Holy crap is there a lot of good new music coming out of the Bay this week


Looking for something to get you past the hump of Hump Day? Well put down that “which Disney princess is your dog” quiz right this second, for a straight-up ridiculous amount of good new music was unleashed upon the world this week, with a disproportionate amount of it coming from our very own home turf.

Listen up, burst with pride, and let us know what else you’re listening to.

The debut Rich Girls EP we’ve been waiting for all year, Fiver,  is finally out on Breakup Records (full record here) and the Luisa Black-led trio has a release show tonight (Wed/8) at the Rickshaw Stop. Here’s album-opener “Worse.”

The Bay Area punk forefathers in Rancid, to whom we must admit a highly specific regional allegiance, will put out Honor Is All We Know, their first record in five years, at the end of this month. Here’s the first studio track they’ve released, “Face Up.”

The chilled-out Afro-electro-future-soul-tastic sounds of The Seshen, a Guardian GOLDIE winner from earlier this year, are lush and plentiful on their EP Unravelstream the whole thing right here — with UK label Tru Thoughts. Release show this Sat/11 at Leo’s in Oakland. Here’s the first video, for “Unravel.”

We’ve listened to this bit of jangly lo-fi sweetness from SF’s The Mantles at least a half-dozen times since they premiered it yesterday; they’ll have it out on a 7-inch next month via Slumberland Records.

And The Tropics, fresh off a win at the Music Video Race (with a rather different sort of aesthetic), released this video for “Fireproof” — a shot-by-shot remake of Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations.” More, please. The Tropics’ Wind House is out Oct. 28 on Breakup.

And, lastly: Do you need convincing to watch a new tUnE-yArDs video? Didn’t think so. Ms. Garbus just announced she’ll be home for a show at the Fox Theater Dec. 11, with opener Cibo Matto (!).


Gimme 5: Must-see shows this week


Hello friends and festival-goers! Did you just get back from High Sierra? Does your hair still smell of patchouli? Are you sad that you actually have to be in the world this week, possibly at a desk, while wearing all of your clothes? (Sexual harassment suits these days, lemme tell you.) 

Fret not, fair Bay Areans. A solid few days of music, most of it bred right here, awaits you. Read on for our picks.



Get your ALL CAPS game faces on for this buzzy night, which pairs SF’s own Van Pierszalowski and WATERS‘ hook-and-distortion-heavy guitar rock with the melodic, playful electro-pop of singer-songwriter Brodie Jenkins and synth-guitar-wizard-producer Johnny Hwin, aka CATHEDRALS. The latter (one of the Bay Guardian’s bands On the Rise this year) has garnered an impressive amount of attention around the Internets (and at SXSW) without even an EP to their name — this show marks their first public performance in the city. Come prepared to be seduced by Jenkin’s vocals, then do some cathartic headbanging to Pierszalowski’s. WATERS should be in good spirits; they’re heading home from a tour that included two sold-out nights at the Troubadour. [Note: The website says they’re sold out; you should still be able to snag tickets at the door.] (Silvers)

9pm, $12
The Chapel
777 Valencia, SF




The world was not ready for Cynic when they first emerged in the late ’80s. The band’s jazzy prog-metal and anti-macho stage presence (inspired in part by members Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert’s sexuality — Reinert calls their music “some gay, gay metal”) made them equal parts influential and reviled. On their first national tour opening for Cannibal Corpse, the extreme audience hostility they experienced was enough to make them call it quits for 12 years — during which time their reputation and influence grew. Since the crew’s 2006 reunion, they’ve enjoyed success and reverence, releasing two more albums and playing major festivals in the U.S. and Europe. Their upcoming Fillmore gig is a chance to see one of metal’s coolest influences rock a venue as comfortably and thoroughly as they deserve to. (Bromfield)


9pm, $22.50
The Fillmore
1805 Geary, SF


Lia Rose

Formerly of Or, the Whale, San Francisco singer-songwriter Lia Rose has the kind of voice that seems like it could cut steel with its clarity — but instead, she’s going to pick up a guitar and carve you a lovesick, honey-and-whiskey-coated lullaby, with pedal steel or upright bass or banjo or all three helping to lull you under her spell. The timeless quality of her indie-folk pairs well here with opener We Became Owls, an East Bay Americana outfit that’s been gaining devotees like a steam train for the past year, despite not having an album out (this is their record release show). Gritty, Guthrie-esque sing-alongs are a distinct possibility here; maybe do some vocal warm-ups? (Silvers)

9pm, $15
The Chapel
777 Valencia, SF
(415) 551-5157




If you have anything left in you after spending the day and boozing and grooving and (sun-)baking to Wye Oak and Thao et al at Phono del Sol — first of all, we salute you. Second, you could do worse than to head over to Slim’s to see these East Bay mainstays co-headline with Guy Fox. Waterstrider‘s blend of Afro-pop, dance-ready synths, and indie rock is a must for anyone who wishes the latest tUnE-yArDs record were twice as long, or that Little Dragon (whom they’re known to cover) were just a little more, er, Californian. Fox will bring more of a driving, brassy garage-funk spirit to the evening. Another fine pairing indeed. (Silvers)

9pm, $14
333 11th St., SF



Darryl D.M.C. McDaniels

Neck of the Woods becomes a time machine on Sunday as Darryl McDaniels, better known as D.M.C., drops in for a nostalgic journey through the annals of 1980s rap. One third of the explosive rap innovators Run-D.M.C., McDaniels has kept busy since the dissolution of the group more than ten years ago, playing a full festival circuit, doing extensive charity work, and covering Frank Zappa’s “Willie the Pimp” with Talib Kweli, Mix Master Mike, and Ahmet Zappa for a pulsating track on a birthday compilation put out by the Zappa Family Trust. It’s hard to say whether D.M.C. will pull out anything quite as wild during this set, but expect zeitgeist-defining songs like “It’s Tricky” and “Walk This Way,” and hopefully some deeper cuts from the group’s later work (2001’s Crown Royal has some underrated tracks) and D.M.C.’s only solo album, Checks, Thugs, and Rock and Roll. Joining McDaniels on the mic are local groups the Oakland Mind and Jay Stone, each of whom have decidedly D.M.C.-inspired beats and flows and will offer up both politicized and party-themed bangers centered around the Bay. If you’re feeling like “Raising Hell,” then head over. (Kurlander)

9pm, $20
Neck of the Woods
406 Clement, SF
(415) 387-6343


Happy Hour: The week in music


Hey you. Yeah, you. Are you still sitting at your desk, despite it being a beautiful day outside, and despite the proximity of large-screen TVs tuned to the World Cup inside multiple alcohol-serving establishments within three blocks of you in every direction?

Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. And you have less than an hour to go!

To help kill those last few minutes of clock-watching, here are some musical highlights of the past week, and a thing or two to do this weekend:

1. YouTube is about to fuck up 95 percent of what you and I use YouTube for. Sorry, not cat videos; I meant listening to audio and watching videos from independent artists. An executive from the Google-owned giant recently told the Financial Times that YouTube was prepared to remove videos from labels that didn’t sign their contract for the new YouTube Music Pass (a paid licensing program) “within days.” Reps from a lot of these labels (like 4AD — see ya, The National, tUnE-yArDs, Deerhunter, et al) have said they’ve been offered the extraordinarily shitty end of the terms stick.

2. If you’re sticking around the Bay Area this weekend — unlike the 8 out of 10 musicians I’ve talked to in the past few days who are all taking off for Hickey Fest — you could do a lot worse than to check out the ULUV Music Day, a festival of free music featuring more than 100 bands playing throughout the day at parklets, BART stations, and other public locations in every neighborhood in the city from noon to 5pm. At 6pm, head over to Dolores Park for a “music flash mob” and official proclamation from the City of San Francisco.

3. New owners for Yoshi’s SF (following bankruptcy under the current ownership) signal “an all-but-final blow to the original aims of the Fillmore Jazz Preservation District,” says SF Weekly.

4. Biopics are in the works about NWA and Aaliyah, though the latter’s family is none too happy about it. By contrast, Ashanti has hit the county fair circuit.

5. Jack White (who’ll be at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium Aug. 22 and 23) debuted his latest, Lazaretto, at #1 on the Billboard charts, selling 138,000 copies in its first week — some 40,000 of them vinyl. That broke Pearl Jam’s record for the largest sales week for a vinyl album, a title that previously went to 1991’s Vitalogy. Let’s compare and contrast (quick, before YouTube takes them down).

Now then. Beer time?


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


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:


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.


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.


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.

The pedestrian pop of Sylvan Esso


Upon first listen, Sylvan Esso kind of takes hold of you. Nick Sanborn’s melodic, layered, driving electronic beats pair perfectly with Amelia Meath’s blissful voice and artful lyrics. The way Sylvan Esso — the band’s self-titled debut album, which dropped May 13 — is wrapped together feels so intuitive, so ethereal, that it will likely bring you to your feet for an impromptu dance session.

“Hey Mami” will loop in your head; “Dress” will become your jam. And you’ll be in good company this Fri/6 at the Fillmore, when Sylvan Esso open for Oakland’s own tUnE-yArDs.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Meath from the Free Press Summer Festival in Houston on Sunday. She posted up in her trailer for our call after seeing Lauryn Hill’s performance – which, she assured me, was awesome.

So how did Sylvan Esso come to be? Well, for starters, lyricist Amelia Meath and electronic producer Nick Sanborn fortuitously found themselves playing on the same bill at the Cactus Club in Milwaukee one night. They became instant friends. When Meath needed a remix for “Play It Right” — a song she wrote and played with her indie folk trio, Mountain Man — she asked Sanborn to make it and was very pleased with the product.

After collaborating on “Play It Right,” Meath and Sanborn both felt like they should collaborate some more. And then, after some tweeting and planning, Sylvan Esso was born. “It almost feels like magic how good we are at working together,” Meath says.

When I first listened to Sylvan Esso, I felt hard-pressed to assign it a genre. Meath’s lyrics are deep and introspective, and Sanborn’s arrangements are incredibly inventive; but I think the undeniable catchiness of their songs makes Sylvan Esso, essentially, pop. Meath likes to call it “pedestrian pop”: pop music that illustrates universal human experiences and makes you “shake your butt” — and feel emotion — simultaneously.

Meath feels that electronic music has a marketed effect on people; she loves pairing her lyrics and melodies with Sanborn’s electronic arrangements. “I always wanted to make electronic music because I really like that electronic music shakes people; it actually vibrates people at the same rate at the same time,” Meath says.

The duo has many varied sound influences, such as They Might Be Giants, Aliyah, John Lurie/Marvin Pontiac, and Stina Nordenstam. Meath also looked to pop goddesses like Beyoncé and Rihanna while writing the lyrics to Sylvan Esso. “When you write a pop song, you’re trying to make something that’s going to sink into the brain of someone and stay with them after hearing it once,” Meath says.

The duo will be opening for tUnE-yArDs at the Fillmore on Friday, June 6. (They’re in the Bay Area for one night only.) Meath is no stranger to San Francisco, as she used to spend summers here during her teens while training with a Chinese contortionist. (Yes, Meath also happens to be a badass.)

“We have to be in Pasadena the next morning,” Meath says, “but if I were going to be in San Francisco for the weekend, I would walk up Russian Hill, and eat some really delicious food — that’s for sure! Oh, I also always really like to go to Tartine, and then I go to Bi-Rite and spend way too much money on groceries, and then sit in Dolores Park all day long!” She’s an honorary San Franciscan for sure.

When asked what she enjoys most about performing, Meath stressed the communal aspect of live music. “My favorite thing about performing is that you get to be the hinge for the whole room to become a small community,” Meath says.

Sylvan Esso opening for tUnE-yArDs on Fri/6
9 pm, $26
The Fillmore
1805 Geary, SF

This Week’s Picks: June 4 – 10, 2014





‘Mr. Irresistible’

Multifaceted showman and irrepressible art-dragster D’Arcy Drollinger, the brains and falsies behind such contemporary camp classics as Shit & Champagne and Sex and the City Live!, is poised to deliver on his biggest project since Project: Lohan, or even 2010’s cutting-edge Scalpel!: A sci-fi musical comedy about love and robots and office work entitled Mr. Irresistible. First produced in workshop form last year at New York’s La Mama E.T.C., the Aesop-inspired story of unpopular Eileen Morchinsky and her titular mechanical friend (purchased from a magazine ad and destined to turn her life right around) sails into the fairly exotic Alcazar Theatre for a limited run, aloft on a score by Christopher Winslow, book and lyrics by Drollinger, and some big-wig talent. (Robert Avila)

Through June 8, 8pm; Sun. 7pm only, $25

Alcatraz Theatre

650 Geary, SF

(415) 766-4588




The Damned

Remember, kid: Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Yes, we’re talking about THE Damned. Formed in 1976, The Damned were the first punk band in the UK to release a single, a record, or tour the United States. They cut their teeth opening for bands like the Sex Pistols and T. Rex, and are still going strong. Not only were they punk rock pioneers, they also were some of the frontrunners of the goth scene in the ’80s, and now, nearly into their fourth decade, The Damned are still going strong. With an ever-changing lineup and an incredible repertoire of revolutionary tunes, these dudes are incredible at evolving and even better at performing. They’re not to be missed tonight at Slim’s. (Haley Zaremba)

With Koffin Kats, Stellar Corpses

9pm, $30


333 11th St, SF

(415) 225-0333







XV: St. James Infirmary 15-Year Anniversary Party

Lost in the outpouring of accolades in the wake of the great Maya Angelou’s passing last week was her crucial time as a sex worker, which she chronicled, unashamed, in her 1974 book Gather Together in My Name. It’s indicative of the stigma sex workers still face when even the well-documented past of the nation’s literary godmother is scrubbed free of any reference. San Francisco’s own groundbreaking St. James Infirmary, the first occupational safety and health clinic for sex workers in the United States, deals with the damage of that stigma by offering non-judgmental medical and social services. The organization also knows how to celebrate: This huge party and fundraiser boasts one of the city’s best house DJs, David Harness, as well as porn-star-turned-DJ Ricky Sinz, movers and shakers from the international sex workers rights movement, sexy pole dancing, a Kink.com demonstration dungeon, and oodles more. The whole joint will be singin’ and swingin’ and getting’ merry like Christmas. (Marke B.)

