Arts Forecast

Arts Forecast: Help save bookstores, drag queens, Frameline, more

VivvyAnne Forevermore hosts Drag Alive! for the Stud, Sat/4 at 6:30pm at www.twitch.tv/dragalive. Photo by Cabure A Bonugli/Shot in the City

Let’s start with something positive! And then some more things positive! We deserve it. Except those of you joggers still cutting me off on the sidewalk. (For general arts resources and to help individual artists and workers, please see our article here.)

WE LOVE BOOKSTORES is a community effort to help save Bay Area indie bookstores, which are suffering mightily during the shutdown, even as people are longing for more to read (and Amazon is screwing its workers, as usual). The site lists ways you can help individual bookstores, from Adobe to Wolfman, and promotes online local author events that raise funds and awareness—including an April 8 reading with Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman to benefit Pegasus Books and an April 15 one with Carl Zimmer and Apoorva Mandavilli benefiting Green Apple.

Find out more at www.welovebookstores.org, don’t forget to get great reading recommendations from Indiebound, and, if you’re looking for an alternative to lining Jeff Bezos’ deep pockets, check out the new online book ordering service Bookshop, which works with local bookstores to get you under the covers.

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DRAG QUEENS have always been larger than life—that’s the schtick—but can they swallow the internet? Aside from streaming DJ sets and impromptu karaoke numbers from my friends, it’s been drag queens who have been filling all my windows lately, both virtually and IRL. It’s given new life to a club scene that disappeared overnight. The Stud launches an online version of weekly drag show Drag Alive! Sat/4, 6:30pm at www.twitch.tv/dragalive ($10 donation suggested) featuring bigwigs Peaches Christ Christeene, Honey Mahogany, VivvyAnne ForeverMore, and more. (Don’t miss a trio of absolute genius weirdos close to my heart, Toxic Waste Face, as they bring their arty antics just beforehand with a short film at 5:30pm here).

Local behemoth of drag Heklina is “coming at you live from her Palm Springs quarantine” with her new online TV show “Live From the Apocalypse“—don’t miss her croaking out some tunes! She’ll be performing Mon/6 as part of the sprawling Digital Drag FestOasis is putting up its raucous “Three’s Company,” “Golden Girls,” and other parodies on Youtube for a limited time (more info here.) And The Monster Show, launched by beloved late queen Cookie Dough, is still going strong, now online Sun/5 with a cavalcade of gender clowns at www.twitch.tv/monstershowsf.

Time for our 7th installment of Katya’s Quaran -Tuni, so poor yourself a drink and join me…If you feel like tipping, feel free to do so, anything given will go back out into the arts and our community. Below are a few other places you might want to help out a little, just remember We are all in this together!me:Venmo: @Joseph-Frank-7SF queer night life fund:Sfqueernightlifedund.orgNCTC: Venmo: use my Venmo and enter Nctc

Posted by Katya Smirnoff-Skyy on Thursday, April 2, 2020

I’ve been loving the Facebook live performances of crooning contessa Katya Smirnoff-Skye, who regales us regularly on Facebook Live with tales of her royal Russian upbringing and wonderfully sung piano tunes (with her own fabulous spin, of course.) Watch her accent disappear and then reappear! Click here to peruse. But for sheer drag art brilliance that should surely win an Oscarina, check out Scarlett Letters‘ awesome tribute to diva dramas—both enduring and endurance based—as she waits for almost an hour for her man to come home and enjoy the dinner she prepared. It’s Chantal Ackerman meets John Cassavetes in a wig and heels.

—–MORE ARTS HAPPENINGS—

LITQUAKE is in the midst of broadcasting a virtual series of author readings and Q&As, every night through April 10. Tons of great writers involved—it is Litquake—and also me, interviewing Alia Volz Sat/4, 7:30pm, about her forthcoming book Home Baked (her parents ran Sticky Fingers Brownies, an underground bakery that delivered more than 10,000 marijuana edibles each month in San Francisco through the ’70s and ’80s.) You can check out the lineup and how to watch here!

FRAMELINE FILM FEST, the oldest LGBTQ film fest in the world, has announced that is is postponing its giant June event until fall. (Can Pride be far behind?) It’s launched a Frameline2020 fund to help staff weather the shutdown, and will still be streaming some programming and special events, so stay tuned.

GOLDEN GATE PARK’S 150TH ANNIVERSARY party this Saturday has obviously been postponed in real life. (I want to ride the giant Ferris Wheel!) But “the celebration is coming to you with a digital concert series, hidden treasures, unknown stories and more”—including a big virtual event Sat/4 that will celebrate music. Visit www.goldengatepark150.com for info.

FRESH MEAT Productions, the fantastic local arts company, is putting on “an evening of trans/nonbinary POC music and storytelling” Sat/4, 6pm, free (donations accepted). The event will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Zoom, more info here.

OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA has posted an online visual arts treat—a treasure trove of work in their collection by women artists, since Women’s History Month celebrations were interrupted. From Dorothea Lange and Mine Okubo to absolutely wonderful photographer photographer Joanne Leonard, “who documented everyday life in one of California’s oldest African American neighborhoods in the 1960s.” View more details about exploring the collection here.

RAWDANCE will bring a little motion into your self-isolated life: The company is posting “digital gifts,” aka short videos, of performances, rehearsals, workouts, and, my favorite, moments of dancing on furniture, on its social media accounts. Quite cool snippets and more!

CAL SHAKES had to cancel its season—booooo—but they are rising a-bard it all (sorry, I am going bonkers cooped up here lol) by pointing you in the direction of all sorts of streaming goodies. Check out Hamlet, Gloria, Slava’s Snow Show, and more via its site.

UHAUL SF has been one of SF’s hottest lesbian clubs forever. And despite the name, it’s moving anywhere, bringing oodles of DJ talent online to support awesome bar Jolene’s. Fri/3, 9pm-midnight, UHAUL will be broadcasting live on Instagram, featuring DJs Von Kiss, Val G, 5000 Watts and more—plus go-go girls! Check out the UHAUL Instagram here, and Jolene’s Support Fund here.

SAN FRANCISCO CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC has launched a Tiny Dorm Concert series on Youtube through April 11, full of neat performances from students and alumni. Here’s the deal: “A new 90-minute live stream will begin each evening at 5pm, featuring three expertly curated 25-minute sets hosted by a rotating cast of emcees. Audiences tuning in will enjoy live performances by pre-college and conservatory stars, top-tier faculty from the San Francisco Symphony, Ballet, Opera, and SFJAZZ Collective, and alumni fresh from the world’s biggest stages.” Check them out here.

Finally, hare’s a way to take some daily inspiration in these weird, dark times. The BRAVE SIS project has been launched by local arts mover-and-shaker Rozella Kennedy to “promote inner wellness and more authentic relationship with oneself, as well as among women collectively, through reflection and learning.The keystone is a journey-journal, launching in 2021, that acts as an inspirational daily planner, focusing on wisdom of Black foremothers (and even JLo). You can get a taste of the work with the free Brave Weeks Together sample edition that Kennedy released for April—it’s really neat. Check it out here!

Arts Forecast: Apocalypse… but make it fashion!

Saul Sugarman sews fashionable cloth masks for charity

The name of this column, “Arts Forecast,” has suddenly taken on an ominous tone in this moment of cancellations and uncertainty. While we are waiting to see what help is on the way to allow the arts community here to survive, the Bay Area is of course coming together in its wonderfully scruffy way to try to make things brighter.

There’s a lot of bad news, but also a lot of good things being done, on a grand scale—like pushing for relief for arts workers in the community fundraising and political arena—to smaller things, like a neat project by fashion designer and nightlife promoter Saul Sugarman, sewing colorful masks to raise money for people in need. He’s donating proceeds (more than $400 already!) to the SF Queer Nightlife Fund and masks to Let’s Kick ASS, a group empowering long-term survivors of HIV and AIDS, and hosting a “Stitch and Bitch with Saul: Making a Face Mask” online tutorial event Thu/26, 5pm-8pm, free.

Sugarman’s cloth masks won’t protect you from COVID-19—social distancing should still be the priority—but if you are feeling ill, they can help filter the air, and help keep you from spreading the flu or a cold to someone else. (Remember to wash and disinfect often!) Yet his lovely masks are tapping into both a post-apocalyptic aesthetic that tempers cynicism with skill and humor, plus a DIY revival born of endless time cooped at home. (Designer Christian Siriano has also taken a turn toward mask-making.)

A bouquet for breathing. Mask by Saul Sugarman

Pokemon, Harry Potter, sequins and more are all on Sugarman’s mask menu. When I asked him about how he started, he not only cited Lady Gaga and JoAnn Fabrics (not a drag queen) as inspirations, but told me, “I’m embarrassed to admit it began as Instagram narcissism. In early February, before coronavirus spread in the US, I was reading about the issue and thought of these floral overalls I’d recently made. They were a gorgeous print, actually, that I initially bought for an apparel customer who went on the January Atlantis cruise. He wanted an upper body harness for their ‘Mother Earth’ party. Everyone loved it, so I had a couple yards laying around.

