5 Bay Area Concerts to Put on Your Radar Now


We interrupt this regularly scheduled column for a Craigslist-style missed musical connection. Anyone who witnessed Tycho's trascendental show at the Independent over the weekend who wants to talk about it, hit me up. We need to discuss/start a support group. My mind is still spinning.

Moving on. This week’s another doozy on the local live music calendar. Behold:

Bill Frisell, Regina Carter, et al, Wednesday-Thursday, SFJAZZ Center

If you build music halls, we will show. Promise. SFJAZZ can rest easy knowing San Francisco jazz obsessives treasure spaces where the genre can flourish and reach the ears of the people. The 30+ year-old collective recently put the finishing touches on a new house of worship, and it’s christening time. A who’s-who lineup of jazz greats grace the grand-opening celebration bill this week: SFJazz artistic directors Regina Carter, Bill Frisell, Jason Moran and artists McCoy Tyner, Joshua Redman, Mary Stallings and more will all help usher in a new era of SFJazz.

Yo-Yo Ma, Thursday, Zellerbach Auditorium, UC Berkeley

Planet Earth’s most revered cellist makes one of his regular stops in the Bay Area, and we give thanks. Of course, there’s nothing “regular” about a Ma performance, as Ma makes virtuosity seem routine. This week, Ma applies his bow to the work of Stravinsky (“Suite Italienne”), Olivier Messiaen (“Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus”) and Johnannes Brahms ("Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108") in this performance. I could sit here and try to describe why Ma is a thrill, but to know his genius is to see with your eyes. Just watch this:

The Walkmen, Thursday-Friday, The Fillmore

The “mid-career rock band” label suits The Walkmen well, if only because suits suit them quite well. Lead singer Hamilton Leithauser and company regularly cut a dapper look onstage. It works, as spare guitar lines and occasional explosions of angst stir about their live shows as if to say “we’re not gonna force it, we know who we are.” The band’s latest full-length release, Heaven, is an exercise in sophistication, with the band turning down the volume ever so slightly and cranking up the attention to detail in every song. Perhaps it had something to do with the influence of producer Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, The Shins, etc.), who makes a habit of turning talent into visionary artwork. Just an educated guess.


Blackalicious, Friday, The New Parish 

One of hip-hop’s smartest crews is still at it, thank the lord. The group is taking regular trips down memory lane these days, having recently re-released Melodica, first recorded in 1994. Blackalicious only released 2,500 copies of the album initially, and legend had it that this scarcity drove the record's price up to $100 in many places. At long last, Melodica gets its long overdue wide release. It’s also the focus of the current tour, which any hip-hop head in the know has on his radar.  

Reggie Watts, Sunday, Marines Memorial Theatre

Nothing should surprise us at this point with Reggie Watts. He’s done it all — stand-up, improviser, hip-hop artist, professional beatboxing, storyspinning, etc. — but now he’s collaborating with Seattle based choreographer for an entirely different endeavor. It’s not entirely clear what Watts plans to do in this show, dubbed “Reggidency,” but one thing is sure. It will be surreal.



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