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The 5 Best Bay Area Shows to Catch This Week

Wilco stars a two-night stand at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Friday. 

Yes, San Francisco is a musical mecca. But there are also many weeks scanning the live music calendar when we ask ourselves, 'hold on, the East Bay is bringing in just as many — if not more — artistic juggernauts.' This is one of those weeks, when the Fox Theatre, Greek Theatre and co. put SF on notice. 

Laurie Anderson, Tuesday, Zellerbach (Berkeley)

The multidisciplinary artistic impulse is forever growing inside Laurie Anderson. The former NASA-artist-in-residence and William S. Burroughs collaborator is now busy reconfiguring the live music experience and the touring life. She nearly managed to put her entire setup on her iPad — no small feat for an artist who used to need a caravan of big rigs to lug her production around the world. Note the below video, and then see how far she’s come in minimalizing her production for yourself on Tuesday.

See video

Crosby, Stills and Nash, Wednesday and Thursday, Fillmore

It’s hard to quantify exactly what CSN (and sometimes Y) meant to a generation of revolution-minded boys and girls. What matters most now is that they’re still giving subsequent generations the required-listening live experience. The band’s style and temperament have influenced untold musical acts, and many have tried to cast them in a light that kids these days can understand. And we've officially found the best contemporary comparison.

Azure Ray, Thursday, Café du Nord

Get lost in the hazy, surreal atmospherics of Azure Ray. Just freakin’ close your eyes and let your worries scatter like leaves, as they say in their 2012 song of a similar name. They sound like some under-the-radar dream pop band from Williamsburg, but they’ve actually been doing their thing since 2001, and hail from the music hub of Athens, Ga. They will melt you.

Animal Collective, Friday and Saturday, Fox Theatre

The long and twisted tale of Animal Collective moves forward, thank the lord. These delightful oddballs are starting the next chapter of their journey, having released another fast-forward-thinking collection of songs dubbed Centipede Hz, and hitting the road for the first time in far too long. The wealth of weird pop genius found in the album and A.C.’s catalogue at large is nothing short of staggering. Their live shows are, however, a divisive topic. Forget about hearing your favorite tracks in their original incarnation; their sets are often experiments in tinkering and avant-garde jamming. 

Wilco, Friday and Saturday, Greek Theatre

This will never get old. Wilco’s streak of making consistently interesting, rocking alt-Americana keeps going, even as the bandmembers settle into middle age.  The edge is still very much present in Tweedy, Nels Cline and co., as heard on their latest LP The Whole Love, which predictably won over critics and commoners in one fell swoop last year. This is a bucket-list kind of band to see if you haven't already, one that we'll all be telling Siri's grandkids about someday. 

@ChrisTrenchard