Well the biggest music news in the city this weekend (or just outside its technical geographic mainland limits) is likely the annual Treasure Island Music Festival. But beyond that, there’s Goblin’s first ever SF show — for fans of Italian horror — along with the Dodos’ glorious return, Har Mar Superstar, Clairy Brown & the Bangin’ Rackettes, GWAR, and more.
Given the costumes and output of many of these acts, it would seem Halloween season is already full swing. And no, we’re not taking into account all those pumpkin-flavored disasters. Get truly spooky, don a mask, and watch some live music in the dark of night.
Here are your must-see shows:
Har Mar Superstar
The real maturing of Minnesota-bred, New York-based Har Mar Superstar, aka Sean Tillmann, can be heard on new record Bye Bye 17 (Cult Records). On it, Har Mar glides gracefully from old school soul on "Lady, You Shot Me" to doo-wop on "www" to Beck-worthy retro funk on "We Don't Sleep." It's all a far cry from raunchy earlier beat-based releases like cult Beth Ditto collaboration "Power Lunch."
Tue/15, 8:30pm, $12
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St, SF
This is the Dodos homecoming show for a new album that deserves an intimate headphones-preferred listen: Carrier (Polyvinyl Records), the band’s fourth full-length release. It’s a moody, solemn affair for the indie folk-rock band, said to be partially informed by the death of one-time Dodos guitarist Christopher Reimer. And on said record, check orchestral pop single “Substance,” which features fellow locals Minna Choi’s Magik Magik Orchestra. Besides the mood, the biggest difference here is in Meric Long’s guitar work -- he’s switched it up from acoustic to still-tranquil electric, gently emboldening the Dodos’ sea change, backed up neatly by Logan Kroeber’s hammering drums.
With Dustin Wong
Wed/16, 8pm, $21
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF
Imagine a trippy 1960s psych band (maybe playing a party in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?) learning the dark arts of witchcraft and jumping through a crystalline mirror, coming out the other end in glitter-crusted Brooklyn 2013. Thus, you have Widowspeak, the slinky, sexy, eerie duo made up of guitarist-vocalist Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas. Next week, the duo releases a dizzying six-song EP (The Swamps), a follow-up to 2012’s Captured Tracks full-length, Almanac.
With Crystal Stilts, Pure Bathing Culture
Fri/18, 9pm, $20
777 Valencia, SF
Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes
Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes should be world-famous megastars by now. But the nine-piece Australian soul band might be a tad too strange to blow up massive just yet. With pounding soul output, all those band members, and candy-coated retro fashion straight out of a John Waters flick, they might scare off the mainstreamers still, delaying their inevitable world takeover. That is to say, this wait is ludicrous. Clairy Browne’s pipes growl and coo, entice and coyly deflect, the Bangin’ Rackettes back it all up with classic girl group harmonies, guitar, drums, and baritone sax. The band’s a win-win. Just give it a damn chance. Oh, and listen below to handclap-worthy “Love Letter” off 2013’s Baby Caught the Bus (Vanguard).
With Ironsides feat. Gene Washington
Fri/18, 9pm, $18-$20
1025 Columbus, SF
Treasure Island Music Festival
This forward-thinking two-day fest out on windswept Treasure Island — ahen, the Treasure Island Music Festival — returns with Thom Yorke’s Atoms for Peace, Beck, Major Lazer, Little Dragon, Animal Collective, James Blake, Holy Ghost!, Sleigh Bells, and more. Giraffage, and Antwon are the locals on the bill. Sadly, Tricky had visa issues and had to back out (damn you, government!) however the replacement is nearly as exciting: it’s weirdo rapper Danny Brown.
Treasure Island, SF
“Here's to almost three decades of rubber masks, obscene lyrics, tasteless humor, and lots and lots of fake blood. Yes, we're talking about GWAR, the Virginia-based heavy metal shock rock group and its foam penises, staged crucifixions, and exposed butts (among other onstage delights), which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year. Despite more than 18 different lineups and 26 members throughout the band's history, little has changed about the essence of GWAR. If you're looking to have a night to remember, get your clothes stained permanently by red dye, and maybe even see a Billy Ocean cover (GWAR recently took on "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" for the A.V. Club) look no further than Oderus Urungus and his monstrous minions.” -- Haley Zaremba
With Whitechapel, Iron Reagan, A Band of Orcs
Sun/20, 7:30pm, $28
1300 Van Ness, SF
“Fans of horror films know how important a soundtrack can be — the best-known examples are probably the shrieking strings of Psycho (1960) and John Carpenter's iconic synth score for 1978's Halloween. Fans of Euro horror, however, share a fondness for Goblin, Italian purveyors of the creepy, pulsating, proggy, keyboard-driven music that enhanced many films by macabre master Dario Argento (including 1977's Suspiria), not to mention George Romero's 1978 zombie classic Dawn of the Dead. Touring North America for the first time, the veteran band swoops into San Francisco to make Goblin-faithful dreams (and nightmares) come true.” -- Cheryl Eddy
With Secret Chiefs 3, DJ Omar Perez
Sun/20 8pm, $28–<\d>$75
982 Market, SF