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  • Best Musician to Listen to While Studying or Doing Homework

    There's no secret to helping you focus better — unless you count Adderall — but studies have shown that listening to music before or while performing a task can improve attention, memory, and even your ability to perform mental math. Instrumental, non-vocal music works best in this scenario. Tycho, the musical moniker of San Francisco producer and graphic designer Scott Hansen, has long been our go-to study soundtrack and for good reason: Hansen's looping, guitar-driven melodies always seem to remain... More >>

  • Best Place to Hear Music, See Art, and Eat Food (All At Once)

    The Midway

    Savvy San Franciscans already know this, but the Dogpatch is the place to be right now. The neighborhood's industrial roots means it has space to play with, and several new, artistically minded projects are doing very exciting things with that space. The Midway, located where Marin and Illinois streets intersect, is, roughly speaking, a music venue masquerading as an art gallery — with serious cross-cultural ambitions. Right now, the space is home to live music (of the club variety, mostly),... More >>

  • Best Random Jazz Quartet at a Bar

    The Devil's Acre

    Inhabitants of San Francisco's Barbary Coast were a rugged lot, but boy did those folks know how to drink. Cocktails and tinctures from the 1900s are the beverages of choice at The Devil's Acre, one of the newer ventures from Future Bars, the minds behind Bourbon & Branch and Local Edition. However, one of the best parts of The Devil's Acre has nothing to do with what's in your glass, but rather what's in your ears. The live music is... More >>

  • Best Place to Outfox Your Friends

    Real Escape Game

    Perhaps you've tired of walloping your friends at Halo, or the appeal of spending every Saturday night calling Lyfts outside of DNA Lounge at 2:30 a.m. is rapidly diminishing. If so, why not get 10 of your besties together and let some strangers lock you in a room for an hour? This is the basic conceit of Real Escape Game, a Japanese phenomenon that asks small groups to solve puzzles and use logic to escape from an enclosed space before... More >>

  • Best Way to Get Cultured Without a Tie

    SF Opera Lab

    If finding your way to the War Memorial Opera House for a performance of Carmen or The Magic Flute isn't in the cards, SF Opera Lab is here to bring the experience to you. Conceived as a pop-up show, SF Opera Lab has already mounted three productions at the Taube Atrium Theater, as well as appearances at the 2016 Edwardian Ball, The Chapel, and Public Works. With themed cocktails and no dress code, SF Opera Lab provides non-aristocracy with a... More >>

  • Best Dance Party

    Mother at Oasis Nightclub & Cabaret

    The monthly phenomenon formerly known as Trannyshack may have undergone a name change — and become a weekly event — but it hasn't stopped the party from raging full force. Hosted by Oasis denizen and local drag legend Heklina, Mother is an exercise in San Francisco realness. Often themed to celebrate pop royalty, be it Nicki Minaj or David Bowie, a night at Mother is the best way to cut loose (plus no bachelorette parties allowed!). Popular drag queens visiting... More >>

  • Best Place to See Fine Art Inspired by Wes Anderson

    Spoke Art "Bad Dads" Show

    Once a year, the popular art gallery known as Spoke Art transforms into a landscape of Wes Anderson wonder. "Bad Dads" is an Anderson-inspired show that owner Ken Harman has mounted since 2011, a group outing that features everything from lithographs to a meticulously recreated diorama of The Life Aquatic's chief vessel, the Belafonte. (Also worth mentioning are the pink Mendl's boxes, the patisserie from Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, and custom-made Adidas shoes featuring the "Team Zissou" slogan.) Spoke... More >>

  • Best Thing to Help You Love the Mission Again

    David Ireland House

    OMG, the Mission is so over. It's like the worst. The last time we ventured over there, we were run down by a Tesla, and some Dropbox bros stole our jump rope. If you're feeling similarly Mission-averse these days, you must check out the newly reopened David Ireland House. Ireland, a conceptual artist who died in 2009, left behind an occasionally cryptic but frequently hilarious body of work ranging from brooms tethered together (a piece that's in SFMOMA's permanent collection)... More >>

