By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
A decade after its founding, the annual Mission Creek Music & Arts Festival is back to blow your senses, featuring a mix of mediums that includes literature, film, and, of course, a ton of great music. The festivities sprawl throughout the city from May 14 to May 22, during which our burg's coziest and classiest venues showcase top-shelf independent music. Below are a handful of critical picks from the lineup. For more information, visit www.mcmf.org.
Scandinavian chanteuse Ane Brun retains water weight in tears in her trembling folk ballads. Her lyrics hang delicately, quivering as if she's just moments from serious mourning, although she admits in song that crying into a bottle over a lost lover is one performance she rarely makes. Brun is a beacon for wayward souls lost in ashed passions, claiming that she's a hopeless romantic one moment and describing crawling around, "vomiting and defeated," the next. Her acoustic sessions are meant to break your mending heart. Jennifer Maerz
Ane Brun performs Sunday, May 14, at Argus Lounge at 8 p.m. Admission is $6.
If Tom Waits and Rickie Lee Jones had had a child, she would have sounded like Casey Dienel. The Massachusetts native describes herself as "Kurt Weill with a chill pill," and certainly you can hear her classical training in her fluid piano playing. But there's a boogie-woogie jaunt to her melodies as well, and her lyrics are beatnik all the way, full of cross-dressing psychiatrists, gun-toting teen lovers, and morose drunks. Top it off with a jazzy, angel-with-dirty-wings voice, and you've got a lil' bundle of joy for Waits/Jones fans. Dan Strachota
Casey Dienel performs on Tuesday, May 16, at the Hotel Utah at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $6.
Consume a dark, robust vino rosso from a silver-plated chalice when experiencing the electric mass that is a Sunburned Hand of the Man gig. Then allow god's blood to dribble off the precipice of your chin, staining your tight white tee because SBHOTM are a large ensemble from New England who build shattered, stoned, and most of all sacred free-rock grooves from psychedelic noise, hawdcore, dub, space rock, absurdist theater, free jazz, and even a Caucasian funk beat or two. Justin F. Farrar
Sunburned Hand of the Man performs on Tuesday, May 16, at the Hemlock Tavern at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $8.
John Dwyer rose to the top of the trash rock heap for cranking out in-your-face, noise-damaged garage punk at blistering volumes, inspiring hyperactive levels of physical activity. When Dwyer keeps his calm, though, his creative juices flow into freak folk and lullaby hums, as displayed on the blissful tunes delivered by the Ohsees (formerly "OCS"). I highly recommend the band's new release, The Cool Death of Island Raiders. Produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, the album moves from Animal Collective moments of communing with the birds to lo-fi, 2001-esque space-drone odysseys to Dwyer's random quip about the first time indie jack-of-all-trades Weasel Walter got baked. Per usual, there's a layer of distortion coating almost everything, but the hushed ambience and precious campfire singalongs display intriguing intimacy and restraint from a performer known for breaking bulbs and body parts with abandon. J.M.
The Ohsees perform on Wednesday, May 17, at the Hemlock Tavern at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $7.
Composer John Cage pioneered the concept of "noise," and whether generated naturally, by chance, or by design, music has never been the same since. John Wiese articulates his muse with collages and collisions of sound. Resonances of machines, armaments, architecture, voices, and even (on occasion) instruments are rapid-fire edited into airborne slabs and aural hemorrhages. Wiese's assaults are analogous to John Oswald's splice-and-dice plunderphonics, but where Oswald is Leonard Bernstein via Spike Jones, Wiese is Hüsker Dü via the Boredoms. Mark Keresman
John Wiese performs Thursday, May 18, at the Lab at 8 p.m. Admission is $7-$15.
In interviews and movies, actor/director Vincent Gallo comes off like a big jerk self-obsessed, sex-crazed, politically reactionary, more than willing to film Chloe Sevigny going down on him. But his musical compositions are a whole 'nother beast: a heartfelt, mournful kind of folk-prog that cries out for a bong and a hankie. Give Gallo some old-fashioned organs and a guitar, and he makes music that's as affecting as his movies are affected. Dan S.
Vincent Gallo performs on Friday, May 19, at Bimbo's 365 Club at 8 p.m. Admission is $20.
The Gris Gris
One of the best freak garage practitioners in the Bay Area, the Gris Gris provides ample psychedelic pleasures with zero pretense. The band's repertoire dances between ghostly waltzes, spaghetti westerns, and cracked-in-the-skull Jesus jams full of handclaps that invite the crowd to get in on the fervor. Live, the Oakland act tears it up, and tonight it shares the stage with Birdman labelmate Brian Glaze, whose hazy shades of Syd Barrett easily fit into the Gris Gris cosmic continuum. J.M.
