Five SXSW-Approved Bands Barreling Through SF This Week


If you think San Francisco is isolated from the goings-on at SXSW, you’re 0% correct. For starters, there were San Franciscans everywhere in Austin last week (billionaire Mark Cuban calls it Spring Break for the tech industry and all of San Francisco).

And as luck would have it, many of the bands that made a stir at SXSW are headed our way this week. All the below acts earned heaps of praise in Austin last week (with one exception), and now it’s our turn to enjoy some fresh music biz blood.

Josh Ritter, Fox Theater, Wednesday
Ritter’s name was seemingly everywhere in Austin last week. His star is clearly rising quickly, and he’s ready for the challenge. Ritter’s latest album, The Beast in its Tracks, finds him at his most confident and artistically motivated. Intended or not, his music is seen through the prism of a recent divorce, and songs such as “Joy to You Baby” are all the more poignant for it.  

Wavves, Bottom of the Hill, Friday
Two bros, one deafening statement after another. That’s the basic premise behind this garage-rockin’, zero-care, massive-sum duo. Wavves just released a new album this week, Afraid of Heights, which by most accounts is a major step forward for this emerging, controversial group. Lead singer Nathan Williams has run into a few hiccups along the way to rock ‘n’ roll maturity, including a few public meltdowns, but the growing pains seem to be subsiding, and paying off.

Com Truise (headlining the Ghostly showcase), 1015 Folsom, Friday
Drum, bass — meet melody. New Jersey electronic producer Seth Haley makes a habit of introducing the two seemingly disparate ideas. The result is something in the mold of Boards of Canada and fellow chillwhateverwave contemporaries Washed Out and Baths. Haley routinely welcomes the comparisons, but plenty more is at play in his album Galactic Melt. Songs like “Flightwave and “Hyperlips” do a prog-rock about-face, warping guitars in and out of traditional sounds. Each song searches for a new frontier — “I want to make something that I don’t hear,” he said in a recent interview, explaining why he started making music in the first place. Now he’s one of the card-carriers for the music world’s premier underground electronic music label, Ghostly International.

Christopher Owens, Palace of Fine Arts, Saturday
Former Girls bandleader Christopher Owens is his own man these days. We’ll miss the fearless, thoughtful, timeless rockin’ of his former band (is it just me or did Girls’ live sets verge on Pink Floyd?), but his solo project at least gives diehards something to chew on. Owens didn’t play any SXSW shows, but turns out whenever you tell someone in Austin you’re from SF, Owens comes to the fore of conversation. He’s at that point in his career — an unofficial SF ambassador, so let’s treat him like one, Girls or no Girls.  

Whirr, Sub/Mission Gallery, Saturday
Whirr earned some buzz heading into SXSW, and during it, and after, and now we get it. There’s a reviving market for its brand of shoegaze, the genre first championed by My Bloody Valentine in the early ‘90s and since ignored by mainstream tastemakers. It’s all about the noise, the drone, the whisper and a feeling for Whirr. The layers show up dark on the sonic palette, as iron walls of sound grow louder and deeper by the verse. Grab onto something, close your eyes and let the speakers rearrange your hair.

For more words like these, follow @ChrisTrenchard

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