it over his head several times until it cracked, ending the show on a strangely violent note.

The band had joined him on stage seconds before McBean attacked his guitar, and they put their instruments down just as quickly as they had picked them up after McBean walked past them leaving stage. The rest of Pink Mountaintops mingled with the crowd, seeming unaffected by McBean’s behavior, allowing their non-inner circle to slowly disperse from the evening’s odd occurrence. The show was weird, but the band is great.

In my room

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esilvers@sfbg.com

LEFT OF THE DIAL Regardless of San Franciscans’ often myopic focus on the tech-employed recent college grads who can afford the million-dollar condos on the market in the Mission, a much larger percentage of 20-somethings in this country will relate to the housing situation that shaped Maryam Qudus (aka Doe Eye)’s first full-length LP: The dreaded move back in with your parents in the ‘burbs.

“There were so many transitions going on while I was writing this record, that was the mode I was in,” says Qudus, 23, the Union City-born-and-raised daughter of Afghani immigrants. It’s the week before her first headlining show at Great American Music Hall [Thu/29], and she and her band are winding their way through the Midwest on a brief national jaunt; she’s calling from Oklahoma City. “I’d moved to Boston [to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music], then moved back to San Francisco less than a year later to pursue music here. And when I decided I wanted to make a record, the way to do that financially was to move back home.”

If it felt like a stumble, that’s likely only in contrast to what had been up until that point a charmed music business debut: Doe Eye made an impressive entrance in 2011, when her four-song demo — in particular the ballad “I Hate You,” which highlighted her incredibly rich voice — earned the attention of DJs at Live 105 the week she released it. It also caught the ear of the godfather of young Bay Area singer-songwriters, John Vanderslice, who produced her second official EP, 2012’s Hotel Fire, on which the young singer got support from the Magik*Magik Orchestra.

Still, when it came time to focus on her first full-length record, living at her parents’ house, Qudus found herself in a weirdly liminal state. “Going back to the bedroom you had in high school is a very weird thing,” she says with a laugh. “It feels like you’re backtracking in some ways, but in other ways, it made me appreciate how supportive and awesome my parents are…which I definitely wasn’t thinking in high school.”

The result of her pseudo-adolescent regression is T E L E V I S I O N, featuring a more complex, full-bodied sound than her previous records have displayed, with Qudus’s raw, honest words and guitar-driven indie-rock sensibility seemingly filtered through layers of electronica, some New Wave and R&B moments; an industrial-lite kind of mood sets the base for her unmistakably strong (and getting stronger) vocals. If these songs feel distant, mediated at points, there’s a reason: The record takes its name from the activity the songwriter realized helped her unwind and turn her brain off after a day of sequestering herself inside her childhood home to write.

“I was dealing with various personal issues, and I would spend hours in my bedroom writing, and after a while when it became too much, I started turning on the TV to get away from it all,” says Qudus. “And I got into that pattern, which [I’d never done] before, and I started thinking about how people across America do this every day: Go to work all day at their job, come home and go ‘OK, I’m gonna watch Mad Men, or Conan, and try to forget everything that just happened.'”

Unsurprisingly, given the past few years of her career, the record (again, produced by John Vanderslice at Tiny Telephone) doesn’t exactly sound like an artist’s debut. That being the case, it’ll be interesting to hear what the next few years bring for Doe Eye. Qudus isn’t thinking too far beyond the First City Festival in Monterey in August, though. Beyond that, she has one main project: getting her own place in San Francisco again.

DOE EYE 
With DRMS, The She’s
8pm, $13
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell, SF
www.gamhtickets.com

 

I promise it was unintentional to pair these two together in this fashion, but hey, speaking of good things that come from being holed up in one’s room: Life Among the Savages, the sixth studio album from Papercuts (the creative outlet of longtime San Francisco songwriter-producer Jason Quever) and his first for the LA-based Easy Sound label, is a testament to the good that can come from staying home.

