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  • Readers' Poll

    Best Local Band/Musician ing Best Radio Station KUSF-FM (90.3) Best Movie Theater Red Vic Movie House Best Rep Film Theater Castro Theatre Best Film Festival S.F. International Film Festival Best Local Magazine 7x7 Best Art Museum SFMOMA Best Art Gallery 111 Minna Gallery Best Local Label Devil in the Woods Best Jukebox 540 Club Best Club 12 Galaxies Best New… More >>
  • Best Rock n Roll Band

    Naked Barbies

    Aside from the Dead, we can't think of another band as enduring as fellow locals Naked Barbies. Founded in 1990, the group has retained essentially the same lineup over three albums (four, if you count the one under the Vagabond Lovers banner): Patty Spiglanin, vocals and guitar; Mike Conner, keys, accordion, and harmonica; Evan Eustis, bass; and Dan Lashkoff, drums.… More >>
  • Best Country Band

    Red Meat

    Don't dare label Red Meat altcountry or Americana. It is, first and foremost, a country band, drawing primarily from the sparkling, twang-laden, whiskey-spiked well of the Bakersfield sound (cf Buck Owens, Merle Haggard), as well as from iconic honky-tonker George Jones. But neither is it retro or purist: Pop/rock and bluegrass influences are evident, and the songs' subjects cover everything… More >>
  • Best Art Sans Art School

    Friday the 13th West

    If you prefer art minus the poseurs, overclever conceptuals, and screeching-edge technology, check out this small gallery featuring the work of Jimmie Lee Sudduth. The Alabama artist, who recently celebrated his 94th birthday, got his start at age 4 by painting an image with mud on a tree stump. When it was washed away by rain, he tried again, this… More >>
  • Best Underground Art -- Literally

    Duboce Tunnel

    If you think San Francisco's once-flourishing graffiti scene has lost its emphasis on piecing (more elaborate, murallike work) and degenerated to tepid tags, take the N Judah through the tunnel between Duboce Park and the Cole & Carl stop. Hug the windows to cut the glare: Both sides are lined with some of the coolest street art on any continent.… More >>
  • Best Underfoot Art

    "Substrada" by Brian Goggin

    Set into the sidewalk and nearly indistinguishable from utility covers, these nine pieces by Brian Goggin will be overlooked by all but the most perceptive shoe-gazers. You suddenly notice underfoot, amidst manhole covers and PG&E access caps, one that says "Hunt" (or "Job," "Feed," or "Grow"). The background doesn't look like the usual crosshatching either: It's a pattern made by… More >>
  • Best Way to Get your Asian-American Pop Culture Fix

    Stir TV

    A couple of years ago, executives at the Brisbane-based Asian-language TV station KTSF began to notice that an increasing number of their viewers were younger, American-born, and English-speaking. They brought their research to Asian-American media veteran Jeff Yang (who used to run the now-defunct A. Magazine and is Stir's editorial director) and to the cable station International Channel, and soon,… More >>
  • Best Beatboxer

    Kid Beyond

    What takes most people an entire band to produce, Kid Beyond (aka Andrew Chaikin) executes with his own mouth. Cupping his hands to manipulate the sound, and moving his lips and tongue in mysterious ways, Kid Beyond can replicate drum sets, Latin beats, hip hop grooves, and turntable scratches. But his talent extends beyond percussion: He also sings in and… More >>
  • Best Locally Filmed TV Show


    Now in its second season, the Discovery Channel's MythBusters -- starring San Francisco prop designers Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage -- puts old wives' tales and urban myths to the test through bizarre, hilarious science experiments. Using Hyneman's Potrero Hill warehouse as home base, the team has disproved numerous legends, including "A sinking ship will pull you down with it"… More >>
  • Best Swing Dance Party

    "9:20 Special"

    Most San Franciscans went through a swing-dancing phase with those kids in the Gap khaki commercials -- and then moved on. But the craze left in its wake a small but intensely loyal population of hard-core swing-dance hobbyists who couldn't give a hoot that what once made them cool now makes them big geeks. The "9:20 Special" dance party in… More >>
  • Best Jazz Education

    Jack's Record Cellar

    Collectors know Jack's Record Cellar for its impressive selection of 45s, stacked high in their yellowed sleeves. But this tumbledown store in the Lower Haight is also a great place for neophytes whose love of jazz starts and ends with the fact that they once made out to A Love Supreme in college. Owner Wade Wright, a chipper, avuncular man… More >>
  • Best Fun Place for Kids


    Want to explore how it feels to fly using digital technology? Dance your way up a cone through a motion-sensor soundscape? You've come to the right place. This innovative museum geared to kids and teens is full of enough high-tech gadgetry and other neat stuff to appeal to grown-ups as well. Hands-on interactive exhibits allow visitors to create clay figurines,… More >>
  • Best Musician Wed Rather Didnt Quit His Day Job

