This Week's Picks: December 11 - 17, 2013
Make the yuletide gay!
Discussing the lead track off Howlin', Jagwar Ma's Jono Ma has described time spent in two Berlin clubs: Club Bassy, which "only played vinyl from the 40s, 50s, 60s," and Panorama Bar, the oft-mentioned, house-dominated portion of ultra-hip Berghain. It's a nice hat-tip to Jagwar Ma's influences, which have inspired clear-voiced pop and soul vocals that follow a swirl of programmed beats and sequenced arpeggios, with enough looseness in the groove to engender no shortage of Happy Mondays references. This sound — part Madchester acid trip and part Balearic episode — has fittingly led to remixes by Andrew Weatherall, Matthew Dear, and Pachanga Boys. (Ryan Prendiville)
628 Divisadero, SF
"Holiday Bazaar NightLife"
There is a science to holiday gift shopping. Like most experiments, it begins with an unsettling question: What should I get for Ma? And Pa? Olivia? Your hypothesis states that some friends will like their gifts, and some will fake it. But when more than 40 local merchants gather for NightLife at the Academy and set up stalls full of treasures curated by Bazaar Bizarre (think handmade ceramics, silk-screened T-shirts, letterpress stationery, and superhero bowties), the chances of expected yield matching actual yield of purchases are high. Add principal elements to the equation, such as bass music collective Slayers Club, DJ Mark Farina, and spiked snow cones (NightLife is a 21-and-over event), and the chemical reaction creates an explosion greater than the Earthquake planetarium show. (Kaylen Baker)
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, SF
"Drag Queens On Ice: An Eleganza Extravaganza!"
Figure skaters and drag queens have a lot in common: a flair for performing, an affection for sequins, a deep love of cheesy music. Now in its fourth year, "Drag Queens on Ice" makes the most of these shared affections by bringing hostess Donna Sachet and a bevy of costumed, skate-wearing divas to Union Square's Holiday Ice Rink. Spreading even more cheer, event presenter Visit Mendocino County partners with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence this year to benefit the Sisters' partner charities, matching donations made by skate fans who get their picture taken with the Order's own Sister Roma. (Cheryl Eddy)
8-9:30pm, $7-$11 (skate rentals, $5; rink hours, 10am-11:30pm daily)
Holiday Ice Rink
Union Square, SF
X and The Blasters
The members of legendary Los Angeles punk rockers X have always distinguished themselves from other bands of their time and genre, with the rock-solid drumming of DJ Bonebrake, the guitar virtuosity of Billy Zoom, and the poetic lyrics and intimate vocal interplay of John Doe and Exene Cervenka. The iconic group, whose early catalog was recently released in deluxe digital sets via Rhino Records, is hitting the West Coast this month for a special "X-mas 2013" tour with friends the Blasters. Fans of both outstanding acts won't want to miss this rare chance to see the two groups together at one sensational show. (Sean McCourt)
1805 Geary, SF
Sixty hours, no winks, of continual performance are what Mugwumpin promises, beginning 9am Friday and running (or wobbling) nonstop until 9pm Sunday. The 10-year-old company, needless to say, refuses to slow down, and looks to be keeping pace with the times, as it embarks on the three-day marathon as research into its yearlong exploration of exhaustion (to culminate in a final performance in 2014). The performers will make themselves available along the way to guest choreographers Laura Arrington (Sun, 2pm) and Erika Chong Shuch (Sat, 2pm). Crazy? Probably, yeah. But having consulted with at least one herbalist (Sheila Devitt, who offers a primer on herbal adaptogens as part of the proceedings), the members of the intrepid theater company are going into this, anyway, with their eyes open. (Robert Avila)
Starts today, 9am; ends Sun/15, 9pm, $10-$30 (weekend pass, $40)
CIIS's Area 5
1453 Mission, SF
El Ten Eleven
Silver Lake's El Ten Eleven defies the odds. Its music is instrumental, but starkly unpretentious. Its musicianship and songwriting is mind-bogglingly complex, but extremely listenable. It consists of only two people, but creates a full band's worth of sound, with the insanely gifted Kristian Dunn often playing the guitar and bass lines on his double-necked instrument simultaneously. The music the band creates is not just technically impressive, it's also graceful, intensely melodic, and deeply emotional. El Ten Eleven's talent and intricate songwriting translate beautifully to its live presence, where the duo will loop, vamp, shred, and cymbal-crash its way right into your heart. (Haley Zaremba)
