OK, folks, time for a quick episode of "Telling Tales Out of Church:" In the early aughts, my best friend lived in L.A., and one night casually told me that his roommate was dating none other than Giorgio Moroder. After I flipped out and expressed my enthusiasm for Moroder's work, said friend confided that apparently, the electronic pioneer had been feeling depressed about his career and the looming notion that his innovations to music weren't widely recognized. (In 2003, this was true.)
Fast-forward to 2015, and Moroder has little reason to mope -- he's since been elevated as a demigod of his field, one who blazed the trail for nearly every techno and house producer to follow. In perhaps the height of modern honor, he appeared on Daft Punk's number-one selling Random Access Memories as a collaborator and in a (frankly bizarre!) extended interview about his work, smack-dab in the middle of the album.
He's also got a new release himself, Deja Vu, and his DJ set this weekend is sure to attract those enamored of his '70s productions ("I Feel Love"), his '80s film scores (Electric Dreams), his '90s samples (DJ Shadow's "Organ Donor") and beyond. Details here, and don't miss his in-person signing the next day at Amoeba.
And if a mustachioed Italian disco producer isn't your thing? Never fear -- there are more top live music picks below.
Friday, Dec. 4: Heron Oblivion at the Conservatory of Flowers. It's been 10 years since I last visited the Conservatory of Flowers, when the infamous "corpse flower" had just started to bloom. Standing in a long line of visitors, in 2005, I chatted with with other visitors who, like me, had attended the Conservatory as children on field trips -- and then never bothered to return. At the Conservatory this week, another special event beckons older visitors: an indie-rock show. Following the lead of the Academy of Sciences and their NightLife series featuring live bands, the Conservatory hosts the bands Extra Classic and Heron Oblivion performing among the stamens and pistils. It's an entirely unique atmosphere for a show, and presumably, the band members smell better than the dreaded Amorphophallus titanum. Details here.
Saturday, Dec. 5: Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine at Slim's. Every time I came across the slate of challengers to Ed Lee in this year's mayoral election, I couldn't help but think how polite and staid they appeared compared to the joyous memory of Jello Biafra's 1979 mayoral candidacy. Running on a platform that included -- among other things -- auctioning off city positions on the steps of City Hall and forcing all businessmen to wear clown suits, the Dead Kennedys frontman actually managed a fourth-place showing. As provocative as ever, Biafra is a local treasure who still has a rapier sense of satire. Details here.
Saturday, Dec. 5: Ezra Furman at the Arlene Francis Center. A former punk kid who discovered Bob Dylan and Paul Westerberg and started writing songs of his own, Ezra Furman peddles in a catchy combination of urgency and confession. The Chicagoan channels Rufus-Wainwright-as-produced-by-Phil-Spector on songs like "Lousy Connection," and then breaks your heart on revealing songs about anxiety and depression like "Walk on in Darkness" and "I Wanna Destroy Myself." Captivating and honest, Furman is -- and hopefully always will be -- a teenager at heart. His show in Santa Rosa, in a former flour mill, should be a nicely intimate affair. Details here, and those in SF can see him the next night at the Rickshaw Stop.
Saturday, Dec. 5: Kendrick Scott Oracle at SFJAZZ. In the Bay Area, we have Berkeley High and its world-renowned jazz program; in Houston, there's the Houston High School for the Performing Arts, which has produced such jazz luminaries as Eric Harland, Robert Glasper and Jason Moran. Drummer Kendrick Scott comes from the same school, and possesses the same imaginative talent, as evidenced on his latest album We are the Drum. His band at SFJAZZ this week also includes pianist Taylor Eigsti, a headliner in his own right who's outgrown his young-prodigy status to become a thrilling player. Scott's group plays two shows in the small Joe Henderson Lab; details here.
Sunday, Dec. 6: Encuentro del Campo Popular at the Chapel. Now in its 34th year, this celebration of Latino music and culture builds on the recent U.S. agreement with Cuba for a lineup of Caribbean flavor. Musical acts include the John Santos Sextet with guest Roberto Hernandez, La Mecánica Popular, and the 10-piece group Soltrón SF. DJ Leydis spins between sets. Details here.
Monday, Dec. 7: K. Flay at the Ritz. After graduating from Stanford in 2007, Kristine Flaherty rode a familiar music-industry roller coaster. She got picked up by RCA in a major-label deal, was summarily dropped, started a crowdfunding campaign for her debut album Life as a Dog, and successfully parlayed grassroots support into opening for the likes of Snoop Dogg and Passion Pit. She makes a hometown stop in San Jose in the middle of a buzzed-about world tour -- the ultimate revenge. Details here.