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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Five Best Concerts in San Francisco This Week

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Wooden Shjips perform Thursday at Thrill Jockey Records' 20th Anniversary show. - IAN S. PORT
  • Ian S. Port
  • Wooden Shjips perform Thursday at Thrill Jockey Records' 20th Anniversary show.

Sunn O))) @ Mezzanine, Tuesday, Dec. 18

Over the 14 years that Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley have run Sunn O))), the pair have eagerly tested threshold after threshold. The Seattle-born drone metal project's songs are long -- the shortest track on 2009 LP Monoliths & Dimensions is 9 minutes, 42 seconds. The music consists of elongated, sometimes agonizing guitar notes accompanied by minimal melody. And it is delivered in person via ear-annihilating stacks of amplifiers. In an August interview, Anderson said that the duo don't think of their music as "pure entertainment," but rather as something that evokes a listener's reaction -- "not anything specific, just a reaction to it rather than ambivalence." Even Sunn O)))'s name has a layer of inaccessibility to it: A tribute to amp brand Sunn, the "O)))" goes unspoken, and nods to both the brand's insignia and the band's overwhelming decibel levels. -- Reyan Ali

IamSu! @ 330 Ritch, Friday, Dec. 14

This will go down as having been a breakthrough year for Richmond-raised rapper IamSu! His profile went national after he put in a starring stint on Bay Area ambassador E-40's hit "Function," and he solidified his talent with last month's excellent $uzy 6 $peed mixtape. As a rapper, IamSu! exudes a playful personality and excels at spitting over beats that are club-friendly while retaining a hard, street-honed edge. Given his recent collaborations, including tracks with Wiz Khalifa and Juvenile, you should catch IamSu! up close now before he ascends to that coveted next level in 2013. -- Phillip Mlynar

The Soft Moon @ The New Parish, Friday, Dec. 14

The Soft Moon is the project of one Luis Vasquez, who just might be the Bay Area's leading purveyor of gloomy, grayscale synth-punk. The Soft Moon's latest album, Zeroes, doubles down on the noirish atmospherics and stark beats that drove the project to national notoriety in the wake of its 2010 debut. Now, though, Vasquez's beats are more insistent -- and danceable, if you find harsh textures animating -- his synth lines more disfigured, his background static and squelch more unsettling. So while Zeroes doesn't give us another track as darkly sublime as debut highlight "When It's Over," it does up the doom quotient quite a bit. Whether you're dancing or standing still, The Soft Moon will race you right along toward oblivion. -- Ian S. Port

Ben UFO
  • Ben UFO

Ben UFO @ BeatBox, Friday, Dec. 14

The results are in, and Ben Thomson (aka Ben UFO) ranks No. 21 (out of 100) on Resident Advisor's authoritative Top DJs of 2012 list. This should come as no surprise to fans of the London-based DJ. With no production work under his belt, Thomson's reputation is built entirely off the strength of his visionary DJing, which draws a coherent line from the splintered music of the past to the far-flung future. He's developed this skill while working as a prolific A&R man for the respected Hessle Audio imprint, a label he co-founded with fellow UK bass music traveller Ramadanman. Always incendiary behind the decks, Ben UFO's headlining appearance at As You Like It this Friday should be another quality edition of this long-running party series. -- Derek Opperman

Thrill Jockey Records 20th Anniversary Show @ The Independent, Thursday, Dec. 13

The label is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with a series of shows around the country featuring artists from its diverse roster. This week's San Francisco edition will see the spacey synth-rock of Phil Manley's Trans Am sharing a bill with Liturgy's howling assault, the glacial, instrumental atmospherics of Barn Owl, and the transportive jams of Wooden Shjips, among others. It's an odd collection of bands that wouldn't normally share a single bill. But then, considering Thrill Jockey's 20-year history of putting out worthy, unusual music, regardless of genre, how could it not be?

See also: Thrill Jockey Records Celebrates 20 Uncertain Years of Wild Music

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