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Synthesizers, saxophones, and one African grey parrot: The Other Minds music festival is a magnet for the avant-garde

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By Micah Dubreuil

When Charles Amirkhanian was 5 years old, he received a John Cage record as a gift from his father. It was a mistake — the elder Amirkhanian had taken it to be an album of traditional Armenian music, their cultural heritage. Instead, young Charles was introduced to a sound that was anything but traditional, and in that music for prepared piano, he found a life’s calling. Some 60-odd years later, the director of the Other Minds festival — the West Coast's premiere experimental music event, now in its 19th incarnation — points to that accident as a fairly fortuitous one. Read more »

Noise Pop goes electronic: The indie rock festival continues branching into booty-shaking territory

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By Whitney Phaneuf

Over the course of its 22 years, the Noise Pop Festival has expanded its definition of indie beyond rock and into genres like hip-hop and electronic music. The festival had to evolve with its audience’s eclectic tastes, its general manager Dawson Ludwig explained in a recent interview, without sacrificing the aesthetic that celebrates alternative, DIY culture.

“As the term indie rock has expanded and been redefined, it’s opened itself up to mean a lot of things,” Ludwig said. “Those who buy tickets to Bob Mould are just as likely to buy tickets to DJ Rashad.”

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Nite Trax: Esta Noche to close, adios Esta Noche

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Not even a guest starring role on Looking could save beloved Latino-oriented gay dive Esta Noche, alas! According to Eater SF, the Mission favorite is being sold by its owners -- reportedly willingly -- to the team behind SoMa meat market Wish.

The new owners take over next week, but will keep things the same for a while, in order for everyone to have some time to say goodbye. (New Mission businesses, please take note: this is how you help avoid a PR nightmare.) Then get ready for more craft cocktails and loungey vibes, Missionites! Ugh.

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SF's Happy Fangs just want you to dance already

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What do you get when two incredibly energetic performers — a guy and a girl who are each accustomed to being at the helm of a band, to commanding attention as the focal point of the room — decide to form a band together?Read more »

Gimme 5: Must-see shows this week (Noise Pop edition)

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Like sands through the hourglass, so are the festivals of San Francisco. Or something like that. SF Beer Week is over, dear readers, but fret not! It's the end of February, which is undoubtedly the cruelest month, no matter what T.S. Eliot said, when the darkest days of winter (in places that have that season) are finally over, and the first blossoms of spring are testing their sea legs like so many trepidatious Bambis. In these parts, that means one thing: Noise Pop is upon us.Read more »

Happy Hour: The week in music

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Dearest clock-watchers! If you hadn't noticed, it's almost the weekend. In the event that your excitement is currently tempered with social anxiety about which pop culture topics to discuss over happy hour beverages — a very sad and all-too-common affliction — here are a few gems from the music world that the Internet bestowed upon us this week.Read more »

Live Shots: Hether Fortune gets cathartic at the Night Light

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Last Friday it was Valentine’s Day, but all I saw was tears. I’ve wondered before how some musicians can sing some of their more emotional songs during live performance without becoming visibly emotional themselves. Aren’t they attached to those lyrics (especially if they’ve written them)? Are they desensitized by the one-hundredth time they play that song about having their heart ripped out by the one who doesn’t even love them anymore? Or worse yet — the one who never did? Read more »

Locals Only: Shareef Ali

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Is there anything more punk-rock, truly, than baring your soul in the form of a song? That's what came to mind the first time I heard Shareef Ali, an Oakland-based singer-songwriter whose debut album, A Place To Remember the Dead, will most likely land in the "folk" section of the record store (er, the iTunes store?) after it drops tomorrow, Feb. 19.Read more »

BARF-y, in a good way: Bay Area record labels draw a cattle drive of local music lovers

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On Saturday, the first annual Bay Area Record Label Fair (BARF) was born. As a labor of love between Father/Daughter Records and local promoters, Professional Fans, the event set out to be an ode to the ingenuity and entrepreneurial efforts of record labels in the Bay. Read more »

Tip some back at the Barworkers Ball

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Hey gorgeous bar slaves and cocktailistas! This night's for you (and your friends). The annual Mid-Winter Barworkers Ball raises a glass to all service industry workers 9pm-2am Tue/18 at Churchill. Don't worry, it's free to barwokers, there's free drinks, great music -- and games, of which I am a judge, bwahahaha. Here's the rundown from the release:

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