These days, it can be tough to maintain a positive perspective on the state of the arts in the Bay Area. It seems like every day brings news of a club going under or a nonprofit getting evicted. After reading such headlines, thinking in doomsday terms for independent artists and the intimate events they throw, which make up a hugely necessary part of our arts ecosystem, becomes all too easy.
And yet. Make no mistake -- the little guys are still here. Elbo Room just got its lease renewed until 2018! Noise Pop is bringing one of the brightest young stars in hip-hop (that'd be Vince Staples) to a relatively tiny room! And our favorite independent theaters aren't going anywhere!
For those of us still living in the ever-more-expensive city, the onus is on us: If we want the little guys to keep thriving, we have to get out and support the little guys. With this responsibility in mind, here are six ways to get out around the Bay this week for $20 and under: It's this week's Cheap Date.
Friday, Dec. 11: Karaoke Underground at the Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco. Love karaoke, but perpetually-peeved that your favorite Rancid, Sleater-Kinney, and Jawbreaker songs aren't on the typical song list? This traveling punk rock and indie amateur fest should do the trick. At April's event (the first of its kind in SF), all of our usual cynicism went out the window when an impromptu group effort of eight women took the stage for Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl." Bonus: Many punk songs don't actually require you to sing very well! $5; details here.
Saturday, Dec. 12: Awesöme Orchestra Concert Party at American Steel Studios, Oakland. This nonprofit, anything-goes orchestra is open to players of all backgrounds, ages and levels, and often provides beer for its participants -- which is to say, their shows tend to be really fun. This year-end party's program includes tunes by Danny Elfman, Portishead, Leonard Bernstein, and The Lonely Island, among others. Admission is a pay-what-you-want donation to help keep this project of the Intersection for the Arts alive. Details here.
Saturday, Dec. 12: Battlehooch at Cafe Stritch, San Jose. This San Francisco psych-rock staple makes the kind of music that might have you questioning what decade you're in -- but it'd be a huge disservice to call them retro. Electronic elements, dance-pop beats, and heavy psychedelic detours abound. Details here.
Sunday, Dec. 13: Holiday Urban Air Market at Pier 70, San Francisco. Urban Air Market has been curating places for local, sustainable artists and designers to hawk their wares for the past 11 years, but this -- their first holiday show -- promises a blowout of vast, crafty proportions. More than 170 vendors will help you take care of your holiday shopping all at once, while food trucks keep your belly full and local bands like Vandella keep you grooving, should you tire of spending money. Free! Details here.
Sunday, Dec. 13: Kendra McKinley at the Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley. This San Francisco songstress has one of those voices so sneakily smooth that it resonates in your bones -- it's somewhere between a lullaby and a call to arms. Her style veers between folk and bossa nova, with an affinity for looping and other experimentation; but her vocals and an acoustic guitar make for a plenty interesting show in and of themselves. She'll play the patio during brunch at this North Bay venue. Free; details here.
Tuesday, Dec. 15: Republican Presidential Debate Viewing Party at the New Parkway, Oakland. If we have to see Donald Trump's mug on TV for the next few months, we might as well see it on the big screen -- with plenty of pizza and alcohol, surrounded by folks who just might feel like booing and hissing along with us. The fourth debate will be hosted by political blogger Imani Gandy and lawyer/political junkie Dan Roth, and feature a short set of political-themed standup comedy by local gem Karina Dobbins. $10; details here.