We all know the greatest gift of all is a Kenny Rogers box set that includes the song “Greatest Gift of All,” featuring Dolly Parton. But the second greatest gift of all?
Concert tickets for your BFFs and FMFs (that’s “family members forever,” redundancy be damned)! It’s not too late to stuff your peoples’ stockings with promises of fun and sound, if Christmas is your holiday of choice. Giveth. Receiveth. Rinceth. Washeth. Repeateth.
L.A.’s Great White Buffalo channels early Kings of Leon, before KoL started considering its own hype. The L.A. foursome similarly strips down its sound — part grunge, part straightforward rock — with the occasional dueling guitar solo and vocal howl. Rich, melodic guitars take listeners back to a time not long ago when synths and keyboards were mere complements rather than driving forces for polished music. Believe this hype.
Count The Soft Moon among the many local outfits making national noise with, well, noise. And by “outfit” we mean one-man music machine Luis Vasquez. He routinely crafts cold, harsh soundscapes that compare with Nine Inch Nails' industrial aesthetic rather well. His latest release, Zeros, is another exercise in finding meaning within sonic dark matter. No surprise the critics dig it — this is sophisticated and nuanced fare, all the things the best krautrock hangs its hat on.
What other seal of approval do you need other than that of Belle and Sebastian? That’s exactly what happened to Howlin’ Rain, when they were hand-picked by Belle and Sebastian to play the hugely influential All Tomorrow’s Parties offshoot Bowlie Weekender in 2010. Booking a gig on that kind of international stage was a pivotal moment for the Bay Area band, and they’ve only grown in stature since. This year saw the band release The Russian Wilds, another psych-y, classic rock-soaked entry into their mind-bending discography.
The lineup speaks for itself: Friday is Travis Barker/Mixmaster Mike, Zedd, Dillon Francis, Paper Diamond, Revolvr, K Theory, et al. Good. Grief.
Saturday is just absurd: Diplo, DJ Shadow, Theophilus London, K.Flay, St. Lucia, Viceroy and many more.
The festival obviously has some international flavor, but it’s refreshing to see so many Bay Area acts on the same bill. Kudos to promoter Eye Heart SF, who btw is also throwing what looks to be a reasonable New Year’s Eve party with A-Trak and Sam Isaac. Get there.
Long live Grateful Dead and all its incarnations and offshoots and celebrations. I said LONG LIVE! What better way to look back on another banner year in San Francisco live music than a walk down memory lane with some of the city's most storied musical icons — Phil Lesh and Bob Weir and co. This is just the first of three shows leading up to what should be a surreal New Year's Eve show, so find your devilish friends, get comfortable and enjoy these guys while they’re still treating audiences to the finest jam-banding the planet has ever seen.