“In the fabric scraps I had left, I figured I would make a mask and then post: ‘But make it gay.’ A lot of my business is just that: posting fun things I wear that reach sufficient thresholds of amazing that people message me to purchase them. But I sat on running the post at all because I thought it was insensitive. Then COVID-19 affected all of us, and it felt like every day someone was thinking to themselves, ‘Who do I know who sews masks? Oh, Saul.’ And I’d get messages. I could have just sewn them for fun and to simply donate the masks, but I wanted to find a way to help a community that’s close to my heart.”

Thats’ the gayest story ever, and also quite sweet. You can check out more of Saul’s masks here.

——-MORE ARTS——

There are no upcoming arts events really except streaming ones, and renegade moments like impromptu  bagpipe concerts from decks and rooftops. The SF International Arts Festival just announced it’s cancelling its fortnight-long May event, caring the loss of $200,000 to its artists and organization. They are offering full refunds on tickets, but if you’d like to donate the refund (or contribute) to its various artists, you can do so at the SFIAFF website here. The 149-year-old San Francisco Arts Institute has announced that huge changes are afoot after a deal to save it collapsed, sounding like it is going to close very soon, or undergo some kind of anime transformation where it “assumes a new form.” In any case, workers are being laid off and the future is up in the air.

Live music institution Slim’s has also announced it has closed: Things have been shaky there since both it and Great American Music Hall started outsourcing booking duties to concert behemoth Golden Voice in 2018, but now things have been exacerbated by COVID-19 fallout. Will there be any small venues left when we come out of this? You can help determine this: Here’s a list of local venue, restaurant, and bar fundraisers—please contribute if you can!

Now some good stuff! Here is a Facebook group you can join called Art and Culture You Can Stream Online for Free that has already introduced me to endless delights, including a reading of all of Shakespeare’s plays from the beginning by actors from all around the world (called, of course, the Show Must Go Online), Living Room Concerts from top Broadway stars, a virtual tour of the Palace of Versailles,    plus streaming local theater, music, drag shows, and more. The group was started by local author and bookstore owner Ken White.

Along with ACT and Berkeley Rep, queer Theatre Rhinoceros has announced an online streaming program for two of its plays, Radical and Scotus, and Marin Theater Company is selling tickets to its streaming production of Love. Speaking of radical, if you are in the mood for some inciting reading, Haymarket Books is offering a solid selection of free e-books from the likes of Angela Davis and Naomi Klein, and Verso Books is offering 40%-80% discounts on its equally radical e-titles. Want some jazz accompaniment? SFJAZZ is streaming Friday evening concerts.

On the visual art side of things, the great Creativity Explored is launching its first all video and digital exhibition on Thu/26, curated by Dena Beard, executive director of The Lab. And bright sketch comedy troupe SF Neo-Futurists are broadcasting their “World Wide Wrench” show every Friday.

Eventbrite is keeping a list of online classes and general events here, which contains some gems (bachata lessons, anyone?). Manny’s in the Mission has gone totally online, and you can catch titllating political conversations plus big guests like food writer Michael Pollan from the couch. If you’re looking for some queer local entertainment and company, the Facebook group Queer Quarantine Hangouts and Performances offers a dazzling array of fabulous moments.

Don’t forget our continuing suggestions at 48 Hills! Film critic Dennis Harvey gives a great run-down of streaming options here and some movie recommendations here. Food writer Tamara Palmer tells you where to order some yummy and affordable dinners while helping the local food scene. And music critic John-Paul Shiver is full of good new (and classic) music recommendations. Plus, why not some great local podcasts about your neighbors?

Stay tuned and don a cute mask, more is on the way! Hang in there.

Arts Forecast: Should you even go out?

A January scene at Casements Bar in the Mission.

UPDATE: Right after we published this, the governor advised against small gatherings until the end of March—and requesting that events including people at high-risk for COVID-19 should be limited to 10 people, sitting six feet apart. He has not yet specifically recommended the closing of bars and restaurants.  

Many of us feel adrift and tense right now—should you risk going out or going to work in a time of coronavirus? How can the arts and artists survive, when we’re all living on such slim margins that we can’t miss even a couple weeks of work?

In a time of social distancing, how can the communal arts continue?

I received a lot of feedback from my last Arts Forecast column, some of it upset that I continued to recommend events at all at this time. It’s a tough dilemma, a balancing act of letting people make their own informed decisions and supporting the workers and institutions keeping our culture alive. (Including websites like this, which substantially rely on arts advertising—as well as donations from our generous readers—to stay operational.)

At least some city leaders have taken some definitive action by closing many city-owned buildings, issuing helpful guidelines, and proposing some baby steps to help artists and small businesses out and prevent eviction and price-gouging. (I’d like to see a big general fund for artists and workers who have lost work.) Things are still chaotic in terms of what events are still going on, and we should probably consider a future scenario where we self-isolate, but overall we’re getting a clearer picture.

The latest is that gatherings of 1000 or more people have been banned in San Francisco—mostly a reaction to the Chase Center refusing to close and indifferently posting a notice at the entrance that you can’t sue if you get sick. The Governor has just called Wednesday night for gatherings of more than 250 people to be postponed, so we will see how that plays out in the coming days. The large Great Northern nightclub has decided to suspend operations for the weekend, and I feel that we’ll be hearing a lot more of that.

Institutions like the SF Symphony, SF Ballet, and Mechanics’ Institute Library remain closed for the next couple weeks, while other, smaller venues are taking things on a case-by-case basis. At the Stud, capacity 250, we remain open, although our popular Friday industrial techno dance party has just been postponed. Like other bars, we are putting up signs to inform patrons of steps they can take to stay uninfected, and placing hand sanitizer stations throughout the building. Like many nightclubs, too, we are talking about moving our DJ parties online to a streaming platform if smaller gatherings are banned, so people can watch and dance (and tip) along at home. Really!

Besides giant festivals and concerts like SXSW and Coachella being cancelled and postponed, Trump’s just-announced 30-day European travel ban probably just decimated the dance music and arts festival economy for the spring. There are growing lists of local events and venues that have gotten the kibosh, too. Here’s a list from KQED, and one from SF Weekly.

Because things are so topsy-turvy, I’m not going to recommend specific events this weekend, since things are being cancelled right and left. Instead, I recommend keeping an eye on our arts and culture section for what’s going on, checking in with your favorite establishments, and remembering that most bars and restaurants remain open and need your support.

I highly recommend a new Irish bar in the Mission called Casements, which is named after a human rights hero and gay martyr, serves up fantastic cocktails and ambiance, and sports a menu that includes enormous prawn crackers, soda bread, chicken curry, and warm hand pies. There’s good people behind it, too.

Just remember to air-kiss, wash your hands, and sit a couple feet apart. Just like the Irish nuns told you!

PS Just got word that this awesome queer punk show is still happening at Bottom of the Hill on Saturday.  (Oh shoot it was just canceled.)

PPS If you do go out, tip like the wind! 

Arts Forecast: Feeling international, at home

Fanna-Fi-Allah Sufi Qawwali Ensemble will perform at the SF International Arts Festival in May

Alas, I’ve been ill so I’ve missed a few installments of the Arts Forecast column—but we’re back, baby!

Let’s kick things off with the announcement of San Francisco International Arts Festival‘s 2020 lineup. The theme is “In Diaspora: I.D. for the New Majority” and will take place May 19-31 at Fort Mason, featuring so much dance, theater, music, and everything else, drawing a feast of international performers (and local favorites) to our shores. I’m particularly excited about appearances by Fanna-Fi-Allah Sufi Qawwali Ensemble, Japan’s Seinendan Theater, readers from the USA In Diaspora literary series, and more. The SFIAF has been a auxiliary bellwether of international relations— last year, several performers had their visas denied at the last minute by our stupid government, and this year we’re facing that dang virus thing. But support is vital, and the show goes on. Check out the full lineup here, early bird tickets are on sale.

Also at home, and closer to home, San Francisco performances just announced its 2020-2021 season (still so weird writing those numbers, we live in the future). And of course its jam-packed with must-sees.     Guitarist Kazuhito Yamashita, artist Midori, Chiaroscuro Quartet, pianist Timo Andres, Trio Mediaeval, and more. The full lineup is here.

MORE UPCOMING ARTS EVENTS 

THU/5 AND FRI/6 STAGE/DANCE THE FORGOTTEN EMPRESS A ‘dynamic dance drama based on the life of Mughal Empress Noor Jahan”? Sign me up. Performed by Kathak artist Farah Yasmeen Shaikh and featuring a full music ensemble (tabla artist Salar Nader, Ben Kunin on sarod, Raaginder Singh Momi on violin, Deepti Warrier on vocals)—plus it’s co-presented by Litquake—the evening promises immersive South Asian classical dance, live music, multimedia, and theater. 7:30pm, ZSpace, SF. More info here.

