Why It Matters If S.F. Loses Its Musicians

Categories: In Print

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Photo illustration by Audrey Fukuman
The loss of a vibrant art scene threatens to turn the city into a museum piece.
From the latest SF Weekly:

Tour of Venice: As we debate the struggles of musicians and artists in San Francisco, one question frequently arises: Why does it matter if many of them leave for the East Bay? They'll still be more or less "here," as opposed to the bigger loss of them departing for L.A. or elsewhere. Is it really such a bad thing if working musicians can't afford to live in S.F. anymore, as long as they stay in the Bay Area? Does the city really lose? [continue reading]


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What's Being Done to Help the S.F. Music Scene? What Could Be Done?

Categories: In Print

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From left to right: Ian S. Port, Adam Theis, Jeremy Pollock, Jocelyn Kane, Guy Carson, and John Vanderslice at a panel last week on the S.F. music scene presented by the Root, the Chapel, and SF Weekly.
Scene Change: A few weeks ago, we ran a cover story asking whether the music scene in San Francisco is doomed -- whether high housing costs and the resulting exodus of musicians were drying up what has long been a famously vibrant scene. We got all sorts of answers, from "yes" and "no" to a whole lot of "maybe." We also heard about many efforts to improve the situation for music in San Francisco ­-- as well as ideas for even more action. Together with local music nonprofit the Root, SF Weekly held a panel discussion at the Chapel last week to talk about the situation. Here, after much discussion, is a partial, incomplete guide to current efforts to help music flourish in S.F., as well as suggestions on what else could be done, given varying levels of resources and political momentum. San Francisco may not be what it once was, but there are plenty of efforts to keep its music culture lively. These are a few of them... [continue reading]


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Here Are Some Shows You Need To See This Spring

Categories: In Print

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EMA comes to the Independent in July.
From the latest SF Weekly:

Rite of Spring: April is here, winter is over, and that tax refund is burning a hole in your pocket. Well, at least two of those things are true, right? Also true is that spring concert season is finally upon us. New releases and tours always coincide with the vernal thaw, and of course, Coachella will be dumping musical largesse on Bay Area concert halls as bands stop in for most of this month, before or after their desert assignation -- just like every year. (This phenomenon we now know as Fauxchella.) With that in mind, here's a guide to the stuff you should probably go see during this season of sunshine and Cadbury Creme Eggs. As of press time, tickets were available to all the shows listed here... [continue reading]


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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Stay Hunkered Down in the Witty Bunker

Categories: In Print

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: Stephen Malkmus isn't very impressed with the current state of film. He's not reading or hearing anything that moves him too much, either, and he's baffled by the Internet's ubiquitous impact on modern life. It's safe to say that Malkmus, whose work with Pavement essentially created the template for the next two decades of brainy, irreverent indie rock, isn't religiously checking social media for the latest updates on popular culture trends.

"When you're looking at music, movies, and literature, it's kind of a garbage time right now," says Malkmus, who comes to S.F. this week with his current band, the Jicks. "Other than television, which is kind of on a roll of brilliance, everything out there is pretty underwhelming." [continue reading]


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How St. Vincent Became Indie Rock's Standard-Bearer

Categories: In Print

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Renata Raksha
St. Vincent
St. Vincent: On the evening of Oct. 22, 2009, Annie Clark donned her guitar and stepped onstage at Castaways, a garage-sized dive bar in Ithaca, N.Y. Situated between a muddy canal and a gleaming fitness center, the venue was stippled with garish nautical kitsch: life preservers, light-up palm trees, a logo featuring a fish in sunglasses. Clark, barely 27 and fresh off the release of Actor, her sophomore album, seemed awestruck by the packed house. She played an uninterrupted hour and a half before admitting she'd feared no one would show up. Her voice was shaking.

This Annie Clark, with her hesitations, deprecations, and coy anxieties, will not be present at Oakland's Fox Theater this week. She will, most likely, never be seen again. Instead, audiences will behold a sort of snarling demigod -- a stoic virtuoso with a repertoire sharp as a switchblade and a shock of hair dyed the color of a great white's fin. [continue reading]


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Is San Francisco's Music Scene Doomed?

