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Arts & Entertainment

  • Readers' Poll

    Best Local Magazine 7x7 Best Local Music Trend Bluegrass Best Radio Station KUSF-FM (90.3) Best Movie Theater Castro Theatre Best Club Catalyst Cocktails Best Place to See Live Rock Red Devil Lounge Best Theater ACT Best Local Band/Musician Punk Rock Orchestra Best Art Gallery Creativity Explored Best Local TV Show Bay Area Backroads, KRON 4 Best Drag Show "Trannyshack," The… More >>
  • Best Local Blog

    SFist

    Our infatuation with the SFist is like a gnarly case of shingles: At first we didn't even realize we had it, then we didn't know what it was, and now it's so distracting that it keeps us from doing any work. The scrappy blog seems to have its nose in just about every nook and cranny of San Francisco, from… More >>
  • Best DJ Night

    Fallout at the Rickshaw Stop

    When it comes to throwing a great dance party, quality selections are far more important than superhuman DJ skills. That's why a user interface designer and an attorney are throwing the best DJ night in town, which takes places the third Saturday of every month from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Designer Greg Morantz (DJ Rantz) and attorney Ken Sogabe… More >>
  • Best Strip-Club Happy Hour

    The Gold Club

    Had another one of those long, hard days at work? Looking for a casual respite from the daily grind? For the weary working stiff, SOMA's Gold Club offers a long, hard grind of a different kind. With a bevy of beautiful ladies who will bend, dip, and shake their way into your heart, it's an ideal spot for a relaxed… More >>
  • Best Thoughtful Theater

    Last Planet Theatre 351 Turk (between Hyde and Leavenworth), 440-3505, www.lastplanettheatre.com Secreted away in a drafty dance hall at the bottom of an otherwise nondescript building, Last Planet is a sparkly thing in the heart of the Tenderloin District. Since it launched in 1998, the company has consistently staged challenging programs featuring provocative performances and evocative sets. Its most… More >>
  • Best Local Hip Hop Legend

    Andre Nickatina www.andrenickatina.com With a gruff voice that scrapes against his beats and an unwavering flow that is at times dull and monotonous, Fillmore MC/hip hop mogul Andre Nickatina might seem an odd candidate for hip hop legend. But he's also armed with a constant cadre of great hooks and a rugged street reportage style that's alternately enthralling and scary.… More >>
  • Best Local Music Icon

    Tom Waits The prince of boozers, losers, and users, Bay Area resident boho Tom Waits has been thrilling audiences with his whiskey-soaked tales for more than 30 years. But it isn't his propensity to dredge the bottom of society that makes Waits an icon; it's his ability to inject life, wit, and passion into his tales of down-and-outers that… More >>
  • Best Glimpse of San Francisco's Past, Present, and Future

    Market Street Railway Mural

    Part work of art, part history lesson, and part wishful thinking, Mona Caron's Church Street mural is one of the most treasured pieces of public art in the city. The 38-foot-long painting features a streetcar careening through 80-plus years of San Francisco history. The first panel is dedicated to a classic 1920s scene, followed by 1934's "Bloody Thursday" police riot.… More >>
  • Best Public Art Space

    Clarion Alley

    Whether we're talking about Ray Patlán's Balmy Alley Project or Andrew Schoultz and Aaron Noble's Lexington Street mural, the Mission District is home to one of the most vibrant public art scenes on the West Coast. But the narrow lane called Clarion Alley is something special. A former heroin shooting gallery before its transformation at the hands of a group… More >>
  • Best Local Magazine

    Planet www.planet-mag.com The Mission District-based Planet may be only 3 years old, but in that time it has carved out a distinctive niche that straddles the line between the modern urban cool of Black Book or Fader and the sociopolitical academic leanings of Bomb. Whether subjecting pomo poster boy Beck to the comedic rage of Jack Black or unveiling… More >>
  • Best Musical Revivals

    42nd Street Moon www.42ndstmoon.org Everyone's heard of songs like "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," but how many of us know who wrote these toe-tapping standards or where they came from? The 42nd Street Moon troupe has the answers. Since its founding in 1993, this all-singing, all-dancing musical theater company has been on a… More >>
  • Best Dance Company

    ODC/San Francisco

    ODC/San Francisco is proof that you don't need to have an outpost in New York to be a successful dance company. Founded in 1971 by Artistic Director Brenda Way, who trained under George Balanchine, ODC is a benchmark for West Coast choreography, performing for more than 50,000 people each year. Its prolific catalog of pieces results from the fact that… More >>
  • Best Offbeat Theater