That is, of course, if you have a home studio like Quever’s, Pan American Recording, where he’s produced Cass McCombs, Beach House, and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, among others. It’s also where, most recently, Quever produced perhaps his cleanest, most sophisticated, most lush Papercuts record yet — full of a warmly melancholy ebb and flow that matches Quever’s cathartic, introvert’s tell-all style of writing. The atmospheric indie-dream-folk band has always been primarily a conduit for his songwriting; on this record perhaps more than others, you can hear the solitude in which it was conjured. (He’ll debut songs from the album, out May 13, at The Chapel this Sat/31).

“I think I did about 75 percent of the work here [at home], and yeah, it’s fair to say this one is pretty much all me,” says Quever, though he thanks friend and Beach House guitarist/keyboardist Alex Scally for having shaped some of his arrangements, like the urgent (Quever says “stabby”) strings that open the album’s title track.

“I also had some lyric help from my friend [songwriter] Donovan Quinn on one song. But other than that, I would say it was a lot of being inside my own self-hating brain,” Quever says cheerfully. “I’m working on it. But hey, it gets results.”

It’s a record two years in the making, during which time Quever left Sub Pop for Easy Sound (“They don’t have a huge roster, so you’re not going to get lost in the sea of bands the way you can with a bigger label”), placing Papercuts alongside sonic bedfellows like Vetiver. He also wrote a lot of music that he wound up scrapping.

“A lot definitely got dropped, but to me, what you’d drop is part of what you keep, if that makes sense,” he says. “It’s always moving toward something.” Papercuts songs are short stories and, contrary to what Quever calls most music critics’ impression of him, they’re not all autobiographical. He says he’s not, in fact, incredibly depressed all the time. (To be fair: Part of the oft-repeated Papercuts bio is that Quever started writing music after his parents both died when he was a teenager; there’s more than a little real trauma behind his trauma-swollen lyrics.)

On the other hand, “I’m pretty normal,” he says. “This is my outlet for all the negativity. That’s what catharsis is, right? You throw all your crap into this song and it feels good; I think that’s kind of a tennis match that’s in everyone’s head.” On this record, that catharsis is most interesting when playing with contrasts: On “Family Portrait,” things turn downright upbeat, with Quever gauzily channeling The Byrds (or maybe Ray Davies on Vicodin) through jangly guitar, while his lyrics still speak, poetically, of a vague fear, solitude, and uncertainty — tinged with hope, to be sure. The chemistry is born of the balance.

“I never want it to be all heavy or all light,” he says. “I think you naturally go through phases in writing, and that’s fine. The main thing with taking longer to make this record was I wanted songs where I felt proud of the lyrics.

“That way you’re not up there, you know, mumbling certain parts ’cause you feel dumb.”

PAPERCUTS
With Fool’s Gold, Line & Circle
9pm, $15-$17
The Chapel
777 Valencia, SF
www.thechapelsf.com

Watch: Papercuts’ “Life Among the Savages”

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Papercuts, the indie-folk output of San Francisco songwriter-producer Jason Quever, has been a San Francisco staple for a decade now. By turns stark and raw and layered, lush and atmospheric, Papercuts’ newest album, Life Among the Savages is full of excellent songs for a long, moody solo drive.

Pick up the Bay Guardian that hits newsstands tomorrow to read an in-depth interview with Quever about what went into the album’s making, ahead of his show at The Chapel on Sat/31. But while you wait for that (I know, it’s tough for me too), you can watch this pretty, throroughly San Franciscan video for the album’s title track.

Swimming solo

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esilvers@sfbg.com

LEFT OF THE DIAL As rock ‘n’ roll narratives go, it’s a rather familiar one: Singer and bandleader who has achieved moderate success with one full-band sound announces that he’s been repressing his true musical instincts for far too long, decides to go solo, and puts out an album that’s a sonic 180 from what fans are used to. History tells us that this is either the moment when stars are born (Michael Jackson, Lou Reed), or the moment when everyone goes, “Oh, maybe the other band members are responsible for way more of the stuff I like than I previously realized?” (Hall, without Oates).

