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This weekend: Air Guitar Championships, ‘Wait Wait’ live, Carnaval and ‘Stranger Things’

Leo Cooperband/Getty

The Memorial Day long weekend is upon us. In addition to events honoring those who have died in service of our country, San Francisco will be host to a whole lot of dance parties, all kinds of outdoor activities and plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers.

But that’s not all—not by a long shot.

Also on tap this weekend: Some old-school San Francisco punk rock, an air guitar contest, a screening of Sister Act II in Dolores Park and a celebration to mark the end of AAPI Month in “Little Saigon.”

Thursday, May 26

Flipper + Mutants

Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell St.
Thursday, 7 p.m. | $28 +

Stage-dive headlong into some Bay Area punk history with this double-bill. Originators of a particularly heavy brand of punk, Flipper came roaring out of San Francisco in the late ’70s. The original lineup held together for nearly a decade; today founding members Ted Falconi (guitar) and Steve DePace (drums) carry on the band’s loud and proud tradition. They’re co-billed with another Bay Area institution: Beloved art-punk collective The Mutants were mainstays of SF’s punk scene at clubs like the fabled Mabuhay Gardens, and their debut EP was one of the earliest releases on 415 Records. (BK)

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me

Sydney Goldstein Theater, 275 Hayes St.
7:30 p.m. | $35+

It’s been a bit surreal listening to NPR’s long-running news quiz over the past two years. For starters, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! just isn’t the same without the live studio audience. What’s more, we’ve increasingly found ourselves wondering: Should we really be laughing about this?

Still, we’re sure it will be fun to see Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis in the flesh as they attempt to stump their comedian panelists, bluff listeners and roll out a new topical limerick. (NV)


SFJAZZ Center, 201 Franklin St.
May 26-28, Various Times | $25+

An all-star band with deep ties to SFJAZZ, Artemis features a formidable cast of women best known as bandleaders in their own right. Directed by pianist and composer Renee Rosnes, who was a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective, the sextet includes Juno Award-winning trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, clarinetist Anat Cohen (who led a sensational run of Miner Auditorium gigs in March) and powerhouse drummer Allison Miller, leader of Boom Tic Boom and artistic director of the Bay Area institution Jazz Camp West. BMI Foundation Charlie Parker Jazz composition prize-winner Noriko Ueda, a commanding bassist born in Japan, anchors the combo, while the newest member of the group, 30-year-old tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover, is a rising force. Runs through Sunday, May 29. (AG)

Friday, May 27

Andrew 'Flying Finn' Finn, an American contestant, performs during the Air Guitar World Championships final in Oulu, Finland, on August 24, 2018. | EEVA RIIHELA/AFP via Getty

Air Guitar Championships

Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St.
8:30 p.m. | $15

Don’t get us wrong. We aren’t saying that Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen or Prince were lacking in raw talent. There are just plenty of guitarists who can play faster and with greater precision. However, as many of the less technically dazzling axemen of history have demonstrated, dexterity isn’t even the half of it. Think of Pete Townshend’s windmill strumming, Angus Young’s ecstatic convulsions or Keith Richard’s louche bravado. The audience isn’t worried about how cleanly you sweep through an arppegio or run a scale. They want to see you play with your teeth, leap from the top of a towering stack of amplifiers and set your six-string ablaze. In other words, they want you to put on a show. This year marks the U.S. Air Guitar Championships’ 20th anniversary, and they want you to come to Bottom of the Hill this Friday to show off your best scissor kicks, death drops, powerslides and duck walks. So limber up, start practicing that effortless cool look in the mirror and make an appointment with the osteopath now—because, chances are, the winner of this thing is going to walk away with banged up knees and aching hips. Spectators and participants welcome. You can sign up here. (NV)

Sundown Cinema Series Begins

Dolores Park
Sunset at 8:18 p.m. | Free or $20+ Reserved Seating

This beloved outdoor movie series returns to eight of the city’s parks this summer, kicking off with the Whoopi Goldberg classic Sister Act II at sunset in Dolores Park. LGBTQ+ activist nuns The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Oakland Interfaith Choir get the evening going with pre-show programming. Expect an assortment of local food and drinks on offer, too. The event is free, but if you want to snag a prime viewing spot you can reserve seats ahead of time. Reservations start at $20 if you become a member of the SF Parks Alliance. Can’t make this Friday? There are seven more screenings scheduled through October at various parks throughout the city. (CJC)

