The San Francisco indie-pop band French Cassettes deal in short, compact bursts of guitar-slathered joy that instantly elevate the mood of the room; if the Strokes traveled back in time and recorded a younger, tighter prequel to Is This It, it would neatly resemble French Cassettes' latest full-length, Gold Youth. While we're on the subject of time travel, the band hosts a two-night stand at Amnesia subtitled Back to Back to the Future, capitalizing on the mythical DeLorean's trip to 2015 and hosting different opening bands each night. Thursday's lineup includes Oh, Rose and Spooky Mansion, while Friday brings Jr. and Summer Peaks. And at just seven bucks—Great Scott!—the door charge is nicely out of its time, too. Details and ticket information here.
X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story)
Playwright KJ Sanchez and collaborator Jenny Mercein (the daughter of former NFL running back Chuck Mercein) take a hard-but-tender look at the players who risk injury for our entertainment—and the people who love them. Starring former 49ers great Dwight Hicks, Berkeley Rep’s commissioned world-premiere docudrama is based on interviews with football players, their families and fans.
Details and ticket information here.
Nels Cline & Julian Lage
As the secret weapon in the band Wilco for the past 11 years, Nels Cline is the brighter luminary in this inspired cross-generational duo. But fellow guitarist Julian Lage, still in his mid-20s, is quickly attracting attention beyond his New York City homebase, where he's lived for the past five years. Raised among the redwoods in Santa Rosa, Lage was the definition of a child prodigy in the late 1990s, studying Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino while his grade-school classmates were listening to the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. Years later, upon playing together for the first time, he and Cline immediately shared a musical intuition that's on display in their recent album of duets, titled Room. Details and ticket information here.
Montreal has become a hotbed of indie "it" bands as of late, what with the rise of Arcade Fire, Chromeo, Majical Cloudz, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Grimes. But the Canadian city boasts one of the most promising young early-music ensembles of the moment, as well. Pallade Musica, comprised of Tanya LaPerrière, Elinor Frey, Esteban La Rotta and Mylène Bélanger, has already received raves in newspapers from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to the New York Times; this week, they show the West Coast what all the fuss is about. From the sonatas of Dario Castello to Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s “Mystery Sonatas” for violin, the program traverses the 17th century, including works by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Dietrich Buxtehude and more. In San Francisco, the group performs at the Church of the Advent—essentially the birthplace, almost 40 years ago, of the San Francisco Early Music Society. Details and ticket information here.
The almighty comedy festival Sketchfest returns, and its lineup is excellent as usual. A Spinal Tap reunion with Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean; The Best Show hosts Scharpling & Wurster (pictured); "Weird" Al Yankovic in conversation with Chris Hardwick; salutes to film favorites like But I'm a Cheerleader, The Princess Bride, Better Off Dead; and comedians and musicians galore, including Penn & Teller, Maya Rudolph, Bill Nye, Natasha Lyonne, John Hodgman, Kristen Schaal, Janeane Garofolo, John Darnielle, Margaret Cho, Bob Mould and many, many more.
Details and ticket information here.
She stares into the camera with a hard-fought conviction, a jacket slung over her shoulder by fragile hands that seem to burrow into her chest—indeed, her very heart. This is the Patti Smith that was introduced to the world in a famous Robert Mapplethorpe photograph on the cover of one of rock's boldest debut albums, Horses, and now, almost 40 years later, Smith remains just as fiercely exploring and poetic as ever. Smith peppers her shows with clarinet solos and poetry recitation, and—yes—her famous take on Van Morrison's "Gloria." Details and ticket information here.