    Exit Theatre

    Exit Theatre has been a sanctuary for small-scale, big-attitude San Francisco stagecraft since 1983. Home to the theatrical free-for-all of the S.F. Fringe Festival, the theater (and the auxiliary Exit Stage Left a couple of blocks away) hosts a number of small companies and individual artists. This veritable fun house branches off into several performance areas, giving you the impression… More >>
  • Best Local TV Show

    Distortion 2 Static www.distortion2static.com Yes, we've had Bay Area Backroads for a bajillion years, but in the meantime we've lacked in local TV shows for those over 15 and under 40 who enjoy more than wine, computers, or gardening. (The news doesn't count.) Distortion 2 Static, Sundays at midnight on WB20/cable Channel 13, is a great remedy for that dearth… More >>
  • Best Theater Ensemble

    Rococo Risqué www.rococorisque.com Despite stints at obscure spaces like the Outer Mission's Danzhaus, Rococo Risqué, an ensemble-driven cabaret troupe and self-described purveyor of nuttiness and ballyhoo, continues to sell out shows and jar audiences from performance art tedium. Founded by a gaggle of UC Santa Cruz undergrads in 2001, the group takes you back to the good old days when… More >>
  • Best Gospel

    Glide's "Sunday Celebrations" in the Tenderloin draw people from all over to sway and clap with the most diverse gospel choir in the city. Directed by John F. Turk Jr. and Ron Sutherland and backed by a full band, the 140-member Glide Ensemble leads the congregation through gospel, jazz, blues, and spirituals, interspersed with prayer and talk from the Rev.… More >>
  • Best Cure for PlayStation

    Think today's games are violent? Drop a coin into French Execution, a fine example of the macabre from Edward Zelinsky's collection of early-20th-century mechanical arcade games, animation boxes, and other fun-house fare housed in a warehouse on Pier 45. Although the collection tends toward the cute, there's plenty to satisfy the world-weary gamer. Opium Den, for one, which stars addicts,… More >>
  • Best Cover Band

    Enorchestra www.saucefaucet.com/tiger.html You can have your Cheeseballs, your Super Diamond, your Wonder Bread 5. Who wants to hear a cover band that plays songs that other cover bands play? Who wants to see people dressed up in ill-fitting costumes and fake chest hair? Frankly, who wants to hear music that belongs at a Vegas wedding? Not the members of Enorchestra,… More >>
  • Best Cigar Bar

    Cigar Bar & Grill

    Descending into this sublevel hideaway is like stepping back in time to a particularly festive Havana nightspot circa 1947, complete with thrumming congas, frosty Mojitos, a brick-lined courtyard, and the fragrance of smoldering cigarros perfuming the night air. There are perhaps a half-dozen public establishments within the city limits where you can puff on a stogie with equanimity, and the… More >>
  • Best Jazz Joint

    Today's local jazz scene isn't nearly so prosperous as when the Blackhawk, El Matador, and Jimbo's Bop City kept the town swingin', but down in the Mission an elegant new nightspot is helping to keep the flame alive. Savanna Jazz is an intimate and shadowy venue of the classic tradition where live and lively music is performed six nights a… More >>
  • Best Salsa Dancing

    Sunday Afternoons at El Rio

    Pulling a mambo on El Rio's luxuriant back patio on a balmy Mission evening is probably the closest thing in San Francisco to a night in old Havana. The festivities begin every Sunday with free salsa lessons at 3:15 p.m., then at 4 la orquestra de noche (Tito Garcia y Son de Cuba and Benny Velarde y Su Super Combo… More >>
  • Best Trivia Night

    Tuesdays at the Bitter End 441 Clement (at Fifth Avenue), 221-9538, www.tomstrivia.com If you know where the Beatles performed their last concert and who played Rowdy Yates in Rawhide and how many times Willie Mays hit one out of the park and why Warren G. Harding didn't enjoy his visit to San Francisco, you'll make out like a bandit at… More >>
  • Best New Nightlife Trend

    Supper Clubs Two-in-one combos are nice: peanut butter and chocolate, vodka and Red Bull, KFC and Taco Bell. But the best amalgam of two great things currently gaining momentum in San Francisco is the rise of the supper club, which unites food and dancing to fantastic effect. Popular in the 1940s and '50s, supper clubs are making a comeback in… More >>
  • Best Midnight Movie Screenings

