When the ancient Polynesians invented surfing, they often used a paddle to help them navigate. Fast-forward a few millennia, and Stand-Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, finds itself trendy again. Part of its increasing popularity is that standing upright allows surfers to spot waves more easily and thus catch more of them, multiplying the fun factor. Paddling back to the wave becomes less of a strain as well. The ability to cruise along on flat inland water, surveying the sights, is another advantage. Finally, its a good core workout. If youre sold on the idea, schedule an intro SUP lesson, free with board and paddle rental, and you may find yourself riding the waves like a Polynesian king.More
In the past 30 years, light artists have reimagined an art form that has always had the ability to turn the night sky, or a simple window, into luminescence. Last fall, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts turned its southern glass wall into a parade of sound-sensing lights, Lightswarm, that changes with the movements of nearby people and things. Future Cities Lab, the San Francisco design company behind Lightswarm, has originated another notable light sculpture. Located by the YBCA's steps at 701 Mission, Murmur Wall will light up in arresting ways as it incorporates local trending search engine results and social media postings. Onlookers can offer their own contributions, which will feed into the Murmur Wall's data stream and light up the sculpture. What's trending in San Francisco? If you're walking by the YBCA, you can see firsthand — at least through light patterns that reflect the city's volatile internet habits.
Murmur Wall debuts Thursday at 6 p.m. and continues through May 31, 2017, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., S.F. Free; 415-978-2700 or ybca.org. More
Birds & Batteries is one of the few local bands that's pretty difficult to pin down. It's not garage rock, it's not synth-pop, it's not dance music, it's not lo-fi, it's not chillwave, and it's definitely not any strand of hip-hop. So what does the four-piece outfit sound like? Well, in some respects, the San Francisco quartet is a complete amalgamation of all of those sounds. As heard on their last EP, Up to No Good, Birds & Batteries is a band that translates a large sum of contemporary sounds into its own kind of -- as founder and lead singer Mike Sempert puts it -- "classic rock sound."
Now, Birds & Batteries is about to release a new full-length record, entitled Panorama. We were lucky enough to host this premiere of the album cut "Some Hypnotic Flash," as well as a "digital collage" that Sempert made, incorporating parts of his bands' last EP and the upcoming album. You can check out that stuff, along with an interesting Q&A we did with Birds & Batteries' frontman, after the jump.
"Some Hypnotic Flash"
Give us a brief history of Birds & Batteries. How long has the band been around, and what's the current lineup?
Birds & Batteries has been around for almost six years. I started out on my own, recording demos in Cape Cod, Mass., and put the band together when I moved to San Francisco. We've been performing and touring with this core group for over three years, and it keeps getting better. The lineup is myself on keys and guitar, Christopher Walsh on guitar, Jill Heinke on bass and synth, Brian Michelson on drums and sampler, and everyone sings a bit.
What made you want to expand from a solo project to a full band?
The evolution from solo project to band came from the basic need to have this music played by talented humans.
Your last release was an EP called Up to No Good, which seemed to put you on the radar for some major music press. Have you seen an increase in attention online and at your live shows since then?
I think each release is an opportunity to make another splash in the vast ocean of music. Each time, there's no way to know how big or small that splash might be until you do it, and even then, you don't know where all the ripples go. "Where are all the ripples?" you'll ask, and there might be some hanging around, actin' cool or maybe some floated away and they're just shy ripples. But then, long after those ripples have all gone to sleep, some guy wearing pants comes out to your show in Albuquerque, and says, "Whoa, surfs up, bro!" And if that man with the pants turns out to be Keanu Reeves? Well, you can thank Mr. Ripples Jr., who is all grown up, and is actually a big, big wave now -- like at the end of Point Break, when Patrick Swayze escapes. What's nice is: Yes, I do feel that there's a cumulative effect of releasing music and creating more fans with each release. Getting some people wet -- What? Er...
Nice. I also heard about your recent signing to Velvet Blue Music. How did that come about?
It's actually a dual signing with Spune Records (out of Ft. Worth, TX) and Velvet Blue. We got to know Spune through our friends in Telegraph Canyon. Spune co-releases everything with Velvet Blue. So far, they've both been great.
And you'll be releasing your next full-length, Panorama, with them in October. What would you say some of the major differences between your last EP and this new record are?
The EP is funkier, synthier, and mostly ironic in lyrical tone. Panorama is more sincere, a little more serious, but more open, as well. There's more guitar, some pedal steel, a slightly more 'classic rock' sound by B&B standards. And by classic rock, I don't me the Coog (someday, Johnny, when I'm ready). I mean ELO, Talking Heads, John Lennon's "Walls and Bridges". Recorded music of the 1970s is so awesome and hard to compete with in terms of the way it sounds. But it's definitely something to strive for and be inspired by.
What local bands and producers have you guys been digging lately?
Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'.
Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"