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
For most people, December means crowded department stores, office parties you are mandated to attend, and surviving the potential carnage of spending the holidays with your loved ones. For Chris Robinson, the former lead singer of The Black Crowes and current frontman of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, it means some shows in San Francisco where he’s made a tradition of playing with various incarnations of his band each December. While The Black Crowes were beloved for their classic rock roots, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood takes a decidedly blues-by-way-of-psychedelia approach to their music, a sound right at home in the Bay Area, This year’s proceedings will take place at the Fillmore, a venue Robinson likens to a well-loved instrument.
“It’s like an old guitar,” he says. “It’s been blasted out now for a few different cycles.” Robinson, who this year moved across the bridge to Marin County, feels a special vibe from the Bay Area crowds that pack his shows. “There’s this electric bond people have,” he explains, citing the concert culture started by luminaries like Bill Graham and The Family Dog. In fact, even though the Chris Robinson Brotherhood was formed in Southern California, San Francisco is the band's biggest market, and Robinson believes the band has played more shows there than anywhere else.
“Our scene gets a little bigger every time,” he says, “but it’s still small enough that it seems like everyone still knows everyone.”
Marin, now Robinson’s scene, is full of many familiar faces for the Georgia-born rocker. Grateful Dead alumni like Phil Lesh and Bob Weir both live there, musicians Robinson has been playing with since 1997. His choice to move to Marin was inspired in part by the proximity it offered to so many artists he’s worked with and the chance to sit in on sessions with Lesh at his San Rafael club, Terrapin Crossroads. Furthermore, when the Brotherhood’s current tour ends next month, the band plans to record their next studio effort at a location in Stinson Beach.
Robinson says that the geographic places in which he records his music play a huge role in affecting the finished product. Referencing the Bay Area as particularly fertile ground, he confesses that he’s always wanted to record an album in the region, and that, for him, the process is rooted in changing one’s perspective.
The music that will encompass the Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s next release is still very much a work in progress, a process Robinson compares to a NASCAR road team. “If our band and our music is a race car, we’re the pit crew, constantly twisting knobs and calibrating engines and fuel gauges," he says. He views the process of making records and spending time in the studio as a privilege, with the focus squarely on the music being created and not the financial gain to himself or the label. That said, he isn’t unaware of the issues being raised by the advent of streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, companies he now lives but a bridge away from.
“I don’t know why music is so cheap,” he laments. “I don’t know why what I do is so worthless.” Robinson imagines the alternative: A throng of musicians storming the corporate offices of a streaming company and taking their things. “I imagine that would be highly illegal,” he says, “but thousands of people can stream hundreds and hundreds of hours of your music and you get paid nothing.” He’s taken the step of removing his work from most of the popular streaming platforms, but he questions whether the action has helped or hindered. Robinson also worries that the randomness of discovering music through a streaming service may somehow belie a lack of importance, a situation that takes away from the work itself.
“I’m not going to launch lawsuits and get uptight,” he concludes, “but bands that are popular and bands that have long careers and bands that have music on the radio should be able to see something for that. It just seems fair. I think there’s still that underlying mentality of, ‘You don’t really work for a living,’ like an old '60s TV show about a rock and roll band.”
Still, the problematic nature of streaming isn’t something that Robinson has much time for. He’s focused on the end of his tour, the work on his new album (which is soon to begin), and exploring the nature and delicious eats that now encompass his backyard. Picco in Larkspur is a favorite dinner spot, while Phoenix Lake has become a go-to location for dog walks and hikes. Robinson speaks fondly about jaunts out to Tomales Bay for oysters and a recent visit to a Sonoma pumpkin patch. The Bay Area long ago welcomed his music, and now it’s welcoming his family, too.
“I’ve just never felt better coming home from tour," he says. "The air feels good. You can actually breathe. Everyone is super nice, and they have really nice grits at the Hummingbird Café in Fairfax, so we feel at home.”
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood plays the Fillmore on December 11 & 12. Tickets are available at chrisrobinsonbrotherhood.com.
Zack was born in San Francisco and never found a reason to leave. He has written for Consequence of Sound, The Believer, The Millions, and The Rumpus. He is still in search of a Bort license plate.
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.'"