Our Weekly Picks: March 13-19, 2013
The legend of San Francisco band VOWS includes heartbreak, cross-country travel, and a little gambling in Reno. All that occurred nearly six years and a couple of albums ago. Since then, it has more finely tuned its breed of psych-pop comprised of punchy guitar riffs, seamless transitions between raspy yelps and bright three-part harmonies, and depth couched in catchy lyrics that all fits perfectly into a distinctly West Coast tradition. In the midst of recording its third album, VOWS comes to Rickshaw Stop to show it all off. (Laura Kerry)
With Standard Poodle, the Goldenhearts
155 Fell, SF
"Hooch, Harlots, and History: Vice in San Francisco"
Those who've moved to San Francisco from other regions (admit it, most of you) are often endlessly curious about the city's seedier past: the sailors, roadhouses, moonshine-makers, and generalized underground happenings that helped shape our weird little city by the bay. At this Flipside (an offshoot of the the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society) event inside the historic Old Mint building — a docent tour of which is worth the ticket price, alone — there will be historical presentations by Duggan McDonnell, Stuart "Broke-Ass" Schuffman, Woody LaBounty, and Laureano Faedi, along with live music and rare archival footage of old SF. Plus, there'll be eats on hand for purchase, and entry includes one complimentary boozy beverage. Bring on the vices. (Emily Savage)
88 Fifth St., SF
"Ask A Scientist Pi Day Puzzle Party"
What is it about this particular entity? Throughout the ages, people have composed odes for its elegance, books about its ubiquity, and formulas to try to grasp its ineffability. We're talking about Pi, of course, and Thursday's the day to celebrate it (3.14). And whether or not you have memorized three or three-hundred digits (or zero) of the mathematical constant, Ask A Scientist has the perfect pi-worship for you. Come to SoMa StrEat Food Park, grab some nourishment, and settle down alone or with a team to get your blood pumping with a rowdy puzzle competition. You probably won't pin down the mystery of that wonderfully irrational number, but you just might earn a bit of glory. (Kerry)
SoMa StreEat Food Park
428 11th St., SF
Somewhere between SF and the Mojave desert, between midnight and three in the morning, it started to get to me. Not the physical tiredness, but the boredom that comes with staring down a couple of yellow lines perpetually receding into the darkness. I needed stimulation, and found it in Summer's Gone, a free LP from Pacific North West electronic duo Odesza. Headphones were one thing, but hearing it in the car gave new dimension to the production: swelling bass lines emerged and pulled back, light strings and chimes moved about the interior, and the melodic, frequently chopped vocals seemed like passengers along for the ride. (Ryan Prendiville)
With Emancipator, Little People
444 Jessie, SF
"Labayen Dance 18th Anniversary Season"
In a couple of years Labayen Dance/SF will celebrate its 20th anniversary. That would be a remarkable achievement for any company, particularly a smallish one working in a town where new companies pop up like crocuses. Enrico Labayen was an excellent dancer and now creates intimate work but also tackles big ambitious pieces around often-painful issues — imprisonment, environmental disasters. child abuse, violence against women. He has choreographed to original music but also well-known scores like Carmina Burana. In this concert he'll present the American premiere of his Rite of Spring, first shown in his native Philippines. He clearly attracts very fine dancers rarely seen anywhere else. Labayen's own pieces will be joined by works from his own dancers. (Rita Felciano)
Also Sat/16, 8pm; Sun/17, 7:30pm, $20
Dance Mission Theater
3316 24th St. S.F.
