Noise Pop 2019: Here are the shows you can’t miss

Noise Pop 2019Written by Molly Kish //

Noise Pop //
Bay Area venues – San Francisco & Oakland
February 25th-March 3rd, 2019 //

Noise Pop returns this year for its 27th installment with a lineup that features more than 130 acts spanning 18 Bay Area venues. In addition to the debut of the “Ear Up Global Showcase” this Saturday, March 2nd, NP2019 boasts a brand-new venue located in SF’s Mission District that’s known as the Brava Theater Center.

Attendees can still look forward to plenty of happy hours at Bender’s Bar & Grill as well as special showcases curated by DoTheBay, San Franpsycho,, Sea Witch Productions and Text Me Records. Plus, you can also view the “Noise Pop Festival Photo Retrospective” this Tuesday, February 26th at The Royale to relive some of the best moments in Noise Pop history through the lenses of the Bay Area’s top photographic talent.

Brava Theater Center

Brava Theater Center

The festival’s art this year highlights the Bay Area’s very own Kristin Farr, whose work can be seen on public murals, office building interiors and festival stages in SF and beyond and was even included in the Emmy Award-winning KQED Art School series.

Noise Pop badges and individual tickets to shows are still available and can be purchased here. To help you sort it all out, we have broken down the 2019 lineup and offered our top performances that you won’t want to miss below.

Noise Pop 2019 - Bob Mould


  • Men I Trust @ Great American Music Hall


  • Noise Pop Happy Hour with Coke
  • Baths @ Great American Music Hall
  • The Marías @ The New Parish


  • Vetiver and Fruit Bats @ The Chapel
  • DJ Boring & Jacques Greene @ 1015 Folsom


  • Saul Williams @ Brava Theater Center
  • Tourist @ Gray Area
  • Vagabond @ Swedish American Hall


  • Beirut @ Fox Theater Oakland
  • Bob Mould @ The Fillmore
  • Princess Nokia @ UC Theater
  • VHS Collection @ The Independent


  • Partner & Dude York @ Cafe du Nord
  • Daughters @ The Independent

Check out the monthly Noise Pop Podcast series to discover more new music and create your own customized Noise Pop schedule here.

Noise Pop 2019 - Phase 3 lineup

Show of the Week // GO4FREE to Kamaiyah at The New Parish 1/15 (TUE)

KamaiyahWritten by Molly Kish //

Kamaiyah with JT The 4th, DJ William Stokes //
The New Parish – Oakland
January 15th, 2019 //

The New Parish in Oakland is celebrating their 10th anniversary this week with a performance from one of the city’s homegrown talents, Kamaiyah.

Regarded as one of XXL’s Top 10 rappers in its “2017 Freshman Class,” Kamaiyah Johnson has fast-tracked her way into the hip-hop spotlight with the release of her debut single “How Does It Feel”, which was featured on Pitchfork’s and NPR’s “Best of the Year” lists back in 2015.

After unveiling her first mixtape the following year, Kamaiyah appeared on festival bills around the country, including a coveted spot at South by Southwest and one of the most memorable sets at the rain-soaked, 10th annual edition of Treasure Island Music Festival (read our review here). Since then, she has collaborated with YG and Drake, and last year “Addicted to Ballin'” saw her team up with ScHoolboy Q.

This Tuesday, Kamaiyah will hit the stage in her hometown with JT The 4th and DJ William Stokes opening the show. Tickets are available for $27, or you could win a pair of tickets by submitting your full name and email below.

Contest ends this Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Follow Showbams on Twitter for more contest giveaways throughout the week. Be the first to respond to our contest tweets to GO4FREE to these shows:

Azure Ray: January 17th (THUR) @ Café du Nord
Chromeo (DJ set): January 17th (THUR) @ 1015 Folsom
Your Smith: January 18th (FRI) @ Rickshaw Stop


Enter your name (First and Last) along with your email below. If you win a contest, you’ll be notified on the day the contest ends (details above). Must be 21+.


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SF Show of the Week // GO4FREE to Paul Oakenfold at 1015 Folsom 1/27 (SAT)

Written by Chandler Kirkman //

Paul Oakenfold //
1015 Folsom – San Francisco
January 27th, 2018 //

Paul Oakenfold can easily be seen as an electronic music legend. For the past three decades, the English record producer and DJ has elevated and shaped an entire genre while remaining one of its leading forces.

