Our Weekly Picks: December 7-13
Jonathan Richman & Tommy Larkin
Jonathan Richman is a magnetic character on stage. You could probably guess as much by listening to the ex-Modern Lover's solo albums, or, by glimpsing at the titles of his songs ("I Eat With Gusto, Damn! You Bet"). Indeed, watching Richman on stage with drummer Tommy Larkin is at once intimate, heartbreaking, and often comedic. Songs like "If You Want To Leave Our Party Just Go," from his latest album, O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth, always stir laughter in the crowd: "This aint' school/you don't have to stay/if you want to leave our party just go," he sings. Then, setting down his guitar, he shakes his body around to the drums, frowning. (James H. Miller)
With Rad Cloud
8 p.m., $16
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF
"Drag Queens on Ice"
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ... er, definitely something, flying at you with the unstoppable momentum of a two-story wig and a pair of birdseed-filled balloons. You already know what's green and ice skates (Peggy Phlegm) now come find out what's queen and ice wobbles — all those years in man-stilletos can't help you out on the rink, honey. This cherished annual hoot features a wealth of San Francisco's beloved gender clown personalities threading their way through bewildered tourist families in Union Square, and ends with a powerhouse performance by Mutha Chucka and a "Dizzy on Ice" extravaganza by this year's Gordeeva and Grinkov: Lil Miss Hot Mess and Anna Conda. Grab a warming adult beverage from nearby Emporio Rulli Il Caffe and join in the fun. But don't you dare judge, or you might get Nancy Kerrigan'd. Skates are blades, remember. (Marke B.)
8-9:30 p.m., $10 entrance, $5 rentals
Union Square Skating Rink
Post and Geary, SF
Facebook: Drag Queens on Ice
"The Dog Show"
The pieces comprising this program represent the newest work and the biggest productions so far for Bay Area-based choreographers and contemporary performance-makers Laura Arrington and Jesse Hewit/Strong Behavior, who once again share a double bill following their memorable residency shows at CounterPULSE in the summer of 2010. Poised to attract national and international presenters, these artists will not heel, nor do they know how to sit. No kennel can hold them. They can be difficult, willful, and disrespectful of authority, but that's also what makes them your best friends. Probably safest to show no fear, and expect the unexpected. (Robert Avila)
Through Sat/10, 8 p.m.; Sun/11, 7 p.m., $20
450 Florida, SF
"I'm just gonna riff around now," says Ganglians vocalist Ryan Grubbs on "Things to Know" from the band's sophomore full-length, Still Living (Lefse). "Riffing around" could be this indie acid-pop quartet's modus operandi. As Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies and surf rock guitars drift into weird pysch-folk freak out territory, it's clear that these Sacramento hippies are simply doing what feels right. All the free associative genre-melding is anchored by heavily echoed guitar and Grubbs' colorful vocals. Ganglians invite you on a spirit journey. I suggest you come along. (Frances Capell)
With Young Prisms
8 p.m., $14
628 Divisadero, SF
"What is youth," novelist Evelyn Waugh once asked, "except a man or a woman before it is ready or fit to be seen?" The comedy stage show "Mortified" has been aware of this for some time, and that knowledge has made it into one of the most awkward and gut-busting shows around. Now celebrating six years of "personal redemption through public humiliation," "Mortified" brings on another night of disgrace and shame wherein brave souls present artifacts from their adolescence before the audience — sexually frustrated love letters, melancholy diaries, photos, and whatever else that hasn't been cast into the fire. Look out for the television series, "The Mortified Sessions," on the Sundance Channel beginning Dec. 5. (Miller)
With Live Evil
8 p.m., $20
375 11th St., SF
"Fela! Closing Week Party"
If anyone needed more evidence that nightlife can change the world — or proof that a group of insanely talented and gorgeous people on a stage can change your life, for that matter — glorious, Tony-showered Broadway musical Fela! provides in spades. Now playing at the Curran Theatre (go see it), Fela! stages the life of puckish 1970s Nigerian dissident and manically creative Afrobeat inventor Fela Anikulapo Kuti as a live concert in his famous club, the Shrine. Fitting, then, that on the final weekend of the show's run there's going be a major party. One of our own finest Afrobeat purveyors, DJ Said of Fatsouls Records, will play along with members of the Fela! band, featuring members of the famed Antibalas Orchestra. It should be a chill yet star-studded crowd, and if a recent Fela! audience is any indication, the Bay Area's spirited African community will be in the house. (Marke B.)
