The Secret is Out About Deep Sea Diver


I still get small chill each time I walk into The Fillmore. The music venue gifted made legendary by Charles Sullivan, and then Bill Graham is a mainstay in the San Francisco music scene. It has played host to many memorable shows. A glance around the poster room displays the secrets of the unassuming building sat on the corner of Fillmore and Geary. Wilco’s sold-out five-night residency may in years to come go down as one of those great moments.

And on the day Wilco’s 10th album, Schmilco, was released Deep Sea Diver made a detour on their US tour to open for the much loved Chicago-based rock band. Deep Sea Diver are a four-piece band formed by Jessica Dobson. The songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is a stalwart to the US music having toured with The Shins and Beck in years gone by. In 2014 she decided to focus on full-time on Deep Sea Diver. This focus lead up to the release of their sophomore album, Secrets, earlier this year. The album is an ode to intricate guitar riffs and open songwriting. Indeed, it is quoted as one of the best albums of the year by Kevin Cole at the start of the KEXP set I discovered them on.

Much like the Fillmore presence on Geary, the band was somewhat unassuming as they made their way on stage to a still filling up Fillmore. The bursting guitars as they opened up felt like they woke people up. “Creatures of Comfort” did it’s best to shake the crowd with its fighting guitars and catchy chorus. Read More

Pop-Up Magazine goes full-on California Dreaming Friday night at The Greek


In the era of extreme documentation, Pop-Up Magazine is like a dream. It will exist for one night only – no recurrence, no rerun. There will be no video or podcast.  You must – if you can – get thee to The Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Friday night to experience its foray into the California Dream.

You may be wondering what a pop-up magazine is. I admit I rolled my eyes a little bit at first, pop-up everything being all the rage these days. But after speaking with co-founder Doug McGray yesterday morning, I’m mind-boggled by the detail of thoughtful collaborations that bring flat page to bright stage.

A few years back, McGray, a writer, stumbled into radio working with the NPR program This American Life. He was impressed by the fact that despite so many storytelling similarities between writers and the radio, these two industries rarely intersected. He and his team set out in 2009 to create an event that would bring the two to the same stage – featuring collaborations between not just writers and radio producers, but musicians, visual artists and performance artists as well. The aim was to create a live version of a general interest magazine (covering music, art, food, politics, relationships and anything else), with multi-media performances each in the 4-6 minute range, usually scored by a live band and sometimes animated.

“We didn’t set out to make a show that would perform to thousands of people or tour other cities,” McGray told me, “but something about it resonated with audiences.” And before long, that’s exactly what they did. Read More

Single Day Lineups Announced for Treasure Island Music Festival, on Sale Thursday at 10am


For those of you who have been waiting patiently to pick a day for Treasure Island Music Festival 2016, you are in luck. Today organizers have announced which acts will play Saturday and Sunday on SF’s bizarre little man-made island.

For those unfamiliar with Treasure Island Music Festival, it has a lot of unique features compared to festivals like Outside Lands. First, the acts are staggered and the stages are positioned close together so you don’t have to miss any of the acts– unless you opt to hit the silent disco or comedy shows instead. Also the lineups tend to be split by day, with Saturday featuring more hip hop and electronic and Sunday featuring a little more indie. Lastly, the views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay will blow your mind. To add to the FOMO, this is the last year Treasure Island will be held on the Island, so if you’ve always wanted to go jump on it.

We’ve known the lineup for a bit now, but there have been a couple additions like Sofi Tukker. Check out the full lineups:
Ice Cube (feat. MC Ren and DJ Yella of N.W.A.)
Glass Animals
Duke Dumont
Young Thug
Flight Facilities
Mura Masa
How To Dress Well
Sofi Tukker

Sigur Rós
James Blake
Purity Ring
Mac DeMarco
Sylvan Esso
Neon Indian
Christine and the Queens
Wild Nothing
Car Seat Headrest
Day Wave

