This Week's Picks: September 10 - 16, 2014


Particles, waves, subatomic forces



San Francisco Electronic Music Festival

One of the advantages of being the center of the tech industry is hosting a thriving scene of adventurous electronic music geeks. (Guilty!) The 15th edition of this provocative annual four-evening festival brings together artists as diverse as Sarah Davaci (gradual analog textural transformations), Joker Nies (circuit-bending and software-based experimentation), Xô Xinh (electro-acoustic improvisation), and :zoviet*france: (non-song-based UK industrial ambience). Julia Mazawa's raga-like meditative loops are created when her brain takes "the most luxurious of catnaps." Prick up your ears and eyes especially for the meeting of local synthesist Headboggle's ecstatic ragtime-derived soundscapes paired with Caitlin Denny's video mind-blows. (marke b.)

Through Sun/14, $12 per performance, $50 festival pass

Brava Theater

2781 24th St, SF




California Independent Film Festival

If its name (California Independent Film Festival) is a bit broad, and its spread of venue cities (San Francisco, Orinda...Moraga?) and choice of opening-night film (Christmas-themed) a bit odd, this 17th annual festival nonetheless looks to pack some crowd-pleasers into its four-day run. It's heavy on shorts programs, but the shining star has gotta be the Fri/12 Castro Theatre screening of To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar — the 1995 road-trip comedy in which Wesley Snipes earns his drag stripes — with the divine Ms. Newmar in person. Meow! (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Sun/14

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF


New Rheem Theatre

350 Park, Moraga

Orinda Theatre

4 Orinda Theatre Square, Orinda



Oddball Comedy Festival

Does the recent end of summer have you down? Never fear — hilarious website Funny or Die is presenting the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, which could be seen as a comedy club show on lots (and lots) of steroids. The national tour features some of the biggest names in comedy today, including Louis C.K., Chris Hardwick, Sarah Silverman, Jim Gaffigan, Whitney Cummings, Marc Maron and more. Boasting two stages, along with the Cut Throat Freak Show — a roaming band of performers — along with food and drink, the festival is sure to provide a side-splittingly funny and entertaining day. (Sean McCourt)

5pm, $35-$99.75

Shoreline Amphitheatre

1 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View

(800) 745-3000




Mary Armentrout's fantasia

Looking at its title, fantasia upon the moment when the woman invisible to herself and the man who isn't sure whether he wants to exist yet or not decide to go in on an apartment together, it would fair to think that choreographer Mary Armentrout has a tendency towards long-windedness. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, Armentrout works on slippery ground where you are never quite sure what the next moment will bring. Choreographically, that means an organic use of the theatrical language — music, dance, space, design and time — that is at both rigorous and highly individual. fantasia builds on one of Armentrout's key concern — identity as an ongoing process that fluidly constructs and remakes our sense of self. Here she takes the idea one step further, examining a longtime relationship that is defined by love — whatever that is. (Rita Felciano)

Mary Armentrout Dance Theater

Sept. 11, 10pm; Sept 12 and 13, 8pm and 10pm; $25

Z Space

450 Florida St., SF

(866) 811-4111



Legacy Film Festival on Aging

Films about elderly people often include one or more of the following: sappily sentimental themes, "cute" stuff like old people gangster rapping, or Maggie Smith. (Television shows are a different story. Three words: The Golden Girls.) Though one could do worse than Dame Maggie, one could do a lot better overall at the Legacy Film Festival on Aging, which packs an array of docs and narratives from around the world into its three-day run. The extraordinary characters (real and written) contained within include female fly-fishers, gray-haired hockey players, sassy fashionistas, grandmotherly scholars, and an 89-year-old cake maker. (Eddy)

Through Sun/14, $12 (all-fest pass, $50)

New People Cinema

1746 Post, SF



Non Stop Bhangra 10-Year Anniverary

Until Non Stop Bhangra came along, the festive party scene of the Bay Area's Indian community took place largely in rented halls and backyards. Ten years ago, DJ Jimmy Love and Vicki Virk and her dholrhythms dance crew moved all that raucous beauty into the clubs, and introduced the irresistible Punjabi bhangra beat (and some Bollywood glamour) to a wider audience — and helped welcome a new wave of subcontinental immigrants. "We couldn't have survived ten years in a city like this without the love and support of the community," says Love. This blowout celebrates a decade of dazzling music, huge guest stars, live percussion, and unique local flavor, featuring Mista Chatman, Mandeep Sethi, DJ Scorpio, and many more. Throw your arms up and whirl. (marke b.)

