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Sizzle & Fizzle: Highs and Lows from the Last Week in S.F. Music 

Wednesday, Oct 5 2011


Hardly Strictly Bluegrass made another case for itself as the king of S.F. festivals, drawing huge crowds for memorable performances by Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson, Robert Plant, Thurston Moore, and others. The weather was gorgeous, the artists were incredible, and the crowds were mostly merry. No wonder we overheard people saying this free three-day fest was better than Outside Lands.

Broken Social Scene played what it billed as its final North American show at the Fillmore on Saturday, as this sprawling Canadian collective plans to go on indefinite hiatus. Bringing out guests including Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock, the band reminded us that its maximalist anthems to love and sadness made for some of the aughts' best indie rock.

As a new documentary about famous fathers will demonstrate, punk rockers make great parents. They're budget-conscious but fun, endlessly creative, scary to bullies, and they've lived through some crazy shit. If all parents were punks, the world might be a more tolerant, honest, and wise place.


An otherwise gorgeous set from Swedish indie-pop singer at the Cal Academy of Sciences was nearly ruined by loudly chattering drunks on the museum's patio. Here's a rule of thumb for talkative concertgoers: If you can hear yourself talking over the band, shut up!

Is Hardly Strictly Bluegrass getting too big? asked Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius in a piece last week. Sure, hundreds of thousands of people — almost as many as the population of San Francisco — come every year. But we love that the festival keeps getting bigger and more adventurous.

You can think of DJ Shadow's new album, The Less You Know, the Better, as almost three albums — a mix of classic cut-and-paste beats, heavy rock, and spacey balladry. Too bad many listeners are just going to ask why it's not a remake of his 1996 classic Entroducing.

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