Michelle Broder Van Dyke

Dan Deacon


PREVIEW I first saw Dan Deacon perform at Oberlin College’s venue the ‘Sco, a den of nascent creativity that eventually brought me to a city sometimes referred to by the same three-letter abbreviation. Deacon was there, balding and bearded, his glasses taped to his head, his muffin-top iced by a bright pink T. He set up his mad scientist’s table of electronics in the audience’s usual domain. Different colored cords sprang out in every direction and there were multiple mics for his one-man show. Lit by a neon green skull, Deacon began stretching, then implored the audience to stretch. They did.

Not only did we all stretch with Deacon, we danced with Deacon. For a generation that has been taught that to move is to be judged — or whatever excuse keeps scenesters so static — such an act is similar to the miracle of the Virgin Mary getting pregos. Deacon’s inhibition-less philosophy was infectious: not only were the undergrads dancing, they were willing to participate in a high-five conga line and compete in a dance-off.

Although the complexities of Deacon’s music become clearer when heard on an iPod, the experience verges on seizure-inducing. Live, the same music becomes hypnotic. Like his earlier work, Deacon’s newest album Bromst (Carpark) is as much a singular composition as a collection of tracks, which should make it exhilarating to encounter. In concert, he has arranged for it to be played by a 15-piece ensemble. Now that he’s decidedly bigger — in band, popularity, and girth — it’s hard to predict how the intimacy and audience participation aspects of his performance will be affected. But it is sure to be a blast. And a bromst. (Deacon said he made up the word for his album title because it doesn’t have a meaning and he likes the way it sounds.)

DAN DEACON With Future Islands and Teeth Mountain. Thurs/23, 9 p.m., $13. Great American Music Hall. 859 O’Farrell, SF. (415) 885-0750, www.gamh.com

“Missed Connection: Souvenirs Of Brief Encounters”


PREVIEW If you, too, are an avid Craigslist missed connections reader, you already know about the creepy posts: "Morning gym workout — m4w — 36: Great to see you back in the gym this morning. I was beginning to think you started working out at a different time or different place." There are the hilarious posts: "Fremont Hooters Bartender — m4w — 26: What happened to that call? Did I get played?" And then, occasionally, there are the posts you think might be addressed to you: "Kinko’s Thursday at Noon — m4w — 27: To the 20-something brunette with her friend, I think she called you Michelle. I was a bit busy copying, but even with my back to you I could feel you move around the room. Any chance you read missed connections?"

I suppose that last post could also fall into the "creepy" category. But it also might warrant a response such as, "Well, I do read missed connections. But since my back was turned to you, I’m not quite sure what you look like or who you are. Were you the one printing on the neon pink paper? Tell me more."

And so it went. After a few back-and-forths, the 20-something brunette and the 27-year-old male decided to meet up. He is a robust young lad, and now we are happily planning our honeymoon.

Actually, we’re not, because the voyeur in me would never dare to respond.

Not so Climate Theatre resident artist Claudia Tennyson. Intrigued by the potential and the poetry of Craigslist missed connections posts, she’s been contacting and interviewing people who placed compelling inquiries. For all of us who are addicted to the forum but too timid to post or reply, Tennyson has translated the initial ads and her resulting interviews into a performance that includes a series of artworks that seek to embody each encounter. For fearless types, Tennyson is presenting the event as an opportunity to hook up.

MISSED CONNECTION: SOUVENIRS OF BRIEF ENCOUNTERS Sun/12, 6 p.m., free. Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St (at Folsom), SF. (415) 704-3260. www.climatetheater.com

Swedish fetish


Americans have always been lured by the siren call of those blindingly blonde babes and bewitching blue-eyed boys, but what exactly is "it" about Sweden that keeps us wanting more? The country is known for being progressive, well educated, sexually liberal, and neutral in wartime. A Swede even holds the Guinness World Record for spinning the most yo-yos simultaneously (nine).

Sweden has infiltrated American style; I don’t know anyone who doesn’t own at least one thing from Ikea, H&M, or Cheap Monday. These companies convey a sleek, stackable, skinny image. This impression is debunked slightly by the current Yerba Buena Center for the Arts exhibition "Irreverent: Contemporary Nordic Craft Art," a showcase for clothes you can’t wear and furniture you can’t use, such as Frida Fjellman’s chandeliers populated by glass owls and frosted squirrels.

There are also the images Bergmania has left us: stunning and haunting images of long coastlines, 18 hours of daylight in June, and splendid mountain ranges shrouded in December darkness. The snow-white vampires of Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In (2008) proliferate our nightmares. The comic glum chums of Roy Andersson’s You the Living (2007) will soon come calling.

