It's not at all clear that anyone out there — ourselves included — truly realizes the breadth and depth of the Bay Area music scene. Sure, platitudes about how “amazing” and “awesome” and “rich” and “fertile” it is fill conversations, blog posts, and Twitter feeds. But there's a difference between knowing that something vibrant, diverse, and fascinating exists, and actually seeing those qualities reflected through the myriad styles, venues, and artists around here — actually seeing the scene as a whole.
To do that for the Bay Area would take the sort of omnivorous ear that, despite what your iPod might fool you (and us, too) into believing, few have. It's rare to find someone who listens to both Bach and Battlehooch, or who digs Mister Loveless alongside Mistah F.A.B. Saying something is local isn't the same as saying it's worth your time. But as any music fan knows, the biggest risks sometimes bring the greatest rewards. The urge to seek frequently ends with crap — but it's also the only way to find new revelations.
It's in that adventurous spirit that we've assembled more than 30 artists who will perform at this Sunday's All Shook Down festival. At 10 venues and one outdoor stage in North Beach, we have tried to curate a cross-section of some of the best music happening in the Bay Area (along with two national headliners, Neon Indian and Janelle Monáe).
Please forgive us for this bit of self-promotion, and understand: We're writing this because we're honestly excited about getting to see all these artists on one day in one place — not because our bosses told us to.
Frankly, how could we not be excited? The lineup for All Shook Down includes gritty, Aquarius Records–approved garage rock (Ty Segall, Bare Wires); hip-hop–savvy funk and jazz artists (the Park, Jazz Mafia); ass-shaking Latin grooves (Boca Do Rio); spirit-infused, world-influenced hip-hop (Santero); melodic modern rock (Mister Loveless); and intimate folk (Odessa Chen). And even that's leaving a lot out.
We certainly haven't captured everything good going on musically in the Bay Area for this first-ever All Shook Down Music Festival. There were lots of artists we love who, for one reason or another, couldn't be added. But what we have done, if we may say so ourselves, is put together a festival that stands out from the dozens of others that visit this town every year.
San Francisco sees a lot of music festivals: big-time national festivals, avant-garde music festivals, metal festivals, “indie” festivals galore, bluegrass festivals, and even, starting this year, a country festival. Lots have diverse, unusual, and even jaw-dropping lineups. Several are can't-miss events. But there isn't another San Francisco festival that focuses solely on picking top talent from all — or nearly all — of the diverse musical styles played in the Bay Area and getting the artists together on one day, in one place, for anyone with a wristband to check out. That's what All Shook Down will be.
Whether Sunday's assemblage of artists in North Beach gets local listeners to break out of their habits and discover something new is anyone's guess. At the very least, it ought to give us all a better appreciation for how much music is really happening here. And with a selection of artists this broad, it doesn't seem unrealistic to hope that we all might encounter a revelation or two.
All Shook Down Music Festival