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Arts & Entertainment

  • Arts & Entertainment Readers' Poll

    Readers' Poll Winners:

    Best Comedy Act: Uphill Both Ways Best Local Band: Hightower Best Local Hip-Hop Group: Rap 4 Rights Best Cover Band: Smash-Up Derby Best Music Radio Station: KFOG Best Radio DJ: Chuy Gomez Best Place to See Live Music: The Great American Music Hall Best Local Music Label: Om Records Best Movie Theater: The Castro Theatre Best Theater Company: Thrillpeddlers Best Art Gallery: City Art Best Museum: SFMOMA Best Dance Club: Bootie Best New Club:… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    Hemlock Tavern

    Yeah, yeah, a great jukebox is eclectic, something for everyone, blah blah blah. But trying to choose the "best" jukebox in a city as full of great bars and amateur music critics like San Francisco is just inviting some hard-drinking know-it-all to say you're full of it. Fortunately, something happened this year that rendered the selection a no-brainer: The owners… More >>
  • Best House Concerts

    Paul Schreiber's Apartment

    Today, live music usually means cramming into the back room of a bar, or getting jostled by unruly crowds, and crying over spilled beer. Not so at Paul Schreiber's totally average modern apartment in Potrero Hill. For the past five years, the music lover has converted his modest living room into a live-music venue, showcasing local and visiting artists at… More >>
  • Best Way to Stay on Top of Local Music Shows

    www.stevelist.com

    If you want to talk about old school, let's talk about someone who's still willing to conduct his vitally important business via snail mail. All private underground-rock-loving citizens are still welcome to send the mysterious Mr. Stephen Koepke an SASE (that stands for "self-addressed stamped envelope," kids) in order to stay on top of the vast majority of interesting shows… More >>
  • Best Weekly Live Show

    Jazz Mafia Tuesdays at Bruno's

    Representatives from the massive Jazz Mafia outfit perform every Tuesday night at Bruno's in the Mission with different incarnations of the collective rotating weekly shifts. There can be 20 heads crowding the tiny stage in the cozy nightclub, depending on who's playing. If it's the Realistic Orchestra, you're looking at an 18-piece jazz, funk, and hip-hop ensemble. The Shotgun Wedding… More >>
  • Best Cover Band

    Zoo Station

    Dublin may be home to U2, but we've got the next best thing: Zoo Station. Composed of four U2 lookalikes, this tribute band almost perfectly mimics the hard-rockin', ethereal noise of the Irish supergroup itself. On the dinky stages of San Francisco's Guinness-soaked pubs, Zoo Station manages to rival U2's live-concert charisma. Singer Bonalmost easily hits the legendary high notes… More >>
  • Best Mixed-Media Musicians

    Official Tourist

    Using blue screens, found video footage, homemade masks, and electronic music that picks up hitchhiking beats and rhythms from around the planet, Official Tourist are our local guides to the international audio-visual mashup. Traveling in both space and sound, these artistic gypsies jumble frantic, bite-sized song samples while sequestered in the back rooms of the galleries in which they perform,… More >>
  • Best Rapper

    Skyballa

    One of few Bay Area artists to have been recognized by picky East Coast hip-hop magazine The Source in its section for new talent ("Unsigned Hype"), Skyballa has been steadily building his name nationally for the last few years since receiving that street-respected honor. The former pimp and drug dealer from the Fillmore District of San Francisco has proved himself… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Producer

    Dan The Automator

    San Francisco's Dan "The Automator" Nakamura has had platinum-selling success in the music industry, but still manages to fly under the radar of being a household name, even at home. It's rather ridiculous that he's not more well known, considering he's engineered the sound for animated cartoon rock stars (Gorillaz) and animated human rappers (Kool Keith's Doctor Octagon alias and… More >>
  • Best Drunken Hip-Hop Group

    Strange Face

    Bay Area hip-hop artists are either pill-poppin' purveyors of the hyphy high life, or knit-cap wearing pseudo-intellectuals who spout the obligatory "Fuck Bush!" in order to rouse the slightest bit of crowd response. San Francisco's Strange Face collective is neither. Instead, they spit raw raps, guzzle jugs of Carlo Rossi, and write odes to their muse: booze. Their singlemindedness is… More >>
  • Best Kids Band

    The TimeOuts

    Over the last few years, the alterna-parent movement has really taken off. One-time underground rocker Dan Zanes now plays to stadiums full of wee ones, while Ruby Skye's celebrated "Baby Loves Disco" dance parties have spread across the country. Texas scribe Neal Pollack even wrote a book about how to remain cool (i.e. smoke pot) and raise a kid. So… More >>
  • Best Marching Band

