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Tuning into the City

The Best Shows for January

Welcome to the New Year! With the all the advances of the world wide interweb, it has been said that as our world incrementally increases its rate of information digestion, our ability to appreciate and experience life is gradually diminishing. Well ain’t that a kick in the head or at the very least a Facebook super poke? So where does that leave us? In the end, all we have are our personal songs of freedom, these become our redemption songs. So here are few of the great acts transmitting that live vibe across the city with real music made by real people that allows us to break out of our everyday cage and experience life live.

1. Pharaoh Sanders
Thursday – Sunday, January 3rd - 6th
Yoshi’s San Francisco
Shows: 8pm & 10pm
$24 - $30
http://www.sfstation.com/yoshis-san-francisco-b24266901

For an amazing way to start off the New Year, catch a few sets of Pharaoh Sanders at Yoshi’s in SF’s newly revitalized Fillmore district. Pharaoh Sanders possesses one of the most distinctive tenor saxophone sounds in jazz. Earning his chops playing in John Coltrane's ensembles of the mid-60s, Pharaoh’s sound can ride that free jazz vibe from raw to the harmonically cooked; rich and heavy with overtones of Ornette Coleman, who once described Pharaoh as "probably the best tenor player in the world." For this exclusive run at Yoshi’s he will be joined by William Henderson on piano and Joe Farnsworth on drums.

2. Social Distortion
Friday, January 4th - Tuesday, January 8th
The Fillmore
Doors: 8pm, Show 9pm
$30
http://www.sfstation.com/the-fillmore-b265

Then to get your rock and roll fix, Social Distortion rolls into SF for a 4-night stand at the Fillmore. These hardcore holdouts give new meaning to hard honky tonk. Front man Mike Ness set Social D apart from the slew of punk bands to emerge from L.A. during the early 80s with one of the best west coast punk albums ever: Mommy's Little Monster. But it wasn’t until after Mike’s stint in the clink and their subsequent 90s comeback with Social Distortion (1990) and Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell (1991) that they really took flight. These were the records that established Social Distortion as spokespersons for modern day rebels without a cause (but with a clue).

3. Recliner
Friday, January 11th
Café du Nord
Doors: 8:30pm, Show 9:30pm
$10
http://www.sfstation.com/cafe-du-nord-b545

This Friday night Recliner headlines the Café du Nord to celebrate the release of their highly anticipated 3rd CD After the Fog with supporting acts, Smith Point and We are Invisible. Taking one out of Prince’s playbook, they are offering a free CD with each paid admission -- take that soundsscan! Recliner is an SF based quartet playing contagious, danceable rock, a la The Pixies/Cheap Trick/Social Distortion. Their previous records have spanned singles that have been featured on MTV’s reality shows and ESPN’s video games. Their catchy high-energy live set should heat things up at the du Nord. Be sure to get there on time to catch the hard-rocking sister act We are Invisible.

4. The Mermen
Saturday, January 19th
The Independent
Doors: 8:30pm, Show 9pm
$15
http://www.sfstation.com/the-independent-b274

Appearing live with the exclusive premiere of Grant Washburn's surf film: Quest For Fear, the SF-based Mermen are one of the more creative bands to emerge from the surf music revival. They race between high-octane surf anthems and spaced-out blasts of reverb-drenched psychedelia. Their live shows have developed a cult following that has broadened their appeal beyond the traditional surf music aficionados. They play a much more extreme brand of surf music; the trebly turbulent and reverb-soaked chord moods of guitarist Jim Thomas are like a rough ride on the icy seas of the Mavericks.

Surfer/Filmmaker Grant Washburn's film Quest for Fear takes us on a seven-year journey to catch the Ultimate Wave. It features 60-minutes of massive swells, incredible surfing, and radical stories you won't see anywhere else.

5. Pants, Pants, Pants
Wednesday, January 23rd
The Independent
Doors: 8:30pm, Show 9pm
$8
http://www.sfstation.com/bottom-of-the-hill-b1337


For those looking for fun SF-indie quirky dance-pop, Pants, Pants, Pants hit the stage at Bottom of the Hill with Portland’s The Shaky Hands bringing down their northwest grunge to headline the show. PPP’s bring their playful electrocknic pop and engaging live show to the stage with a sound recalling an early upbeat Stereolab with a much better sense of humor. This trio makes the most of customized electronics from modified kiddy toys and an Atari 5600 to create a unique sound as if the Pixies were covering Björk and Beck songs. For those looking for a real treat as nominated by The Owl Mag's online music video contest, check out their myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/pantspantspants for 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!

6. Au Revoir Simone
Saturday, January 26th
The Independent
Doors: 8:30pm, Show 9pm
$12
http://www.sfstation.com/the-independent-b274


When Peewee Herman uttered that famous line, "Au Revoir Simone" who would have thunk it would have been picked up by a trio of Brooklyn beauties with a love of 80s synth pop, retro keyboards and drum machines? Now coming stateside after a European tour supporting AIR, Au Revoir Simone has been garnering critical acclaim for the recent release of their 2nd record, The Bird of Music. They reached mass market after their song, "Through the Backyards", was played on an episode of the cloying "Grey's Anatomy". Picking up where Saint Etienne and Stereolab left off, Au Revoir Simone humanizes the burbling, pinging sound of the early 80s with their beautiful and soaring harmonies. This will be their first appearance back in the Bay Area since their captivating set at the Treasure Island Music Festival.