Friday, October 14, 2016

This Weekend's Top Five Events

October 14, 15, and 16.

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Even Hillary Clinton is looking at cat gifs to get away from the messiness of this year's election. If you're looking for distractions from this dystopian hell-world we find ourselves in, we suggest checking out these five events. 

Treasure Island Music Festival

The tenth annual Treasure Island Music Festival is one of the most well curated editions of the event in years, with a savvy mix of today’s most original rappers, experimental artists, and pop performers. As far as rap is concerned, don’t miss Kamaiyah and Young Thug, who both play on Saturday. Since the release of her debut project, A Good Night in the Ghetto, Kamaiyah has quickly outpaced her contemporaries with ultra-confident bars, trunk-rattling beats, and collaborations with YG and Drake. Meanwhile, Young Thug, who has a brilliant new album called JEFFERY, practically invented a new vocal style while challenging our understanding of gender with his risky sartorial choices. Also on our list of sets not to miss: trip-hop god James Blake and, of course, headliners Ice Cube and Sigur Rós. — Nastia Voynovskaya

Sat. and Sun., Oct. 15 and 16. $105 per day.

Matatu Festival
Dancers from the Alonzo  King Lines Ballet.
  • Dancers from the Alonzo King Lines Ballet.

In its fourth year, the Matatu Festival is showing signs of adolescent rebellion. The four-day art festival — named after a minibus widely used in Kenya — made its reputation as a mecca of art, film, and music celebrating the cultural richness of Africa and the African diaspora. But select curatorial choices suggest Matatu is looking beyond the horizon; films such as A Syrian Love Story and The Living Need Light, the Dead Need Music take place in Syria and Vietnam respectively with non-African protagonists. The films focus on themes such as love amid war and festivities amid death — cultural points that organizers feel draw parallels to the modern African and African diasporic experiences. That’s not to say the usual suspects aren’t present in the programming: Films such as Too Black to Be French and Black Code / Code Noir focus on discrimination and violence against Black people in France and America respectively. And on the performance end, dancers from the Alonzo King Lines Ballet will be back this year for another stunning, stripped down recital. The festival starts on Wednesday, October 12 and runs through Saturday, October 15. Most events take place at Starline Social Club in Oakland, with some programming at the Grand Lake Theatre and the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. — Seung Lee

October 12–15, free but donation requested. For full date and venue details, visit

B-Side BBQ Pop-Up
B-Side’s smoked brisket.
  • B-Side’s smoked brisket.
If you’ve spent much of the past year lamenting about how every half-decent barbecue joint in the East Bay seems to have gone out of business, believe me when I say this: You aren’t the only one. But for at least one evening, one of the best in the biz — Tanya Holland’s B-Side BBQ (3303 San Pablo Ave.) — will rise from its hickory-smoked ashes for a pop-up dinner in collaboration with Blue Heron Catering. There will be live music, as well as beer and wine for sale courtesy of Rock Wall Wine Company, Urban Legend Cellars, and Drake’s Brewing. But if you’re going to go, let it be for the food: a two-way plate featuring St. Louis ribs, the best smoked brisket in the East Bay, and several of Holland’s signature sides. Might this event foretell a more permanent rebirth for B-Side? We’ll keep our fingers crossed. — Luke Tsai

Sun., Oct. 16, 4–7 p.m., $35,

Rae Armentrout at Diesel, a Bookstore
Rae Armantrout.
  • Rae Armantrout.
Rae Armentrout, a Vallejo native who now teaches at the University of California San Diego, is a force in contemporary poetry. After attending UC Berkeley in the Sixties, Armentrout and her peers became the avant-garde Language Poets, wielding a hard, strategic use of words that rebelled against the sentimentality of the confessional poem and instead surgically unpacked contemporary culture with each curated stanza. She’s been writing ever since, and in 2009 her book Versed won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Now, she’s releasing Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2015, an anthology of her work from the titular period that also includes twenty-five new poems. Armantrout will be at Diesel, A Bookstore (5433 College Ave., Oakland) on October 14 from 7–8 p.m. for a conversation with Oakland poet and Mills College professor Stephanie Young. Of course, she’ll discuss the new book and sign copies. — Sarah Burke 

Friday, Oct. 14. 7–8 p.m. Free.

