Winter Arts Guide: Music

Let's hear it for PWR BTTM

PWR BTTM (Photo by Ebru Yildiz)

PWR BTTM
Thursday, Feb. 23, at Starline Social Club, starlinesocialclub.com
In 2016, PWR BTTM caught everyone by surprise with its irresistible, punchy pop punk and fearlessly queer live show.
Now, in 2017, the ongoing ascent of Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce seems virtually unstoppable. Thank the drag gods. The duo is charming, hilarious, and woke as hell live. Cock rock has officially met its match.

THE GARDEN
With The Frights and The Regrettes. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Chapel, thechapelsf.com
The Garden is not for the faint of heart. Since 2011, the Orange County twin brothers-turned-songwriting-duo of Wyatt and Fletcher Shears have brought their bizarre, conceptual art pop to the weirdo kid masses, winning fans with their frantic live shows. In the end, the pair defy comparison — as in, who else could perform surrealist, post-glam jams while somersaulting across a stage?

MYKKI BLANCO
With Cakes Da Killa. Friday, March 3, at the New Parish, thenewparish.com
Mykki Blanco, the trans and multi-gendered New York rapper and performance artist, has been called a lot of things in her 30 years of life, but perhaps the most apropos description came from Pitchfork in 2016 when the publication called her the “progeny of riot grrl and Lil’ Kim.” In other words, she’s tough, she’s flashy, and she’s more than willing to break a few boundaries, — especially when it’s in the macho world of hiphop. Catch her live and you’ll get a heavy dosage of tongue-tangling rapping, as well as a few dance routines — both planned and impromptu — plus some unwarranted, but totally hilarious life advice.

BIG THIEF
Tuesday, March 7, at Rickshaw Stop, rickshawstop.com
Big Thief frontwoman Adrienne Lenker is not afraid to bleed in public. She delivers her gut-wrenchingly vulnerable songs with big-hearted sincerity and a killer voice, aided by guitarist Buck Meek’s robust, folksy playing. As a whole, the group’s poetic rock is the stuff of road trips, long nights under the stars, and indie dreams. It’s wonderful.

THE JAPANESE HOUSE
Wednesday, March 8, at the Chapel, thechapelsf.com
Contrary to what her moniker may imply, singer-songwriter Amber Bain lives in East London, where she makes spacious pop songs that meander through love, loss, and healing. At only 21, Bain has found her voice within ambient synths and meditative melodies that drift between the mournful and the dreamlike. Catch her while you can: Given how she counts indie giants The 1975 among her fans, it’s only a matter of time before she’s everywhere.

THE COATHANGERS
Friday, March 10, at Brick and Mortar Music Hall, brickandmortarmusic.com. Saturday, March 11, at Starline Social Club, starlinesocialclub.com
If Trump’s comments about grabbing women by the pussy made your stomach turn, then you’ll find yourself in good company with the Coathangers. With a name referencing underground abortion methods prior to Roe v. Wade, the Atlanta trio’s unapologetically feminist and deliciously dark punk rock isn’t out to make friends. Lucky for us, nasty and catchy aren’t mutually exclusive.

BIG SEAN
Thursday, March 23, at the Masonic, sfmasonic.com
Catapulted to fame through his 2014 hit, “I Don’t Fuck With You,” Big Sean stands out from the ever-growing cadre of rappers thanks to his sticky voice, rapid-fire bars, and mercurial flows.

Braggadocio though his lyrics may be, there’s no denying the oral athleticism required to master his songs, and you can hear it best in his energetic, multitempo new single “Moves.” He may not be tall — he’s 5’8” — but Big Sean definitely lives up to his name in other ways.

TINARIWEN
With Dengue Fever, Saturday, April 1, at the UC Theatre in Berkeley, theuctheatre.org
This Grammy Award-winning collective of Taureg musicians from northern Mali has been around for a few decades, gradually gaining fans and worldwide notoriety for its guitar-driven, blues-infused brand of West African music. Sounding not unlike Ali Farka Toure if he were hyped up on amphetamine and energy drinks, Tinariwen makes raucous, rollicking music that is sure to make you dance — or, at the very least, put you in a good mood.

THE xx
Saturday, April 15, at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, ticketmaster.com
The xx is proof that sometimes all you need to make rich, vibrant, and occasionally very moody music is two opposite-sex singers and a producer. Combining electronic flairs with dreampop haziness, moody soul sensibilities, and grungy, rock-inspired chords, the 12-year-old band has solidified itself as an indie darling, and no doubt made more than a few fans cry when it dropped its first album in five years on Jan. 13.

DEADMAU5
Monday – Wednesday, April 24-26, at the Fox Theater in Oakland, thefoxoakland.com
The electronic music project of producer Joel Zimmerman, Deadmau5 has long been lauded as a dance and progressive house heavyweight. Things got a bit dicey at the end of 2015 when Zimmerman announced on Twitter that he was “considering killing off the ‘deadmau5’ bullshi**” and starting something new, but luckily he never acted on this, releasing an eighth studio album, the bizarrely titled W:/2016ALBUM/, instead. For music that constantly keeps you guessing and switching up your dance styles, Deadmau5 nails it.

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