Music

Telegenic Band Check: Kelly McFarling

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See video

SFBG videographer Ariel Soto-Suver, along with a small posse of banjo fans, met with Kelly McFarling at Viracocha in the Mission for an intimate evening concert.

The Performant: Science, Honor, Psychogeography

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The Phenomenauts and Alley Cat Books shoot for the moon.

Trapped in a world they didn’t create, the spacecraft-garage band known to us as The Phenomenauts must surely come from a more evolved time and place, as evidenced by the spiffiness of their natty uniforms -- and the electric jolt of their stage shows. As refinement and heroism (the band motto is “Science and Honor”) are qualities in tragically short supply among your run-of-the-mill rock groups, bands which contain both are bound to stand out, with or without the additions of attention-grabbing technical flourishes such as pinpoint lasers, billows of stage fog, and the custom-built Streamerator 2000, which shoots festive streamers of toilet paper out onto the frenetic crowd. Speaking of frenetic, I love a band that can make San Franciscans dance as if possessed by dervishes with hyperkinesis. For that feat alone, they deserve an intergalactic medal for courage in the face of cosmic indifference.

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New year

Singer-songwriter Ezra Furman of the Harpoons made the leap to San Francisco and didn't look back

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MUSIC Waiting for his coffee at Cafe Divis, Ezra Furman (who performs Sat/11 at Hotel Utah) flips through the latest issue of the Guardian. "I've been meaning to do more drugs," he says, pointing to the cannabis column, Herbwise. The wheels in Furman's head seem to always be in motion; there's a constant mischievous look in his eyes. We've met here to discuss the most recent product of his overactive imagination — his solo debut, The Year of No Returning, released on Tuesday through Furman's own Kinetic Family Records.Read more »

Unintelligible genius: looking back at all four shows of the Reggidency

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When Reggie Watts first came to my attention, through a series of appearances on Conan O’Brien’s show a few years back, I didn’t know where to place him. My first instinct was to lump him in with the trend in music – particularly indie rock –  around the looping pedal where solo artists including Owen Pallett and tUnE-YaRds could layer mic samples atop one another during a live performance to get a larger, simulated band sound. Read more »

The story of hip-hop

At Sundance, Ice-T discusses his new documentary Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap

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By Courtney Garcia

MUSIC From the start, Ice-T was a versatile chameleon, the product of an integrated culture, and a student of the marginalized.

Born in New Jersey, raised in the Crenshaw District of LA, he joined the Crips then pursued the army to pay his bills. His career was blazed in rap, though he once flipped the game to heavy metal. Multifaceted talent that he is, Ice would later grow even more famous on television.Read more »

Localized Appreesh: The Yellow Dress

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Localized Appreesh is our weekly thank-you column to the musicians that make the Bay. To be considered, contact emilysavage@sfbg.com.

Dogs, ghosts, kids, hand-clapping, whistling on a sunny park day – it's all in the video for the Yellow Dress's “This Could Be Anything.” The song itself is already a treat, kicking off with the aforementioned clapping and whistling and a solitary guitar, in pipes mariachi trumpet and swallow-you-whole powerful vocal pipes à la orchestral pop master Beirut. (It also has garnered comparisons to Magnetic Fields and a drug-less Velvet Underground.) Read more »

Noise Pop Photo Retrospective, with Plastic Villains and Cool Ghouls

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The 20th anniversary of Noise Pop is oh-so-close to upon us. In celebration and commemoration of how far the festival has come, and of the musicians who’ve made Noise Pop a much-anticipated Bay Area tradition, Bottom of the Hill will be hosting a retrospective photo gallery. The exhibit's opening reception takes place Tues/7 from 6 to 9 p.m. and is free to the public. Read more »

Maximum Consumption: Bay Area bands choose their favorite eateries

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I know, it's so close to the weekend that you can taste it. But before you sign off for the day, your peepers sore and fingers trembling, here's a comprehensive list – sure to get your tummy rumbling – of Bay Area bands' favorite local restaurants, food trucks, and eateries. I compiled these answers from our On the Rise questionnaire (results of which are in this week's issue) and my ongoing Localized Appreesh column. Enjoy. Read more »

Breathe Owl Breathe's newest project is a dark, DIY children's book

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Breathe Owl Breathe, the ethereal, off-folk-band from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, is on tour promoting its recent project, The Listeners/These Train Tracks — a children’s book with accompanying two-song record. Fans familiar with the band will not be surprised to hear it made a book for kids, or that the two stories are surreal and odd. The Listeners is about a mole and an ostrich – one blind, the other only technically a bird –  that find each other in the darkness and form a band. Read more »

The Performant: Strangers in a strange land

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Dan Carbone and Kitka resculpt old terrain

From the dark corner of the stage throbs the low rhythm of a skin-clad, Celtic-style drum and the strum of acoustic guitar, while in the light a man clad in a white dress shirt sways in hypnotic time, eyes shut tight, arms flung wide. “Sleeping, sleeping,” he croons softly, “I’m only sleeping.” Still swaying, he begins to tell the tale from the beginning, about a little baby boy whose “brain is knitting itself in an unusual way.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking in this first moment that the man is speaking of his own infancy, after all, brains don’t come knit much more unusually than that of East Bay-based avant-gardian Dan Carbone. But the infant’s name is not Dan’s, and though his brief and tragic backstory reverberates through much of the rest of the play, the infant soon yields the spotlight to his younger brother, the creator of the piece, “Father Panic,” which made its stage debut at the Garage on Friday. 

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