FRI/6 MUSIC KING CITY The zazzy Latin sound of legends King City returns as the sextet performs at DNA Lounge. In their own words, they “inhabit a style between punk rock, Looney Tunes, traditional Mexican, and even certain metal moments”—all on actual instruments. Amazing. 8:30pm, $10. DNA Lounge, SF. More info here

FRI/6 NIGHTLIFE CHARLOTTE DE WITTE I’m so ready for some hard-hitting techno in a crowd of dancers after this election week. This brilliant Belgian is at the top of the list. With support from Layton Giordani and Lindsey Herbert. 9pm, $25-$35. The Midway, SF. More info here

Kronos Quartet with Youth Speaks, part of the T.L.E.S.tival. Photo by Christian Jessen

FRI/6 AND SAT/7 MUSIC/PERFORMANCE THE LIVING EARTH SHOW’S T.L.E.S.TIVAL “Ferociously creative percussion-guitar duo The Living Earth Show (Travis Andrews and Andy Meyerson)”   have brought us some breathtaking music and performances over the past 10 years—this star-studded festival celebrates that decade while of course pushing things forward. “T.L.E.S.tival features two of The Living Earth Show’s most distinctive, iconic collaborations: the inimitable M. Lamar’s Lordship & Bondage: The Birth of the Negro Superman (Friday, March 6, 8pm) and the soul-searching San Francisco spoken-word opera, Echoes (Saturday, March 7, two performances at 6pm and 8:30pm) composed by Danny Clay and created and performed by TLES with the Kronos Quartet and the poet-performers of Youth Speaks, including director Sean San José, Ashley Smiley, Aimee Suzara, Michael Wayne Turner III, and Tassiana Willis.” Don’t miss! ODC B.Way Theater, SF. More info here

FRI/6-SUN/8 DANCE JOFFREY BALLET The wonderfully eclectic 64-year-old company comes to Cal Performances with some very new material, including a debut by Nicolas Blanc called Beyond the Shore. Beyond the Shore has several Bay Area resonances. It is danced to a score by composer Mason Bates, a UC Berkeley alumnus, which was commissioned and recorded by the San Francisco Symphony. The program also includes the West Coast premiere of Justin Peck’s The Times Are Racing, the California premiere of Stephanie Martinez’ Bliss!, and the Bay Area premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Commedia.”  Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley. More info here

SAT/7 LIT WE SO BAY There is probably nothing better than renegade poetry, and the fab folks at Youth Speaks are putting on this some event that takes place on the BART (and at Mission Cultural Center). “What happens when young people are repositioned as authors of culture rather than purveyors of entertainment? What is the impact on an individual and the collective when young people are engaged participants of the arts, activism and creative dissent? On Saturday, March 7th, ​WE SO BAY turns the spotlight to the next generation of modern day griots and cultural stewards for an afternoon of publicly engaged storytelling and performance art centering the voice and ideas of the next generation.” Richmond BART station, BART, and Mission Cultural Center. More info here

SUN/8 ART/LIT 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF “MUTTS” Patrick McDonnell’s long-running, cutely perceptive and impeccably drawn cartoon is celebrated at the Cartoon Art Museum, with a signing of his “Art of Nothing” book and party—and of course you can adopt a mutt of your own, courtesy of onsite senior adoption agency Muttville. 6:30pm-8:30pm, $10. Cartoon Art Museum, SF. More info here

TUE/10 MUSIC SHOPPING A contemporary queer post-punk band that dissects desire in late capitalism while providing irresistible tunes? Am I typing out a dream? No, Shopping is real, they’re Scottish, and they are coming to bop up the status quo with cuts from new album All or Nothing. 8pm, $15-$17. Rickshaw Stop, SF. More info here.  

Arts Forecast: Welcome to the ‘Manifesto’

Rotimi Agbabiaka. Photo by Cabure A. Bonugli/Shot in the City

If people asked me who I’d invite to my dream dinner party, I’m pretty sure James Baldwin, Nina Simone, and Fela Kuti would make the shortlist. On the conversational menu? How about how to forge “an art form capable of taking on the unhinged forces of racist, fascist, capitalistic foolishness… and win.” Throw in some canapés and a good bottle of wine and watch the evening catch fire.

Local actor Rotimi Agbabiaka has been developing his solo show ‘Manifesto’ over the course of a year, and it has all the above elements—except the food, alas. (If you ever get invited over his house for a Nigerian feast, run do not walk.) Now, the current incarnation of “Manifesto” is playing at Brava Theater Feb 6-15, so you have a chance to catch this fantastic performer as he relates the tale of “a portrait of a young artist at a crossroads.”

The program notes, “As the entertainment industry extends a welcoming hand, this previously excluded queer Black actor must decide whether to pursue the trappings of mainstream success or remain an outsider artist on the road less traveled. While our protagonist ponders the role of theatre in a mad, mad world, a chorus of creative ancestors stop by and guide the young artist toward the visionary ambition of a manifesto.” With Agbabiaka reading, singing, dancing, and doing more than a little fabulous dress-up—and with the emergence and barriers of Black actors and creators finally taking center stage for a moment that I hope lasts—I’d recommend you go see it.

MORE UPCOMING ARTS EVENTS

WED/5 MUSIC BOB MARLEY CELEBRATION This would have been reggae legend Bob Marley’s 75th earthstrong (as rastas refer to birthdays), and Dub Mission party wiz DJ Sep is on the decks to make sure this happy hour honoring him is smoking. An altar by Gina Grandi will make everything extra all right. 5pm-7pm, free. 111 Minna, SF. More info here.  

‘Alexa, Fix My City’

WED/5-SUN/9 FILM SF URBAN FILM FESTIVAL “Alexa, Fix My City,” “Urban Manufacturing: Nostalgia or Necessity?,” “Diaspora: Identity and the Pathos of Global Labor,” “Culture of Resistance Versus Culture Vultures”—here are a few of the short film programs at this innovative fest. The mission is to “gather a diverse, engaged audience and uses the power of storytelling to spark discussion and civic engagement around urban issues. We ask what it means to live together in the city and make urban planning more equitable and inclusive.” Various venues, SF. More info here

Jade

WED/5-SAT/8 STAGE FOG CITY MAGIC FEST Hang on to your top hat and watch that rabbit! Four days of prestidigitation and amazement from some of the best in the game, including the wonderful Jade, an opening night gala with Jay Alexander, magic champion Ryan Kane, an “evening of incogitable” with with Sebastian Boswell III, and a family show with Glen Micheleti. Exit Theatre, SF. More info here.

THU/6 STAGE POP-UP MAGAZINE This regular event is such a great scene—and a jaw-dropping production to boot. It’s a magazine performed live, with in-depth stories, photo-essays, features, music, and even ads. (I volunteer to do event listings!) You will laugh, cry, get educated, and leave fulfilled—along with hundreds who share in your experience. This time around, the show presents “a night of soap operas, border crossings ,flying saucers, family obsessions, saying what we mean, and so much more” from presenters like comedian Catherine Cohen, documentary filmmaker Isabel Castro, photographer Diana Markosian, and artist Esther Pearl Watson. 7:30pm, $38+. Paramount Theatre, Oakland. More info here.    

THU/6 MUSIC KRONOS MUSIC: THE FUTURE IS NOW + THU/13 MUSIC KRONOS QUARTET: A THOUSAND THOUGHTS A double shot of Kronos? Shoot it into directly into my veins! The power of this extraordinary local avant-garde foursome only grows over the years (47 years!). The Future is Now program, at the SF Conservatory of Music, involves players form  Oakland School for the Arts, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of The Arts, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music perform wonderfully eclectic works from 50 For the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire—commissioned pieces that reflect the quartet’s omnivorous spirit.That’s free (first come, first seated) at 7:30pm. Next week’s A Thousand Thoughts performance is Kronos itself, PLUS legendary composer Terry Riley celebrating his 85th birthday, PLUS imagery by filmmakers Sam Green and Joe Bini. All of which is incredible, do not miss this! That’s at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, as part of Cal Performances, and starts at 8pm and $48.

THU/6 MUSIC MIDDLE-AGED QUEERS Queer punk and homocore are having a moment right now, and this local, self-descriptive band are throwing themselves into it (and hopefully not their backs out of it). They’re joining The Freak Accident and The Lollygaggers at the Eagle for some good ol’ leather, chains, and subversive. It’s probably like $5 to get in. 9pm-midnight. The Eagle, SF. More info here

FRI/7-MARCH 1 ART THE END OF YOU What more essential topics could an exhibit take on  than empathy, community, and how we can better experience the world? The seven dynamic room-sized works in Gray Area’s first immersive show “personalize our relationship with the planet, inspiring visitors to reimagine what’s possible by demonstrating the potential of immersive art as a means for understanding the world in new ways.” Projection mapping, spatialized audio, interactive audience sensors, architectural spaces illustrating the effects of human impact on the environment, a surround cinema exploring interconnected ecologies, and a media archive introducing the world of non-human persons are all involved. Opening party Fri/7, 7pm-11pm, free. Continues through March 1. Gray Area, SF. More info here.   

FRI/7 MUSIC ACTRESS Adventures in electronic expression! “Throughout his 15 year career Darren J. Cunningham (aka Actress) has established himself as one of the pre-eminent and singular voices in UK electronic music. His work has been released by a variety of different recording labels, which most prominently include Ninja Tune, Honest Jon’s Records, Nonplus Records, and Werkdiscs, a label he co-founded in 2004.” Actress is joined by the awesome DJ 8ULENTINA of Club Chai. 9pm, $18. The Lab, SF. More info here.  

FRI/7 NIGHTLIFE STRANGELOVE 15TH ANNIVERSARY FETISH BALL Dark and lively synth pop and electro club Strangelove is celebrating 15 years with a little titillation. “Lace up that corset, shine up that leather, break out that latex—we invite you to dress to impress in your favorite kink-ware and fetish club attire. Got a favorite paddle or crop you’d like to show off? Then bring it with you!” DJs Tomas Diablo, Melting Girl, and more scratch your goth and industrial itch. 9:30pm-3am, $5-$8. Cat Club, SF. More info here.  

FRI/7 NIGHTLIFE MOODYMANN The name of the party is House of Funk, brought to us by hugely popular Boston DJ-production duo Soul Clap, who did much during the 2000s to spread the rare groove gospel as DJ culture took off. The party features a ton of guests, including our own wonderful Rasoul, J. Boogie, and Didje Kelli—plus one of my favorite people, LA’s Heidi Lawden. But the star is Detroit house legend Moodymann, whose huge personality took him from behind the turntables to rare nightlife media stardom. 10pm-3am, $20-$30. 1015, SF. More info here.   

Image by Angel Lara

SAT/8 SHOPPING CREATIVITY EXPLORED VALENTINE’S ART SALE Creativity Explored, consistently voted Best of the Bay Best Nonprofit works with artists with developmental disabilities to create some very wonderful works. This one-day only sale, the only one this year, let’s you snag a unique piece for 50% off while supporting their work. There’s also a Valentine craft table! 10am-5pm, free. Creativity Explored, SF. More info here

SAT/8 LIT WRITERS WITH DRINKS Favorite author Charlie Jane Anders hosts this monthly literary salon, with cocktails of course. “January’s Writers With Drinks features the long-awaited second novel by Charles Yu, and acclaimed debut author Meng Jin. Plus sex and feminism, science fiction, and poetry, and tons more. We’re going to turn all your bodily fluids into bodily druids!” 7pm-9:30pm, free. Make-Out Room, SF. More info here

SAT/8 NIGHTLIFE KAFANA BALKAN 13TH ANNIVERSARY I won’t lie—I’ve been writing about nightlife in the Bay Area for 23 years now, and there are very few parties that I adore more than this one. I also can’t believe that it’s been going for 13 years! The very influential party from DJ Zeljko and friends helped incorporate Balkan sounds into local nightlife culture in an authentic way—and this celebration will bring together more than 25 performers, from clarinet virtuoso Ismail Lumanovski and Los Angeles’ Axon Orchestra to Inspector Gadje Balkan Brass Band and bellydancer Jill Parker. 9pm, $18. Rickshaw Stop, SF. More info here

Arts Forecast: A whole weekend with Laurie Anderson and more

ARTS FORECAST The shock of hair seems to have been tamed into a tiny ponytail atop her head, but electro-poetic pioneer Laurie Anderson certainly hasn’t lost any mojo—this weekend Thu/24-Sun/26 she holds a residency at SFJAZZ, performing four different programs with a variety of guests, including Mr. Bungle and Faith No More frontperson Mike Patton, Albanian cellist Rubin Kodheli, and bass virtuoso Christian McBride. (She’ll also perform a solo show on Saturday, showcasing bits of her new book.) I’m fully prepared to be overcome with emotion—cold and ironic, yes, but still striking—when she comes on, and I better see some pixie boots and cat-eyed sunglasses in the audience, as well as some electric-blue skinny ties.

Anderson is just one of the fantastic things on tap for the weekend. It’s also the official lunar new year on Sat/25. The big Chinese New Year Parade and Festival isn’t until February 8, but why not slip down to Chinatown anyway and enjoy a delicious holiday without the surging crowds. (On Fri/24, China Live hosts a special Shanghai 1920s Ball. Or hey, duck the fireworks with an insanely strong Mai Tai at Li Po Lounge.)

All of this is to say that I know, I know, it feels like everything is closing right now—we’re losing things left and right (and we have a big article coming on that). But there’s still tons of magic in the city, if you step outside and find it.

UPCOMING ARTS EVENTS

 

ONGOING THROUGH FEBRUARY 9 STAGE NOURA “Eight years after fleeing their home in Iraq, Noura and her family celebrate Christmas, and their new life, in New York City. But when the arrival of a visitor stirs up long-buried memories, Noura and her husband are forced to confront the cost of their choices; the past they left behind. Inspired by stories from Arab-American women and created in response to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Heather Raffo’s Noura charts the intricate pathways of motherhood and marriage—and the fragile architecture of what we call home.” $10-$40. Marin Theatre Company. More info here

FRI/24 MUSIC FRENCH CASSETTES Fiesty local indie foursome French Cassettes has been making lovely music for almost a decade now, and you should go see them live for some really good vibes and warm fuzzies. Also they should be way more famous, but for now we have them as our big little secret, together. With Zelma Stone and Fast Times. 8pm, $10. Rickshaw Stop, SF. More info here.  

FRI/24 MUSIC MORITZ VON OSWALD: AKLAMATION “Legendary electronic music innovator Moritz von Oswald presents a new live show entitled Akklamation. This performative composition unifies the expansive and divergent musical paths of the electronics master. From his origins in the German new wave, to his pioneering work in the intersection of dub and various strands of electronic music, to his more recent forays into the fringes of experimental music and composition, Akklamation serves as an investigation into the future of rhythmic structures, timbral architecture, and an exploration of the psycho-physical effects of repetition.” 8pm-11:30pm, $20. Gray Area, SF. More info here.  

FRI/24 DANCE SAN FRANCISCO MOVEMENT ARTS FESTIVAL Grace Cathedral will be transformed into an enormous colorful stage—a canvas, really, for several performances at once—in the sixth year of this awesome event. “Each Station of the Movement (12+) will feature up to six groups performing & rotating short pieces (4 minutes or less). Each STATION will be its own mix of repertoire to include modern dance; ballet; ethnic; ballroom dancing; Movement Choirs and much more. In addition, artists will be exploring subjects of female empowerment; artistic beauty; social issues; cultural heritage; personal loss; family love and beyond.” 6pm-8:30pm, $28-$45. Grace Cathedral, SF. More info here.

FRI/24 MUSIC LYRICS BORN One of the Bay Area’s seminal rappers (and a true genius of the art) showcases his latest album, Quite A Life in Mill Valley. The Tokyo-born performer has been spitting for more than two-decades, but he’s been back in the spotlight since film spots in Boots Riley’s Sorry To Bother You and Always Be My Maybe with Ali Wong. Can’t wait to hear what he has up his sleeve. Doors 8pm, $20-$25. Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley. More info here.  

FRI/24 and SAT/25 NIGHTLIFE EDWARDIAN BALL + EDWARDIAN WORLD’S FAIR Our Edwardians are being gutted, just like our Victorians, by real estate interests —but the good ol’ steampunk spirit of this 20-year tradition shines on. “Two days of music, dance, fine art, theatre, circus, gaming, storytelling, costumes, vending, oddities and of course, the art & stories of our patron saint Edward Gorey! 2020’s theme glistens in nobility as “The Golden Tale” – an apologue of the vast community of artists, dreamers, bards and bastion that have built the Edwardian Ball into the magnificent happening it is today. 8pm-2am, $25-$180. Regency Ballroom, SF. More info here

SAT/25 NIGHTLIFE MERCURY SOUL Techno mixed with classical? I don’t know how the Mercury Soul crew does it, but for the past five years they’ve sold out shows that highlight the two genres’ deep affinities. This evening, longtime SF techno producer Dave Aju brings his deep vibe to bear on the classics, including Mr. Bach himself. 9pm-2am, $22. Halcyon, SF. More info here

SAT/25-MARCH 21 ART SOPHIE CALLE: BECAUSE “For almost 40 years, Calle has made work that exposes intimate experience to public view, using still images, video, film, books, performance and text. Her work has often drawn from difficult moments in her personal life. ‘In the process of turning these experiences into art, they somehow become a type of fiction,’ she has said. ‘Because’ is an exhibition of new works on view for the first time in the US In each piece, a felt curtain embroidered with Calle’s writing conceals a hidden photograph behind it. In presenting viewers with the text before the picture, Calle upends the usual order in which images are read, creating a poetic surprise or puzzle.” Opening reception: Sat/25, 1pm-4pm, free. Fraenkel Gallery, SF. More info here

