Chuck Prophet looks into the new year. Plus: the most-intriguing reader top 10 list, Les Claypool, and more
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SONIC REDUCER "I'm going to start smoking again. I'm going to start eating bad and quit working out."
Here, have a few determinedly daft new year's resolutions from an old hand at San Francisco music-making from Chuck Prophet, who happens to be headlining the old year out at Starry Plough Dec. 31. Don't say he never gave you anything. But seriously, our Prophet?
Actually '09 vows are the last thing Prophet wants to be burdened with. "I'm just lazy," the singer-songwriter confesses from his South of Market mini-HQ. "Why would I put any more assignments on myself?"
You know what he means. New Year's resolutions what better way to hang an albatross round the old oak tree and set yourself up for FAILblog? Still, 'tis the season, and I have a few ideas on how to institute change in this recession-wracked music scene, inspired by the last time the pink slips flew round the turn of the century, post-tech boom. Call these my "Keep the Scene Strong Goals for '09," all related to stamping out the scourge of many a creative milieu: passive consumption. Though, hell, who even has the time and cash to consume very much these days?
Engagement. It's as simple as talking to the performer after the show. And no, I don't mean hit on the band. Instead, start a dialogue of either the positive or constructively critical ilk with your friendly neighborhood musicmaker. Who wants to play into a void, to a passive, glazed-look blank generation? Feedback ain't just a whole lotta noise. If the spirit moves you, feel free to buy those hard-working musicians and DJs a round of drinks. The Hemlock's $1 bag of hot peanuts is a nice gesture.
Dance. OK, the early '00s saw a rock crew shook it up at shows, but San Francisco is slipping, regaining that bad reputation of resembling zombie-like, arms-folded slabs of tofu. Hold up your end of the bargain and get a move on.
Stretch. Yes, stretching before dancing helps with muscle aches. But I mean listen to new sounds. If you're a metal dude, lend an ear to weird new America-style folk think about Zep's connections betwixt loud and languorous. If you're an indie rock chippie check into Fania salsa reissues; a gangster rap head, a bit of death metal or a dab of indie-literati-pop.
Prepare yourself for the worst and possibly the best. Everyone's wondering if they're going to be laid off or face a work drought in '09. Instead resolve to put that anxious energy and restless imagination to good use. Come up with some nice, meaty, beaty post-layoff projects. Take up an instrument, even if it is simply a shareware synthesizer. Switch up your recorded listening by swapping records or MP3s with pals or dive into an affair like KUSF-FM's Rock 'n' Swap on Jan. 11 (www.kusf.org/rocknswap.shtml ). Throw a show at your abode, or better yet, put on a free music happening in a public space (i.e., the Toxic Beach throw-downs, mobile Flag Day jamboree).
Sure, everyone knows resolutions are made to be broken. Even Prophet spurned his faux resolutions after we spoke, via e-mail: "So last night after eating cereal for dinner, passing out watching the Food channel, I've decided my NY resolution is to cook more often. Taking up smoking is a bit daft, I have to admit." Tasty words and food for thought.
Wed/31, 9:30 p.m., $26.50
3101 Shattuck, Berk.
For more from Chuck Prophet, go to Noise blog at sfbg.com.
THE MOST INTRIGUING READER TOP 10: MITCH CARDWELL
"Budget Rock-er, zine scribe, lover, drunkard"
1. Hank IV, Refuge in Genre (Siltbreeze) They've made SF home to Earth's greatest punk band once again.
2. Nothing People, Anonymous (S-S) They only play great shows, release great records, etc.
3. The Hospitals, Hairdryer Peace (Stonehouse) Ear-splitter of the year, without question.
4. Buzzer, Disco Kiddz EP (Douche Master) Glam, proto, pub it's all here.
5. Nobunny, Love Visions (Bubbledumb) Punk parody is always a winning concept.
6. Colossal Yes, Charlemagne's Big Thaw (Ba Da Bing) Piano pop-psych crafted in a totally winning fashion.
7. Wounded Lion, "Pony People" 7-inch (S-S) Pop that is both brainy and fun.
8. Mayyors, both 7-inches (self-released) Mayyors wow with sheer force of volume.
9. Scarecrow and the Shuckers at the Stork Club
10. Thee Oh Sees, The Hounds of Foggy Notion CD/DVD (Castle Face) I'll take this over their recent hit LP.
PRESSURE TO PERFORM: A FEW MORE NYE OPTIONS
The Bay Area original makes the leap from his longtime NYE venue at the Fillmore. With Zappa Plays Zappa and Tim Fite. Wed/31, 8 p.m., $69<\d>$126. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, SF. www.goldenvoice.com 
NYE Hemlock reg This Bike is joined by the SF troupe Kelley Stoltz describes as "fun SF weirdness without the Burning Man remorse." Wed/31, 9 p.m., $10. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com 
Most definitely "Sneakers Required" with DJs like Apollo and Sake One. Wed/31, 9 p.m., call for price. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787.
Funny fellahs W. Kamau Bell, Bucky Sinister, and Nato Green issue their response to all the 'WHOOOOOOHOOOOO!' that typically goes down on NYE. Wed/31, 7:30 and 10 p.m., $30 (friendofkamau discount code for $10 off). Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF. www.brownpapertickets.com/event/50525