Monday, March 31, 2014

John Legend Gives Soulful Performance at Berkeley’s Zellerbach

by Alyssa Jaffer
Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 12:03 PM

On Sunday night, Grammy-winning singer/song-writer John Legend gave a soulful performance at Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley. It was the second Bay Area stop on his “All of Me” tour. From behind the piano, the multi-talented R&B artist entertained the excited crowd with a four-person orchestra and electrical guitarist. The absence of backup singers and dancers was hardly noticeable because Legend completely captivated the audience through his deep melodies and talent on the piano. What sets Legend apart as a performer, beyond the impressive set list and wide vocal range, is his ability to emotionally connect with the audience, making each person feel like he is personally serenading them.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

by Zaineb Mohammed
Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 7:00 AM

It's the weekend and we're finally getting some much needed rain—time to celebrate! Check out the five best events happening this Friday through Sunday:

Last Nite: A 2000s Indie Dance Party
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of nostalgia to fire up one’s desire to dance. That was the thinking behind the long-running Nineties-themed party “Debaser,” which was hosted by DJs Emdee and Jamie Jams at The Knockout in San Francisco. But earlier this year, they called it quits, and instead decided to “apply the same intellectual rigor, commitment to period accuracy, and creative selection” to the Aughts, Jamie Jams wrote in an email. Expect to hear songs from bands such as Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MIA, Hot Chip, Simian Mobile Disco, Arcade Fire, Daft Punk, and Basement Jaxx. To kick off the party — which will take place at The Night Light every fourth Friday, beginning this month ­— the LCD Soundsystem tribute band North American Scum will perform. Friday, Mar. 28. 10 p.m., $5 before 11 p.m., $10. — Madeleine Key

  • Noothgrush
It’s safe to say that only in Oakland could one attend a metal show at an Eritrean/gluten-free pizza parlor/sports bar. Perhaps this says something about the lack of small local venues for metal bands, or the cross-cultural transactions that naturally occur in diverse communities. Regardless, there are plenty of other reasons to attend Saturday’s show at MLK Cafe — first and foremost is headliner Noothgrush, a South Bay band that began two decades ago, took a ten-year hiatus, and reformed in 2011. Since, it has played major festivals and toured internationally, and its most recent release — a split with Japanese doom outfit Coffins — finds the foursome (now featuring Dystopia’s Dino Somesse on vocals) as caustically sludgy as ever. Also on the bill are death metal/crust band Necrot, which features Saviours’ Sonny Reinhardt on guitar; hardcore outfit Blown to Bits; and Baltimore’s experimental ambient duo Darsomba. Saturday, Mar. 29. 7 p.m., $7. — Kathleen Richards

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Monday, March 24, 2014

New Music Crawl Oakland Drops Beats Announces Debut Lineup

by Sam Levin
Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Oakland's got another new music festival, and this one promises to take over more than ten venues in downtown on Saturday, April 19. Organizers of Oakland Drops Beats, which is being billed as the city's "first ever music crawl," just announced its debut lineup: Kev Choice Ensemble, B. Hamilton, Prozack Turner, Jel, and Odd Nosdam are among those scheduled to perform the free, all-day, all-ages event. Organizers said they took their inspiration from the Venice Music Crawl in Los Angeles and added "Oakland’s grit, soul, community, and culture," according to an announcement released today. Full lineup below.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

by Zaineb Mohammed
Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Hey party people, it's Friday! Time to throw a mini dance party at your desk and plan your weekend. Here are our picks for the five best events happening this Friday to Sunday:

Roots and Branches
DJ Crimson views every genre of music he spins as just “a root or a branch on the musical family tree.” Roots and Branches, the appropriately titled event he’s been hosting every third Friday at The Layover since October, is “all about showing these connections and having fun with them,” he wrote in an email. To achieve his goal, Crimson doesn’t just spin hits; he also incorporates live musicians. Last month, he shared the stage with a horn trio, which brought serious flavor to already-energetic hip-hop tracks (including M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” and Notorious B.I.G.’s “Party and Bullshit”), as well as classic funk, Afrobeat, doo-wop, and pop songs. The only thing better than hearing Outkast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” on a Friday night is hearing it played with live horns. The party gets started early and doesn’t stop until The Layover closes its doors. Friday, Mar. 21. 6 p.m., free. — Madeleine Key

