Best Bets This Week in Live Bay Area Music
You know how there’s ALWAYS something to do in San Francisco? Here’s more proof:
An experiment in spiritual dance pop, Austra is all about the vocal and creative force of Katie Stelmanis. Her bio explains some of what we hear. She started Austra after a stint in the Canadian Opera, and her voice is clearly polished. Her range is utterly surreal, even haunting at times. But nothing quite prepares one for the oddcore pop imagination of the synth dreaming in the background. Put on your weirdest hat and listen up:
If there are earthly comparisons to Colin Stetson’s music, I don’t know ‘em. He’s in a category and genre unto himself. The bass saxophonist conjures impossible soundscapes with his rapid-fire, fluttering style. Each song is a journey into some unknown territory, a high-risk/high-reward trip that can end only one of two ways. Perhaps that’s why folks like Arcade Fire and Bon Iver have tapped Stetson on the shoulder for touring gigs, a seal of approval if there ever was one. Anyways, if you watch one music video today, make it this one:
Hard to believe Joshua Tree-based lounge pop group Gram Rabbit has been around for 10 years. But they’ve risen to prominence at their own pace, which is entirely possible coming from their neck of the woods. Lead singer Jesika Von Rabbit summed it up nicely herself in a recent interview with hometown periodical Palm Springs Life: “The desert is such a vast environment, but it doesn’t have a huge music scene. So you don’t feel pressured to fit into a musical genre. You don’t have to choose a style or please a certain crowd. Our music is vivid and colorful. We like to evoke a lot of emotion and evoke a lot of ‘danceability’.”
Odds are, you’re missing out on L.A. wunderkind Will Wiesenfeld. The one-man electro show known as Baths still resides just below most radars, probably because he’s more interested in making something beautiful rather than proposing something exclusively “fun,” the hallmark of most commercially successful electronica. His songs have a Boards of Canada feel, but with his nasal-y vocals detailing surreal scenes and stories. Their emotion is raw, and even instrumental songs have a distinct voice to them.
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