SAT/25 NIGHTLIFE PINK MAMMOTH: 16 YEARS OF PINK LOVE One of Burning Man’s (new) classic camps celebrates its anniversary with an explosion of pink (wear something, drink something, show something) — and of course great music, featuring our king of soulful house David Harness. It’ll be a good time, pinky swear. 9pm-4am, $16-$25. Public Works, SF. More info here

SUN/26 STAGE AN EVENING WITH GINA LADIVINA Our reigning queen of queens, the very legendary Gina LaDivina, has been gracing stages for six decades—and now she brings her new one-woman show to Oasis for an intimate debut. Special guest appearances by Katya Smirnoff-Skye and Dulce De Leche will make for a warm, fascinating, and glamorous evening. 7pm, $20. Oasis, SF. More info here

Arts Forecast: Drag Queens on Ice, Burning Man: The Musical, more

Drag Queens on Ice

Blades will slice, crystals will fly, Mariah will be Careyed up to the high heavens. OK, it’s not as dramatic as all that—I wish—but one of SF’s most hallowed traditions, Drag Queens on Ice (Thu/5 at 8pm at the Safeway Union Square Skating Rink), is tossing the glitter of the holiday season. This is the 10th year that a gaggle of ice princesses will hazard a Tonya Harding by taking to the rink and outdoing each other with wig flips and wobbles. (Actually some of them are pretty fierce out there on the ice).

It’s one of those ever-disappearing “SF moments” for the whole family—I’ll never forget the time in 2012 when the SF Bulls and cheerleaders dropped by for an incredible night. There was hooting, there was hollering. Luckily, Queen Dilly Dally has been documenting the event:

Anyway, go skate with the queens! And speaking of drag — legendary performer, hairstylist, and activist Princess Kennedy may have relocated to Salt Lake City after setting such stages as Trannyshack aflame in the ’90s, but she is still close to our hearts. She was involved in an accident last week that broke most of her face, and like so many people in this country is relying on her community to help pay for astronomical medical bills. We’re throwing a fundraising happy hour at the Stud on Thursday, so please come out and join us!

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MORE UPCOMING EVENTS

WED/4-MARCH 1, 2020 ART BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF KWAME BRATHWAITE This is “the first exhibition to focus on this key—and until now under-recognized—figure of the second Harlem Renaissance. Organized by Aperture Foundation, the exhibition of more than forty iconic images illuminates how, in the late 1950s and 1960s, Brathwaite (b. 1938) harnessed the power of art, music, and fashion to effect social change and used his photography to popularize ‘Black Is Beautiful,’ now considered one of the most influential cultural movements of that era.” 

THU/5 LIT ENDURING SPIRITS: STEVE ABBOTT AND KARL TIERNEY “Poets Steve Abbott (1943–1992) and Karl Tierney (1956–1995) were among the 20,000 San Franciscans lost to AIDS before an effective treatment was found. Posthumous books by both writers were published this fall. Jamie Townsend, editor of Abbott’s “Beautiful Aliens” (Nightboat), and Jim Cory, editor of Tierney’s “Have You Seen This Man?” (Sibling Rivalry), will read from and discuss these fascinating writers and their impact on San Francisco’s gay life and literary tradition.” 7pm-9pm, free. Alley Cat Books, SF. More info here.

 THU/5 MUSIC HEIROGLYPHICS “Founded in Oakland, California in 1997, Hieroglyphics Imperium set the standard for underground hip hop coming out of the west coast. Based on previous fame from early Jive Records and Elektra releases Hieroglyphics Imperium capitalized on major label promotion for their independent artist. Still around with new releases in 2016 Hieroglyphics has become a staple in hip-hop.” With Stoney Hawk, Rap Noir, T-K.A.S.H feat. DJ True Justice & K.E.V., S.A.V.E.1, Mike Wird. 8pm-midnight, $32.50. UC Theatre, Berkeley. More info here

THU/5 MUSIC ERIK CORE The irresistibly poppy folk-punk trio have released a new album called Last Call, and it is really good. The launch party will be a queer core extravaganza, with support from Joe Shambeaux, Homobilies, Middle-Aged Queers. Craziness! 8pm-11pm, free. El Rio, SF. More info here

FRI/6-MARCH 28, 2020 ART JEFFERSON PINDER: FLASHPOINT This is “the debut of four new video works by Chicago-based, interdisciplinary artist Jefferson Pinder in an original exhibition titled ​Flash Point​. Collapsing history into the present, Pinder traces a path back to the Spring of 1919, when Blacks across the United States saw a surge in race riots, lynchings, and violent mobs. Racial tensions had reached a critical tipping point, fueled by a shifting post-war climate. This extended period of violence, lasting through most of the year, is marked in American history as the Red Summer. The performance work captured in the videos is associated with Pinder’s cathartic 2019 Red Summer Road Trip, a journey he undertook on the 100t​ h​ anniversary of the 1919 violence.” San Francisco Art Institute. More info here. 

FRI/6 NIGHTLIFE PARANOID LONDON “Follow us down the rabbit hole for a night of acid house sounds with the inimitable Paranoid London of the UK serving up one of their amazing get down and dirty live sets. If you caught them at Sunset Campout then you know the treats coming your way. Sunset’s Galen alongside Dark Entries artist Sepehr will keep the jacking grooves on high vibration thru the night!” 9pm-3am, $20-$25, Audio, SF. More info here

FRI/6 SHOPPING HAYES VALLEY HOLIDAY BLOCK PARTY Honestly, one of my favorites of these types of things, with holiday cheer up and down the street—plus a pet parade! 5pm-9pm, free. Hayes Valley, SF. More info here

SAT/7 SHOPPING LOWER HAIGHT ART WALK: WINTER EDITION Oh hey, and follow that the next day with an afternoon stroll through my own hood and the lovely businesses therein for some winter cheer. 2pm-6pm, free. Lower Haight, SF. More info here. 

SAT/7 & SUN/8 STAGE BURNING MAN: THE MUSICAL You may remember the 2015 viral video above sending half the city into paroxysms of laughter—and doing the thing that Burning Man does best: mocking itself. Well, now it’s becoming a full-blown musical (this will be a staged reading of the work in progress) and they’ve switched things up a bit to focus on a (gasp) woman: “a musical comedy that follows Molly (AKA Sparkle Pony), a recent college grad who’s hired by the top venture capital firm in Silicon Valley to evaluate new tech startups that are pitching at her boss’s luxury camp. After she discovers that Bill the Billionaire hired her with the intention of sleeping with her, Molly goes on a soul-searching journey through the desert, where she finds her mentor Hazel the Hippie, who prophesies her role in taking down Bill and his nefarious plan: to buy the desert and convert Burning Man into a Disneyland-style theme park called Burning Village.” Z Space, SF. More info here

Posted by Tom Nelson on Sunday, October 27, 2019

SAT/7 NIGHTLIFE THE SISTERS’ SECOND ANNUAL KRAMPUS PAGEANT “‘Tis the season to celebrate! One cold night very soon… in the wee hours of the morning, children will be visited by magical beings… who will abduct them for the crime of being nasty. It’s Krampus time! Join The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as we pay homage to the sinister side of Santa at our 2nd Annual Krampus Pageant. On December 7th, come to the El Rio for a pageant where the naughty children of San Francisco will join a panel of steely judges who’ll choose the creepiest creep of all to crown the Krampus of 2019.” 5pm-7pm, El Rio, SF. More info here.  

SAT/7 NIGHTLIFE GO BANG! 11TH ANNIVERSARY Our very own little Studio 54 in the gritty city, the Go Bang! disco party has welcomed dancers from 21 to 81 for 11 years now—I got my first DJ slot there back when it was held at Deco in the Tenderloin! Join residents Steve Fabus, Sergio, and Prince Wolfe, plus special guests Elaine Denham, Robin Malone Simmons, and Stanley Frank for all-night atomic dance floor action. 9pm-3am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here.  

SAT/7 MUSIC SOPHIE The trans techno goddess—whose bubbly, confectionary productions threw the dance music world for a loop this decade on the PC Music label—absolutely slays in her live show. “Traversing disparate musical spheres from underground dance music to major label pop, SOPHIE’s singular sound shirks convention and pushes familiar musical styles to their furthest extremes. At once uncannily familiar and boldly experimental, and across solo releases and production work for other artists, her music has developed a devoted following and made her in demand in recording studios and on dance floors alike.” 9pm-2am, $30. Gray Area, SF. More info here

SUN/8 NIGHTLIFE RED BULL 3STYLE USE NATIONAL FINALS “Red Bull 3Style is the world’s largest global DJ competition and for the first time EVER the USA national final is coming to SF! Now in its 10th year, the global platform has been advancing and celebrating the culture of Djing. The rules are simple: Each competitor plays a combination of at least three musical genres in their 15 minutes, aiming to impress the judges and the crowd, of course.” 7pm-midnight, $10-$20. The Midway, SF. More info here.