Mercury Half-Life - TREY MCINTYRE
  • Trey McIntyre
  • Mercury Half-Life
Trey McIntyre Project
Don’t blink or you’ll miss your last chance to see the Trey McIntyre Project, which has injected fun and freshness into contemporary dance for the past decade. The Boise-based company’s tenth-anniversary season is to be its last, as artistic director McIntyre is moving on to work in film (including a collaborative documentary with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band), photography, and writing. For someone who doesn’t consider himself a choreographer, he’s leaving a notable body of work in his wake, and you can catch two of his more conceptual pieces this weekend, presented by Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall. Inspired by Edward Gorey, The Vinegar Works: Four Dances of Moral Instruction includes puppets by Michael Curry as well as Shostakovich’s piano quintet in G minor, while Mercury Half-Life pays tribute to Freddie Mercury with exuberant dancing set to sixteen Queen hits. Saturday ticketholders can enjoy a pre-performance talk at 7 p.m. in the hall. Friday and Saturday, Mar. 21-22. 8 p.m., $30-$68. — Claudia Bauer

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Newly Formed Multi-Disciplinary Collective Omni Oakland Eyes Former Omni Building

by Julian Mark
Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 11:13 AM

A newly formed “collective of collectives” called Omni Oakland — composed of hackerspace Sudo Room, “autodidactic” university the Bay Area Public School, variety show Oakland Nights…Live!, experimental dance collective SALTA, book publisher Timeless Infinite Light, and a soon-to-be hackerspace called Hacker Spa — is looking to move into a 22,000-square-foot historical building at 4799 Shattuck Avenue in Temescal, once a popular rock venue called The Omni.

After collaborating on various projects in their current space on 22nd Street and Broadway for the past year, the hackers and creative types decided their vision would be best realized in a larger space.

“We’ve identified a really pressing need to expand,” said Marina Kukso, a founding member of Sudo Room, which is dedicated to civic hacking projects such as the Oakland mesh network. “If we can pool our resources and [move to] a much larger space, and if there are other people who are also interested, we can work together in having a more specialized area.”

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beastie Boys, GoldieBlox Settle Lawsuit Over "Girls" Ad

by Sam Levin
Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 10:56 AM

The legal fight between the Beastie Boys and the Oakland-based toy company GoldieBlox has come to a close, according to a filing posted yesterday by the Shades of Gray copyright blog. The filing does not include any details of the settlement, but in a statement to the Express, a GoldieBlox spokesperson said that as part of the agreement, the company will post an apology on its website and will pay a percentage of its revenues to one or more charities selected by the Beastie Boys that support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education for girls.

The news comes four months after GoldieBlox — which manufactures toys for girls that emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math — first posted its ad parodying the Beastie Boys song "Girls" (swapping out lyrics like Girls - to do the dishes/Girls - to clean up my room with Girls - to build the spaceship/Girls - to code the new app). The video went viral, receiving more than 8 million views on YouTube in just ten days. 

The Beastie Boys noted that they did not give permission for the company to use their song in its advertisement, and said they decided long ago they would not allow their music to be used in any product ads.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

SF Metal Festival Tidal Wave Calls It Quits

by Kathleen Richards
Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 1:47 PM

The long-running-but-sporadically-held metal festival Tidal Wave has called it quits. In a Facebook post today, organizers of the free two-day event cited finances as the reason: "... now a 'free' concert in san francisco is 5 grand or more. It was against all oddz that we pulled it off for as long as we did."

The event, which was typically held in the summer at McLaren Park's Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, held its thirteenth iteration in 2012. Among the bands that have played the festival over the years are Saviours, Slough Feg, and Ghoul. The entire concert was volunteer-run and paid for by donations.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

by Zaineb Mohammed
Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Hooray for the weekend! Watch this Funny or Die video with Barack Obama and read on for the five best events happening today through Sunday:

The Hanging Garden
Every third Saturday of the month, DJ Squid and Dave Tibbs pay homage to the Eighties by spinning classic new wave, synth pop, and goth — think The Cure and Joy Division — at The Night Light (311 Broadway, Oakland). This month, the theme of the party is “Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, and Love and Rockets.” Tibbs, who has been DJing at dive bars across the Bay Area for the past decade, assured me that The Hanging Garden isn’t a listening party. In fact, because the red-lit upstairs room at The Night Light doesn’t have much seating, he said, there isn’t really even an option for people to just hang out — so they’re on their feet and dancing. Every other month, a live band performs at The Hanging Garden, but this Saturday, DJ Xiola of the popular San Francisco-based goth party Requiem will be guest DJing. Visual art projected on the walls by the wEirdOs will add to the room’s sexy, underground vibe. Saturday, Mar. 15. 9 p.m., $5. The — Madeleine Key