For a country with a landscape that’s roughly equivalent to California and a population of about 9 million, Sweden is an impressive exporter of music — the third largest in the world, bested only by the U.S. and U.K. The boom began in the 1970s with those pop perfectionists, ABBA, who crossed the Atlantic to bliss us out with the melancholy euphoria of 1976’s "Dancing Queen" (their sole U.S. chart-topper, although they were the most commercially successful band of the decade).

Following ABBA’s footsteps and to some degree formula, lesser and at times laughable groups emerged from Sweden in the 1980s to reinforce the bright blonde stereotype. Europe advised us to "Open Your Heart" and Roxette counseled to "Listen to Your Heart." Although these acts managed to break into the mainstream, none attained the same timeless staying power of Agnetha, Benny, Björn, and Anna-Frid, with their teen anthems about sneaking out under mama’s nose and "having the time of your life," and their darker, more adult post-Arrival (Polar, 1976) material.

The 1990s only solidified Sweden’s reputation as a pop paradise. It brought some ludicrous acts, such as Rednex with 1994’s "Cotton Eye Joe." But Ace of Base gave us "The Sign" in 1993, and the Cardigans crafted powerful, lasting songs and even albums. Perhaps most notably, Max Martin made Britney Spears famous by writing and producing her 1998 debut single "… Baby One More Time" and creating many more hits for her and the Backstreet Boys. He also collaborated with Robyn, who has achieved cult and critical success at home and more recently in the U.S. with her own songs.

In the 21st century, Sweden’s international music presence has grown more multifaceted. The Hives brought rock to the American charts in 2000 with "Hate To Say I Told You So," and American indie kids and Kanye West went bananas in 2006 for the whistling jam "Young Folks" by Peter, Björn, and John, whose fifth and newest album Living Thing is set for release this month. The female vocalist on "Young Folks," ex-Concretes member Victoria Bergsman, is now focusing on a solo project, Taken By Trees. Psych-folk-jazz rockers Dungen put out their fourth proper album, helpfully titled 4, last fall. The group’s U.S. label is Kemado, while its sound is increasingly Komeda — as in Roman Polanski’s early film composer Krzysztof Komeda.

The Swedish acts, if not hits, keep coming: last month brought femme foursome Sahara Hotnights’ album of cover versions Sparks (Universal); January delivered delicate folkster Loney Dear’s Dear John (Polyvinyl); and charming, Björk-influenced Maia Hirasawa puts out her second album next week. The beautiful Lykke Li recently played the Fillmore, where her opening act, the Västra Götalands Iän duo Wildbirds and Peacedrums, was to die for. Indie-pop trio the Bell recently played the Independent, and the Dylan-inspired Tallest Man On Earth (a.k.a. Kristian Matsson) breaks free from touring with Bon Iver to headline shows in support of the acclaimed Shallow Grave (Gravitation).

Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenberg, plays host to lovelorn troubador Jens Lekman, Madchester-influenced boy duo the Tough Alliance, and doo-wop dolly El Perro del Mar. Another Gothenberg resident, acoustic singer/songwriter José González, gained popularity in 2003 when his cover of Swedish electro duo the Knife’s "Heartbeats" was set to a Sony commercial in which 250,000 colored balls bounced down the steepest streets of San Francisco.

González’s version of "Heartbeat" resparked interest in the Knife’s original, and brother and sister duo Olaf Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson built on that audience with 2006’s critical fave Silent Shout (Mute). This week, sister Karin introduces her solo recording project, Fever Ray. Like her work with the Knife, the 10 songs on Fever Ray (Mute) couple icy electronic atmospheres with quite literal lyrics — one song even refers to dishwasher tablets.

Whatever the "it" is that has captured the hearts of so many Americans and sent all these acts across the ocean to us, it continues to grow and assume new forms. If you ever make the trek to pop paradise, remember: they refer to Swedish Fish as "winegum candy" in Sweden. It’s kinda like how the French don’t use the term "french fries."


with Herman Dune

March 25, 7:30 p.m., $12–$14

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011




PREVIEW Dear Akron/Family: When I first got my hands on your self-titled 2005 release (Young God), I wasn’t immediately grabbed by your music. Its spare ethereal quality had to stew. But it wasn’t long before the album had brewed, and I was pressing repeat. "Before and Again" and "Running, Returning" led me through the looking glass into a timeless fairy-tale land of fleeting fright and fancy flight. I fell the hardest for "I’ll be on the water." This is kinda embarrassing to admit, but eventually the track even found its way onto a summer mix for my boyfriend at the time, because I loved the line, "Thinking of you / there’s lightning bolts in my chest," the subtle field recordings of ocean waves and children voices, and everything else I thought it said about us.