With Slow Magic
333 11th St, SF
"Two Evenings of Deborah Hay Solo Adaptations"
Deborah Hay has never stopped rethinking the dancing body, a practice she started as a member of the Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s. She has become something of shaman for choreographer-performers, who experience her workshops as a stripping-away of preconceptions about their own work. For each residency, Hay creates one solo — actually a series of written instructions and descriptions — which the artists gradually make their own by continuing to work on it for at least three months. It's a process which is both disciplined and freeing. "Two Evenings of Deborah Hay Solo Adaptations" presents five artists and their versions of these solos: Aura Fischbeck and Gry Bech-Hanssen with pieces from 2012; Manfred Fischbeck from 2011; and Megan Nicely and Ronja VerAura from 2010. (Rita Felciano)
Fri/13-Sat/14, 7pm, $15
2840 Mariposa, SF
"An Unnerving Look at the Holidays"
Lemony Snicket, the grief-stricken satirist of the best-selling A Series of Unfortunate Events, would warn you not to attend this family-oriented holiday jazz concert. He'd say that Christmas, with all its blaring jingle, is an atrocious way to celebrate the uncomfortable birth of a man cursed with the inexplicable talent of curing sickness and doomed to youthful death by jealous townsmen and very heavy planks. He'd mention that Marcus Shelby's mesmerizing jazz music is a gloomy reminder that all merriment must end, and that the earnest chords of the SFJazz High School All-Stars will make you cry. He'd add that Snicket himself has no knowledge of jazz, lacks the joy to cheer children, and will probably sport an unflattering disguise. Luckily, I'm not Lemony, and I'm telling you not to miss "An Unnerving Look at the Holidays." (Baker)
201 Franklin, SF
Homo for the Holidays
Procrastinating your holiday shopping could pay off this year: El Rio's Homo for the Holidays queer craft bonanza is your one-stop shop for gifts for all your friends, plus plenty of goodies and entertainment for yourself, too! The back patio hosts more than a dozen crafters selling all sorts of adorable creations: upcycled bike tire jewelry, stick and poke tattoo kits, queer home décor, and more. Shop to the tunes of performers GAYmous, Thunder Thighs, and DJ Jerry Lee, as well as words by the Lady Ms. Vagina Jenkins and dance performances by the Tartletts and the emFATic Dancers. Door proceeds go to the Larkin Street Youth's holiday gift drive; bring an unwrapped gift for the drive and receive raffle tickets to win prizes from featured vendors. Get your photo taken in the "Sleazy Santa" photo booth, and make the yuletide gay! (Kirstie Haruta)
3158 Mission, SF
Andrew Bird's Gezelligheid
Andrew Bird reprises his special holiday shows, expanding his run for the first time to the best coast. The title Gezelligheid is a Dutch word that translates to coziness or togetherness, and in order to live up to the name, Bird is hosting his two-night performance inside of Congregation Sherith Israel, one of the city's most breathtaking places of worship. Playing with special guest Tift Merritt, Gezelligheid will mostly consist of Bird's spectacular violin pieces, amplified through his trademarked Victoria horns. Designed, in Bird's words, for the audience to be "lifted and comforted as we head into another cold and dark winter," the show promises to be a unique, enchanting experience. (Zaremba)
Mon/16-Tue/17, 8pm, $45
Congregation Sherith Israel
2266 California, SF
San Franciscans have long enjoyed a romance with alcohol — from the debauchery of the Barbary Coast era to the modern renaissance of the craft cocktail, the city by the bay knows how to knock 'em back. Celebrate this high-proof history at "Historic Libations," a party inspired by the drinking culture of yesteryear, where revelers will be able to sample a variety of uniquely San Francisco cocktails, including the Pisco Sour and the Martinez. The price of admission to the fete will include drinks, hors d'oeuvres and dancing to live music from The Cosmo Alleycats — and don't forget to check out the always fascinating exhibits on display. (McCourt)
6-9 p.m., $30-$75 California Historical Society 678 Mission, SF facebook.com/californiahistoricalsociety