It's been a busy year for the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. After working tirelessly to raise funds for the #ReviveTheGrand campaign, the foundation is debuting the Grand Theater's vast, renovated space that will be used for art and tech exhibitions, philanthropy, and community outreach programs. The foundation has provided workshops that not only teach tech and digital media skills to an incredibly diverse range of residents, but inspire creativity through these tools. Despite the ongoing head-butting between artists and tech companies in this city, there is art, not just apps, to be made with our amazing advancements in technology. This Gray Area Festival will kick off a new era of important community resources by gathering artists and philanthropists to discuss the impact art and tech can make on culture. There will be a conference, performances, workshops, and a large-scale exhibition — and Thursday night's opening with renegade art organization F.A.T. GOLD is free.
The Gray Area Festival begins at 7 p.m. and continues through Sunday at Gray Area Art and Technology, 2665 Mission St., S.F. Opening is free; weekend admission is $25-$250; grayareafestival.io. More
In the past 30 years, light artists have reimagined an art form that has always had the ability to turn the night sky, or a simple window, into luminescence. Last fall, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts turned its southern glass wall into a parade of sound-sensing lights, Lightswarm, that changes with the movements of nearby people and things. Future Cities Lab, the San Francisco design company behind Lightswarm, has originated another notable light sculpture. Located by the YBCA's steps at 701 Mission, Murmur Wall will light up in arresting ways as it incorporates local trending search engine results and social media postings. Onlookers can offer their own contributions, which will feed into the Murmur Wall's data stream and light up the sculpture. What's trending in San Francisco? If you're walking by the YBCA, you can see firsthand — at least through light patterns that reflect the city's volatile internet habits.
Murmur Wall debuts Thursday at 6 p.m. and continues through May 31, 2017, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., S.F. Free; 415-978-2700 or ybca.org. More
For the past seven years, Gray Area has been working to foster and develop relationships between the arts, technology, and music communities in San Francisco by hosting seminars, workshops, and outreach initiatives. They've also hosted some killer events, culminating in this weekend's Gray Area Festival, their largest yet, featuring a slew of panels, keynotes, and discussions with arts and tech luminaries. They're also hosting live performances by artists across the electronic music spectrum: On Friday, dark ambient pioneer Lustmord joins forces with analog synth wizard Alessandro Cortini for an evening of enveloping, psychedelic atmospheres; and on Saturday, American beatmakers Shigeto and Teebs will kick the tempo up and bring the grooves out. Both nights feature collaborations with visual artists, so expect full-scale audio-visual experiences the whole weekend. All of it goes down at Gray Area's newly renovated space in the Mission, the Grand Theater, which is a sight to be seen unto itself.More
Rising Appalachia's singing sisters Chloe Smith and Leah Song dig into the mountain string band traditions with a 21st century pickaxe. Think Gaia hippie love meets conscious hip-hop meets modern primitivism. Releasing a half-dozen albums and globetrotting for years on their own, they are DIY and community-conscious to the marrow. Drawing on ancient sources of strength — the human voice, the almighty groove, and a close-knit family of artist-educator collaborators — the duo aims for a ritual healing experience with its music and inspirational lyrics (from "Spirit's Cradle": "I believe in the goodness/of humankind"). Rising Appalachia's brand new CD, Wider Circles, benefits from the soulful contributions of percussionist Biko Casini and upright bassist/baritone guitarist David Brown, whose palpable grasp of space and time uplifts the sisters' magical voices and spare accompaniment on banjo and fiddle. Updates on old-time classics like "Fall on My Knees," "Cripple Creek," and "Bright Morning Stars" connect with the ancestors and come across as a shared spiritual journey. These tunes are raw, deeply rooted, and winged. It's a rare combination of forces.More
Producing electronic music is more accessible than ever these days. All it takes is a laptop, a bit of software, and a tutorial or two and you're up and running — although results may vary. For the most part, this widening of the field is a good thing — there are a lot of young, talented electronic musicians doing their thing on a shoestring budget, sometimes to amazing effect.
But there's something to be said for hardware. Hardware synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers all possess their own eccentricities and idiosyncrasies, which produce particular timbres that software will simply never be able to replicate. Certain electronic musicians have worked with hardware for decades, and have developed a symbiotic working relationship with it, understanding the machines inside and out: Enter Jonah Sharp and David Moufang (aka Move D), together known as Reagenz.
