With so much activity in the spring, summer, and fall, you might think winter is a quiet time for live music. You'd be wrong: Before the madness of touring season sets in, locals can hold court in their hometown venues for adventurous shows, and major names can pull off extended surprises. Just 'cause the sun sets early doesn't mean you should be in watching Netflix. Here are some reasons to get out to the clubs.
Undercover Presents Sly and The Family Stone's Stand!
Jan. 17-19, The Independent, theindependentsf.com.
What happens when a sprawling cast of local talents — like Marcus Shelby, the Jazz Mafia, and Tumbleweed Wanderers — get together to perform highly original covers of classic albums? You never really know, and that's part of the magic. Undercover Presents is holding court for three nights at the Independent to give Sly's Stand! a tribute, and if it's anything like the group's past projects, you'll hear this renowned album in a whole new way. Ian S. Port
Icee Hot Four Year Anniversary
With Levon Vincent, Joey Anderson, and Floating Points, Jan. 18, Public Works, publicsf.com.
For cutting-edge club music, few parties deliver like Icee Hot. For its fourth anniversary, it's going deep into the furthest recesses of the contemporary underground. The headliner is Levon Vincent, whose dubby, sinister, oddly approachable techno tracks — like "Man or Mistress" and "Double Jointed Sex Freak" — have largely defined the direction of the genre for the past few years. He'll be joined by avant-garde New Jersey house head Joey Anderson and jazz-minded Londoner Floating Points. Derek Opperman
Lights Down Low presents Benoit & Sergio
Jan. 25, Monarch, monarchsf.com.
Traditional lyric-based song-craft isn't generally a feature of modern dance music. It is, however, in the work of Benoit & Sergio, a tech-house duo from D.C. and Berlin who spice up their minimal shuffle with a vocal delivery reminiscent of David Byrne and Graceland-era Paul Simon. DO
Feb. 2-8, at various venues and times, skrillex.com.
The second-loudest thing happening in San Francisco this winter (we're expecting the Niners to go all the way) will be the week of shows that hairstyle icon and dubstep deliverer Sonny Moore, aka Skrillex, is putting on at various venues big and small. Expect the overload of senses you didn't even know you had. ISP
Feb. 6, Mezzanine, mezzaninesf.com.
Though he was once one of U.K. dubstep's leading figures, Scuba has since moved on to bigger things — literally: His sound has gone in an increasingly bombastic direction, with tracks like "The Hope" and "Hardbody" recalling the ravey energy of big beat acts like Prodigy and the Crystal Method, albeit without the cheese. DO
With Swiftumz, Feb. 8, The Hemlock, hemlocktavern.com.
Named after a song by a notorious alcoholic from Ohio, Life Stinks plays thuggish rock 'n' roll music spiked with black humor and aggression. There are two drummers playing one bone-headed beat and a vocalist yowling invectives. Deranged and volatile, Life Stinks represents one creative response to San Francisco's increasing expense and tension. Sam Lefebvre
Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds
With Wax Idols, Dancer, Feb. 11, Slim's, slimspresents.com.
Formerly of the Gun Club, the Cramps, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, guitarist Kid Congo Powers is a legend, but the seasoned player's solo output adds another dimension to his career. With the Pink Monkey Birds, Powers explores twisted rock grooves and menacing vocal delivery on top of his signature six-string abilities. SL
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
With Sonny and the Sunsets, Feb. 14, The Fillmore, thefillmore.com.
Long one of San Francisco's best songwriters, Thao Nguyen had a breakout year in 2013 after her latest album, We the Common, met with international acclaim. She gives serious subjects the Mission whimsy treatment — banjo, brass sections, cowboy boots, etc. — but when you catch yourself singing along with a song about a woman spending her life in prison, you know you've found a great folk singer. ISP
As You Like It presents Slow Hands
Feb. 14, Beatbox, beatboxsf.com.
Slow Hands doesn't do fast. The New York DJ is one of those rare spinners who plays slower records, preferring to warm crowds up and keep them swooning with breezy mid-tempo disco grooves evocative of warm climates and exhausting all-night rendezvous. You probably ought to stock up on contraceptives if you decide to spend your Valentine's Day with him at As You Like It's annual lover's edition. DO
R. Stevie Moore
With The Memories, Feb. 21, The Chapel, thechapelsf.com.
A home-recording pioneer and prolific dispenser of idiosyncratic and often beautiful pop music, self-sufficient long before "DIY" chic, R. Stevie Moore is a maverick artist. After distributing homemade cassette tapes through the mail for decades, Moore in recent years saw exhaustive reissues and critical praise that brought him long-deserved recognition and headlining billings. SL
March 3, Great American Music Hall, slimspresents.com.
Best known as the leader of Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters, Mark Kozelek's 25-year career of folk-rock introspection and moody understatement is not just a trove of masterful song-craft. The long-time San Francisco resident's laconic balladry has earned him the reputation of a poet among songwriters.