Categories: In Print

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John Vanderslice owns Tiny Telephone Studios in the Mission but is building a new studio in Oakland. He says Tiny Telephone will eventually get pushed out of S.F.
From the latest SF Weekly:

Our cover story: There's a question being asked today in San Francisco, between sets at concerts, between takes in recording studios, and after band practice:

Is the music scene here doomed?

Given this city's storied reputation for music and the arts, it seems inconceivable that it could not have a vibrant scene -- that it wouldn't host experimental jazz jams and scrappy shows from local rock bands, that it won't lure ambitious players from all over the world, that it may no longer launch artists into the upper echelons of the music industry.

But then, plenty that once seemed inconceivable in San Francisco has come to pass.... [continue reading]


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Will New Neighbors Tolerate Bottom of the Hill?

Categories: In Print

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Mike Hendrickson
Developers want to build housing around Bottom of the Hill
From the latest SF Weekly:

Bottom of the Hill: Nearly 150 years ago, the corner of 17th and Mississippi in Potrero Hill was home to the Pacific Rolling Mill Co., the largest steel producer on the West Coast. But in the 22 years since Bottom of the Hill opened its doors to live music, warehouses on the former steel site, now operated by the business moving company Corovan, have provided a buffer between amplified rock 'n' roll and neighbors who might be trying to get a little shut-eye.

In late 2011, when Walden Development announced plans to build a Kaiser Permanente medical complex on the Corovan site -- complete with roughly 200 homes -- Bottom of the Hill's owners felt sure the club's days were numbered... [continue reading]


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Sun Kil Moon, Angel Olsen, and the Can't-Miss Shows of Noise Pop 2014

Categories: In Print

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Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon
From the latest SF Weekly:

Sun Kil Moon: All this specificity summons tremendous power. It yanks you into Kozelek's mind, into grappling with, say, the fact that not one but two of Kozelek's relatives were killed by exploding aerosol cans. It makes those deaths, and other deaths -- for death is everywhere in the 61 brilliant minutes of Kozelek's new album, Benji -- more painful and yet more quotidian. And it makes this latest release under Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon moniker not just one of the most stunning albums of the year so far, not just maybe one of the strongest in the former leader of Red House Painters' long career, but a rare and searing and important work of art. In an era enamored with glamorous illusions, Benji's true, dull, uncool details constitute a forceful rejoinder. They make this 11-song sonic memoir almost anti-pop music... [continue reading]


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Celebrating 10 Years of the Independent, S.F.'s Greatest Blank Box

Categories: In Print

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Christopher Victorio
Phoenix at the Independent
Tales of a Blank Box: The Independent is a room on Divisadero Street with a bar on one side, a stage on the other, and a fair bit of empty space in between. The walls are mostly black, with a little wood trim here and there; the overhead lights, when they're on, glow red. Serious-looking black speakers dangle from the ceiling. You enter through a hallway hung with pretty photographs of people who have been here: Beck Hansen, Maya Arulpragasam, Jimmy Cliff.

The Independent is a club. It's a room where people pay to see music performed. But a good club, at least for those inclined to feel romantic about such things, is more than a place where artists entertain an audience. A good club is a community center. A second living room. A haven. Maybe sometimes even a temple... [continue reading]


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What Do Bands Make at Shows in S.F.?

Categories: In Print

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The Phenomenauts at Great American Music Hall
Gig pay: Perhaps, while standing inside a club, sipping a beer, and staring up at the stage, you've wondered: What is that band making for this show? You know you paid $15 (or $25, or $40) to get in, but how much will the band see at the end of the night? Here in San Francisco, where a decent burrito costs $8, and a month of rent for a decent apartment runs at least 200 times that, how much does a live gig pay?

The answer: It depends.

Talking to club owners, bookers, and the musicians who play local live venues, what becomes clear is the vast range of amounts musicians get compensated for their performances. Their pay depends on the size of the club, the kind of music, the price of the ticket, the number of acts on a bill, whether it's a weekend or a weeknight, how much money the bar made, how well the show was promoted, and what deals were negotiated in advance -- plus, of course, how many tickets were sold. But here's one thing we can say in general, for most local live venues: If you're not the headlining act, you probably aren't getting paid very much... [continue reading]


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