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Hot Tickets: Shows to See in February

Time flies when you're having fun, and we sure must have been having a lot of it because January came and went with a blink of an eye. However, February in San Francisco is an exciting time for music lovers. Not only does it signify the beginning of festival season (Noise Pop's pre-party is on 2/18 and they're pumping music nearly every night straight through 3/1), it's also the start of big artists' West Coast legs of their tour. Yay for us! Noise Pop coverage to come, but to warm you up  here's this month's hot list.

Mates of State, Café du Nord, 2/1: Obviously this show sold out in minutes, these SF transplants by way of Lawrence, Kansas are veterans in the indie arena (the duo formed officially in 1997 and wed, yes, wed each other in 2001), yet they've never lost their creative charm. Get to Craigslisting to snag a peek at this cutesy couple in the most intimate of venues.

Felix Da Housecat, Yoshi's, 2/4: Chicago-bred second-wave house revolutionary captured the scene entirely by surprise with his own recordings, various aliases, and his 90's premiere label, Radikal Fear Records. Still a house and electro staple to this day, FDH still flips fans upside down with his fresh spins.

The Thermals, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Great American Music Hall, 2/5: Courting their best album to date, The Thermals deliver high energy intelligent punk, showing off their best skills on the live stage. Apparently they discovered the fourth chord in pop-punk, not particularly interesting except to extreme music nerds, but you will appreciate it when you hear it in person. One of our favorite loveable locals, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, is co-headlining with their edgy folk feel. Definitely a show to get down to (no pun intended).

Nouvelle Vague, The Regency Ballroom, 2/7: Seems like the French invasion has officially begun. With Phoenix selling out the Fillmore this week, and Nouvelle Vague popping in the next, we just can't escape all these talented Frenchies (but we're sure not complaining!). Nouvelle Vague's particular claim to fame was, and still is, their beautiful covers of new wave and punk classics. As of late, they've pumped some heavy American country and bluegrass that still stay true to their bold bossa nova ways. You'll fall back in love with classics you never knew you loved in the first place.

St. Vincent, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Great American Music Hall, 2/8: Our favorite Polyphonic Spree soloist, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) comes back to visit laying down her complicated compositions and high-energy multi-instrumentalist talent. You'll be blown away by her multi-tasking skills, but when she opens her mouth, you'll fall in love. Opening for her are the up-and-coming Swedish husband-and-wife drum and vocal duo of Wildbirds & Peacedrums. Their latest album The Snake has been praised by Pitchfork (among many others) for their, "application of deceptively simple techniques to create highly complex and agile pop music." They've already received an award for Swedish Jazz Act of the Year (in 2008), and we won't be surprised when they do it again this year with this presumably dark, but impressive album.

The Editors, The Warfield, 2/8: Their brand new album In This Light And On This Evening literally just hit stores a little over a week ago where it debuted at #1 on the UK charts and has been consistently in the top 10 across Europe. Now we know Europe always seems to be a little ahead of the curve when it comes to hit-makers, but here's a rare glimpse into the future. Prepare for The Editors to dominate the US in years to come. Taking on a more electro, synth-heavy and mechanical feel than their previous, The Editors constantly stay on key and manage to create a completely new sound while still maintaining their old identity.

Vivian Girls, Bottom of the Hill 2/9: NY-based all girl trio formed a large cult following from their early beginnings playing their home underground scene. After a drummer change and a second album release in late '09, they're touring just as strong as ever.

Eyedea & Abilities, Bottom of the Hill, 2/10: Blaze Battle winner (broadcast on HBO), Eyedea, performs under many monikers including Oliver Hart, where he gained fast fame with a notable reputation in the underground battle scene, then by touring with Slug (of Atmosphere) as well as other Rhymesayers label-mates. Collaborating with DJ Abilities turned out to be more of a long term love affair than they originally predicted, and the duo have since released three albums together. If you like up-beat, fresh, and intelligent conscious hip-hop, this is where you need to be.

Wild Beasts, The Independent, 2/11: Leeds-based four-piece have raced through to the top of many reputable charts and "best of" lists skating by with just their incredibly catchy and perfected indie pop. No gimmicks, no designated genre, or scene, Wild Beasts just dominate being plain and simply, themselves.

The Album Leaf, Magik Magik Orchestra, Great American Music Hall, 2/12: Classically trained pianist, Jimmy LaValle (The Album Leaf) will be accompanied by a selection from the modular orchestra of 100 classical musicians (Magik Magik Orchestra) between the ages of 18-35, all from Northern California, and based in our great City. LaValle is involved with various projects from GoGoGo Airheart, to Tristeza, the Locusts and Black Heart Procession. This will be an incredible twist on beautifully orchestrated instrumentalism.

P.O.S., Bottom of the Hill, 2/18: There must be something in the water in the Midwest, or more specifically, Minnesota, where this blow-up hip-hop artist is also from (along with the entirety of Rhymesayers and then some). Punk-influenced multi-instrumentalist and soulful lyricist P.O.S. (real name, Stefon Alexander) has taken on the mainstream as of late all while retaining his underground wit and charm. By the way, in case you're wondering, P.O.S. doesn't necessarily stand for what you think, he's cited explanations such as, but not limited to, Pissed Off Stef, Promise of Stress, Promise of Skill, Product of Society, and of course, the obvious.

John Butler Trio, Great American Music Hall, 2/20: It feels as though we're almost teasing you with this sold out super-group. John Butler finally debuts his accompanying band made up of Nicky Bomba and Byron Luiters. Most likely living up to the hype, their debut album April Uprising is said to take on a new journey for John Butler, confirmed with positive critical reviews.

Noise Pop, various venues, 2/23-3/1: Full Noise Pop previews and coverage are coming to a computer screen near you. To get you vaguely excited, highlights include: Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band, Rogue Wave, Foreign Born, The Dodos and Magik Magik Orchestra Collaborative Performance, Zee Avi, John Vanderslice, Atlas Sound, Geographer, The Mumlers, Wallpaper, Battlehooch, The Limousines, Rainbow Arabia, Scissors For Lefty, Judgement Day, Memory Tapes, Loquat, Birds & Batteries, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Mirah, Music For Animals, !!!, Maus Haus, Sugar and Gold, Magnetic Fields, Avi Buffalo, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and AB & The Sea among others...and that's just the music portion (the film debuts are just as impressive). Stay tuned.