9pm-3am, $20 ($40 includes free lapdance)


540 Howard, SF




Urban Air Market Summer Night Block Party

Urban Air Market’s newest addition to its community-enriched neighborhood events around the city begins tonight. Head on over to Fern Alley — a hidden walkway located between Polk and Larkin Streets — for this one-night affair. In partnership with the Lower Polk Art Walk, Urban Air Market is hosting a summer night block party of sustainable art, fashion, food, and live music at this unassuming Tenderloin location. While occasionally occupied by a small farmers’ market, tonight Fern Alley will be bustling with food trucks, henna tattooing, face painting, interactive fashion film installations, live bands, and countless booths from sustainable and local brands: Oaklandish, Synergy Organic Clothing, Indosole, and Skunkfunk USA to name a few. (Laura B. Childs)

6pm, free

Fern Alley (Fern St. between Polk and Larkin St.)




Nature For Sale

For the past few years, Bolivian-born artist Javier Rocabado has been producing stunning, icon-like portraits of famed gays like RuPaul, early AIDS activists, and local beauties. All these figures have been posed with gold halos against Rocabado’s signature dollar-bill background, glowing with symbolic meaning. (Rocabado paints only the backside of the dollar.) His new series turns to nature: Beautiful bird specimens, frogs, and weeping monkeys take on aspects of holy saints. “I want to point out the universally ridiculous thinking of ‘economics is first’ under Capitalism. Through this new series of paintings, I strive to create images of animals that allow the viewers to experience the false pride in human civilization to conquer nature and profit from it,” he says. Dark spirits of Chevron, BP, and other disaster-fueling multinationals hover at the borders of his exquisite new works, but their sheer gorgeousness radiates hope as well as guilt. (Marke B.)

Through July 1, opening party 8-11pm, free

Public Barber Salon

571 Geary, SF








Test is not great, but it’s a beautiful, honest film that evokes the mid-’80s, when AIDS was ravaging San Francisco’s gay community, a time when a test had become available but no cure was in sight. The film follows a naïve young man’s coming of age (a splendid Scott Marlow of LEVY Dance) as a gay man and as dancer in a local modern dance company. The film excellently captures what it meant living at the edge of uncertainty, when nothing could be taken for granted and yet, despite of it all, everything seemed possible. Test includes extensive and fine dance sequences choreographed by the remarkable Sidra Bell. Fun to see was just how many other local dancers were involved in this small, but big-hearted movie. (Rita Felciano)

Opens June 6, times vary

Presidio Theater

2340 Chestnut, SF

(415) 776-2388


Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

2966 College, Berk.

(510) 433-9730



The Buzzcocks

It must be punk rock royalty week at Slim’s, because just two days after The Damned grace the SoMa stage the Buzzcocks are coming to town. Part of the Holy Trinity that also includes the Clash and the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks are a crucial piece of UK punk history. Bringing the world such killer tunes as “Ever Fallen in Love” and “What Do I Get,” challenging British radio with songs like “Orgasm Addict” and confronting the punk community with an open and serious examination of homosexuality, the Buzzcocks are a tireless and fearless force of nature. Plus, 38 years into their career, they’re still touring regularly and have a new record out this year. Is there anything more punk than refusing to succumb to gray hair or body fat? (Zaremba)

With Doug Gillard, Images

8pm, $35


333 11th St, SF

(415) 225-0333






Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang

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. (Zaremba)

With Reformed Whores

9pm, $38

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750





What a difference five years makes: Merrill Garbus moved to the Bay around that time, as word quickly spread about the undeniable force of her musical vision, one that draws from African, folk, and electro-acoustic quarters, and her visceral one-woman performances. Since her maiden tUnE-yArDs outing, BiRd-BrAiNs, she’s put out the album that every critic could agree on in 2011, whokill, which scored her the coveted top spot in that year’s Pazz and Jop poll. Her third full-length, Nikki Nack, takes tUnE-yArDs further, into Garbus’s fascination with Haitian artistic traditions, as she turned to the country’s boula drum to lay the groundwork for the recording’s intoxicating call and response. (Kimberly Chun)

With the Seshen

9pm, $26

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-6000



Silent Frisco Beats on Ocean Beach

Summertime throwdowns are the types of shows the brilliant Silent Frisco have made their niche — take a pristine outdoor environment, add groovin’ music and people, let fun ensue. “Scene Not Heard” as the Silent team puts it. The key to making these public shows possible is ditching speakers and substituting wireless headphones, removing complaint-inducing noise, and leaving the amusingly awesome sight of befuddled onlookers observing limbs gyrating to what appears to be silence. For this event, two channels allow movers and shakers to select from a rotation of California electronic music talent throughout the day. Fresh off touring with The Glitch Mob, Ana Sia will bring big, bouncy, driving bass, while Dutch grandmasters Kraak & Smaak headline with two hours of their lush, disco-tinged sound. (Kevin Lee)

With Kraak & Smaak, Ana Sia, Pumpkin, JLabs, Motion Potion, and more

11am, $20; kids and dogs free (all-ages show)

Ocean Beach Great Highway at Balboa Ave, SF



Tom Robbins

“If Tibetan Peach Pie doesn’t read like a normal memoir, that may be because I haven’t exactly led what most normal people would consider a normal life,” forewarns writer Tom Robbins in the preface of his first nonfiction book. With that on readers’ minds, Robbins reflects on his colorful adventures, from an accident laden-youth in Depression-era North Carolina in which his mother dubbed him “Tommy Rotten,” to an established literary career in Washington state. Along the way, Robbins studies the weather in Korea, experiments with acid, embarks on international religious journeys, tangos with Hollywood, and discovers some love. Tibetan Peach Pie‘s 41 succinct tall tales crackle with a Robbins’ rare blend of warmth, wisdom, and wit. (Lee)

In conversation with Isabel Duffy

7:30pm, $27

Nourse Theatre

275 Hayes, SF

(415) 392-4400


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A tUnE-yArDs phone date from the road


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.

Kitten Grenade on why you shouldn’t underestimate the ukulele


By Rebecca Huval

Kitten Grenade takes the ukulele seriously. Katelyn Sullivan picked up the instrument when she was lonely and unhappy in Los Angeles, jonesing to be back in San Francisco. Now the instrument adds chiaroscuro to her self-titled debut EP released this January: the lilting chords contrast her brassy voice and its message of heartbreak.

“It’s got a deep soul, the ukulele,” she says ahead of her Friday, May 2nd show at the DNA Lounge. People unfairly pick on the instrument for being silly, Sullivan says, and she laughs when she reveals that she now has eight of them. Like a defensive cat lady, she says, “Each one has a different sound and personality.”

Her band, started in January 2013, is built on the idea of contrast. She named it Kitten Grenade after her art illustration thesis about juxtaposition: “Something cute and fuzzy, and something destructive. That idea captures a lot that’s in the music and my life.”

Even though Sullivan is engaged to her boyfriend of eight years, she says she’s dealt with her share of tragedies and unrequited loves that have wormed their way into her lyrics. Just recently, Sullivan has been coping with the death of her fiance’s 24-year-old brother, who fell off a balcony. Grief enters her songs through a “heartbreak filter.” In the first track on her EP, “Anomaly,” she sings about a lovers’ quarrel: “Touching fingers, eyes linger everywhere they’re not supposed to be/Said I’m sorry, no you hurt me, or were you not listening.” Her minimal orchestration, with mournful harmonies and light percussion, set the stage for her clarion voice to deliver these confessional lyrics.

Not every track is a tear-jerker. The surprisingly upbeat “Death Song” uses catchy, syncopated ukulele strumming to accompany Sullivan’s dreamy melody. The song begins quietly, “We started out without our lungs and somehow learned to breathe,” and builds to a shout, “the dust that we create is all that’s left of our dreams.” Her track “Gray,” with some vaudevillian-tinged vocals, uses ethereal background singing and the higher registers of the ukulele to seem reminiscent of Yael Naim. With musical role models from Fiona Apple to tUnE-yArDs, Sullivan reflects the range of their difference in her broad palette of styles.

Her lyrics are uniquely San Franciscan as Karl enters: “Oh these starry eyes get misty, fog rolls in and hides the misery.” Originally from Maryland, Sullivan has lived in San Francisco for 10 years. She adores the music scene here and playing with fellow band Halcyonaire, “the freaking sweetest guys.” But given the recent tech boom, she advocates that music supporters see shows regularly to keep artists from leaving the city. “I make that a goal to make a band’s week by seeing their Wednesday 11 o’clock show. It means a lot to me, so you have to pass it forward.”

She’s seen San Francisco from both sides: before as a retailer on 16th and Valencia Streets, and now as a tech worker for the karaoke app StarMaker. “I get to sing all the time,” she says. “I love my company — they’re down-to-earth and they’re all about getting people to sing.”

Sullivan herself needed some coaxing before singing in public. She started her musical life in middle school through opera and musical theatre, and her training shows up today in her voice’s creaminess and smooth projection. But she went through a period in high school when she was too shy to sing. She abandoned music for art school, where she met her current fiance.

“He helped me find my confidence,” she says. “If I hadn’t met him, I wouldn’t have the confidence to go up on stage and sing these personal songs. The path of life is so interesting. If I hadn’t lost my confidence, I wouldn’t have gotten into art and illustration, I wouldn’t have met my fiance, and that’s how I regained my confidence. Life wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t had that hiatus.” Contrasts formed Kitten Grenade and continue to give it a full-bodied sound, with ukulele playing that is both sweet and seriously soulful.

Kitten Grenade

With Electric Strawberry and The Stand Out State
Friday, May 2
7pm, $10
DNA Lounge
375 11th St, SF
(415) 626-1409

tUnE-yArDs Tuesday


Oh, Merrill Garbus. Remember the days when the endearingly weird, weirdly endearing, predictably unpredictable tUnE-yArDs felt like an open Oakland secret, an East Bay girl (by way of the East Coast) who slowly but surely started to outgrow us?

Well, it’s official, she has — but in a good way. If the first couple singles off Nikki Nack are any indication, the album (out May 6 on 4AD) will be more slick, more produced, and just a little less all-over-the-place than her previous two records, 2009’s lo-fi debut Bird Brains and the album that launched her onto the national stage, 2011’s excellent Whokill.

But that’s not to say the new direction sounds boring — far from it. With dancefloor-ready synths front and center and a Janet Jackson-like callback, “Wait For A Minute,” which 4AD released today, sounds like Garbus has been listening to some ’90s R&B, which is (duh) always a choice we endorse. Give it a listen below .

She also just announced tour dates — catch her at the Fillmore June 6 with the Durham, NC-based Sylvan Esso.

The top 7 music-related things on the Internet that have nothing to do with Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin


Hey, did you hear that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay, are splitting up? Of course you did. Did you actually read through an entire news item about it before remembering that Gwyneth Paltrow is the most insufferable actress you can think of, and that’s really saying something because there are a lot of them? Then there’s the fact that Coldplay is, without exaggeration, one of the most boring bands that currently exists in the vast, vast landscape of offensively boring, mall-friendly, easily digested pop-rock music. It’s the musical equivalent of an unsalted rice cake.

The idea that any music fan is spending any amount of time today reading clickbait about this topic hurts us. It hurts our hearts. With that in mind: Here are seven good music-related things to do on the Internet today, none of which are trying desperately to sound like a watered-down version of Radiohead and failing.

1. Read our feature on Sharon Jones kicking cancer’s ass and coming back stronger and sassier than ever before — with a brand-new album and an indignant stance on American healthcare.

2. Listen to a track off Mikal Cronin’s new record, which drops next Tuesday.

3. Watch Jon Stewart talk about his punk days in Jersey with the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes.

4. Read our interview with Stephen Malkmus, in which he discusses the Jicks’ new album, name-checks Ty Segall and tUnE-yArDs, and advises teens to stop sexting and start a band.

5. Read the East Bay Express’ profile of Meklit Hadero, cover star of our On the Rise issue last week.

6. Check out LA-based funksters Vulfpeck‘s highly creative use of Spotify to simultaneously fund a bunch of free shows and call out Spotify for not supporting musicians more, with a full album of silent songs that clock in at just over 30 seconds each, the length of time after which Spotify pays bands whopping royalties. Just kidding about the whopping part.

7. Pay your respects: Today, March 26, is both Steven Tyler’s and Diana Ross’ birthday. Tyler, 66, is celebrating by advocating for copyright protections in our nation’s capital. Ross, 70, appears to be doing a lot of casino shows throughout the Midwest, and also still looks goddamn fabulous in a sparkly gown. It’s also the 17th anniversary of the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide.

