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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Five Best Shows in San Francisco This Week

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 12:38 PM

The Walkmen perform this Thursday and Friday at the Fillmore
  • The Walkmen perform this Thursday and Friday at the Fillmore

Gojira @ The Fillmore, Wednesday, Jan. 23

For a metal band, Gojira sports a name so fantastic that it's shocking no one snapped it up earlier. The Bayonne, France-based outfit nods to Godzilla's original Japanese moniker (before legal complications, the group called itself Godzilla), even though the four-piece's sonic traits don't quite mimic its namesake. Godzilla famously stomps and battles with movie-monster-in-a-china-shop clumsiness; meanwhile, this 16-year-old band could easily level entire cities, but it prefers spicing up its destruction and anguish with moments of subtlety. On its fifth album, 2012's L'Enfant Sauvage, "Born in Winter" and "The Wild Healer" conceal pressurized prog-metal heft beneath riffs more portentous than a colony of vultures squawking overhead. Imagine this group not as Gojira the character, but Gojira the film, since it provides well-edited shots of ruin taken from multiple angles. -- Reyan Ali

Jessie Ware @ Rickshaw Stop, Thursday, Jan. 24

Ordinarily, a London-based soul chanteuse has zero reason to beef with a hulking 1990s rapper from the Bronx -- but that's not the case for Jessie Ware and the late Big Pun. The ultra-chic up-and-comer and her producer, Julio Bashmore, sampled a line from Pun's "Dream Shatterer" ("I'm carvin' my initials on your forehead") for Ware's light-footed gloom-pop tune "110%." Then Ware had a legal tangle with Pun's estate, leaving her modified song to be retitled "If You're Never Gonna Move" and Ware to say "Fuck Big Pun!" while performing in Manhattan. Now even if she was joking (which is extremely likely), insulting the MC minutes from his stomping grounds is a daring act. It's also a good sign that she could be a hitmaker in the States: If marketed right, America won't be able to get enough of Ware's polished, introverted tunes and wry between-song banter. -- Reyan Ali

The Walkmen @ The Fillmore, Thursday and Friday, Jan. 24-25

It's been over a decade since The Walkmen's debut full-length, and after last year's unusually joyous album Heaven, it's fair to say the band is a different animal these days. There's still no one on Earth who can go from a croon to a wail quite like Hamilton Leithauser, but the dapper indie rock quintet has transformed in many other ways. The great thing, of course, is that The Walkmen now have six albums of original material to perform, so their sets can run an emotional assault course. From confused despair to unabashed happiness, from furious momentum to woozy lethargy, The Walkmen can do it all. It's impossible to know quite what we'll hear during this two-night stand at The Fillmore, but we're sure it'll be entertaining. -- Rae Alexandra

Nikki and the Dove @ The Independent, Saturday, Jan. 26

There's a moon-goddess mysticism in the electro-pop of Niki and The Dove, something that brings a primal warmth to the icy pop sensibilities they share with similar Nordic acts (The Knife, Robyn). Their underrated 2012 release, Instinct, harnesses these humanizing influences: Prince, Kate Bush, Adam Ant, and Stevie Nicks, adding flamboyance and connection to the usual aloof-pop template. It's this mystical leaning that manifests itself onstage and in the crowd as jungle drums, feathers, glow sticks, glitter, and anything else that would turn a simple gig into a night to remember. Or in their words: "It's the heart, the heart/ It is what makes me human." -- Cody Nabours

Opening Week Celebrations @ SFJAZZ Center, Starting Wednesday. Jan. 23

Randall Kline founded SFJAZZ 30 years ago, so he's had lots of time to consider how the perfect space for the organization would look. This week, with SFJAZZ opening the first standalone center for jazz on the West Coast, Kline's vision has become a reality that anyone can see into.

Wearing his hard hat and construction vest to tour the 35,000-square-foot, $65 million space on the corner of Franklin and Fell in Hayes Valley, Kline avoids exposed pipe and extension cords as he shows off the features of the center. There are rehearsal spaces, an 80-seat ensemble room, a digital learning lab, murals by Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet, and the site for a café by Charles Phan of Slanted Door fame. At the center of the building lies its heart: the gorgeous, steeply banked Robert Miner Auditorium, which can seat 700, collapse down to 350, and even open up into a dancefloor. -- Emily Wilson

Read more: SFJAZZ Opens Its Hayes Valley Center with Transparent Intentions

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