Bay Area beats for June 21-27

The Carolina Chocolate Drops. Photo by Julie Roberts.


Bay Area Beats

Above: “Hit ‘Em Up Style” by the Carolina Chocolate Drops

If you've got $15 in fun money for the week, have no fear, there are plenty of affordable shows between now and payday. However, if you can spare a little extra cash, you’ll be happily rewarded as some bigger name acts grace the Bay Area with their presence. Here are your live-show picks for the week…

Out of Towners

The female, British duo Peggy Sue kicks off a week of stellar shows at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco this Monday. After a few world tours and three EPs under their belt, the group just released their first full length album entitled Fossils and Other Phantoms. With upbeat guitar and piano arrangements (often with quirky accompaniment by accordions, bells and odd forms of percussion), Rosa Rex and Katy Klaw sing witty but always sincere songs of love and love lost.

I saw Peggy Sue perform a free show at Rasputin Music in Berkeley this past October. Acting under the assumption that everyone loved this group as much as I do, I showed up early to get a good spot. This proved unnecessary as I was clearly the only one there not just shopping for records. Which proved to be a bit awkward (Do I look at the band? Should I look at the wall?). After closing out the set, one of the singers leaned into the mic for one last goodbye: “Thank you all for coming!" she said, pointing. "…Mainly that guy.”

They're headlining Monday’s Bottom of the Hill show, so there is sure to be a bigger crowd. Nonetheless, I hope you join me (and help me feel less awkward) for another great performance from this new talent. Tickets are $12.

The California surf rock movement is coming back in style, especially among girl groups. LA’s Dum Dum Girls will bring their catchy melodies and distorted guitars to the up-and-coming Bay Area venue the New Parish in Downtown Oakland on Wednesday. Fans of Best Coast and the Raveonettes should longboard down to 18th and San Pablo to hear some great tunes at this speakeasy-like venue. Tickets are $10.

Surf rock is not the only music from the 60s and 70s that’s making a resurgence these days. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are coming to town to let you know that soul and funk are still alive and well. With song titles like, “How Do I Let a Good Man Down?” and “Aint No Chimneys in the Projects,” the 9-piece Brooklyn band is sure to tear the roof off at the Warfield this Friday (their record label warns that listeners may suffer from an “incurable dance infection”). Tickets are $23 ($33 with online service charge).


San Francisco band todayokay will open for Peggy Sue at Bottom of the Hill. The indie rock band recently released their first EP and will spend the summer touring and writing new material for their debut album. The term “indie rock” doesn’t tell you a lot these days, and I’m sure todayokay would love to avoid that broad label, so I'll tell you this much: the relatively new 6-piece band plays around with unconventional instrumentation, adding a cello and violin to their acoustic and electric guitars. Combine that with the gentle folk vocals from lead singer Matt McLean and the listener is reminded of Broken Social Scene or fellow SF group the Dodos. If you’re coming to see Peggy Sue, get there a bit early to catch this local band that has a promising future.

When I saw Tiny Television a few months ago, I was blown away by the fact that they were the first of four performers that night. I’ve often found that the first band or two in a lineup that long is not worth showing up early for. My uncharacteristic timeliness paid off big as I got the pleasure of hearing this loud but polished Americana group woo a sold-out crowd with country songs about the open road, as well as their hometown of San Francisco (they have a track entitled “16th and Valencia”). The relatively unknown but immensely talented band will play Bottom of the Hill this Thursday. Enjoy these intimate shows while you can--this band may be poised for a big breakout. Tickets are $10.


Josh Ritter is enticement enough to drive aimlessly down Geary Boulevard on a windy night in San Francisco looking for parking. The man has put out a myriad of great records and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. However, this week’s spotlight is on the opening band for his Thursday night Fillmore show: the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Hailing for North Carolina (surprise surprise), this trio has helped reintroduce black string-band and jug-band music to America. Armed with all manners of traditional folk and country instruments such as fiddles, banjos, kazoos, guitars, harmonicas and course, jugs, this band is touring in support of their latest album Genuine Negro Jig. The sensational album is a mixture of instrumental tracks, prewar traditionals and jazz tunes, original compositions and unique interpretations of contemporary songs (you can listen to their fantastic cover of the pop song “Hit ‘Em Up Style” originally by Blu Cantrell, above).

If you are even remotely a fan of bluegrass, Americana, country, early jazz and folk, or just fun, then I highly suggest you check them out. Tickets are $25 ($35 with online service charge).

If you cannot make their performance this Thursday at the Fillmore, then you can catch them at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz on Friday (tickets are $21) or the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma on Saturday (tickets are $16).

Band with the best name playing this week

Carnivorous Plants Hungry for Human Flesh wins this week’s best name contest. They’ll be playing with runner up MC MeatHook and the Vital Organs as well as seven other bands at B.R.S. in Richmond on Friday. Music starts at 6 PM.

Do you know of a great band playing in the area? You can email us at