Birds & Batteries frontman Mike Sempert doesn’t seem overly concerned about this fork in the road. For one, when the singer-songwriter began teasing new songs out into the world last month in anticipation of releasing his first solo effort, Mid Dream (out May 6 on Blue Velvet), it became clear that longtime fans of his old band — a San Francisco staple of the last five years that blended Sempert’s husky vocals and Americana influences with an indie electro-pop danceability (aka plenty of synth) — weren’t going to be upset. Far from it: While the album is a clear departure from the heady, airy detachment of Birds & Batteries’ oeuvre, the element that brought those songs down to earth — the understated soulfulness of Sempert’s vocals and songwriting — has emerged in full force on Mid Dream.

 

A richly introspective album written and recorded in the months before Sempert left the Bay Area for LA last year (to be with his now-wife — SF music scene doomsdayers, calm down), Mid Dream is equal parts wistfulness and hope, uncertainty and a surprised sort of satisfaction about growing up; in other words, it sounds exactly like those rare, heightened moments when you can actually feel one chapter of your life coming to an end and another beginning. Stripped bare of synthesizers and most other electronic elements and loaded up on melody, wall-of-feeling choruses, and ocean imagery, the album also serves as a kind of coming-out party for Sempert’s love of ’70s folk-rockers like Tom Petty, Harry Nilsson, and Randy Newman. Sempert will play these songs for the first time on home turf at the Rickshaw Stop May 14.

“I always had two personalities that I was exploring with Birds & Batteries. Initially it was this merging of the folk-Americana-singer-songwriter thing with the synthy art-pop stuff,” says Sempert. “But I’d gotten to a point where I wanted to zero in more on a sound, and instead of taking my singer-songwriter stuff and trying to adapt it, I just started putting those songs to the side…so I’ve had this stack of songs I wanted to try developing for a while.”

After a few years in a row of hustling full-time in B&B, the timing felt right last year to take a breather and consider the pile, he says. “That’s a hard-working band, and we had a lot of good times and successes, but frankly I got pretty burned out…especially with the kind of ‘take over the world’ thing we were trying to do. I got married, I moved to LA; it just felt like time to focus on making music for the right reasons and from the heart, without a big agenda.”

To be clear, that shouldn’t be read as a dig at his old bandmates — two of whom, drummer Colin Fahrner and bassist Jill Heinke, he invited to make up his current rhythm section. Sempert emphasizes that the entire record is a family affair of sorts, with regulars from the Bay Area folk scene and many an Oakland friend-band — including Sonya Cotton, Kacey Johansing, Emily Ritz, Andrew Maguire, Anton and Lewis Patzner, and more — adding backup vocals, strings, percussion; the list goes on. Sempert gives an extra-special nod to TaughtMe songwriter-engineer Blake Henderson, who helped him shape his vision for the record.

“I had so much help, so many supportive people around me in the songwriter community in the Bay Area,” he says. “Honestly, at the beginning of deciding to make [the album], I was just thinking ‘I bet my friends will like this.’ And for this one, the idea of just getting to share it with them — that was enough.”

Mike Sempert (CD release)
With Farallons and Kacey Johansing
Wed/14, 8pm, $20
The Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF
www.rickshawstop.com

 

What kind of person looks at a massively expensive three-day music festival whose inaugural year was widely considered an organizational failure and public relations nightmare, not to mention one that cost the city in which it took place thousands of dollars, and says “Hey — I want to be in charge of that next year”?

Dave Graham, it turns out. As the CEO of the brand-new BottleRock Napa Valley — a festival now in its second year, spanning May 30 to June 1, with headliners OutKast and The Cure, but, as Graham emphasizes, one owned and run by entirely different people than those responsible for last summer’s debacle — Graham has gotten used to answering the question: Why the hell would you want to take this on?