    "Midnight Mass" - CLOSED

    Midnight movie screenings are a great place to catch films that were either panned by critics or ignored by audiences (such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Donnie Darko, respectively) on their first releases. With their long-running summer series "Midnight Mass," "Trannyshack" regular Peaches Christ and her sidekick, Martiny, have taken the late-night cult flick presentation and turned… More >>
  • Best New Club

    Mighty

    This fun venue has sprouted up in the no man's land between South of Market and Potrero Hill. The respectably sized Mighty appears larger than it is, its high ceilings topping the perfect room in which to hoist a giant disco ball and really mean it. Its comfortable environment is in contrast to that of many local joints, and starts… More >>
  • Best 18-and-Over Club Night

    "The Crib"

    For lack of a better word, there's something precious about 18-and-over club nights. The crowds are more wide-eyed and happy, and tend to dance with such abandon and glee that it's clear that the bitterness of getting older and the fatigue of the club scene have yet to set in. One of the best places in the city to witness… More >>
  • Best Downtown Nightclub

    Rx Gallery

    In a trend that we hope will continue, downtown San Francisco is fast becoming a more resident-friendly place for clubbing. That is to say, the area is veering away from the oh-my-God-welcome-to-my-insufferable-bachelorette-party-let's-go-to-Polly-Esther's kids and moving toward a scene comprising decent music and a tolerable local crowd. Nowhere does this much-needed revamp pop more than at Rx Gallery. This Manhattan-ish spot… More >>
  • Best Dance to Attend If You Were Never Asked to the Prom

    The Black & White Ball Civic Center, Van Ness & Grove, … More >>
  • Best Chronicle Columnist

    Tim Goodman We used to like the Sporting Green's Ray Ratto, but he hasn't been the same since his lobotomy. Goodman, on the other hand, is a consistent voice of reason, ghettoized in the otherwise unreadable Datebook. As a lovably cranky television columnist in San Francisco, Goodman is miles from the TV industry's hubs in New York and Los Angeles,… More >>
  • Best Examiner Columnist

    P.J. Corkery He's a self-styled throwback, what with all the dot-dot-dotting, but Corkery writes about San Francisco without any of the noxious wistfulness you find in the city's many nostalgia fiends (and without the awful smirk you find on Herb Caen's kid's face). Sure, the city might be a better place if no one wrote another word about its horrible… More >>
  • Best Place to Escape the Unsavory Elements of the Tenderloin

    222 Club

    While one of the city's seedier neighborhoods slowly morphs into one of its more chic spots (affectionately nicknamed the "Trendyloin"), the Tenderloin remains, alas, a dirty petri dish compared to the sweeter-smelling surroundings of picturesque Hayes Valley or our stimulating downtown. But if you're ever caught on Hyde after the sun sets, finding shelter at the cozy 222 Club might… More >>
  • Best Psychedelic Band

    The Gris Gris In order to be a great psychedelic band, you need to be able to sound like the onrushing apocalypse and the sweetest kind of cotton candy, simultaneously. We're talking the aural equivalent of hard drugs, plain and simple. Officially, it's unclear whether the young sprouts in Oakland outfit the Gris Gris are knowledgeable about such mind-altering… More >>
  • Best Free Acoustic Showcase

    Ace of Spades Showcase at Mama Buzz Cafe

    For the first "Ace of Spades" showcase in September 2004, no one came. Event organizer Liam Carey swears the performers had a great time anyway, playing and recording their songs and occasionally running outside for cigarettes. That casual spirit still remains in the acoustic event, which takes place on the third Sunday of every month, although much larger crowds have… More >>
  • Best Music Promoter

    Will Linn Blasthaus, www.blasthaus.com In this entertainment-saturated world, in which you have 500 choices for your amusement dollar every day, it helps to have someone to guide you. Someone who will be a consistent source of quality; someone who will work hard to bring the known and the unknown quantities right to your doorstep. Someone like Blasthaus' Will Linn. For… More >>
  • Best Folktronica Artist

    n.Lannon (Nyles Lannon) www.nlannon.com Lannon's Chemical Friends (released last year on Badman) is kind of like those old Reese's peanut butter cup commercials -- you know, the ones where two people bump into each other while eating snacks, and one says, "Hey, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!" and the other says, "You got your chocolate in my… More >>
  • Best Movie House

