Winter Music Fest Preview

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IndieFest-ivities start a week early this year, with a decidedly musical twist. The 12th Annual San Francisco Independent Film Festival kicks off on February 4, 2010, but film festival organizers and Talking House Records are taking over a few Bay Area venues beginning January 29th -- TONIGHT -- for the Winter Music Fest. The Fest features forty-three mostly-local bands in eleven shows over seven days, with a number of events well worth checking out.

One always expects bands to get poppier as they age, losing the edges that made them initially compelling as they seek wider audiences. SF trio Tempo No Tempo recently did exactly the opposite, eschewing two EPs' worth of melodic dance rock for a more experimental and dissonant bent on Waking Heat. Tyler McCauley's vocals still possess a Dischord-reminiscent mix of earnest and anthemic traits on the full length, anchored in a rhythm-heavy feel that benefits from some left-field noises and dub-inspired effects. The band will be at Bottom of the Hill on Wednesday, February 3rd, with Fighting the Villain, The Hot Toddies, and The Downer Party.

Luke Franks Or The Federalists is an unwieldy name, but there's nothing unwieldy about the band's latest album The Way We Ran. Franks is something of a prolific songwriter, whose East Bay-based band The Federalists released a few albums in the late '00s before a personnel overhaul made the new moniker more indicative of his central role in the proceedings. The bandleader is nothing if not versatile, shifting from song to song between touchstones like modern rock, classic R&B and alt-country, but there's uniformly clean production throughout. Franks and band will be at Bottom of the Hill on Monday, February 1st, with Scene of Action, The Hundred Days and Please Do Not Fight.

There's also a heck of a show on Tuesday, February 2 at Thee Parkside. Oakland/SF trio Grand Lake seem to be perpetually evolving (probably the way it should be, right?), and the band's recent Louise EP finds them exploring mathy, feedback-layered indie rock, with a couple of originals seated alongside Silver Jews and Port O'Brien covers. The band is playing alongside Sacramento/SF quartet Two Sheds, who mix drowsy, textured folk-rock with the commanding vocals of Caitlin Gutenberger. Also performing are post-punk-inspired Fake Your Own Death and folk-pop duo Kuma/Koshka, featuring members of local bands Elephone and The Botticellis, respectively.

The full lineup for the Winter Music Fest can be found at, where you can also purchase advanced tickets and festival badges.


Ben Van Houten is the Programming Director for The Bay Bridged.