“For one, I had an amazing time last year,” says Graham, a Napa native and entrepreneur. “I was born and raised here, this was just the coolest thing that I’d ever experienced, and I couldn’t believe it was going on in my own backyard.” He noted what mistakes had been made, he said, and when the chance arose to invest in a partnership for 2014, he saw an opportunity to make something great. The only problem(s)? A boatload of debt, and the task of trying to find investors for this year’s festival in a community of merchants still stinging from 2013. Then there was the fact that, at the time of signing on in January, Graham and his partners had less than three months to book a lineup.

“It’s been challenging, to say the least,” says Graham. “Once we bought the rights to the name BottleRock, it was difficult, and understandably so, for people in the music industry, creditors, and just the general population to understand that we had zero to do with the mess that was created last year, and that we had no obligation to make a bad situation better…but we’re committed to doing just that. The main thing was, we just wanted to keep it local.”

Time will tell whether or not Graham and his team succeed in winning back the hearts of Napa residents and business owners. Given the time period they had for booking, the lineup they pulled off is pretty impressive on its own — if a little ’90s-tastic, stacked with alt-rock staples like Cracker, Weezer, Third Eye Blind, and Blues Traveler. But hey, if your idea of a good festival is getting super nostalgic with a slightly older set over a nice glass or two of pinot noir (note: nothin’ wrong with that) and you have the dough to spare (single day: $149), it’d probably be worth your while to see what else the new guys can pull off.

BottleRock Napa ValleyMay 30 – June 1
$149 and up (way up)
www.bottlerocknapavalley.com
 

Two other shows you should probably go to this week: San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls, who make some of most unpretentiously happy, jangly, beach-brat garage pop you’ve ever heard, are headlining The Chapel Thursday/15. And A Minor Forest, SF math rock veterans who made lots of people very happy when they got back together last year, will be there Saturday/17.

In case you hadn’t noticed, The Chapel’s bookers are killing it lately. And despite lots of angry internet buzz about noise complaints from The Chapel’s neighbors — let’s be real, our reaction over here was something like “If you rent an apartment next to a music venue on Valencia and then complain that there’s music coming out of it, you are everything that is wrong with everything, please leave,” — a representative from the venue says there’s really no news, nothing to get up in arms about.

“The Chapel had the normal, required Planning Commission ‘look back’ hearing [May 8] where they make sure the business is in compliance with Planning conditions,” Patricia Dedekian, a manager at The Chapel, told us. “There was only one neighbor who has done 99 percent of the complaining and he appeared at the hearing. We passed the hearing with flying colors, with unanimous support from the Planning Commissioners.” Still, you know. Support your local venues. It’s not hard to do when they’re putting on several rad shows a week.

A tUnE-yArDs phone date from the road

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Being weird in a good way seems like a more difficult status for artists to attain than it used to be. We can tell when you’re trying too hard — the Gaga meat dress, the Miley tongue-wags felt ’round the world — and it’s straight-up unappealing. Thanks to Ye Olde Internet, we’re also genuinely harder to shock than we used to be. At the same time, the acceptable box that artists seem to need to fit into to be marketable, to achieve anything like mainstream success, feels smaller all the time.

Enter tUnE-yArDs: Even if you count yourself in the camp of people who “just don’t get” the music, there’s no denying that the delightful weirdness that spews forth from the brain of Oakland’s Merrill Garbus has never felt anything but authentic. On her new album, Nikki Nack — out today on 4AD — she seems more than ever like she’s receiving musical cues from sort of secret invisible wood nymph from the future, and also that wood nymph has been listening to a lot of drumming and hand-clapping videos and maybe some Janet Jackson lately. She (Garbus) keeps you guessing, and you get the sense that that’s due, in part, to keeping herself guessing. All of this is good. It’s good for music.

Garbus debuted some new songs last month at The Chapel, then hit the road for a national tour, including several dates opening for the Arcade Fire. She won’t be back in the Bay until two Fillmore shows (June 6 and 7, with Sylvan Esso and The Seshen opening, respectively), but she gave us a call from the road to chat about the new record’s Haitian influences, how tour is going so far, and The Arcade Fire’s culinary prowess.