Sorry. Um. Celebrate/mourn that one however you will. We’ll be over here with Alicia Silverstone.


Down at the Rickshaw



TOFU AND WHISKEY The Rickshaw Stop has a pretty basic modus operandi: Shows should be fun and bands should be treated well. Hey, it’s a method that’s worked so far. San Francisco’s eclectic, two-story, rock-pop-dance venue on the edge of Hayes Valley opened in January 2004 — exactly 10 years back. The popular independent and locally owned venue has since hosted a slew of then-rising major acts across genres and weekly packed shows for all ages (depending on the night in question).

“God, there are so many great memories,” says longtime Rickshaw Stop talent buyer Dan Strachota.

MIA played the 400-person Rickshaw Stop many years back and climbed right up on the piano while performing. Once, Jens Lenkmen walked through an awestruck crowd and kept singing on his way to a couch, taking a load off mid-show. During a raucous, out-of-control Monotonix gig, a fan in a wheelchair crowd surfed through the Israeli punk trio’s San Francisco set. South Africa’s Die Antwoord brought clamoring crowds, as has DJ Funk at Blow Up, Jonathan Richman, Toro y Moi, Glass Candy, Jessie Ware, Grimes, Vampire Weekend, tUnE-yArDs, Sharon Jones, and Mayer Hawthorne. There was once an iTunes showcase that featured back-to-back sets, weirdly enough, by Jolie Holland, Sammy Hagar, and E-40.

And to think, during all those shows, at least one guy was likely trying to finagle his way into one of the actual rickshaws scattered around the venue. (The comedian Robin Williams once did it too, if you’re curious about random star power).

So in celebration of those 10 years of fun and mayhem, the Rickshaw Stop (155 Fell, SF; www.rickshawstop.com) is throwing a near week-long mini fest, inviting back old favorites including gifted rocker Mikal Cronin with fellow locals Cool Ghouls and Cocktails (Wed/8, 8pm, $17); dramatic, synth-popped Geographer (Thu/9, sold out); experimental pop duo YACHT (Fri/10, 9pm, $20); and queer dance party Cockblock (Sat/11, 10pm, $10). There’s also Leslie and the Lys with Double Duchess and DJ Kidd Sysko (Sun/12, 8pm, $16), which should be an extra-fun dance pop evening. (There was a show Jan. 7 as well, kicking off the fest, with the Spits, Violent Change, and Crez DeeDee.)

The venue is offering a weeklong pass for the event at $65, for those who know they’ll be showing up nightly. And it’ll be giving away free limited edition posters for all the individual shows during the fest.

“The idea behind the headliners was [that] we wanted bands that had all played the club before, that we loved both musically and as people, and that had gone on to play larger venues. For openers, I wanted to do what we always try to do — pick great, fun local bands that will fit nicely with the headliners,” says Strachota.

Strachota has been involved with the venue since day one, in one form or another — DJing the opening night celebration, then throwing a regular party dubbed Three Kinds of Stupid. He began booking some six months into the venue’s run. The western Massachusetts native moved to San Francisco in 1990 and worked previously as the music editor at SF Weekly and as a freelance music writer. But booking was something new when the Rickshaw first opened. “I liked the challenge of starting a club from scratch,” he says.

While the venue has had its fair share of hits, including breaking major acts and hosting ingenious yearly Noise Pop nights, there are also those rare times when it misses a chance at a touring act. It had a first shot at booking Lorde in SF but didn’t realize how quickly she’d blow up. It also, incredibly, never hosted Thee Oh Sees (and yes, it might be awhile now. See below).

Strachota notes his only other main frustration comes from “when no one shows up for a great band and you have no idea why.”

That said, he’s consistently amazed by the enthusiasm of audiences for the broad spectrum of acts they pack in. “We’re really proud of our diversity. That’s something I’ve always strived for. And our staff really clamors for. They don’t want the same thing every night.”

One random week at the club might play host to an up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band, a Nerd Nite talk or Moth StorySLAM, and a lesbian dance party. This week, however, will be an even glitzier lineup — a sort of best-of mix of the lively venue’s thrilling past decade.



I’d be remiss if I didn’t note a certain pang of despair after learning in late December of John Dwyer’s SF abandonment. The Thee Oh Sees front person is much more than his current band (now on hiatus). He’s a San Francisco art punk-garage rock icon, having cutting his teeth in the late ’90s and early aughts in seminal SF bands Pink and Brown and the Coachwhips before achieving even more national acclaim with Thee Oh Sees. He screamed into megaphones and invited the crowds to circle in closer, closer even.

He was one of the last holdouts of a dwindling local DIY scene, and news of his departure for sunny LA sent shockwaves through the blogosphere. One friend posted: “Somewhere I read, ‘If John Dwyer leaves, you really know it’s an end of an era’ and well, it’s an end of an era.” SF Weekly was first to report the move, quoting Dwyer at the Great American Music Hall — “This will be the last Oh Sees show for a long while, so dig in” — and confirming with the band’s booking agent, Annie Southworth, that Thee Oh Sees would indeed be going on indefinite hiatus. In the meantime, hold your rockers closer tonight.



Speaking of art punk legends, Ian Svenonius’ Chain & the Gang is back! The DC group, led by the lithe former Make-Up, Nation of Ulysses, and Weird War front person has a sound that matches its moniker. It’s the shrieking, chain-dragging rock ‘n’ roll of weirdo outlaws (the Gang including organ, saxophone, and traditional guitar-drums-bass). Svenonius’ gang comes to SF with the Shivas, a quite young fellow K Records act that pays tribute to fuzzy ’60s dance rock and throws in some horror surf in all the wavy, beat-filled, harmonious ways you’d hope for. The Shivas released its debut LP, Whiteout, on K this past April. A few spins of the record are highly recommended before the show. It makes you want to make out on the beach at night. Thu/9, 7pm, $8. Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, SF; www.makeoutroom.com. *


Years Latyr(x)



When the last Latyrx album, The Album, came out in August 1997, hip-hop was still trying to figure out its footing in a post-Biggie and Tupac world. The duo, made up of East Bay rappers Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker, was one of the first conscious acts to make waves in that world before the actual subgenre of conscious or progressive hip-hop solidified.

But 16 years is almost half the lifespan of hip-hop and every cultural aspect associated with it. Countless micro-genres, fads, and rappers have emerged, disappeared, and assumed their position in the annals of style during the years after The Album and before Latyrx’s follow-up. Though the game has changed between the last time they collaborated and the release of 2013 full-length The Second Album (Latyramid), Lyrics Born and Lateef have still been putting work in the hip-hop industrial complex. Combined, they’ve put out more than a couple dozen solo albums, remix records, EPs, live albums, and mixtapes.


So why get the band back together? Lyrics Born puts it simply “[The Album] was such a milestone in our lives and careers. It was something we always planned to revisit but never had the opportunity to do so. It was definitely one of the top five questions I was always asked by fans. ‘When are you guys gonna do the next Latyrx album?’ It was just sort of time.” A second Latyrx album was announced on Lyrics Born’s website back in early 2007, but there was little movement until a few years later. The duo realized it better finally get cracking on the follow-up record when it was invited to do a show in 2010 with local jazz maestro Adam Theis of the Jazz Mafia group at the Mezzanine — and witnessed the immensely warm reaction to its set the following year at Outside Lands. Following those two performances, it was apparent that another Latyrx record needed to happen: “The window was right, so we got in the studio” says Lateef.

The most striking element of The Second Album is the feeling that each track comes from a different album. “It’s Time” features Zion I incorporating whizzing Transformers-like synths. “Gorgeous Spirits” is a booty-shaking clubbanger. The two tracks featuring tUnE-yArDs’ Merrill Garbus — “Watershed Moment” (also featuring longtime collaborater Blackalicious’ Gift of Gab) and “Deliberate Gibberish” — each shine in uniquely differing ways. “Deliberate Gibberish” sounds like it was culled from a fast-paced spoken word album and “Watershed Moment” percolates with a bouncy and eccentric flow. “There’s really no reason why a song like [‘Deliberate Gibberish’] should exist. It’s like the anti-song, the anti-hip-hop song in the sense that there’s no drums, it’s just Merrill from tUnE-yArDs doing these weird voices in the background,” says Lyrics Born, on working with the indie-art pop crooner.

The seemingly out-of-nowhere appearances of Garbus on the LP is due to an artist retreat in New Orleans. The conference put on by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) organization (which put on the Tibetan Freedom Concert series) is described by Lyrics Born as “an effort to coordinate artist with nonprofits.”

“We were there looking at the aftermath and recovery with the Gulf oil spills as well as the recovery from Katrina. We spent a lot of time in the gulf and different neighborhoods connecting with other musicians and orgs to get involved there. It was amazing to see the spirit that the city has.”

Those drawn to Latyrx for its conscious aesthetic will find its progressive expectations satisfied. Its signature wordplay ricochets throughout the album, railing against crass commercialism, gun culture, and the overall desolate situation faced by many struggling Americans today.

Some may argue that progressive hip-hop is a relic from another generation, but for Lyrics Born, being an artist in 2013 is no different than in ’97. “It means what it’s always meant: I can’t do today what I did yesterday. That’s really how we approached this record and all my records. Neither of us is interested in covering ground that’s already been covered.”

Things are going well on the underground alt-rap stalwarts’ current tour together, and in the next year, Latyrx will be doing a larger world tour. As for the now-looming question about a third Latyrx album, the duo says: “We just hope the third one doesn’t take another 16 years to create. This last album was a chance for us to get back to doing what we do best. We got a lot of our solo stuff out of our system. The world needs unusual records right now.”


With Forrest Day, DJ Aaron Axelsen

Nov. 20, 9pm, $25


628 Divisadero, SF



Selector: May 15-21, 2013



Appleseed Cast

Change seems to be the only constant for Lawrence, Kansas’ meandering Appleseed Cast. Chris Crisci’s 14-year-old band has produced eight albums, dabbled in about as many different genres, and has a revolving-door lineup that would exhaust any frontperson. But Crisci shows no signs of tiring. In fact, the lyrics for the band’s most recent album, this year’s Illumination Ritual, were written over the course of three nights, between the hours of midnight and 4am. Though the band’s career has arced far from its oldschool emo beginnings, the vespertine Illumination Ritual gets back to its moody roots. With a fresh lineup and a nostalgic new sound, the Appleseed Cast’s tender instrumentals and Crisci’s earnest vocals have never sounded so good. (Haley Zaremba)

With Hospital Ships, the Dandelion War

8:30pm, $14

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St, SF

(415) 626-4455




Here’s an idea for a surrealist film: enter one hotel room and find metal hands that respond to their viewers, enter another and find a strange light sculpture, then cut to a performance of a synchronized swimming team in a pool in the courtyard. This is no film plot, but a description of ArtPad, the arts fair that will take over the entire Phoenix Hotel for three days. With galleries from the Bay Area and beyond filling every room with experimental exhibitions, while food, drink, and performances contribute to the festive vibe, the event promises to be surreally epic. (Laura Kerry)

Through May 19


Phoenix Hotel

601 Eddy, SF



Liss Fain

It was almost exactly a year ago that Liss Fain Dance premiered her luminous The Water is Clear and Still at Z Space. It’s perhaps her must successful collaboration with her longtime designer Matthew Antaky, who created a translucent multi-level space that welcomed Fain’s choreography and her fine dancers. It was one of those wondrous installation pieces that you could walk around in, but most of us stayed glued to our spots in an attempt to catch everything. Water is steeped in Jamaica Kincaid’s lyrical memories of a Caribbean childhood, both painful and exotic. Fain now has added a prologue. Solid Ground, based on Kincaid’s latest book, in which she revisits those childhood memories from a mature woman’s perspective. The piece is also moving from Z Space to YBCA’s Forum, which has successfully hosted other Liss Fain Dance installations. (Rita Felciano)

Thu/16-Sat/18, 8pm; Sun/19, 5pm forum, $15–$30

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

700 Howard, SF



Sandra Bernhard

It’s hard to pinpoint the moment when one learned that Sandra Bernhard was amazing. The stand-up comedian has been doing the damn thing for so long (since the ’70s), that she’s always just — been around, a fixture of the alternative culture firmament. A foulmouthed, straightforward, erudite queer back when they never made it network TV, she languidly lent cameos to Isaac Mizrahi’s Stripped and Madonna’s Truth or Dare, turned in seam-busting rants for her epic performance art-concert films like 1990’s Without You, I’m Nothing, and yes, was the first regular-appearing gay character on a network sitcom on Roseanne. To miss Bernhard’s first run in San Francisco in two years would be a revocation of your cool card, don’t do it. (Caitlin Donohue)

Also Fri/17

9pm, $45

Bimbo’s 365 Club

1025 Columbus, SF

(415) 474-0365



Big Boi

Any lingering notions of Big Boi as the “conventional” half of legendary Atlanta hip-hop duo Outkast should be dispelled by his two solo albums, including his most recent effort Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, released last November. Aided by cameos from Phantogram and Little Dragon in “Vicious,” Big Boi dives into rock guitars, female vocalists, and electronic bass to present a fearless, kaleidoscopic vision of rap. Track “Objectum Sexuality” sees Big Boi wax lyrical about women in between Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel’s floating vocals, a French interlude, and samples of atmospheric harp plucking. And just when you think he has slipped too far into moody, indie-fusion territory, Big Boi snaps you back with a devastating, horns-laden, proudly Atlantan club banger “In the A” with T.I. and Ludacris. (Kevin Lee)