The Chop Tops
Santa Cruz rockers the Chop Tops have been tearing up stages for nearly two decades now, taking traditional rockabilly and chucking out the owner's manual, boosting the power, streamlining the chassis, and hot rodding it into something that's all their own. Perennial favorites at the Viva Las Vegas festival, the trio has toured across the country and performed as far away as Australia — but local fans can check out the action tonight at "Handsome Hawk Valentine's Rock N' Rumble," where Sinner, Shelby and Brett are guaranteed to blow the roof off the joint with their always incendiary set of what they call "revved-up rockabilly." (Sean McCourt)
With Slim Jenkins, Tony T. and the Pendletons, the Bastard Makers
333 11th St., SF
A Wilhelm Scream
A Wilhelm Scream, named for the stock scream sound byte used in slasher films and classic horror movies, originally formed under the name Smackin' Isaiah in New Bedford, Mass. The band emerged in a deluge of likeminded acts (Hot Water Music, Propaghandi) formed in the glorious heyday of oldschool emo, post-hardcore, and serious young adult angst — otherwise known as the mid-'90s. Through its decades of inventive melodic hardcore, name changes, shifting lineups, and five studio albums, A Wilhelm Scream never managed to attain that "big break." Its lack of mainstream success, however, is irrelevant when compared to its incredible stamina and quietly influential presence in the punk scene. (Haley Zaremba)
With Heartsounds, Stickup Kid, I Don't Wanna Hear It
1600 17th St, SF
"No hesitation, no obligation. Let's just have a good time," WhoMadeWho's Jeppe Kjellberg intones on Michael Mayer's "Good Times." The lyrics could be creepy and pushy, but the immaculate underlying beat is strictly 4/4, familiar and reliable as a friend. An all-too-occasional producer in his own right, Mayer is a trusted name as co-owner of Germany's Kompakt, one of the most dependable labels in the world. At one of techno's hubs, Mayer should have a lot to pull from for his set, but make sure to arrive in time for the chill house live vocal duo Benoit and Sergio, to be assured an extra good time. (Prendiville)
444 Jessie, SF
"Lucidity: Fariba Bogzaran, A Retrospective" In our dreams we fly, we have intimate moments, and we travel. In our dreams we also sometimes see ourselves dreaming. Fariba Bogzaran, Ph.D. has studied lucid dreams for decades. And if that wasn't cool enough, she has also created corresponding artwork for about the same amount of time. In Meridian Gallery's three-story retrospective of the artist's work, Bogzaran's surrealist paintings will shed some light on the consciousness-expanding possibilities of dreams. Everyone dreams but no one can adequately express the images once they wake. Bogzaran presents an intriguing way to do so. (Kerry)
Through April 30
535 Powell, SF
"Math Films Mathathon"
Mathematicians in films are usually portrayed as wack jobs (Russell Crowe in 2001's A Beautiful Mind; that dude in 1998's Pi), though you could make a case for the "hunky-yet-emotionally-damaged" blackboard bandit in Good Will Hunting (1997). Bay Area filmmaker George Csicsery's "Math Films Mathathon" docs sidestep the clichés, thankfully. Tonight brings the local premiere of Taking the Long View: The Life of Shiing-Shen Chern, about the co-founder of Berkeley's Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, as well as Julia Robinson and Hilbert's Tenth Problem, notable not just for its famous equation but also for focusing on a female numbers whiz. March 20's docs spotlight both the legendary (N is a Number: A Portrait of Paul Erdos) and the up-and-coming (Hard Problems: The Road to the World's Toughest Math Contest). (Cheryl Eddy)
Also March 20
3117 16th St., SF
The Black Lips
Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley have been making deliciously dirty, cacophonous garage rock together since they were teenagers in Atlanta. In high school, their onstage antics and outlandish humor had already earned them a reputation extreme enough to get them expelled in the anti-outcast hysteria that swept the nation after the Columbine High School massacre. This abrupt turn led them to create the group that would become the Black Lips, one of the industry's most respected, feared, and least predictable rock bands. Vomit, urine, nudity, etc. were more or less standard in the band's early, awe-inspiring performances. Though they've mellowed a bit over the years, they still provide one of the most frenetic, energetic, and thoroughly worthwhile performances out there. (Zaremba)
With Night Beats
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF
Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders
After several years as the Guardian's art director, Mirissa Neff (already a popular DJ in her spare time) left in 2012 to pursue other avenues for her talents — including co-hosting Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders, a PBS show focusing on world music. Tonight, the latest episode premieres, featuring performances by Youssou N'dour, Wynton Marsalis, Icelandic popsters Of Monsters and Men, and Scottish musician Julie Fowlis — whose crooning on the Brave soundtrack just might have helped the 2012 Pixar hit win an Oscar for Best Animated Film. (Eddy)
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