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Gary Numan: dark music done right at the Oakland Metro

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From Metallica to This Mortal Coil, there's a sense of canned melodrama about most "dark" music that I've long found goofy and unconvincing. On that note, Massive Attack's Mezzanine has always struck me as dark music done right, leaving the angsty ostentation behind, in favor of casually luring the listener downward into its imposing dungeon of groove.

As Gary Numan took the stage in Oakland last Tuesday night, the British artist displayed a similarly nuanced sensibility of what makes dark music work, delivering a relentlessly groove-based set of songs that brooded and seethed with total conviction. Read more »

Live Shots: Asteroid #4 and the Richmond Sluts at Brick and Mortar Music Hall

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By Brittany M. Powell

Brick and Mortar Music Hall may have had some noise complaint troubles with the San Francisco Sound Commission earlier this summer, but that hasn’t kept the venue or Kymberli Jenson, of Kymberli’s Music Box Presents, from putting on great shows.  Last Saturday’s bill included the Asteroid #4 and the Richmond Sluts. It was a handful of loud rock’n’roll bands that blasted us back through the decades with sounds echoing 1960s and ‘70s psychedelia and punk, but also hints of the late ‘90s and early 2000s , when these bands were fresh on the music scene.  Read more »

The big Hardly Strictly roster reveal

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After weeks of teasers, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass released its full 2013 lineup this week, and it boasts some fresh young artists and a great many cross-generational acts.

The free weekend-long festival in Golden Gate Park will feature appearances by Nick Lowe, Conor Oberst and friends (including First Aid Kit), Gogol Bordello, Natalie Maines, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Bettye LaVette, Allah-Las, Father John Misty, Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers (featuring Edie Brickell), and Bonnie Raitt, among dozens of others. Read more »

Live Review: My Bloody Valentine’s SF show feels like something beamed in from another decade

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Swirling guitars… cooing vocals… that all-engulfing wall of noise. It's difficult to describe My Bloody Valentine's sound without veering into borderline erotica, and understandably so; in the guitar rock landscape, few bands make music that's so tactile and exhilarating.

For many of its devoted fans, the band's seminal 1991 LP, Loveless, is inextricably tethered to private moments of introspection and sexuality. Its delicate balance between loud and quiet, menace and seduction, resulted in a sense of emotional ambiguity, allowing the listener to project their own perspectives and yearnings onto those immaculate pop songs.

Fresh off the heels of this year's long-awaited Loveless followup, simply titled mbv, My Bloody Valentine stopped by SF this past Friday for its first Bay Area appearance since 2008, on its first tour in support of new material since the early '90s. Read more »

Party Radar: Burning Mom, Disco Daddy, Hardkiss Brothers, Delroy Edwards, Stompy + Sunset, more

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"Underground" doesn't just mean night, doesn't just mean music, doesn't just mean hip/trendy byword. If you want a jolt of that old-fashioned DIY charge that parties used have in San Francisco, I highly recommend a stop by Zinefest this weekend in the County Fair building in Golden Gate Park. You'll feel punky, nerdy, hip, creative, and cute all at once. The only thing missing is "loud" -- but you'll be shouting in your head how neat everything is.

Oh, and if the Twirl and Dip ice cream truck is nearby, you can dance for joy with a giant sprinkle-topped sundae. Who needs clubs at all? Well anyway, here's some parties.

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Live Shots: Black Sabbath at Shoreline Amphitheatre

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Reunions can be hit or miss.

Maybe it’s been too long, maybe you’ve lost your chops, maybe you’re getting old and things just aren’t working the way they used to. Maybe your drummer doesn’t want to play.  In the case of Black Sabbath, thankfully, only the latter was true (and it didn’t seem to matter much), and as fans at the Shoreline Ampitheatre witnessed on Monday night, reunions can be a beautiful thing. Read more »

Just a pipe dream? SF’s Whirr gets 'Around'

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In the cyclical nature of sonic trends, shoegaze has risen from the grave and out of obscurity again. With old guard bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Mazzy Star releasing new material, acts from this generation are following in their footsteps, reviving what was once out of vogue.

And in the midst of this comes Whirr, a dichotomy of sound, layered and simplistic at the same time, wrapped up in a tight package. Formed in San Francisco in 2011, through what guitarist and founding member Nick Bassett describes as basic boredom, the six-piece outfit decries its shoegaze leanings, searching for a heavier sound. Read more »

Party Radar: Flume, Symbiosis, Monster Show, Simian Mobile Disco, Escort, more

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As always, the party cup overfloweth in SF as burners make their annual migration into the sea of funfur and sparklepants. Besides the great shindigs listed in the paper in this week's Super Ego nightlife column, here are a few more stones to throw at your Exodus hangover ... 

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Heads Up: 8 must-see concerts this week

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The Internet never forgets. I realized this yet again today after discovering the complete 1979 BBC documentary, Who Is Poly Styrene, and with the more globally appealing announcement that it looks like JT and the rest of the ‘N Sync gang will perform at MTV’s Video Music Awards, Sunday. Oh and Cher has a new video, which is her first in 12 years! There may be hope for you yet, Gotye (the coffee shop I was at this morning played his hit, which reminded me of his existence.) 

Anyways, this week (and slightly beyond), the Bay Area will host both legendary and up-and-coming must-sees, with the Melvins, Black Sabbath, My Bloody Valentine topping the list, along with Deerhunter and No Age, and newbies the Parmesans, the She's, and Ovvl. All acts to catch if you have the chance (and you do, see below). Read more »

Outside Lands 2013 winners (Paul McCartney, Chic, Bombino) and losers

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Hall & Oates, or Trombone Shorty? Willie Nelson, or Vampire Weekend? This year's Outside Lands presented its 65,000 attendees with some perplexing choices, resulting in what might've been the festival's most eclectic lineup of its now six-year run. As always, Golden Gate Park was a most picturesque venue, with patches of sunlight punctuating the heavy fog, great nighttime atmosphere provided by the purply-lit trees, and a generous smattering of what Grizzly Bear's Edward Droste called, "the bougiest food stands I've ever seen at a festival."Read more »