Personally I am leaning towards Sunday, what a lineup to end the weekend. Tickets go on sale Thursday at 10am and they are expected to sell out. Prices are as follows:
Single-day GA $105/  Single-day VIP $195 / Weekend GA $179.50 / Weekend VIP $335

Buy Here.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Van Goat’s surf punk hits the goat farm with “So”


We’re excited to premiere the newest video from Oakland band Van Goat (formerly Bear Lincoln) for their song “So” – a piece of veritable performance art that will have you rubbing your eyes. It’s a unique idea that is beautifully executed as each performer appears to sit on top of (think Photoshop layers) and move between four changing locations: a studio / warehouse, a church, an alley, and a goat farm, complete with interfering goats trying to eat gear and a goat-cheese coincidentally bearing the same name as the band.

Beyond the video lies a truly good song with a strong melody and infectious hook. The band’s surf punk sound finds apt expression in this track, into which we are welcomed by an eerie organ solo from keyboardist Ben Einstein. While they say it’s not a huge divergence from their existing catalogue, the band credits the surf and garage rock sounds emanating from their peers in the East Bay as well as working with other songwriters to craft the song into its best version with the “heavier and more concise” tone of this release and its companions. Read More

Mild High Club Brings Psychedelic Fever Dream to The Chapel for Record Release Show Friday 8/26


The first time you hear Mild High Club you’ll get a sense of both familiarity and discovery. There’s something both uncomfortable and undeniably attractive about pairing 70s lounge-jazz progressions with time-expanding distortion and psychedelic elements. Mild High Club creates the perfect soundscape to escape reality and explore your mind.

Founded and led by Alexander Brettin, the LA-based act is headlining The Chapel Friday night as a release party for its second album Skiptracing. Brettin’s history comically parallels Anchor Man’s Ron Burgundy; a jazz flutist who finds his style and place in southern California. Of course this is an over simplification, but Brettin’s mastery of jazz technique is evident throughout his catalogue of work.

I’ve been listening to Skiptracing for the past few weeks and it showcases both the maturation and prolific potential of Mild High Club. The debut album Timeline was released in 2015 after three years of tinkering, just a year later we already have the follow up. One of the standout tracks from Skiptracing is the second single “Homage” which itself plays homage to the harpsichord, simultaneously the most whimsical and demonic sounding instrument. A steady drum beat and vocal harmonies are a call back to the classic jams of acts like ELO. Check it out for yourself:

Skiptracing is available Friday August 26th from Stones Throw Records. Come check out Brettin and the rest of Mild High Club Friday night at The Chapel. Al Lover and Once and Future Band are opening all for the low, low price of $12. Grab your ticket here.

Photo Credit: Sam Shea

Song of the Day – Nilüfer Yanya “Small Crimes”


Nilüfer Yanya’s “Small Crimes”, released today, is is an affecting, haunting song that has wormed its way under my skin since I first heard it last week.

You can’t always articulate WHY a song gets under your skin, but being an effusive writer, I’ll try: Is it Yanya’s opening riff, a lonely and barely-effected electric guitar hook? Is it the dichotomy – a favorite of mine – between the youthful voice (“I’m not rlly a singer” says her Twitter account, but rlly, yes she definitely is) and the old soul exposed in the lyrics?

“And if I gave it up would I still be a thug? / You don’t choose to play the bad guy / It’s in your bloodline / And I left my heart at the scrap metal yard / You don’t get to be human when you’re a hooligan”

Is it the minimalist arrangement, a relief in this age of overproduction? Or maybe that final swelling bridge just before the closing verse, that gives you an adrenaline rush – just a small one? Am I just a junkie for that bridge?

” Yeah the paper’s nice / but it’s the rush I like / You don’t care about the money / When you’re an adrenaline junkie”

Whatever the reason, the effect is undeniable: this song is definitely a strange loop. It’s also the London-based artist’s first single – an exciting debut.  Let us know what you think and follow her here.