Arts Forecast: Hip-Hop (Dance Fest) hurray! + more

I’m old enough to remember rappers on Fillmore corners and TURF dancers in Oakland intersections. The homeboys gathered on my stoop throughout the day passed blunts and cutty bangs, kept me up-to-date on the latest Divisadero news and looks. Most of that seems gone now. Thankfully, I’ve held on in Lower Haight, although I spend more time these days dodging double-prams rather than breaking out moves passing cars blaring Messy Marv.

But the spirit of hip-hop still remains in the Bay Area, even as it’s gone hyper-global, with dance champion Micaya’s kinetic, extraordinary SF International Hip-Hop Dance Fest (Fri/22-Sun/24 at Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, SF) going on its 21st edition this weekend. Just as the festival has expanded geographically, it’s also taken on some timely themes: This year includes “religion, feminism, politics, technology, and the meaning of ‘home.'”

“Under the umbrella of hip hop, this year’s festival showcases work that draws variously from b-boying, breaking, popping, freestyle, locking, clubbing, housing, voguing, and urban choreography. The 2019 festival welcomes international artists from Paris, Norway, Austria, Montreal, Chicago, New York, San Mateo, and San Francisco. Nearly a dozen groups will take the stage at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre mixing skillfulness with artistry and storytelling.” Check it out, and bop along in your seat. There’s even an after-party! Check out more info here.

MORE UPCOMING ARTS EVENTS

THU/21 FILM THROUGH THE WINDOWS: DOCUMENTING TWIN PEAKS TAVERN “With its plate-glass windows looking out on the corner of Castro and Market Streets, the landmark San Francisco gay bar Twin Peaks Tavern is not only one of the Castro’s most beloved establishments, but also a living testament to the revolutionary idea that LGBTQ people should be seen and celebrated rather than hide in the darkness of alleys and behind blacked-out windows. Filmmakers Petey Barna and Bret Parker will present their new documentary about the history of Twin Peaks, featuring deeply personal interviews that illuminate the history of the bar.” 7pm, $5. GLBT History Museum, SF. More info here.

FRI/22 NIGHTLIFE LIL LOUIE VEGA As one half of Masters at Work, he revolutionized house music in the 1990s with the Nuyorican sound. Don’t miss this dance floor maestro and get ready to throw down. 9pm-2am, $25. The New Parish, SF. More info here

FRI/22-SUN/24 STAGE CAME HERE TO LIVE: RESILIENCE AND RESISTANCE IN THE CONTAINMENT ZONE “Created and performed by the Skywatchers Ensemble—an intergenerational, mixed-ability collaborative arts ensemble of Tenderloin residents and ABD artists—Came Here to Live is rooted in the stories, dreams, and challenges of its participants. Creating sublime theater that’s equal parts protest and mourning, the Skywatchers Ensemble weaves personal stories—often illuminating stark truths—with visions of a revolution that will be led by those historically excluded from shaping culture and policy. Came Here to Live offers a vision of what is possible when we build new models for an inclusive and just society, embrace our intrinsic interdependence, and see our futures as interconnected.” $15-$35. CounterPulse, SF. More info here

SAT/23 NIGHTLIFE FRANKIE FEST When the Godfather of House, Frankie Knuckles, left us a few years back, he left more than one dance floor’s worth of tears in his wake. This party celebrates his Chicago house legacy, with DJs Eric Kupper, Hector Romero, and Kenny Summit. 9pm-4am, $20. F8, SF. More info here

SAT/23-DECEMBER 22 FESTIVAL GREAT DICKENS FAIR Ren Faire meets Burning Man meets burlesque meets Hallmark Channel at this sprawling event, which I originally approached with a skeptical, atheist’s eye—but was immediately won over with hot hard cider, fencing lessons, and a stunning recreation of an old London pier. This thing is pretty magical and campy fun. Cow Palace, SF. More info here

SAT/23 MUSIC AGENT ORANGE YES! And our own Middle-Aged Queers will be opening. “The original Southern California punk/surf power trio, Agent Orange is one of only a handful of bands who have been continually active since the earliest days of the West Coast Punk Scene. A small circle of musical rebels who came together to form a movement, they took their place front and center to experience and participate in the explosion of now legendary underground music that was created during the golden era of American Punk Rock.” 7pm, $20. Slim’s, SF. More info here.

SAT/23 NIGHTLIFE MOTHER: DOLLY NIGHT Welp, drag doyenne Heklina may have announced her semi-retirement, but she’s not going out without a big bang—two big bangs if you count her heroine Dolly Parton’s, er, more noticeable assets. There is nothing better than a room full of drag Dolly Partons, folks, and this tribute night will been for the books. 10pm, $10. Oasis, SF. More info here

SAT/23 SHOPPING/MUSIC BAY AREA RECORD FEST You know you gotta B.A.R.F.! Six Live Acts, 14 record labels, DJs, record shopping, food, drinks, arcade games! Lineup: Sonny & the Sunsets, Tia Nomore, The Gonks, Tyler Holmes and more. Noon-7pm, free with RSVP. 7th West, Oakland. More info here

SAT/23 NIGHTLIFE MR. BRIGHTSIDE INDIE BALL “Dance onto the iconic set of The Killers – Mr. Brightside video for the Indie Rock Alternative Pop 2000s party of your dreams! Anthemic 2000s indie music all night by artists such as The Killers, Robyn, The Strokes, M83, LCD Soundsystem, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phoenix, Empire of the Sun, Passion Pit, Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, Cut Copy, Bag Raiders, MGMT, Daft Punk, The White Stripes and much much more…” 9pm-2am, $15-$25. Great Northern, SF. More info here

WED/27 EVENT 41: 2019 Milk-Moscone Vigil The Harvey Milk Democratic Club presents its annual vigil in remembrance of the slain leaders. “We invite our fellow San Franciscans to join us in our vigil of reflection and to reaffirm our commitment to the vision these men had.A short audio visual program will be followed by a procession to the site of Castro Camera (575 Castro Street) where those who knew them will say a few words. Participants are encouraged to bring candles and flowers as San Franciscans did that night in November of 1978 Through the generosity of Dan Nicoletta, photographs of Harvey Milk and George Moscone will also be available for print on the club’s website for printing so that attendees may bring those photos to carry in memoriam.” 7pm-9pm, free. Harvey Milk Plaza at 18th and Castro, SF. More info here. 

Arts Forecast: And here’s the real kicker…

From 'Stomp.' Photo by Steve McNicholas

ARTS FORECAST The Stomp tour stomped into town for a very brief visit at ACT last weekend (why, when it could stay so much longer?)—and the minute I saw that looming mechanical hodge-podge set onstage, I was thrown back to the exuberantly radical theater era of the early ’90s, from whence Stomp originally stormed.

First, let me say that the 90-minute broom-shuffling, lid-crashing, barrel-banging, lighter-flicking romp has lost none of its magical appeal. The junkyard samba of Stomp is as sturdy as it ever was, and still showcases some jaw-dropping moves by its eight-member cast. In a feat of Mummenschanz-meets-Blue Man Group (with a considerably more attractive cast), the productions presents a series of prop-based skits, acrobatic flights during which the distinct personalities of the participants gradually emerge. The minutes fly by with a clang and bash.

Photo by Steve McNicholas

This cast brought out a delightful—and very marketable—country hoedown aspect of the show, with plenty of foot-stomping, hand-clapping hootenanny. Lead dancer Jordon Brooks, with long blonde hair and a sleeveless get-up, gave it all a carefree, down-home air. The rest of the cast was uniformly perfect—you kind of have to be, or you get a PVC tube to the face—gamely executing stunts strapped into giant inner tubes or flying high on wires to beat an assortment of washboards and gas cans. You actually do get everything and the kitchen sink.

But Stomp is also emblematic of an exciting time in theater when it felt like anything could happen. In the early ’90s, Sondheim and Old Broadway seemed hopelessly stuffy; the dramatic camp of Cats and Les Miz was giving way to a more primal theater: Rent was taking on AIDS and gentrification; renegade downtown companies were putting on over-the-top riffs on Vampire Lesbians of Sodom in strange basements where you could BYOB (an anarchic energy soon bottled by Hedwig); and somewhere this epic called Angels in America was telling the story of my life, but that would take years to reach my home in Detroit. (Before the internet, your rich gay friends had to tell you what was on in New York.)

