St. Vincent: On the evening of Oct. 22, 2009, Annie Clark donned her guitar and stepped onstage at Castaways, a garage-sized dive bar in Ithaca, N.Y. Situated between a muddy canal and a gleaming fitness center, the venue was stippled with garish nautical kitsch: life preservers, light-up palm trees, a logo featuring a fish in sunglasses. Clark, barely 27 and fresh off the release of Actor, her sophomore album, seemed awestruck by the packed house. She played an uninterrupted hour and a half before admitting she'd feared no one would show up. Her voice was shaking.
This Annie Clark, with her hesitations, deprecations, and coy anxieties, will not be present at Oakland's Fox Theater this week. She will, most likely, never be seen again. Instead, audiences will behold a sort of snarling demigod -- a stoic virtuoso with a repertoire sharp as a switchblade and a shock of hair dyed the color of a great white's fin. [continue reading]
Tycho: Certain artists make it impossible to ignore the utilitarian aspects of music, and Tycho, the trio led by San Francisco producer and graphic designer Scott Hansen, is one of them. Since the release of its 2011 album, Dive, Tycho has enjoyed considerable success: approving reviews on popular music sites, enviable slots at major festivals, palpable anticipation for a follow-up record. Which is all a bit surprising, considering that Tycho makes glistening, unobtrusive post-rock that is entirely instrumental. You can't sing along to this music, and you can't really dance to it, either. Tycho songs, especially those on Dive, move like time-lapse footage of a day going by: There's a distant throb of drums, a slowly unfurling arc of synthesizer, a few droplets of reverb-y guitar. The melodies yawn. Nothing demands your attention. And maybe that's the attraction. [continue reading]
Suboi: Vietnam's 24-year-old queen of hip-hop, Hàng Lâm Trang Anh, is looking forward to her first visit to the United States. She definitely wants to see the Golden Gate Bridge, which is familiar to her from TV, movies, and even karaoke. But what she's most excited about is being able to say whatever she wants onstage, with no fear of censorship.
"It's very hard in Vietnam," says the rapper known as Suboi in a Skype interview. "If you say something too real, it gets a little bit weird. If you say things about money, drugs, and sex, they're not going to approve -- they're going to censor it. I don't want to censor myself -- this is America, and I can say whatever the fuck I want." [continue reading]
Sizzle and Fizzle: Highs and lows from the week in S.F. music.
And we recommend shows!