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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Five Places We Wish Bands Could Play in SF

Posted By on Thu, May 6, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Photo at Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze at Pier 39. Why don't bands play here?
  • Photo at Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze at Pier 39. Why don't bands play here?

We're blessed with great live music venues here in San Francisco, but sometimes, bars, ballrooms, clubs, and arenas get kinda monotonous. Here are five more exotic locations that would make awesome spaces to see a band, along with a few acts we think would fit right in.


This seems like a no-brainer. Great views, historic setting, inherent creepiness, lots of different spaces for bands to set up and play. Hell, Alcatraz should host a festival -- or perhaps a rave. If only Johnny Cash was still around to inaugurate the place.

Acts that should play there: T.I., Merle Haggard, Delorean.

Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze at Pier 39

This is possibly the most psychedelic place one can legally reach within the city limits. Black lights set this labyrinth of mirrors a glow, making you completely lose track of where you are and where you are trying to go. Plus, they let you stay and trip out as long as you want. Usually the maze blasts dance-y '80s new wave through its ample sound system, but it'd be much more fun to have bands set up in the middle of the maze, start playing, and let the crowd hunt their way through the mirrors to catch the show.

Acts that should play there: Butterfly Bones, Deerhunter, Acid Mothers Temple, Terry Riley.

Lion House at S.F. Zoo (just before feeding time)

Send the first power chord chugging though this antiquated big-kitty enclosure as the huge
felines circle hungrily, eyeing the smaller members of the crowd. Imagine the tension as some meaty band blasts through a heavy set while the big cats fiend for raw flesh. Alcatraz shows will look tame after this.

Acts that should play there: Thee Oh Sees, Mayyors, Motorhead.

Kink's Armory
What our promiscuous city really needs is an alt-porn playground that doubles as a live venue. Anyone who's seen the inside of this circa-1910 fortress knows that it is seriously unsettling. Inside, there are many rooms perfect for an atmospheric live show, from the eerily real shrink's office to the revoltingly gross bathroom set. And while some of these rspaces seem perfect for specific genres -- the padded cell and interrogation room, for instance, practically beg for a death-metal night -- the old armory at Mission and 14th could play host to any number of San Francisco's vice-prone musical styles. Plus there's lots of fun clothing and props to play with onstage.

Acts that should play there: Hunx and his Punx, Skeletonwitch, Rykarda Parasol.

F-Market Train

So the idea of playing on public transit has sorta been done, but few cities have quirky streetcars on the level of our slow, squeaky, adorable F-Market line. Bands should get on at one end -- I'd pick the Castro and Market stop--set up their gear near the front of the train, and play a cross-city set to a small, elated crowd as the streetcar squiggles down Market and up the Embarcadero. Think of it as a live soundtrack for the bus/streetcar ride that many of us only survive with earbuds. Another group could get on at Fisherman's Wharf and play the return trip.

Acts that should play there: Deerhoof, Kelley Stoltz.

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Ian S. Port


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