Monday, April 29, 2013

What We Like: Yu Darvish GIF, a Two-Pound Joint, George Jones

by Whitney Phaneuf
Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 8:00 AM

The baseball season's now well underway, and I guarantee my fantasy team is better than yours. Meanwhile, I love this GIF, created by Drew Sheppard, that's been making the rounds the past couple of days: five Yu Darvish pitches layered on top of each other, all of them delivered with the same arm motion. (Sadly, I don't own Darvish in any of my fantasy leagues.) — Luke Tsai

Yu Davishs masterful pitch.
  • Drew Sheppard
  • Yu Davish's masterful pitch.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Congratulations, you made it! The weekend weather is looking safely non-dismal, so feel free to replicate 4/20 freely and/or enjoy the following fun activities:

Since 1965, the Oakland Ballet Company has gained international recognition for its deferential nods to the classics and its innovative breaks with tradition. After closing briefly in 2006, the company was revived the next year at the hands of a new artistic director, Graham Lustig, who on Saturday, Apr. 27, joins the rest of the company in hosting their annual fundraiser gala at the Oakland Kaiser Center. The evening will be emceed by Cheryl Jennings of ABC7 and includes a champagne and hors d'oeuvres reception, a preview of the company's spring program, dessert with the dancers, and a silent auction — which includes the chance to appear in the company's December production of The Nutcracker. 7-9:30 p.m., $100 and up. 510-894-3132 or OaklandBallet.orgAzeen Ghorayshi


Presented chronologically, a partial list of the descriptors used in Oceanography's three-paragraph official bio: "brooding," "lost," "heav[y]," "distorted," "world weary." And yes, the band — which is fronted by Livermore native, self-described "sad bastard," and, full disclosure, Express art director Brian Kelly — does have its heavy moments, both musically and existentially, its December EP, Parachutes of Plenty, is much more interesting and much more variously influenced than that description implies. Take, for example, "Reggie Jackson," the EP's opening track and perhaps the best distillation of why, exactly, Oceanography works: It's named after a debt collector who used to be after Kelly, abstractly references a period Kelly described to the Bay Bridged as "a low point," and starts off expectably slow, just a steady, slowish, unadorned drum beat. But soon enough, it's morphed and metastasized into something wholly different: something marked by triumphal, U2-but-better builds; driving, giddy drum work; and a catchy, compelling, singing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-with-the-windows-down chorus — something bizarrely uplifting, even. See for yourself when Oceanography plays with Couches, Mosshead, and the There There at the Night Light on Friday, Apr. 26. 9 p.m., $5. — Ellen Cushing

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
In 2011, Robert Battle rose to the helm of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater as the third leader in its 55-year history. Returning to the East Bay during his second full season, he's steering what he once called the "big Ailey ship" towards exuberant signature displays and expansive, unchartered territory with four different programs featuring two Bay Area premieres. If there's feasting in dance — or a not-to-miss local world series of dance — this is surely it. Highlights include premieres by Battle and Kyle Abraham, JiríKylián'sPetite Mort, Rennie Harris' Home, and a tantalizing Ailey Classics program. Performances run Tuesday through Friday, April 23-26, at Zellerbach Hall. Tue.-Fri. 8 p.m.; Sat. 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sun 3 p.m. $30-$92. 510-642-9988 or CalPerformances.orgLou Fancher

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Live Review: The Sheer, Epic Princeliness of Prince

by Whitney Phaneuf
Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 1:27 PM

I'm still trying to come up with an answer to “How was Prince?,” a question at least twenty people have asked me since leaving his 8 p.m. show at DNA Lounge last night. My mom, in particular, was just excited to recognize the name of someone I was writing about, but strangers too — people on Twitter, the homeless guy lingering outside the club, servers at the restaurant where my brother cooks, where I went after the show to decompress — everyone wanted to know what was it like, what did he play, was it worth $250 a ticket?

Prince in 1979. He looks exactly the same.
  • Prince in 1979. He looks exactly the same.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Listen: New Songs by Pang, Stripmall Architecture, and Sister Crayon

by Alex Taitague
Wed, Apr 24, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Pang — Attention Deficit

Oakland’s all-girl all-fierce quartet Pang debuted yesterday with a seven-inch on Play Pinball! Records. Its garage punk sound on the A-side, “Attention Deficit,” incorporates a kind of synth-drone that finds a middle ground between Stereolab’s hypnotic keyboards and The Okmoniks' frantic organ. The song shows symptoms of its namesake disorder, meaning lots of short bursts of simple, effective melodies that make your head spin. Pay attention or … wait, what?

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Monday, April 22, 2013

What We Like: Breakdancing Mr. Rogers, Ezra Klein, Safe

by Whitney Phaneuf
Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Boston was, obviously, the biggest thing on anyone’s mind last week, so I’d like to point out a few excellent, thoughtful pieces of writing that came out of it: Beautiful, initial reflections on the attack and the meaning of marathons by Ezra Klein and Nicholas Thompson; then this account of what things were like on the ground in the area’s hospitals by Atul Gawande; then, after the names of the suspects were revealed, The New Republic on Chechnya and Quartz on the existential strangeness of internet sleuthing. — Ellen Cushing

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Listen: New Songs by Manatee, Kids On A Crime Spree, and Thee Oh Sees

by Alex Taitague
Fri, Apr 19, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Manatee — "Which Way To Go" and "Theme (Dugong Sing-Along)"

