Gaiman and Palmer, the Bay Area Science Festival, and a live game of Frogger
Nerd might still be a four-letter word in high school locker rooms (assuming these are still high school locker rooms to be found), but there’s really never been a better time in history to be an adult nerd. No matter if your inclinations lie in language, linux, or the laws of thermodynamics, a nerdish life lived well is truly the best revenge for all those real or imagined slings and arrows of awkward youth.
Epitomizing this truism, geek-elite power couple Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer launched a joint mini-tour across the West Coast entitled simply “An Evening with Neil Gaimna and Amanda Palmer,” which turned out to be exactly that, no more and no less.
FILM Of all Elliot Lavine's noir programs for the Roxie, "Not Necessarily Noir" is both the toughest sell and the most creative from a curatorial perspective. There are two programs in this abbreviated "Not Necessarily Noir" run that should have built-in audiences — a slam dunk Joan Crawford double bill of Johnny Guitar (1954) and Female on the Beach (1955), and a full course of Ed Wood — but the terrifically nervous movies at the start of the series do the most to stake out its intuitive terrain.Read more »
ALICE and Folsom Street Fair fall down different holes
From North Beach to South of Market, clowning to carousing, the weekend offered up a veritable smorgasbord of sensory overload and playful edge. First off, a debut performance of a quirky bit of deconstruction in new kid venue on the North Beach block, The Emerald Tablet. Written and conceptualized by two spirited performers (Edna Miroslava Barrón and Karen Anne Light), “ALICE: Down the Rwong Wrabbit Whole” offered a welcome introduction to both the space and the still-fresh faces of the presenting duo.
FALL ARTS Now that even the quaintest neighborhood block parties publish music lineups in advance and big beat fests give as much shine to snack vendors as secondary stages, it's becoming clear that the events on our fall fair and festival listings are all just part of one big movement. Leading to what, you might ask? Leading to you having a celebrate-good-times kind of autumn in the Bay Area. Seize the day, pack your sunscreen, bring cash: from film to activism to chocolate, here comes the sun.
Nine hundred thousand people and over 70 bands braved the drifting fog banks for this weekend's 10th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. With a crowd that size, you have to think logistics. So at my interview with HSB bankroller-birthday boy Warren Hellman well before the madness, I asked who were the up and comers to look out for. I chicken-danced our way through Speedway Meadows accordingly.
“The Ebony Hillbillies,” Hellman told me, chuckling over lead singer – and as the band's press kit explains, “bones” of the group -- Gloria Gassaway's penchant for abrupt audience interaction. The HSB performance would be its first in the Bay Area, and Hellman was happy to have been its means of infiltration, particularly for Gassaway's no-nonsense stage presence. “She's quite a woman,” he said. Read more »
The San Francisco band started their set with a request for more blue lighting at the Bottom of the Hill Friday Feb. 27, half-joking and half-hoping to make things look “cooler” and more “ocean-like.” Loquat has been playing their brand of electro-pop in the Bay Area for almost a decade and therefore I was expecting some really sweet synth action as a precursor to headlining band, Memory Tapes. Instead, racing guitars and strong bass muddled all of my most favorite parts of Loquat’s soun: the subtle waving melodies and vocalist Kylee Swenson’s floating lyrics. Their newfound heavier sound translated into a rock version of L.A.'s Bitter:Sweet, with tons of energy that twinkled over the crowd like the venue’s vintage Christmas lights. Read more »
That beat. It was all about that beat. And everyone had filled up the Independent theater on February 26 to hear Four Tet's hypnotic beats all night long. His new album, There Is Love in You, was released last month and Four Tet joined several other electronic groups last Friday on one of the closing nights of the SF Noise Pop festival. Read more »
Spare but touching, playful yet perched oh-so-formally on chairs with music and notes on hand, accomplished and unafraid of the occasional sour or dissonant note. Yep, that’s the Magnetic Fields.
The ensemble had the sold-out mob in their precious paws on Feb. 27 at Fox Theater -- from opener “Lindy-Lou,” off the 6th’s Hyacinths and Thistles to “Falling in Love with the Wolfboy” to a haunting version of “Acoustic Guitar.” “Yes,” yowled one fan when the group announced “I Don’t Want to Get Over You.” Even the group's "B" set (the "A" set list will be performed at the March 1 Herbst show) was, as Claudia Gonson put it, teeming with "awesomeness."
The combo could do no wrong -- magnetism worked in its favor, though you got the impression that the band was still working out the kinks, still psychically at the start of their tour. They were a bit casual, a bit messy -- Stephin Merritt sticking to ukulele and Gonson pointing up helpfully when she’d try and miss that exact right high note. Read more »