Picks of the week: Combat the back-to-school blues

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UC Berkeley students start classes this Wednesday, but luckily there’s still plenty of fun in store. Back-to-school season can be a bittersweet time — the good news is that you can make the most of your first week back with this mix of San Francisco and on-campus events, including concerts, film screenings and performance group auditions.

Tuesday, Aug. 22 — Swans at The Independent

Swans is an experimental rock band from New York City. Formed in the ‘80s, the group has been known to produce over-10-minute post-punk overtures, ripe with near-fearsome intensity. With Joy Division and Sonic Youth as early musical contemporaries, Swans developed a no-wave sound that has returned with its reformation in 2010. Swans’ latest album, The Glowing Man, released last year, delivers the band’s noted atmospheric instrumentals. This Tuesday, Swans will be performing at The Independent in San Francisco, following cellist and performance artist Okkyung Lee as its opener. The show is 21 and up, and tickets can be purchased here for $35.

Wednesday, Aug. 23 — Double Feature of “Monterey Pop” and “Easy Rider” at Castro Theatre

On the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop festival and the Summer of Love, the historic Castro Theatre will be presenting a double feature of “Monterey Pop” and “Easy Rider” on Wednesday night. “Monterey Pop” is a documentary directed by D.A. Pennebaker. Filmed at the festival in ‘67 and released in ‘68, the film allows its audience to relive the energy of the festival as well as acts by music legends Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Ravi Shankar, Jefferson Airplane and The Mamas & the Papas — and yes, it includes the epic moment that Hendrix burned his guitar.

“Easy Rider,” on the other hand, is a narrative film that takes some of its formal techniques from documentary in order to maximize dramatic impact. Directed by Dennis Hopper, the film stars Peter Fonda and Hopper himself as motorcycle hippies. Widely considered a touchstone in counterculture films, “Easy Rider” is the perfect partner to “Monterey Pop.” Castro Theatre will be showing both films twice, once at 3:30 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. (“Monterey Pop” will begin at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and “Easy Rider” will begin at 5:05 p.m. and 8:35 p.m.). Tickets are $12 for both films.

Friday, Aug. 25 — SUPERB’s Welcome Week Concert

Each year, UC Berkeley’s nonprofit entertainment organization SUPERB Productions (Student Union Program, Entertainment, and Recreation Board) hosts a Getting Your Bearings concert to welcome incoming freshman and returning students to campus for the coming semester. Past artists have included synth-pop producer-musician Toro y Moi and Oakland local turned international R&B/hip-hop/pop star Kehlani. SUPERB has hosted campus concerts for students featuring Allah-Lahs, Alex G, Built to Spill, Twin Peaks, BADBADNOTGOOD, Thundercat, Shamir and Lil B in recent years. SUPERB also hosts comedy shows, film screenings and game nights, among other fun campus events — some of which will inevitably pop up in the first weeks of classes, so keep your eyes peeled! The name of the Welcome Week artist will be announced this Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Saturday, Aug. 26 — Idina Menzel at Zellerbach Hall

Idina Menzel is an absolute legend in the theater community — her Tony-nominated work in “Rent” and “If/Then” would be impressive in its own right, but Menzel is best known in the Broadway community for her Tony award-winning portrayal of Elphaba in “Wicked.” Her unforgettable mezzo-soprano belt also makes an appearance in “Frozen,” in which she voiced Elsa. When she performs at Zellerbach Hall this Saturday at 8 p.m., audiences can expect to experience the full breadth of her repertoire, which will likely range from her Broadway work to covers of mainstream music to pieces from “Frozen.” Tickets starting at $65 can be purchased through the Zellerbach Hall box office.

Sunday, Aug. 27 — Main Stacks Auditions at Haas Pavilion (Aug. 26 – Sept. 1)

Campus urban dance troupe Main Stacks will be holding auditions starting August 26 and finishing Sept. 1 this fall. From 5-8 p.m. Aug. 26 and 2-5 p.m. on Aug. 27, veteran Main Stacks dancers will be hosting mandatory “Teach Days” for auditioning hopefuls to learn the choreography of the pieces they’ll audition to officially Sept. 1 from 5-10 p.m. — when the candidates will perform for the Main Stacks Family and vie for a place on the team. Main Stacks is a high-intensity competitive urban dance team, having placed at Prelude NorCal, Breakthrough and Complex, and having performed at World of Dance: Los Angeles as well as Fusion Dance Competition in recent years.

Sophie-Marie Prime is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Shannon O’Hara is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].