Inside You Is Me
Installation by Jacqueline Gordon.
  • Installation by Jacqueline Gordon.
For the month of October, The Lab has handed artist Jacqueline Gordon the key to its San Francisco Mission District venue along with a chunk of money. And, given free reign, Gordon has constructed her own kind of lab. Entitled Inside You Is Me, Gordon’s immersive installation is made up of directional speakers, diffusers that double as sculptural elements, and — most importantly — both live and pre-recorded sound samples from around the neighborhood. In line with her broader body of work, the piece elicits an awareness of the way that sound invisibly shapes our experience of the world and the agency we have to physically alter our own relationships to sound. To further activate Gordon’s elaborate sculptural apparatus, the artist has commissioned a series of performances to take place inside it and be composed in direct response to it. The first of these will take place this Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.), October 15–16. Entitled Playlist, the piece will feature dancers Maryanna Lachmann, Jose Abad, and Oscar Tidd each choosing from selection of sounds to compel their movement. — Sarah Burke

Oct. 15, 7 p.m. and Oct. 16, 3 p.m. Free.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Seven Acts Not to Miss at Treasure Island Music Festival

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 5:01 PM

  • Raymond Ahner
This year, Treasure Island Music Festival swapped its view of the San Francisco skyline for a picturesque view of Oakland, moving its festival grounds to the east side of the island. It's the festival's tenth year. And it just so happens that 2016 has one of its best lineups yet, with an eclectic mix of pop, indie, hip-hop, and experimental music. So without further ado, here are our recs for which sets not to miss at the event, which takes place on October 15 and 16.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Kamaiyah and YG Turn Up at the Sideshow in the "Fuck It Up" Video

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 5:25 PM

  • The FADER
Kamaiyah's debut mixtape A Good Night in the Ghetto has no shortage of slaps, and it's been on heavy rotation since its March release. Now, the East Oakland rapper has a new music video out for "Fuck It Up" featuring YG, whom she recently collaborated with on his single "Why You Always Hatin'" (also featuring Drake). She's also currently traveling with YG for his Fuck Donald Trump Tour, whose title speaks for itself. 

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Monday, October 10, 2016

This Year’s Oakland Music Festival Was a Marathon of Small, Local Gigs

Despite some growing pains, the fest successfully expanded into a ten-day concert series that highlighted outstanding local talent.

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 6:29 PM

Rappers Jay Stone and Queens D.Light at The Night Light. - MICHAEL MILLER
  • Michael Miller
  • Rappers Jay Stone and Queens D.Light at The Night Light.

Jay Stone looked at home as he took the stage in a burgundy bathrobe last Thursday at The Night Light, a bar near Jack London Square. He was headlining the seventh night of Oakland Music Festival, which dominated the local concert calendar from September 30 to October 9 with shows taking place at different venues every night.

Stone quickly traded his sneakers for Nike socks and hung his fluffy robe on a mic stand as he danced along to his stream-of-consciousness rhymes. He performed with jazz quintet Yayuh (which is pronounced how Lil Jon screams “yeah!” and contains two members of indie group Bells Atlas). Stone’s bizarre storytelling rap featured plenty of plot twists and cliff-hangers; his freestyles were dynamic and hilarious. And Yayuh’s Caribbean-influenced jazz made his set that much more fun to watch.

