Bjork is coming! She’ll bring Biophilia’s ambitiously in-the-round and touch screen app-filled show to Richmond, Calif. this week. Plus, the educational component of that tour will make its way to the Exploratorium via a handful of science and sound experiments.
The sparkly avant-pop star is the major music news this week in the Bay, however there also is the annual (and reliably well-curated) SF Popfest, plus a bunch of other shows you should be checking out as well, like Japanese doom masters Boris, Swedish indie popsters the Shout Out Louds, the gritty B-side soul goodness of the Detroit Cobras, and local rock'n'roller Mikal Cronin -- high on the release of a celebrated new solo album, MCII.
Here are your must-see Bay Area concerts this week/end:
The experimental Japanese drone legends are playing two shows at the Rickshaw Stop this week -- only one of those is sold out (that would be Tuesday). At Wednesday’s show, Boris will perform the four song, 70-minute masterpiece/“cult classic” album Flood, in its entirety. The ‘00 sludge-rock album hovers between psychedelic and doomy in all the right ways.
Wed/22, 8pm, $18
155 Fell, SF
Mortar and Pestle
On its self-titled new full-length, Oakland’s Mortar and Pestle sounds something like a trippier Little Dragon. There are bouncy keyboard lines and scattered upbeat found-sound touches boosted by the lush and dreamy vocals of lead singer Janaysa Lambert. On first single “U.V” there’s even the familiar ping-ping-ping of a classic pinball game, forcing you to picture the full Mortar and Pestle set-up placed neatly between games in a 1980s arcade. The tropical synth-pop trio is also one of the first acts to see release on Metal Mother’s new label-collective, Post Primal, so you know it has her stamp of approval.
With the Visibles (Record Release), Great Spirits
Wed/22, 9pm, $8
Brick and Mortar
1710 Mission, SF
Can you even recall your first run-in with the mythic, boundary-less creature that is Björk? Perhaps it was bounding through the forest with crystals underneath her eyes as a giant paper-mache bear chased her through Michel Gondry's video for "Human Behaviour," off 1993 solo album Debut. Or maybe it was poised for the tabloids in an elegant swan dress, holding a large egg purse at the '01 Academy Awards after her devastating performance in Dancer in the Dark (2000). Those long obsessed will likely point to first hearing '88's "Birthday" by the Sugarcubes, her early Icelandic act (post teenage punk bands), on international radio. Whenever — and however — it went down, it left a lasting impression, the stunning shock of that otherworldly voice tends to permeate memories. Solo, Bjork has long coupled that voice with innovation, always grasping at new objects and sounds, or as she described it to me in conversation, she's "like a kid in a toy shop."
Wed/22, Sat/25, Tue/28, 8:30pm, $75
1414 Harbour Way, Richmond
Shout Out Louds
“My favorite songs by this Swedish pop group have clear antecedents in '80s New Wave. With Our Ill WIlls (2007) opener "Tonight I Have To Leave It" singer Adam Olenius was a ringer for Robert Smith at his most ebullient (read: "Just Like Heaven") and "Impossible" hit on the Human League and Simple Minds. It could be derivative, but with the Joy Division via Interpol meets the B-52s sound of "Glasgow" on its latest album Optica, the system the group has is working, particularly the sparkling production. Opening band Haerts seems a perfect match, as its slick debut single "Wings" sees the SOLs referent for referent, and adds in some Spandau Ballet and Stevie Nicks vocals to great effect.” -- Ryan Prendiville
Wed/22, 8pm, $19
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell, SF
The Detroit Cobras
“Some bands you'll just never be able to judge by their album cover(s). Some bands just don't have time for all that studio nonsense. They wanna rock — and they wanna rock with you. Up close and personal. In your face. Get it? That pretty much describes the rough-and-ready Detroit Cobras method, after releasing a scant handful of albums, they've continued to tour extensively, bringing the husky, tough-girl vocals of Rachel Nagy and the gritty, jangling guitar riffs of Mary Ramirez to the people. Their reinterpretations of vintage, B-side rock, soul, and Motown give songs that could have been contenders a brash new life, while their relentless stage show gives their adoring fans a good, old-fashioned, foot-stomping workout.” -- Nicole Gluckstern
With Pangea, the Chaw
Thu/23, 9pm, $16
333 11th St., SF
The pizza-loving Sea Lions (think a more beachy Vaselines) come to the Bay via Oxnard, Calif. courtesy of this weekend’s SF Popfest. And that fest lineup for the evening is rather ingenious, bookended with the awesome “stoner-punk” LA shredder Colleen Green -- go now and check fuzzy “Heavy Shit” -- along with distorted-pop maker Permanent Collection, and more.
With Still Flyin’, Burnt Palms
Fri/24, 9pm, $12
Café Du Nord
2170 Market, SF
“Mikal Cronin has been bouncing around the San Francisco music scene for a couple of years as an unsung hometown hero, collaborating with Thee Oh Sees, recording with Ty Segall and performing in the Ty Segall Band, while quietly releasing his own solo records and singles. Finally, Cronin is no longer sidekicking. This year's full-length MCII has received rave reviews from major music publications (SPIN and Pitchfork have labeled it among the best new music of the year) and Cronin is enjoying a headlining slot on a national tour. Tonight's gig at the Rickshaw Stop is a much-deserved album release-party, and I wouldn't be too surprised if Cronin pulls up some old friends to help him celebrate.” -- Haley Zaremba
With Audacity, Michael Stasis
Sat/25, 9pm, $12
155 Fell, SF
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