Haley Zaremba

Sufjan Stevens as the Christmas Unicorn at Great American Music Hall

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When I walked into the Great American Music Hall on Wednesday night, I was handed a Christ-Mess Sing-a-Long booklet with a unicorn on the cover. While I had already gathered from the name of the event — Surfjohn Stevens’ Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice — that it wasn’t going to be a standard holiday concert, I wasn’t quite prepared for the awesome eccentricities that awaited me.

The Great American, which is already one of the Bay’s most gorgeous venues, was literally aglow with strings of Christmas lights reflecting off bows and baubles attached to headbands, elf ears, vests, and ugly sweaters throughout the dedicated audience. On stage, incense was burning and guitar techs were wading through piles of inflatable Santas and unicorns. Read more »

Live Shots: Titus Andronicus at Great American Music Hall

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If you want to stay in the good graces of Titus Andronicus (which played Great American Music Hall this Tuesday), don’t mention frontman Patrick Stickles' beard, or his recent lack of beard, or his uncanny vocal likeness to Bright Eyes vocalist Conor Oberst, or really much of anything else. But you didn’t hear it from me. Because of his sensitivity, Stickles has been churning out some of the best anger and angst-driven punk rock of this century. In spite of his sensitivity, he still seems to be a super nice guy. Read more »

Live Shots: La Sera at the Chapel

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It was nice to see that “Kickball” Katy Goodman hasn’t grown up too much since leaving the Vivian Girls. Her big smile, bubbling stage banter, and virginal attire—a lacy white dress to match her white Fender bass guitar — added a saccharine candy coating to the dark, jangly pop of La Sera, her Los Angeles-based solo project.

Swaying and hopping across the Chapel stage last Saturday night in all black Converse All Stars, Goodman whipped her all-male backing band through a surprisingly short set, clocking in at just around 45 minutes. Read more »

Live Shots: another Nobunny Halloween

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Walking to the Brick and Mortar Music Hall on Halloween night for the Nobunny show, I was disappointed by how few costumed people were roaming the streets of San Francisco. Doesn’t anyone have time for fun anymore? Turns out I need not have worried. My Halloween-loving peers pulled through, turning the small, darkened venue into a veritable haunted house full of Jedi, devils, skeletons, cats, and so much more. Read more »

Live Shots: Rasputina at Great American Music Hall

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Guardian music writer Haley Zaremba managed to snap a few shots of Rasputina during the stringed trio's appearance at Great American Music Hall on Wednesday.

Amanda (Fucking) Palmer unites the freaks at the Fillmore

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Theatrics! Camp! Bravado! Glitter! Body hair! Going to an Amanda Palmer concert is like taking a trip to the island of misfit toys. Standing in the crowd, I was surrounded by top hats, tutus, tuxedos, pink mohawks, steampunk creations, and many more accessories that I can’t begin to identify. 

The audience at the Fillmore last Wednesday was incredibly diverse in age, gender, and style, seemingly united only by their love for the many artistic eccentricities of Amanda Fucking Palmer, as her fans call her. Read more »

Live Shots: Aesop Rock at the Fillmore

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The anticipation was killing me. After waiting through 10 weeks of postponement and three openers, I just wanted to see Aesop Rock. Well over two hours past showtime on a Sunday night at the Fillmore, the audience was getting restless. Read more »

The Tallest Man on Earth throws down his pick

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On a long BART ride to Oakland after a longer day at school, I thought I probably couldn’t stay awake at a punk show, much less an acoustic folk concert. When I arrived at the Fox and saw that the Tallest Man on Earth show was seated, I was sure that I was doomed.

The stage setup was minimal, with one chair, a circle of monitors, and one keyboard. I stifled a yawn as Kristian Matsson, a.k.a the Tallest Man on Earth, skipped onto the stage in a white tank top and black skinny jeans, looking ironically small on the large, sparse stage. Matsson picked up his guitar, strummed, and wailed out his first note, sending the audience into hysterics. Read more »

Aesop Rock on Grubstake, stolen gear, and how to get in his barber chair

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San Francisco resident Ian Bavitz, better known as Aesop Rock, is a hip-hop maverick with a quick tongue and sharp wit. His je ne sais quois coolness seems to increase exponentially with every move he makes, from collaborating with Atmosphere’s Slug to peppering his rhymes with obscure science fiction references to touring with alternative folk royalty Kimya Dawson to giving haircuts on stage, to writing a song about Grubstake, Polk Street’s notorious greasy spoon and late-night vomitorium. Read more »

Live Shots: Braid at Slim's

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Bromance was in the air Sunday night as Braid took the stage at Slim’s. The on-again, off-again band recently reunited after a seven-year hiatus just in time to play its 600th show, and the members seemed genuinely grateful for the opportunity. On the final stop of their West Coast tour, these Illinois post-hardcore trailblazers thanked their fans by playing through their beloved and influential 1998 album Frame & Canvas in its entirety. Read more »