Harldly Strictly Bluegrass, AIDS Wolf, World Veg Fest, Castro Street Fair and More

jenny and johnny bigger.jpg
Autumn De Wilde
Jenny and Johnny are among 80 acts at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2010

Hardly Strictly is here! But before you blow your figurative load over the biggest free concert of the year, keep in mind that there are plenty of other fun and cheap events in the city this weekend. Here's our list of 10 things to do for less than a taxi ride to Golden Gate Park:

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass @ Golden Gate Park (Fri.-Sun.)
"The closest I'll ever get to heaven" is how the 76-year-old investment banker and bluegrass fanatic Warren Hellman describes his annual free music festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which turns 10 this weekend. Begun as an actual bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park, in the last decade it has transformed into a sprawling three-day music orgy that invites artists from a variety of genres and draws up to 750,000 fans from across the planet. This year's lineup features female punk pioneer Patti Smith, British rock icon Elvis Costello, and maturing emo troubadour Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes fame) among its 80 acts. (Free, 2-7 p.m. Fri., 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. Sat.-Sun.) -- Ian S. Port


Of Woe & Magic: Christopher Bettig @ HELLO by Candystore Collective (Fri.)
With particular emphasis on the beauty of dusty barren earth, Christopher Bettig's "Of Woe & Magic" exhibit emits a longing for solitude in nature. That's not to say Bettig himself wishes to be alone incessantly, just when staring at the setting sun. Despite the moodiness of his work, the France-born, Los Angeles-based artist claims he actually would prefer to "run naked in the sun with you" -- quite far from isolation. His current exhibit, at the Candystore Collective's pop-up store HELLO includes muted, dreamlike pieces the artist sewed, printed and painted. The exhibition is presented in partnership with the Bold Italic. (Free, 6:30-8:30 p.m.)

The Mantles @ Hemlock Tavern (Fri.)
San Francisco garage-pop band The Mantles released their much-lauded debut album on Stiltbreeze in 2009 and follow up EP Pink Information earlier this year on Mexican Summer (home of Best Coast). The latter includes poppy, drum-filled "Cascades," a standout tune from the cheerful five-piece. The band plays the Hemlock tonight with Australia's Super Wild Horses and Royal Baths. ($8, 9:30 p.m.)

"Strangelove: Undead Wedding" @ Cat Club (Fri.)
At Strangelove's "Undead Wedding," resident DJ Tomas Diablo and his coffin-clawing colleagues Melting Girl, Xander, and Mz. Samantha spin deathless selections of goth, industrial, and New Wave, while participating clubbers shuffle and stomp in full zombie regalia. Wedding ceremonies, cake, couples photos and other bloody nuptial rituals stretch the theme. ($6, free before 10 p.m.; 9:30 p.m.) -- John Graham

World Veg Festival @ San Francisco County Fair Building (Sat.)
Most vegetarians and vegans become de facto foodies. They spend so much time learning about the ins and outs of different ingredients, products and meals that they're bound to become at least mildly obsessed with food. This weekend those meatless masses can stroll the San Francisco County Fair Building at the World Veg Festival, an ode to all things animal-free. There'll be healthy food demos, an eco-fashion show, guest speakers, live music, vegan speed dating, and, of course, international vegan cuisine for sale. ($7 donation, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.)

Arab Cultural Festival @ Union Square Parl (Sat.)
We first told you about Yassir Chadly several years ago -- he was in a band called the Mo' Rockin' Project. At this weekend's Arab Cultural Festival, he's one of the headlining musicians, performing traditional Sufi gnawa music along with Bouchaib Abdelhadi and Ensemble. Instruments with awesome names include gimbri, qarqabas, darbukkah, fretless banjo, tarija, and bendeer. The festival's theme is Souq el Arabi -- the famous bazaar of the Arab world. Expect gorgeous wares including jewelry, textiles, and artwork, as well as folkloric dance performances and special delicacies. ($6, 12 p.m.) --Hiya Swanhuyser

Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie @ Artists' Television Access (Sat.)
Part documentary, part rock movie, "Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie" tells the story of a piece of musical equipment called the Mellotron, which was essentially the first sampling instrument. The film features music and interviews with members of The Beach Boys, The Zombies, Black Sabbath, Optiganally Yours, and others who've been touched by the power of musical sampling. ($6, 8 :30 p.m.)

Castro Street Fair @ The Castro (Sun.)
The theme of the 37th annual Castro Street Fair is "Get Your Freak On". As if we would do it any other way. With much fanfare, Castro Street will be transformed this Sunday into a glittery, bejeweled, feathery mess of entertainment. This year that includes costume contests, drag shows, and a smattering of festive live rock, pop, and electro acts, headlined by energetic San Francisco quintet Pop Rocks on the main stage. Meanwhile, over at the Barnaby's World of Wonderment section of the fest, there'll be contortionists, glass eaters, a hookah lounge, wheels-of-luck, and a "freakish petting zoo." (Free, 11 a.m.)

AIDS Wolf @ El Rio (Sun.)
Special Deluxe (a/k/a Chloe Lum), lead singer of Canada's AIDS Wolf, has never been the shy type. How could she be? Her band is named AIDS Wolf. The frenzied noise act's unseemly moniker supposedly stems from an urban myth about a wolf that spread the disease through an unassuming town's pet population. But the band isn't mindless shock value; these are some seriously fun musicians to watch. Live, Deluxe's high-pitched squeals pierce through the band's pulsating fuzz at alarming volume. AIDS Wolf plays El Rio this Sunday with Boys IV Men, Zulus, and No Babies. ($8, 8 p.m.)

Blissed Out @ Milk (Sun.)
Blissed Out both describes the band and its sound. The New York City trio plays that itchy, witch-house sound that San Franciscans are salivating over. And the band giddily dares to remix the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys juggernaut "Empire State of Mind," turning it into a substantially more interesting tune, with spliced vocals, heavy distortion, and jingly jungle beats. The band was also selling hand-painted, glow-in-the-dark shirts at the start of its tour -- hopefully there will be some left by the time it reaches our fair city. Blissed Out plays Milk Bar this Sunday with Water Borders and DJ oOoOO. ($5, 8 p.m.) 

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