Live Shots

Christmas in February: The Residents come home

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Bimbo's was packed to the rafters Sunday night for the triumphal homecoming show of music-and-neo-surrealism group the Residents, which was celebrating 40 years of relative obscurity with a blowout tour.

The stage was set with a whimsically unseasonal Christmas theme — huge inflatable candy canes, Santa, and Frosty the Snowman — draped with a hand-lettered banner emblazoned simply with the band name. 

The days of elaborate sets and 16-piece ensembles are over for the Residents, and their current incarnation — a stripped-down trio of masked musicians known simply as “Randy,” “Chuck,” and “Bob” — relies mostly on electronic sampling and assorted effects to create the unsettling soundscapes and dissonant jangles they’ve been (un)known for since their very first public release in 1972 — the “Santa Dog” single.

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Live Shots: 'Dance + Diaspora' at ODC Theater

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Strong drum beats, hip shimmies laden with bells and voices coming together in song. This show has it all. Presenting "Dance + Diaspora" two performances this Friday and Saturday -- pics above are from the dress rehearsal -- by choreographers Jill Parker (with her Foxglove Sweethearts troupe) and Tania Santiago (with her Movendo con Capoeira troupe)   -- a showcase of steamy belly dancing and heart-pumping Capoeria.

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Live Shots: Tomahawk at the Great American Music Hall

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Tomahawk gave two rare live performances this weekend at the Great American Music Hall, the second of which this photographer attended, and — as to be expected from most things involving Mike Patton — it was flawless, aggressive, and there were lots of dudes in the crowd.  

The night started interestingly enough, waiting in line behind Jello Biafra at will-call and hearing him give his name to the woman behind the glass, while a few people behind me whispered, “that’s Jello Biafra.”  I don’t think he remembered me, but he stepped on me during the last Melvins show I photographed at GAMH. That time, I looked up and he said, “sorry” and I was like, “awesome.” 

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Black Choreographers Festival takes flight

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This weekend, go watch some dance. Sam Love and I stopped by Dance Mission this week to check out a final rehearsal of a piece choreographed by Gregory Dawson and left feeling elated. Dawson has gathered a group of ridiculously limber and supremely talented dancers for refined, minimalist, yet achingly beautiful pieces that pulse with a strong, affirming spirit. His company is just one of several featured at the Black Choreographers Festival, a celebration of African American dance, art and culture. The piece we saw clearly stemmed from classical ballet roots, but also found inspiration in contemporary dance, creating a performance that displayed awe-inspiring athleticism (those extensions!) as well as thought-provoking drama, tension, and story. Go get your tickets already. It will be fabulous! Read more »

Live Shots: Soundgarden at the Fox Theater

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It took Soundgarden a full 10 songs before it began to flex its muscles at the Fox Theater on Tuesday night, before the band dialed in and proved what out-and-out Badmotorfingers the four musicians can be. I doubt that the enamored (and now half-deaf) crowd leaving the Fox would have agreed with me on this point about the band’s early setlist sluggishness. Soundgarden delivered in a big way, and you would have been hard-tasked to find an audience member complaining after the dynamic, eardrum-crippling, 27- song performance.

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Bay Area fashion set celebrates release of Liz Caruana's photo book

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Photographer Liz Caruana has put Bay Area fashion designers on the other side of the lens – and they look pretty damn good. Select photographs Caruana shot for her new book, The Bay: Creators of Style were unveiled last Friday at the book launch and opening reception for her solo exhibit at Valencia Street’s Carte Blanche Gallery, on display through Feb. 13.Read more »

Live Shots: Wovenhand at Bottom of the Hill

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Although the notoriously devout David Eugene Edwards would probably be appalled to hear it, attending his shows is about as close to a religious experience as I ever get.

The ferociously intense frontperson of Wovenhand (as well as the former 16 Horsepower), Edwards was instrumental in the foundation of the hyper-localized alt-Americana/gothic-folk genre known as the Denver Sound, a category filled with moody ballads of shaken faith and raucous, C&W-tinged fire-and-brimstone.

And there’s just something about the sheer unapologetic bombast of his live presence that makes me want to don sackcloth and ashes on the spot and follow the path of the righteous — a feeling which lasts at least until I manage to break away from his sermon on the mount (or any rate, the Bottom of the Hill) to stumble home, still a sinner. Read more »

Boning and binding spines (the old-fashioned way) at SF Center for the Book

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When was the last time you sat down and made a book? You know what I'm talking about -- those beautiful bound things that are filled with words and pictures.

They're pretty awesome, in my opinion, and they are seriously celebrated and loved at the SF Center for the Book. For years I had been wanting to take a class from them and last week the opportunity arose to join in on an intro to bookbinding class, taught by Nina Eve Zeininger-Byrne. It was fun to hear, after a few quick introductions, that most students in the class had also had an inkling to take a class at the SFCB for years and were finally taking the leap.

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Live Shots: Jessie Ware at the Rickshaw Stop

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It’s only a matter of time before British R&B-pop sensation Jessie Ware outgrows the small, cozy Rickshaw Stops of the music world. Last Thursday, at her first-ever SF show, Ware’s commanding, poised performance showed massive potential, more befitting of a full-on diva for the 21st century than a blog-popster du jour.

While her stateside popularity hasn’t yet caught up to her reputation across the pond, Ware captured the full attention of the indie-music press with her debut LP, Devotion, released last year. Influenced by her earlier work with producers like SBTRKT, the album demonstrated a level of artfulness and musical nuance, atypical of your average vocal pop album. Much like Katy B and AlunaGeorge, Ware has raised eyebrows by integrating big, upfront, Sade-esque vocals into the music-first world of bloggy electronica.

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Do brew: Coffee class with the author of 'Left Coast Roast'

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Hanna Neuschwander loves coffee. She adores it so much, that she's written a whole book about coffee roasters called Left Coast Roast. On a chilly evening this week, she had a small crowd of equally excited coffee aficionados join her for a home brew coffee class at 18 Reasons in the Mission.Read more »