Outside Lands is nearly here, and you'll read plenty about that in the paper. But the festival is now sold out, plus I do realize there are many people simply not interested in attending festivals period. For you, those averse to the outside and massive crowds, there are other sonic highs in the Bay Area this week – including Foxygen, Shonen Knife, Redd Kross, new club night Y3K, and, wait for it, Neil Diamond.
My first real memories of music – and vinyl records – are of Diamond, mouth agape, in a denim suit with frizzy hair dipped down towards his navel on the iconic cover of Hot August Night (1972). In my childhood home, Neil Diamond came first. And my starry-eyed mom was there at the Greek in Los Angeles during the live album recording. “It was a lovely still night...Diamond admirers were everywhere” she says, adding, “The acoustics were excellent and his voice was pitch perfect.”
Okay, so maybe you weren't born-and-bred in the Diamond cult; but you get that feeling right? It's like how cat-burglerish actress Anne Hathaway recently described another, very different concert in Vanity Fair. “I was there and it was beautiful...we all knew we were there seeing something special.” (LCD Soundsystem's last show.)
My point? Go see something special. Here are your must-see Bay Area concerts this week/end:
If you need oxygen to breathe, you need Foxygen to pant. The vaguely French inflected, 1970s-referencing bi-coastal duo oozes sexy glam rock excess. And vocalist Sam France has the reassuring swagger of Lou Reed with a little burst of Bowie.
Tue/7, 9pm, free
Brick and Mortar Music Hall
1710 Mission, SF
For those in awe of furry-chested croonership; the entertainer, the Jewish Elvis, the sweaty LA icon. Neil Diamond's Hot August Night boasts the moody ballad “Solitary Man,” bouncy pop classic “Cherry Cherry,” the original, non-reggae “Red Red Wine” and frat boy standard, “Sweet Caroline.” Now, on the 40th anniversary of that multi-platinum double album, Diamond is touring again, playing the hits.
Tue/7, 8pm, $52-$117
525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose
“When brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald first formed the band that would become Redd Kross in the late 1970s, they were just 11 and 15 years old — and famously played their first gig opening for Black Flag. Returning with their first new album in 15 years, the excellent Researching The Blues, which dropped this week, the group continues to twist infectious melodies and pop sensibilities into short, stunning bursts of rock'n'roll.” -- Sean McCourt
With the Mantles, Warm Soda
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF
The Toronto synth-pop trio (formed by ex-Crystal Castles drummer Cameron Findlay) might as well be made up of snowy elves, stabbing sharp crystals through other dimensions, or glitter-covered black dancing dresses, forever spinning around Princess Lili. It's so very '80s fantasy movie. And singer Holly Dodson's Grimes-ish high lilt is the ideal match to the eerie electronic atmospheres.
Thu/9, 9:30pm, $14
155 Fell, SF
“Here's the dark, dreamy, bass-crazy lineup of mega-wicked promoter Marco de la Vega's first monthly youthful assay: Gatekeeper, Teengirl Fantasy, Nguzunguzu, 5kinandbone5 with secret spec1al guest, and the Tenderlions. Good thing I turned 18 last month, see you there.” -- Marke B.
Fri/10, 10pm, $18
375 11th St., SF
Last time the legendary Japanese pop-punk act Shonen Knife came to town, it played an entire encore set of Ramones covers. Not to say that it will happen again, but just fair warning that the trio is capable of such magic.
With the Mallard, Chuckleberries
Fri/10, 9pm, $14
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
Al Jarreau, George Duke Trio
“One of the most versatile, expressive vocalists of the last 50 years, Al Jarreau jumps restlessly between soul, jazz, pop, and samba traditions, refusing to let any genre tags define him. George Duke is an undisputed keyboard champion, whose '70s jazz-fusion recordings have permeated modern hip-hop and neo-soul to an astonishing degree.” -- Taylor Kaplan
With Mara Hruby
Sun/12, 2pm, free
19th Avenue at Sloat, SF