Growing up as the son of a musician, Oakenfold became a young DJ in the late 70’s who was influenced by funk music before taking a couple of life-changing trips in the 80’s that helped skyrocket his career. The first came in 1984, when he returned to his hometown of London to work in the A&R department at Champion Records and became the promoter for the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC. The second was in 1987, when he visited Ibiza and was inspired by the local Balearic sound.

Oakenfold began his career after the latter of the two trips, bringing the sounds of Ibiza back to his home country, but it wasn’t until he earned a residency at UK superclub Cream that he became a globally respected master of electronic music following the release of the Grammy-nominated Creamfields compilation in 2004.

Oakenfold’s role as a DJ and entertainer has taken him to the edges of the world beyond just nightclubs and festivals, including three world tours supporting Madonna and U2, a live gig on the Great Wall of China and two sold-out shows at the one and only Hollywood Bowl. His music more recently has taken him from the DJ booth to several movie studios, where he has produced the soundtracks for a number of blockbuster hits.

This Saturday, Oakenfold will visit pay visit to 1015 Folsom and hit the stage to perform an extended set for his Bay Area fans. Tickets are available for $25, or you could win a pair of tickets by submitting your full name and email below.

Contest ends this Friday at 3 p.m.

Follow Showbams on Twitter for more contest giveaways throughout the week. Be the first to respond to our contest tweets to GO4FREE to these shows:

The Mynabirds: January 25th (THUR) @ Café du Nord
Whiskerman: January 26th (FRI) @ The Independent
Peter Murphy: January 27th (SAT) @ The Chapel
GusGus: January 27th (SAT) @ Mezzanine


Enter your name (First and Last) along with your email below. If you win a contest, you’ll be notified on the day the contest ends (details above). Must be 21+


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SF Show of the Week // GO4FREE to HUMANS at Café du Nord 11/10 (FRI)

Written by Chandler Kirkman //

HUMANS with Starfari //
Café du Nord – San Francisco
November 10th, 2017 //

Since forming in 2010, Canadian indie-electronic pop duo HUMANS have consistently impressed audiophiles with their composition skills and reputation of performing with unbelievable amounts of energy.

Vancouver’s own Robbie Slade and Peter Riq created HUMANS after spending the summer making music together and then dropped their self-released EP Avec Mes Mecs, which was quickly accepted as a house-party staple by fans around the globe.

HUMANS have established a unique sound through their successful fusion of experimental-electronic elements and catchy, indie-pop hooks that entered the spotlight on their 2012 EP Traps. Consequently, they held the No. 1 spot on the Earshot Electronic charts for six weeks following the release and continue to receive high praise from music media outlets such as Resident Advisor, DJ Mag and Exclaim!

Over the past few years, HUMANS have toured North America with festival slots at South by Southwest, Squamish Valley Music Festival, Bass Coast Music and Arts Festival, CMJ Music Marathon and more, and have been featured in projects with Red Bull, Entourage and MTV. The duo has also steadily been expanding its creative endeavors into the world of directing and visual artistry.

HUMANS’ latest EP Water Water came out in 2016 and has been a hit with electronic music fans as they continue to bring their high-energy, visually-based performances that use live audio input from the crowd, making each show feel like a one-of-a-kind experience, much like HUMANS’ signature sound.

This Friday, HUMANS will hit the stage at Cafe du Nord as Orange County’s own Starfari gets things started with a DJ set. Tickets are available for $15, or you could win a pair of tickets by submitting your full name and email below.

Contest ends this Friday at 3 p.m.

Follow Showbams on Twitter for more contest giveaways throughout the week. Be the first to respond to our contest tweets to GO4FREE to these shows:

Shigeto: November 9th (THUR) @ Rickshaw Stop
Pell: November 9th (THUR) @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall
Kelley Stoltz: November 9th (THUR) @ The Chapel
Eric Bellinger: November 9th (THUR) @ The New Parish
Escort: November 10th (FRI) @ Mezzanine
Rebirth Brass Band: November 11th (SAT) @ Mezzanine


Enter your name (First and Last) along with your email below. If you win a contest, you’ll be notified on the day the contest ends (details above).