Press photo by Hollie Fernando

Don’t Miss the 20th Street Block Party – This Saturday


Four years running, the 20th Street Block Party is a neighborhood mini music festival that you do not want to miss. Both local and global bands bring music and local eateries bring the culinary delights while attendees roam and dance free of charge. It’s small enough to experience everything, but big enough to pull great acts and pack the streets with energy. I’m most excited for the upbeat electro-pop of Miami Horror, Hazel English’s dreamy pop soundscapes and the ever-danceable La Gente.

The street fest is put on by Noise Pop, who have taken a much larger role in the San Francisco music scene in the last few years – they also co-produce the Treasure Island Music Festival, curate shows as the talent-buyer at the Swedish American Music Hall, and of course continue their almost 25 year old namesake festival.

Sounds like they’ll be partnering with Mutiny Radio this year (which is nestled right in the nook of the festival) in bringing more music, comedy and an “anything goes” open mic. There’s also a “Headliner Experience” where you get VIP treatment including food, drink and special seating areas for a price. Oh! And an “Instrument Petting Zoo” which is likely exactly what it sounds like, sponsored by the nonprofit Community Music Center.

You don’t need tickets, but if you want to know more and see the full line up check out their website. Otherwise get yourself out of bed before 4p on Saturday (it happens from 12-6p) and get over to the 20th and Bryant. See you there!



Photo by Paige K. Parsons

Old enough for fairytales – Kat Robichaud’s Kickstarter


Several weeks ago we gushed in advance about Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret, how it was helping keep the spirit of strange alive and thriving in SF. Tucked into the Great Star Theatre at the mingling of Chinatown and North Beach, where neon lights invite you through the misting fog to lean into mystery, the Cabaret delivered above and beyond expectations.

The nautically themed show began with Robichaud – a top ten finalist on season 5 of The Voice – costumed as half a person in the process of being swallowed by a shark as she and her Darling Misfits (including notably the excellent pianist and entertainer Brendan Getzell who also hosts The Hotel Utah’s open mic) swept through a pop music medley sampling well over a dozen songs. Beginning with the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”, and meandering beautifully, the medley ended with David Bowie‘s “Life on Mars” … “Sailors fighting in the dance hall / Oh man! / Look at those cavemen go / It’s the freakiest show.” Then Robichaud ripped off the shark to reveal an emerald mermaid in shimmering sequins. The next popcorn-and-champagne-infused three hours were a delight of drag, burlesque, adult puppetry and original music.

With five cabaret weekends under her belt since September of 2015, Robichaud, who writes two original songs for each show, now has an album’s worth of original songs. She’s running a Kickstarter campaign to record ten of them. We caught up with her to find out more about how the show came together and how she came to steer this ship.

SFCRITIC: Where did the idea for the Misfit Cabaret come from?
Read More

Vic Mensa, Roc Nation’s Prodigy, Rocks the Bay


The Social Hall in SF is a small and quaint joint but on Friday night there was nothing quaint about it. Joey Purp and headliner, Vic Mensa, shook the building in front of highly energetic and enthusiastic fans.

Mensa’s tour mate, Joey Purp, a Chicago native himself, opened the night and set the stage for what was about to come. Purp revealed that it was his first time in San Francisco that night, which was surprising considering many fans were already singing back his songs. He definitely left an impact on the fans that night as he performed songs off of his mixtape iiiDrops. His performance got the crowd in the right mood for the fast paced performance of Mensa that was foreshadowed.

As soon as Mensa hit the stage the crowd was hungry ready for Mensa to feed them whatever he had. He started off with “16 Shots” off his EP There’s Alot Going On, the main emphasis of the night. The song focuses around the epidemic of police brutality in America. The lyrics give you a vivid description of what it’s like to grow up in the streets of Chicago as a young black male dealing with the issue of police harassment. The heavy bass line made for a great opening song and had the entire crowd singing and jumping. Read More

