The Best of October in San Francisco Music

in Music News by

With fall slowly turning the warm colors, and with a mid-week (two weekends!) Halloween waltzing in at the end, this October has been a month to remember in San Francisco. Lenny Kravitz’s show at the Bill Graham Civic was the highlight of the first week of the month – the generation-spanning, evergreen, huge-scarf-wearing pillar of American rock brought exactly the kind of show you’d expect – a party with 30 years of hard work behind it, as Kravitz belted out a set of classic hits like “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over,” “Believe” and “Fly Away,” laced with an inspiring message of unity. Sometimes, you just need to celebrate.

Silk City performed a stand out set at this year’s Treasure Island Music Festival

Mid-October, the scene kicked up the dust and picked up speed with the Treasure Island Music Festival launching at the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland. The lineup included some great acts: dancehall fusion genius Santigold playing hits from this year’s triumphant I Don’t Want: the God Fire Sessions, super DJ duo Silk City somehow fitting two stars the size of Mark Ronson and Diplo on a single stage, Pusha T (off the back of this year’s DAYTONA) and A$AP Rocky, who headlined the festival. Meanwhile, for those with a taste for the beautiful niche and yelpy, mewithoutYou’s newest release [Untitled] (not to be confused with July’s sneak preview EP, [untitled]). Every track in the record was unique in its own way, continuing the broad, weird, wonderful furrow of their career to date.

Up next for the city was the Jameson #LoveThyNeighborhood Block Party, which brought together a huge lineup of local and national artists, including Shannon Shaw of SF, Julia Haltigan of New York, Venancio Bermudez (of The Tracks) from Los Angeles, Ayron Jones from Seattle, and Cory Chisel, among others.

Christina Aguilera returned to the stage at the Paramount Theater in Oakland

But for highlights of the month (Halloween and TIMF aside), it’s hard to look past Christina Aguilera’s epic comeback at the Paramount in Oakland on October 22nd. It’s a tricky business having a 20-year trajectory from teen star to full-on, stage-owning diva, and Christina had not toured for a decade before the start of the Liberation tour in Hollywood, Florida in September this year. By the time she came to the Paramount she was alight like a comet: the energy in the room was a sight to see, a whirlwind of passion and love driven by her once-in-a-generation voice, and the love of her fans in SF had palpably remained unchanged. If anything, they only seemed to have grown in the years she’s been away. With a setlist including favorites like “Fighter,” “Beautiful,” “Ain’t No Other Man,” “Genie in a Bottle,” “Can’t Hold Us Down,” and an acapella version of “What a Girl Wants,” and new tracks like “Fall in Line,” “Maria” and “Accelerate,” the star was unstoppable.

Finally, you can’t talk about October in a city like ours without talking about Halloween, when the whole city came out to play for 2 weekends. Right from Bimbo’s 365, with their party on the 27th, through parties on the night itself at the Regency Ballroom, the Warfield and the Great American Music Hall, it was a Halloween to remember. November’s looking to be full of great releases and shows, including crazy English operatic rock heirs Muse with their new album Simulation Theory (November 9th), and Circa Survive at the UC Theatre in Berkeley on November 13th – we’ll 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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