The Five Best Live Shows in S.F. This Week
Jonathan Richman @ Great American Music Hall, Thursday, Dec. 12
Jamie James Medina 19-year-old King Krule is one of the artists you should see this week.
Jonathan Richman created the Modern Lovers, a band inspired by the Velvet Underground, in 1970. Before their long-awaited album (produced by John Cale) was released, Richman had already moved on. Disillusioned by the negativity he heard in rock music, he started playing in a folky, acoustic style, concentrating on songs that celebrated the calmer, more positive aspects of life. The childlike simplicity of his music and his goofy, positive attitude has won him a large, loyal following. His appearance as the singing narrator/Greek chorus in the 1998 Farrelly Brothers film There's Something About Mary introduced him to a wider audience, but he never cashed in on his temporary A-list celebrity. At 61, he continues on his own sunny, eccentric path, performing with an effortlessly brilliant optimism that makes first-time listeners lifelong fans. J. Poet
Trainwreck Riders, Tartufi, Cannons and Clouds, and Couches @ Bottom of the Hill, Friday, Dec. 13
Here's a suggestion for your Friday night: Spend it celebrating a bunch of hardworking local bands at S.F. label 20 Sided Records' Holiday party. Headlining are city cow-punk stalwarts Trainwreck Riders, whose roots rock treads a line between youthful energy and adult heartbreak. Then Tartufi, which released one of the most interesting local records of the year in These Factory Days -- a category-defying blend of folk, metal, and pop that we're still getting our heads around eight months later. With the bill rounded out by fellow scene-travelers Cannons and Clouds and Couches, this promises to be a fun evening. So stop complaining about the predicament of artists in your city and go support them. Ian S. Port
King Krule @ The Independent, Monday and Tuesday Dec. 16-17.
Archy Marshall is only 19 years old, but as King Krule, the singer-songwriter expresses a kind of cloud-ridden doom that sounds a decade or so beyond his age. Otherwise known as Zoo Kid and Edgar the Beatmaker, the extraordinarily promising London artist has been making music since age 8 and rising in the indie underground since 2011. In August, Marshall made his full-length debut with 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, a deep-end swim through suicide, troubled romance, and other morose themes that uses folk, dubstep, trip-hop, and soul as buoys en route. Mixing vocal traits of Billy Bragg and Ian Curtis, Marshall's imprecise brand of talk-singing involves awkwardly stretching syllables as if they're pieces of cheap bubblegum. But maturing better not deter him from exposing faults and wounds with a fearless sense of experimentation -- that's exactly what makes him special. Reyan Ali
Myron & E. @ Elbo Room, Wednesday, Dec. 18
Myron Glasper and his collaborator, E., met and started playing together while touring with Bay Area rap juggernaut Blackalicious. But the music on their Stones Throw debut album, On Broadway, looks much further back than backpack hip-hop. This is an old-time R&B vocal duo, the songs spiked with reverb-drenched guitars, funky bass lines, and aching refrains -- even a few saccharine string-section interludes. As stylish as they are soulful, Myron & E. are building a name for themselves as local members of their L.A. label's growing stable of neo-R&B acts. They haven't quite made an impact in their home region yet, but look for that to change. Songs like the softly melancholy title track and the effortlessly muscular "Do It Do It Disco" are too fun to be ignored. Ian S. Port
Chance the Rapper @ Regency Ballroom, Wednesday. Dec. 18
Tough to tell what's crazier: that we expect more precocity from our young rappers than we ever have, or that they actually keep delivering. When 20-year-old Chance the Rapper's sophomore mixtape, Acid Rap, dropped in May, it landed like a tie-dyed dart on some throbbing nerve we didn't even know we had. The album is hallucinatory and unnervingly developed, flitting between gloomy ruminations ("Pusha Man") and calypso sway ("Favorite Song"). Chance is a braggart, but his nasal, acrobatic virtuosity isn't just meant to launch boasts. His confessions -- about childhood nostalgia, about the trauma of watching a friend die -- are delivered like flicks to the forehead; they're meant to keep us alert and slightly off-kilter. When he performs, expect to feel both coddled and thrillingly, unrelentingly prodded. Byard Duncan