With Killer Mike, Fishhawk, Goast

8:30pm, $35


444 Jessie

(415) 625-8880



Janelle Monae at the SF Symphony

“Is it peculiar that she twerk in the mirror?” You can’t really blame her if you’ve caught R&B andro-angel Janelle Monae’s newest single with Erykah Badu “Q.U.E.E.N.” — the ode to iconoclasm, with its simple, catchy bass line is the perfect soundtrack to strutting and popping in front of reflective surfaces. Catch the singer’s turn with the SF Symphony tonight — the musicians have prepared original arrangements for her songs, and you’ll get tunes from her new album to boot. The ticket price is fairly astronomical, but the evening is a fundraiser for the Symphony’s educational programs, so there’s that. Plus attendees are granted access to a pre-show sparkling wine reception and after-party at City Hall. (Donohue)

7pm reception, 8pm concert, $90-$275

Davies Symphony Hall

201 Van Ness, SF



Midi Matilda

The first time I was confronted with local pop duo Midi Matilda, I was not-so-patiently waiting for Starfucker to take the stage at the Regency Lodge last September. Not expecting much from an electronic duo that was playing one of its very first shows, I was dumbstruck by the second song. Midi Matilda is the embodiment of everything that’s missing from contemporary twee-pop. It has a sense of intimacy, soul, and joy, embodied by great hooks and hilarious choreographed dances that are absolutely infectious. Operating backward from most bands, Midi Matilda wrote and recorded music before it ever established a live presence, gaining attention on the web with its “Day Dreams” music video. The duo’s catchy, dreamy pop songs make for a nice listen, but it is its goofy antics and blissful onstage presence that make a great new addition to the San Francisco music scene. (Zaremba)

With OONA, holychild

8:30pm, $12

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011


Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

“You’re Supposed To Roll Your Hips In Time/ You’re Supposed To See Your Age Rewind” intones Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. on the bright electronic pop track “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor),” off its new Patterns EP. On its albums, the Detroit duo of Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein alternate between aw-shucks folksiness and the party-hearty synth-and-rock of MGMT and Phoenix. While firmly rooted in the here and now, DEJJ have shown respect to its musical inspirations with covers to classics by Madonna and the Beach Boys. The duo paid homage to Gil-Scott Heron with a shimmering, upbeat take on his funk classic “We Almost Lost Detroit,” resplendent with a video showcasing authentic locals and establishments from the Motor City. (Lee)

9pm, $16


628 Divisadero

(415) 771-1421




A 16-minute song has to do a lot of work to keep its listeners invested, but the strange thing about Disappears’ “Kone” off of the band’s April EP is that it is compelling because it doesn’t seem to make too much of an effort. An experiment in Kraut and psych-rock, the song harkens back to the very beginnings of proto-punk; though it involves less muddy intensity, it recalls those stretches in some Velvet Underground songs that don’t feel the need to arrive anywhere, but simply relish the ride. And isn’t that the aim of any good concert? It certainly will be at the Disappears’ Bottom of the Hill show. (Kerry)

With LENZ, the Tambo Rays

10pm, $12

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 626-4455



Exrays and Mwahaha

Going to the Lab is like a weekly, weekend celebration of “the other.” You might see any combination of drag, performance art interludes, or Sunday’s ritual Godwaffle Noise Pancakes, but should definitely count on some underground, experimental shit. Hidden among the crowded club corridor along 16th and Mission, at times it becomes a mini-rave cave. This Sat/18 should be no exception to those guidelines when Exrays (members of THEMAYS and Maus Haus) bring their old-school Atari-sounding glitchiness. The band hangs on to fun melodies while the frontperson delivers mopey vocals (it could just be that his voice is deep). Oakland’s Mwahaha headlines and goes for more of a sensory overload approach. It’s collaborated with tUnE-yArDs and will open for Sigur Ros in London this summer. (Andre Torrez)

With Seventeen Evergreen, Mohani

9pm, $7–$15 (sliding scale)


2948 16th St., SF

(415) 864-8855



Hunx and His Punx

It was a dark day here in the Bay when Seth Bogart, a.k.a Hunx, packed up his bags and moved to Los Angeles, leaving the city’s burgeoning garage rock scene a little less gay in every way. Despite this tragic loss, Bogart hasn’t slowed down at all since his relocation, with a variety web TV show (Hollywood Nailz), his own novelty record label (Wacky Wacko), a new solo album, and a brand new Hunx and His Punx record on the way. Despite the 2011 dissolution of the Punkettes, Hunx still rocks a deliciously genderqueer persona and is backed by some truly kickass ladies. This intimate show, featuring bandmate Shannon Shaw’s own group Shannon and the Clams as well as fellow SF ex-pat Ty Segall’s Fuzz is like a big, happy Bay Area reunion — and everyone’s invited! (Zaremba)

With Shannon and the Clams, Fuzz, Peach Kelli Pop, Twin Steps

8pm, $15

New Parish

579 18th St, Oakl.

(510) 444-7474



Gothic Tropic

For a band that has released so little music — only the 2011 EP Awesome Problems — Gothic Tropic has a developed sense of itself. Part of it is in frontperson Cecilia Della Peruti’s tendency to perform shoeless so as not restrict her dance moves. Another aspect arises in her nickname for the trio, “the Sacred Three.” The primary feature, though, is the band’s sound. As its name suggests, Gothic Tropic plays sunny and exotic psych-pop tinted with some grit and darkness, and it plays it well. See the band in all of it’s fully-formed glory at Brick and Mortar. (Kerry)

With Seatraffic, Cruel Summer

9pm, $10

Brick and Mortar

1710 Mission, SF

(415) 800-8782



“Eating Nose-to-Tail: The Whole Animal Movement”

Let’s face it, Americans loves meat. But everyday consumers and informed connoisseurs are grappling with an increasing number of unanswered health and environmental questions with their meat, questions that an increasingly centralized food industry has left mostly unanswered. Unsatisfied with the growing gaps along the production chain, farmers, butchers, and chefs have banded together under the Whole Animal movement, which emphasizes using all of an animal for preparation and consumption. At this talk, four of the Bay Area’s meat authorities slice into how the movement stresses conservation and connects local producers, preparers, and eaters. After the talk, Dave the Butcher gives a whole animal butchery lesson while diners delve into delectables at the Ferry Building, with proceeds going to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. (Lee)

With Chris Cosentino, Ryan Farr, John Fink and Tia Harrison

6:30pm program, $12–$20; 8pm butchering demo, $80–$100

Commonwealth Club

95 Market

(415) 597-6700


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On the Rise: Trails and Ways


This is the year we’ll finally get to spend some QT with Trilingual, which will technically be Trails and Ways’ debut LP. Though there’s still no release date or label, it will be coming out in 2013. It seems like we’ve been hearing about this much-anticipated release for ages, given all the buzzy blog love thrust on the Oakland indie-pop quartet.

And when I say anticipated, I mean it. Trails and Ways even made it on Hype Machine’s list of the “Most Blogged About Artists of 2012,” partially due to chatter about Trilingual, but likely more to the ingenious covers of Miike Snow, M83, and the like by guitarist-synth master Hannah Van Loon, rhythm guitarist Keith Brower Brown, bassist Emma Oppen, and drummer Ian Quirk.

The band is savvy, and knows how to keep up the momentum for its own projects. It’s posted dreamy official videos for tracks off the upcoming record, including “MTN Tune” and “Border Crosser.” And since December 2012, Trails and Ways have been slowly releasing songs for a remix EP, including one for “Border Crosser” by another On the Rise 2013 act: the Seshen.

Of course there’s more to T&W than a media-hold; the root reason for the frenzy is the music itself. Along with tropical synths, technical guitarwork, and Afro-pop inspired rat-a-tat drums, there’s the four glorious female-male multi-part harmonies that warm and come together like a picturesque sunrise on any given white sand beach (with or without tequila). It’s snark-proof, globally inspired pop, with hints of Brazilian tones, Spanish language snippets, and the occasional whistle, or group ooh-ooh.

Description of sound: You say bossa nova dream pop, I say Brazilian shoegaze.

What you like most about the Bay Area music scene: Our friends Bells Atlas, Astronauts Etc., the Bilinda Butchers, Waterstrider, the Seshen, and the widespread non-commercial ethos of groove.

What piece of music means a lot to you: Pat Metheny Group ft. David Bowie, “This Is Not America”; This song sounds like the boundary waters of dream pop and smooth jazz and it was my favorite song from my dad’s whole CD collection and I think I learned how to use a stereo by hitting repeat for this song.

Favorite local eatery and dish: Oasis Food Market falafel sandwich.

Who would you most like to tour with: tUnE-yArDs.


Haley Zaremba’s Top 10 Concerts of 2012


For our annual Year in Music issue, I asked local musicians, rappers, producers, and music writers to sound off on the year’s best songs, album releases, shows – pretty much anything they wanted, music-wise. For the next few days, I’ll be posting them up individually on the Noise blog. You can also check the full list here.

Haley Zaremba, Guardian
Top 10 Concerts of 2012

1. El Ten Eleven at the New Parish

2. Good Old War at Slim’s

3. Girls at Bimbo’s

4. St. Vincent and Tune-Yards at The Fox

5. Bomb the Music Industry! at Bottom of the Hill

6. Fucked Up at Slim’s

7. Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at the Fillmore

8. Ariel Pink at Bimbo’s

9. Conor Oberst at the Fillmore

10. Titus Andronicus at the Great American Music Hall

YEAR IN MUSIC 2012: Top 10s Galore


YEAR IN MUSIC Local musicians, rappers, producers, and music writers sound off on the year’s best songs, album releases, shows, personal triumphs, and local acts.





TOP 10 OF 2012

1. Starting our own label HLR and releasing our own record (Internal Logic)

2. Total Control’s LP

3. Touring with the Raincoats and singing “Lola” with them every night

4. Getting obsessed with Silver Apples

5. Hollywood Nails

6. Wymond Miles LP

7. Scrapers (band)

8. Sacred Paws (band)

9. Making eight music videos and losing my mind

10. Wet Hair’s LP




TOP 10 2012 RAP JAMZ

1. DJ Nate, “Gucci Gogglez” 2. Chief Keef, “Ballin” 3. French Montana, “Shot Coller” 4. Chippy Nonstop, “Money Dance” DJ Two Stacks remix 5. Cash Out, “Cashin’ Out” 6. Future, “Turn on the Lights” 7. Gucci Mane, “Bussin Juggs” 8. Juicy J, “Drugged Out” 9. Lil Mouse, “Don’t Get Smoked” 10. Lil Reese, “Traffic” feat. Chief Keef







1. Les Sins/”Fetch”/12″ (Jiaolong)

Run, fall, catch your desire.

2. The Soft Moon/”Want”/Zeros (Captured Tracks)

Infinite want, can’t have it. O, ye of bad faith.

3. Frank Ocean/”Pyramids”/channel ORANGE (Def Jam)

Pimping Cleopatra, whoring the pyramids.

4. Daphni aka Caribou/”Ye ye”/Jiaolong (Jiaolong)

Affirmation on repeat.

5. Grimes/”Genesis”/Visions (4AD)

Whatever, you know you like it.

6. Todd Terje/”Inspector Norse”/It’s the Arps (Olsen/Smalltown Supersound)

Inspecting never felt so good.

7. Burial/”Kindred”/Kindred (Hyperdub)

Kindred outcasts, jealously desiring their solitude.

8.John Talabot/”Estiu”/Fin (Permanent Vacation)

If a permanent vacation wasn’t hell, this might be its soundtrack.

9. Purity Ring/”Obedear”/Shrines (4AD)

Nothing pure in this abject need.

10. Kendrick Lamar/”A.D.H.D.”/good kid m.A.A.d city (Interscope)

Crack babies: she says, distracted, endless desire.





1. Toro Y Moi 2. Christopher Willits 3. Blackbird Blackbird 4. Jessica Pratt 5. Sam Flax 6. Ty Segall 7. Yalls 8. Doombird 9. Little Foxes 10. Dusty Brown





1. Dawnbringer, Into the Lair of the Sun God (Profound Lore)

2. Asphyx, Deathhammer (Century Media)

3. Woods of Ypres, V: Grey Skies & Electric Light (Earache)

4. Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, Blood Lust (Metal Blade)

5. Pallbearer, Sorrow And Extinction (Profound Lore)

6. Windhand, Windhand (Forcefield Records)

7. Omens EP

8. Hour of 13, 333 (Earache)

9. Gojira, L’enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner)

10. Lord Dying, Demo





1. The Shins, Port Of Morrow (Amazon — forgive me, I had a gift card.)

2. The Walkmen, Heaven (Urban Outfitters clearance — yeah, I know, but you can’t beat brand-new vinyl for $10.)

3. Various Artists, Death Might Be Your Santa Claus (Boo Boo Records, San Luis Obispo. My hometown record store.)

4. Ella Fitzgerald, Live at Montreaux (Boo Boo Records, San Luis Obispo)

5. Mahalia Jackson, Christmas With Mahalia (Abbot’s Thrift, Felton, CA — Great thrift store in the Santa Cruz Mountains.)