Jirí Kylián’s “Return to a Strange Land.” - KEITH SUTTER
  • Keith Sutter
  • Jirí Kylián’s “Return to a Strange Land.”
Smuin Ballet
In celebration of its twentieth-anniversary season, San Francisco’s Smuin Ballet will come to the Lesher Center for the Arts this weekend to perform XXtremes, a program of dances that nod to its heritage and hint at what’s to come. In homage to its late founder, the company performs Michael Smuin’s “Carmina Burana,” an emotional piece set to Carl Orff’s dramatic 1937 cantata of the same name. In recent years the company has developed an exceptional contemporary sensibility, and its creative compass points in that direction; to that end, the dancers are sure to perform Jirí Kylián’s mournful “Return to a Strange Land” with athleticism, intelligence, and grace. Bay Area choreographer Amy Seiwert, who was mentored by Smuin, bridges the company’s past and future with “Dear Miss Cline,” a buoyant ballet infused with insouciant charm and a distinctly modern edge. Friday and Saturday, Mar. 14-15. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 p.m.; $54-$70. SmuinBallet.orgClaudia Bauer

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Three-Day Rock Festival, PRF West Coast, Coming to Oakland

by Kathleen Richards
Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 4:09 PM

A three-day rock show is coming* to Oakland in May. PRF West Coast, happening on May 2-4, will feature a lineup of local and nonlocal noise rock, punk rock, and metal bands, including locals Kowloon Walled City, Porch, Eugene S. Robinson of Oxbow, Victory and Associates, Cartographer, Hurry Up Shotgun, Generalissimo, and the Loyalists, as well as Chicago’s Nonagon, Chico’s West by Swan, LA’s Cinder Cone, Toronto’s Practice Wife, and Austin’s The Gary, among others.

Oakland residents Benjamin Abraham and Conan Neutron (of Victory and Associates) are organizing the three-day show, which is slated to be held at new music venue Leo’s, located in the former Leo’s Pro Audio building at 5447 Telegraph Avenue, pending approval from the city’s planning commission on April 19. It will be the first West Coast iteration of PRF BBQ, which was first held in Chicago in 2009 and has since expanded to New York and other cities. The barbecue/music festival began as a way to bring together members of the online forum on, the website of the Chicago studio of famed rock producer Steve Albini. Although the online forum started as a way to discuss issues regarding recording, it “kind of morphed into this really organic community about DIY punk,” said Abraham, whose band, Methodist, played the New York PRF in 2011, when he was living there at the time. (PRF stands for “Premier Rock Forum” — a “sarcastic, inside joke which stuck,” said Abraham.)
click image Kowloon Walled City - SHANNON CORR
  • Shannon Corr
  • Kowloon Walled City

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Live Review: Tool and Failure at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 3/12

by Alee Karim
Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:59 AM

A Tool concert is a lot like Ridley Scott’s recent film Prometheus, and if you like one, you’ll probably like the other. Both are lavish works of big-budget, high-concept art that are either profoundly thoughtful musings on existence or a lazy con playing to the lowest common denominator, depending on whom you ask. That both the band and the movie are wildly successful and the result of some objectively refined, diligent craft by various artists and engineers only turns the screws for detractors — it’s fair, there’s a lot of expensive bullshit out there.

Let’s just say it’d be awfully depressing if something as moving and cinematic as a Tool concert were just a big joke. And just as Prometheus wasn’t as impressive unless you saw it in IMAX, Tool’s albums also only scratch the surface of the breadth of meaning provided by the band’s live production. A hundred dollars for a ticket sure does sting the recession-addled pocketbook, but goodness if the show wasn’t a lavish display of sound, video, and laser light.

Failure opened well before the listed 8 p.m. start time. It’s a shame that a whole generation has missed out on its heavy art rock. Its guitars crunched with only the faintest tinge of aggression, its vocals soared without any strain, and its drummer was a many-limbed beast. Hilariously/sadly, one Tool fan in the audience kept flipping them the bird after every song, awarding them a thumbs up only when they announced their last song.

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