5 Amazing Veggie Eats at Outside Lands 2016


This weekend marked another successful Outside Lands complete with its veritable buffet of entertainment, food, and drink options. With so many great vegetarian foods to choose from, this year I challenged myself to find selections I could “ veganize” too. The task turned out to be less of an undertaking than I assumed, which should come as no surprise given San Francisco’s reputation as one of the most veggie-friendly foodie cities around. The real question was whether my finds would be as indulgent and satisfying as any of the other fried, cheesy, or sugary vegetarian goodies that Outside Lands’ food vendors offer—especially after throwing back a few beers. Here aremy top 5 veggie-friendly (and sometimes vegan) eats that didn’t disappoint:

1. The Chairman – Baked or steamed tofu bao


The food highlight of my weekend came packaged in these delicious tofu-filled buns, which come baked or steam. Naturally I tried both. The Chairman food truck isn’t new to the Outside Lands scene and I’ve spotted it at other events around the Bay Area, but I’ve always been deterred by the long lines. In a moment of festival clarity, I finally decided to make it my first food stop on Sunday and was blown away by how flavorful these buns were. The miso cured tofu came with a crispy coating and was complemented by a tofu mayo and baby choy-sum. The smaller, steamed tofu bao is a great handheld snack and perfect if you are craving a pillowy, slightly sweet bun. The bigger, baked tofu bao offers a crispier texture thanks to its toasted buns and holds up as a meal on its own. Next time I won’t be hesitating to get in line.

2. The Little Chihuahua Fried Plantain and Black Bean Burrito

I have to confess that I’ve tried this burrito once before when I lived closer to The Little Chihuahua’s location in the Lower Haight and I wasn’t its biggest fan. This time I opted for the vegan version and was pleasantly surprised by how much more I enjoyed it in comparison to its vegetarian brother. In addition to the fried plantains and black beans, this vegan burrito came with roasted red bell peppers, Mexican rice, smoky chile salsa, pico de gallo, and fresh onion and cilantro. This was the ideal food to fortify me before settling in for a long stint at the Twin Peaks stage. It was filling without feeling too heavy and I think I’ll be sticking with the vegan option in the future.

3. Itani Ramen


New to Outside Lands this year was Oakland-based Itani Ramen. I’m not usually one to pick soups or liquids other than beer or wine at music festivals, but Saturday’s weather was so cold I had to warm up. A hot cup of house made ramen noodles in a not-too-salty miso veggie broth did the trick. Itani Ramen’s vegetarian option also included yu choi spinach, corn, green onion, nori, bean sprouts, and fennel oil. My only regret is that I neglected to grab a spoon so my limited chopstick skills made it more challenging to enjoy the ramen’s toppings in a graceful way. However, quickly gulping down the broth proved to be a useful strategy in consuming my ramen while it was still hot. Never underestimate the chilly temperature that Karl the Fog brings with him to the festival!

4. Monk’s Kettle Veggie Sausage


Positioned just outside of Beer Lands, I was delighted to find that Monk’s Kettle offered a veggie sausage to go along with my craft IPA. Sausage and beer is a match made in heaven, even in the vegetarian and vegan worlds. The potato-based veggie sausage from Monk’s Kettle is a delicious vegan option on its own, but the non-vegan, soft torpedo roll it comes in is pretty tough to resist. In the end I ate the combo as is with heaps of tangy sauerkraut and grainy, spicy mustard—a glob of ketchup was my festival companion’s bewildering addition—but you can always forego the roll and save your carb points for another craft beer.

5. Azalina’s Malaysian Peanut Sauce Tofu Braised Nachos


It’s not quite a festival without some form of nachos so when I discovered Azalina’s offered a vegan option I was curious to see how they’d stand up to the cheesy variety. The Malaysian tofu nachos offered an unexpectedly satisfying and interesting twist that didn’t leave me wanting for cheese. The star of these nachos was of course the tofu, braised in Azalina’s classic peanut sauce, but the pickled vegetables were an excellent crunchy addition. Other great finds from this year’s food search included the smoked pulled jackfruit sandwich and coleslaw from Southpaw BBQ & Southern Cooking, the vegetarian kamikaze fries from Koja Kitchen, and the vegan empanada from Sabores del Sur. Cheers to another year of delicious veggie-friendly eats!

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