6. Benjamin Britten/Copenhagen Boys Choir, A Ceremony Of Carols (Abbot’s Thrift, Felton, Calif.)

7. Thurston Moore, Demolished Thoughts (Urban Outfitters clearance)

8. The Hunches, Exit Dreams (1234Go! Records, Oakland)

9. Various Artists/Angelo Badalamenti, Wild At Heart OST (Streetlight Records, Santa Cruz)

10. Tijuana Panthers, “Crew Cut” seven-inch (Picked up at show — Brick and Mortar Music Hall, San Francisco)





1. Sleepy Todd

2. Tommy McDonald of The Range of Light Wilderness

3. Emily Ritz of Yesway and DRMS (biased opinion, I know)

4. Kyle Field of Little Wings

5. Alexi Glickman of Sandy’s

6. Michael Musika

7. Bart Davenport

8. Indianna Hale

9. Jeffrey Manson

10. Sonya Cotton





1. El Ten Eleven at the New Parish

2. Good Old War at Slim’s

3. Girls at Bimbo’s

4. St Vincent and Tune-Yards at The Fox

5. Bomb the Music Industry! at Bottom of the Hill

6. Fucked Up at Slim’s

7. Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at the Fillmore

8. Ariel Pink at Bimbo’s

9. Conor Oberst at the Fillmore

10. Titus Andronicus at the Great American Music Hall




BEST OF 2012

1. “See All Knows All,” A Thing By Sonny Smith at The Lost Church.

2. “Silent Music” music ephemera show at Vacation (651 Larkin) curated by Lee Reymore, opening party set by the Fresh and Onlys, after -party pot cookie monsters invade the Gangway.

3. Dusty Stax & The Bold Italic Present: “Summer Soul Friday Night”.

4. Wax Idol’s Hether Fortune fronting the Birthday Party cover band at Vacation.

5. Jessica Pratt’s debut LP (Birth Records).

6. Bambi Lake at the Museum of Living Art.

7. Pruno Truman, aka Heidi Alexander from the Sandwitches “Sleeping with the TV on” b/w Carletta Sue Kay “No, no” (Weird World).

8. Opening for Baby Dee at Brick & Mortar Music Hall.

9. Kelley Stoltz’s cover of “Sunday Morning” on Velvet Underground and Nico by Castle Face & Friends (Castle Face).

10. Christopher Owens premiers Lysandre live at the Lodge.

11. Mark Eitzel’s Don’t Be A Stranger (Merge) and its accompanying promo video series. Featuring Grace Zabriskie, Neil Hamburger, Parker Gibbs et al.





1. “Spinning Centers” Chelsea Wolfe: Unknown Rooms

2. “Who Needs Who” Dark Dark Dark: Who Needs Who

3. “Oblivion,” Grimes: Visions

4. “Old Magic” Mariee Sioux: Gift for the End

5. “Apostle” Marissa Nadler: The Sister

6. “In Your Nature” Zola Jesus: seven-inch (w/ David Lynch Re-Mix)

7. “Silent Machine” Cat Power: Sun

8. “Moon in My Mind,” Frankie Rose: Interstellar

9. “Serpents,” Sharon Van Etten: Tramp

10. “Video Games,” Lana Del Rey: Born to Die





1.Moons, Bloody Mouth

2.Patti Smith, Banga

3.Mykki Blanco, Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss Mixtape


5.Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid m.A.A.d city

6.Shady Hawkins, Dead to Me

7.Howth, Newkirk

8. Bikini Kill EP (reissue)

9. Sharky Coast, Pizza Dreamz demo

10. FIDLAR, No Waves/No Ass seven-inch





1. Air, Le voyage dans la lune

2. Naytronix, Dirty Glow

3. I Come To Shanghai, Eternal Life Vol. 2

4. Beak, >>

5. Steve Moore and Majeure, Brainstorm

6. Clipd Beaks, Wake

7. Brian Eno, LUX

8. Neurosis, Honor Found in Decay


1. Pulp at the Warfield: Think that was this year. Cocker sings sexy

2. Red Red Red: just saw this guy play at a warehouse in Oakland…live house music made with actual hardware!

3. Flying Lotus at the Fox was pretty epic….. insane visuals.

5. Lumerians at the Uptown

6. Neurosis at the Fox: Fuck!

7. Deerhoof at SXSW ….. maybe the best live band in the universe

8. Indian Jewelry at the Terminal …. strobe light universe





1. Feb. 14: Black Cobra, Walken, Yob at New Parish

2. Feb. 23: Budos Band and Allah-Lahs at the Independent

3. March 30: Hot Snakes at Bottom of the Hill

4. April 10: Jeff Mangum at the Fox Theater,

5. July 21: Fresh and Onlys and La Sera at Phono Del Sol Music Fest

6. July 28: Total Trash BBQ Weekend at the Continental Club

7. Aug. 11: Metallica at Outside Lands

8. Aug. 31: Eyehategod at Oakland Metro

9. Oct. 9: Saint Vitus at the Independent

10. Oct. 27: Coachwhips and Traditional Fools at Verdi Club



1. Grass Widow, Internal Logic (HLR)

2. Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory (Carpark)

3. Ty Segall, Slaughterhouse (In the Red)

4. Dum Dum Girls, End of Daze EP (Sub Pop)

5. Frankie Rose, Interstellar (Slumberland)

6. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Alleluja! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

7. The Fresh and Onlys, Long Slow Dance (Mexican Summer)

8. THEESatisfaction, awE naturalE (Sub Pop)

9. Terry Malts, Killing Time (Slumberland)

10. Guantanamo Baywatch, Chest Crawl (Dirtnap Records)





1. Hiatus Kaiyote: Tawk Tomahawk (self-released) I could tell you that a bunch of white Australians somehow merged the sound-worlds of Erykah Badu, J Dilla, and Thundercat into a 30-minute, self-released debut LP that rivals the best work of any of those musicians, but you just might have to hear for yourself: hiatuskaiyote.bandcamp.com.

2. Lone: Galaxy Garden (R&S) This is the Lone album we’ve been waiting for. The British laptop producer’s past efforts, while exquisitely lush, were inhibited by a sense of hollow simplicity; Galaxy Garden, his danciest effort yet, shows improvement on nearly every front, from generously layered percussion, to a nuanced, bittersweet take on melody and harmony. A gorgeous fulfillment of Lone’s hedonistic vision.

3. Scott Walker: Bish Bosch (4AD) Difficult as it is to proclaim Bish Bosch 2012’s best album, (its hulking weight and unyielding grimness renders casual listening a difficult proposition) no LP this year has matched its gutsiness and sonic adventurousness, or consolidated so many ideas into a singular space. An array of musical possibilities as dense, thorny, and encyclopedic as a Pynchon novel, with Walker’s quivering, operatic baritone as its sole, anchoring force.

4. Zammuto: s/t (Temporary Residence) Former Books member Nick Zammuto’s solo debut impresses with its vitality and strength of purpose. Despite the heightened emphasis on conventional songwriting this time around, Zammuto strikes that divine balance between bewildering sound-collage and pop approachability that made the Books such an endearing project in the first place.

5. Tame Impala: Lonerism (Modular) Kevin Parker’s first LP as a lone, multitracking solo artist under the Tame Impala moniker, is a bubbly, golden pop album, despite its pervasive theme of existential dread. Its hooks achieve a weird form of transcendence, befitting the Beatles and Britney Spears in equal measure.

6. Laurel Halo: Quarantine (Hyperdub) Much like Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica (2011), Quarantine is ideal soundtrack material for those late-night, marathon web-surfing sessions that seem to transcend time and space. Halo’s cold, glassy electronics are anchored by dry, straightforward vocals on an album that occupies a mysterious void between vocal pop and ambient electronica.

7. Field Music: Plumb (Memphis Industries) Less a song-cycle than a series of hooks, Field Music’s latest is the work of a band with a hundred wonderful ideas up its sleeve, and only 35 minutes to communicate them. Channeling the impulsive energy of Abbey Road‘s second half with proggy dexterity, Plumb cements this vastly underrated British outfit as one of the most visionary songwriting duos around.

8. THEESatisfaction: awE naturalE (Sub Pop) Splitting the difference between progressive hip-hop and neo-soul, this Seattle duo’s breakthrough record zips through its 30-minute run-time with remarkable tenacity and economy. Bearing the exhilarating energy of J Dilla’s rip-roaring beat-tapes, and shrewd lyricism that effortlessly balances the political, the personal, and the cosmic, awE naturalE feels urgently, confrontationally NOW.

9. Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin: Live (ECM) Not quite nu-jazz, math-rock, or classical minimalism, Swiss ensemble Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin is as compelling, and innovative, as any live band around, tackling Reichian time signatures with the borderline robotic technical ability of Juilliard grads, and the undeniable groove of an airtight funk band.

10. d’Eon: LP (Hippos In Tanks) Approaching the tongue-in-cheek meta-pop of James Ferraro’s Far Side Virtual with a twisted mythology of Christianity and Islam vs. iPhones and the Internet, and a bizarrely heavy dose of Phil Collins’ influence, d’Eon’s LP‘s totally dubious backstory is redeemed by solid songwriting, lush synths, killer keyboard solos, and a ’70s big-time art-rock sensibility. The most convoluted release to date from the prankish Hippos In Tanks imprint.

Honorable mention: Farrah Abraham: My Teenage Dream Ended (self-released) You can’t make this shit up: the year’s weirdest, most haunted and terrifying album wasn’t brought to us by Swans or Scott Walker, but the star of MTV’s Teen Mom. Trapped between the real world, and a web-based alter-reality, it’s the sound of an All American girl, brought up on The Notebook and Titanic, finding herself imprisoned in a Lynchian nightmare.


Hi-fidelity weather



MUSIC Shellacked gummy worms, cherubic Ebay’d figurines, one of those ships in a glass bottle usually reserved for nautical-themed offices, a red bike reflector, a holarctic blue copper butterfly, a vintage stenograph. The physical items sit on separate pedestals as part of the release for Michael Zapruder’s newest album, Pink Thunder (www.michaelzapruder.com).

You have through Nov. 18 to visit the Curiosity Shoppe on Valencia in the Mission, stick some headphones on your ears, and press a small red button on a bubblegum-pink square circuit board affixed with a kitschy sculpture of a bear holding an empty pot attached, or that bowl of shellacked gummy worms, or that holarctic blue copper butterfly, and hear the single track encased within. Zapruder dubbed the structures “portmanteaus” after the linguistic term meaning two blended words.

These particular portmanteus are blends of vision and sound, sculpture and music. The objects, and the individual songs that pump out of them — Zapruder’s free-form pop built from poetry — force you, the listener, to think beyond your lazy current manner of music absorption.

“Just generally, I love the idea of a totally unconnected song. This is a song. That feels like an object that’s somewhere closer to the stature of the music, as opposed to a CD. This celebrates music. It dresses it up,” Oakland’s Zapruder says, smiling in the center of his portmanteaus.

Plus, it’s fun to touch the art.

“Imagine if you went into a record store and there weren’t that many things but each thing was really cool, you wanted to pick it up and play with it, and there was only one copy of each thing. Don’t you think that’d be cool?” He laughs after he says it. Could this be the future of the now-shuttered mega record stores? Could downsizing have saved the behemoths?

Of course, it all goes a bit deeper than that, the vision behind this multifaceted, six-year-long project.

“I think it’s good when people listen to stuff in an uncertain state. So many listening experiences are so familiar. You’re working on your computer and you’re listening, or you’re in a club. And it can be amazing. But you know what you’re going to get, you know the structure. [Pink Thunder] songs are all experimental, all free-composed. Hopefully they’re very listenable, but they’re odd, and I thought it’d be good for people to be in a ‘what is this?’ state.”

Though the songs are also being released through a few more traditional venues. Pink Thunder as a whole is the portmanteaus, each with one of 22 songs that are also compiled into CD form and 12-inch vinyl on The Kora Records (known for releasing records such as Philip Glass’ recent Reworked), seven-inches released by Howells Transmitter, which Zapruder helps run, and a bright pink poetry book, put out by Black Ocean.

The whole process took half a decade to create, completed with the Oct. 16 release on The Kora and the installation at Curiosity Shoppe, which opened in mid-October. Though clearly, the wider range of this project, beyond the physical objects, is the relationship between poetry and music.

It all began with a poetry tour organized by Seattle’s Wave Books; Zapruder’s renowned poet brother Matthew helps run the small publishing house. Zapruder jumped on the Green Tortoise poetry bus for a week of the 50-city tour and after a few false starts, he came up with the idea: “I wanted to see if songs could communicate those same kinds of things that these poets’ poems do.”

He gathered up poems by the likes of the Silver Jews’ David Berman, Carrie St. George Comer, Gillian Conoley, Noelle Kocot, Sierra Nelson, Hoa Nguyen, D. A. Powell, Mary Ruefle, James Tate, Joe Wenderoth, and his brother, and turned them into lyrics.

“The poets are such badasses,” Zapruder says, when asked if he sees the project as a way to deliver poetry to the masses. “Most of them are better known than me. The idea that I could give something to them, introduce people to their work, that’s incredible.”

As musician-writer Scott Pinkmountain says in the book’s introduction, “these are poets who understand that the big grabs — Love, Family, Confession, Death — can no longer be approached directly in a convincing way. Today’s audience is too savvy, too wary of manipulation and sentimentality. These poems instead stake their foundation on the minutia of accidental revelation, trusting the details of life to point out the bigger picture.”

We, as the music listener, hear this in the subtlety of a track like “Book of Life,” created from Noelle Kocot’s story about a monk and a phoenix meeting in the woods. At one point, the monk gives the phoenix a squirming worm — hence the shellacked bowl of gummy worms portmanteau at Curiosity Shoppe.