    The Gomorran Social Aid & Pleasure Club

    Anyone who's seen the raucous shenanigans of the Extra Action Marching Band shouldn't be surprised that similarly minded acts have sprung up in its wake. But how the Gomorran Social Aid & Pleasure Club came to be is just as bizarre as its precursor's antics. The band started as an idea rather than a reality, when graphic designer Adam Infanticide… More >>
  • Best Local Pop Prince

    hey willpower

    Some day they should erect a statue of Will Schwartz right next to Willie Mays or that giant arrow on the Embarcadero. He's a San Francisco institution, as nutty as the beatniks and as sleek as the trolley cars, only more musical. Having supplied the bass bounce to guitar-heavy altrockers Imperial Teen, Schwartz proved himself a pop Svengali in 2003… More >>
  • Best Karaoke Band

    The Amazing Embarrassonics

    It's a little hard to explain why it's so much more fun to sing with a live band than a recording. Wait, no it isn't. Normal karaoke is a good time, but local secret the Amazing Embarrassonics ups the ante as a full rock band that knows 500 songs and will hand you a book with the lyrics. The thing… More >>
  • Best Place to Swoon the Night Away

    Harry Denton's Starlight Room

    If '30s elegance and big band, jazz, and upbeat dance music are what you're into, it's hard to beat the Starlight Room, high atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel above Union Square. Elegance is key here, from the walnut-paneled elevators that whisk you up to the hotel's 21st floor, to the silk-draped chandeliers and burgundy velvet booths. And since the… More >>
  • Best Jazz Sanctuary

    Saint John Coltrane Church

    Don't let the black Jesus mural above the altar fool you. While Christian (affiliation: African Orthodox), this one-of-a-kind church, which has about three dozen congregants, is first and foremost about the music of its declared "saint," the late-great jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Its Sunday services, from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., includes a little sermonizing and a lot of Coltrane… More >>
  • Best Band Photographer

    Jeremy Harris

    Rock band publicity shots are all pretty much the same, including the ever popular "up against a brick wall, no one looking at the camera, and the cute one in the middle" types. Local photographer Jeremy Harris tries to bring bands out of these pedestrian ruts, photographing everyone from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes to Fall Out Boy with… More >>
  • Best Indie Filmmaker

    Kevin Epps

    There are no special effects in what the documentarian best known for Straight Outta Hunters Point does, yet his talent for digging deep and representing the under-represented is worth more to the community dialogue than any Computer Generated Imagery animation. As is Epps' presence at various local forums — he's a reliable fixture at events from the streets of Bayview… More >>
  • Best Punk Rock Cinema

    Other Cinema

    The sound always cuts out at some point. The theater is cramped, often cold, and let's face it: In winter, there are bugs. That's why curator Craig Baldwin's Other Cinema series may not be for everyone. But the every-Saturday-night-at-8:30 p.m. series presents small, beautiful films with enough soul and grit to keep you buoyed up and pissed-off for at least… More >>
  • Best Film Festival for the Bloodthirsty

    Another Hole in the Head

    As a city with a film festival for pretty much every race, religion, ideology, film technology, sexual orientation, and geographic location (seriously — we've even got the Ocean Film Festival), it's uniquely satisfying that we have one dedicated to horror. After all, the slasher market primarily consists of low-budget movies that'll never see on a screen bigger than your television,… More >>
  • Best Indie Movie Theater

    Red Vic Movie House - CLOSED

    It's got those funky couches. It sells tasty snacks ranging from hot, buttery popcorn to organic treats. It's worker-owned and -operated. And for God sakes, it's just all bright red outside and lovable inside — kind of like the Clifford the Big Red Dog of theaters. The Red Vic actually shows good movies, too, screening everything from documentaries (with directors… More >>
  • Best Local Public Radio Show

    Philosophy Talk

    Ken Taylor and John Perry, both professors of philosophy at Stanford University, are not afraid to tackle heavy questions like: What is art? How do we deal with moral ambiguity? Or the ever-popular: Is free will an illusion? Hell, they not only tackle said questions, they pummel them, throw them around a little, and often toss a cup of water… More >>
  • Best Commercial Radio

    KFOG

    KFOG turns 25 in the fall, and, like a reasonably hip adult of that same age, the traditionally freewheelin' rock radio station has eclectic musical tastes that both revel in old creature comforts (Fleetwood Mac) and dabble in new sonic challenges (Gnarls Barkley). Operated by Cumulus Broadcasting, there is a refreshing lack of song recycling compared to Clear Channel stations.… More >>
  • Best Non-Commercial Radio

