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Best Bets This Week in Live Bay Area Music

Arcade Fire headlines Live 105's Not So Silent Night this weekend at Oracle Arena. Tickets for Friday night are still available; Saturday night...not so much. Photo courtesy of anchor shop presents.

Consider everything you do this week a precursor to this weekend’s enormously anticipated Not So Silent Night two-day epic in the making. This year’s lineup qualifies as one of the greatest festivals the Bay Area has seen this year (sorry, festival purists, 12 bands ranging from substantially influential to up-and-coming critical darklings over two days counts as a festival). Still, plenty to peruse beforehand:

Waxahatchee, Rickshaw Stop, Monday; Go! Records Store, Tuesday

Katie Crutchfield bares her stories and soul in spare, simple, hyper-lyrical songs that beg for your undivided attention. Hushed lullabies paint vivid pictures of wonder and despair, all in the same breath, to breathtaking effect. In that sense, we can safely draw that rare connection to Neutral Milk Hotel, which also crafted unbelievably dense narratives in their minimal arrangements. Get a ticket and check out a sneak preview of her live set below:

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The Head and the Heart, Fox Theater, Thursday

“Down in the valley / with whiskey rivers / these are the places that you’ll find me hiding.” That line from The Head and the Heart’s “Down in the Valley” is likeable for a few reasons: a) whiskey rivers should be a real thing; b) hide-and-go-seek will never go out of fashion and should be celebrated as such; c) WHISKEY RIVERS SHOULD BE A REAL THING PLEASE KTHANKS; and d) it evokes the kind of place and idea The Head and the Heart embody, the idea of escaping into a landscape and making camp the way we used to. In short, Seattle’s Head and the Heart will take you to a better place. Just bring your singalong voice and a compass to find that whiskey river.

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Portugal. The Man, Mezzanine, Thursday (also: CHVRCHES)

A quick explanation of the band name, courtesy of the Huffington Post: “We were hanging out and I said 'Portugal' and we said, 'That sounds good, that's our guy's name.' The Man is just a statement, he's the man. The period in the name, huge mistake I know. We didn't think about that. We never thought we were going to be written up in magazines. The second we saw it in print, like what a mistake man.” Apology accepted. Opener CHVRCHES is also worth the price of admission in their own right — sugary electopop at its most irresistible.

Talib Kweli, Public Works, Friday

Talib Kweli is diversifying in middle age, and that’s a good thing. His latest brilliant album Prisoner of Conscious finds him experimenting with new styles and instrumental motifs, all to net positive effect. Kwali has never been one to shy away from forward-thinking musicianship, and his live shows always reflect that mentality. Check out one of the Brooklyn native’s most iconic live performances ever and see for yourself:

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Live 105's Not So Silent Night 2013, Oracle Arena, Friday-Saturday

Now they’ve really done it. We didn’t think it was possible to top last year’s beefed-up lineup of Killers, Jack White, The Shins, M83 et al. But this year’s NSSN lineup is out-of-control good. Arcade Fire — excuse me, ARCADE FIRE — Alt-J, Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend, Queens of the Stone Age, Phoenix, Arctic Monkeys, and on. And on. And on. We’re most excited for Arcade Fire on the heels of their unsurprisingly brilliant album Reflektor, which is winning plaudits from seemingly everyone with functioning eardrums. If you’re lucky enough to have scored tickets both days, get there early. Worthy undercards include Capital Cities (on Friday), which makes refreshing, energetic electropop, and on Sunday check out The Neighbourhood, which crosses genres with exhilarating ease. To recap, get there early, stay late, and do not be silent.

For more words like these, follow @ChrisTrenchard on Twitter.