There are slightly more literal interpretations in songs such as the deceptively upbeat string-heavy “Storm Window,” based on the poem by Mary Ruefle, which tells a story of a sedentary couple — “She sat writing little poems of mist/he in his armchair/reading blood-red leather novels/their three-legged white cat wandering between them/24 champagne glasses sparkle on a shelf/never a one to be broken.” It’s about empty domestic harmony, so Zapruder created the portmanteau with that cheery Ebay bear holding an empty bowl. The found object is eerily revealing.

The project’s title came from Zapruder’s brother’s poem “Opera,” which ends with the line,”still riding your bike under pink hi-fidelity thunder.” (The object represented here is a red bicycle reflector.)

One of the more arresting combinations is for the song “John Lomax: I Work With Negroes.” The object is an old voltage meter. The poem, written by award-winning African-American author Tyehimba Jess, and subsequently the song, are about John Lomax, who “discovered” fabled blues musician Lead Belly in the 1930s.

The theme throughout is of the racism of exoticism, the way Lomax exoticized Lead Belly. “Racism that’s couched in admiration, this condescending accolade,” as Zapruder describes it. “So the idea [for the voltage meter] was that he’s constantly measuring and evaluating — but also, Lomax brought all this stuff in his car on tour, hundreds of pounds of equipment, so I thought maybe he had one of those.”

The piano-driven song is brief, just a minute and 35 seconds, but shifts from quiet plea to deep gravelly question mark, and back again, using multiple vocal backing tracks.

The songs often deviate, in tone, and in tempo. As a whole, it’s an impressive, if difficult listen. There are so many layers, so many twists and turns. They don’t have expected pop hooks, there isn’t a whole lot of repetition. Zapruder lets the songs wander, as if he’s creating a melodic new method of storytelling, occasionally dipping into child-like wonder. He builds songs in a Jon Brian-esque style, with Elliot Smith-like sensitivity and raw ache in his vocals, treading ever-so-lightly over tracks of electric guitar, drums, synthesizers, and in some cases, marimba or brass horns.

The actual songwriting process was quick. He wrote half of the them during a solo 10-day residency in a Napa cabin. The recording of said tracks took considerably longer — nearly three years, beginning in December of 2008. The Oakland resident hopped around with the songs in mind, recording some vocals in his own studio, some instruments at Closer Studios in San Francisco, and New, Improved in Oakland (where tUnE-yArDs and her ilk record), and mixed at Tiny Telephone.

He sang and played many of the instruments, but got backup musical help from dozens of fellow musicians, including Nate Brenner (aka Natronix) of tUnE-yArDs, bassist Mark Allen-Piccolo, and multi-instrumentalist Marc Capelle. An aside: Allen-Piccolo and his father are the ones who designed the music player circuit in all the wooden bases of the portmanteaus, as they have a circuit design business.

So Zapruder pieced together recordings from different studios and time periods in a situation he describes as a “free for all.”

“It took years,” Zapruder says with a shrug, “That’s what it’s like when you do something you’ve never done before. You make a lot of mistakes.”

And it is a relatively unique idea — there isn’t much to compare this project with. Zapruder mentions Tristan Perich’s 1-Bit Symphony on Bang on a Can Records, an electronic composition in five movements on a microchip in the jewel case. Also, a release from German ambient-experimental label tomlab that featured an album with an object (though the music wasn’t inside the object as with Pink Thunder).

In his own career, Zapruder’s recorded three well-received albums; Spin Magazine once called his work prolific, and described his compositions as “in the mold of Sufjan Stevens or Andrew Bird,” a pretty weighty and favorable comparison in the indie music world. But so far, he’s never done anything quite like Pink Thunder. The stunt for which he’s perhaps most well known is 1999’s 52 Songs, in which he wrote, recorded, and posted one new song a week for a full year; and this was back before the ease of the modern web with ubiquitous sites like Youtube, Bandcamp, or Soundcloud.

So while he’s dabbled in the avant garde, this was certainly the first time he Ebay’d and thrift-shopped physical items (he went to Urban Ore in Berkeley) to display and interlock with his music.

And now he’s back to his other undertakings. The married father of two also works part-time at Pandora (where he was the curator of the music collection for seven years), is in graduate school for music composition at California State University East Bay, and is making another record. He’s a third of the way through recording, and hopes to put it out next year. “I have a lot of songs that didn’t come out because I’ve been working on this,” he explains. He plans to release that in object form as well.

And he’ll be taking Pink Thunder on the road in the next year as well, stopping by the Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City, lecturing at New York University, and making an appearance with Wave Books and Black Ocean at the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) in Boston, which is “the SXSW for writers.” AWP is also where he first premiered Pink Thunder.

As he describes all this, he wonders aloud if he has dark circles around his eyes, worn from the general life trajectory, and perhaps from explaining his vision for the last hour plus while standing in the diminutive Mission store. He doesn’t have raccoon eyes today, munching on a health bar as he first describes the portmanteaus, but I can see why he’d be tired.

On the same day the Curiosity Shoppe installation closes — Nov. 18 — Zapruder will also perform Pink Thunder live at Amnesia. Earlier in the day, there will be a closing party at the store; that will be followed by the live performance down the street.

At Amnesia, it’ll be a duo with backing tracks and audience participation. “Honestly, I think it can be hard to listen to these one after another if you’ve never heard them before,” he explains. “It’s a lot of new information. Without the help of familiar forms, you’re dealing with new sounds but also like, ‘where is this thing going?'” To help with that, there will be samples and audience members will likely be invited to come up and trigger different sounds during the show. A mad scientist approach to live music.

“Even with everything that’s going on, the main thing is that I’m a musician, and that’s why I did this,” says Zapruder. “It’s to clear the way for these songs to get through to people. The music is the center. I want people to hear it and be affected by it. But that probably goes without saying.”


Through Nov. 18

Curiosity Shoppe

855 Valencia, SF



Nov. 18, 8pm


853 Valencia, SF



Heads Up: 6 must-see concerts this week


Waiting for the second manicure of my life, flipping through trashy magazines with my excitable fellow preeners, I came upon a photo of glittery purple monster Katy Perry; the conversation switched to her skills as a pop singer and place in the cultural zeitgeist (general consensus: the candy-coated songs are terrible guilty pleasures, her candy-coated bosom and infantilizing sexuality are kind of ick). We flipped the page.

Fast-forward several hours and – tickled by intense declarations of love and copious champagne at an intimate ranch wedding – the preeners and I are ecstatically throwing our whole selves into this “Teenage Dream.” Limbs in the air, with broad toothy smiles, we were in it, and without any trace of remorse or snark.

Music does that to you. We all seek out the challenging works of the genius craftspeople, but sometimes, it’s all about that quick and thrilling release, of both endorphins and mind. Letting it all go for the moment. Soaking up the sound. Musicians and bands below such as Naytronix and Father John Misty – and even genuine pop-star-in-training Maria Minerva – have both the challenge and the release. Why pass up the chance to see that live?

Here are your must-see Bay Area concerts this week/end:

Let’s get this out of the way: Naytronix is actually Oakland’s Nate Brenner, tUnE-YaRds’ bassist, who has her tripped out mixing sensibility, and is also a member of experimental East Bay act Beep! That said, he’s clearly on his own path with the robotic-dance-party Naytronix project, with dense synth samples and shiny disco pop grooves. Plus, I’m partial to Bay Area-heavy outputs. Check out the video for his single “Baby Don’t Walk” off his debut album, Dirty Glow (Oct. 9). It’ll make you want to Frankenstein twist in Golden Gate Park like some kind of Lynchian character.
With Sonnymoon, Bells, B. Lewis
Tue/25, 7:30pm, $8
Cafe Du Nord
2170 Market, SF
(415) 861-5016

Father John Misty 
This Father John Misty appearance comes before the long-sold out show later this week at the same venue. The absurdist LA folk singer-songwriter (a.k.a Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman), with strong vocals, a dapper sense of humor, and cocked hips, sent electrifying ripples through the Outside Lands crowds last month; one can only imagine how he’ll creep indoors. Silver lining: if this one does indeed sell out, there’s always the Jansport/Noisey Bonfire Sessions party thingy this weekend on Treasure Island – it’s free with RSVP and he plays alongside the Dodos, Geographer, and White Fence.
With Jenny O
Wed/26, 8pm, $15
628 Divisadero, SF
(415) 771-1421

Oakland’s Dreamdate could have been born of the 1990s Pacific Northwest. The trio, led by singer-songwriter Yea-Ming Chen, is lo-fi but poppy, minimalist but warm and sweetly melodic. A stripped down garage rock effort worthy of both tween swooning and headbanging. The trio has been bopping around the Bay for a few years now, and tonight, it shares the stage with some more melodic up-and-comers, the She’s.
Thu/27, 9pm, $7-$10
Brick and Mortar Music Hall
1710 Mission, SF
(415) 371-1631

Erin Brazill and the Brazillionaires
Self-described noir pop six-piece Erin Brazill and the Brazillionaires is set to use its Amnesia performance as an opportunity to release a new video. Not just any run-of-the-mill, song-to-performance video, this is the visual version of a song suite based on Hitchcock films including Rear Window, The Birds, Psycho, and Frenzy. A brow-raising undertaking indeed. But this talented local group – which includes the use of a washboard, clarinet, cigar-box guitar, and organ – doesn’t seem to shy away from a challenge. Plus, Amnesia says there will be a “lingerie fashion show” that night, whatever that means, presumably not the bands in their delicates.
Sat/29, 9pm, $7-$10
853 Valencia, SF
(415) 970-0012

Maria Minerva
“Like a ’90s TRL countdown as envisioned by Peaking Lights, Maria Minerva’s fuzzed-out hypnagogia is the stuff of bygone pop anthems, filtered experimentally and relentlessly through Macbooks, cheap software, and a boatload of filters and effects. Commended by The Wire for her contribution to the blossoming meta-pop movement, the elusive Estonian producer strikes a captivating balance between high art and radio trash, traditional top-40 conventions and anarchic nonconformity. “ — Taylor Kaplan
With Father Finger, Bobby Browser, EpicSauce DJs
Sun/30, 8pm, $12
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF
(415) 861-2011

Under the Central Freeway: A Live Music Festival
The main room will have locals Kelley Stoltz, Religious Girls (who just dropped new album I Want to Believe last week), Sweet Chariot, Will Sprott, the Wrong Words, Shalants, and Super Natural. And in the loft, DJs the Selector DJ Kirk of Sweater Funk, TS and OddznEndz, PASystems, and Dr. Linder. This one’s kind of a no brainer. Spend all day under the freeway at Public Works, then squint when the doors open and release yourself into the night.
Sun/30, 2-9pm, $15
Public Works
161 Erie, SF
(415) 932-0955

Even more from the tUnE-yArDs interview


Despite a relentless touring schedule, and an intense side-project, scoring the upcoming SFIFF-presented evening of Buster Keaton shorts at the Castro Theatre with Oakland-based guitar virtuoso Ava Mendoza, Merrill Garbus, the artist otherwise known as tUnE-yArDs, gave us a great interview, and not all of it could fit in this week’s print feature on Garbus and St. Vincent.

While currently living in Oakland, Garbus hails from the East Coast, and has also lived in Kenya and Montreal, a combination of influences that allows her and her singular, quixotic music to avoid falling into a trap of regionalism or simple categorization. Catch tUnE-yArDs with Ava Mendoza at the Castro on April 23, and at the Fox Theater April 24, in concert with St. Vincent.

SFBG: You spent time studying music in Kenya, what elements of your current musical style do you attribute directly to that experience? What are some of your other influences?

Merrill Garbus:
I mostly was very humbled in my study of music there. I studied taarabu (Taarab music) and I was a pretty weak student at the harmonium. So much of that music is based on the Swahili poetry, which was so complex linguistically that I hardly understood it.

But studying any music is a way of absorbing it, as well as a way of practicing those basics of musicianship: playing by ear, repetition on an instrument, playing with other people.

It was also the experience of listening to the popular music in Kenya at that time that really influenced me, specifically pop music from Congo, which they called Lingala in Kenya. I had never heard music like that, and especially that kind of music that compelled a person to dance so instantaneously.

SFBG: What made you decide to use the uke as your primary instrument instead of the fiddle or guitar or something more “traditional” as a lead?

MG: The ukulele is so unassuming; it sounds nice when you’re not even trying – it even has a charm when it’s really out of tune, I think. It makes a space for itself. As a guitar player one has to really prove themselves, to stand out among all the other guitar players of the world and of the past. The ukulele made the songs the focal point, instead of putting pressure on me to be particularly virtuosic on an instrument.

Tell me a little about your previous vocal training.

MG: I studied a bit of classical singing in high school, and sang with a madrigal group which taught me a lot about blending with other voices. I sang in a college a cappella group which was great performance training and is more about belting and volume, which has certainly helped me; and I took some opera lessons when I wrote a puppet opera.

Theater training gave me a lot of vocal skills, too, particularly studying with members of the Roy Hart Theater and doing work with Viewpoints and Suzuki (Theater Suzuki, different than the musical training.) Through the theater work, I learned to expand the palette of vocal sounds that were accessible to me.

SFBG: I’d love to hear a little more about your theatrical background, and how you think it influences your approach to staging.

