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Best Excuse to Start Your Weekend Early 

Popscene SF

Wednesday, May 6 2015

Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St.

Aaron Axelsen and company have been throwing Popscene SF parties for damn near two decades and they haven't dropped off one bit. Quite the opposite in fact, as the weekly indie dance night, which takes over the Rickshaw Stop every Thursday evening, has featured some of the biggest acts in the world before they reached mega-stardom. Maybe you've heard of some of these hacks: Phoenix? Sam Smith? Florence + The Machine? Amy Winehouse?! I thought so.

About a year ago, Popscene had booked Sam Smith to play the 400-person capacity Rickshaw Stop. Less than a year later, Smith was selling out the 7,000 capacity Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and then went on to take home four Grammys, including Best New Artist and Record of the Year. While the Smith case presents an extreme, this is what Popscene SF does: gives San Francisco the opportunity to see some of the best artists in the world in an intimate venue. I mean ... just think of the bragging rights you have if you were at that Sam Smith Popscene night?

If there's a quality that all of Popscene's acts have in common, it's the sheer danceability of their tunes; crazy dancing, smooth dancing, or grab your boo and sway dancing. This isn't the type of club night where you show up to sit on a couch and sip fancy cocktails. This is get up and move, feel-alive-type shit, while you pound another $4 Budweiser (a SF bargain!), or Jack & Coke, and bounce around with your friends to badass indie music at an intimate venue.

Among this year's highlights, Popscene has already hosted rising dance pop artist Shamir, highly touted synthpop trio WET, and Swedish singer Tove Styrke (not to be confused with behemoth star Tove Lo, who Popscene also hosted in 2014, NBD.) Back in March, I dropped by Popscene to see a new UK band called Wolf Alice. It absolutely rocked its way into "new discovery" status and is now set to play the larger Independent on May 14th. Popscene SF is where buzzworthy bands come to start their ascent into mainstream relevance.

Yet, the sheer accessibility of Popscene SF nights is never lost. Local bands are often booked as opening acts and head honcho Aaron Axelsen, always an approachable dude, is manning the decks in between sets every night and playing music that you 'oughta be knowing. Last time out, I caught Aaron in a moment of nostalgia while talking about Popscene: "9 years ago we had Arctic Monkeys playing here...Arctic Monkeys!" Honestly, he should be low-key bragging about this. Find me a better time on a Thursday night than knocking back a few with friends at a local venue, with the possibility of seeing the next Arctic Monkeys, and I'm all ears. Until then, I'm taking Popscene SF.

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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