San Francisco Bay Guardian Thanks for talking! Where are you right now?

Merrill Garbus I’m in a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee. We just drove all the way from Columbus and now we have a night off, which is nice. But I’ll probably spend most of it on the phone, doing interviews.

SFBG I’m so sorry.

MG No, it’s great! It’s your job! (laughs) I’m excited that people want to talk about the record.

SFBG I do love the new record. Can you talk a little about how heavy it is on the drums, and some of its Haitian influences? I know you traveled to Haiti not too long ago.

MG Thanks so much. As far as the Haitian influences, I would say it was less about the trip than a community I got involved with at home, at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts in downtown Oakland, which is a center for African arts, and the culture of Africa and the diaspora. It’s an incredible place. So for about a year I was studying with Portsha Jefferson, who is an amazing American woman who has devoted much of her life to studying Haitian folklore and dance, and Daniel Brevil, a Haitian-born drummer who teaches drum classes. This company they’ve created in Oakland is a community of people who are studying and immersed in Haitian culture, to see how it’s affected people around the world, especially as the first independent black republic that’s been an inspiration for generations of people. 

For me it was, oh my gosh, music and revolution and cultural history, and folk music versus pop music, all of those [topics] were really present in studying with these two people. And it was important to me that I wasn’t just going “Oh, that sounds cool, give me that cool rhythm” — I was a student of those drums. And there are definitely through lines of Haitian drumming in a lot of the songs that, lyrically, deal with the relationship between the quote-unquote developed world and the developing.

SFBG Your last album, 2011’s w h o k i l l, brought you to such a bigger platform (the national stage, really) than your first one had. Did you feel pressure with this album to follow that up with something even bigger, or to try to reach the people who still don’t “get” you?

MG I really do everything I can to not think about what how other people are going to receivewhat I’m making while I’m making it, because it just kills it right away. It’s something I have to practice, just like I have to practice singing or practice things with music, I have to practice not considering what other people think. Especially when you feel like you’re failing, because there are always moments when you’re making something going ‘This is not good.’ Or ‘people are not gonna like it.’

It’s the same thing with reading reviews or interviews — unless someone tells me “Oh, I think this one would actually really be helpful for you to read.” Otherwise it’s kind of poison, regardless of it’s good or bad. Because there’s a sense of being outside of yourself, and I always want to get really inside myself. I kinda shut down on the social media.

SFBG How’s Oakland treating you these days? Have you reached the point where you feel like a a kind of famous person, or is life pretty much business as usual?

MG You know, people say hi at the farmer’s market, but no one really cares. Which is great. Oakland’s been really good for my head, and I feel like there are a number of factors that keep me grounded. My relationship, the ways I’ve started to ground myself. It helps to remember that it’s all a mirage — I mean, if I give [press and publicity] any more weight than that, it’s kind of entering into the fictional world.

SFBG How’s tour been going so far? What’s it like opening for the Arcade Fire?

MG It’s awesome. One of them the other day was like, “If you want to sit in on anything, let us know,” and I was just like — I don’t even know what that would be, or mean (laughs). They’ve been so nice to us. I knew some of these guys from Montreal, and what they want to do is nerd out about music. Which is exactly what I want it to be about. They’re crazy, too; they play for two hours.

Tour in general — I love seeing new places around the world. Driving from Denver to Nashville is such a cool way to see this country, and we got to go to Australia this year, Europe several times. I do have to navigate my extreme fear of getting ill on the road, and it’s not so emotionally easy to be with seven people riding in a van for so long, but that’s why I feel so lucky that all the people with me are really dedicated to the project — Nate [Brenner] and I wrote a lot of this music together and then asked these people to play it with us for the next few months of their lives, and there’s no way I could do it without them. I’m also really excited that we sold out the Fillmore.

SFBG Best thing you’ve eaten on this tour?

MG When we were in Kansas City, the Arcade Fire guys got these huge things of barbecue backstage, and they knew what they were doing. Let me think…yeah, definitely that.