MG: I think it’s more than staging, although recently we’ve been talking about stage props and lighting and all of these other things that bring me right back to undergraduate theater studies…I know a lot of bands who struggle with live performance because it’s a secondary thing to writing songs, and for me I’m realizing how primary it is to consider the performance. Even in the studio, even in front of my computer doing busy-work editing, it’s a kind of performance, an improvisation of sorts, following my instinct in the moment.

SFBG: You have a fondness for creative spelling, not just with alternating caps, but also with dropping the “r”’s at the end, adding “z”’s, etc. What’s your intention there?

MG: I like to play with spelling because poor spelling is, most of the time, associated with ignorance and being wrong, but as we learn from Black culture, misspelling and screwing around with language is often an intentional reappropriation, to turn the language of the over-powering forces into a language of one’s own.

In Swahili, there are certain words, like “taksi,” which are Swahili spellings of things that didn’t exist before the language of the colonizers appeared, so what’s left is a British/Western idea, a British/Western word, with an African spelling.

I tend to use spelling and pronunciation as a humbling force, for instance, people feel slightly stupid every time they say, “Pow-a.” It makes people uncomfortable, and there’s a sense the friction: they have to make a choice. Do I say, “Pow-er” or “Pow-a?” Which makes me look like less of the asshole?

SFBG: You take a playful approach towards video-making, especially in regards to face-paint/costuming. But are you ever afraid people will misinterpret your style as some sort of cultural appropriation? Do you think worries about “cultural appropriation” are even still relevant in this hyper-connected, global-mashup day-and-age?

There have been instances where tUnE-yArDs was associated with a kind of cultural appropriation that I wasn’t cool with, such as when an artist used a Native American-style headdress on a poster for one of our shows. It wasn’t my decision, and I didn’t see the poster before it went out, but of course, there’s my band’s name on the poster, and the well-intentioned artist who didn’t think hard enough about that particular choice, and a whole bunch of offended people. However, I try to concern myself less with being politically correct and not stepping on anyone’s cultural toes, and more with righting things, in the limited ways I have to do that…

(But) yes “cultural appropriation” is an important thing to consider carefully for an artist like me…I, as a white woman with a college education and access to the world of pop music and all of its resources, have a lot of power. I can rip off not only the style but the note-for-note music of another culture, and get away quite easily without having to justify or explain that. It’s really up to me: will I use these tense moments of cultural appropriation, which I believe are inevitable in this time we live in, to draw attention to those with less power and less of a voice, or will I skirt the issue completely?

SFBG: Who are some of your favorite Oakland/Bay Area-based artists at the moment?

MG: Beep Trio is my favorite Oakland band. It is but one example of the brilliant, creative, avant-garde, jazz-influenced bands in the area. Dominique Leone and Ava Mendoza are a couple of others. Mwahaha and Kapowski are great friends of ours and great up-and-coming bands, more on the pop end of things. And V-Nasty.

Music Listings


Since club life is unpredictable, it’s a good idea to call ahead or check the venue’s website to confirm bookings and hours. Prices are listed when provided to us. Visit www.sfbg.com/venue-guide for venue information. Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.



Rome Balestrieri vs Troy Neihardt Johnny Foley’s Dueling Pianos. 9:30pm.

Branden Daniel and the Chics, Cellar Doors, Dig-Its Elbo Room. 9pm, $6.

Dear Hunter, Native Thieves Bottom of the Hill. 8pm, $15.

First Aid Kit Slim’s. 9pm, $16-$19.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Pierced Arrows Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $21.

Gotye, Missy Higgins Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove, SF; www.apeconcerts.com. 8pm, $39.50.

High & Tight, Cryptics, Blank Spots Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

Katchafire Mezzanine. 9pm, $27.

No Lovely Thing, Happy Idiot El Rio. 9pm, $5.

Pro Blues Jam with Tommy Castro Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $15.

Eddie Roberts’ Roughneck Brick and Mortar Music Hall. 9pm, $7-$10.

Terry Savastano Johnny Foley’s. 9pm, free.

Soul Train Revival Boom Boom Room. 8pm, $10.

Suzanne Vega & Duncan Sheik Yoshi’s. 8pm, $35; 10pm, $25.

Wild Flag, EMA Fillmore. 8pm, $20.


Cat’s Corner with Nathan Dias Savanna Jazz. 9pm, $10.

Chris Amberger Trio & Jazz Jam Yoshi’s Lounge. 6:30 and 9:30pm.

Cosmo AlleyCats Le Colonial, 20 Cosmo Place, SF; www.lecolonialsf.com. 7-10pm.

Dink Dink Dink, Gaucho, Michael Abraham Amnesia. 7pm, free.

Varla Jean Merman Rrazz Room. 8pm, $35-$40.

Ricardo Scales Top of the Mark, 999 California, SF; www.topofthemark.com. 6:30pm, $5.


Dan Coyle Coffee Adventures, 1331 Columbus, SF; www.dancoyle.com. 11am-1pm, free.


Booty Call Q-Bar, 456 Castro, SF; www.bootycallwednesdays.com. 9pm. Juanita MORE! and Joshua J host this dance party.

Coo-Yah! Som., 2925 16th St, SF; (415) 558-8521. 10pm, free. DJs Daneekah and Green B spin reggae and dancehall with weekly guests.

Dark Sparkle Cafe Du Nord. 9:30pm, $5.

Mary Go Round Lookout, 3600 16th St, SF; www.lookoutsf.com. 10pm, $5. Drag with Suppositori Spelling, Mercedez Munro, and Ginger Snap.

Megatallica Fiddler’s Green, 1333 Columbus, SF; www.megatallica.com. 7pm, free. Heavy metal hangout.

Spilt Milk Milk Bar. 9pm, free. With Bobby Browser, Mountaincount, Shaky Premise, and Taylor Fife.



Black Elk, Totimoshi, Minot Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10.

Cat Empire, Stripes and Lines Slim’s. 9pm, $26.

Control-R, Tremor Low, Meddling Kids El Rio. 8pm, $5.

Escape the Fate, Attack Attack!, World Alive, Secrets, Mest Regency Ballroom. 6:30pm, $22.

Fitz and the Tantrums California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse, SF; www.calacademy.org. Big Bang After Dark event with J Boogie.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Pierced Arrows Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $21.

Guitar Wizards From the Future, Dic Stusso and the Boy Toys, Creepy Marbles Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $6.

“Heartless World Showcase Vol. IV” Brick and Mortar Music Hall. 9pm, $10. With Moe Green, G-Mo, and more.

Height, Rio Rio, Great American Cities Thee Parkside. 9pm, $7.

Housse De Racket, Spector, popscene DJs Rickshaw Stop. 9:30pm, $12.

Madness, DJ Harry Duncan Warfield. 8pm, $35-$42.50.

Troy Neihardt vs Rome Balestrieri Johnny Foley’s Dueling Pianos. 9:30pm.

Paranoids, Siddhartha, Foreign Cinema Knockout. 9:30pm, $6.

Real Nasty Boom Boom Room. 8pm, $7.

Curtis Salgado Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $18.

Sonny and the Sunsets, Range of Light Wilderness, Nightgowns Amnesia. 9pm, $8-$10.

Stan Erhart Band Johnny Foley’s. 9pm, free.

Squeeze Fillmore. 8pm, $35.

Tokyo Raid Blue Macaw, 2565 Mission, SF; www.thebluemacawsf.com. 9pm.

Wild Beasts, Superhumanoids Independent. 8pm, $20.


Big Band and Jazz Combos San Francisco State University, Knuth Hall, SF; creativearts.sfsu.edu. 7pm, free.

Kenny G Yoshi’s. 8pm, $46; 10pm, $40.

Stompy Jones Top of the Mark, 999 California, SF; www.topofthemark.com. 7:30pm, $10.

Varla Jean Merman Rrazz Room. 8pm, $35-$40.

Naje Yoshi’s Lounge. 6:30pm.

Ned Boyton Trio Bottle Cap, 1707 Powell, SF; www.bottlecapsf.com. 7-10pm, free.


Black Crown String Band Atlas Cafe, 3049 20th St, SF; www.atlascafe.net. 8-10pm, free.

Savanna Jazz Jam with Nora Maki Savanna Jazz. 7:30pm, $5.

Anoushka Shankar Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 7:30pm, $25-$60.

Twang! Honky Tonk Fiddler’s Green, 1330 Columbus, SF; www.twanghonkytonk.com. 5pm. Live country music, dancing, and giveaways.


Afrolicious Elbo Room. 9:30pm, $5. DJ/host Pleasuremaker spins Afrobeat, Tropicália, electro, samba, and funk.

Arcade Lookout. 9pm, free. Indie dance party.

Generations SOM. 10pm, $5.With DJs Platurn, Theory, Matthew Africa, and Franchise.

Get Low Som., 2925 16th St, SF; (415) 558-8521. 10pm, free. Jerry Nice and Ant-1 spin Hip-Hop, 80’s and Soul with weekly guests.

Thursdays at the Cat Club Cat Club. 9pm, $6 (free before 9:30pm). The best of the 80s with DJ’s Damon, Steve Washington, and Dangerous Dan.

Tropicana Madrone Art Bar. 9pm, free. Salsa, cumbia, and reggaeton with DJs Don Bustamante, Apocolypto, Sr. Saen, Santero, and Mr. E.




Rome Balestrieri, Troy Neihardt, Jason Marion Johnny Foley’s Dueling Pianos. 9pm.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Pierced Arrows Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $21.

Goldenboy, Adios Amigo, Genius and the Thieves Thee Parkside. 9pm, $8.

Lea Grant Lost Church, 65 Capp, SF; www.thelostchurch.com. 8pm, $10.

Infamous Stringdusters, Dead Winter Carpenters Independent. 9pm, $22.

“KUSF-in-Exile Blown Out, Blowout Benefit Show” Bender’s, 806 Van Ness, SF; www.savekusf.org. 9pm, $5. With Uzi Rash, Cool Ghouls, Chen Santa Maria.

Les Sans Culottes, Cyclub, Fact on File Hemlock Tavern. 9:30pm, $8.

Los Rakas, Kaz Kyzah Brick and Mortar Music Hall. 9pm, $15-$20.

Moonalice Slim’s. 9pm, $4.20.

OV7 Fillmore. 9pm, $30.

Phenomenauts, La Plebe, Custom Kicks Bottom of the Hill. 10pm, $12.

School of Seven Bells, Exitmusic Rickshaw Stop. 9pm, $15.

Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

Ticket To Ride Johnny Foley’s. 9pm, free.

Kerry Wing, Jonny Cat and the Coo Coo Birds Cafe Du Nord. 9pm, $10.

Zeds Dead, Araabmusic, XI Regency Ballroom. 9pm, $30.


Audium 1616 Bush, SF; www.audium.org. 8:30pm, $20. Theater of sound-sculptured space.

Benn Bacot Savanna Jazz. 7:30pm, $8.

Black Market Jazz Orchestra Top of the Mark, 999 California, SF; www.topofthemark.com. 9pm, $10.

Terry Disely Bottle Cap, 1707 Powell, SF; www.bottlecapsf.com. 5:30-8:30pm, free.

Finisterra Piano Trio Old First Church, 1751 Sacramento, SF; www.oldfirstconcerts.com. 8pm, $14-$17.

Kenny G Yoshi’s. 8pm, $48; 10pm, $44.

Varla Jean Merman Rrazz Room. 8pm, $35-$40.

Kate McGarry Swedish American Hall. 8pm, $25.

Ways & Means Committee Yoshi’s Lounge. 6:30pm.


Bluegrass Bonanza Plough and Stars. 9:30pm, $6-$10.

Eric John Kaiser Alliance Francaise, 1345 Bush, SF; www.ericjohnkaiser.com. 7pm, $10-$15.

Taste Fridays 650 Indiana, SF; www.tastefridays.com. 8pm, $18. Salsa and bachata dance lessons, live music.


Fix Your Hair Elbo Room. 10pm, $7. Queer dance party with DJs Andre and Jenna Riot.

Hella Tight Amnesia.10pm, $5.

JackHammer Disco Public Works. 9pm, $10-$15. With Joey Negro + Jeno, Conor and Chris Orr.

Joe Lookout, 3600 16th St.,SF; www.lookoutsf.com. 9pm. Rotating DJs, shirt-off drink specials.

Oldies Night Knockout. 9pm, $2-$4.With DJs Primo and Daniel B.

Old School JAMZ El Rio. 9pm. Fruit Stand DJs spinning old school funk, hip-hop, and R&B.

Paris to Dakar Little Baobab, 3388 19th St, SF; (415) 643-3558. 10pm, $5. Afro and world music with rotating DJs including Stepwise, Steve, Claude, Santero, and Elembe.

Pledge: Fraternal Lookout. 9pm, $3-$13. Benefiting LGBT and nonprofit organizations. DJ Christopher B and DJ Brian Maier.

RIS Labs: 7 Years of Parties Public Works Oddjob Loft. 10pm, $5. With DJs Fame, Eric Sharp, Reilly Steel, and Jr Waikiki.

Trannyshack: David Bowie Tribute DNA Lounge. 9:30pm, $15.

Vinyl, Soul Pie, DJ K-Os Boom Boom Room. 9pm, $15.



Birds & Batteries, Mwahaha, Ownership Bottom of the Hill. 9:30pm, $12.

Dedvolt, Swillerz Thee Parkside. 3pm, free.

Judea Eden Band, Amy Meyers Band, Bill Burnor & the Bad Ass Boots El Rio. 3pm, $8.

Katdelic Boom Boom Room. 9pm, $15.

Lotus, NVO Fillmore. 9pm, $25.