Although it was low-key, the performance was one peak of this year’s Oakland Music Festival, and an apt one at that: As a whole, the fest had a similarly dressed-down, charming vibe.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

This Weekend's Top Seven Events

October 7, 8 & 9

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 12:29 PM

October is Black Panther month in Oakland. No, really, Libby Schaaf officially declared it back in April. But also in the sense that the city is booming with exhibitions and events honoring the activist group that was founded in Oakland fifty years ago this month. But if you're not too busy with those, here are some other events worth your time this weekend. (Okay, we threw in some Panther-related ones too.) 

Ninth Annual Life is Living Festival at deFremery Park
The Coup
  • The Coup
This month, Oakland’s creative scene is dutifully dominated by celebrations of the Black Panther legacy. But the organizers behind the Life is Living Festival, which takes place annually in West Oakland’s deFremery Park — or, rather, “Little Bobby Hutton Park” — have been building on that legacy for the past nine years. Always beginning with its own iteration of the Panthers’ Free Breakfast Program, the free, day-long festival continues on for hours of cultural uplifting in various forms, from spoken word to healthcare information. This year’s fest — which will take place this Saturday, October 8 — is the best yet, and features a robust lineup bursting with Black talent. Aside from a main stage headlined by legendary hip-hop innovators The Coup, the festival will feature a separate hip-hop stage curated by Town Park and Town Futurist; a “front porch” stage featuring performers such as Chinaka MC and Young Ella Baker; and an Africa in Oakland stage with a range of diasporic dance groups. Meanwhile, the Theater Zone will provide of full day of free productions and spoken word, and the Victorian at the center of the park will serve as a stage for a conversation between former Panther Ericka Huggins and Black Lives Matter activist Cat Brooks, among other political conversations. To round it out, there’s a Kids Zone, a Creativity Zone, a Book Zone, and a Food Justice and Wellness Zone. It’s easily one of the most vibrant events of the year. — Sarah Burke
Oct. 8, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. deFremery Park, 1652 Adeline St., Oakland. Free.

The Tambo Rays
  • The Tambo Rays
Oakland Music Festival Closing Party at Classic Cars West
Oakland’s The Tambo Rays make danceable, upbeat indie pop perfect for the mellow, outdoor day party that will conclude Oakland Music Festival at Classic Cars West, the retro automobile showroom turned beer garden and vegan eatery. And joining them is Big Baby Gandhi, the New York rapper-producer with old school East Coast taste who recently relocated to San Francisco. 8ULENTINA of the popular genre-bending dance party Club Chai (which won Best Party to Hear Music from Oakland to Istanbul in our Best of the East Bay issue) will be spinning, alongside Namaste Shawty, Fela Kutchii (also the winner of the Best DJ for Your Hot Tub Party in Best of the East Bay), and party-throwing crew Trill Team 6. There’s something different going on each day of OMF, which started last Friday. For all of our recommendations for shows to check out, visit the Culture Spy blog. — Nastia Voynovskaya
Sun., Oct. 9, 4 p.m. Classic Cars West (411 26th St., Oakland). $10, $15.

Amy Winehouse.
  • Amy Winehouse.
Tragic Queendom: Back to Black at The Night Light
Tragic Queendom is Oakland’s premiere pop culture-themed drag party, where each month queens hay homage to their favorite divas and starlets. The October edition goes out to Amy Winehouse, the infamous British soul queen whose untimely passing is still deeply felt today. Despite the fact that she died from an overdose at just 27 years old, she left behind a vast musical catalog that contains plenty of instant classics. With timeless tracks such as “Love Is a Losing Game” and “Tears Dry On Their Own,” Winehouse’s album Back to Black will probably always be remembered as one of the most iconic from the 2000s. The tragic diva’s lovesick ballads resonate with many and should provide plenty of fodder for an entertaining drag show. Not to mention her winged eye-liner and beehive up-dos. Simply iconic. — N.V.
Sun., Oct. 9, 9 p.m. The Night Light (311 Broadway Ave., Oakland). $5.

