Jake Blakesburg

Deltron 3030, Lucinda Williams, Emmy Lou Harris and more at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 14 October 3-5


Sure, your focus might be solely on Outside Lands, but Golden Gate Park is home to another festival that shared some big news. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, which draws people from all over the world as well as every person with a chain wallet and pitbull in San Francisco, will take place October 3rd-5th this year and is slowly unveiling its lineup. If you don’t mind a big crowd, this is definitely a fun excuse to hit the park during the Indian summer.

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Shabazz Palaces Change the Game @ The New Parish


Last week, at The New Parish in Oakland, Seattle-based experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces put on a pair of shows in support of their new LP Lese Majesty, which dropped last Tuesday.

Within the long-stagnant hip-hop landscape of excess and rampant self-referentialism, emcee Ishmael Butler (formerly of Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist/producer Tendai Maraire are total renegades. Whereas hip-hop often feels challenging for challenging’s sake, these guys bend and stretch the genre wide open, challenging the listener in a way that is less confrontational and more invitational.

While bearing similarities (on paper) to Madlib and J Dilla, these guys have created a disjointed sound that is completely their own, making comparisons tough. Dark, brooding rhythms consisting of unstable, off-time bass tremors are stitched deeply into an intoxicating swirl of unidentifiable vocal samples. This percolating stew of sound is unexpectedly punctuated by something light and familiar — such as the soft, innocent plucks of the mbira (thumb piano), or a slowly and deliberately tapped steel drum — creating a sonic atmosphere that is simultaneously unsettling and strangely comforting. Drizzled over the top are Butler’s thought-provoking, if sometimes oblique, lyrical runs: “My body traveled / my mind waits behind the music / my crime bemuses / relax inside my shiny blueness.”

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5 Ways To Make Outside Lands Music Festival Better


Kanye West, Tom Petty, Disclosure, hockey-puck sized peanut butter cups, and every type of local micro-beer combined can still culminate in a shitty Outside Lands experience if you’re unprepared.  So don’t be. Water, sweaters, and money are just a few things you’ll need to have for the best festival experience. Here are five tips: Read More


HAMILTON LEITHAUSER’s Gospel at The Chapel


The Walkmen frontman, Indie rock prince and tall glass of water (in the 6’5″ area), Hamilton Leithauser, crooned his debut solo record, Black Hours, within the arches of The Chapel. Backed with The Walkmen’s Paul Maroon, Leithauser was casual and confident, sometimes with a hand in his pocket. He performed seamlessly with a voice you can count on to rise — from a Frank Sinatra, through a Julian Casablancas and around a Chris Martin, with a swagger and plowing yell all his own — barreling through tracks off Black Hours and throwing in some Walkmen classic’s like “We’ve Been Had.”

Black Hours is for all of time: vocals forward, emotional, fun, cool, sometimes with a 40’s-style string session, or a 60’s tambourine, or a dazzling xylophone, or African drumming. The music ranges from get up n’ go to bedtime melodies, while others are haunting, or sunshine daydreamy. The track most remnant of The Walkmen’s rock  is “I Don’t Need Anyone.”

If you have eclectic taste, and you somehow haven’t stumbled upon him yet, you should know and explore Hamilton Leithauser. It’s not EDM, but it will probably get your girlfriend to kiss you harder.


I’m Rick James B*tch! Win 2 Tickets to See Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe Channel Rick James


SFCritic is lucky enough to offer you and one of your “super-freakiest” friends tickets to check Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe with The Very Jane Girls Friday August 8th at the world famous Fillmore.

Those of you who don’t compete in a fantasy saxophone league may be unaware of Karl Denson, but the initiated know him as a jazz and funk saxophone/vocals legend. And if that doesn’t sell you, he also plays a mean flute. Read More


CYMBALS Makes SF Debut With High Energy Set at Rickshaw Stop


Wednesday night we were treated to, UK based, CYMBALS’ first ever stop in SF at RickShaw Stop. While the crowd may have been a bit hesitant, as the Wednesday crowd often is, vocalist and guitarist Jack Cleverly looked to get the crowd going early by immediately hoping off the stage and preforming the beginning of “The End” amongst the fans. As he put it, “…might be Wednesday out there, but we are in here.”

Usually billed as a four-piece, they appeared as a trio dropping a dedicated bassist for the show. Cleverly was joined by Luke Carson, on keys and bass, and drummer, Neil Gillespie. The group played a mix of upbeat dance rock, mixed with darker, more brooding songs like “Winter ’98.” The reverb on the guitar was cranked in that very 80s, drawn-out style that hung in the air after each pluck. Add the pounding drums, synth and keyboard and you got a very rich sound. Every song was a jam, with some pushing the seven or even eight minute mark. You could compare CYMBALS to LCD Soundsystem, Duran Duran or New Order depending upon which song you were hearing at that moment.  Read More


Win Tickets to See Real Estate at The Fillmore


Catch New Jersey chillwavers, Real Estate, perform their latest LP, Atlas, at The Fillmore next Friday and Saturday. Following up their SFCritic favorite albumDays (2011)the group kicks off their US tour here for two nights.

You can win a pair of tickets to see them Friday night (Aug. 1st) by entering below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We’ll email the winner next Thursday, so hang tight. Below you’ll find their single, “Talking Backwards” as well as their additional tour dates if you can’t catch’em in SF.
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outsidelandsday3_ 055

Outside Lands Announces 2014 Schedule & Playlist


With the announcement of yesterday’s Outside Lands schedule I can now officially state that I’m more excited than a fat kid at a cake factory. As of today there are 16 days until the party begins. Fortunately, this year’s line up doesn’t have me doing a lot of running around to see my favorite bands.

Build your dream OSL schedule here. 

Friday in particular, I’ll be at the Land’s End stage all damn day. Besides sneaking away for a moment early in the day to check out Phosphorescent at the Sutro stage, I’ll be camping out, waiting for Kanye West. I saw his Yeezus tour in Oakland last October, and I wouldn’t dare miss him perform again.

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Photos: Craft Spells Unleash New Album on Sold Out Crowd at The Chapel


Last Thursday, we had the pleasure of checking out Craft Spells fresh off the release of the new album Nausea. With Nausea, an odd name for an eccentric album, Craft Spells has definitely matured technically since 2011’s praised album Idle Labor. The often surf-like guitar is bolder, drums replace drum machines, and the synth and keyboard melodies are stronger, especially in songs like “Breaking the Angle Against the Tide,” and “Komorebi.” The vocals are discounted and are often delivered monotone in a style some might called “bummer rock.” The overall experience is a musical journey that keeps you guessing at what’s next. Read More

The Tropics

The Tropics Show Why They’re One of SF’s Most Promising Young Pop Acts


Last Wednesday, local act The Tropics sent a bolt of lightning through the chapel in their opening set for the extremely talented Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas. The Tropics, a five piece act, are a band that several of us here at SFCritic took notice of with the release of the group’s first single “Sleepless.” Playing a blend of folk rock and pop, the group is highlighted by smooth and haunting lyrics from singer Claire George. A firm bass line and looping guitar and keys provide the perfect architecture for George’s voice, which often transcends lyrical delivery to become an instrument of its own.

Going into the show, I knew I liked the sound of “Sleepless,” but I was a little nervous about the overall show, because it’s their only song currently available. Thankfully, the tropics easily exceeded my expectations and surprised me with a well-developed catalogue of music and refined stage presence.

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