A Look Back at the Best of the Holidays in San Francisco

in Music News by

The holiday season is finally over, and San Francisco is only just shaking off the glitter and waking up to the many wonderful memories we’ve made over the past weeks and moving into the new year. Before we head out to enjoy the beautiful music that 2019 has in store for us, let’s ignore January and look back at the holidays.

The big night is always New Year’s Eve, and the city didn’t disappoint this year, with shows, parties and multi-site events to pull the new year into the dance we were already having. The Warfield had ODESZA grace their stage on New Year’s Eve, with Canadian DJ Robotaki and Brooklyn-based musician Evan Giia in support. The Warfield led into this one with more Canadian depth-charges, this time from Zeds Dead, bringing EDM/hip-hop and leaving nothing to chance.

Meanwhile, Biscuits & Blues kept a subtle, laid-back vibe going throughout the holiday season, welcoming the holidays with John Lee Hooker Jr’s Gospel Christmas, before turning out shows from Chris Cain, Sugaray Rayford, and The Daniel Castro Band all the way up to NYE. The night itself saw Rick Estrin & The Nightcats cut it up.

Elsewhere, the Ashkenaz kept its off-kilter, always-heartfelt demeanor, with holiday events including a Kizomba dance lesson, a throat singing workshop with Altai Kai (and an Altai Kai performance), before a night of Brazilian music with Barakemi Band. New Year’s Eve was a surely-only-in-SF combination of Balkan, brass, and Cajun music to keep the spirits high. Find that anywhere else in the world.

At The Regency Ballroom, Trey Songz ruled the venue on NYE, and anyone who decided to pick his show as their event of choice was certainly not disappointed. The Great American Music Hall had a great lineup as well, with Sleep putting on an epic 3-day cycle of shows leading up to New Year’s. Before this, California favorites Grateful Shred turned up to dare nostalgia to be boring, and bring the Grateful Dead back to life.

Tainted Love – the band that sandblasts the dust off the 1980s – brought music inspired by Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Madonna, and Bryan Adams, to Bimbo’s 365 the night before the new year began, while Bottom of the Hill saw a typically explosive mashup from Junkyard and Jetboy, a rock and roll night for an era that’s never really been lost – for fans this was perhaps the best way to spend New Year’s Eve. Bottom of the Hill also pulled out an impressive show in the gap between Christmas Day and New Year’s, when it’s easy to feel asleep; pushing back the drapes on the new year early, they hosted Man In Space, Oakland’s Ghost and The City, and Pink Skies.

And with another great year having already begun, we’ve got our radars out and are ready to bring you the best in the music scene in this great city. There’s always more to come, and better ahead than there is behind us. In this city, the city is always bright. We’re looking forward to seeing you out there!

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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