Mix Master Mike, DJ Shortkut Mighty. 9pm.

Naked and Famous, Vacationer, Now Now Regency Ballroom. 9pm, $27.

Troy Neihardt, Jason Marion, Rome Balestrieri Johnny Foley’s Dueling Pianos. 9pm.

John Nemeth Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $20.

Poor Man’s Whiskey, Jugtown Pirates Great American Music Hall. 9pm, $20-$23.

Chuck Ragan, Nathaniel Rateliff, Cory Branan Slim’s. 9pm, $17.

Frankie Rose, Dive Brick and Mortar Music Hall. 9pm, $10-$12.

Top Secret Band Johnny Foley’s. 9pm, free.

Uni and her Ukulele Amnesia. 6-10pm, $7-$10.


Audium 1616 Bush, SF; www.audium.org. 8:30pm, $20. Theater of sound-sculptured space.

Kenny G Yoshi’s. 8pm, $48; 10pm, $44.

Michael LaMacchia Yoshi’s Lounge. 6:30pm.

Varla Jean Merman Rrazz Room. 8pm, $35-$40.

Jon Raskin & Carla Harryman, Pamela Z Cyperian’s, 2097 Turk, SF; www.noevaleyymusicseries.com. 8pm, $18.

Suzanna Smith Savanna Jazz. 7pm, $8.


Go Van Gough Revolution Cafe, 3248 22 St, SF; (415) 642-0474. 9pm.

Julio Bravo y Orquesta Salsabor Ramp Restaurant, 855 Terry Francois, SF; (415) 621-2378. 5:30-8:30pm.

Johannes Moller Green Room, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfwmpac.org. 8-10pm, $34.

Sistema Bomb Make-Out Room. 10pm, $5.

Craig Ventresco & Meredith Axelrod Atlas Cafe, 3049 20th St, SF; www.atlascafe.net. 4-6pm, free.


Bootie SF: Bootchella DNA Lounge. 9pm, $10-$20. With DJ Tyme & Nathan Scot, Smash-Up Derby, Italian Robot, Cowboy Girls, and more.

Booty Bassment Knockout. 9pm, $5. With DJs Ryan Poulsen and Dimitri Dickenson.

Fringe Madrone Art Bar. 9pm, $5. Indie music video dance party with DJ Blondie K and subOctave.

OK Hole Amnesia. 9pm. Live music, DJs, visuals.

Jeff Mills, Terrence Parker, Drumcell Public Works. 9pm, $20-$25.

M.O.M. SF Anniversary Cafe Du Nord. 9pm, $12-$15. Motown dance party with Hitsville Soul Sisters, and more.

Octave (live), David Javate, Max Gardner, Zenith Monarch, 101 Sixth St., SF; www.monarchsf.com. 9pm, $20.

Paris to Dakar Little Baobab, 3388 19th St, SF; (415) 643-3558. 10pm, $5. Afro and world music with rotating DJs including Stepwise, Steve, Claude, Santero, and Elembe.

Saturday Night Soul Party Elbo Room. 10pm, $5-$10. DJs Lucky, Paul Paul, and Phengren Oswald spin ’60s soul 45s.

Smiths Night SF Rock-It Room. 9pm, free. Revel in 80s music from the Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, and more.

Radio Franco Bissap, 3372 19th St, SF; (415) 826 9287. 6 pm. Rock, Chanson Francaise, Blues.

Wild Nights Kok BarSF, 1225 Folsom, SF; www.kokbarsf.com. 9pm, $3. With DJ Frank Wild.



Careless Hearts, Court & Spark, Hooks, Paula Frazer Bottom of the Hill. 2:30pm, $8. Celebrating Corie Woods.

Easy Leaves, Bob Harp, Harkenbacks Amnesia. 8pm, $7-$10.

Kevorkian Death Cycle, Hex RX, Scar Tissue DNA Lounge. 9pm, $13.

Noh Mercy, Erase Errata Cafe Du Nord. 7:30pm, $12.

Taurus, Wild Hunt, Lady of the Lake Elbo Room. 4-8pm, $6.

Daniel Whittington Showdown, Sixth St., SF; www.showdownsf.com. 8pm, free.

Yellow Boyz, Lyricks, Manifest Brick and Mortar Music Hall. 9pm, $10-$13.


Charles Lloyd New Quartet Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, SF; www.sfjazz.org. 7pm, $30-$70.

Kenny G Yoshi’s. 7pm, $44; 9pm, $38.

Gaucho Gypsy Jazz Bliss Bar, 2086 24 St, SF; www.blissbar.com. 4:30pm, $10.

Varla Jean Merman Rrazz Room. 7pm, $35-$40.

Jennifer Muhawi Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter, SF; www.jennifermuhawi.com. 6pm, free.

Noertker’s Moxie Quintet Cafe Royale, 800 Post, SF; www.caferoyale-sf.com. 7pm, free.

Raquel Yoshi’s Lounge. 6:30pm.

Savanna Jazz Jam Savanna Jazz. 7pm, $5.


Bay Area Youth Harp Ensemble San Francisco Public Montessori School, 2340 Jackson, SF; sfpmearthday.webs.com. 2pm, $5-$15.

Salsa Sundays El Rio. 3pm, 8-$10. With Danilo y Orquesta Universal.

Twang Sunday Thee Parkside. 4pm, free. With Maurice Tani, 77 Deora & Friends.


Batcave Club 93, 93 9th St, SF 10pm, $5. Death rock, goth, and post-punk with Steeplerot, XChrisT, Necromos and c_death.

Dub Mission Elbo Room. 9pm, $6. Dub, dubstep, and roots with DJs Sep, Ludichris, and Ripley.

Jock Lookout, 3600 16th St, SF; www.lookoutsf.com. 3pm, $2. Raise money for LGBT sports teams while enjoying DJs and drink specials.

La Pachanga Blue Macaw, 2565 Mission, SF; www.thebluemacawsf.com. 6pm, $10. Salsa dance party with live Afro-Cuban salsa bands.



All Tiny Creatures, Minor Kingdom, Kill Moi Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10.

Behemoth, Watain, Devil’s Blood, In Solitude Slim’s. 7:30pm, $26.

Facts on File, Sasha Bell, Parlour Suite, Karina Denike Knockout. 9pm, $8.

Falling Still, New Position, Spyrals El Rio. 7pm, free.

Japanther, Boys Who Say No Sub-Mission. 8pm

John Mceuen and Sons Jonathan and Nathan Cafe Du Nord. 9pm, $15.

“Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs live with Buster Keaton Shorts” Castro Theatre, 429 Castro, SF; festival.sffs.org. 8pm, $20-$25.

Monkeys in Space, American Economy, Dogfood Elbo Room. 9pm, $6.

Nick Moss and the Flip Tops Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $18.

Our Lady Peace Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $25.

Welcome Matt Osteria, 3277 Sacramento, SF; www.osteriasf.com. 7pm, free.


Bossa Nova Tunnel Top, 601 Bush, SF; (415) 722-6620. 8-11:30pm, free. Live acoustic Bossa Nova.

Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Big Band Yoshi’s. 8pm, $10-$15. With Wollongong Conservatorium of Music Jazz Orchestra Australia.

“Yoshi’s Jazz Supper Club” Yoshi’s Lounge. 6:30pm. With David Correa and Cascada.


Earl Brothers Amnesia. 6pm.


Death Guild DNA Lounge. 9:30pm, $3-5. Gothic, industrial, and synthpop with Joe Radio, Decay, and Melting Girl.

Krazy Mondays Beauty Bar, 2299 Mission, SF; www.thebeautybar.com. 10pm, free. Hip-hop and other stuff.

M.O.M. Madrone Art Bar. 6pm, free. DJs Timoteo Gigante, Gordo Cabeza, and Chris Phlek playing all Motown every Monday.

Vibes’N’Stuff El Amigo Bar, 3355 Mission, SF; (415) 852-0092. 10pm, free. Conscious jazz and hip-hop from 1960s-early ’90s with DJs Luce Lucy, Vinnie Esparza, and more.



Buffalo Tooth, Wild Moth, Creepers, Havarti Elbo Room. 9pm, $5.

Caveman Brick and Mortar Music Hall. 9pm, $9-$12.

Flatliners, Heartsounds, Civil War Rust Thee Parkside. 8pm, $10.

Japanther, Hightower, Boys Who Say No Hemlock Tavern. 9pm, $7.

Midnite Independent. 9pm, $30.

Nick Moss and the Flip Tops Biscuits and Blues. 8 and 10pm, $18.

Neon Indian, Lemonade Fillmore. 8pm, $25.

Real Estate, Twerps, Melted Toys Great American Music Hall. 8pm, $17-$19.

Rocketship Rocketship, Aloha Screwdriver Knockout. 10pm, $5.

Screaming Females, Audacity, Street Eaters Bottom of the Hill. 9pm, $10.

Shannon & the Clams, Natural Child, Chuckleberries El Rio. 7pm, $7.

Stan Erhart Band Johnny Foley’s. 9pm, free.


Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio Yoshi’s Lounge. 8pm, $22

Marty Eggers Pier 23, Embarcadero, SF; (415) 362-5125. 5-8pm.

Gaucho Bottle Cap, 1707 Powell, SF; www.bottlecapsf.com. 7-10pm, free.

Men of Endurance Rrazz Room. 8pm, $25.


Eclectic Company Skylark, 9pm, free. DJs Tones and Jaybee spin old school hip hop, bass, dub, glitch, and electro.

F*ck Yeah Boom Boom Room. 8pm, $5. Live electronica with Secret Slayers, Slayers Club.

Post-Dubstep Tuesdays Som., 2925 16th St, SF; (415) 558-8521.10pm, free. DJs Dnae Beats, Epcot, Footwerks spin UK Funky, Bass Music. Study Hall John Colins Lounge, 138 Minna, SF; www.johncolins.com. 9pm. Hip-hop, dancehall, and Bay slaps with DJ Left Lane.

Alter egos



MUSIC At first blush the music of St. Vincent, the alter-ego of accomplished guitar hero Annie Clark, and that of live looping sensation tUnE-yArDs, born Merrill Garbus, don’t appear to have a lot in common.

Sure, they share a gender, a label, and an impulse for quirky alias and chimerical shape-shifting, but Clark’s complex guitar-and-synth driven compositions and Garbus’ polyrhythmic ukulele and percussion spree emerge from completely different musical impulses and backgrounds.

Even so, their upcoming double-header at the Fox Theater promises to be a thrilling combination, as both ladies share a reputation for explosive stagecraft and are currently creating some of the most uniquely stylized pop music in the country.

Annie Clark aka St. Vincent, may have hit the cover of Spin‘s “Style” issue, but in interviews Clark is more likely to refer to herself not as fashionista but as a “nerd”. As in, a prog-rock-loving, guitar-shredding, architecture of music kind of nerd.

Her third solo album Strange Mercy (4AD, 2011), an oblique reflection on old traumas and fresh starts is characterized by contrast. Bell-clear vocals edging towards the ethereal, meaty guitar riffs ricocheting in from unexpected directions, and soaring organ and mini-Moog fills contributed by acclaimed gospel musician, Bobby Sparks, (easily the second most striking musician on the album).


A study in contraposition both as a musician and as a media personality,Clark admits to a fondness for playing with character — further evidenced by her stage alias and deceptively delicate off-stage physicality, which belies the raw power of her live performances — but is equally quick to assert ownership of all of her public faces.

“Whenever you walk onto a stage you are fundamentally yourself,” she explains over email. “It’s just that you hold a mixing board to your personality and turn up some aspects and turn down others.”


It’s almost impossible to speak of Oakland-dwelling Merrill Garbus, or tUnE-yArDs, without referencing the time she spent studying Taarab music in Kenya. The frenetic, border-blending polyrhythms on w ho k i l l (4AD, 2011) transport the listener into an experiential space in which music and body are inextricably enmeshed.

In the current ranks of American pop-makers it’s difficult to find an act to compare her to, though TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe does occasionally rise to mind, particularly in the context of vocal phrasing and politicized lyrical content.

No less of an onstage powerhouse than labelmate Clark, Garbus’ personal aesthetic skews more towards that of performance artist than rock star. With a fondness for facepaint, explosive vocalization techniques, and the rubber-mask facial tics of Lily Tomlin, Garbus’ previous training in the theater arts still serve as a springboard for her approach to performance, as well as composition.

“The music stems from how I can envision myself performing it,” she explains. “I like to think of the music in terms of…altering space, and transformation, and the experience of the group.”

Whether onstage or in the studio, Garbus flows smoothly between laying her own rhythm tracks, pounding fiercely on her uke, and charging into the musical fray with her battle cry vocals, but her personal fascination is with uncomfortable moments — highlighting them as absurdities and working thorough them with her audiences. Her other proclivity — that of an almost exaggerated playfulness — is less a spontaneous expression of id than an intentional construction of a persona who unifies the many strands of Garbus’ transcontinental influences and obsessions into one cohesive force.

“There is power in the facepaint, and in the performance, and of a warrior stance of sorts,” she opines. “I’m not using ‘tribal fashion’ in an ironic, disconnected and aloof way. I’m a freaking badass. And I wear face paint.” *


Can’t get enough of that tUnE-yArDs character? Look for extended interview highlights with Merrill Garbus online at sfbg.com



Mon/23, 8pm, $20–<\d>$25

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120




With Kapowski Tue/24, 7:30pm, $29.50

Fox Theater

1807 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 548-3010 www.thefoxoakland.com