By now you may have heard the buzz about an editorial-style post on The Bold Italic last week declaring the SF music scene dead. While the article makes some important points about the struggles artists face in this city, there is much evidence to the contrary of its over-generalized claims. The Bay Bridged laid the argument down beautifully, and Do The Bay had the best line of all: “If you really want to help, put down your phone and go to a show.”
Since I arrived in the Bay Area 15 years ago, I’ve never seen the music scene so collaborative and hard working as it is now. Between community efforts by folks like KC Turner, Balanced Breakfast, and Popscene, great festivals like Noisepop, Treasure Island Music Festival and Outside Lands, and more to do on any given night than could possibly be done … Music is alive in this city.
What is true is that the musicians and their creative teams need the city’s support – and yours – to be able to stay here. At SF Critic we are obsessed with great live music, so repeating and adding to the lists of others, here are some of our staff favorites* for you to get out and support. Buy their music. Go to their shows. Help them stay in our great city:
(*You’ll notice that Hip Hop is conspicuously missing from this list … educate us! What’s the best hip hop happening in SF right now?)
The She’s – all female, indie rock band with some surf/60s influence
Slaptop– SF artist got his inspiration to make electronic music after seeing Justice at Treasure Island Music Festival in 2008, a SF festival.
Heartwatch – FKA The Tropics. One of their members was working at a major tech company and left to focus on music. It’s not just a hobby like they imply.
Heartwatch – “Never Let You Go”
Rin Tin Tiger – country rock folk punk indie jams
Union Trade – another band off Tricycle Records, super close to electronic-jam. STS9, Yeasayer, and especially Explosions in the Sky fans will be into this. When they have the full cast onstage – shows are quite strong. Album, regardless of headphone type, is very strong.
The Greening – fronted by Karl Meischen, the Greening put out a new album in 2015 and plays pretty regularly around town. Super upbeat, electric energy with some kickass vocals and great musicianship. New album coming soon.
Be Calm Honcho – I caught them at GAMH and not only was the place packed, it was an all out, wild party. Costumes, on stage antics, this band definitely shows up every single time. If you love California (like Shannon Harney does), you’ll be into this.
Owl Paws – comrades of Rin Tin Tiger, the indie / alternative band just opened for Rob Crowe’s Gloomy Place (from Pinback), and casually sold out the Chapel the other day.
Shout out to Annie Bacon & her OSHEN too
Owl Paws – “Reservoir”
Geographer – beautiful indie rock music tinged with classical, folk, and electronic elements, check out their indelible cover of Paul Simon’s “I Know What I Know” below
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – heartfelt, earnest rock n roll with an eccentric vibe
Nikki Bluhm & The Gramblers – Americana meets 70’s era rock n roll
Foxtails Brigade – while this band is based in Oakland, their bass player Joe Lewis is one of the hardest working SF musicians I’ve ever known and has played with dozens of SF bands through the years
And a host of less well known / on the rise bands that are killing it: Sunrunners, Abbot Kinney, Karina Denike, Kendra McKinley, Megan Slankard, The Y Axes, Kat Robichaud and her Misfit Cabaret, the soulful funkstress Pamela Parker, former Parlimentarian RonKat Spearman (aka Katdelic), and let’s never forget the amazing Gaucho playing their gypsy jazz at Amnesia for a few bucks every single Wednesday night.
Geographer – “I Know What I Know”
Artists who live in SF – Mike Patton (Faith No More), Christopher Owens (Girls), Adam Carson (AFI), Joel Gion from Brian Jonestown Massacre lives under me.
Two Gallants –
The Stone Foxes (Rock n’ Roll) – They formed their band while attending SF State.
Eaglewolfsnake (Indie Rock/Pop)- Some friends of mine that are creating a big following. Formerly from Music For Animals.
San Francisco’s live music scene dead? I’d bet that’s a surprise to local soul favorites Con Brio, called “The Best New Live Band in America” by PopMatters and whose members are deeply involved in supporting the communities they entertain. Just one of countless examples that would have been discovered with a bit more research”
Con Brio – “Kiss the Sun [Live at Audiotree]”
Photo of Thao Nguyen at Noisepop / Swedish American Music Hall by Mark Mosher