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The Accidentals take their Bay Area fans on a musical odyssey in support of their latest LP

The AccidentalsBy Gina Lopez //

The Accidentals //
Café du Nord – San Francisco
October 4th, 2017 //

Bay Area fans of The Accidentals set sail on a musical odyssey at Café du Nord inside the Swedish American Hall, with the trio putting on an electrifying performance as part of a national tour in support of its third LP Odyssey.

Multi-instrumentalists/vocalists Katie Larson and Savannah Buist as well as drummer Michael Dause were joined by guest keyboardist/guitarist Jake Allen, who added to the group’s rich instrumentation of its indie, alt-Americana repertoire.

Hailing from Michigan, The Accidentals made the basement of the Swedish American Hall feel like the basement of their own house, where concertgoers were welcomed like friends coming over to hang out. It was also easy to see that these 20-something musicians enjoy what they do.

The stage lights at Café du Nord were dim, but The Accidentals still lit up the room with their animated stage presence and continual head-banging, even jumping off the stage to perform amid the crowd.

Finding strength in vulnerability is a theme expressed throughout Odyssey. And though the band’s members are self-proclaimed introverts and bookworms, performing live presents a kind of vulnerability for them. Consequently, they radiate joy and have no shame divulging some embarrassing stories to the audience.

In between songs, The Accidentals shared anecdotes about the hardships of life on the road, from urinating in a Starbucks cup and breaking down in the middle of the night — twice, in fact — while on tour to more of the happier moments like cuddling with the inn keeper’s cat and enjoying all things cookie dough.

The Accidentals

Besides playing music and sharing stories, what else do friends do while they’re hanging out in a basement?

Poke fun at each other.

While explaining the origin of the band’s name, Dause credited Buist as the inspiration due to her being the clumsy one who causes accidents onstage, often knocking over instruments no matter how spacious the stage. But the real reason comes from the musical term “accidental”, which describes unexpected off-key notes. The authenticity of The Accidentals’ lyrics, though, is no accident — it’s animated by their outlook on life.

“The No. 1 thing we try to take away is to be present, to observe the things around us and take that with us,” Buist said.

Making music in this day and age certainly has its challenges, but The Accidentals choose to continue on “not without fear, but in spite of it,” said Larson as she described her and Buist’s choice to dedicate themselves to their band rather than go to college to study music.

Their dedication is not in vain. There is no doubt that the authenticity, lyrical depth, musical deftness and energetic stage presence of The Accidentals will launch their musical odyssey to the top of the charts.

SF Show of the Week // GO4FREE to Sango at 1015 Folsom 9/22 (FRI)

SangoWritten by Chandler Kirkman //

Sango with MIKOS DA GAWD, Antonio Guedes, Matt Haze, Kush Arora, DOUBLE B, Danado, Izzy Wise //
1015 Folsom – San Francisco
September 22nd, 2017 //

It’s time to keep a close eye on Seattle-based beatsmith and producer Sango. His quickly growing fan base and worldwide critically acclaimed music are rapidly expanding as he prepares to release his first major commercial record via Wright Music Group.

Infusing Afro-punk, Brazilian baile funk and hip-hop with soulful R&B, Sango produces tracks that combine various elements into his own distinctive sound, as evidenced by his popular remixes of Aaliyah, Drake, Little Dragon, Nas and The Weeknd in addition to his debut album North, and his Baile Funk EP series Da Rocinha. Plus, not only has he been producing his own music since the age of 12, Sango is a talented graphic designer who impressively has designed all of his releases up to date.

In the past four years, Sango has taken his production skills from his college dorm to cities worldwide and now consistently collaborates with some of the best in the business. Along with touring his Da Rocinha projects in more than 50 cities worldwide, he has produced for some of the industry’s hottest acts, such as Tinashe, Bryson Tiller and Mick Jenkins. It’s clear that he is more than just a producer, but an artist in his own right — and his music is just one component of the growing statement he wishes to make.

This Friday, Sango will perform at 1015 Folsom with a slew of support from MIKOS DA GAWD, Antonio Guedes, Matt Haze, Kush Arora, DOUBLE B, Danado, Izzy Wise and more as part of  SF’s Brazilian Party put on by Braza! Tickets are available for $25, or you could win a pair of tickets by submitting your full name and email below.

Contest ends this Friday at 3 p.m.