    Balboa Theater

    This classic theater, designed by architects James and Merritt Reid (who also did the Fairmont Hotel and the original Cliff House), has been a San Francisco favorite since it opened in 1926. Transformed into a twin-screen venue in 1978, the Balboa is the quintessential second-run theater, offering an eclectic mix of Hollywood studio movies, independents, documentaries, and foreign films. Judging… More >>
  • Best Underage Band

    $lot Ma¢hine www.slotmachineland.com Rock 'n' roll is a young person's game, but the local quartet $lot Ma¢hine takes that axiom to the extreme. The lead singer is only 8 years old, for bajeezus' sake. The wise old "man" of the group is the guitarist -- who's 12. Toss in the 10-year-old bassist and the 11-year-old drummer and you've got an… More >>
  • Best Book Group

    Gay Men's Book Group at Borderlands Books

    Book clubs rarely raise an eyebrow for having distinctive subjects or uncommon demographics. Some have obvious intellectual pursuits, but most appear to be women's groups gathered to read contemporary fiction. Then we learned of the Gay Men's Book Group, which meets monthly at Borderlands Books (contact Christopher at cobalt555@earthlink.net). The Mission District shop specializes in the horror, science fiction,… More >>
  • Best New Music Festival

    Love Parade www.loveparadesf.org Culturally active San Francisco didn't seem to need another parade clogging up its streets, but the Love Parade has filled a void we didn't know we had. This new free festival has given the normally fractured local electronic music scene an occasion to unite, enticing the whole city to dance to different flavors of music. Its Embarcadero… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    The Mint

    If the thought of singing karaoke, whether drunk or sober, in front of a huge crowd is a terrifying proposition, the Mint might just be the most intimidating place to choose. That's because if ever there was a place where karaoke is taken seriously, it's here. A disproportionate number of talented amateurs and professionals flock to the bar to practice… More >>
  • Best Way to See the Stars Up Close

    SF Casting Network 84 First St. (at Mission), 346-CAST, ext. 3, www.sfcastingnetwork.com Making Hollywood movies isn't quite the glamour fiesta it's made out to be, especially if you don't warrant a 30-foot trailer and a personal assistant. But working as an extra (or "background," to use the industry lingo) has its rewards -- a glimpse of the stars, insight… More >>
  • Best Improv Group

    BATS www.improv.org Chicago has Second City, L.A. has the Groundlings, and San Francisco has BATS. BATS has been making Bay Area audiences laugh by making it up, à la Whose Line Is It Anyway?, for almost 20 years. From high-energy "Theatresports," featuring two competing improv teams, to hilarious play-length improvised performances told in a potpourri of genres (musical, Shakespeare, sci-fi,… More >>
  • Best Country/Americana Band

    Valerie Jay & the Americanos www.valerie4music.com Real country music in San Francisco? Sounded like "jumbo shrimp" until we heard this British chanteuse and her Americana band. Hailing from Yorkshire, England, the 5-foot-11-inch songbird landed on Bay Area shores in 2001, with her red Gretsch guitar and a hearty American dream. We first caught wind of her at an open mike… More >>
  • Best Theater for Movie-Hopping

    Century 20 1901 Junipero Serra (at John Daly), Daly City, (650) 994-7469, www.centurytheatres.com It's important to have a plan when it comes to the summer's worth of rainy Sunday afternoons. When Scrabble doesn't cut it, Daly City's megaplex can provide hours and hours of enjoyment. A stone's throw from both 280 and BART, the theater is easily accessible, but the… More >>
  • Best Drag Show

    Hot Boxxx Girls Just Wanna Have Fun at Aunt Charlie's Lounge

    It might seem a peculiar complaint to lodge against San Francisco drag shows, but too many gender-bending experiences in this town are kind of uptight. We like our drag a little rough around the edges, with equal parts glam and grit, swank and smut. A sweaty Saturday evening in the "Hot Boxxx" at Aunt Charlie's is perfect for the adventurer… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater for Parents

    www.redvicmoviehouse.com - CLOSED

    For years Oakland's Parkway Theater showed this town up with its "Baby Brigade" screenings, a weekly infants-welcome movie night that proved so popular the theater drew crowds of parents from San Francisco and beyond. It took a while for city theaters to follow suit. The Metreon started doing "Reel Moms" every Tuesday at 11 a.m. last year, but its showings… More >>
  • Best Nouveau Noir Writer

