The Best of May in San Francisco Music

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This year has been amazing for San Francisco music so far: we’ve had shows from the massive (Lorde at the Oracle Arena) to the intimate (Tommy Emmanuel at the Great American Music Hall), and as we come into festival season, the best may still be to come. May has been an amazing month for the city: here are a few of the highlights.

Reborn 90’s trip-hop artist IAMX (once known as Chris Corner of Sneaker Pimps) put on an astonishing, ethereal performance at the Great American Music Hall on the Alive In New Light Tour, sharing the stage with performance artist, tattooist and musician Kat Von D. The show was the kind of weird, beautiful oddity that San Francisco does so well: subsonic beats, deep vocals, larger-than-life light productions, eye-catching visuals: pushing the boundaries of art and performance.

Pink at the Oracle Arena

Following closely on the heels of this surprising duo was another celebrated pair; Richard Ashcroft (of The Verve) and Liam Gallagher (of Oasis) came together at the Masonic to play a show which was, somehow, not only for the nostalgists. It takes something special to keep making art in the shadow of a zeitgeist, and they nailed it with a tandem, swaggering, surprisingly tender aplomb.

Meanwhile – in a month that seemed to be all about double acts – the city was introduced to Nightly, another dark and dreamy alternate pop duo that’s here to stay. Jonathan Capeci and Joey Beretta had the crowd at the Café du Nord by their hearts; keep an eye out for them again.

Another highlight this month was Pink’s show in Oakland. Stadium-sized bombast is hard to pull off, but the Beautiful Trauma tour has seen her refine and perfect her brand of roaring, angular, perfect chaos. The show wasn’t just a musical extravaganza; from the opening number (entering the stage via, what else, a chandelier), the acrobatics matched the music, with Pink climbing a human pyramid, riding a floating bed, and dancing with an inflatable Eminem. Not a show to be forgotten in a hurry.

And if that was one of the biggest shows of the month, SF’s own Black Rebel Motorcycle Club gave one of the coolest at the Fillmore, with a capacity crowd turning out to enjoy their latest album, Wrong Creatures.

The month saw some great releases – as well as a stripped-back, contemplative record from old-school guitar legend Ry Cooder, Shawn Mendes released a new track, called “Youth,” featuring Khalid, Travis Scott released brand-new single “Watch,” and yet more 90’s nostalgia broke with a record-breaking musical video entitled “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” from (yes!) the Backstreet Boys.

Next month, we’ve got a new venue opening in the city, as the Fillmore West is reopened under a new name – SVN West – on June 14th, with a capacity of 3000 people; expect to see some huge shows coming through there over the coming few months. Elsewhere we’ve got shows coming up from close-part-harmony stars Pentatonix, and England’s campfire punk rock hero Frank Turner, and releases from Chvrches and Kanye West; we’ll be covering them all. 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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