Our Weekly Picks: December 19-25
"Voluspa: A Ghost Celebration for 2012"
Established belief systems may have lost their credence, but somehow we still feel the desire for connection to some kind of cosmic order, which, particularly this time of the year, invites a desire for healing the planet and those who walk, crawl, and dance on it. There is no better place to partake in this kind of experience than Dance Brigade's "Voluspa: A Ghost Dance for 2012," particularly if you stay the second night to celebrate the onset of Winter Solstice and the survival of the Mayan calendar prophecy. In the world premiere of "Voluspa," Krissy Keefer digs deep into mythologies from around the globe. The evenings will also include, among others, performances by Danca Xitlalli, NAKA Dance Theater, and the Grrrl Brigade, in a contemporary Native American Ghost Dance. (Rita Felciano)
Also Thu/20; 7:30pm, $12–$20
Dance Mission Theater
3316, 24th St., SF
"Noir City Xmas"
Are you dreaming of a hard-boiled holiday? Join other like-minded dudes and dames at "Noir City Xmas," a double-feature of 1947's The Lady in the Lake (a Raymond Chandler adaptation famously shot entirely from the POV of detective Phillip Marlowe) and 1949's Holiday Affair, an offbeat romance between noir greats Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. Best of all, Eddie Muller and Ms. Noir City will be on hand to reveal the programming for Noir City 11, coming up Jan. 25-Feb. 3. Good to get the early line on what's playing, since Noir City — which screens everything on 35mm, and always busts out a handful of rareties and new restorations — tends to sell out like gangbusters. (Cheryl Eddy)
Holiday Affair, 7:30pm; The Lady in the Lake, 9:30pm, $10
429 Castro, SF
The Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola Duo
Likely the only musician ever to collaborate with both William S. Burroughs and Frank Ocean, Berkeley-based guitarist Charlie Hunter has built a reputation over the past 20 years as an in-demand session player, as well as a vital bandleader on his own terms. Hunter's incredible dynamic and stylistic range (shifting effortlessly between poised, tasteful jazz licks and incendiary blues/rock freakouts) is demonstrated in full force on his latest project: a collaborative effort with esteemed Bay Area drummer Scott Amendola, entitled Not Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead. Comprised solely of guitar and drums, yet remarkably dense and elaborate, the LP exposes the depth of both musicians' talent like nothing else in their respective catalogs. Expect an evening of dizzying virtuosity when the duo hits the Independent tonight. (Taylor Kaplan)
With DJ Harry Duncan
628 Divisadero, SF
GIBBSMO's Annual Holiday Craptacular
Finding decent entertainment during the holiday season isn't easy. Your mates aren't the only people who have left to visit their families — a lot of your favorite performers have bailed as well, leaving behind an empty shell of a city to drink itself alone to sleep until the New Year. Just kidding! San Francisco is chock full of performers who actually live here, and there are bound to be a few bands who wanna rock the last days of 2012 out the door. One local showcase worth looking forward to is GIBBSMO's Annual Holiday Craptacular, a benefit for the SF Food Bank, and a boon to all the music-loving, family-eschewing misanthropes who still need some way to get infused with the holiday spirit (or spirits). This year's don't miss lineup includes the Parker Brothers, Kelley Stoltz, Mark Eitzel, and X's John Doe. Also, the Makeout Room sells whiskey, so you're set. (Nicole Gluckstern)
8pm, $20 with a non-perishable food item
3225 22nd St., SF
"Any Last Words?"
It's a proven fact of science, mythology, astrology, and New Age reckoning that the world is ending Friday, Dec. 21, so you might as well spend your last night on Earth busting a gut. Stand-up comedian Trevor Hill asked 40 (!) fellow jokesters to converge on Sub-Mission Gallery, armed with "the last joke of their lives." Participants include Casey Ley, Caitlin Gill, Kevin Camia, Mike Drucker, Ben Feldman, Shanti Charan, Kaseem Bentley, and many more. Why not laugh your way into doomsday? Beats cowering in a closet clutching a shotgun and your last package of Twinkies. (Eddy)
2183 Mission, SF
"A Very Bowie Glamapocalypse"
The end of the world is approaching and you haven't ensured your eternal salvation yet? No worries, you're still welcome to get on your knees with the First Church of the Sacred Silversexual and put your soul in the hands of the Starman for a sparkling sermon on the eve of the Glamapocalypse. It's a musical spectacle dedicated to the mystery, magic, and music of David Bowie. Bringing you tunes from his early career will be a cast impersonating Major Tom, the Thin White Duke, the kids from Velvet Goldmine, and any other persona you can dream up. So get out the glitter, forget the Hail Marys, and learn your new chant: they say, "Wham! Bam!" and you reply, "thank you M'am!" (Molly Champlin)
With Coo Coo Birds, Straight-Ups
Cafe Du Nord
2170 Market, SF
120 Minutes has established itself as one of SF's most reliably compelling and exploratory club nights, shining a light on the dark, gothic recesses of electronic music that have exploded over the past few years. This Friday, the 120 crew will reign in the apocalypse with their End of the World Party, headlined by LA's NGUZUNGUZU: a Hippos In Tanks-signed laptop duo, bent on fusing the worlds of R&B, hypnagogic pop, and minimal house into a futuristic stew of beat music, as psychedelic as it is bleak and unsettling. SF's own oOoOO will open, showcasing his equally ominous take on witch house: the subgenre most often associated with dance music's plunge into the darkness. If the Mayans were right, this ought to be one helluva last night on earth. (Kaplan)
