December has come and gone, and as we spin up for a great new year in San Francisco music, it’s time to take a look back at a great month in music for the city this last December. With the holiday season spanning the month and the city gearing up for the end of the year, the stages, speakers, headphones, radios, and playlists of the city were on fire.
The month saw some great releases, including hip-hop heavyweights N.E.R.D and none other than Eminem returning to release records after the better part of a decade away. World music aficionados got a huge release with the next installment of the too-sharp-to-fail Box Set series, curated this time by Erykah Badu. The series brings out vinyl box sets of Fela Kuti – the creator of an entire genre, Kuti’s groundbreaking work in afrobeat was almost entirely overlooked outside Africa during his lifetime, but his 50-album oeuvre is being released one curated box set at a time, and this one was an instant classic. The stand out release of the month, though, was Gold Fir’s new, infectious, addictive single ‘Sirens’ was released, soaked in the beautiful, neon darkness of 80’s pop, a paean to the power of the dancefloor as a place of liberation for all parts of the soul.
In live shows, Bay Area hero Marc E. Bassy lit up the stage at a private event at Public Works in San Francisco’s Mission District, while SahBabii (and his bubble machines) gave a stunning, stage-rocking performance at the Social Hall. Early-oughts bombast lived on as Amy Lee and Evanescence rocked the stage at The Masonic in San Francisco, in support of their new (and new-sounding) album Synthesis. Bringing a characteristic dark sugar-rush of emotion and symphony, over artfully down-tuned guitars, the show was a predictable crowd-pleaser and a great set-up for the new tour. On another level entirely, Pixies showed that they are a still head and shoulders above their contemporaries, and Grizzly Bear threaded the impossible needle of nationwide touring and intimate, art-driven music, while 99.7 NOW managed to get Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran on a stage, and still have room for The Chainsmokers, Fifth Harmony, Niall Horan, Khalid, Logic, and Dua Lipa. The month saw the truly epochal arrival of Jay-Z, touring his album 4:44 and overcoming the technical difficulties seen elsewhere on his tour to blow the stage at the Oracle Arena to shreds.
Elsewhere, if it’s the holidays, it’s time for musicians everywhere to bring cheer (and make a little cash), and no-one can blame them; highlights of the holiday circuit in San Francisco this year included the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Christmas Rocks, bringing the kind of shine that only 28 years touring and playing can bring, and swinging (yes) all the best Christmas songs. Because if you can’t enjoy a 20-piece jazz band at Christmas, when can you?
We hope you had a great year in 2017, and we’re excited about what 2018 is going to bring to this great city, its great venues, and its unique, beautiful, crazy people.