    JBOT/Jay Vance

    By night, Jay Vance is JBOT, the captive of a multicyborg band that humiliates its human member, forcing him to produce heavy-metal-influenced jokes and grinding rock 'n' roll. By day, Vance repairs amplifiers, microphones, and other music-related equipment at the Haight Ashbury Music Center. By night, JBOT is celebrated in publications such as The New Yorker, SF Weekly, and Wired… More >>
  • Best Place to Throw Shit at Bands

    12 Galaxies

    When it comes to live music, we all love intimate venues like the Bottom of the Hill, Cafe Du Nord, and the Make-Out Room. But there's a problem with such joints: What if you want to throw shit on your favorite band? What if you and your friends want to act like a screaming, frothing mob and yell at hardworking… More >>
  • Best Music Community

    Thee Parkside

    Many locals complain that our music scene has a lot of bands and a lot of fans but very little community. That's not the case at Thee Parkside, where, as its Web site boasts, "the staff drinks right along with you." As many who've been to Thee Parkside's budget rock Fridays can attest, this place is one of the coolest,… More >>
  • Best Next Big Thing

    Rogue Wave

    It seems like only yesterday that we fell in love with Rogue Wave's debut CD, Out of the Shadow, a collection of frontman Zach Rogue's bedroom recordings that melts contemporary indie rock into '60s and '70s sunshine pop. Come to think of it, it was only yesterday that we fell in love with that disc. In less than a year,… More >>
  • Best Live-Music Venue

    The Independent

    When the Justice League closed more than a year ago, a lot of us gave up hope that the space at 628 Divisadero -- which has played home to a never-ending parade of doomed concert halls over the last two decades -- would reopen. But in February, it did just that, with a bang. Boasting new owners, newly upgraded facilities,… More >>
  • Best Bet for Wandering Street Minstrels


    Sure, the grub at Esperpento is great. The restaurant's paellas (Spanish rice stew cooked with meats and veggies), sangria, and tapas dishes are among the best in the Mission. But for those of you who want to treat your taste buds and your ears simultaneously, this breezy eatery is also a magnet for the many música norteña groups (which typically… More >>
  • Best-Sounding Venue


    In years past, Slim's has picked up a shoddy reputation for sound. Countless shouts of "Turn up the vocals" and deafening squelches of feedback have soiled many a listener's experience. But we're happy to report that Slim's has turned that ship around. Of the many midsize halls in town, Slim's now sounds the best, whether the act onstage is playing… More >>
  • Best Intimate Venue

    Hemlock Tavern

    If you get off on fringe music and a little frottage (as in the act of rubbing against someone in a crowd to attain sexual satisfaction), there is no better venue than the Hemlock Tavern. It's not the spacious bar area that'll excite your inner desire for some friction, it's the teeny, tiny, constantly crowded back room. That's where the… More >>
  • Best-Value Strip Club

    New Century Theater

    Ah, the New Century Theater. Like a fine wine, it seems to get better with the passing time. It has all the things that make a strip club worth shelling out the big bucks to get into -- women who love getting nekkid (or who can at least pretend to love it) and a bumping sound system for shaking your… More >>
  • Best Weekly Jazz Jam


    Bruno's location, near the quick-beating heart of the Mission District, might be partially responsible for the distinct mix of players that crosses the club's stage. There's a little bit of everything -- from slickly dressed scenesters and burned-out hepcats to boho music students and tenor-wielding street poets. Though the club has recently undergone a booking facelift, now presenting mostly fusion-minded… More >>
  • Best Free Mariachi Music

    La Rondalla

    This little place might not look like much from the outside, but La Rondalla is San Francisco's unrivaled home for brassy, classic mariachi. Here, an eight-piece band hits it every day of the week except Monday. Dressed in matching jackets, studded pants, and shiny boots, the musicians offer patrons classic Mexican folk music on a traditional battery of instruments. The… More >>
  • Best New Club


    The years when rock clubs and discothèques were mutually exclusive are behind us. Electronic music is no longer the sole province of the DJ; rock is no longer just for guys with guitars. Funk-punk, electroclash, glitch-hop, broken beat -- these days, virtually every subgenre you can name is a schizophrenic mix of sounds. Nightclubs need to be able to handle… More >>
  • Best Beginners Jam Session

    Skip's Tavern - CLOSED

    You got a shiny new guitar for Christmas and you've been jamming along to Steppenwolf for four months straight. Put on some snazzy duds, champ, you're ready for the big time! Well, almost the big time, at this unassuming Bernal Heights dive. The owners survived a recent tussle with ASCAP that threatened to quiet the bandstand, and now the bar… More >>
  • Best Busker

