April Roundup: The best of San Francisco Music

in Music News by

April was a beautiful month in San Francisco, on the stage if not in the weather. It’s a great time to be part of this scene, and 2018 has been a killer year so far; April was no exception. Call it a permanent musical high.

We’ll start with the fun – Brit-rock merchants of preposterousness The Darkness brought their catsuited, multi-octave glam roadshow to the Regency Ballroom, heroically making sure that, in a world of countless Bowie ripoffs, we don’t forget that the true face of 1970’s rock had an endearingly homegrown quality as well as solos you could surf on. ‘It sounds just as good now as it did in 2003,’ boasted frontman Justin Hawkins, and you can’t get a more accurate summary than that of the post-ironic, post-angst melting-pot of their shows. They started in England, but there’s always been something truly, joyously San Francisco about The Darkness.

A few days later, the Social Hall got its turn to throw a party when Echosmith took over the venue with their psychedelic, neon-lit, shamelessly peppy beats, before Hayley Kiyoko’s show at the Fillmore. Monochrome-tracksuit-clad, 90s-inspired and repeatedly and energetically excited to be in San Francisco, Kiyoko brought it all to the stage and left nothing out. Elsewhere, Joep Beving gave an ethereal recital at the Great American Music Hall, sparse and revealing, the kind of thing that takes a special talent. Beving and his piano, alone on stage, proving that the best music comes from simple roots, and showing the kind of refinement you get from practice and focus. It was a million miles from the Darkness, but it was still a beautiful night.

Outside the list of shows in San Francisco in April, the festival scene continued its spin through the year, with the announcement of the Outside Lands 2018 lineup, featuring headline slots from The Weeknd, Florence + the Machine and Janet Jackson – the festival takes place in Golden Gate Park from August 10th to August 12th. For those who want a desert trip, the Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas announced their lineup as well – between the 21st and 23rd of September, the festival sees thousands of artistic creators come together on 18 blocks in downtown Las Vegas, including Tyler, the Creator, N.E.R.D, Travis Scott, Florence + the Machine, CHVRCHES, and Arcade Fire, among others.

For releases, we want to flag something cool. Even though we can’t be sure where in the world it took place, there was something very San Francisco about Shawn Mendes’ 9-hour livestream of a real-time construction of an art installation to announce his forthcoming third album, named Shawn Mendes. The album is coming on May 25th, and the idea of marrying radical availability to his fans, and maintaining the mystique that gives art a place to grow, is really exciting. We don’t know what the album will be like, but it’s good for the mind already.

It was a great April, and as summer approaches we’re looking forward to a classic year in San Francisco. Coming up this month we’ve got releases from Ry Cooder, Simian Mobile Disco and Ray LaMontaigne, and shows from France’s Fakear, Pedro the Lion, and Joy Division’s Peter Hook; stick around for our take on May in this great city.

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.