Our Weekly Picks: November 9-15

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WEDNESDAY 9

Keep Shelly in Athens

Grecian downbeat band Keep Shelly in Athens is an enigmatic act. Not in the annoying, contrived, hype-craving way — rather, this duo keeps its public persona as laid back as its chilled out, ambient music, allowing the material to speak for itself. Keep Shelly in Athens' new EP, Our Own Dream (Forest Family), is refreshingly accessible. There are enough enchanting vocal melodies to snare pop enthusiasts, enough heavy beats to satisfy the most voracious electro-heads, and plenty of mellow, spaced out vibes for the chillwavers. (Frances Capell)

With Kisses and Blackbird Blackbird (DJ Set)

8 p.m., $14

Independent

628 Divisadero, SF

(415) 771-1421

www.theindependentsf.com

 

Lykke Li

A few years back, it seemed Swedish singer Lykke Li was most known for a certain frailty, a breathless, whispered seduction on songs like "Little Bit." With her last album, 2011's boldly dark Wounded Rhymes, every weakness has been inverted into a strength. The pining 1950s bubblegum on "Sadness Is A Blessing" is not the song of teen heartbreak it appears to be, revealing an emotional maturity and confidence beyond what you would expect from any of her peers. From other 25-year-olds, the chorus of "Get Some" — "I'm your prostitute/you're gonna get some" — would be little more than a sleazy come on. From Lykke Li, it's a threat. (Ryan Prendiville)

With First Aid Kit

8 p.m., $35

Fox Theater

1807 Telegraph, Oak.

www.thefoxtheater.com


THURSDAY 10

Holy Ghost!

With the release of the first single in 2007, Holy Ghost! set a high bar for itself. An electropop track with a debt to Italo, "Hold On" announced the duo of Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser (two session musicians with ties to DFA in NYC) as a group to watch. Also, taking the title seriously, a group to wait for, as a full album wouldn't be released until this year (they may have been busy opening for LCD Soundsystem and Cut Copy.) On the self-titled LP, though, "Hold On" is easily overshadowed by songs including the New Order referencing "It's Not Over," "Some Children" featuring soulful white man Michael McDonald, and the saddest dance song, "Jam for Jerry," (a tribute to deceased !!! drummer Jerry Fuchs, who also had worked with Holy Ghost!).(Prendiville)

With Jessica 6 and Eli Escobar

8 p.m., $16

Slim's

333 11th St., SF

(415) 255-0333

www.slims-sf.com

 

Blek le Rat

Xavier Prou, a.k.a Blek le Rat, has been stenciling political art on city walls since 1981 — decades earlier than Banksy. "Every time I think I've painted something original," Banksy has said, "I find out Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only 20 years earlier." Blek le Rat's stirring and elegant stencil work has become a model for others. He's pushed the limits of what graffiti can do, and helped elevate it to the respected art it is today — as one court judge in Paris said of his work, "I cannot condemn it. It's too beautiful." Arts Publishing Ltd. has released an immense 30-year retrospective book of Blek le Rat's work. And at SFMOMA, the artist appears for a signing party in the Schwab Room. (James H. Miller)

6:30 p.m., free

SFMOMA

151 Third St., SF

(415) 357-4000

www.sfmoma.com


FRIDAY 11

Big Troubles

It was difficult to discern just how much talent was buried within Big Troubles' ultra-fuzzy lo-fi debut, Worry. There were a few promising glimpses of My Bloody Valentine, but altogether the band came across as a little one-dimensional. Then the baby-faced boys from Ridgewood, NJ, got serious for the more mature, infinitely more polished follow-up, Romantic Comedy (Slumberland). Its songs convey angst, heartache, and ennui with a delightfully diverse array of influences: shoegaze, jangle-pop, even slacker rock. Big Troubles makes modern pop music for the teenager in all of us. Let your inner teen out, if only for a night. (Capell)

With Real Estate

9 p.m., $17

Slim's

333 11th St., SF

(415) 255-0333

www.slims-sf.com

 

"Bring on the Lumière"

Don't fence in Catherine Galasso. She is intrigued by smashing distinctions between the virtual and the real, the present and the historic and, of course, conventional artistic disciplines like dance, music, drama, and film. Her instinct for the theater is clear; her craft impressive. Still, expending all that talent on a work about Emperor Norton seemed distinctly odd. Given that her father was a composer of music for films — she uses some of his scores — her present project, "Bring on the Lumière," an evocation of cinema inventors Auguste and Louis Lumière, makes a lot more sense. She couldn't have done better than collaborating with pioneering lighting designer Elaine Buckholtz. Or with dancers Cristine Bonansea and Marina Fukushima as the brothers. (Rita Felciano)

Through Sun/13, 8 p.m. $17-$20.