Metal Fest Canned Food Drive at Hayward Memorial Park
Rock out for a good cause in Hayward Memorial Park for Metal Fest, the free head-banging festival that’s also a canned food drive. While a daytime, family-friendly park setting might seem like an unlikely place to listen to dark, brutal music, Metal Fest will be celebrating its tenth year. The event is free and promises kid-friendly activities, a barbecue, and vendors. And of course, bring canned goods, which will be collected and donated to Salvation Army. The lineup features Mudface, Star Destroyer, Hand of Fire, Soulless Demise, AOD, Disrupt the Paradigm, Fortress United, Mystic Rage, Frolic, and Anistazi. — N.V. 
Sat., Oct. 8, 1-5 p.m. Hayward Memorial Park (24176 Mission Blvd, Hayward). Free.

Mezcal Tasting at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
No longer content to play second fiddle to tequila, mezcal is finally getting its share of the spotlight in the Bay Area, thanks in part to a resurgent interest in Oaxacan cuisine. We have no shortage of mezcal tastings around town, then. But very few of them take place in as bucolic a setting as this “Around the World in Six Glasses” event in the Deserts of the Americas section of the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden — one of the real gems of the East Bay if you’re a plant lover. Amid the garden’s many varieties of agave — the key ingredient for making mezcal — staff member Basil Medeiros will be on hand to offer a horticulturist’s perspective on the desert plant. Best of all, participants will get to taste a wide range of mezcals courtesy of the Mezcalistas. A selection of small bites to help soak up the booze is included in the price of admission. — Luke Tsai
Sun., Oct. 9, 4–6 p.m., $50 ($40 for members),

JT Leroy: The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
Laura Albert.
  • Laura Albert.
The ever-fascinating story of JT Leroy has once again captured America’s attention following the recent release of Jeff Feuerzeig’s documentary Author: JT Leroy. For the uninitiated, Leroy rocketed to literary stardom in the late Nineties for gritty novels that were supposedly colored by his own personal backstory as a trans prostitute, drug addict, and homeless youth. Then, at the peak of fame, an exposé revealed that Leroy was actually the writer Laura Albert, who had been having her sister-in-law play Leroy in public. Now, eleven years after being outed, Albert has re-released the books that made her pseudonym famous, Sarah and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Albert will be at Books Inc. (1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) on Friday, October 7 at 7 p.m. to discuss the books — although it seems likely that questions will pertain to her controversial career as a whole. — Sarah Burke
Books Inc. (1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) on Friday, October 7 at 7 p.m. Free.

Project Panther at Malonga Casquelourd Center
Notorious for violence, Oakland’s Black-nationalist Black Panther Party gets less recognition for its humanitarian efforts, such as free breakfast for schoolkids and no-cost health clinics. October 15, Dimensions Dance Theater honors these achievements with Project Panther, a dance-theater work created to commemorate the movement’s fiftieth anniversary. Artistic director Deborah Vaughan brings a rare perspective to the subject: Founded six years after the Panthers, her company has outlived them by more than three decades and become a prime mover in African-American dance as well as social justice. The one-night-only performance takes place at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts (1428 Alice St., Oakland) with accompaniment by actor Ulysses Cooperwood, Roy Cobb, and Brittany Turner, alongside a jazz quartet playing Glen Pearson’s original score. — Claudia Bauer
Oct. 15, 7 p.m. $25–$35.

If your pockets are feelin' light and you're still yearning for more suggestions, we've got a ton, and these ones are all FREE! We're Hungry: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Feed us at

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Watch Rituals of Mine's Gorgeous Video for "Ride or Die"

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 5:15 PM

Rituals of Mine
  • Rituals of Mine
Big things have been happening for Rituals of Mine, the electronic duo formerly known as Sister Crayon. Originally from Sacramento, singer Terra Lopez and producer Dani Fernandez recently relocated from Oakland — where they were based up until this year — to Los Angeles and signed to Warner Brothers Records. And if that wasn't exciting enough, they're also gearing up to tour with Tricky, the legendary UK trip-hop producer who has worked with the likes of Björk and Massive Attack. 