Follow Showbams on Twitter for more contest giveaways throughout the week. Be the first to respond to our contest tweets to GO4FREE to these shows:

Fruit Bats: September 20th (WED) @ The Chapel
Paul Kalkbrenner: September 21st (THURS) @ 1015 Folsom
Psychic TV: September 21st (THURS) @ The Independent
Japanese Breakfast: September 21st (THURS) @ Swedish American Music Hall
Valley Queen: September 21st (THURS) @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall
Deerhoof: September 21st (THURS) @ Great American Music Hall
Martha Wainwright: September 22nd (FRI) @ Cafe Du Nord
Savoy: September 23rd (SAT) @ Mezzanine
Public Service Broadcasting: September 24th (SUN) @ Swedish American Music Hall
Downtown Boys: September 24th (SUN) @ Starline Social Club


Enter your name (First and Last) along with your email below. If you win a contest, you’ll be notified on the day the contest ends (details above).


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WIN TICKETS: Beware of Darkness at Café du Nord 12/21

Beware of Darkness

Beware of Darkness with Happy Fangs & Down and Outlaws //
Café du Nord – San Francisco
December 21st, 2013 //

Are you ready to be thoroughly entertained by the rock and roll fury that goes by Beware of Darkness? Well, Showbams has got your chance to win tickets to their Cafe du Nord show this upcoming weekend. With a driving sound that beckons to 90s alternative grunge scene with a pinch of modern garage and even glam metal. Basically, Beware the Darkness is a pumping amalgamation of rock styles with an undeniable stage show to back it all up.

Having cut their teeth manning opening slots for Social Distortion and the Wombats began to gain this trio attention in the southern part of California. The release of their debut LP, Orthodox, on Bright Antenna Records led to not one, but two jarring singles, “Howl” followed by “All Who Remain”. Solid airplay on alternative radio eventually led to a performance on Conan not too long thereafter, and they continue to turn heads and amass devote fans. This all leads to the energy that they display on the live stage; Kyle Nicolaides (vocals, guitar), Daniel Curcio (bass guitar) and Tony Cupito (drums) bring energy in all that they do. We assure you that Beware the Darkness will not disappoint if looking to get out and don your favorite Christmas leather jacket this Saturday night.

Buy tickets if you know you want to go.

Win 2 Free Tickets!
Enter to win if you can make it to this show Saturday, December 21 at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco.

Submit your full name and email address below.
Contest ends Thursday, December 19 at Noon. Winners will be picked at random & notified by email. Your email will be kept private – we will share your email with no one. 21+ only.

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Best live music venues in San Francisco // Bay Area

Photos by Sam Heller, Marc Fong, Maggie Corwin, James Nagel & Mike Frash

Photos by Sam Heller, Marc Fong, Maggie Corwin, James Nagel & Mike Frash

San Francisco is one of the best live music cities in the world — if an act is touring the western United States, they will most likely swing through SF. Packed into 7×7 square miles, the City by the Bay offers some kind of concert nightly. The East Bay, Oakland and Berkeley, respectively, is home to a growing number of live music options as more and more folks flee the City for better living costs.

Here are the best places to catch a show in or near San Francisco.


The Independent

628 Divisadero St. San Francisco, CA 94117
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: The Independent boasts the best sound, artist curation and lighting in the Bay Area for any room close to it’s 500-person max capacity — and you can count on 3-5 shows per week. It’s a great venue to catch artists on the rise from virtually every music genre, and already-established groups such as Phoenix, Green Day, TV on the Radio and Band of Horses have performed at this intimate musical oasis.

Best Features: The general admission venue is a conveniently-shaped square; no matter where you watch the show, the sound is stellar and you can see what’s happening on the lifted stage. The staff is professional, friendly and drinks are easy to procure. The Independent is simple and perfect, an ideal platform to witness bands and DJs live before they get bigger.

Drawbacks: Bring earplugs and sunglasses if sensitive to sound and light. Arrive early to secure a parking spot if driving — if possible, take public transportation and grab a drink nearby before the show. Get there when doors open if you need a seat.


Fox Theater – Oakland

1807 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA 94612
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: Fox Theater Oakland is a premium, large theater-style venue with a general admission floor and sizable, assigned-seated balcony overhead. The renovation of this historic site was masterfully achieved in 2009, conserving the stellar artwork and design features.