    KUSF

    KUSF is no newbie to the non-commercial airwaves — it celebrates its third decade in operation this spring — but the station is still to be commended for championing the underground. The community outpost broadcasts music from far beneath the "alternative" format's interchangeable skin; DJs spin loose-cannon playlists pulling from the genres of indie, noise, world, hip hop, pop, garage,… More >>
  • Best Solo Performer

    Dan Hoyle

    Dan Hoyle is a solo theater artist, but his creations aren't like everyday one-man show fare. Based on his own wide-ranging experiences (he's traveled on a Fulbright Scholarship to Nigeria to study oil politics and explored globalization in countries as far-flung as Mexico and Thailand), Hoyle's intensely physical, achingly human, and alarmingly funny productions are roughly autobiographical in scope, but… More >>
  • Best Theatrical Auteur

    Mark Jackson

    Mark Jackson is one of the Bay Area theater scene's most promising auteurs. The writer-director first came to prominence as the creator of the experimental Art Street Theatre in the mid 1990s (named "Best Experimental Theater Company" in SF Weekly's 2000 Best Of San Francisco' awards.) The Death of Meyerhold, written and directed by Jackson in 2003 in collaboration with… More >>
  • Best Stage Director

    Jessica Heidt

    Many stage directors get "typecast" according to certain kinds of projects. There are those who do classics, and those who specialize in collaborating with playwrights on new dramas. It's not often easy for directors to cross-over between the two camps. As comfortable staging 18th century French farces as she is contemporary plays by Palestinian-American playwrights, Jessica Heidt is one of… More >>
  • Best Theater Company

    SF Playhouse

    The black-box theater at 533 Sutter used to be a bit of a dump. But ever since SF Playhouse moved in and gave the place a lick of paint, the venue has been transformed both physically and artistically. Directors Bill English and Susi Damilano not only possess a slick aesthetic sense (the sets, which are usually designed by English himself,… More >>
  • Best Drag Show

    Charlie Horse

    By crowning Charlie Horse as the best drag show, we don't mean to dethrone Trannyshack. That's just not possible. Like Oprah Winfrey, who no longer turns in Emmy-nomination bids after having won bushels of them, Heklina's genius drag revue has no equal and certainly no longer needs our pithy accolades. But if you're looking for something in a similar vein… More >>
  • Best Burlesque Revue

    The Cantankerous Lollies

    Since 1995, the Cantankerous Lollies have been upping the ante on the art of coquetry with their distinctly DIY approach to taking it off. Founded by Harvest Moon, one of the nation's most vaunted showgirls, this troupe of vaudeville hotties spearheaded the West Coast neo-burlesque movement — birthing a panoply of pasty-loving adherents in the process. The great thing about… More >>
  • Best Hybrid Performance Venue

    CounterPULSE

    In a city known for the mixing of dance and movement with theater, music, spoken word, and any other performance discipline you can think of, CounterPULSE stands out as a great venue to get a peek at how a variety of local artists are pushing the performance boundaries. While every piece might not float your boat, the constant risk-taking and… More >>
  • Best Mid-Week Swing Dancing

    Tuesday Night Jump at the Verdi Club

    If you're looking to get an authentic taste of swing dancing, you can do no better than Tuesday nights at the Verdi Club. The evening starts off with a half-hour intro into the basics of swing dancing, lead by Bay Area swing veteran Hep Jen. Then the Stompy Jones six-piece band takes the stage, pumping out infectious jump blues. Students… More >>
  • Best Comedy Troupe

    Killing My Lobster

    Halfway through Killing My Lobster Faces the Music, the sketch comedy troupe unleashed a song that made us want to shut the musical down for being too damn funny. It was an ode to the Mission burrito, with a lyric-writing process consisting of nothing more than paging through the phone book. The actor simply sang the names of a great… More >>
  • Best Comedy Club

    The Purple Onion - CLOSED

    Located in the heart of North Beach, the Purple Onion has one of the most refined pedigrees of any comedy club around. Phyllis Diller, Barbra Streisand, and Woody Allen all once trod the venue's diminutive boards. Robin Williams has even been known to drop in on occasion to try out new material on unsuspecting crowds. Yet the place remains quirky,… More >>
  • Best Club to Dance with a Baller

    Gravity - CLOSED

    An urban club with a sophisticated environment, the Marina's Gravity offers the feel of a neighborhood bar with a big-city vibe. The club's warmth, elegance, and luxury is grown-up without being pretentious, which draws some of the most discerning local club connoisseurs: football and basketball players. The club's intimate dance setting features soul, house, funk, hip hop, and disco. Monday… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Your Mash On

