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The Berkeley music scene: a breakdown from your summertime disc jockey

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JUNE 22, 2015

Sweaty from all of that commuting to and from your summer internship, job, classes or daily CREAM “appointment”? How about getting sweatier in a way that’s far more enjoyable than trying to cram onto a BART train during rush hour?

Modern Life is War @ 924 Gilman Street, June 26 ($16):

On a musical history tour of Berkeley, 924 Gilman Street is a necessary first stop. Begun in 1986, Gilman holds true to the all-ages, no-drugs, just-punk vibes on which it was built: Its house rules are still “no drugs, no alcohol, no violence, no racism.” Apart from being a seriously cool, atmospheric venue (the building is essentially a black box with a bunch of cool graffiti on the walls), Gilman is where bands such as Green Day got their start. The DIY spirit and inclusivity is classic Berkeley, and Gilman has been a second home to many Berkeley kids trying to find their place since its founding nearly 30 years ago.

Culture Club @ the Greek Theatre, July 25 ($130+):

The Greek Theatre hosts quite a bit more than just the Big Game bonfire and other Cal-sponsored events. Adele, the Grateful Dead and Talking Heads have all played there, and president Woodrow Wilson addressed UC Berkeley students in 1919 at the theater. About 100 years later, Culture Club (yep, “karma karma karma karma cha-meeeell-eon” Culture Club) will be playing there July 25. If you’re still kind of pissed that you came of age in the ’00s and not the ’80s — and you have more than $100 to spend on a single ticket — this rockin’ good time is the one for you.

Chaz Bundick @ Rickshaw Stop, June 30 ($10-12), and Thee Oh Sees @ the Chapel, July 14-16 ($18-20):

Across the the bay is that great outcropping of land with even greater music venues — also known as San Francisco. If you’re into indie rock and pop, these two venues will suit your fancy: Rickshaw Stop and the Chapel. Both venues are intimate spaces that host smaller crowds — Rickshaw’s capacity is 400, the Chapel’s 450 — and house bands that are on the cusp of “getting big.” (I saw Bastille at Rickshaw in the summer of 2013, which was great, except Dan Smith had lost his voice.) At Rickshaw, the standout is the piano. If you can snag it, you’ve got an unparalleled view of the band and a comfy seat (as well as a place to put the drink you bought totally legally). At the Chapel, the roof is the highlight: Vaulted and arched like an actual chapel, it’s not something you’d see at a Kate Nash concert every day. See San Francisco native Thee Oh Sees hit the Chapel mid-July and Berkeley’s Chaz Bundick of Toro Y Moi dropping a DJ set at Rickshaw at the end of June.

Death Grips @ the Fillmore, July 25 ($26):

For a bigger capacity of 1,100 — and often bigger bands — don’t miss the Fillmore, a venue where psychedelic music and rising counterculture arguably found their focus in the ’60s, with shows such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Velvet Underground & Nico, and Pink Floyd holding court there. The light shows and famous purple chandeliers are spectacular, and if you’re a fan of the polarizing hip-hop group Death Grips, be sure to check out its show when it plays here in July.

Elvis Depressedly/Mitski @ Bottom of the Hill, June 30 ($12):

Lastly, one of my favorite places on Earth (and definitely my favorite in San Francisco) — Bottom of the Hill. Seriously, if raucous rock is your religion, this is your church. The friendliest bartenders (who do a free coat check), the loveliest smoking patio out back with a window to the stage so that you can groove and smoke simultaneously, a canteen that will even serve you hot chips — all of these combined make the Hill one of the best venues in the Bay Area. Its size is beautifully intimate, and it has featured bands from the “made it” category (Palma Violets, Arcade Fire, the Strokes) to bands that your roommate probably plays in. Elvis Depressedly, along with Mitski, is playing at the Hill at the end of June. If you’re into lo-fi/dream pop, Elvis Depressedly could be your band of the summer.


Contact Tyler Allen at [email protected].

JUNE 22, 2015

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