The Gris Gris and Brian Glaze perform Friday, May 19, at 12 Galaxies at 9 p.m. Admission is $8.
The Tigerbeat6 label gets its night in the lineup at the Elbo Room, where Kid606 teams up with friends and rostermates to kick out the electronic jams. Alone, Kid606 is a brilliant audio collage artist, culling together the bright corners of electronic pop, ambient soundscapes, and reconfigured reggae; when he plays with brooding post-punk disco bashers Clipd Beaks (and more), the resulting collection of local-label talent moves into indie electro heaven. J.M.
The Tigerbeat6 showcase is Friday, May 19, at the Elbo Room at 9 p.m. Admission is $8.
Much praiseworthy ink has been spilled for hometown hero Kelley Stoltz, and for good reason. His pop sensibilities may be rooted in a love of Brian Wilson, but his approach is grounded in a garage-y aesthetic that prevents the songs from sounding too spit-shined. Stoltz's arrangements include pianos, sitars, and glockenspiels, further blurring the pinpoints of his influences into a general constellation of ebullient, offbeat bedroom rockers. J.M.
Kelley Stoltz performs Wednesday, May 17, at the Rickshaw at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8-10.
Soulfulness can be mined in the oddest places. SF prog-rockers Citay locate it in acoustic Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath songs and early Heart and Queen albums. Featuring Ezra Feinberg and Tim Green (this century's Steve Albini), Citay extrapolates on these sources on its self-titled debut disc. With Feinberg's guitar arcing and aching for sunrays like a Cali Brian May, he repeatedly hits his target with mellow, rococo poignancy. What an unlikely soul man. Dave Segal
Citay performs on Saturday, May 20, at Rickshaw Stop at 7 p.m. Admission is $10-$12.
New York's Excepter used to create a kind of floating electric shamanism: synths, loops, programs, glassy vocals, and melted dance floor grooves. But over the past year, the quartet has seen some serious personnel changes, and it's now a kind of smacked-out electro-Doors/Residents thing creating macabre micro-hip-hop jams with a touch of Beck-styled zaniness. The results of which are way too fried for both club culture heads and noise freaks. It's just one huge "what da fuck" any way you slice it. J.F.F.
Excepter performs on Saturday, May 20, at the Hemlock Tavern at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $8.
For a primer on Oxbow, watch the DVD Music for Adults, the documentary of the local four-piece's 2002 European tour that accompanies its new CD, Love That's Last. Witness the German fan who gets too close to frontman Eugene Robinson, a mixed martial artist with a penchant for whipping his johnson out onstage. Marvel at the chokehold Robinson puts on the guy as his band unleashes cataclysmic bursts of sound, a death-metal version of "Ride of the Valkyries." Or better yet, check the band out for yourself and see if you share the sentiments of another fan quoted in the flick: "I have, like, thousands of 'Whys?' When [Robinson] stood in his underpants after the second song, I was sure he was going to masturbate. I was just wondering about what next. Is he going to jump out into the audience and hit somebody? When does it stop? Does it stop?" Garrett Kamps
Oxbow performs Saturday, May 20, at Bottom of the Hill at 10 p.m. Admission is $8.
Comprising two drummers, a bassist, and an electronics jockey, Tussle's syncopated hypno-groove sounds like a cross between South Bronx funk sisters ESG and krautrock á la Can. The foursome's disco-dub recordings are trance-inducing, but seeing the dance-instigating live show is the way to go. Insane improv courtesy of Jackie-O Motherfucker and the Weasel Walter Sextet ensure an exceptional evening. Mike Rowell
Tussle performs on Saturday, May 20, at the Lab at 8 p.m. Admission is $7-$15.
Indian Jewelry: pretentious L.A. douche bags, or hilarious providers of anarcho-melodic peyote trance noise? Either way, riding the snake hasn't looked so retarded/fun since Val Kilmer played the original bozo prince of Native American appropriation B.S. in The Doors. Tonight's cathartic pow-wow will be staffed by several beaded 'n' feathered members of Indian Jewelry's sprawling art collective; make sure your smallpox vaccines are current. Frances Reade
Indian Jewelry performs on Saturday, May 20, at the Knockout at 8 p.m. Admission is $8.
Up until the band's demise in 2000, Dieselhed was something like a Bay Area Uncle Tupelo, only with a sense of humor. Formed in Arcata in 1989, the band practiced a twisty-turny kind of country-punk, with Zac Holtzman (of Dengue Fever) and Virgil Shaw singing about pot brownies, yoga instructors, and lap dances over riffs that both bellowed and wept. Few local bands ever made the blue-collar artiste lifestyle look like such good-natured fun. This reunion show should be a blast. Dan S.
Dieselhed performs on Sunday, May 21, at 12 Galaxies at 9 p.m. Admission is $10-$12.