The Best of May in San Francisco Music

in Music News by

Another month has come and gone, and it’s been a great month in San Francisco music. Like the rest of the year so far, May 2019 has been high-energy and saturated with class live music acts, new releases, and various bits of great news.

The Warfield, in particular, saw a stellar line-up of shows this May – the winning streak began with Manila Killer’s gig in the first week of the month, with Amanda Palmer’s show the following week, when the rock and cabaret musician, activist and cultural firework display artist stopped by whilst touring her latest album, There Will Be No Intermission. Palmer lit up the stage.

Rival Sons at the Fillmore

The Fillmore, meanwhile, saw its fair share, when Californian band Rival Sons brought back authentic rock and roll to a city that has been craving it for a while now, and will always have its place in the history of the guitar. In between some of their greatest hits like “Pressure and Time” and “Electric Man,” and the seamless mix of strings, drums, and bass, it was, without doubt, one of the best acts The Fillmore has seen in recent times.

No talk of live concerts this month is complete without a mention of Yann Tiersen’s blissful performance, again at The Warfield. With just the right play of light and dark on the stage, and a mellifluous mix of vocals and keys, Tiersen’s concert at the venue was an ode to music in its purest form; all beautiful oddness and surprising sweetness

There are few things that can compare to a show like that. Unless, of course, you’re talking about the Chemical Brothers’ stunning light show at the Bill Graham Civic. These are the people who gave us the music that marked the 90s, and in a fitting tribute, the venue was packed to capacity for a show shot through with ground-breaking, show-the-kids-how-it’s-done EDM, backed by their signature psychedelic and laser displays. It’s a whole world away from Tiersen’s powerful, surging musicality, but there’s no doubt that the Chemical Brothers’ art is equally captivating.

Moving on from the shows to this month’s new releases, we got to hear Joy Williams’s latest solo record in the first week, titled Front Porch. It’s a moving album that’s deeply personal, yet every bit as relatable as Williams’s other music. The following week, T Bone Burnett’s new release, The Invisible Light: Acoustic Space, followed. It takes a veteran musician to bring together beat poetry, spoken word, and electronic interludes in a way that doesn’t just feel like self-indulgent experimentation for its own sake, and The Invisible Light was a marked deviation from Burnett’s previous sound. Nevertheless, fans and critics lapped it up, praising its dark, crisp, and astoundingly relevant message.

Among the other new releases this month was Hannah Grace’s dreamy and soulful record, The Bed You Made and Stray Cats’ first new album in 26 years, titled 40 as a tribute to their 40th anniversary. June’s coming up, and it looks to be full of good things. See 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 and, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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