Best Features: No expense was spared in this renovation. Cool air rises from hundreds of vents in the floor, keeping attendees comfortable. The multitude of bars are fully staffed and efficient.

Drawbacks: In order to accommodate BART travelers, the venue has a pretty strict curfew, with shows ending well before midnight.


The Fillmore

1805 Geary Blvd. San Francisco, CA 94115
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: The Fillmore is nondescript from the outside, but a classic gem once you enter and climb the stairs. Expect a warm welcome, a selection of free fresh apples in the tradition of Fillmore founder Bill Graham and a free poster of the evening’s show (if the event sold out three weeks in advance usually).

Best Features: A large general admission floor area (1,200 capacity), surrounded by adult-beverage facilitators, is overshadowed by the venue’s iconic chandeliers that add a touch of sophistication to any affair. There is an additional saloon upstairs with ample seating away from the stage, and live acts will perform here on occasion before and during the opening act. Also, be sure to head upstairs to view previous show posters.

Drawbacks: If having a seat is on the agenda, arrive early and head for the poster room. Snag a seat and cozy up to the balcony rail for the best view in the house, but the best sound can be found on the floor.

*Bonus Venue: The BooM BooM RooM across Geary Blvd. is an excellent place for a pre-show martini and to keep the party going once The Fillmore has wrapped for the evening. This room focuses on jamming into the late night, often until 4 a.m.


Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell St. San Francisco, CA 94109
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: This historic space has been a beloved jewel for live music for well over 100 years, able to house some 600 attendees on any given night. As SF’s oldest nightclub, the Great American Music Hall can transport music fans to a more elegant era with its ornate balconies, soaring marble columns and elaborate ceiling frescoes.

Best Features: The Great American features a great variety of acts over the year and offers something for everybody. The space, sound and staff are top-notch. Opt for dinner and a show (quick tip: the food is great) to secure a seat on the balcony rail upstairs.

Drawbacks: The location is rather central to many areas of the city, though it’s not the safest in the the City. The venue’s lights are rather basic, but they aren’t needed in a room with such grand decor.


The Greek Theatre – UC Berkeley

2001 Gayley Rd. Berkeley, CA 94720
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: A seasonal venue from the Spring to the Fall at the top of the UC Berkeley campus, The Greek Theatre can pack 8,500 folks into their popular, yet infrequent concerts. Constructed after the ancient Greek theater of Epidaurus in 1903 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, this space often inspires magical performances.

Best Features: The sound from within the bowl provides incredible acoustics, but get there early for a spot in the seated steps or within the pit. If all seats are taken, get closer and stand in the general admission area as close as possible for a memorable live music experience.

Drawbacks: Don’t retreat to the grass — the magic is lost outside of the main bowl area. Getting to the venue (and back) requires walking up the campus, or driving to the top. Parking near the theater also means it will take forever to leave, and it will cost you $20 or more. Give yourself plenty of time and plan on walking. Shows won’t go past 11 p.m. due to the campus’ curfew, and be sure to head to the top of the grass for the quickest bathroom lines.


The Warfield

982 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94102
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: A 2,300-capacity theater located on Market Street, The Warfield beckons a near century-long history as a premier downtown music venue. Ornate gilding and details are found throughout this lovely space, and a recent renovation upgraded many areas in need of a little help.

Best Features: The tiered floor has become a staple for California mid-size venues like The Fox in Oakland and The Wiltern in Los Angeles, allowing an array of sight-lines for attendees. It’s in an easily accessible location with decent bars and restaurants within proximity.

Drawbacks: Mid-Market is trying to revive itself from a once-peppered history. Similar to many other “overhang” theater venues, the sound can leave a bit to be desired if in the middle or back of the general admission floor.

Bimbos 365 Club

Bimbo’s 365 Club

1025 Columbus Ave. San Francisco, CA 94133
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: Bimbo’s 365 Club, located on the fringes of North Beach, offers one of the most unique live concert settings in SF. Red velour curtains and exquisite details lend to an entirely classy experience in this 685-capacity, theater-like live performance space.

Best Features: It’s not like any other venue in the City in regards to location and style — side rooms and bars create an ideal pre-show place to socialize and imbibe. The low stage creates an intimate atmosphere with the limited acts that grace the stage over the year.

Drawbacks: The North Beach location is not the easiest venue to reach in comparison to others, and the booking leaves much to be desired as folks love this space.