Photo by Steve McNicholas

Stomp, when it emerged, became a another mind-blowing vehicle for the zeitgeist—and a rite of passage for any young actor, just like Rent (and, for that matter Cats, forever may it mewl in peace, or A Chorus Line.) This production has its updates—prop comedy is a record of technology, and it’s crazy to think that in the ’90s there were barely any wheeled carry-ons and everyone still read newspapers and used lighters. Will the next iteration feature vapes and iPhones? One can only wonder. But watching young bodies crash loudly through the wreckage on stage was a highly comfortable form of nostalgic pandemonium.

Stomp, stomp back to us!

UPCOMING ARTS EVENTS

THU/14 VISUAL ART DARK TURNS TO LIGHT: MID-CENTURY NEON IN WARSAW, HAVANA, AND SF Some bright and soothing light for this seasonal affective disorder moment. “On November 14, the Tenderloin Museum will host a series of slide presentations and discussions which explore neon’s various forms and functions in Warsaw, Havana, and San Francisco. Featuring slides of Cuban neon from Tenderloin Museum Executive Director Katie Conry’s and Steven Spiegel of Signs United’s recent trips to Havana, audience members will have the opportunity to get an inside look at how vintage neon signs are surviving today. Preceding the slide presentations, SF Neon will give an overview of the current projects to restore vintage neon in San Francisco.” 6pm-9:30pm, $10. Tenderloin Museum, SF. More info here

THU/14 DANCE CAIRO CABARET “Improvisational dance to live Arabic music is an integral part of many Middle Eastern arts and cultures. Unfortunately, this is a dying art. The mission of Cairo Cabaret is to keep alive and celebrate these unique and vanishing art forms by supporting events that include Arabic music and improvisational dance, educating audiences of the beauty of these cultural experiences, and deepening ones connection with these rare art forms. In a climate of intolerance and division, Cairo Cabaret shine a light on artists promoting Middle Eastern cultures by showcasing live Arabic music and dance performances.” $12, 9pm-midnight. El Valenciano, SF. More info here

THU/14 NIGHTLIFE SUPERVIXEN 15 Some DJs I really love involved in this party! Check out Sassmouth, AIDA, and Kimmy le Funk bringing various great sounds. “Supervixen is a creative experiment in San Francisco, focusing on supporting women in dance music, and holding space for local talent to hone their skills behind the decks. Our sounds range from the texturally minimal, and colorfully disco inspired, to the furious end of techno.”

THU/14 FUNDRAISER GLIDE HOLIDAY JAM Aww, who doesn’t love GLIDE, whose daily free meals are unfortunately more necessary than ever. This annual event boast some amazing participants this time around, including lauded singer Ledisi, Grammy Award–winning singer Lisa Fischer, multi-age hip hop crew Alphabet Rockers, and the clays-spectacular GLIDE Ensemble choir. Plus, food, featured speakers,  and lots of holiday cheer. 5:30pm-7pm, $50-$100. The Masonic, SF. More info here

THU/14 LIT/FILM/MUSIC MECHANICAL FANTASY BOX LAUNCH Patrick Cowley was a San Francisco electronic music genius, propelling disco and Hi-NRG artists like Sylvester and Paul Parker into the pop stratosphere. Local label Dark Entries has been releasing his music over several discs; this one contains to only early experiments and dance floor barnstormers, but also a gorgeously illustrated facsimile of Cowley’s sex journal, which chronicle—inexhaustibly—the sexual milieu of very active gay men in the late 1970s. This night will feature readings from the journal (yours truly reads a few entries) as well as a screening of a restored erotic film that Cowley scored. 6pm-9pm, free. The Magazine, 920 Larkin, SF.

THU/14-SUN/16 MUSIC RECOMBINANT FESTIVAL This excellent experimental electronic music festival brings out both the legendary in fine form—see this review of Gas from last year’s fest—and some great new artists. The centerpiece: Seminal circuits composer Morton Subotnick will play ‘Silver Apples of the Moon Revisited,” an update of his essential 1967 work, as well the inhalation-based “As I Live and Breathe.” Other performers include Shanghai’s 33EMYBW and GOOOOOSE and Tokyo’s Kyoka. Gray Area, SF. More info here

FRI/15 ART OPENING POINT OF FINAL COLLAPSE Here’s a fascinating project that makes a huge statement encompassing the Millennium Tower mess. “The critically-acclaimed indigenous art collective Postcommodity has created a broadly conceptual audio work that focuses on San Francisco’s famously sinking luxury high-rise Millennium Tower. What they’ve set out to do with the piece is to use data representing the movement of the Tower to create a call to prayer for relief from the economic stresses and dangers of a city in the throws of radical social, cultural, architectural, and economic transformation. The Point of Final Collapse uses computational algorithms to parse that movement data, which is then mapped to healing ASMR audio and soothing binaural beats, transforming the sonification of the sinking and tilting of the Millennium Tower into therapeutic sounds. Long Range Acoustic Devices, installed in the tower at San Francisco Art Institute’s historic Chestnut Street Campus, will subtly broadcast this indeterminate and generative multichannel sound composition to North Beach and downtown San Francisco for a 4-minute duration each day at 5pm.” Opening 5pm-8pm, free. San Francisco Art Institute. More info here

FRI/15 SHOPPING CREATIVITY EXPLORED HOLIDAY ART SHOP “As the holiday shopping season approaches, Creativity Explored is opening the vaults of our exclusive collection of original artwork by local artists with developmental disabilities. During the Holiday Art Shop the general public will access new and previously exhibited framed and unframed paintings and drawings, plus a huge collection of hand-made ceramics, textile art, original fashions, and limited edition gift items. This salon-style shopping experience includes rare and exhibited framed paintings, drawings and multimedia artwork, functional and decorative ceramic sculptures, unique fiber art and our collection of popular digital prints. As always, 50% of original art sales go directly to the artist, supporting their well-being and independence.” 6pm-9pm, free. Creativity Explored, SF. More info here

FRI/15 NIGHTLIFE MERCURY SOUL Composer Mason Bates and friends continue to combine classical and dance floor explorations to stunning effect. This time around? “Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, Gluck’s Dance of the Furies, Rebel’s Les Elemens and Abels Dances and Delight’s, all to be performed live without restraint! DJ Masonic (Mason Bates) and DJ Justin Reed spin their house inspired beats with jazz, downtempo leanings to sate musical appetites between sets. Closing the night is DJ Mark O’Brien from the Polyglamorous Crew and Keith Lawrence from Cosa Nostra Strings to offer a new electronic+live music fusion set ending the party.” 9pm-late, $25-$30. DNA Lounge, SF. More info here

A work from ‘Future Relations’

FRI/15 ART OPENING FUTURE RELATIONS: A RESOURCE FOR RADICAL TEACHING PRESENTS FTP  “With a combined 30 years of teaching experience, curators Fred Alvarado, Thomas Jones, and David Petrelli reimagine SOMArts’ Main Gallery into a site for collective liberation and hope for educators, community organizers, and youth alike. Critically engaged teachers work collaboratively with young people in confronting and subverting systemic oppression. Through an Ethnic Studies, social justice oriented lens, Future Relations offers alternatives to traditional models of education by presenting works that underscore the importance of experiential knowledge and community cultural wealth. Exhibiting artists include Brett Cook, whose social practice extends into public speaking and teaching, Carolina Caycedo, whose environmentally focused works explore the impact of development projects, and Precita Eyes’ Urban Youth Arts Program, a class for students ages 11-19 that focuses on lettering and character design.” Shows runs through December 21. 6pm-9pm, free. SOMArts, SF. More info here 

SAT/16 MUSIC/STAGE THE WALL “November 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s iconic album, The Wall. On Saturday, November 16, Music For The Apocalypse performs the album live, cover-to-cover! MuFTA will be joined by an All Star cast of musicians, singers and drag queens to create a compelling piece of political theater. The year is 2025. The human race sits at the precipice of Apocalypse. Fascism, endless war, environmental catastrophe plague a planet on the edge of an epochal shift that we have no certainty of surviving!” 9pm-1am, $20. The Chapel, SF. More info here

SUN/17 MUSIC QUEER PAJAMA FEST II: LAVENDER COUNTRY This is so sweet. “In 1973, Patrick Haggerty recorded and released Lavender Country, a collection of gay radical country music. Though all of the records sold and the project was celebrated in a small portion of the gay community, Lavender Country proved too extreme for the music industry of the 70s and the project fizzled. 40 years later, independent record label Paradise of Bachelors reissued Lavender Country to rave reviews and a much more accepting public. Patrick and his music became the subject of an award winning short documentary, Cryin These C*cksuckin Tears, and Lavender Country went from being a lost obscurity to an underground legend.
Since 2014, Patrick has played shows all over the states, from New York to San Francisco and everywhere in between, spreading his revolutionary message of love and acceptance in the face of violence, hate and fascism.” 5pm, $10. 924 Gilman, Berkeley. More info here

Arts Forecast: Day of the Dead in the City of Souls

Image from SomARTS's 'City of Lost Souls' Day of the Dead exhibit.