9 p.m., $10–$15
Brick and Mortar
1710 Mission, SF
"Tricycle Records Holiday Party"
Now in its fifth year, Tricycle Records' annual holiday party has become something of a winter tradition, prompting one to wonder aloud each year, "Why aren't we throwing them the party?" Founded in 2006 by Julie Schuchard and Don Joslin, the independent label has graciously served the local music community by representing do-it-yourself, local acts like the Frail, Geographer, and the Blacks. In doing so, it has become an indispensable fixture. At this year's holiday bash, DJs Just Blaz of Geographer, Mario Muse (Wave Not Wave, Queen is Dead), and Julie T. (of Tricycle) spin records, with an open vodka bar from 9-10 p.m. sponsored by Pearl Vodka and sweets by Queen of Pops at midnight. Free with online RSVP at Eventbrite. So, why aren't we throwing them the party? Because Tricycle Records simply does it better. (Miller)
9 p.m., free with RSVP, $5 at the door
1840 Haight, SF
José James is a rarity in an era when the words "male, jazz, vocalist" might make a person think of Michael Bublé and run. After he was "discovered" a few years back by BBC1 super-DJ Gilles Peterson, James (who fittingly appears at both Yoshi's and the New Parish this week) gained recognition as the "hip-hop" jazz singer. James's previous album, 2010's Black Magic, was a blend of traditional and forward-looking sounds, featuring production from Flying Lotus and remixes by SBTRKT, among others. But whatever he's singing over, the guy's baritone is immediately recognizable and memorable, with an easy intimacy that recalls Curtis Mayfield as much as Lou Rawls. (Ryan Prendiville)
9 p.m., $15–$20
579 18th St., Oakl.
San Francisco's own Scott Hansen, a.k.a Tycho, has had a busy autumn, playing two September festivals in Seattle, touring the East Coast with a full band in support of Sweden sensation Little Dragon, and releasing his new album Dive (Ghostly International). Dive has the inviting feel of the Boards of Canada's The Campfire Headphase — a collage of expansive synths and spacey guitar chords, presented mostly at an unhurried pace. When not creating music, Hansen is updating his design blog with his hand-crafted album covers and posters as well as visuals that accompany his shows. Hansen's live performance is really audiovisual — the melodic and playful "Hours" is synchronized with vintage footage of surfers, while the sparse and deliberate "Adrift" is paired with clips of massive glaciers. (Kevin Lee)
9 p.m., $20
628 Divisadero, SF
"Diamonds in the Rough"
American Steel Studios, located in the heart of the East Bay's industrial arts landscape, has been known for churning out some of the biggest and baddest-ass pieces to hit the playa in recent years. But under artist and manager Karen Cusolito's direction, the sprawling space has been polishing up its act, adding a light-drenched, white-walled gallery space and more than 100 tenants practicing diverse crafts, both freaky and fine. Come see the (slightly cleaner) side of the West Oakland art scene at "Diamonds in the Rough: An Interactive Exhibit of Art, Innovation and Industry," which will showcase some of the studio's more traditional artisans like furniture makers and painters, small businesses producing everything from luscious soap to worm compost, along with fire-spewing, flame-belching favorites. With live music, aerial performance, and artist demonstrations. (Emily Appelbaum)
Sat/10 7-11 p.m.; Sun/11 12-5 p.m., free
American Steel Studios
1960 Mandela Parkway (enter on 20th), Oak.
The story of Cape Dory, Tennis' debut album on Fat Possum, goes as such: Denver-based musicians Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore meet in college, get married, spend half a year exploring the Eastern seaboard together on a sailboat, and then return home to write a charming pop album based on their travels. Luckily, upon hearing Cape Dory, worries about the kitschy and cutesy means in which it was conjured up fade away in a hurry. All the trendy staples of modern indie-pop can be found in spades — from the jangly surf guitar and AM radio melodies, to the reverb-heavy lo-fi production — but they're balanced well enough to rightfully keep Moore's dreamy lead vocals as the main focus. (Landon Moblad)
With Miniature Tigers and Devon Williams
10 p.m., $12
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
The Juan Maclean
Goofy-sincere house revivalist John Maclean's project has helped make rolling piano loops and acid snatches de rigueur at totally necessary hipster gatherings. And if the Rhode Islander's biggest hit, 2009's "Happy House" (not a Siouxsie remake), didn't completely revive East Coast interest in local legends Dubtribe Sound System's "Do It Now," from which its hook was almost wholly cribbed –well, at least it slapped an instant neon smiley face on those over 35 on the dance floor here at home, ahem. As a composer, his works never transcend the sum of their meticulously referential parts for me, but as a DJ he zooms free: his 2010 DJ Kicks series entry was rightly lauded as a party starter of the year. Catch him on the turntables in a small-room setting at this Freeform vs. Dubalicious party at Shine, where his pledged allegiance to House Nation can only glow and glow. (Marke B.)
