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

Wednesday, Feb 19 2014


Some people on YouTube are making music with floppy drives. Yes, those old things you used to put disks into. Turns out you can program one to vibrate at a certain frequency — and make eight of them turn out a pretty decent version of Pachelbel's Canon. But they sound much more appropriate doing Daft Punk's "Aerodynamic."

Whatever your thoughts on the forces changing S.F., there's a growing wave of music that is loudly opposed to them — to change, to wealth, to techies, to Google buses, to all of it. The latest salvo from "queer feminist multimedia electro-punk" band Violent Vickie lays things out pretty clearly in its title: "Fuck You!!!!!" Not sure we agree, but we do enjoy the song.

We are big fans of sublime East Bay electronic bummer-pop outfit James & Evander, so naturally we like Pale Blue Dot, a new side project from J&E's Adam Myatt. Calling its style "Carl Sagan disco," the trio offers a heavy dose of retro-futurism with a distinctly optimistic tint, and performs Feb. 28 at the New Parish in Oakland.


Hey, look: Morrissey is pretending he's going to play a show in the Bay Area! Sure, he's canceled all six shows he's scheduled here in the last three years — due to illness, he claims — but the beloved British brooder now plans to play San Jose's City National Civic Theatre on May 7. We're not holding our breath.

We watched Billy Ray Cyrus' video for "Achy Breaky 2" — the sequel to 1992's huge hit — and were totally flummoxed. Why was Billy Ray Cyrus wandering the Kentucky woods with a young black boy? Was Larry King apologizing for the whole endeavor, or just his involvement in it? And is there any way to erase that three minutes and 33 seconds from our memory?

Music isn't the only thing some artists like to perform in concert. We rounded up the rock world's most mischievous public pissers, who include the Butthole Surfers (pee-filled whiffle bat), Ozzy Osbourne (peed on the Alamo), and NOFX's Fat Mike — although the latter claims he handed out glasses of tequila, not piss, to fans at a 2010 show. After so many years of partying, is it possible his emissions are 90 proof?

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Staff, SF Weekly


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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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