Our Weekly Picks: February 8-14
The Great Gatsby: John Harbison's Opera
Set 1920s New York wealth, style, and tragic disillusionment to chamber orchestration and what do you get? John Harbison's ambitious opera, The Great Gatsby, which is, of course, based on the modern American classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ensemble Parallèle, a local contemporary opera company, describes The Great Gatsby as its "most ambitious project to date" and will be performing San Francisco composer Jacques Desjardins' re-orchestration of Harbison's masterpiece this weekend. Expect stunning costumes and rich scores that throw you back into the great American Jazz Age. And characters that take you back to high school English class. (Mia Sullivan)
Fri/10-Sat/11, 8 p.m.; Sun/12, 2 p.m., $35–$65
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission, SF
Striking from its secret lair, deep in the heart of Marin county, Orchid has become an international force to be reckoned with. Though European fans demand the band's throbbing, Sabbathian riffs, powerful drumming, and soulful vocal incantations, stateside heshers are no less eager. The quartet's local shows tend to be both raucous and intimate, and Orchid is known to treat the audience to an unreleased track or two. Come for the candelabras, the satanic gong, and the best in spiritual, throwback doom. (Ben Richardson)
With High Horse, Castle, The St. James Society
9 p.m., $12
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
Now on its fourth album — last November's Hello Sadness — Wales-formed/not-Welsh group Los Campesinos! remains one of the most exuberant acts in indie rock. Thanks to a more streamlined sound on that last record, it's also becoming increasingly possible to drop the "indie" altogether (although then again, considering the band's ongoing zine Heat Rash and general openness to fans, there's definitely still some of that original twee likeability.) Los Campesinos! will be joined by the always entertaining Parenthetical Girls with its enfant terrible bandleader Zac Pennington, who, if memory serves, broke every single glass he got his hands on last time at the Hemlock. (Ryan Prendiville)
With Parenthetical Girls
9 p.m., $21
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF
CHINESE NEW YEAR AT THE SYMPHONY
Everyone living in a world-class city catches them sometimes: those I'm-not-being-cultural-enough blues. Our lives are tough (THIS IS A JOKE). But just when we're tucking our flannel sheets despairingly up over our azure foreheads, in prances an entry-level event that not only showcases one of SF's most vibrant communities, but also employs superlative artistic minds. The symphony's Chinese New Year performance features musical arrangements penned exclusively by Chinese and Chinese American composers, Carolyn Kuan conducting, and — oh yes — lion dancing with traditional snacks and tea during the family-friendly pre-concert reception. (Caitlin Donohue)
Reception 3 p.m.; concert 4 p.m., $15–$68
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness, SF
"Our Feet Speak the Rhythms of Our Hearts"
Feet, whether bare or in shoes, propel dance in space, but perhaps more complexly, in time. Every culture has realized that the foot — leaping, sliding, tapping — is the dancer's most essential instrument. "Our Feet Speak the Rhythms of Our Hearts" is paying tribute to our being bipeds as seen, primarily, from Spanish language cultures. Flamenco and Tango, but also more clearly folkloric genres, make up the fare. SF's Barbary Coast Cloggers may be outsiders but who wouldn't welcome these infectiously intrepid dancers. Especially welcome will be La Tania, too long absent from San Francisco's Flamenco scene. Now about another program by unshod feet — African, Indian, Indonesian? (Rita Felciano)
Sat/11, 8 p.m., $25, 6:30 p.m. champagne reception; Sun/12, 3 p.m.
Fort Mason Center, SF
Only San Francisco could produce a five-piece, all-male punk rock band whose members are known for their unceasing desire to dress up like old women and "fuck shit up." (Their words.) To wrap your head around the Grannies live, think hard-edged, wailing death punk sound coming from people wearing multi-colored wigs, floral nightgowns, and black platform boots. This show is not for the faint of heart, as vocalist Special Edna has a propensity to rile up the crowd, chiefly by gyrating his hips and stripping. Make sure to listen up for their brash, funny, and occasionally vile lyrics, and don't forget to bring your moshing wig. (Sullivan)
With Bottom, Cormorant
9 p.m., $7
1600 17th St., SF
On the road for more than 30 years now, Orange County punk stalwart Social Distortion is much like the hot rod you might see at a classic car show; it's been nearly driven off the road on more than one occasion, and has had its fair share of nicks and scratches, but these days it's a more polished and well-oiled machine than ever before. Touring behind last year's excellent Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes (Epitaph), expect Mike Ness and company to deliver a night of punk rock love songs, blistering rockabilly, blues-infused swagger, and more than enough sing-alongs to leave you hoarse for the next week. (Sean McCourt)
With Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls, Sharks
8 p.m., $32.50
1807 Telegraph, Oakl.
No Way Back: Optimo
Any major city should have one. The Haçienda. Fabric. The Paradise Garage. Certain spots that define a scene and a sound. In Glasgow, there's Sub Club, and from 1997 to 2010 it was held down by DJs JD Twitch and JG Wilkes and their weekly show Optimo, where the duo gained a reputation for playing just about everything — Eurodisco, acid funk, post-punk — whether anyone else at the time thought it belonged in a club or not. Now that their show is on the road, they're returning to SF for this edition of No Way Back. Whatever they play, it should sound rad on the cherry sound system in Monarch's basement. (Prendiville)
With DJs Conor, Solar
10 p.m., $10-20
101 Sixth St., SF
East Bay Tour de Bière
Fellow booze buds, the gauntlet of SF Beer Week has been thrown. After a tasting event or four will you be the one with a swollen belly and hops overdose, or will you rise like an effervescent head to the occasion? Here's one event that will tip the pints in your favor: an East Bay brewery crawl made to be biked. Meet-and-greet the friendly sudsters at Trumer Pils, Linden Street, Triple Rock, Elevation 66, and Pyramid in between pleasant two-wheeled group jaunts. Hell, you'll be so endorphin-blessed and booze-baited that afterward you just might make it to Sierra Nevada night at Downtown Oakland's Beer Revolution. (Donohue)
9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., $25
Trumer Pils Brauerei
1404 14 St., Berk.
Let's face it. Valentine's Day is silly, and at times scary. So why not take the edge off and spend the night at a comedy show? James Adomian, an up-and-coming comedian known for his impressions of a range of characters including Orson Welles, Huell Howser, and Jesse Ventura, produces the type of politically and socially critical, laugh-out-loud material that reminds you how fucked up our world is; and that we must poke fun at it to stay sane. Gaining inspiration from the likes of Todd Glass, Paul F. Tompkins, and Peter Serafinowicz, Adomian consistently delivers intelligent, high-energy performances. (Sullivan)
With Jamie Lee, Ivan Hernandez, and Vince Mancini
8 p.m., $12
1840 Haight, SF
Atma, Yob's transcendent, thunderous 2011 album, caused a critical sensation. NPR listeners new to the inimitable Eugene, Ore. band may have been pleasantly surprised, but for fans on board since 2002's Elaborations of Carbon, the tersely-titled LP was simply the next step in a natural progression. Mastermind Mike Scheidt pairs the band's shuddering, rubbery riffs with lyrics that belie metal's usual tropes in favor of the cosmic and sublime, stretching his voice from the highest highs to the lowest lows. Valentine's Day concertgoers should take the opportunity to subsume themselves in the stately repetitions and guttural, hypnotic power of Yob. (Richardson)
With Walken, Black Cobra
8 p.m., $13
579 18th St., Oakl.
"Love: Ali MacGraw"
It's been more than 40 years, but fashionistas are still ripping off Ali MacGraw's preppy-chic look from the 1970 tearjerker classic Love Story. Nobody else has rocked the swingy, parted-in-the middle locks and dark-eyebrow combo like MacGraw (I see you steppin', Jordana Brewster, and you ain't got it). Beyond her style-icon status, of course, MacGraw also has a colorful life and career: marriages to Robert Evans and Steve McQueen, a role on '80s shoulder-pad juggernaut Dynasty, and, in recent years, using her star power to promote yoga and animal rights. Marc Huestis presents MacGraw in person for a special Valentine's Day Love Story screening and tribute. Bring your own Kleenex. (Cheryl Eddy)
8 p.m., $25–$45
429 Castro, SF
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