Heads Up: 7 must-see concerts this week

Oakland's Twin Steps play Rock Make.

The long-predictable MTV Music Video Awards aired last week, and I'd venture a guess that many of you didn't tune in, and perhaps an even greater number didn't know it was on. For those who missed it, you didn't miss much, just a lot of vanilla pop stars and one awesome Frank Ocean.

For every big name, shiny-toothed act, there are hundreds better – and weirder – under the radar. Imagine if the award show was packed with acts like Chelsea Wolfe (this week at the Rickshaw Stop), legendary punk band the Zeros (at Brick and Mortar Hall), or Oakland's Metal Mother (at the Rock Make Festival), instead of Taylor Swift, One Direction, Demi Lovato and their ilk. Speaking of the latter, how is “Best Video With a Message” an actual category these days?

There are always the exceptions at events like these, the Rihannas, if you will. Still, things would certainly be more entertaining if Burnt Ones were on the screen, or YACHT, or Los Straitjackets. Lucky you, all those mentioned (save for Rihanna) will be here, playing live shows around the Bay in the foreseeable future.

Here are your must-see Bay Area concerts this week/end:

Headliner Hot Chip is certainly worth seeing at some point in your life, but opener YACHT is what made this whole show package a must-see. The shiny retro-futurist duo behind perennially underrated art project YACHT (formerly the solo project of Jona Bechtolt) can be summed up in the following Youtube comment, “they make strange, interesting music. I guess that's why I admire them so much.” Truth.
With Hot Chip
Tue/11, 8pm, $35
Fox Theater
1807 Telegraph, Oakl.
(510) 302-2250

Chelsea Wolfe
Breathy, textured vocalist Chelsea Wolfe – in particular black-gossamer-swaddled Chelsea Wolfe in the video for “Mer” off groundbreaking Apokalypsis –  is basically that scene in The Craft when the four high school goth-witches gather on the beach to call manon and wake to a sandy funeral for endless sea creatures.
With Crypts, Dia Dear, DJ S4NtA-MU3rTE
Wed/12, 9pm, $12
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF
(415) 861-2011

Nommo Ogo
“The Bay Area is overloaded with ambient electronic acts inviting you to lose yourself in their Pink Floyd-on-codeine haze, but Nommo Ogo's attention to detail sets it apart from the pack. Balancing old-school, Cluster-meets-Zelda synth tones with live guitars, field recordings, jittery percussion, and the occasional buried vocal track, its records are unusually dynamic, and compositionally advanced, for "ambient" fare.  -- Taylor Kaplan
With Candle Labra, Secret Sidewalk
Thu/13, 9pm, $10
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St., SF
(415) 621-4455

The Zeros
So many bands have claimed it, but the Zeroes truly were early pioneers at the forefront of a burgeoning movement; the LA born Chicano punk band was in an elite league in the late 1970s with the likes of the Plugz and few others. Looking at their snarling baby faces – “Don't Push Me Around” (!) – on warped tape from all those years ago, it's hard to believe they'll be at Brick and Mortar Music Hall this weekend, in the flesh.
Fri/14, 9pm, $14
With Wimps, Midnite Snaxxx
Brick and Mortar Music Hall
1710 Mission, SF
(415) 371-1631

LA's thoughtful Earlimart is back after a four-year recording gap with new album System Preferences. The arresting indie band (which sounds something like deceased friend Elliot Smith meets tourmates Grandaddy), you'll recall, is made up of boy-girl duo Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray. System Preferences sees release this month on Espinoza's own Ship Records.
Fri/14, 9pm, $15
628 Divisadero,SF
(415) 771-1421

Rock Make Street Festival
I say it every year – the Rock Make Street Festival is annually the best bang for your buck. Your buck being nominal ($3 to $5 donation!), and the bang provided by local up-and-comers from the ever-widening net of indie rock. Led again by co-organizer Tartufi, this year's bang-up lineup includes John Vanderslice, Exray's, Burnt Ones, Metal Mother, Will Sprott (the dreamy, crystal-throated vocalist of the Mumlers), Yalls, Oakland's Twin Steps (members of Religous Girls), Permanent Collection, Kids on a Crime Spree, and DRMS. Now in its fifth year, the street fest continues to shine as a beaming beacon of hope for good clean fun on the asphalt.
Sat/15, noon-7pm, $3-$5 donation
Treat and 18th Street, SF

Los Straitjackets
“Nashville, Tenn.'s Los Straitjackets have been pairing genuine musicianship with over-the-top gimmick for more than 20 years and 11 studio albums. True, quality songwriting and matching costumes sounds oxymoronic, but Los Straitjackets defy common sense. The foursome plays instrumental, surf-inspired rock music, with an extensive list of covers, including "Deck the Halls" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit," but their original material is where the band shines.”-- Haley Zaremba
With Daddy-O Grande, Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys
Sat/15, 9pm, $20
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF
(415) 885-0750

Also from this author

  • Love rumbles

    Who is Charlie Megira? A Berlin rebel with a Bay Area connection

  • Down at the Rickshaw

    One of our favorite independent music venues celebrates 10 years of rockin' -- with a week of great shows

  • Rockin' New Year's Eve

    Let 2013 all hang out at these musical blasts