San Francisco's Music Scene

From Sly & the Family Stone to the Dead to Journey, San Francisco has always cultivated wildly diverse musical acts, but now electro-folk innovators, punk songwriters, and free-spirited rockers have come together to form the area's first cohesive scene since the days of the Dead Kennedys, Flipper, and Green Day.

Photographs, from left: Josh Sansweri, Oliver Lopena, Flickr, Raimund Koch/Getty Images, Kristie Shanley, Flickr

From Sly & the Family Stone to the Dead to Journey, San Francisco has always cultivated wildly diverse musical acts, but now electro-folk innovators, punk songwriters, and free-spirited rockers have come together to form the area's first cohesive scene since the days of the Dead Kennedys, Flipper, and Green Day. A cluster of cool venues and festivals are fueling the explosion—and making fans wonder why they weren't paying attention to the Bay city sooner.

Matt Hendrickson

THE ACTS:

Sholi

These avant-rockers—who released their self-titled debut in February—take cues from genre-defying legends Tortoise, mixing knotty minor-chord meanderings with euphoric guitar thrash. (sholi.com)

Sleepy Sun

Originally from Santa Cruz, this sextet carry the SF psych-rock torch, with a sound that shifts from thundering Sabbath riffs to wistful piano soul. (sleepysun.net)

Hottub

The Bay Area's premier party starters, this trio of spandex-clad ladies bump and grind over hip-hop beats while spewing zany, racy rhymes like "When I was sixteen/ Lost my cherry to a boy named Barry/ Shot me with his gun like Dirty Harry." (myspace.com/hottub94608)

THE VENUES:

Li Po Lounge

Once you find this Chinatown dive, head to the basement, where local punk bands share stage time with rappers for an atmosphere that's like the ultimate college kegger. (916 Grant Ave., 415-982-0072)

Hemlock Tavern

The Hemlock is an old-timey bar in front and a renovated music space in back, hosting three acts—from local garage bands to Aussie imports—a night. (1131 Polk St., 415-923-0923; hemlocktavern.com)

Rickshaw Stop

At this kitschy spot, you can nosh on a corn dog, suck down PBR, and groove to national up-and-comers, like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, or local electro-house spinners. (155 Fell St., 415-861-2011; rickshawstop.com)

THE FESTIVALS

Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival

If you're going to see the Beastie Boys this summer, do so at this fest at Golden Gate Park, which kicked off last year with a mind-blowing Radiohead set. (outsidelandssf.com, August 28-30)

Treasure Island Music Festival

A mini-Coachella with palm-tree-lined island scenery, this three-year-old event is heavy on indie-rock stalwarts (the Flaming Lips) and buzz bands (Beirut). (treasureisland­festival.com, October 17-18)

Noise Pop

If you need a winter festival fix, hit this indie-rock carnival, which has the vibe of SXSW (think Bob Mould with No Age) without the wasted college kids. (noisepop.com, February 23-28, 2010)

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