    Slide

    Wednesday nights, musician Chris Clause and DJ Solomon create a musical mash-up that makes the scenesters groove. Evenings are started off active as clubgoers shoot down a giant slide right into the bar (unless you're wearing a dress or a skirt, then it's stairs for you!), and an array of DJs keeps the well-groomed crowd shaking it until the wee… More >>
  • Best Serial Party

    Superfriends

    A veritable Justice League of talented DJs converge at Upper Haight DJ bar Milk once a month for "Superfriends," a club night where rock and dance jams rub up against funk and hip-hop anthems for fun-loving partygoers. Resident DJs Vin Sol and Morse Code are two of San Francisco's leading mixtape jocks, offering collections that range from slow-burning soul and… More >>
  • Best Salsa Club

    Café Cocomo

    There are several great salsa clubs in San Francisco, but what makes Café Cocomo stand out above the rest this year — and makes it a perfect destination for you and your salsa-curious family and friends — is their Monday nights. Once a week, Cocomo opens their doors to those new to salsa, offering two hours of beginning and just-beyond-beginning… More >>
  • Best Nightclub Game Show

    The Ask Dr. Hal Show

    Who would win in a fight: Abraham Lincoln or Jerry Garcia? If you have weird questions, like this one, the place to ask them is at the Dr. Hal Show, which appears at various clubs in the city. However, questions of a trivial, personal, or simple-minded type will be viciously ridiculed, and they'll take your money anyway: Dr. Hal has… More >>
  • Best Local Author

    Rebecca Solnit

    S.F. is a tough town for a literary genius; there's a long legacy of bombastically talented writers who've passed through, from the Beats to Joan Didion to the McSweeney's kids. Rebecca Solnit doesn't have to scrap for her mantle, though. Like Didion, she's an accessible intellectual powerhouse who shares her astoundingly wide-ranging and unfailingly astute observations without any pretension or… More >>
  • Best Satirical Book

    SkyMaul

    Beth Lisick writes, "It's hard to believe anything could be funnier than the SkyMall catalog itself." But not only is local sketch comedy troupe Kasper Hauser's SkyMaul ("Shop till you drop ... from the sky!") funnier than SkyMall, but it also makes SkyMall funnier. You can't look at the advertisement for the weird exercise machine in the real airline mail… More >>
  • Best Literary Lunchtime

    CAT's Lit'n'Lunch Series

    Between all the numbingly stupid memos, spreadsheets, and conference calls that must be executed during a typical workday in a typical office, it can feel like you're speaking a pointless alien language between the hours of 9 and 5. Thankfully S.F.'s tireless champion of translated literature, the Center for the Art of Translation, feels your pain. That's why they offer… More >>
  • Best Reading Series with Cookies

    Radar Reading Series

    The library is a somewhat staid environment for the Radar Reading Series. Maybe that's why its curator, Michelle Tea, goes to such lengths to encourage the crowd to talk back. After the readers finish their selections, they ready themselves for a Q&A. One might think feisty San Francisco audiences would fire away without needing an incentive to do so, but… More >>
  • Best New Magazine About Meat

    Meatpaper

    When visual artist and graphic designer Sasha Wizansky decided to eat meat for 24 hours as an art project a couple of years ago, the results were physically sickening but socially enlightening. Everyone, it seemed, had something to say about edible dead animals. "It was an amazing conversational lens," Wizansky says. "We have a real 'fleischgeist' going on in this… More >>
  • Best Art Site

    Fecal Face

    During the course of its seven-year adventure on the Web, Fecal Face has gone from covering the local art scene to ruling it. The site has an effortless be-here-now coolness, jammed with unpretentious content, struggling-artist resources, and endless photos of both local art and those impossible Mission art kids. Founder John Trippe and company have a clear love for the… More >>
  • Best Double-Wide Gallery

    White Walls Gallery & the Shooting Gallery

    White Walls Gallery and the Shooting Gallery have many things in common — dazzling shows by young, edgy artists, to name a biggie — but the best is the gaping, fat hole in the wall that connects the two storefronts. When passing through it, most people don't realize they've crossed into an entirely different business, with its own Web site… More >>
  • Best New Monthly Art Show

    Third Tuesdays/Sketch Tuesdays

    At regular art openings, artists usually act no different than guests, glancing at the walls, balancing drinks, and figuring out savvy things to say to one another. At Sketch Tuesdays, however, the artists do what they do best — paint, draw, and sometimes sculpt, in full view of all comers. Organized by Sacha Eckes, Sketch Tuesdays is a more informal,… More >>
  • Best Free Arts Gala