9 p.m., $8–$15
1337 Mission, SF.
"Third Strike: 100 Performances for The Hole"
At SOMArts, a century old mechanics pit in the gallery floor marks the spot for a one-night mini-marathon of 100 artistic moments. Unfolding in rapid succession from 5:59 p.m. until midnight, the two-minute performances include commissioned work by artist Jennifer Locke and Allan deSouza, chair of San Francisco Art Institute's new genres department, addressing the human body. Few rules contain site specific Third Strike, the third iteration of the time-based art biennial with a history of radical self expression and experimentation. It's the brainchild of SOMArts curator and gallery director Justin Hoover, serving as an open forum reflecting contemporary media and pop culture. (Julie Potter)
5:58 p.m. $10 (suggested)
934 Brannan, SF
"Project Nunway III"
Surely you've witnessed — maybe even knelt with, laid hands upon, or received the holy bodies of — that fabulously charitable gaggle of good time drag gals, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. But have you seen them in 3-D. See them comin' at ya now — no, not at the debut of James Cameron's long-awaited Indulgent epic Habitar, but at Project Nunway, the annual fundraising show that puts some choice nuns in 3-D flights of fashion fancy. The looks practically leap offstage! (Watch your eyes.) The Sisters are paired with more than 25 designers, coordinated by Jarred Garza of Archetype. And the resulting rainbow-hued cascades of folds, pleats, bulges, and other fabricated tumescences will astound you in a slightly lascivious way. No prudish Perpetual protrusions here, Patty. Jane Weidlin of the Go-Gos provides fun and catty commentary and a who's-who of the SF underground takes notes for its next outfits. (Marke B.)
3 p.m.-9 p.m., $9–$20
314 11th St., SF.
Facebook: Project Nunway III
The Cave Singers
What do Seattle's the Cave Singers and Portland's the Builders and the Butchers have in common? Well, to start with, both bands boast charismatic frontpersons (Pete Quirk and Ryan Sollee) with voices that ring like mouthfuls of copper pennies and percussionists whose driving, swashbuckling rhythms would not be out of place at the pirate hoedown at the end of the world (there will be one, you know). Simultaneously conjuring images of encroaching darkness and unquenchable light, their raw, desperate, yet strangely hopeful songs will drag you two steps closer to damnation—and three steps nearer to redemption. (Nicole Gluckstern)
With the Builders and the Butchers, and Awahnichi
8 p.m., $15–$39.95
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF
Two Thousand Maniacs!
Yee-haw! Not only is the recent Pacific Film Archive series "Southern (Dis)Comfort: The American South in Cinema" making the jump 'cross the bay to the Roxie, it's bringing a few bonus selections tailor-made for lovers of deliciously trashy movies (literally so in some cases, like 1957 bucket of bayou sleaze Poor White Trash). Nip over to the Roxie's website for the full schedule, but as far as I'm concerned, the main event is Herschell Gordon Lewis' 1964 tribute to Southern hospitality, Two Thousand Maniacs! In one of his finest (and, allegedly, favorite) efforts, the Godfather of Gore roasts a damn Yankee in a barbecue and rolls another one down a hill in a nail-filled barrel. He also penned theme ditty "The South Will Rise Again," which bests even a certain tune from Deliverance (1972) as the creepiest, catchiest song ever to emanate from a banjo. (Cheryl Eddy)
5:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., $6.50–$10
3117 16th St., SF
Before releasing his crocodile-inspired solo album Down There (Paw Tracks), Animal Collective's Avey Tare (a.k.a. Dave Portner) stated that he had no plans to tour alone. His haunted swamp of a record took Tare to a dark place he didn't care to revisit every night. It's been over a year since its 2010 release, and Tare's finally embarking on a brief tour featuring the warped and murky jams of his solo full-length debut. If I'm gonna be dragged to hell, I like to imagine I'll be escorted by this bog monster, dancing all the way Down There. (Capell)
With Foot Village
9 p.m., $15-20
579 18th St., Oakl.
The Best American Nonrequired Reading
Think of The Best American Nonrequired Reading as some amalgamation of an almanac, a literary anthology, and a bunch of scattered "Best American" lists, including "Best New American Band Names" and "Best American Wikileaks Revelations." Series editor Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney's and 826 Valencia, collaborates every year with high school students to piece together the annual compendium. Three writers will read from their contributions to this year's version. The Bay Area's Daniel Alarcón and Tom Barbash will read some of their recent fiction, while Hollywood's Joshuah Bearman will sample a piece he produced for Wired Magazine. Sure, the tome is the latest in a "nonrequired" reading series, but for readers who want a sizable, 500-page chunk of Americana, this book is absolutely essential. (Lee)
Benefit for the 826 National nonprofit
With Daniel Alarcón, Tom Barbash, and Joshuah Bearman
9 p.m., $20
601 Van Ness, SF
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