    Moses Dixon

    When the weather is nice and you decide to take a sunny stroll down Market, keep your ears open for Moses Dixon, the 62-year-old vibraphone player who frequently busks on the corner of Grant and Market on balmy afternoons. Dixon sets up his vibes outside the Wells Fargo building and jams for tips. And he deserves big ones. A tape… More >>
  • Best BART Stop for Buskers

    Montgomery Street

    A true cheapskate with a tuneful ear should head to the Montgomery Street BART station, where some of the best music in the city can be enjoyed for pocket change. This particular public transportation hub is the place where San Francisco's top-notch buskers come to pass the hat. While suits rush by with lattes in hand, a cast of instrumentalists… More >>
  • Best Hip Hop Radio Show

    Ghetto Gumbo

    Keep your dial pinned to the commercial urban radio stations in the area, and it's easy to come away with the impression that little, if any, hip hop is created outside of Los Angeles, New York, or Atlanta. With the exception of MC E-40, our beloved wordsmith from Vallejo, KMEL and Wild 94.9 largely ignore local artists these days. Flip… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Movie Theater

    Balboa Theater

    Back before the monolithic octoplex darkened the cinematic landscape, every proudly individual San Francisco neighborhood had its own movie theater. But like the fabled Market Street movie palaces of yore, most of these anchoring icons are either extinct or endangered (although the excellent Castro is an enduring genre unto itself). One happy exception is the Balboa, which has been hosting… More >>
  • Best Free Party

    Saturday Night at Anú

    So you're strolling down the colorful part of Market with a restive outlook, no particular itinerary, and scarcely a pfennig in your pocket. It's Saturday night and the primordial urge to interact with your fellow beings is upon you. Luckily, the stipend-free recesses of Anú beckon from just around the corner. Inside the club's cozy, dimly lit, and unexpectedly stylish… More >>
  • Best At-Home Double Features

    Lost Weekend Video

    Sure, you could rent your movies at the nearest soul-sucking corporate chain outlet. But if you did, you'd miss out on an endearing program run by this neighborhood video store: employee-selected double-feature rental packages. Movie lovers can pick up two VHS features for two nights for a mere $2.50 (or a shockingly reasonable $1.25 on Wednesdays, when rentals run half… More >>
  • Best Cross-Genre DJ Night

    "Frisco Disco"

    During an interview last year, "Frisco Disco" founder Jefrodisiac (aka Jeff Fare) complained about the strange boundaries that music scenes erect. "Certain people say, 'I'd never go here' or 'I'd never go there.' It's like, your record collection is the same, your clothes are about the same, but for some reason there's a line that some people don't want to… More >>
  • Most Improved Rock Club

    Cafe Du Nord

    Cafe Du Nord has been a venerable local institution for years. But venerable doesn't always mean exciting. By the early '00s, the Upper Market club was floundering a bit, wallowing in long-running residencies and past-their-prime regulars. (How many weeks in a row can you see Ledisi or Lavay Smith anyway?) But following the venue's sale to one-time Hotel Utah booker… More >>
  • Most Improved DJ Club

    House of Shields

    The House of Shields used to serve mainly as a happy hour bar for the suits and stockings crowd, a place for a quick drink before heading back to the burbs. Hell, it still does. But thanks to new owners -- who reopened the downtown joint in September 2003 -- the venue now has a bunch of great late-night events,… More >>
  • Best Jump-Rope Team

    Double Dutchess

    If there's one thing the Bay Area never seems to tire of, it's retro kitsch. In the past decade, we've cheered the revival of Mexican wrestling, burlesque dancing, swing music, boxcar racing, and marching bandery. Now S.F. has its very own jump-rope team, Double Dutchess. Founded in the summer of 2002, the sexy four-woman troupe transforms the grade-school activity into… More >>
  • Best Cross-Cultural Band

    Neung Phak

    We live in the age of cross-cultural exploration, a time when musicians look across the globe for fresh sounds. Today, the hip hop scene is crawling with dancehall riddims and Bollywood samples, the sounds of urban America made exotic by international flavors. At the same time, tons of genres -- Mexican rock, French disco, German electro -- take their cues… More >>
  • Best Concept Band

    Cookie Mongoloid

    San Franciscans love a good cover act. Over the years, we've witnessed local bands pay tribute to Metallica, AC/DC, the Fall, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Smiths, Herb Alpert, Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach, and Devo. Now, from the creators of the latter combo (Mongoloid), comes a tribute group that plays Sesame Street songs as speed metal. This unholy alliance comes… More >>
  • Best Hip Hop Label

    Quannum Projects

    There are a number of record labels that consistently release smart, well-produced underground hip hop -- New York's Definitive Jux, Minneapolis' Rhymesayers, Emeryville's Anticon, to name a few -- but one towers over them all. Run by producer DJ Shadow and the members of Blackalicious and Latyrx since 1992 (when it was called SoleSides), Quannum Projects is the go-to imprint… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery

