‘Tis the season for huddling up in decked local concert halls and stuffing stockings with concert tickets. And my favorite, egg nog. Grab one and meet me at one of these shows.
The pop orchestra collective known as Pink Martini defies contemporary wisdom. Specifically, that campy world music doesn’t scale. It’s quite the opposite with this Portland sensation, which has grown organically in stature and size since its formation in the mid-1990s. They now find themselves booking venues such as Davies Symphony Hall, an appropriately lavish house for Pink Martini’s cosmopolitan sound. They'll be teaming up with the S.F. Symphony to expand on their already-robust sound.
Is it just me, or does the Boss have the voice you’d assume Santa Claus would have? Maybe it’s because of all the benevolent work Springsteen does for folks in down times, like the charity concerts he’s been championing for the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. But, also, Santa voice! I insist. Either way, Bruce comes to the Bay Area bearing musical gifts this weekend. His latest album, Wrecking Ball, is a typically life-affirming statement from a man who inspires by simply soldiering on.
Got the ‘winter’s-a-coming’ blues? Meet Charles Bradley, who will make everything better. The one-man answer to cynicism channels various soul/funk/R&B forefathers, the most obvious name being James Brown, physically, verbally and spiritually. The sexagenarian phenom’s live shows are ritualistic love fests; he routinely implores the audience to revolutionize the way we live — mostly to love and to love and to love. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a hug. Not kidding.
It’s been a banner year for James Ford and Jas Shaw, aka electronic duo Simian Mobile Disco. The English party people are headlining all the right festivals — L.A.’s suddenly influential FYF, S.S. Coachella, just to name a few — and their 2012 album Unpatterns is the latest demarcation of a band on the up and up and up, ad infinitum. The sound is vintage house, but with all the signs of modern nuance; where classic house trappings and melodrama meet. No gimmicks necessary. Dance and feel.
Brooklyn giveth, and giveth, and giveth. Bear in Heaven is but a small fraction of the city’s musical bounty, but a virtual High Five to Brooklyn anyways. Just keep it coming. Like most Brooklyn bands worth celebrating, Bear in Heaven doesn’t actually sound like they reside from any earthly place. They follow a spaced-out electronic muse, in pursuit of dramatic, poignant moments. Recent album I Love You, It’s Cool covers a gamut of impulses — dancey, trippy, rockin, all in the span of a single hook. Have a listen: