“The San Francisco International Arts Festival is something that artists like ourselves are looking for, some kind of support and consistency in our hectic, chaotic existence. A home of sorts, in a landscape that is so unstable,” says dancer/choreographer Jesse Bie of the terrific STEAMROLLER dance company, performing as part of the fest Thu/15-Sat/17, in a paired program with dance-theater wiz Jessica Fudim. “We love that there is some kind of structure that tries to unite us as an artistic community when so often we are working in isolation. And that the festival has invited STEAMROLLER to participate in the festival for the past seven years really just blows my mind!”
I can’t even begin to describe all the great stuff that’s part of the festival, which began at the beginning of the month but really heats up this weekend. West African dance, voodoo cabaret, multimedia butoh, desert freedom movement, Carnatic musical journeys… mostly at Brava Theatre and Joe Goode Annex, and all of it fabulously mind-opening.
STEAMROLLER’s “Young Gods Reimagined” is a revisit of his seminal 1999 piece ‘Young Gods”—testing his memory of the dancers and the dance that was a treatise on age and beauty. “I wanted to revisit this particular work because looking at it as an older performer the challenge is to see if I am still physically capable of dancing the way I did when I was 30,” Bie says. “I feel an amazing amount of gratitude, for the artists that have been a part of the wild ride that is STEAMROLLER, and that in spite of so many obstacles that I’m still making dances 30 years later. It’s amazing to me that I’m still so deeply connected to these folks and that they are still invested in seeing the company survive and occasionally flourish.” Find out more about the fest here.
AUDIUM REWOUND The Audium is one of those incredibly San Francisco experiences that I’m always afraid to talk about too much, lest it somehow be ruined. If you haven’t been yet: Basically, visionary sound artist Stan Shaff created one of the first spatial sound installations back in the 1960s, placing speakers around a darkened room and leading listeners on a magical, mystical audio journey. It’s perfectly trippy.
The Audium has since passed on to Stan’s son Dave, who opened the “theater of sound” up to new voices and experiences. For the next five weeks beginning Thu/15, however, Stan’s work is taking center stage again: “We are ‘rewinding’ back to one of the first works ever composed by my father,” Dave says. “I’ll be performing them for the first time in 50 years, in total darkness, through 176 speakers.”
“Audium V,” premiered in 1969, seems right up the trippy alley. “Find yourself inside an old muscle-car, feel a Pan-American flight fly right through you, and meditate in a cacophony of fog horns. One can only imagine what audiences at that time must have thought!” I can’t wait. Find out more about “Audium V: Rewind” here.
JUNETEENTH FREEDOM CELEBRATION SF’s Juneteenth Parade surprised everyone by taking place last Saturday, a week before official Juneteenth weekend—petition to officially stretch this wonderful holiday to two weeks now, please! This Sat/17 sees a huge Juneteenth Block Party in the Fillmore, where the parade used to end up. There are eight blocks of party featuring dozens of family friendly activities, vendors, and performances (the Mary Jane Girls!) and of course more amazing food than you can possibly eat, but I will try anyway. Join me? Find out more here.
MORE EVENTS OF NOTE
THU/15: WESLI The Haitian songwriter, guitarist, and producer recently won the Juno—Canada’s top honor for musicians—for Best World Album with 2022’s Tradisyon. Expect carnival beats, Creole and Yoruba chants, twoubadou folk melodies, and some good old soul at his show in Berkeley. 8pm. The Freight and Salvage, Berkeley. More info here.
FRI/16: ASHEQ عشق THE PRIDE EDITION This hot hot hot party has brought the LGBTQ+ Middle East North African queer community together for years, with gorgeous drag and bellydance performances, great music, possibly the hottest go-gos in the city, and terrific vibes. 10pm-late, Oasis, SF. More info here.
FRI/16-SUN/18: SAN FRANCISCO SUCCULENT SHOW & PLANT SALE 2023 I can’t wait to get my paws on some of these prickly paw-paws! The Bay Area’s largest cactus and succulent event features more than 30 vendors exhibiting unusual species and lots more. SF County Fair Building. More info here.
SAT/17: GOLDIE The adored ’90s icon (he dated Björk in one of the first internet-melting celebrity pairings) and grill-teethed god of UK drum and bass returns for a night of laser-sharp beats at Public Works. 9pm-3am, Public Works, SF. More info here.
SAT/17: SF TENANTS UNION FUNDRAISING PARTY Celebrating 44 years of rent control (and an incredible amount of tenant advocacy and relief, believe you me), this fundraiser—hosted by drag queen Kristi Yummykochi—brings together the community for dancing and fun. 6:30pm, MakeOut Room, SF. More info here.
SAT/17: SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS For four decades, the Chapel Hill, NC has rocked “guitar riffs as lumpy as a camel, rough as a jackhammer or smooth and bright as Tennessee sippin’ whiskey, all slung loose and loud over salacious beats.” 7pm, Bottom of the Hill, SF. More info here.
SUN/18: DAYTIME REALNESS PRIDE KICKOFF SF’s biggest, and biggest-haired, drag queen Heklina ascended to the dressing room in the sky last month, but her daytime dance party pushes forward with a special Pride edition, with drag tributes to Heklina from a rainbow of local queens. 2pm-8pm, El Rio, SF. More info here.
SUN/18: OTEP “Otep is a hard-hitting and outspoken female-fronted metal outfit from LA. Otep’s lethal blend of gothic, extreme, rap, alternative, and nu-metal draws from a wide array of influences. Led by fiery singer/songwriter, poet, author, performance artist, and activist for LGBT rights and animal welfare Otep Shamaya, the band emerged in 2000 and has blazed a trail of sonic destruction.” 7pm, DNA Lounge, SF. More info here.
SUN/18: BLAKE CEDRIC—”UM… OK, GIRL” “Blake Cedric is a severely gay artist who has spent the last decade relentlessly crawling around the foggy hills of San Francisco and producing some of the wackiest teen dream neon fantasy art you ever laid your eyes on. His unique style offers a glimpse into the unknown—a world of complete queer joy radiating through doe eyed Daddies, mischevious devils and a ton of drugs.” Check out his art opening party at the chic new Bona Vada barbershop. 5pm-8pm, Bona Vada, SF. More info here.
TUE/20: INFINITE PRIDE Wicked smart improv troupe SF Neo-Futurists dole out 30 of their favorite queer skits in 60 minutes at one of the city’s top drag clubs—you’ll have to catch your breath and sip your cocktail between guffaws. 7pm, Oasis, SF. More info here.
WED/21: A NIGHT WITH VERONICE KLAUS Enchanting audiences for more than three decades as the first openly transgender jazz singer, Veronica Klaus (and her smoky, enveloping voice) returns to San Francisco after a move to New York, reuniting with her original backing band, the Tammy Hall Trio. 6pm-8pm, St. Joseph’s Arts Foundation, SF. More info here.