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For whom the bell rocks: hologram rap edition

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This year’s Rock The Bells really is the Costco of hip-hop festivals. Pretty much anyone who’s anyone in the hip-hop world (plus some dead rappers) will be at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheater this weekend. There is literally something for every kind of hip-hop fan out there, with more artists packed into those two days than weed in a Juicy J blunt.

Perennial RTB performers Wu-Tang Clan, Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick, Rakim, Bone Thugs N Harmony, and KRS-ONE will holding it down for the old school. Meme-rap stars Riff Raff, Danny Brown, and Trinidad James will bring their WTF-brands of rap. On the rise Brooklyn youngsters Flatbush Zombies and Joey Bada$$ will be present.

And even though the backpack era is over, mid-aughts underground luminaries such as Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, Brother Ali, and Tech Nine will transport you back to a not so distant 2005. Headliners Kid Cudi, the entire A$AP and Black Hippy crews, hyphy super duo E-40/Too $hort, and Girl Talk (who might throw down a more hip-hop influenced set) will cap off the long weekend. Read more »

Sammy Hagar runs through the hits at the America’s Cup Pavilion

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Celebrating 40-plus years on the rock scene, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Sammy Hagar hit the stage in San Francisco on Saturday night before a crowd of thousands of enthusiastic fans.
 
Playing the America’s Cup Pavilion, the Red Rocker blazed through a set spanning most of his career, starting out with Montrose songs, then on to his solo material, through his stint with Van Halen, and up through his current output. Read more »

Heads Up: 6 must-see concerts this week

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Music can serve to fit your specific mood. If you can pinpoint an emotion you wish to heighten, you have the ability to explode the senses with a band or musical act playing live that night. You’re just that special.

This week, if you want to feel creepy, go to Death in June; for feel-good grooves, try Jimmy Cliff; to feel cultured, take in Julia Holter; to intensify a sense of ecstasy while engaging with the full scope of hip-hop today, grab passes to Rock the Bells. Read more »

Grouplove talks Haight love, the Seesaw Tour, and spreading rumors

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Grouplove’s existence is a strong argument for fate. In 2009, Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi met on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Feeling an instant connection, Hooper invited Zucconi to an artist residency in Greece on the island of Crete, which she was heading to just a few days later, and he said yes. At this residency, in a remote mountain village, the pair formed a fast friendship with three other musicians. Within the year, Grouplove was formed.

Two years after that, the band exploded into the music scene with its cheekily titled, megacatchy album Never Trust a Happy Song. Touring constantly since its inception, Grouplove is still going at full sprint, with its second album, Spreading Rumors, coming out Sept. 17, accompanied by the ambitious Seesaw Tour, in which the band will spend two nights in every city at intimate venues, playing one electric and one acoustic show. Read more »

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 »