  • Best Worst S.F. Spinoff

    Fuller House

    San Francisco's favorite (fictional) family made its return this spring with Netfix's Fuller House. While this Full House spin-off offers a new take on a '90s favorite, the jokes just never seem to land and the plot lines feel like they have been dusted off more than Danny Tanner's living room furniture. For viewers who are disappointed that no one drove a car through the kitchen in Season 1, rest assured: The writers probably have that in the works for... More >>

  • Most S.F.-Obsessed Artist

    Wendy MacNaughton

    If San Francisco is full of microclimates, it's also full of microcultures. These are the cultures that Wendy MacNaughton inhabits, like the area around Sixth and Mission streets, whose daily scenes of transience and permanence come alive in MacNaughton's drawings and words.It's the unique combination of text and illustration, and the utter humanism that MacNaughton conveys in her reporting, that makes her work so compelling. MacNaughton's 2014 book,Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in Its Own Words, is required reading... More >>

  • Best Civic-Minded Artist

    Jeremy Fish

    When the San Francisco Arts Commission wanted someone to dress up City Hall for the building's 100th anniversary last year, and become the structure's first artist-in-residence, it took a leap of faith by choosing Jeremy Fish. The leap paid off for the city and for Fish, whose eccentric illustrations of "100 things all San Franciscans should love about their city" included pigeons with knapsacks, and Fish's head peeking out from the building's dome. Fish's wicked bunny sculptures, like the one... More >>

  • Best Musician to Listen to When You're Missing Summer

    Day Wave

    Day Wave, Marin native Jackson Phillips' lo-fi, indie-pop band, sounds like a red popsicle that melts between your fingers as you lick it while sitting Indian-style on a patch of grass. It's the leaves rustling in the trees holding up your hammock, the sun filtering down on you through the branches. It's a sour lemonade on a hot day, a warm summer night without a jacket, and a frenzy of bees gorging on a garden at full bloom. It's hard... More >>

  • Best National Music Act that formed in ... San Jose?

    Operators

    Overlooked in so many ways by its more famous sister up north, San Jose has never been known as a musical hotbed. Yet, in the sleepy South Bay city, things are stirring lately, namely in the form of synth-rock group Operators. Best known as the latest project from Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs), Operators recorded their debut EP in the South Bay and made their first-ever life appearance at a guitar shop in San Jose. Devojka, the one-named electronic... More >>

  • Best Gallerist

    Catharine Clark

    In 2013, when Catharine Clark moved her eponymous gallery from 49 Geary to the Potrero Hill area, she gave herself more room to work with, including a dedicated media space that has shown indelible work by such artists as Shalo P ("The Bedroom Suite"), Nina Katchadourian ("In a Room Full of Strangers"), and Andy Diaz Hope and Jon Bernson ("Beautification Machines"). Simultaneously, in the gallery's more traditional space, Clark has exhibited memorable work by such artists as Sandow Birk ("American... More >>

  • Best New Museum

    Tenderloin Museum

    What is a museum if not a vehicle to challenge our perceptions of the world? This is perhaps best exemplified at the Tenderloin Museum, located in the infamous haunt of San Francisco that has perhaps one of the most colorful and important histories of any city neighborhood in the world. Hosting such events as the Volunteer Fair, films like Transgender Tuesdays: A Clinic in the Tenderloin, and guest speakers including Supervisor Jane Kim, the museum has become a cultural powerhouse... More >>

  • Best Comic

    Marga Gomez

    What with the prevalence of intensely earnest types, it's not always easy to merge social -ustice activism with a brilliant sense of humor, but Marga Gomez does just that. The longtime queer Latina comic lends her talents to immigrants' rights, LGBT rights, racial justice, and other causes — and she's thoroughly uproarious even in shows where she's not being diagnosed with "unplanned celibacy" (POUND) or helping contestants play a version of tic-tac-toe for charity (SF Political Squares). A writer, stand-up... More >>

  • Best Comic Book

    GodRon Turner, Last Gasp Comics

    It's ok to be a pervert. To be a deviant means to depart from the norm, to challenge — and, maybe, to defeat — soul-stultifying convention. Here, we still value freaks and cherish stewards of the freak kingdom. Could you imagine the lame sameness of a world without the art and apostasy of R. Crumb, Bill Griffith, and the other out-crowd artists and minds put on the page and made immortal by San Francisco comic book publishing house Last Gasp... More >>

  • Best Visual Representation of S.F.