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

E-40 Announces His 42-Track, Two-Part Album, The D-Boy Diary

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 5:08 PM


Vallejo legend E-40 is the paragon of longevity — not just in the rap game, but music period. Few artists who have been rocking since the Eighties continue to produce relevant hit after relevant hit — without coasting on past successes to get audiences' attention. 

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Richmond Rapper Phreshly Relevant Discusses the Success of Her New Single, "So Right," and What's Next

by Eda Yu
Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 11:03 AM

Richmond rapper Phreshly Relevant feels like she’s on top of the world. Her single “So Right” recently won KMEL’s Home Turf contest, where listeners vote for local songs they want to hear on the radio. Winning the contest was a milestone for her — especially because the track was written, produced, and performed entirely by women. And the new recognition bodes well for her since her So Right EP is due out this fall. 

Phresh has had a solid presence in the Oakland hip-hop scene since she began making music in 2009. She’s already opened for notable Bay Area artists such as Erk Tha Jerk, Mistah F.A.B., and various members of Shmoplife. It’s also not unlikely to spot her in downtown Oakland on any given day: The rapper is sponsored by the swanky local menswear label Calculated Clothing — which explains her dapper looks at gigs at Club 21 and the Bench and Bar, two key LGBTQ party spots.

Phresh’s music is hard-hitting and production-heavy. On “So Right,” which also features Samiere, g-funk synths back up Phresh’s confident rhymes. Her high-energy presence shines through, and it’s not hard to see why her music bumps on the radio or at clubs.

The Richmond rapper is on her way to showing fans what exactly it means to be “phresh” — and how to do it in their own unique way. The Express caught up with her over the phone to discuss the success of “So Right” and her upcoming music video and EP.

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This Weekend's Top Six Events

September 30, 31 & 32

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 9:55 AM

This has been a stressful week. There was the first presidential debate... and well, yeah, that alone was enough to put America into a GIF-making, thinkpiece-writing, hashtag-tweeting frenzy. For the next few days, try to forget about the fate of the country by enjoying the ~now~. Here's how: 

Oakland Music Festival
In previous years, Oakland Music Festival took over several city blocks with outdoor concerts, live art, and vendors for an entire weekend. But this year, its organizers are trying something a little different, with a more Noise Pop-style format with different shows and events everyday from September 30 to October 9. This year’s fest is even more eclectic than years past, and takes place at spots all over town, including Starline Social Club, Eli’s Mile High Club, Classic Cars West, and more — plus, there’s a free, family-friendly day party at Lake Merritt on Saturday, October 1. Throughout the week, there will be performances by artists such as HBK rapper-producer Jay Ant, legendary DJ Egyptian Lover, Fools Gold Records founder Nick Catchdubs, budding Richmond R&B star Rayana Jay, Oakland mastermind producer Trackademicks, and other local favorites and touring acts. Plus, there are several speaker panels, cyphers, and music industry networking events — even a mezcal tasting. Check for the full schedule and get ready for a packed week ahead. — Nastia Voynovskaya
Sept. 30 – Oct. 9. Various locations. $75 for all access pass, costs vary per show.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Oakland Rapper Queens D.Light Drops Breakneck Video for "Multiplyyy"

by Eda Yu
Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 3:43 PM

  • Amy Harrity
Since dropping her debut LP, California Wildflower, in 2014, Queens D.Light has reigned as one of the strongest emerging rappers in Oakland’s hip-hop scene. She originally gained traction for her confident, lyrical rhymes and ambient beats, and has since developed a large following for her goddess-like persona and spiritual mantras of self-love. In fact, the rapper just wrapped up her East Coast tour with hip-hop star Anderson.Paak and local favorite DUCKWRTH.

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