In this day and age, fear of missing out is one thing. Guaranteed missing out is another thing -- a reality of online ticket sales and the predatory practices of secondhand sellers. Some weeks, the best shows are sold out or close to it, and StubHub might be one's only hope. There's a 2,000-word screed waiting to be written about the evil forces behind how this unfair paradigm came to be, but for the purposes of a short intro to a basic music-preview column, let's just say: would it were not so.
This week's top live music includes a mix of good-seats-still-available and you're-gonna-have-to-pony-up. Pro tip for the sold-out shows: wait until two to three hours before the show to check secondhand listings, when sellers get desperate and prices drop dramatically.
Here are this week's live music picks.
Thursday, Nov. 19: ACS Trio at SFJAZZ Center. At post time, the trio of Geri Allen, Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lyne Carrington has very nearly sold out their show Thursday night at SFJAZZ, and understandably so. Spalding is the well-known name here, but don't expect the crossover style of her solo albums; she hands much of the reins to Allen, whose rich career includes time with Ornette Coleman and Charlie Haden, while Carrington provides an explosive base. I saw this group two years ago at the Hollywood Bowl, opening for Wayne Shorter, and they stole the show. Spalding plays three other nights with different groups in her run this week, but this is the one to see. Details here.
Friday, Nov. 20: MANSION record release at Life Changing Ministries. To the casual observer, Oakland might seem ground zero for an NPR-friendly, indie-rock-meets-world-music style. But the city's loud, abrasive underground is very much alive, evidenced by Early Life, the new album by Oakland's MANSION. A jagged, post-punk quartet with more emphasis on propulsive energy than artfulness, the band conjure the best parts of Gang of Four, LiLiPUT and the Slits and renders them as angular and raw as West Oakland itself. Tickets at the door. Details here.
Saturday, Nov. 21: Lucius at the Phoenix Theater. In 2014, Lucius visited Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, at one point dragging a single microphone out into the crowd and covering the Kinks' "Strangers," thereby entering musical lore -- people talked about the show for months afterward. This week, Lagunitas brings the band back to Petaluma as a benefit for youth programs at the Phoenix Theater, a local institution that, under the management of local hero Tom Gaffey, has literally saved many teenagers' lives. Lucius have appeared both on Conan and on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts; their dual female vocals and buoyant backing are a winning combo for a good cause. Tickets still available. Details here.
Saturday–Sunday, Nov. 21–22: Chance the Rapper at the Fox Theater and the Warfield. Selling out either the Fox or the Warfield is no small feat, but selling out both? That's Chance the Rapper for you -- Chicago's native son, whose staunchly independent path has paid off handsomely. After 2013's stellar mixtape-but-really-an-album Acid Rap, Chance turned down offers from multiple major labels; instead, he put out another free mixtape highlighting his band's jazz chops. He's also put out one of 2015's best singles, "Angels," and in concert, the man is a marvel, improvising off his live band like an instrument unto himself. If you can find a ticket, go see him. Details here.
Tuesday, Nov. 24: JoJo at Social Hall SF. This is the year of teen-girl pop star reinvention, with Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato both emerging with "brave" new albums (and identities). Not making many headlines in this noise, unfortunately, is JoJo. In 2004, at age 13, the East Coast singer scored a #1 hit with "Leave (Get Out)," making her the youngest artist with a #1 hit in the U.S. Now in her mid-twenties, JoJo has clearly spent the last 11 years refining her voice and hanging out with talented songwriters; "Say Love" is dramatic pop at its best, and "When Love Hurts" turns heartbreak into dancefloor gold. The show is sold out, but resale prices should drop in the next few days. Details here.
Wednesday, Nov. 25: Raury at the Rickshaw Stop. Chances are someone on your Facebook timeline shared a video of Raury, a young artist from Atlanta, performing "Devil's Whisper." A thunderous, gospel-meets-hip-hop meets-Taiko-drumming number, "Devil's Whisper" is probably the reason this show is sold out. Between Raury's breakout, and prolific releases by both Future and Young Thug, the city of Atlanta is basically running the rap world this year; when resale tickets dip in price as the show gets closer, see why. Details here.