Our Weekly Picks: August 17-23




Better than Something

Before his death in 2008 at the age of 29, Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr., a.k.a. Jay Reatard, released more material in ten years than most musicians dream of in a lifetime. He was at the peak of his career, and documentarians Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz were able to spend a week filming with Reatard just before he passed. The result is Better than Something, a feature length film about the life and death of Jay Reatard with footage culled from live performances, interviews, and the personal time the crew spent with him. Catch a glimpse into the mind of a man who rocked hard, lived fast, and, unfortunately, died young — the essential rock and roll fable. (Cooper Berkmoyer)

7:30 and 9:30 p.m., $10

Roxie Theater

3117 16th St., SF

(415) 863-1087




Diamond Head

Formed in 1976, U.K rockers Diamond Head would go on to become one of the leaders of a musical movement known as the "new wave of British heavy metal." Diamond Head heavily influenced bands like Metallica, which covered Diamond Head tunes such as "Am I Evil" in its early days, and continue to do so today. Lead by founding member and guitarist Brian Tatler — who has been cited as a major influence by metal titans including Megadeth's Dave Mustaine — the band's current lineup is hitting the states for the very first time. In Europe, Diamond Head plays huge festivals; don't miss this rare headbanger's dream show. (Sean McCourt)

9 p.m., $15–$20

Elbo Room

647 Valencia, SF

(415) 552-7788





SF Improv Festival

Making shit up. It's become a serious job skill in the new non-economy, where bullshitting, winging it, and blind leaps have taken the place of an industrial base and steady employment. What I'm saying, I guess, is that you can totally rationalize going to the SF Improv Festival on economic grounds. But you don't have to treat it like career day, even if it is a local and nationwide convention of expert improvisers where anything can happen. It's must-see, or might-see, as is the case with New York's famed Improv Everywhere, popping up in Union Square earlier this week. Founder Charlie Todd appears in conversation tonight as part of the festival. Improv festival highlights include group performances and workshops for careerists. Check the website for the complete program. (Robert Avila)

Through Aug. 27, most events $10–$25

Eureka Theater

215 Jackson, SF




Henson Alternative: Stuffed and Unstrung

Brian Henson started working with his dad Jim Henson when he was just a child. As fans know, he has gone on to be an incredibly talented artist in his own right, and has worked on a wide variety of well-known projects. His latest creation is the hilarious stage show Henson Alternative: Stuffed and Unstrung, which features a cast of 80 puppets and six puppeteers, and combines the imaginative world of puppetry with the mapcap world of improv comedy. In the adult-oriented show, audience members will offer story suggestions while the skilled puppeteers will bring the zany action to life on stage — with the amount of guaranteed laughs in store, even Statler and Waldorf would be impressed. (McCourt)

Thurs/18 and Aug. 25, 8 p.m.; Fri/19-Sat/20 and Aug. 26-27, 7 and 10:30 p.m., $30–$65

Curran Theatre

445 Geary, SF






In Edan's perfect world, hip-hop probably never would have evolved past the old-school beats and playful lyricism of late 1980s rappers like Big Daddy Kane and Slick Rick. A shaggy-haired, Berklee College of Music-trained white kid from the suburbs of Baltimore, Md. might seem like an odd choice to carry the retro torch in a world of auto-tune and over-polished production, but he pulls it off with impressive conviction, showcasing his quirky delivery and clever wordplay along the way. Beauty and the Beat, Edan's 2005 LP, is an underground classic overflowing with 1960s rock and psychedelia-inspired beats, dusty funk grooves, eclectic samples, and the lighthearted sense of humor that has made him one of the more interesting personalities in alternative, vintage-minded hip-hop. (Landon Moblad)

With Cut Chemist and Mr. Lif

9 p.m., $20


444 Jessie, SF

(415) 625-8880




James Pants

Skipping out on prom to go record shopping with Peanut Butter Wolf in his hometown of Austin, Tex. led James Pants to an internship at the idiosyncratic Stones Throw record label. Apparently, he learned a lot over there. Since his debut album Welcome (2008) — supposedly culled from 100 demos — initially pegged him as a DIY weirdo with a serious fetish for cheap 70s soul and cheaper 80s hip-hop, subsequent releases have been surprising in the best way. (2010's New Tropical EP is a summer dance party essential.) His latest, a self-titled album, focuses on a creepy, 50s-style Twin Peaks pop rock sound, with anachronistic synths and krautrock beats thrown in according to Pants' unpredictable logic. (Ryan Prendiville)\

9 p.m., free with RSVP

Clift Hotel

495 Geary, SF




U.S. Bombs

U.S. Bombs have cultivated an incendiary reputation thanks to singer, legendary skateboarder, and all around "Master of Disaster," Duane Peters. Combining sounds culled from old school influences like the Clash and mixing them with the raw adrenaline pumping attitude needed to attack a half pipe, the band's lineup has gone through several variations, but no matter which members of punk rock royalty he has behind him, Peters is guaranteed to steal the spotlight and make for a show you won't likely soon forget. (McCourt)

With Meat Sluts and Johnny Mapcap and the Distractions.