Rickshaw Stop

155 Fell St. San Francisco, CA 94102
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: This recent hot-spot hosts many up-and-coming indie acts bursting onto the scene before they graduate to larger rooms. Expect a hip crowd sipping on strong drinks in a no-frills room, enjoying heat-seeking artists from across the globe. Shows start late, even on weekdays.

Best Features: Rickshaw Stop has very dynamic booking, bringing in all sorts of parties to utilize this Civic Center area venue. The bar is efficient for a small-ish room that can fill up nicely, but not overly.

Drawbacks: It’s basically a long narrow room with a small “balcony”, therefore sight-lines can be rough for those who are vertically challenged on the main floor.



444 Jessie St. San Francisco, CA 94103
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: Mezzanine specializes in up-and-coming club scene shows, hosting DJs from all over the world and bands that incorporate electronic elements into their music. Expect young people ready to party in a rectangular room that can hold up to 1,000 people.

Best Features: DJs will perform on the ‘side stage’, cultivating a dance-centric environment before and after live acts. A great choice for birthdays, bachelor parties and other special occasions, secure a table and bottle service on the floor or in a private area upstairs.

Drawbacks: Ins and outs are not permitted, and it can get a bit crunchy near the front and in the smoking area. Getting drinks can be a challenge during peak times.

Brick and Mortar

Brick and Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission St. San Francisco, CA 94103
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: An intimate, square space for live music, Brick and Mortar Music Hall in the Mission hosts concerts almost nightly, and they are always affordable. Rock, bluegrass, funk, soul and many more types of shows go down here.

Best Features: Brick and Mortar has that “neighborhood rock/club” feel — if you are in the ‘front row’, then you are basically on the stage — and it just became the new home of outcast swine-house Bacon Bacon during lunchtime.

Drawbacks: Cash only at the box office. It can get a little tight during capacity shows unless you squiggle to your left against the wall.


The Chapel

777 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA 94110
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: The newest venue in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, The Chapel opened in 2012 and includes an attached restaurant and bar. The building was originally built as a mortuary, so the funeral home’s Chapel was converted to the music room upon renovation. There is a mezzanine above the floor level of the Chapel for bird’s-eye view observing.

Best Features: The restaurant and bar is brand-new and swanky, and the high ceilings and beams in the formerly sacred space give it a unique, striking feel for live music. More acts are booked with each passing month, and bigger names becoming more frequent too. Artists usually have a rootsy and indie sound aesthetic, but The Chapel recently had their first DJ night.

Drawbacks: It’s a great location for nightlife, but not for parking. The stage is small, and it can be tough to secure a drink at peak moments.


The New Parish

579 18th St. Oakland, CA 94612
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: This unique venue has recently sprouted up in the East Bay, and many are taking notice of their recent success. With a courtyard and large, wrap-around balcony, The New Parish offers many options for patrons to get down, watch the act or be social with friends.

Best Features: A plethora of national touring acts are opting to stay east of the bay and hold court in this ever-rising space. Securing a view of the stage isn’t terribly tough with a less traditional venue setup. Proximity to the Fox Theater makes it a popular place to keep the night going.

Drawbacks: The design of the space is unlike any other, and this has a few negatives regarding access to the bar or sound being optimal. It’s in Oakland and goes late, so not great for SF-bound BART riders.


Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

99 Grove St. San Francisco, CA 94102
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: As big an open, indoor floor space that exists in the Bay Area (not including arenas), the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium can fit 7,000 people into its vast confines.

Best Features: There’s plenty of floor space — and plenty of seats upstairs if you arrive early enough. The location adjacent to City Hall makes it easy to get to via public transportation. When the Civic Auditorium is packed and full of energy, it comes alive.

When the venue isn’t sold out, there’s an empty, hollow feel to live music here. The sound can seriously lack at times, especially from the sides. The best bet is to get in front of the large speaker banks (duh). Some acts, like Phish, bring additional sound equipment to fill out the copious space in the building.


Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St. San Francisco, CA 94107
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: This legendary little rock club at the foot of Potrero Hill has room for 350 partygoers of varying ages. It’s a well-oiled and well-regarded space that breeds lively shows by bands of all sizes and eras.

