The Five Best Concerts in San Francisco This Week
Sunn O))) @ Mezzanine, Tuesday, Dec. 18
Ian S. Port Wooden Shjips perform Thursday at Thrill Jockey Records' 20th Anniversary show.
Over the 14 years that Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley have run Sunn O))), the pair have eagerly tested threshold after threshold. The Seattle-born drone metal project's songs are long -- the shortest track on 2009 LP Monoliths & Dimensions is 9 minutes, 42 seconds. The music consists of elongated, sometimes agonizing guitar notes accompanied by minimal melody. And it is delivered in person via ear-annihilating stacks of amplifiers. In an August interview, Anderson said that the duo don't think of their music as "pure entertainment," but rather as something that evokes a listener's reaction -- "not anything specific, just a reaction to it rather than ambivalence." Even Sunn O)))'s name has a layer of inaccessibility to it: A tribute to amp brand Sunn, the "O)))" goes unspoken, and nods to both the brand's insignia and the band's overwhelming decibel levels. -- Reyan Ali
IamSu! @ 330 Ritch, Friday, Dec. 14
This will go down as having been a breakthrough year for Richmond-raised rapper IamSu! His profile went national after he put in a starring stint on Bay Area ambassador E-40's hit "Function," and he solidified his talent with last month's excellent $uzy 6 $peed mixtape. As a rapper, IamSu! exudes a playful personality and excels at spitting over beats that are club-friendly while retaining a hard, street-honed edge. Given his recent collaborations, including tracks with Wiz Khalifa and Juvenile, you should catch IamSu! up close now before he ascends to that coveted next level in 2013. -- Phillip Mlynar
The Soft Moon @ The New Parish, Friday, Dec. 14
The Soft Moon is the project of one Luis Vasquez, who just might be the Bay Area's leading purveyor of gloomy, grayscale synth-punk. The Soft Moon's latest album, Zeroes, doubles down on the noirish atmospherics and stark beats that drove the project to national notoriety in the wake of its 2010 debut. Now, though, Vasquez's beats are more insistent -- and danceable, if you find harsh textures animating -- his synth lines more disfigured, his background static and squelch more unsettling. So while Zeroes doesn't give us another track as darkly sublime as debut highlight "When It's Over," it does up the doom quotient quite a bit. Whether you're dancing or standing still, The Soft Moon will race you right along toward oblivion. -- Ian S. Port