Ready to shed the rotting pumpkin skin of Halloween and sniff the sweet spice of the afterlife? OK that question is a lot, but after this year’s All Hallow’s Eve revels, it’s time to wave a ghostly hi to our ancestors at Día de los Muertos celebrations.

The main event, of course, is the huge procession through the Mission on Sat/2 and gathering around the altars of Potrero del Sol Park. (The festival of altars begins at 4pm in the park, the procession at 7pm.) Here you can respectfully commune with others, present and passed. This year’s theme is Mazatl: Year of the Deer. While you’re in the Mission, do not pass up a chance to see the stunning altars and performances at Mission Cultural Center’s Cultivando Tiempo / Cultivating Time Day of the Dead celebration, which presents an afternoon and evening of blessings, dedications, indigenous music, and loving art.

To celebrate this San Francisco tradition more in-depth, nothing beats a visit to the beautiful, challenging artistic altares set up SomARTS for its annual Día exhibit, this year entitled City of Souls, running through November 8 and dedicated to Filipinx scholar Dr. Dawn Mabalon and to the children who have passed away in ICE custody. “Housed in a translucent, labyrinthine city, this exhibition meditates on San Francisco’s rapidly changing landscape, asking artists and visitors: Who are the ancestors we need to call in to help fight for the soul of the City? What are the people, places, and institutions lost to time that have shaped us? What kind of future can we collectively envision for San Francisco?”

The SF Symphony is showing Coco, Fri/1 and Sat/2, both days at 7:30pm, and who wouldn’t want to see this Pixar masterpiece on the big screen with a big string section? And if you have kids or are just still full of spirit, check out the symphony’s Día de los Muertos Community Concert, Sat/2 at 2pm. “Latin Grammy-award winning band Monsieur Periné joins the SFS for the second half of the program, and the celebrations also include lobby art and pre-concert activities (partially presented by the Mexican Museum and Casa Círculo Cultural of Redwood City).” It’s lovely.

On Fri/1, 3pm-5pm, there’s a free Neighborhood Day of the Dead Altar Project at Counterpulse, where you can fashion your own ofrenda for the altars. Later, if you feel like dancing, ghost ye quivering feet along to Mexican EDM mastermind Deorro at 1015 Folsom, also Fri/1, 10pm-3am.

From the Oakland Museum’s ‘¡El Movimiento Vivo! Chicano Roots of El Día de los Muertos’ exhibit

Finally, do not miss the colorful and important ¡El Movimiento Vivo! Chicano Roots of El Día de los Muertos exhibit at the Oakland Museum (through February 16, 2020), which “honors and explores the lesser-known origins of Day of the Dead, and the ways these traditions continue to inspire social and political change today. Visitors will encounter altars, artworks, and interactive elements that show how Chicano activists used Day of the Dead traditions to foster pride in their indigenous heritage and unify their communities. Experience a Oaxacan style ofrenda and hear first-hand stories of the Chicanos who went to Oaxaca to gather Day of the Dead traditions from elders.”

THIS JUST IN: There will be a Día de los Muertos action to #closethecamps

Oh jeez, now I need a churro.

More upcoming events

THU/31-11/16 DANCE SOLEDAD BARRIO & NOCHE FLAMENCO: ENTRE TÚ Y YO I adore flamenco, and Soledad Barrio is one of the absolute best. After the national triumph of ‘Antigona,’ Barrio and Noche Flamenco return with this program duets, solos, and ensemble works, featuring Barrio’s signature, “Soleá,” which “exemplifies the catharsis at the heart of flamenco.” Z Space, SF. More info here

FRI/1-24 STAGE CONVOY 31000Convoy 31000 is the story of 230 women of the French Resistance who were arrested and sent to Auschwitz. Only 49 survived. Incorporating narrative forms — poetry, music, song, and movement — the Lunatico ensemble shines a light on these overlooked female heroes of WWII. La Val’s Subterranean Theater, Berkeley. More info here

Gilbert Baker holds the rainbow flag against a pink background (1989); photograph by Robert Pruzan, collection of the GLBT Historical Society.

FRI/1 ART PERFORMANCE, PROTEST, & POLITICS: THE ART OF GILBERT BAKER “A new exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society Museum uses textiles, costumes, photographs and ephemera to paint a complex portrait of San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker (1951–2017), who designed the iconic rainbow flag as a symbol of the LGBTQ community. First displayed at the 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, the flag has transcended its humble, hand-sewn origins to become an internationally recognized symbol. Yet the success of this design has in some ways overshadowed the larger story of its creator and his exceptional creative work.” Opening Fri/1, 7pm-9pm, show runs though March 2020. GLBT History Museum, SF. More info here

FRI/1 ART PANSY TWIST: AN INCOMPLETE SURVEY OF RIOT BOY ART All starting as musicians in the fertile and majestic Bay Area queer scene – this art show positions itself as an unwilling movement that is set to explore questions of (but not limited to): the impact of the feminist gaze in queer male art, the inextricable link between music and visual art, the recalibration and transmogrification of d.i.y. (do it yourself) reality into d.i.t. (DO IT TOGETHER) reality, the simultaneous exalting, examination, and (hopeful) annihilation of what constitutes the “boy genius”, scene pageantry, and the inherent superiority of queer alternative art. The night will include ceramics, paintings, film install, a filmed happening, convo, and marijuana smoking outside. Opening Fri/1, 5pm-8pm, free. Show though January 2020. Johansson Projects, Oakland. More info here.  

FRI/1 NIGHTLIFE NOCTUARY The Noctuary parties promote women in techno and safe spaces on the dance floor, two much, much needed and appreciated things. This time around, the crew brings in Detroit’s Erika and Brooklyn’s Antenes to play back-to-back, in what surely will be a wash of smart and pummeling beats. 9:30pm-3:30am, $12. Public Works, SF. More info here

SAT/2 NIGHTLIFE GO BANG: IMFRUMULL The Go Bang party has been packing the Stud by bringing back the classic disco sounds (and lights!) of the Trocadero Transfer, and I-Beam—this time resident DJs Sergio, Steve Fabus, and Prince Wolfe  are joined by UK disco wiz Imfromull, who is from Hull. Disco flavors from across the pond, not to be missed. 9pm-3am, $10-$15. The Stud, SF. More info here.  

SAT/2 FILM KATHY GRIFFIN: A HELL OF A STORY She’s brash, she’s loud, she’s hilarious, she’s annoying—and for a time, a photo of her was everywhere, holding the bloody (fake) head of Donald Trump, like a contemporary #resistance Judith brandishing Holofernes’ severed noggin. The story of what that incendiary image did to her career, and how she overcame it to remain successful, is, indeed ‘a hell of a story.” And so it’s now an acclaimed documentary. She’ll be at the Castro in person to talk about the experience with lesbian legend Kate Kendall, benefitting the Richmond Ermet Aid Foundation. 6:30pm, $20-$30. Castro theatre, SF. More info here

SUN/3 NIGHTLIFE LTJ BUKEM One of the masters of drum ‘n bass in the ’90s and 2000s, LTJ took the form into space-y, hypnotically melodic directions. (He certainly wasn’t afraid to pull out a string section of his own here and there.) Catch this legend for a rare appearance at drum ‘n bass party Stamina, with Bachelors of Science and Jamal. 9pm-2am, free(!). F8, SF. More info here.   

SUN/3 MUSIC DEAD GHOSTS Just in time for day of the Dead! “Formed nearly a decade ago in Vancouver, Canada, the garage-rock group grew out of founders Byran Nicol, Drew Wilky, and Mike Wilky’s desire to hang out, listen to records and play music. After the trio uploaded a few demos to Myspace—this was 2008, after all—a small punk record label from Iowa reached out and asked if they wanted to do a single. The single quickly led to the group’s first full-length album, the self-titled Dead Ghosts.” DEAD GHOSTS!  7pm, $15. The Chapel, SF. More info here

SUN/3 NIGHTLIFE CLARK PRICE One of the heads of Honcho, the Pittsburgh party crew that helped revitalize the gay underground earlier this decade (and put that city’s nightlife back on the map), Monsieur Price has a deep feeling for techno that complements his encyclopedic knowledge. Get into his sound at the monthly Sunday Situation party. 5pm-late, $5. The Stud, SF. More info here

TUE/4 MUSIC SWERVEDRIVER On the more blistering, woozy side of shoegaze, the UK band is still going strong, haunting eardrums and making their own “space travel rock’n’roll” many quality tours and albums in, including latest Future Ruins. 7:30pm, $25. The Independent, SF. More info here

WED/6 EVENT OPENING ICEBREAKER CEREMONY FOR SAFEWAY ICE RINK The cast of Drag Queens on Ice, the cast of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” emcee Donna Sachet, Assemblymember David Chiu, and more will been hand to inaugurate the 10th season of the Union Square Ice Rink. Let’s skate! 9:30am, free.