    Rx Gallery

    Even in San Francisco, art galleries aren't exactly fun places. Sure, 111 Minna is technically an art space, but the works there serve mostly as eye fodder for when you're dancing or as conversational fodder for when you're macking. But now comes the Rx Gallery, a venue curated by multimedia artist Gregory Cowley and blasthaus owner William Linn.… More >>
  • Best Radio Show

    Desert Island Jazz

    A rare case of whimsy and eclecticism in radio programming. Hosted by Alisa Clancy on the jazz station KCSM, the show is nothing more than that old barstool exercise of choosing your desert-island music. Every week, a jazz type -- a musician, a producer, a promoter, a teacher -- selects and introduces eight pieces of music he would take to… More >>
  • Best Museum

    Cartoon Art Museum

    Around the corner from the ghastly Barcalounger of the SFMOMA building, this tiny museum offers a welcome antidote to the bloated self-importance of its neighbor. The CAM, established in large part because of a 1987 endowment from Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, features 6,000 pieces in its permanent collection, ranging from old editorial cartoons to Sunday comic strips to framed cels… More >>
  • Best Underdog Drag Revue

    Hot Boxx Girls

    Sure, "Trannyshack" gets the nod for the most inventive and outlandish drag revue in the Bay Area, if not the world; its reputation is well deserved. But the Hot Boxx Girls at Aunt Charlie's Lounge sashay under San Francisco's drag radar, the underdogs who get little attention, and that's a shame. The Girls' jaw-dropping, highly entertaining performance is akin to… More >>
  • Best Cabaret

    The Plush Room

    Andrea Marcovicci, Patti LuPone, Spencer Day, and Connie Champagne are just a few of the renowned international and local names who've recently shown up to croon a tune or two at the York Hotel's Plush Room. With a stained-glass ceiling and cozy, intimate setting, this '20s-era speak-easy is one of the most enjoyable and comfortable venues in the city at… More >>
  • Best Quiz Night

    Edinburgh Castle

    Having honed his skills in theater and stand-up comedy years ago while living in New York City, Carl Gibbs, host of the Edinburgh Castle's "Quiz Night," reveals that one of the reasons the Tuesday trivia event proves so popular is that it's "the only chance to use your liberal arts education." How true. Gibbs is an outstanding MC. Each week… More >>
  • Best Queer Fiction Journal

    Lodestar Quarterly

    Sometimes it feels like more ink has been spilled on the subject of homosexuality (and all of its confusing subcategories) than on the daily foibles of Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Tom Cruise combined. So we're not surprised that it's difficult to wend your way through the rustling forest of scribbling plumes to find first-rate writing on the popular theme… More >>
  • Best Burlesque Troupe

    Harlem Shake

    Don't you wish you could have seen Josephine Baker perform? In her honor -- and in tribute to many other talented hotsy-totsy ladies of color from burlesque history -- comes Harlem Shake, with the motto "Changing history one shake at a time." Founded by local sex symbol Simone de la Getto, the troupe shimmies and sways across the stage, fluttering… More >>
  • Best Nouveau Old-Timey Musician

    Jolie Holland

    Ever get in one of those moods, the kind where people all seem the same, busy going to the gym and buying groceries, while you wonder if there isn't something more to life? If you're lucky, at about that time you'll run across a live performance by Jolie Holland and emerge feeling simultaneously ignorant of and comforted by her sharp,… More >>
  • Best Post-Punk Folkie

    Kelley Stoltz

    Post-punk and folk music don't often go together. Post-punk is all black clothing and abrasive guitars, punk's energy and noise sculpted into something artier. In contrast, folk is flannel shirts, wide-brim hats, and quiet, mournful yarns. Somehow, though, Kelley Stoltz combines the two styles. Live, he looks something like a thrift-store pinup, sporting battered suits and frayed jeans, his hair… More >>
  • Best Arcade Game

    Dance Dance Revolution

    Most arcade games encourage you to kick, bludgeon, and occasionally decapitate a conveniently gruesome-looking opponent while you sit on your butt and absorb EMF emissions. Dance Dance Revolution is not only closer to the spirit of Gene Kelly than the governor of California, it gives you a real aerobic workout, too. The idea is to stand on a platform with… More >>
  • Four Best Outdoor Festivals

    Frolicking alfresco is a way of life here in sunny California -- even in foggy S.F., where season (late spring or early fall) and location (anywhere but the Avenues) can conspire to create a festive meteorological setting. Here are some of our favorite ways to celebrate the great outdoors. San Francisco Blues Festival September at Fort Mason, 979-5588,… More >>

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