ODC Theater

3153 17th St., SF

(415) 863-9834

www.odctheater.org

 

"Lost Together in No Man's Land"

Midnites for Maniacs' latest triple bill at the Castro highlights exotic road adventures with two familiar features, the animated Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992) and 1984's Romancing the Stone. Both were hits, but the midnight show was a notorious flop. Like Heaven's Gate before it, Ishtar's 1987 release was preceded by embarrassingly public reports of a production wildly over-budget, over-schedule, and over-run by the clashing of several monumental egos. Thus it was considered a failure before it was ever seen, and became a cultural joke rejected by both critics and public. But Elaine May's salute to the 1940s Hope/Crosby Road to... comedies, with Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as talentless NYC lounge singers incongruously caught up in Middle Eastern political upheavals, is overdue for re-evaluation — it has moments of sublime silliness. Still unavailable on DVD, Ishtar gets a rare 35mm showing tonight. (Dennis Harvey)

7:30 p.m. (Ishtar at 11:45 p.m.), $12

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120

www.midnightsformaniacs.com


SATURDAY 12

"International BowWow Doggy Film Festival"

I just finished reading Susan Orlean's Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, so I've got canine cinema on the brain. That famous German Shepherd (or shepherds, as the book discusses) doesn't factor into the Roxie's first-ever dog-centric film festival, but plenty of other pooches do, from the sad-faced, snappily-dressed Weimaraners onscreen (in a program of William Wegman shorts), to the dog show judged by celebs like Go-Go's guitarist Jane Wiedlin and former child actor Jon Provist (a.k.a. the always-imperiled Timmy from Lassie). A good portion of the audience will be on four legs, too: hounds under 35 pounds get in free, and while bigger Fidos do need their own tickets, it's all for a good cause — Muttville senior dog rescue. Alert the pup-arazzi! (Cheryl Eddy)

12:30 p.m., $10–$40

Roxie Theater

3117 16th St., SF

(415) 863-1087

www.roxie.com

 

They Might Be Giants

The Fillmore's page for this show includes a video of They Might Be Giants from 1991, performing a couple of traditional gateways into the band, "Istanbul" and "Birdhouse In Your Soul." But it doesn't really answer important questions like "Are these guys still any good?" or "Are they still making children's music?" For that, you could check out the recent albums Join Us and Album Raises New and Troubling Questions, but a shortcut would be John Flansburgh and John Linnell's performance for the Onion AV Club's cover song competition, "Undercover." With a bombastic version of Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" the veteran band destroys a host of hip chillwave acts and bearded indie rockers, proving that yeah, the two Johns still got it.(Prendiville)

Also Sun/13,

8 p.m., $27.50

Fillmore

1850 Geary, SF

(415) 346-6000

www.thefillmore.com

 

Austra

Austra's sound has been described as "harkening back to the sleazier side of new wave" — is there anything more appealing than that notion? Sleaze-wave; it rolls off the tongue. Led by Latvian-Canadian vocal powerhouse Katie Stelmanis (a former solo artist known for her youthful opera training and her Fucked Up album guest appearance), the Toronto based trio creates classically driven electronic dance music with spiffy beats and supernatural female vocals — it'd fit well in an impassioned 1980s montage scene, perhaps one where our main girl has a revelation of sudden power. This is especially true of "Lose It," the heart-pumping single with scattered operatic highs off this spring's debut, Feel It Break. It's a modern, electro-"Total Eclipse of the Heart" meets "Sweet Dreams," only you know, sexier. (Emily Savage)

With Grimes, Sister Crayon

9 p.m., $16

Great American Music Hall

859 O'Farrell, SF

(415) 885-0750

www.gamh.com


SUNDAY 13

The Two Man Gentlemen Band

Calling all hep cats and swing kids. The Two Man Gentlemen Band is jumping and jiving its way across the country with a brand new vinyl seven-inch, and an exuberant retro sound. Sounding like a cheeky cross between a Django Reinhardt revival and a late-night drinking session with Broke-Ass Stuart, the gents of the Two Man Gentlemen Band honed their craft on the unsympathetic streets and subways of the Big Apple, and like other buskers-turned-legit, their sound is much bigger and far tighter than you might expect from a bare bones string duo whose favorite themes are inebriation, indiscretion, and ladies. A toe-tapping, seriously swinging good time for all. (Nicole Gluckstern)

With Colin Gilmore, the Barbary Ghosts

9 p.m., $10

Amnesia

853 Valencia, SF

(415) 970-0012

www.amnesiathebar.com


TUESDAY 15

Future Islands

The only thing more intense and cathartic than a Future Islands record is a Future Islands show. Each release from this Baltimore, Md., synth-pop trio is more haunting than the last, but its dramatic performances have been legendary from the get-go. Thunder-throated singer Samuel T. Herring has been known to call forth the beast within by slapping his own face and beating on his chest as he takes to the stage. Future Islands' dreamy synth and bass tunes are as danceable as they are tragic; you won't know whether to sweat or cry. You'll probably do both. (Capell)

With Ed Shrader's Music Beat and Secret Shopper

9 p.m., $14

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 621-4455

www.bottomofthehill.com

 

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