After that I continued to eat up all of your releases. Meek Warrior (Young God, 2006) and your split album with Angels of Light (Young God, 2005) were both delicious. I found myself liking them even better than your first record — or just as much, but for different reasons. They still have that folksy warmth, but they feel more fractured. "Blessing force" begins with bursting beats, blossoms into intricate polyrhythmic interplay, turns to free-form chaos, and ends with a spiritual climax. Then Meek Warrior follows with the melodic, acoustic mantra "Gone Beyond."

In your music I hear everything from the Beatles’ "A Day in the Life" to "Blackbird," Zeppelin to Zappa, and in the repetitious gospel moments, I hear Spiritualized. But mostly I find a chaotic, incoherent experience — which in your case is a good thing. Your sound is far too eclectic to fit into any Allmusic genre I’m familiar with and instead sounds and feels more like a spiritual awakening. I’m really looking forward to your three-day residency at the Hemlock, and I can’t wait to hear the new material from your upcoming album, Set ‘Em Free, Set ‘Em Wild (Dead Oceans). P.S., I heard y’all made up your own religion called "AK." Is that true? (Michelle Broder Van Dyke)

AKRON/FAMILY With Avocet (Fri/6), Citay (Sat/7), and Howlin’ Rain (Sun/8). Fri/6–Sun/8, 9:30 p.m., $15. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. (415) 923-0923, www.hemlocktavern.com

Along the y-axis



By Lily Hoang


336 pages


Lily Hoang’s Parabola is the kind of text that solicits a rereading, but you aren’t dutifully bound to return to its beginning. Instead, you can rewind to the middle and branch out both forward and backward, deciphering chapters that match up along the Y-axis of the titular structure.

This novel — or un-novel, since it’s the winner of Chiasmus Press’ Un-Doing the Novel Contest — stops at disparate intersections to tell its stories. Hoang has created an experimental work that communicates with the reader through fragmentary exchange. Whereas some postmodern narratives feel stale due to their headiness, Parabola manages to include heart and humor within an innovative, interactive storytelling style. It chronicles the inner life of a first-generation American daughter of Vietnamese immigrants. The resulting so-called coming-of-age story explores the gap between expectations vs. reality, incorporating numerology, myth, astronomy, and other mystical wonders in the process.

Reminiscent of Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Parabola features similarly beautiful and elaborate word games, such as an entire paragraph alliterated with the letter B that corresponds to quadratic form. Hoang’s novel has a similarly dizzying effect, frequently compelling you to flip from one chapter to a parallel one 100 pages prior. But it stands alone, challenging categorization by presenting holes filled with words (surrounded by black matter) and playful collaborative components like personality tests and even a Word Find. (Michelle Broder Van Dyke)

Immortal Technique


PREVIEW Peruvian-born, Harlem-raised rapper Immortal Technique, né Felipe Coronel, long ago broke with the TRL mold of spitting about bitches and ho’s, instead looking to the roots of hip-hop with his politically minded tracks.

On his third full-length, The 3rd World (Viper), he covers such topics as the gentrification of his Harlem hood and corruption in the music industry. The opener establishes him as a renegade in the rap world where it’s common to have an intro — be it the sound of bullets blasting or a slutty skit. Instead, the "Death March" is a forceful, beat-driven anthem that introduces its characters (Immortal Technique and DJ Green Lantern), dedicates the album (to the people of Latin American nations that have been tampered with by this country), and sets the stage for what is to come next (urban/guerrilla warfare and an album about it).

"Open Your Eyes" looks at the life of immigrants who are promised a better life in the states but come to realize that "privatization and electricity" do not equate to happiness, and explores the abuse of natural resources and indigenous peoples overseas. "Lick Shots," while not the strongest track on 3rd World with its annoying repeated refrain, goes for laughs with couplets like, "Marry a Muslim girl and fuck her five times a day / Every time right before we shower and pray." "Crimes of the Heart" gets slightly personal with an honest love story of a lonely two-timer "breaking hearts on the way to enlightenment," which Immortal Technique uses as a simile for an isolated republic. A little less narrative-bound but still hard-hitting and with a more polished production than Immortal Technique’s previous recordings, 3rd World offers hope for listeners who yearn for a return to music with a message. As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words, and Immortal Technique remains true to his tunes with this concert for Afghanistan’s Children of War in partnership with Omeid International.

IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE with Hasan Salaam, Da Circle, Ras Ceylon, and DJ GiJoe. Thurs/20, 9:30 p.m., $19–$22. DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF. (415) 626-1409, www.dnalounge.com