From Dusk Till Dawn ... 

The bars, bands, and clubs to keep you happy.

Page 5 of 9

There's shtick and then there's genius. In the latter category, there's Captured! by Robots, an all-robotic band created by its human leader, the "captured" JBOT. The premise — that JBOT is being held captive and forced to make music (usually funky rock, but there was a mariachi phase) by the abusive 'bots — translates into the most absurd, hilariously funny, wildly imaginative show you'll likely ever see. ... Oakland's Rogue Wave — led by blueberry-maple-syrup-voiced crooner Zach Rogue and showcasing his bittersweet indie-pop anthems — cut its teeth at lo-fi, no-frills set-up-on-the-floor-and-play gigs at Oakland warehouse, art gallery, and coffee shop enclaves. These days, the quartet has the support of Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records, which released its excellent, dramatic third album about the mysterious joys of hardship. ... The Lovemakers (, the Oakland-based electro-pop band that everyone knew would "make it," actually did. Though strippers around the world pole dance to "Shake That Ass" — the band's sexy, catchy, 2005 Scissor Sisters-esque single — the band's sound is typically darker and more new-wavy, which it describes as "Led Zeppelin covering Prince." ... San Francisco duo Two Gallants ( posit themselves as world-weary folk rockers who poetically regard death and destruction. Expect lots of expertly picked/strummed/smashed-out guitar odes to bad love and worse attitudes. Call 'em the Blacker Keys, and get ready to howl in glorious pain along with 'em. ... Birds & Batteries ( filters '70s Laurel Canyon and studio rock through fuzzy synths and buzzing guitars. A recently revamped lineup pulses with pedal steel, Rhodes piano, and laptop synths, anchored by singer Michael Sempert's superb songwriting. ... Oakland's Dave Smallen (aka Street to Nowhere) ( possesses the confidence that lesser singer-songwriters chase their entire careers. Smallen's irrepressible energy and ability to belt like few indie rockers ever will fares equally well mining acoustic aches and folk-punk. One of the Bay Area's youngest and brightest talents. ... Instrumental prog-rock is a tough sell, but the San Francisco sextet Crime in Choir ( will get kids begging for synthesizers and saxophones. The band mixes math-rock and free jazz into an experimental palette, changing modes and time signatures like so many itchy socks. ... WHY? ( is fronted by former Jew for Jesus and Oaklander Yoni Wolf, who doesn't consider boundaries as he assembles snippets of inside jokes from a shattered relationship into spoken, sung, and rapped lines over minimal drums and piano and guitar. Rock? Too unplugged. Indie? Too hard. Rap? No. Maybe we'll just call it good. ... Singer-songwriter Kelley Stoltz ( specializes in pop confections that fill your head with love and sunshine. Stoltz' open, friendly vocals are complemented by his Phil-Spector-meets-Brian-Wilson wall of sound production, although it's a wall of sound built on a restricted budget, more lo-fi than hi-fi. ... Why aren't the Heavenly States ( insanely famous? The band delivers a unique, multilayered sound, due in part to Genevieve Gagon's occasional violin infusions and the strong vocal harmonies she and frontman Ted Nesseth produce together, a blend of the trained ear of the former and the quintessentially hard-rock, gruff vocal exclamations of the latter. ... Greg Giles and Kelly Atkins are one of those "Were/are they dating or weren't/aren't they" couples who sing deceptively sweet pop songs with incredibly cryptic lyrics, directed as much to each other as to you. Their band, 20 Minute Loop (, creates absurdly addictive angst-pop, a fantastic mash-up of pop hooks, slide guitar riffs, and dueling boy/girl vocals that either intertwine perfectly or clash magnificently. ... Don't let the name fool you: Minipop ( creates music that can be vast. The quartet is at its best on songs where conventional pop spills over its walls like a river cresting a levee. ... LoveLikeFire's ( mix of radio-ready hooks, Brit-pop inflections, and über-stylish presentation has poised them for bigger stages. If you haven't heard of them yet, you'll likely be hearing much more from them in the future. ... The Matches ( hardly sound like an Epitaph Records band anymore, but we suspect their fans won't mind. Mixing prog, emo, pop, and just a hint of the spastic punk that built the band, its new material feels contemporary and freshly invigorated without reeking of trend-hopping. ... Dizzy Balloon's ( (formerly known as Panda) five members are barely out of Piedmont High School, yet they've already laid the groundwork for a great career. The timeless joy of watching slightly awkward teenagers transform into sublime rockers is certainly a factor here — check their cover of the Beatles' "She's So Heavy." ... Oakland pop-rock band Maldroid's ( trademark brown suits rarely come off, and its obsession with robots fuels a recurring artistic motif. Its live show is a giddy, goofy spectacle that's heavy on hooks and eye candy. ... If you've seen this "space-rockabilly" band, you probably noticed the Battlestar Galactica-inspired costumes, the wacky light show, and — best of all — the Toilet Paperator, a tricked-out leaf blower that sends soft toilet-paper clouds wafting over the audience. Talk about shtick. But the Phenomenauts ( back it up with solid rockabilly rhythms and amusing lyrics about space invaders and cruising the galaxy. ... One of the first (and greatest) American ska outfits was raised right here in the East Bay — the Uptones ( Products of Berkeley High School, the band became a force to be reckoned with on the local live music scene in the early '80s. Now reunited, the Uptones recently released a new album, Skankin' Foolz Unite, and regularly play the local scene, as if to make up for lost time. ... The music can be jarring; its imagery and lyrics squirm-inducing. Yet for all the visceral uneasiness Triclops! ( tries to provoke, the band also has moments of pure clarity — albeit under a cloak of the unexpected: start-stop riffs in soothing distortion layered under echoing chipmunk vocals, scribbles of surf guitar exploding into a blizzard of psych-rock noise. It's clearly part of their charm. ... Not only is Oakland's High on Fire ( the best metal band in the East Bay, it's the best metal band in the country, and arguably one of the best metal bands in existence for this generation. This is owed not only to frontman Matt Pike's mastery of the metal riff, but to the power trio's ability to assault the listener with tuned-down, heavy, repetitious and looping hooks, which deliver nods to past masters of the genre without being derivative, clichéd, or ironic. ... The members of Oakland band Saviours ( aren't exactly masters of subtlety, but that's a good thing. Drummer Scott Batiste says they're pretty much a "piss-angry metal band" inspired by "partying, the occult, girls, drugs, loud music, Black Sabbath, old Metallica, and Slayer." What more could you ask for?

Soul, Funk, R&B, & Hip-Hop Artists


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