Best Features: Not exclusively a 21-and-over club, Bottom of the Hill allows patrons of all ages the chance to enjoy a high-energy show in this wacky space. Ample parking, a large smoking section and reasonably priced drinks as well as tickets make it an ideal spot to rock out.

Drawbacks: The booking doesn’t veer terribly far off the path of rock ‘n’ roll. The lights are simple, as one might expect from a venue like this.


Cafe Du Nord

2170 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94114
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: Walking down the stairs into the main room lends the vibe of a classic speakeasy with red velour and classical seating in the back. It’s yet another historic space to enjoy some fresh artists of the 21st century in an intimate setting.

Best Features: Located rather conveniently on Market Street makes Cafe Du Nord both accessible and flush with pre-show drink options. Cafe du Nord is amazing for the fan hoping to engage with his or her favorite artists.

Drawbacks: The room has an odd shape with a bar, seating and even a pool table in the back, while the front is slightly sectioned off for live music.



333 11th St. San Francisco, CA 94103
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: Slim’s is located in a lively section of SOMA, and the venue hosts a vast array of lively acts for an all-ages crowd with a maximum capacity of 400. A high-ceiling room with few frills makes it a good option for dedicated fans.

Best Features: A large bar makes grabbing a beer or cocktail a snap, and they offer dinner with premium, upstairs seating if that’s your thing. The sound is just fine to accommodate either hardcore punk-rock or some of the Bay’s finest hip-hop.

Drawbacks: Oddly-placed pillars can obstruct attendees’ views and make a sold-out room that much more less appealing.


Public Works

161 Erie St. San Francisco, CA 94103
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect:
Expect two venues in one. Public Works offers a live music space and a separate room dedicated to dance music curated by some of the best DJs around. A separate ticket is needed for each option.

Best Features: The location is pretty central to most of the City. The live venue offers a balcony overhang — get there early for the best spot in the house. The staff is friendly.

Drawbacks: There are a few columns that make the live space a bit cumbersome at times, and the mobility at sold-out shows can be tough.


The Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter St. San Francisco, CA 94109
View Current Show Listings

What To Expect: The large, well-worn ballroom with a horseshoe-shaped, wrap-around balcony and teardrop chandeliers can hold plenty of people at The Regency Ballroom. Most shows are general admission.

Best Features: There are plenty of seats to grab upstairs if sitting is a must.

Drawbacks: Shows here are infrequent, and the sound can get drowned out at times by the massive space of the ballroom, especially from the seats. Drinks are priced astronomically.

Having a ‘disturbingly playful’ conversation about conspiracy theories with RACES

Photos courtesy of RACES // Written by Molly Kish //

Showbams chatted with up-and-coming indie-rock band RACES at their sold-out Café Du Nord show in San Francisco. As the Los Angeles-based band rounds out its tour in support of the Generationals and promoting their debut Album Year of the Witch, we grabbed lead singer Wade Ryff and drummer Lucas Ventura for a candid interview outside the venue.

Showbams: Your debut album Year of the Witch came out this past March and was quoted to be a product of “personal discovery and artistic rebirth.” The title is also a name of a track on the album and falls into a running theme present within the context of relationships both past and present. Referring to not only your (Wade’s) past with a real life witch …

Ryff: Who actually lives in San Francisco.

Showbams: But, also pertaining to the band as a whole, having both worked together throughout the years on several projects and in other bands, do you feel this type of familiarity helped in the process of creating your album or was it difficult to work with each other on such emotionally-charged material?

Ryff: No, it’s like whenever you have any kind of emotional situation, if you don’t do something with it, it just kind of sits there. So, it’s better to write about it. Most people would talk about it with their friends or something; it’s just a different way to get it out of your system. It’s like my therapy sessions are just talking to myself with a guitar.

Ventura: The lyrics are all Wade’s, that’s like a very personal thing for him. We’ve been friends for a very long time, so I understand all the stories that are being written about and it’s stuff that we … we share a lot of our lives together, so I feel like I have a personal connection with them, but they’re really true stories about his life that he’s just flushing out.

Showbams: Listening to the album with the commentary, which you guys made an option and gives you a great insight into the songs and lyrics, you state that the track “In My Name” is about conspiracy theories. The one in particular that you talked about was in reference to the pineal gland and sodium fluoride. Whether or not the general public is knowledgeable of their personal consumption of it and how it blocks one’s connection spiritually. Can you elaborate on the idea, and is it one that’s held amongst the entire band?

