R.I.P. When The Lights Go Down In The City
November 2004 - September 2007
It was SFist's first editor Jackson West who asked me to write a music column back in '04 and he also came up with the name of it. I thought, it's SF-related and a quote from a Journey song - perfect! For the past three years my aim has been to tell you about the music in San Francisco that I like and hopefully expose you to stuff you've never heard. And so you could actually hear and enjoy the music instead of just reading about it, I tried to give away a CD or tickets each week. You've noticed by now that I've broken out using the royal "we". I figured I could break the rules since this is the last post I'll write for SFist. I'm moving away from San Francisco, back home to Austin, Texas, which is probably the only reason I'd stop writing for this incredible site.
It's bittersweet for me to leave San Francisco, especially since we have such an amazing music scene. I've lived in Manhattan and Austin, two stellar cities for music, but San Francisco has hands down the most impressive offering of concert venues of any city I know. From fancy to grimy, cramped to echoing, from headlining to up-and-coming, San Francisco has the perfect venue for any performance. My personal favorite is the Great American Music Hall with its warm acoustics, intimate character, unobstructed views, and an entire backstage world downstairs where I've run into old friends and made new ones. Cafe Du Nord and Bottom of the Hill are also close to my heart since they often host bands that are on the brink of getting bigger. And then there are the venues like Bimbo's and Saratoga's Mountain Winery which are unlike any others you'll ever visit, and incredile patrons of the arts like the folks behind Noise Pop, Popscene and the free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Combine all that with San Francisco's proximity to Los Angeles, and it means that almost every tour comes through here, often on the first go round when bands are poised to break (or break down). It would take too long to name all the great music coming out of the bay area, from John Vanderslice and his Tiny Telephone studio to bands earning their chops at the Hotel Utah or Hemlock (like one of my favorites, Birds & Batteries) to acts like Two Gallants who are now away on tour more than they are at home. Then there's the indie labels, photographers, promoters, Amoeba!, innovative technology...San Francisco does a tremendous amount to support talent, creativity and ideas, even if there's nowhere to park your tour van.
This all makes for a phenomenal mix of musical opportunity - whether you're an artist or an audience member, please don't take it for granted! There are amazing performances going on almost every night of the week and it's my greatest wish that you all go out and enjoy them.