    Mission Arts & Performance Project

    We know you find yourself continually making excuses for not seeing enough arts and performance events: "I don't have enough time," "It's too far away," and the perennial whiny favorite, "It's too expensive" (even though two or three drinks will easily pay for a ticket to some brilliant black-box theatre). Well, we have some news for you: The Mission Arts… More >>
  • Best Indie Arts Space

    Intersection for the Arts

    It's not true that all multidisciplinary arts spaces are dilettantish — but experience has proven the stereotype generally irrefutable. Luckily, the exception is Intersection for the Arts. The city's oldest alternative arts space (42 years, to be exact), Intersection is unsurprisingly the stalwart among its struggling nonprofit brethren. Its sustained reputation for cutting-edge programs with a populist tinge has to… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Art

    Balmy and Clarion Alleys

    Almost any casual stroll through the Mission District can result in a face full of high-grade graffiti, such as the glorious, blow-you-off-your-feet lettering jewels that recently appeared on a disreputable stretch of Florida Street at 16th. But you don't have to hunt the streets to find good public art. Mural-drenched Balmy and Clarion are two havens of vibrant urban paintings… More >>
  • Best Spot to Leave Kids Nearly Unattended

    James Turrell's Three Gems Sculpture

    Created specifically for the northwest corner of the de Young Museum's Osher Sculpture Garden, Three Gems, is the first of several "skyspace's" by James Turrell. Though this glorified cement hole in the ground's artistic qualities are debatable, we can't overstate its role as a great place to keep kids distracted with minimal supervision. The sculpture is in essence a simplified… More >>
  • Best Purging of Teenage Stupidity

    Mortified

    Somebody else's humiliation never felt so much like catharsis. At this event, which happens more or less monthly at the Make-Out Room, willing subjects climb up on stage with their old diaries, love letters, and teenaged attempts at poetry clutched in their clammy fists. Before an eager, voyeuristic crowd, the readers rewind history and let their younger selves spill their… More >>
  • Best Local Alternative to Burning Man

    Decompression

    It started 21 years ago on Baker Beach with 20 people and a flaming figure. Today, hordes of San Franciscans still descend upon Nevada's Black Rock Desert each year to be participants in Burning Man, a week-long gathering which now attracts more than 35,000 annually. The truly dedicated (aka "Burners") spend all year preparing for the big event, whether they're… More >>
  • Best Food Network

    TasteTV

    Sick and tired of the incessant reruns of Rachael Ray's bleating and Emeril LaGasse's blathering on about tasteless Italian food, or Paula Deen's heart-stopping recipes for an early Southern-fried death? TasteTV is the local elixir, a smart hybrid of the Food Network's essence (food, duh!) and with its dashes of viewer-generated content, Current TV. The specialty is food for foodies,… More >>
  • Best Unusual Museum

    Chinese Holocaust Museum

    In a city where unusual is the usual, it's hard to come up with something that would be considered provocative. San Francisco's got plenty of whimsically educational museums, like the hands-on playtime that defines the Exploratorium. But nothing beats an unflinching look at the physical and psychological aspects of sheer brutality. What we are truly short on are museums that… More >>
  • Best Place to Channel Kerouac

    The Beat Museum

    Perfectly situated at the nexus of Grant, Columbus, and Broadway, where Kerouac, Corso, Rexroth, and Ferlinghetti changed American literature 50 years ago, the Beat Museum celebrates those potent days when modern jazz, postwar angst, and the bohemian essence of North Beach nurtured the Beat Era into explosive existence. Books, photographs, manuscripts, and memorabilia from curator Jerry Cimino's extensive collection fill… More >>
  • Best Place for Lesbian Tourists

    The Lexington Club

    There's almost literally no place like it in the world, and definitely no place like it that's 10 years old. The Mission District's world-famous Lexington Club is "Your Friendly Neighborhood Dyke Bar," and owner Lila Thirkield and her staff take each word of that phrase seriously. It's a good-natured joint, not fancy, and it's full of swilling lesbians. But this… More >>
  • Best Pride Weekend Event

    Pink Saturday

    Winning by a nose over "Three-Day Meth Cloud Hanging Over Beck's Motor Lodge," Pink Saturday is a most special time during Pride Weekend for those of us true homosexuals who know that being queer isn't about equal rights, same-sex marriage, or gay adoption, but instead about drinking, drugging, dancing, and pissing on the street corners with your pals. Happening the… More >>

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