    Peter Plate In novelist Plate's San Francisco, fog "murders" the streets, and the denizens of the Tenderloin and the Mission emerge from their residential hotels to commit crimes, take revenge, and talk to God. The writer, who developed his chops while squatting in the Mission, has created a noir S.F. in his books (among them Police and Thieves, Angels… More >>
  • Best Free Bluegrass

    Amnesia 853 Valencia (at 20th Street), 970-0012, www.amnesiathebar.com Bluegrass: It's not just for old fogies anymore. At Amnesia on Monday nights the crowd is surprisingly youthful and completely berserk for fiddles, banjos, and four-part hillbilly vocal harmonies. From virtuoso mandolin pickers to front-porch types banging out moonshine-inspired standards like "Dueling Banjos," the evening is reliably booked with enjoyable acts. Call… More >>
  • Best Piano Bar

    Seasons Bar

    Opened in the autumn of 2001, the Seasons Bar filled the void created by the Redwood Room's descent into cacophonous hipsterism a few months earlier. Once again San Francisco had a piano bar in the grand tradition of Chicago's Pump Room or New York's King Cole Bar: elegant, intimately lit surroundings, exquisite service, ice-cold libations, and a Gershwin-disposed pianist noodling… More >>
  • Best Pop Artist

    Butch Berry www.butchberry.com Bay Area native and dead ringer for Ben Stiller playing a rock star, Butch Berry knows a thing or 200 about hooks. This kid's Beatle-worthy songs about love won and lost are so damn catchy you'll find yourself singing them while showering, brushing your teeth, and trying to sleep. His last full-length album, Unlimited, was a self-produced… More >>
  • Best Crooner

    Spencer Day

    Utah-born singer/songwriter Spencer Day packs fans into any joint where he's tickling the keys, and not just because of his boyish good looks. What makes the twentysomething's vocal stylings special is Day's lack of affected cool, that Frank Sinatra/hepcat shtick that so many other male vocalists feel the need to mimic when singing selections from the American songbook. Whether he's… More >>
  • Best Parade

    Italian Heritage Parade Mid-October, www.sfcolumbusday.org Why do we love this Columbus Day parade? Let us count the ways: the giant Moretti Beer bottle; the S.F. Sanitary District Garbage Can Drill Team; the paisano rhythms of Frank, Dino, and Louis Prima blaring from every other sound system; the accordion players and the tarantella dancers; the free samples of Columbus salame; the… More >>
  • Best Classic Music Venues

    "When the lights go down in the city/ And the sun shines on the bay/ I want to be there in my city/ Ohhh, ohhh." When Steve Perry sang those lines on Journey's "Lights," he wasn't fucking around: San Francisco is one of the greats, and its music scene is no different. From Jerry to Janis to Billie Joe, this… More >>
  • Best Folkie

    Sean Hayes www.snailbluerecordings.com You can keep your Joanna Newsoms and your Devendra Banharts. When it comes to folk music, Sean Hayes is the man. While Newsom gets invited to appear on Jimmy Kimmel's TV show and Banhart gets written up in hip magazines like Arthur, their fame is based on their bizarreness more than their talent (which is not to… More >>
  • Best Sing-Along

    Sea Chanteys on the Balclutha Hyde Street Pier, 2905 Hyde (at Beach), 556-6435 On the first Saturday night of every month, wannabe old salts, sea dogs, jack-tars, and windjammers gather aboard the Balclutha and belt out salty old ditties about jolly boatswains and cups of grog and lofty ships to windward and mistresses of the trade. As the ancient clipper… More >>
  • Best Bar at Which to Nurse an Early-Morning Hangover

    Gold Dust Lounge

    The Gold Dust has long been a San Francisco institution, heralded by the late Herb Caen as "the last of the authentic nightcapperies" -- a rave that must have delighted owners Jimmy and Tasios Vovis, who've plastered it all over the walls. The décor is decidedly old-school -- imagine that '30s-era bar from The Shining, minus the creepy bartender --… More >>
  • Best Place to Sport a Mullet

    Pound-SF 100 Cargo (at Jennings), Pier 96, 826-5009, www.poundsf.com Are you nostalgic for the days when androgynous glam-rockers filled the airwaves with future strip-club staples like "Pour Some Sugar on Me," "Unskinny Bop," and "Girls, Girls, Girls"? Then let your hair down -- so far down that it's fashionably objectionable -- at Pound-SF, an all-ages club on the outskirts of… More >>
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