Ryff: Me and Lucas are the ones that maybe get most into it over the rest of the band, but I think Lucas does the best job of explaining that.

Ventura: I feel like conspiracy theories are a little bit like religion, they kind of fill in a void of information that is just impenetrable. When people describe the indescribable with God, I think sometimes we depend on conspiracy theory in the same way. But I also think that there are a lot of really questionable things that happen with in the states, you know. Like something that is really fresh right now that happened because of the elections is the fact that the third party candidates get completely shut out of presidential debates and all national media. On the surface level it’s easy to understand how and why, but the more you pour through how the media behaves and also where the money is flowing during presidential elections, you just feel like we’re being highjacked and manipulated the entire way around. Stuff like sodium fluoride and what’s happening with FEMA camps, it’s all stuff you can go online and look up if you really are that nuts. I don’t know if I shouldn’t go on about it, it’s just fascinating!

Ryff: If someone’s interested in it, there’s a lot of website and literature that talk about it. It’s real, I mean FEMA camps are real and the fluoride in the water is real. You know, there’s a reason why the government doesn’t want you smoking pot and taking acid and eating mushrooms. I mean, there’s reasons for all that. That may be the only one that we dug in upon, but we believe in many other theories that we haven’t sung about. There are some on the next record, but I don’t think we touch upon any others this time around.

Showbams: “Walk Through Fire” alludes to a Charles Bukowski work and that Wade, you are a fan of 20th-century authors and the whole Beat movement. What other artists do you draw inspiration from and contribute to the overall sound of RACES?

Ryff: For that record, I was really inspired a lot by Leonard Cohen, Patty Smith and Television, musically. Even Bob Marley in a sense of instrumentation, in that Leonard Cohen and Bob Marley’s bands had the girls who sing backup vocals with them. I get more influenced by poets and authors than I do music lyricists, like Pablo Neruda, Bukowski and Scott Fitzgerald. Those were all people I was really interested in when I was writing lyrics to the record. So, there are some lines that are just stolen, grabbed straight from them. It’s public domain now.

Ventura: Me being the drummer of the band, my influences tend to revolve around things like that. I tend to freak out most often about Mick Fleetwood and Fleetwood Mac, that kind of stuff. I feel like the Lakers have been a very large influence on the band.

Showbams: How do you feel about the new coach and Magic’s involvement? I thought Phil was going to come back.

Ryff: Yeah, there was no coincidence that as soon as the old coach left, we were able to replace him. I thought Phil was going to come back, too. I thought Jack Nicholson was going to maybe come coach the team. I thought Scottie Pippen was going to assistant coach, but that didn’t happen either.

Showbams: I know that your original formation was called Black Jesus. What called for the switch in name, and how did you decide on RACES?

Ventura: It wasn’t really working to our advantage, not a really good name. But, you know what’s coincidental and humorous is that we go from Black Jesus to RACES and almost everyone incidentally hears it as “racists.” Then, there’s the pun.

Showbams: Amidst touring to promote the album, you guys have been a part of a lot of festivals including South by Southwest and San Diego Music Thing, but you guys were also a part of the production of Swan Lake, A Contemporary Rock Version. What brought you into that?

Ryff: The girl that organizes it, Sheena, is a good friend of ours and asked us if we wanted to be a part of it, and it was cool. Act 2 was our act and they used a few of our songs and it was awesome seeing ballet done to your music. Not something you get to see all the time, it was definitely a unique experience.

Showbams: Your website states that you’re already at work on your next album, in which you’ve been quoted as saying it “won’t be so much about a girl.” What type of material should we expect? Do you feel like there is any difference in direction musically, and do you feel like you’ve been able to exorcise the past demons of vulnerability during your 20’s and seek out new beginnings?

Ryff: Yeah, I don’t know what it’s going to be like. I was just thinking tonight about the songs and feeling like I need to start all over again. So, I don’t know. Some days I feel like I’ve got it figured out and know what the next record’s going to be. Then, other days I don’t know, but it’s going to be really good! I think it’ll be an extension of what we’re doing. I don’t think it’ll stray very far. It’s going to sound like RACES. I think it will be more fine-tuned and maybe explore some new territory. So far, the new stuff lyrically is more tongue in cheek. Everything is kind of disturbingly playful.