Nicole Gluckstern

The Performant: Tropical nights and Pacific days

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Stepping out with Brownout and Sunday Streets

It was quite a diverse crowd bobbing and weaving out on the dance floor of the Elbo Room as local Afrolicious stalwart DJ Señor Oz spun a red-hot Latin-fusion funk mix, which belied the blustery weather outside.

The Elbo Room is good for fantasies of decadent tropical nights — it’s a small room which fills up and heats up fast — all that de rigueur protective outerwear coming off pretty quickly when there’s sweaty beats to be had. It was an energetic set, and you could almost visualize a clump of palm trees swaying against the horizon of some pristine, white sand beach, fireflies and paper lanterns to light up the starry night (there actually are paper lanterns dangling from the ceiling of the Elbo Room—which helps the fantasy along). Read more »

Alter egos

Labelmates St. Vincent and tUnE-yArDs play with characters

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arts@sfbg.com

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.Read more »

The Performant: It's so magic

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Terry Allen’s Ghost Ship Rodez and Christian Cagigal’s “The Collection” put a spell on it.

It sounds like a bit of a cliché, but there really is magic in a performance piece in which all of the disparate elements get pulled together just so, and suddenly the show becomes much greater than the mere sum of its parts. Crackling with an electric energy, a show infused with that elusive jolt provokes an integrated intellectual and emotional response that pervades the body entire, and lingers long after the lights come up. But it’s a fickle friend, this magic, and attempting to corral it too earnestly is the surest way to have it slip completely away, like sand pouring through determinedly clenched fingers.

Such a fate befell Terry and Jo Harvey Allen’s “Ghost Ship Rodez” at Z-Space over the weekend.

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The Performant: Ferocious many

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The Ferocious Few and the Anarchist Bookfair disturb the peace.

In the as-yet unwritten book of Bay Area music, at least one chapter should be devoted solely to the bands whose crowd-wrangling skills and attention-grabbing music was honed on the mean streets. From the Mission District’s once-infamous “Live at Leeds” location, inaugurated by punk band Shotwell and later championed by the imitable Rube Waddell (the band, not the ballplayer), to the wriggling mass hysteria of a Gomorran Social Aid and Pleasure Club Parade, to the compact cacophony of one-person clown band Masha Matin, and the finger-pickin’ good Americana of Brian Belknap, the streets of San Francisco, like the infamous hills, are alive with the sound of music.

Of the current ranks of street-side crooners, The Ferocious Few have come to embody the best qualities of the breed. Combining sheer persistence with a driving, southern-rock-influenced, guitar-and-drum combo, at a volume constantly pushing at the edge of 11, the Few prove that safety may be in numbers, but that rock music was never meant to be safe.

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The Performant: Pixel visions

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The Disposable Film Festival turns five.

If you were the kind of kid who, when introduced to the concept of abstract art, would grab the fingerpaints and try to top Jackson Pollock’s “No. 11,” then chances are at some point you’ve harbored a desire to take on the movie industry with your own resources. After all, the tools are out there, within grasp of anyone with access to equipment as modest as a camera-phone or a web-cam. And just as the advent of the analog camcorder was hailed as a democratization of the cinematic art-form, so too can the current craze for digital gear be read not just as consumerist one-upmanship, but an earnest bid for creative parity.

Well, if it’s artistic inspiration you crave, and fingerpaints aren’t cutting it anymore, you need look no further than the Disposable Film Festival, which took place this past weekend, dedicated to screening the best of the no-budget brigade, for motivation. Lest the term “disposable” put you off, festival co-founder Carlton Evans is quick to amend: the technology is what’s considered disposable here, not the creative output. 

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Get 'Wilde': Al Pacino's new doc receives red carpet opening at Castro

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All my amigo Morlock E. wants to know is where Frank Chu is, since Frank Chu is still a fairly good indicator of being at the most happening event of the evening -- or at any rate the one with the most television cameras. But instead of Frank, all we see is a crush of autograph seekers pressed against the velvet rope separating them from the red carpet unfurled outside the Castro Theatre. They’re not here to see Frank Chu, and in truth, neither are we. We’re here to get a photo of Al Pacino and maybe touch the hem of his cloak, at the US premiere of his latest project, a documentary entitled Wilde Salome.

Since it’s not every day San Francisco gets to play host to a big premiere, the Wed/21 turnout is robust, convivial. Also a fundraiser for the GLBT Historical Society -- there are some quite dapper dandies in attendance, an element one feels certain Wilde would have approved of. But one gets the impression that the autograph-hounds are less enamored with the Wildean aspect of the event rather than the chance to shake the hand of Scarface, but Wilde, with his penchant for “rough trade” might well have approved of that too.

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The performant: Lucky buggers

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Fortunate forays into entomophagy and Éire

In the estimable 1885 tome Why Not Eat Insects? (charmingly reprinted by Pryor Publications) Vincent M. Holt puts forth a simple culinary challenge, not in the contrarian vein of Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal,” but apparently in earnest. Pointing out a few certain truths about bugs and arachnids often overlooked by the squeamish (their undeniable resemblance to crustaceans, their clean eating habits, and ready availability), Holt goes on to describe with epicurean delight the taste of butter- sautéed locusts and an equally buttery wood-louse sauce. Read more »

The Performant: The mourning after

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Explorations in the language of the living at SFAI and NOHspace

Long before I moved to San Francisco, there were already certain things I’d learned to associate as being quintessentially San Franciscan via some kind of cross-cultural osmosis: the Castro, the cable-cars, Critical Mass, and George Kuchar. Read more »

Earthquake relief, one year later: "Shinsai: Theaters for Japan"

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On March 11, 2011, hot on the heels (so to speak) of a devastating 9.0 earthquake and resultant tsunami, the world’s largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl made Fukushima, Japan a household name. And just like previous mega-disasters such as the Sumatran tsunami of 2004, and the 2010 quake in Haiti, Japan’s unexpected and devastating crisis drew attention and support from across the globe.

One year later, with an estimated 300,000 people still homeless from the combined natural and unnatural disasters that shook the Fukushima prefecture, it appears that the crisis is far from being over. Inspired by an impromptu fundraising effort spearheaded by New York-based, Japanese-born actor James Yaegashi, a unique memorial will take place Sun/11 in theaters across the United States.

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The Performant: In the Flash

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Bodies and words collide in 'this.placed'

It’s easy to overlook them, two dancers, still as mannequins, positioned near the entrance to the performance space, a silent video of a wet fleshy mouth, open wide as if ready for a filling, projected onto their motionless bodies. Just before the lights go down, they disappear, as does the fleshy mouth. Onstage a much larger projection of mouth, nose, cheek, fills the back wall, as the sounds of kissing, mumbling, chewing, and lip popping create a fanfare for the two dancers (Jill Randall and Amanda Whitehead), who enter while stretching their own faces into humorously exaggerated positions. Finally, Whitehead opens her mouth normally, to recite the jumbled text of Britta Austin’s Flash Fiction “Bite Marks,” which substitutes for music in their energetic duet. Read more »