With Boychild, DJ S4NtA MU3rTE, DJ Chauncey CC
647 Valencia, SF
This silent film about a boy whose snowman comes to life and takes him on a fantastic flying journey has been a wintertime favorite in my family since as long as I can remember. The Snowman, based on the children's book by Raymond Briggs, is full of moments as detailed and expressive as aMiyazaki's movie. I've kept with me many images from it, like the headlight of the snowman's motorcycle lighting up a dark forest, or the freezerbox with green peas the boy uses to keep the snowman cold. Traditional animation done with crayon and pastel lends the sweeping landscapes a jittering, lifelike quality. With the Pacific Boychoir and San Francisco Symphony performing Howard Blake's heartening, and beautiful score, this should be a truly magical experience. (Champlin)
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness, SF
"20th Anniversary of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy"
Judy Gold gets around — she's guest-hosted The View; appeared on multiple sitcoms, dramas, and late-night talk shows; had comedy specials on LOGO, HBO, and Comedy Central; and has one of the funnier Twitter accounts out there (handle: @JewdyGold; sample tweet: "I need to go work out, but my hair looks really good. What should I do?") This Christmas, she'll be headlining the 20th annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, a milestone event that's a testament to the talents of Kung Pao founder Lisa Geduldig — promoter, programmer, and host extraordinare. Also on the bill: Scott Blakeman and Mike Capozzola, not to mention the pleasure of spending the holidays in a Chinese restaurant with like-minded celebrants. Partial proceeds benefit the Brown Twins/Jewish Family and Children's Services Emergency Assistance Fund, and the Bay Area Women's and Children's Center drop-in services and food pantry. (Eddy)
Tonight and Mon/24, 6pm (dinner show) and 9:30pm (cocktail show); Sun/23 and Tue/25, 5pm (early bird dinner show) and 9:30pm (cocktail show), $44-64
New Asia Restaurant
772 Pacific, SF
"'Twas the Night Before Sketchfest"
Can you think of better way to get into the holiday spirit than by spending an entire day laughing out loud, and celebrating some of your favorite Christmas movies? "'Twas The Night Before Sketchfest" will present just such an opportunity! Kicking off with a 10th anniversary screening of Elf, the afternoon continues with legendary Muppet puppeteer Dave Goelz appearing in person to speak about Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas, a 1977 gem that features a cast of furry and felt-covered magical creations of the Jim Henson Company. Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait will then host a screening of Scrooged, the 1988 comedy that re-told the classic "Christmas Carol" story with Bill Murray as a raving TV exec who regains the Christmas spirit; and finally, for the naughty ones, director Terry Zwigoff will be on hand for Bad Santa. Ho ho ho indeed! (Sean McCourt)
12:30pm, $10–$20; $40 for an all-day pass
429 Castro, SF
"Night Wakes Dawn"
As the year ends, join the women of Brava and children of Loco Bloco for a musical theater performance inspired by Mayan myths surrounding the events of December 21st, 2012. The original show traces the life of a brother and sister living in the Mission and plays out how their stories intersect with spirit and tradition. The performance features three parts spanning three different styles of music and dance: bachata/reggaeton, R&B experimental, and samba-house. Come for an exciting show that will bring the energy and vibrancy of Loco Bloco's Carnival performance to the stage for a more structured and symbolic performance, and a chance for spiritual reflection as we awake into a new era. (Champlin)
7pm; also Sun/23, 2pm, $10–$20
Brava Theater Center
2781 24th St., SF
So hey, how did "Giving Tuesday" go for you? Yeah, me neither. And you know why? It's because in this carrot-stick society we've come to expect a better incentive than just "everyone else is doing it." That's the beauty of benefit shows. Firstly, they benefit people we feel good about benefiting, and secondly because we get to go to a show. And Nostalgia Fest looks like it's going to be a good one. Eight old-skool, Sonoma County bands including Coffee and Donuts, Punch the Clown, and Victim's Family, reuniting for a good cause and a good time, rallying hope with hardcore, and goodwill with great jams. This year's beneficiaries are the venerable Phoenix Theater, and the vulnerable Maverick Tucker-Evjenth, whose father, local skate legend Tony Evjenth, passed away in 2011. (Gluckstern)
501 Washington, Petaluma
"An Evening with the Mermen: A Very Mermen Christmas"
A few months ago, on a podcast, comedian-author Julie Klausner offhandedly said something like, "God spare me from a twist on things." Meaning, why can't we just celebrate the holidays in a classic way? Why must there be something funky added in? That's why this Mermen event, based on the recent album, is so appealing. While yes, the Mermen are a legendary late '80s-born surf/don't-call-me-surf band (they prefer "psychedelic instrumental ocean music"), their 2012 holiday album — Do You Hear What I Hear — A Very MERMEN Christmas — is actually pretty traditional. They play the songs we know, "The Little Drum Boy," "Do You Hear What I Hear," "Silent Night," and the like, and they play them well, granted with plenty of reverb-laden surf guitar. It's not the grating cheerfulness of pop renditions, or the sentimental hooey of yore. No real funky twist here, just instrumental yuletide bliss by a trio of SF music scene vets. (Emily Savage)
333 11th St., SF
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