9pm-3am, $15-$20

Public Works

161 Erie, SF




Reggie Watts at Tour de Fat

It's always a good time when New Belgium Brewing Company brings its bicycle-themed Tour de Fat into Golden Gate Park, where attendees can swig Fat Tires (with proceeds benefitting the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Bay Area Ridge Trail Council) while taking in the circus-style entertainment, trying out a mutated ride in the bike rodeo, or joining the costumed bike parade. But this year, the entertainment will really be something special with headliner Reggie Watts. Yes, that's right, Reggie fucking Watts: part singer, part comedian, part live-looping beatboxer, totally unique. And the cost for seeing such an amazing performer? Free. Oh yeah, and if you're finally ready to go car-free, you can donate your automobile on the spot, pledge to go car-free for at least a year, and you may win the grand prize of $2,250. So pedal on down, grab a pint or three, settle into a nice spot on the grass, and we'll see you there. (Steven T. Jones)

11-12pm bike parade; Noon-5pm entertainment; free

Lindley Meadow, Golden Gate Park




Dances of the Sacred and Profane

A physicist, a choreographer, a sound engineer, and a media artist walk over to a bar. At the bar are five dancers. Or are they particles? Waves? Subatomic forces? Cast through a set of highly sophisticated scientific and artistic lenses, they might be all of the above. Such is the insight and terrain of Dances of the Sacred and Profane, an ambitious, visually and aurally engrossing collaboration among choreographer Mark Foehringer's Dance Project|SF, internationally acclaimed visual/media artist Camille Utterback, Stanford sound artist and engineer Michael St. Clair, and Royal Society Research Fellow David Glowacki, whose "danceroom Spectroscopy" (dS) hardware/software system provides the basis for a real-time graphic and aural atomic simulation of human movement — dramatically realized on three 16-foot screens and through a volatile soundscape of classical scores and found sounds. The show reopens Fort Mason's newly retrofitted and technically spruced-up Cowell Theater. (Robert Avila)

Through Sun/14, also Sept. 18 through 21; all shows at 8pm except Sun/14 and Sun/21 at 3pm

$18.50 - $28.50

Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center

Marina and Buchanan, SF



Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival

With a name that is among the most synonymous in the world for delicious chocolate, Ghirardelli has been making tasty treats in San Francisco since 1852 — a longstanding tradition that has been joined in recent years by the annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, a two-day fete where visitors can sample a wide variety of scrumptious confections from both the famous host company, along with more than 50 other vendors and producers. A variety of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and live entertainment is also on tap for this sweet event that benefits Project Open Hand. (Sean McCourt)

Through Sun/14, Noon-5pm, $20-$50

Ghirardelli Square

900 North Point, SF

(415) 775-5500




Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge

The only thing better than having an excuse to throw back multiple Manhattans on a Sunday night? Those cocktails being created and served up by robots. That's right, the future has arrived, and it looks like — well, each contender is pretty unique, from the smartphone-driven Bartendro to the LEGO-tastic Tipsy Train to the P.A.C. 2.0: "A robotic Tupac Shakur tribute!" Robot enthusiasts, start your engines; there's still time to participate. And drinkers? Just show up and prepare to be served, while the bartenders are judged on style and grace, efficiency of intoxication, and effort put into robotics, with extra credit given for "terrible ideas and Mad Science." Wish high school physics had been like that. (Emma Silvers)

5pm-midnight (contest at 9:30pm)

$10-$12, admission includes two robot drink chips

DNA Lounge

375 11th St, SF

(415) 626-1409

34th Annual Comedy Day

Margaret Cho, Nato Green, Will Durst, and more than three dozen other comedians will converge in Golden Gate Park for this annual tradition, which is dedicated this year to the memory of Robin Williams (who performed at this non-profit party many a time). There's only one stage, so there's no need for festival-style FOMO, and the whole damn thing's PG-13 and free — so bring the family, sit back, and make some guesses about who this year's "very special guests" could be. You'll also be treated to the Bay Area Stand-up Comedy Legend Award, presented this year to improv legend Diane Amos, who's likely to make you laugh your ass off as well (just like Williams would have wanted you to). (Silvers)

Noon to 5:30pm, free

Sharon Meadow, Kezar and JFK, Golden Gate Park, SF

(415) 820-1570



Creators of severely catchy, mostly-instrumental grooves, and known for their quirky YouTube videos, the members of Vulfpeck describes themselves simply as a "half-Jewish, German-American rhythm section." Whatever you call it, the band's obvious sense of humor is matched by a loose attitude and songs that are endlessly and effortlessly funky; those on the new EP, Fugue State, live up to this reputation quite well — and are enjoying a new level of attention thanks to fans gained through Vulfpeck's schtick-y silent album, Sleepify, basically a middle finger to Spotify for short-changing artists. This is a free show, thanks to that "record," so there's really no excuse not to turn up and get down.

9pm, free

Brick & Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission, SF

(415) 800-8782


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