Louda y Los Bad Hombres | Courtesy Photo

Louda y Los Bad Hombres

Amado’s, 998 Valencia St
7:30 p.m. | $15+

Louda y Los Bad Hombres mashup musical styles the way their moniker juxtaposes languages. Fronted by entrancing vocalist Louda, the Bay Area musical collective folds in pop, jazz, R&B, tropicalia, hip-hop, soul and more into an intoxicating stew. The group mixes compelling and politically-informed original material with its own singular readings of classics from the Afro-Caribbean tradition. Just when you think you’ve pinned them down style-wise, they shift gears, keeping listeners on their toes. (BK)

Saturday, May 28

Union Square in Bloom Finale

Union Square Park, 333 Post St.
1 - 4 p.m. | Free 

Union Square in Bloom bids adieu to its springtime festival of flora with a finale filled with dancing and live music. Salsa amongst the floral art displays of Union Square to the tunes of Los Kimberos. Free dance lessons begin on the hour and whether you’re a dance master or a beginner, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. Those who bust a move will be gifted a free blossom from San Francisco’s Flower Mart while supplies last. (CJC)  

Xiuhcoatl Danza Azteca performs at the start of the Carnaval parade on Sunday, May 25, 2014 in San Francisco. | Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty.


Harrison St. and 24th St.
May 28-29, 10 a.m. | Free

San Francisco’s festival season is officially upon us. Dance to a soundtrack of international music and savor some of the best cuisine the Mission has to offer at the 44th annual SF Carnaval, which returns this weekend after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

The Del Sol flags will be flying at every intersection along 24th and Mission streets as the grand parade honors the Latin diaspora. The festival’s "Colores de Amor" theme promises a fun-filled weekend replete with art, music, dancing and delicious dishes from all over the world, including Brazil, Mexico, Trinidad, Peru, Chile and Guatemala.

The Grand Parade begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday and travels from 24th and Bryant streets through Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue. The procession will feature colorful multicultural-themed floats and costumed performers. The city's first-ever community-led, permitted cannabis garden, a new tech and gaming pavilion, and an LGBTQ-specific stage are new additions. (MM)

AAPI Month Festival

730 Larkin St.
12 p.m. | Free

In San Francisco's "Little Saigon," join the Tenderloin Merchants and Property Owners Association for a festival honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month. Between O'Farrell and Eddy streets, Larkin Street will be transformed into an outdoor event and dining space. Live cultural performances from LionDance Me, magic shows, balloon art making, drumming and more will be featured at this family-friendly event. You can get a free community meal and dessert if you arrive early or grab a bite at one of the participating restaurants. (MM)

Save The Date: The Month Ahead

Stranger Things: The Experience. | Courtesy Photo

Stranger Things: The Experience 

Skylight at The Armory, 333 14th St.
June-July 2022 | $30+

After popular runs in New York and Los Angeles, Netflix’s Stranger Things experience comes to San Francisco just in time for the release of much-anticipated Season 4 and with a new immersive storyline transporting you to the Upside Down.

Grab some friends and explore the darker side of Hawkins—beginning with its infamous laboratory—then interact with Stranger Things characters to save the day. In addition to exploring the demogorgon’s haunted realm, you can hang out and take pics at the Palace Arcade or Scoops Ahoy, snap some nostalgic shots in an ’80s-style photobooth and enjoy themed food and drinks inspired by the show. Just keep your eyes peeled for the mind flayer. That dude ruins everything. (CJC, MM)

SF DocFest

Various Locations
June 1-12 | $15+
The San Francisco Documentary Film Festival (SF DocFest) returns, June 1-12, bringing more than 90 films—both features and shorts—to the Bay Area. Opening night features, Ricochet, co-directed by the city’s former public defender, the late Jeff Adachi. The film examines the high-profile shooting at Pier 14 involving an undocumented immigrant. Many of the films will feature Asians and Asian Americans, including the stories of a Tibetan Buddhist artist moving to San Francisco, the struggle of a Malaysian female filmmaker, an Oakland Chinatown neighborhood patrol and much more. The hybrid festival will feature in-person and virtual events. (HL)

Christina Campodonico, Meaghan Mitchell, Andrew Gilbert, Bill Kopp, Nick Veronin and Han Li contributed additional reporting for this story.