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One Last Spin: A Look Back at the Year in Bay Area Music 

Wednesday, Dec 28 2011

A lot happened in Bay Area music in 2011 — and not all of it had to do with a female rapper from Oakland called Kreayshawn. Remember KUSF getting shut down? Or the battle to save the Eagle Tavern? And it wasn't all sad news either — 2011 saw a number of local creative breakthroughs, the continuing rise of electronic music, and some incredible shows. Relive it in our handy local music 2011 rewind.


San Francisco's own state Assemblywoman Fiona Ma works on the Anti-Raves Act of 2011, a bill intended to ban raves — defined as nighttime events lasting longer than three and a half hours and including prerecorded music — on public property.

Jan. 18: University of San Francisco officials abruptly shut down the college's radio station, KUSF 90.3 FM, after selling its FCC license to a classical music network partly owned by the University of Southern California. Students, volunteers, and music lovers around the world protest.


Feb. 22: The 19th annual Noise Pop festival brings Yo La Tengo, Best Coast, How to Dress Well, Dâm-Funk, No Age, and more to various S.F. clubs.


Mar. 15: Slim's is forced to stop selling alcohol for 10 days due to a neighbor's repeated complaints about noise from the live music venue.

Mar. 17: Assemblywoman Ma attends the Beyond Wonderland rave in San Bernardino as part of her campaign to ban large-scale dance parties on state-owned property. "It wasn't fun per se," Ma says afterward. "But I could see how people could have fun."


Apr. 11: News breaks that the Eagle Tavern — a beloved SOMA leather bar and live music venue — is set to close after 30 years, after the property's owners refuse to renew its lease.

Apr. 16: While performing at Coachella, Berkeley hip-hop misfit Lil B announces that his new album will be called I'm Gay. (He later denies he's a homosexual.)

Apr. 19: tUnE-yArDs, a wildly original ukulele dance-folk group led by Oakland singer Merrill Garbus, release their second album, w h o k i l l, to widespread acclaim.


May 10: San Francisco psych-rock kings Thee Oh Sees release their first LP of 2011, Castlemania.

May 16: A 21-year-old Oakland art school-dropout calling herself Kreayshawn posts a video for her song "Gucci Gucci" to YouTube.


June 8: Kreayshawn's "Gucci Gucci" video is watched more than 2 million times. She signs to Columbia Records in a deal rumored to be worth more than $1 million. Her associate, V-Nasty, is widely criticized online for unapologetically using the n-word.

June 9: Some U2 fans consider suing the Coliseum after waiting five hours in traffic to attend the band's sold-out concert, which drew nearly 70,000 people.


July 14: Spotify, the much-ballyhooed European music-streaming service, finally comes to U.S. users.


Aug. 2: The S.F. Board of Supervisors approves new permits allowing cafes, bars, and restaurants to legally host live music at low cost.

Aug. 12-14: Outside Lands celebrates its fourth year by returning to a three-day format. Notable performers include the Arcade Fire, Muse, Phish, the Black Keys, Girl Talk, Erykah Badu, and The Decemberists. The festival sells out of passes and earns rave reviews. Local performers include Ty Segall, Sonny and the Sunsets, and tUnE-yArDs.


Sept. 1: Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong gets kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for sagging his pants.

Sept. 9: Assemblywoman Ma's quest to ban raves ends when she discovers that you can't constitutionally outlaw a type of music.

Sept. 21: Thirteen-year-old Berkeley indie label Absolutely Kosher announces that it will stop putting out new records. Its final release is the album Hard Times by British Columbia outfit Himalayan Bear.

Sept. 24: The LovEvolution rave moves to the grounds around Oracle Arena in Oakland. Turnout is disappointing.


Oct. 1-2: Free music festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass returns to Golden Gate Park for its 11th year. Notable performers include Robert Plant, Kris Kristofferson, Conor Oberst, and the Mekons. Bike parking is reported to have improved.

Oct. 5: Apple founder and music technology innovator Steve Jobs dies at the age of 56.

Oct. 8: The Saloon, S.F.'s oldest bar and best live blues venue, turns 150 years old.


Nov. 6: Jesse Morris, a local busker known as S.F.'s punk rock Johnny Cash, commits suicide at the age of 28.

Nov. 8: Thee Oh Sees release their second LP of 2011, Carrion Crawler/The Dream.

Nov. 16: Eclectic Mission record label Porto Franco announces its plans to stop releasing new music in 2012 due to financial difficulties.


Dec. 5: Metallica plays the first of four fan-club-only shows at The Fillmore to celebrate its 30th year as a band.

Dec. 16: The Board of Supervisors officially changes the name of Speedway Meadow to Hellman Hollow, in honor of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass founder and philanthropist Warren Hellman.

Dec. 18: Warren Hellman dies at age 77 of complications stemming from leukemia.

Dec. 31: Kreayshawn is set to headline the Regency Ballroom on New Year's Eve, supported by Bay Area artists including Wallpaper., Roach Gigz, and Starting Six.

About The Author

Ian S. Port

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