There are few musical genres more diametrically opposed to the punk ethos than classical and prog rock. Except, that is, if we’re talking about Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
The Canadian band have been fusing sprawling suites of guitar, strings and drums with feedback squalls and anarchist sentiments since 1994. Along the way they’ve been questioned about their political leanings by the FBI and awarded the Polaris music prize—which they promptly derided as little more than a corporate-sponsored back-patting contest. (They accepted the cash prize but donated it to charity).
Masters of mood, Godspeed are adept at doing a lot with a little. They linger on haunting intervals for minutes at a time and craft cacophonous climaxes of furious fuzz. They reveal dark socioeconomic truths in snippets of found sound—such as a gas station’s pre-recorded message advising customers not to engage with panhandlers. They zero in on America’s obsession with the apocalypse, playing lonesome melodies over the warbly and apocalyptic AM-radio sermons one sometimes stumbles upon in the most desolate stretches of heartland highway.
Godspeed’s current tour—their first since 2019—began in Europe in January and makes its way to the Bay Area this weekend. It comes on the heels of the release of their seventh studio album, G_d's Pee at State's End!, which dropped in April.
They play the UC Theatre in Berkeley on Friday and the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on Saturday.
— Nick Veronin
Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave.
Saturday, March 5 @ 7:30 p.m. | $35+
1263 Fell Street
Now Open | $3 per bagel
Get ready for Schlok’s heavily seeded bagels. The New York-style bread bites—born out of chef James Lok’s wildly popular pandemic-era pop-up—are distinctively baked with seeds on one side, giving these bagels an extra toasty crunch. The options are minimal but classic: plain, sesame, poppyseed, onion, sea salt and everything with your choice of scallions, garlic, baked tomato or chopped lox cured in-house to top off a smear of whipped cream cheese. The brick-and-mortar location, which opened in a converted laundromat on Divisadero opened this week. (CC)
San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post St.
Through March 5 | $25+
Catch the last weekend of SF Playhouse’s staging of Will Arbery’s polemical, Pulitzer finalist play exploring the fraught politics of four Catholic conservative friends as they reunite for a party in their remote Wyoming college town. Set days before the tragic murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, the play peers into the minds of a “certain kind of Trump voter” and digs into a culture war-scale debate between the friends—each grappling with their own quarter-life crises. (CC)
Great Star Theatre, 636 Jackson St.
Thursday, March 3-19 | $25+
Since its first midnight showing at the Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village in 1976, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has become known for its lively and participatory late-night screenings. But don’t expect the typical shadow-cast fare at the Great Star Theatre in Chinatown this weekend. Vespertine Circus pays tribute to the cult classic with acrobatic antics, high-wire acts, giant hula hoops, sensuous strip pole dancing and more. Attendees are encouraged to dress up for this wild and sexy night billed as “hotter, gayer and more experienced.” While pants are “optional,” masks are required. 18+ only. (CC)
St. Josephs Art Society, 1401 Howard St.
Thursday, March 3. @ 7 p.m. | $25
A hallmark of a great local artist is how they honor the scene that gave them the space to share their music. Andrew St. James has been honoring the Bay Area since he was a teenager. He filmed his music video for "The Lost, The Vain" among the redwoods of Marin and made sure to invite his fans to Opus Studios in Berkeley for a taped live performance of "Laura." In short, he’s always making sure to include the people and places that make the Bay Area special in his work. In that spirit, St. James is premiering the music video for "Girlfriend," which he originally released as a loose single 2020 with his Strokes-y indie-rock project, Fast Times. Fast Times will perform a live set alongside the debut of the video in the ornate, domed stage of Saint Joseph's Art Society in SoMa this Thursday. (HL)
Gallery 308 at Fort Mason
Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6 | $18.50+
This anti-stuffy art fair is focused on showcasing diverse independent artists and creating a fairer platform for exhibiting, sharing and purchasing their artwork. With an emphasis on LGBTQ+, female and artists of color, Superfine will feature over 60 artists from the Bay Area and around the world—showing their work at prices far below what you’ll find at high-end galleries. (Most artwork is priced between $100 and $2,500.) Superfine also drops the elitist art airs by lighting the work in warmer hues and bathing the fair’s ambiance in deejayed sounds. (CC)
The Great Northern, 119 Utah St.
Friday, March 4 @ 9 p.m. | $15+
Pop music is a dish best served weird. No one understands that better than Lady Gaga. Although Stefani Germanotta has dialed down the dada of late—turning in a duets album with Tony Bennet and staring across from Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born—her fans know her for bringing high-concept fashion to the dance floor. The Great Northern is gearing up for an all-night celebration of Mother Monster. DJs will be spinning all of Gaga’s greatest hits from 2008's "Just Dance" to 2020's "Rain On Me" along with music from artists she's inspired and a branded photo booth for patrons to take pics in their best Gaga fits. (HL)
Public Works, 161 Erie St.
Friday, March 4 @ 9 p.m. | $18+
Burning Man is still about half a year out, but the veteran San Francisco Burner camp known as Pink Mammoth is already planning its pilgrimage to the Black Rock Desert. Known for its rose-colored aesthetic and its proclivity for dancing in the dust to seductive house grooves, Pink Mammoth will celebrate its 18th birthday this Friday at Public Works. Legendary selector Marques Wyatt will help mark the occasion along with more Pink-approved DJs. Proceeds go toward Pink Mammoth’s Burning Man offerings, so if you make first to this party and then to the Playa, be sure to stop by their camp to see what you helped to build. (HL)
Maker Studio Kids, 1334 Haight St.
Friday, March 4 @ 6 p.m. | $10
Usually, these "paint sessions" are centered around youth, but this event is for the grown and artsy. If you want to learn to paint and love wine, local art teacher Babe Ross is inviting you to the Haight to create something dreamy. You can bring your own materials or purchase from the studio. Wine and music will be also be provided. The class will be great for beginners. (MM)
Kapwa Gardens, 967 Mission St.
Saturday, March 5 @ 12 p.m. | Free
Oh, My Gulay! This Saturday, Kapwa Gardens hosts a Plant-Based Festival. Drop by the Soma Pilipinas District for an afternoon centered around all things “Gulay,’ which is Tagalog for vegetables. Take your pick of various nourishing food options from local vendors. Partake in wellness practices like yoga or if you feel artsy, buy some pottery or crystals. Whatever you choose, bear in mind that this is a family-friendly event aimed at honoring Mother Nature. (MM)
Bayview Opera House, 4705 3rd St.
Sunday, March 6 @ 3 p.m. | $10-$50
Jazz guitar star Pat Metheny wrote a tune about him. Piano patriarch Earl “Fatha” Hines hired him as music director. And NEA Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal built a quartet around him. Oakland guitarist Calvin Keys has been an essential creative force on the Bay Area scene since the 1970s, and he’s known for his generosity in mentoring aspiring musicians. Marking his 80th birthday and the release of his new album, Simply Calvin, he’s turned the celebration into a fundraiser for the Opera House’s Tools of the Trade program, which teaches emerging artists and technicians how to stage cultural events. His quintet includes Count Basie Orchestra pianist Glen Pearson. (AG)
Andrew Gilbert, Christina Campodonico, Meaghan Mitchell and Nick Veronin contributed additional reporting for this story.
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