These two are some of electronic music's old guard, their histories reaching back into the early '90s. Sharp is a longtime San Franciscan responsible for some of techno's finest moments under the name Spacetime Continuum (and others); Moufang is a German, from Heidelberg, with a mile-long discography encompassing spaced-out ambient, cerebral techno, and beautiful deep house. They met in San Francisco in 1994 and shortly thereafter began working together as Reagenz, a project that persists to this day.
Reagenz is all about improvisation — setting up a bunch of gear and letting the machines sing with no plan ahead of time. Their live sets ebb and flow, with upbeat dancefloor grooves bleeding into shimmering deep ambience and back again. They're truly a treat for the ears (and eyes — watching them work together is half the fun). Move D is a phenomenal DJ to boot, and he'll be closing out the night with deep house and techno selections, while As You Like It residents Sassmouth and Mike Gushansky get the party started.More
Two of the biggest DJ-producers of the last decade are coming together, high school reunion style, this Friday at Mighty. Both Skream and Scuba launched their careers at roughly the same time (2003) in England, as they began developing a unique, bass-heavy sound that would soon come to be known as "dubstep" (which meant something quite different back then in England than it does in America today). These days, they've moved on from that sound: Scuba is exploring atmospheric techno and Skream has started to produce funky disco-house. Their selections (as DJs) roughly match the kind of music they make these days, as Scuba hews towards deep-space techno and hypnotic tech-house, while Skream is fond of bass-heavy U.K.-styled house music with a bit of disco to whet the appetite. Lights Down Low's resident DJs Corey Sizemore and Richie Panic will be on hand to get the party started, per usual.More
Named after the concept of a proper Southern meal (an entrée plus three side dishes), Chef Brenda Buenviaje has expanded the culinary reach of her eponymous Polk Street restaurant far beyond her hometown of New Orleans.
Muni drivers have been giving customers the shirts off their backs of late -- really
The aggressive brown coloring of Muni operators' uniforms always conjured up scenarios of dueling designers battling to see whether UPS or the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority could more authoritatively make the sartorial statement: "Feces!"
In other words, unlike NASCAR crews or even farmers, this is not a work jacket you'd want to wear around your neighborhood. Or would you? A pair of nearly identical incidents on buses in the Outer Mission a week apart resulted in fuming Muni drivers reporting that miscreants had made off with their jackets.
On July 16 a Muni driver noted that a gaggle of young people had boarded the bus without paying; when she walked to the back of the vehicle to harangue them she noticed they were vandalizing the bus. They ran off -- but not before someone swiped the drivers' jacket during the whole escapade. Police tracked down the thief. And yet, the graffiti diversion tactic was again pulled on a Mission and Silver bus on July 22 -- and this time it worked to perfection.
A driver noticed a man unhook the bus' electric cables and then spray-paint the vehicle -- and really, what kind of an ingrate unhooks the wires from a functioning bus full of people and then vandalizes it in broad daylight? Perhaps the same kind of jackass who steals jackets; when the driver got back into the bus from re-attaching the power lines, his clothing had been pilfered.
Our calls to several members of the Transportation Workers Union about whether this is a new thing -- or as old and out-of-style as Muni's brown, brown duds -- have not yet been returned. Muni spokesman Judson True replied "Huh, that's a new one" -- but doesn't know where a tally of filched Muni paraphernalia might be located. More when we know more.
In the meantime, this problem may soon be solved by San Francisco's chilly weather -- which will induce drivers to keep their jackets on. Let's be careful out there.
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.
"Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015.
He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.
Last night U2 performed the first U.S. date of it’s Innocence + Experience tour at SAP Center in San Jose. All four band members were present despite recent injuries sustained by both Bono and Edge. The sold out show took audience members on a walk down memory lane as the band revisited their roots. The innovative stage and lighting used gave the arena show an intimate feel, and engaged audience members in all sections of the venue. Photographs by Sugarwolf.
The 103rd annual Bay to Breakers 12K race was packed on Sunday despite the cold weather. With a starting point a few blocks from The Embarcadero, people dressed as bananas, Elvis and everything in between ran west through the city and finished at the Great Highway where breakers crash onto Ocean Beach. Photographs by Christopher Victorio.