The Top Five Shows in San Francisco This Week
Which first-generation New York and L.A. punks are teaming up for a big show? Which mysterious British electronic musician still has tickets left for his second night in S.F.? Whose guitar solos smell bad? You'll have to find out ahead, in our list of the week's most unmissable concerts. Meanwhile, our usual round-up of the weekend's best local dance parties will go up tomorrow.
Soul-funk survivor Lee Fields performs Friday at Bimbo's.
With X, 8 p.m. Thursday, Sep. 19, at Nob Hill Masonic Center. $55.50-$99.
In the late 1970s and early '80s, Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, and the other members of Blondie were the mainstream ambassadors for New York's punk rock underground. On the other side of the country, X were noisy provocateurs who lived, breathed, and spat out Los Angeles' seedy underbelly. The coming together of both of these iconic bands on one bill is an enormous deal, because it represents a bi-coastal union of the original punk rock mindset. It also promises to be an insanely good time, thanks to Blondie's effervescent hits and X's startling exorcisms, as well as the fact that both Deborah Harry and X's Exene Cervenka remain two of the most charismatic frontwomen in rock history. -- Rae Alexandra
With CCR Headcleaner and Musk. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at Hemlock Tavern. $10.
"Garage rock" is a battered and abused phrase. Applied erroneously to any music featuring a fuzz pedal or poor recording quality, practically every other guitar rock press release boasts the diluted term. But Timmy Vulgar is one of few deserving post-millennial bandleaders to warrant it. Whether fronting the Clone Defekts, Timmy's Organism, or Human Eye, Vulgar pushes the rock band format to its most fetid and feral potential. His guitar solos practically smell bad. His vocals are a gargled stream of trash culture revelry. The man looks like he lives beneath a manhole in his native Detroit. On YouTube, you can find him vacuuming a ceiling on acid. With staggering chops and performance, Human Eye's latest album returns savagery to garage rock. Otherwise, we'd retire the term. -- Sam Lefebvre
with Hornss, Yidhra, and Connoisseur, 9.30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 at the Hemlock Tavern; $8.
Classify the lumbering wallop of Virginia's Windhand however you wish: doom metal, sludge metal, stoner metal, heavy psych. (Suggestions courtesy of their own Bandcamp page.) The songs on their new album, Soma -- one of which eclipses the half-hour mark and is named after Aleister Crowley's estate in Scotland -- have all the requisite storm and squall and keening howl, but also a stubbornly melodic quality and an eerie sense of patience: there's something almost soothing about them, like they're the last lullabies you'll want to hear before being sucked into the chilly vacuum of space. And just imagine how potent that'll be in the womblike confines of the Hemlock. -- Daniel Levin Becker
Lee Fields and the Expressions
With The Ironsides featuring Gene Washington. 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at Bimbo's 365 Club. $25.
Given that he's been doing this since 1969, you'd expect Lee Fields to have a pretty solid grasp on his classic brand of James Brown-indebted soul-funk. And as decades of releases, including two most recent albums with the Expressions, My World and Faithful Man, both demonstrate, he does. But the latter album also has Fields doing a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Moonlight Mile," which turns out to be a powerful and unexpected tour-de-force. Fields usually pushes his voice into a coarse, hi-pressure upper register - he sings mostly songs about being upset, after all - but in the high pitches here he somehow stays smooth, conveying even more solitude and vulnerability than usual. We daresay he gives Mick a run for his money. Forty-four years into a career making enjoyable but often predictable music (they didn't call Fields "Little J.B." for nothing), it's nice to know that the man can still surprise. -- Ian S. Port
With Slow Magic, Voices of Black, and DJ Dials. 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21-22, at the Independent. Saturday sold out; $16-18.
The British electronic musician known as Gold Panda has done an amazing job of keeping the world from using his real name, which is Derwin Schlecker. And wisely so: The Gold Panda moniker perfectly suits Schlecker's reedy organic compositions, which snip lovely little sounds from the real world and sequence them into clicking, propulsive songs with surprising emotional resonance. Gold Panda's debut album made him an international superstar among connoisseurs of subtle, brainy electronica, and his new album, Half of Where You Live -- which Mr. Panda aptly describes as a "city album" -- looks like it will keep him there. -- Ian S. Port