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Tuning into the City

A Monthly Preview of the Best Shows

As we head deeper into our version of summer, July heats up with an amazing line-up of bands from around the world that are coming through the Bay Area for outdoors shows and festivals. Most notably, the Stern Grove Festival turns 70 this year and continues to innovate with bhangra, Brazilian funk and preservation hall jazz for a free series of amazing Sunday afternoons.

1. CD Release Party in your Pants, Pants, Pants

Friday June 29th
Social Studies (SF), Pants, Pants, Pants (SF), Fast Computers (Eugene), and Blue Skies for Black Hearts (Portland)
Bottom of the Hill

Pants, Pants, Pants drop their sophomore debut, OK Fine this Friday at Bottom of the Hill with local band Social Studies headlining. PPP’s bring their playful electronic pop and engaging live show to the stage with a sound recalling an early upbeat Stereolab but with a much better sense of humor. This trio makes the most of customized electronics from modified kiddy toys and an Atari 5600, and they create a unique sound – think the Pixies covering Björk.

Catch them now before they head out for their July tour, which will bring them from Sac to Seattle and back. For those who can’t hardly wait, it is available for free download from their myspace page at (while there make sure to check out their video for the song "Fabio Salsa", which faithfully recreates the opening sequence of the SF-based show “Full House” shot by shot -- a true SF treat!)

2. Horse Latitudes

A Band of Horses, A Decent Animal, Stardeath & White Dwarfs
Thursday, July 5th
Great American Music Hall

With their debut release, Everything All the Time, garnering rave reviews, Seattle’s Band of Horses bring their dreamy alt-americana-pop to the stage of the esteemed Great American Music Hall. This trio creates unique soundscapes reminiscent of bands ranging from My Morning Jacket to Neil Young. Their songs take flight with soaring guitars and orchestral arrangements yet stay true to melancholy folk roots. The GAMH is the perfect venue to take in this band as the next tour will most likely see them heading to larger venues.

3. I’m melting…I’m melting…so bring on the noise!

Melt-Banana, Replicator and Pidgeon
Friday, July 6th
The Independent

Tokyo’s Melt Banana brings their two-guitar attack of punky "noisecore" stateside. Front-woman Yasuko O.’s vocals shriek and scream like a banshee doused with wasabi as they slice through the looped and live guitar hardcore frenzy. Melt-Banana’s sound recalls contemporaries like early Sonic Youth, the Ruins and Boredoms, but they showcase what a progressive punk band can do to push the sonic boundaries to inter-stellar overdrive.

4. Brooklyn’s in the house

Rob Symeonn with Mikey Assassin
Sunday, July 8th
The Elbo Room

Brooklyn’s righteous rastaman Rob Symeonn comes to town to bless-up Sunday Night’s Dub Mission. Supporting his new CD, The Chosen One, Rob blends classic rootsy rhythms with his sweet, smoky vocals and positive uplifting message. Breaking out of the One Love International sound system in NY, Rob built a solid local following with the extended Caribbean reggae community and he is now bringing his sound to this intimate SF setting on the current West Coast tour in preparation for an upcoming worldwide tour.

5. Ways to be wicked

Maria McKee, Victor Krummenacher
Sunday, July 8th
Café du Nord
Doors 7pm, Show 8pm

Maria McKee founded the roots rockin’ yall-ternative band Lone Justice, which had the classic "Ways to be Wicked and Shelter". Moving beyond the shadow of her former band she scored her critical breakthrough with her second album, 1993's You Gotta Sin to Get Saved. Now she finds her redemption in rockin' out like a demon. Long live rock! Bay Area Icon Victor Krummenacher (one of the founding members of 80s-era college radio band Camper Van Beethoven) opens up the show in support of his latest release The Cock Crows At Sunrise, his fifth critically-acclaimed solo album in twelve years

6. Psychedelic solutions

Sunday, July 15th
Os Mutantes, Los Amigos Invisibles
Sigmund Stern Grove
2pm (8pm doors)
Babel Gilberto’s recent cover of Os Mutantes’ classic “Baby” on her last record brought new attention to the band; here is your chance to hear it its true form. Leading the 60s Brazilian psychedelic pop movement, they reunite to bring the tropicalia boogie to the bay. Los Amigos Invisibles will kick off the show and get the crowd body-movin’ with their Latin-infused dance grooves.

7. Psychedelic Furs
Sunday, July 15th
The Psychedelic Furs, The Alarm, The Fix
The Mezzanine
8pm, (7pm doors)
So if the Ghost in you is colored Pretty in Pink and Sister Europe’s full of Presidential Gas, Heaven will not be seeing Love my Way nor will it be Saved by Zero. I get Strength from the Rain in Summertime to make The Stand against the Sixty-Eight Guns. But if I fail, just Rescue Me from being Sold Down River of the Absolute Reality from the Spirit of ’76.

8. My mic sounds nice

Friday, July 20th
Crown City Rockers
9pm(8:30pm doors)

The Bay Area quintet Crown City Rockers take the stage to lay down their funky blend of Calified hip-hop. MC Raashan Ahmad’s flow shifts battle rap style to graceful poetic musings over the funky grooves laid down by keyboardist extraordinaire Kat Ouano, while Headnodic on the bass and Max bring the live fresh beats. Woodstock keeps the mix tight, dropping beats and classic soul samples that keep the music moving over their conscious mix. Expect some of their classics and new tunes from their upcoming full-length album Earthtones, which is set to drop this summer.