9 p.m., $10

Thee Parkside

1600 17th St., SF

(415) 252-1330






Things I learned this week: English muffins are better cooked on the stovetop, kites are fun, there are two acts with the name RUN DMT. One is from Baltimore, Md. plays psych rock, and is sometimes covered in maple syrup. The other is from Austin, Tex., DJs electronic, and has a good hand for dubstep or just plain bass heavy remixes across genres (having reworked Busta Rhymes, Butthole Surfers, and Cutty Ranks). It's the second, producers Lemiwinks and Parson, that will be making their SF debut after a tour including sets at NY's Camp Bisco and Portland, Ore.'s Fire in the Canyon festivals, so leave your waffles at home. (Prendiville)


9 p.m., $10

Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell, SF

(415) 861-2011






For those of us that grew up in the 1980s, it may be hard to believe, but it has now been 25 years since the beloved film Labyrinth was released. Although the movie's human actors — including David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly — were great in their roles, to us kids back then, the real stars were the amazing puppets that were brought to life by the geniuses at the Jim Henson Company. At tonight's screening and celebration, puppeteers Brian Henson, David Goelz, and Karen Prell will appear in conversation with Adam Savage of Mythbusters for a look behind the scenes at how they created creatures and characters such as "Hoggle," "Didymus," and "The Worm."(McCourt)

5 p.m., $15

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF




Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger

Last month may have marked the 40th anniversary of the death of Jim Morrison, but his band's powerful music has lived on for both original fans and the multiple generations that have come since his passing. Celebrating that mythical force, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of the Doors are on tour performing the group's classic songs, giving audiences a taste of what it was like back at the Whisky A Go Go circa 1966. No one will ever be able to really fill the shoes (or leather pants) of the Lizard King, but guest vocalist Dave Brock does a great job singing alongside the original guitarist and keyboard player, keeping the Doors' music and spirit alive and well in 2011. (McCourt)

9 p.m., $45

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF





"Daytime Realness"

"It'll be the perfect way to spend a lazy gay Sunday," says Hard French gadabout DJ Carnita of his and Heklina's shiny new drag patio dance party. Daytime Realness' second installation wants to sun-soak your soul in 30 years of backyard jams — yacht rock, early '90s Top 40 hip-hop, disco, funk — brought to you by Vienetta Discotheque's Stanley Frank, DJ BootieKlap, and DJ Rapid Fire. Did I mention drag? Hourly performances to keep your ass stationed in the El Rio backyard, served with a side of chicken 'n' waffles. "It's really amazing seeing all these queens in full face in the middle afternoon. I mean, it's a little jarring," chirps Temprano. Step into the light, y'all. (Caitlin Donohue)

3-8 p.m., $6-8

El Rio

3158 Mission, SF

(415) 282-3325




Apache "What can you say about a band with songs like "Fingerbanger" and "Faster Louder" that doesn't speak for itself? Apache, from Oakland, likes rock 'n' roll. And fingerbanging, apparently. (Also, really, MS Word? Fingerbanging isn't in your spell check repertoire?) Apache plays long hair-sporting, flared jean-wearing, sunglasses at night rock music that's heavy enough to satisfy garage purists and snotty enough to keep it fun. Stripped down and straight-forward, Apache is a no-duh addition to Burger Record's ever expanding empire and a credit to the East Bay's reputation as one of the last frontiers for the "fuck you" punk attitude we've all come to know and love, even when it means getting kicked in the shins every now and then. (Berkmoyer)

With Daddy Long Legs and the Fever Machine

9 p.m., $6


3223 Mission, SF

(415) 550-6994





Steve Lake When word got round that Steve Lake, founding member of seminal anarcho-punk band Zounds, was still touring, the news left many a little surprised. I think we've gotten so accustomed to the idea of "growing old and settling down," of the people we admire packing it in at 27 or fading away, that we've forgotten how vital a musician can be even as his youth dwindles. Zounds was one of the more inspired and intelligent bands of the early British punk scene, and Steve Lake was at its heart. Although his solo material sounds more like Billy Bragg than Crass or Omega Tribe, the man that wrote "Subvert" and "Dirty Squatters" is still going strong. (Berkmoyer)

With Tommy Strange

9 p.m., $7

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

(415) 923-0923



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