The Best of August in San Francisco Music

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The past month has been a real classic on San Francisco’s music scene – if you’d have tried to plan a month that showed the depth and breadth of the city’s musical passions, you couldn’t have done better. Country music outlaw Cody Jinks hit the Warfield in the first week of the month, where a crowd of hippies and cowboys turned up to see him in his rawest, truest, form as he toured his new album ‘Lifers’. Scorning the cheap Kid-Rock antics that the idea of ‘outlaw’ country might conjure up, his performance was a mix of songs that reflected his personal life unabashedly; no cheap posturing here, more of a full-hearted, full-throated gallop through the light and the dark of a life lived on the edges of society and himself.

Elsewhere on the creative spiral, Canada’s Broken Social Scene turned heads and won hearts at The Independent, with their universal tribe vibe rubbing off on everyone in the crowd. The energy levels were incredibly high, and everyone left the venue feeling hopeful and positive about life; a medicine for our age, in glorious dancing abandon.

Elsewhere, Pixies and Weezer gave us a wonderful night at the Shoreline Amphitheater, exploding the legends-on-tour format to remind us why they have owned stages for decades now, and the double-acts theme continued, with metalists Halestorm and In This Moment setting the stage on fire at The Warfield as well, while Daris Rucker opened for Lady Antebellum at the Shoreline, before a coup de grace at the Shoreline on August 30th, as Rod Stewart was joined on stage by Cyndi Lauper, neither of them acting their age and all the better for it.

Meanwhile, an entirely different kind of live music happened at The Chapel. Peter Brötzmannan and Keiji Haino showed their audience in wall-to-wall packed house how music can truly set you free. They’re both free artists, who walk on to the stage with no set list or album they tour for, and they took the concept of live music to a whole different level, creating music right there on the stage, in real time. Play and ardor and mistakes and triumphs, right there in front of you for the first time.

Aside from these fantastic live acts, there were several new musical releases this month that added to the fervor. Jake Shears dropped his self-titled album on the 20th, and the record has been receiving glowing reviews. Among other releases this month are Bishop Briggs’s new single “Baby,” grab-you-by-the-lapels folk gospel from The War and Treaty (with “Healing Tide”), a return from Nicki Minaj (“Queen”), emo flashbacks for the future from Death Cab for Cutie (“Thank You for Today”), and a big bag of classic artists still making music (ex-Crowded House frontman and Kiwi legend Neil Finn’s “Lightsleeper,” Alice in Chains’ “Rainier Fog”, and The Proclaimers “Angry Cyclist”). Special mention too goes to Ariana Grande, showing she wins every time with “Sweetener”.

Coming up in September we have releases from Low, with “Double Negative”, and a new Paul McCartney album, “Egypt Station”, as well as shows from Jason Mraz at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, followed by Trombone Shorty a few days later, while Arcade Fire blow in later in the month and Northern Irish rock survivors Ash take the Swedish American Hall. It’s been a great month, and there’s even better ahead. See you out there!

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.

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