The Oakland quartet Manatee has two new tracks out this week on the B-side of a seven-inch split with Stockton's Surfer Club. Manatee rocks hard and in a range of ways: the first track, “Theme (Dugong Sing-Along)” is instrumental, drawing on some surf-rock melodies, distorting the amps, and adding some chaotic Arena-rock-grade drums. “Which Way To Go” is a forceful cover of the Eighties hardcore band Big Boys, and it manages to make more noise than the original. The split is the first in a series called Nothing To Lose by Death Party Records

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Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

by Azeen Ghorayshi
Fri, Apr 19, 2013 at 6:00 AM

It's Friday! Here's your weekend, all planned out and ready:

The East Bay has no shortage of shoegaze acts, but one of the scene's most talented bands is, in fact, transplanted from the other half of the globe — the southern half, that is. Vir is a trio of fantastically noisy New Zealand natives who churn out the best kind of delay- and loop-heavy, atmospheric ear-storms reminiscent of Sonic Youth and newer acts like A Place to Bury Strangers. But this moodier sound, as heard on the band's excellent 2012 record, Engineers, may be on its way out, as Vir gets set to release its still-untitled album later this year. According to guitarist and vocalist Sam Sloane, the band's next album is already "sounding quite dark and sultry, but a little poppier and less experimental than Engineers." In a spate of upcoming shows, including one on Friday, Apr. 19, at The Night Light, the band will be testing out some new material songs. Hear them, along with Spider Meow, Vague Choir, and Space Ape. 9:30 p.m., $7. TheNightLightOakland.comLenika Cruz

Pretty Penny Anniversary
In the battle for most-beloved East Bay vintage store, Pretty Penny sweeps the competition. From its impeccably curated selection of men's and women's vintage and locally designed duds down to its quaint, two-story Rockridge store (recently revamped to impossibly cuter proportions), Pretty Penny is, well, pretty perfect. And owner Sarah Dunbar has an impressive vintage resume to boot: She worked at Telegraph Avenue's quirky-retro Mars Mercantile and Williamsburg staple Beacon's Closet before deciding to open a store filled with her own selections. On Friday, Apr. 19, join Dunbar and the Pretty Penny community at the store for its seven-year anniversary party, featuring free food and drinks, a photobooth, live music, a pop-up vintage store, and all the clothing you can afford to carry home. 5-10 p.m., free. 510-594-9219 or PrettyPennyClothing.comAzeen Ghorayshi

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Guide To Record Store Day in the East Bay

by Alex Taitague
Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 11:31 AM

In no way was I prepared for my first Record Store Day. It was 10:30 a.m. on the third Saturday of April 2011 and Amoeba Music in Berkeley contained the energy of a crowded general admission show, the kind with determined concert-goers who have no qualms about pushing to the front of the stage. Squeezing down the aisles just to look for a specific release, let alone getting my hands on one, was out of the question. I left without a note of music in hand.

When Record Store Day (RSD) rolls around on Saturday, April 20, you can avoid this fate. RSD — the annual celebration of brick-and-mortar music stores that includes limited-quantity releases and in-store events — has been known to drive fans into a consumer craze comparable to Black Friday. But with some luck and a little preparation, you may find what you’re looking for or at least have fun hunting for it. To survive, here’s what to expect from the East Bay’s six participating stores: Amoeba and Rasputin in Berkeley, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in Oakland, Mod Lang and Down Home Music Store in El Cerrito, and Donnie’s Records in Albany:

1) 1-2-3-4 Go! Records (420 40th St., Oakland)
1-2-3-4 Go! specializes in punk, so it’s the best bet for RSD’s harder rock releases, but the selection is diverse, with plenty of indie rock and classic albums. Keep an eye out for things like the Stooges and Black Keys’ seven-inch split No Fun, or the re-issue of Pussy Galore’s Groovy Hate Fuck. The back room performance space will function as a separate record store with all RSD releases and a second register to expedite the process. No live performances. Coffee and donuts will be available in the morning, and food trucks will park outside throughout the day.
Special RSD hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

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Behind the Scenes of Record Store Day

by Alex Taitague
Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Metallica helped kick off the first Record Store Day, in 2008, with a signing at a Rasputin in Mountain View. Since then it has become a globally observed celebration, with more stores, artists, and labels participating than ever. RSD aims to shine the spotlight on the stores, rather than on the products, with in-store events ranging from performances and signings to giveaways and contests. And Carrie Colliton, one of the co-founders of Record Store Day, said special releases are key to event’s success. “If the pieces were mass produced and available everywhere they wouldn't have the same draw,” said Colliton. “It’s this limited, special nature that creates the buzz.” There are more than 350 releases this year, up about 100 from 2012, and just ten in 2008.

One of the most significant results of that growth: When it comes to the availability of specific releases, there are no promises. The eleven-page list of RSD releases doesn’t guarantee that any one item will be in any specific store. And even if the record you want is in the store, the limited number of copies available make securing it a challenge in itself. The die-hard fans lined up outside before the stores open might be there for nothing. (See our complete guide to what's happening at Bay Area stores here)

Record Store Day promotional material and disclaimer
  • Record Store Day promotional material and disclaimer

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Know the Best in Bay Area Music? Vote at Thizzler and Submit to Play Mission Creek Oakland

by Whitney Phaneuf
Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Local blog/promoter Thizzler wants your vote for the best new artists in Bay Area hip-hop and Mission Creek Oakland Music and Arts Festival (MCO) has opened up submissions for bands to play its month-long festival in September. It's a short window for both, so don't miss out.

For the past three years, Thizzler has named its new best-in-class of emerging hip-hop artists. Past Bay Area Freshmen 10 lists have included Iamsu!, Hopie, and Kreayshawn.

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