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Best Bets This Week in Live Bay Area Music

Take in some world-class whistling and check out Andrew Bird's annual holiday tour this week. Get there!

What is it about being indoors during the holidays that makes us suckers for being indoors during the holidays? All I want to do is walk down the street to my local music hall, order an egg nog, gaze at mood lighting, hold a lady, feel warm, and sway to good music. i.e. these bands:


Andrew Bird, Congregation Sherith Israel, Monday-Tuesday

Not a shocker that Andrew Bird — maker of unconventional albums via unconventional methods —  would go off the grid. To no consequence. Wherever Andrew Bird goes, his congregation will follow, because Andrew Bird is legend. BECAUSE ANDREW BIRD IS THE BEST WHISTLER MAN HAS KNOWN. The multi-instrumentalist is on his annual holiday tour, his Wikipedia-reference-required Gezelligheid tour, a relatively new phenomenon on the west coast. Once upon a time, when Bird was a Chicago native, he’d take his winter tour to the east coast, which was silly because the east coast is a frozen tundra right now. Bird, wiser now, is an L.A. resident and has focused his winter tour on the west coast, and the only question would that remains is: what took so long?

King Krule, The Independent, Monday and Tuesday

Archy Marshall is only 19 years old and he’s already on a level I’ll never be on. Shame that more 19 year olds aren’t YOLOing the same way Marshall is. Dude’s a phenom in every sense of the word, a novel artist pushing forward and pushing his own reality. Rather than sing, Marshall hallucinates his words. His oddball delivery reminds of Tom Waits and Isaac Brock, to the point where we hear a character rather than person. To the point where we hallucinate.


Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, Swedish American Hall, Wednesday

TWO WARNINGS: 1) This is not a concert, and 2) Donald Fagen hates us. He … REALLY HATES US. His new book, Eminent Hipsters, discusses as much, railing into a faction of consumers he characterizes as “TV babies,” which is basically everyone born after 1970. We are bloodsucking, hit-thirsty, legend-loving sociopaths. And, I mean, that’s fair. Still, you and I worship Steel Dan, because Steely Dan is STEELY DAN. “Reelin’ in the Years” is just the type of song Fegan would hate for us to love, but we love it anyways. Sorry ‘bout it (sorry for phrasing it that way, Mr. Fegan).

Mos Def, 1015 Folsom, Thursday

Easily one of hip-hop's most insightful, creative artists, Mos Def (aka Yasiin Bey) makes things happen and understands how change happens. Mos Def could be considered a social worker, no joke. To take in a life Mos Def show is to audit a class in social injustice and enlightenment. His long-celebrated collaboration with Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star, gave mainstream America a chance to see what’s wrong and wrong-er with intercity America, and still stands as a landmark American cultural artifact. Mos Def’s subsequent solo debut, Black on Both Sides, was equally impactful, hailed by critics as bringing hip-hop back to its soapbox origins. In short, MOS DEF IS LEGEND.

Eleanor Friedberger, Café du Nord, Swedish-American Hall, Friday

If you haven’t delved into the Fiery Furnaces catalogue, start now. Like...NOW. It’s that good. Game-changer stuff. We need more of it. Eleanor, who recently penned the unspeakably good solo entry titled Personal Record, has made a name for herself as an independent artist in her own right. Tiny Mix Tapes said this about her new album: “Eleanor commits even more strongly to straightforward, sentimental, and concise songcraft.” Consequence of Sound had  better things to say: “It’s Friedberger’s lyrics and delivery that unite these various touchstones, as fresh and distinctive as ever, incredibly poignant and powerfully aware of her self and the signifiers that surround her.”



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