    Colin Tilley's video for Kendrick Lamar's "Alright"

    Kendrick Lamar is from Compton, but Colin Tilley, the director of the music video for Lamar's song "Alright" — which was nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards and was performed by the artist at the 2016 Grammy Awards — is Berkeley-born and -raised. As a result, bits of the Yay Area shine through in the video, from the opening shot of the Golden Gate Bridge to the regal Victorian homes and the skyscrapers of the Financial District. This is... More >>

  • Best Date With Built-In Conversation Starters

    Oddball Films

    Let's face it: Grabbing a drink is the least exciting first date imaginable. It's boring, and it makes you seem boring, too. Instead, bring your companion to Oddball Films, an aptly named DIY cinema in the heart of the Mission. Located in a dilapidated, nondescript warehouse with film reels literally piled high to the ceiling, Oddball is a film archive — housing stock footage, vintage cinema, bygone advertisements, and untold errata and oddities. On Thursday and Friday nights, they screen... More >>

  • Best Place for Free Art

    San Francisco Art Institute

    In the last year alone, the San Francisco Art Institute's Walter and McBean Galleries have taken quite a beating. They've had a ton of concrete poured down the steps, left to harden, and they've supported a multi-ton pool dedicated to underwater photography. On top of that, they've played host to octogenarian erotica, deconstructed Mexican cultural patrimony, and more. While the recently reopened SFMOMA is in its own league, a visit to SFAI might be more bewitching with its trips down... More >>

  • Best Venue to See an Artist Up Close and Personal

    Social Hall SF

    There are a lot of risks involved with seeing a show. The sound could suck. The artist could be battling a sore throat. The guy standing next to you could accidentally spill his beer all over you. Anything could happen. But if you go to Social Hall SF, at least one thing won't be a bummer: You'll be able to get close enough to said-performer that you can touch the stage — or their feet, if you want to get... More >>

  • Best Venue to See a Show If You're a Lazy Motherfucker and Love Sitting

    The Regency Ballroom

    There are a number of reasons why you should see a show at The Regency Ballroom — its ornate, turn-of-the-century architecture and eclectic lineup of performers, to name a few — but no reason is more compelling than the venue's ample seating. If you've been to The Regency before, you might not have noticed the rows upon rows of movie-theater-style seating (which actually are real movie-theater chairs dating from 1909, the year the venue was built) on the mezzanine level... More >>

  • Best New Art Space

    Minnesota Street Project

    The night Minnesota Street Project opened its doors, a round-the-block line celebrated this much-needed new space. This sleek-yet-massive (35,000 square feet!) warehouse in the Dogpatch offers a crucial lifeline to the arts in a city that is increasingly inhospitable to its creative class. Unlike a museum with a focused curatorial vision, the MSP (as it's known) houses 12 separate galleries, each featuring its own unique microcosm — from contemporary video art to sculpture to heavyweight photography. For the socially inclined,... More >>

  • Best Live Venue

    Bottom of the Hill

    From tiny hole-in-the-wall clubs to historic performing halls, San Francisco boasts one of the nation's best live music scenes. (Yeah, that's right, Bold Italic 2.0.) Within the cozy confines of Potrero Hill's Bottom of the Hill, you'll find cheap beer, tasty food, and a roster of up-and-coming artists and punk bands destined for stardom. If you glance at the past calendars that are plastered on the walls of this 250-person venue, you'll see that some of rock's biggest names (The... More >>

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