THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Aaron Sankin Headshot

Do It Live: The Best Live Music Preview In Town (August 16 - 20)

Posted: Updated:
Print

San Francisco is a tough town for live music because there's so damn much of it. Between the top-tier touring acts selling out huge venues and your best friend's cousin's band that you've been guilted into seeing three times even though they're objectively terrible, sorting through the chaos of the city's live music scene to find a happy middle ground is no easy task.

This column is an attempt to solve that problem for you. We're going to take it one week at a time.

Tue, 8/16 - Pelican @ Mezzanine

How was your Outside Lands? Was it good? Weren't the tUnE-yArDs amazing? And how about that insane line at the bike valet? And why wasn't a single drop of f*cking metal to be found the entire weekend?

Three full days of music and nary a double kick drum pedal. It's a sad situation when the festival's best hope for shredding the audience's faces down to the bone was The Decemberists doing that thing where they suddenly turn into Black Sabbath for 30 seconds before going back to playing twee folk songs about labor disputes in turn of the century Montana--which they didn't even do!

Just one metal-ish band would have gone a long way towards ensuring that more of the hippies absentmindedly twirling to Phish were punched in the face.

The Chicago quartet Pelican, for example, would have been an excellent fit. Pelican plays "post-metal", which is kind of like "regular" metal except there a no vocals and it sounds like the type of music the giant space baby at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey would listen to on his giant space headphones. The band's epic compositions deftly mix the heavy, psychedelic riffing of Bay Area doom metalheads Neurosis with the instrumental atmospherics of fellow Chicagoans Tortoise.

Next year, Outside Lands, next year.

Wed, 8/17 - Reggie Watts @ The Independent

Just like every actor really wants to be a musician, every musician really wants to be a comedian. Most don't actually take the dive because playing the guitar is hard enough without having to tell jokes while doing it. Even though Justin Timberlake may have somehow won an Emmy for "Dick In A Box", Sting's Live at the Apollo stand-up special will never see the light of day because I just made it up.

Reggie Watts managed to ably make the jump from fronting the R&B group Maktub to opening for Conan O'Brien's post-cancellation cross-country comedy tour by keeping an element of odd musicality in his performances. The German-born, Seattle-bred comedian performs with a looping pedal to create outlandish collages of noises, social commentary and absurdist humor.

Thu, 8/18 - Bad Bibles @ The Knockout

Let's say you're in a band. The band is doing pretty well, getting a pretty solid amount of local buzz, but you have a problem—all your band's songs are too stylistically divergent to cohere into something you think will take you to the next level.

What do you do?

Well, if you're the four local guys who made up The Actors, you unmercifully kill off the old band, retire all its songs and start from scratch with a laser-like focus on Joy Division's brand of angular post-punk.

With their heavy reverb and cutting guitars, the resulting Bad Bibles, sound like they could have been ripped directly out of late 1970s England, which makes sense because, just as Johnny Rotten had to blow up The Sex Pistols to create Public Image Ltd, The Actors had to blow themselves up to make music that effectively mines the immortal post-punk band's legacy.

As singer Phil Maves told Wiretap Music, "The Actors = Old Yeller; Bad Bibles = the shotgun."

Fri, 8/19 - oOoOO @ 103 Harriet

Speaking of name changes, I was thinking that Christopher Dexter Greenspan might want to change the name of his band from oOoOO. It's kind of hard to pronounce. Something like OooOOoO might roll off the tongue a little better. Just a thought.

Anyway, the San Francisco-based electronic musician makes "witch house," a dark variation on sleepy bedroom electronica that emphasizes woozy synths and mournfully slow hip hop beats; it all ends up sounding like a collaboration between chillwavers Memory Tapes and Houston chop/screw pioneer DJ Screw. oOoOO is the soundtrack for all those nights when, after downing a tall, refreshing glass of sizzurp, you can't muster up the energy to fix up your razor crease and go out riding swang and instead stay home playing World of Warcraft.

Sat, 8/20 - Bonehead Barbeque @ Fort Mason

There are a lot of people who, for whatever reason, didn't go to Outside Lands. Maybe it was too expensive or they were busy that weekend. Or maybe they took one look at the line-up and declared, "I don't go to musical festivals unless Cheap Trick is performing."

Well this is their lucky day because, the legendary rock band is playing 107.7 The Bone's annual Bonehead Barbeque at Fort Mason. Not only will attendees get to sing along to "Surrender" and "I Want You To Want Me," but, now that Scott Weiland has finished his court ordered community service as the lead singer of Velvet Revolver, the Stone Temple Pilots have reunited and are playing the festival.

And Fuel will be there, remember Fuel?

Take that Outside Lands, you did not have a single performance by Fuel. Not a single one. You should be ashamed of yourself.