LEARNING TO FLY: Twenty One Pilots play the SAP Center in February. It’s just one of several great shows coming to town next month.
The winter months mean most concerts are relegated to indoor spaces. And in the South Bay, that can translate into fewer big-ticket shows—since Shoreline Amphitheatre and the Mountain Winery don’t open their doors until the skies clear. Still, if February is any indication, 2017 is bound to be a great year for local shows. Here are 10 of the best bets for the second month of the year.
Feb 1 | Don Quixote’s, Felton
For the past 20 years, Bill Callahan has been adored critically for his lyrics and distinctive voice. The Guardian has described him as not so much a songwriter, but a poem singer, and for good reason. His lyrics have an almost Buddhist simplicity that can often catch a listener off guard—with lines like, “the rain ripped the lips off the mouth of the bay,” and “It’s our anniversary. I leave it ajar.” His Oakland show is already sold out, but he is also playing Felton, which seems like the perfect place to catch him.
Run the Jewels
Feb 2 | City National Civic, San Jose
If they were boxers, both El P and Killer Mike would be the two guys no one would dare get in the ring with. Individually, both have been on top of their game since at least the turn of the millennium, and since joining forces as Run the Jewels in 2013, they’ve been on an absolute tear. Every song they’ve released as RTJ has felt like a touchdown dance—from their opening volley, “Run The Jewels,” to the chills-inducing, Zach de la Rocha-featuring “A Report to the Shareholders / Kill Your Masters.”
Feb 4 | Center for the Performing Arts, San Jose
Chances are you know someone who loves Camila—their first two records topped the charts in both Mexico and the U.S. The smooth and ultra-romantic rock en Espanol group comes to town in early February. The group’s setlist promises to be feature songs from 2014’s Elypse (their first album since stripping down to just frontman Mario Domm and multi-instrumentalist Pablo Hurtado), but they’re sure to play the hits as well. That includes “Todo Cambio”—antes que te ame más, escucha por favor! Consider this an early Valentine’s Day present.
Lanayah, Dreamspoiler, Moirai
Feb 5 | Local Color, San Jose
Santa Barbara-based Lanayah is both heavy and pensive. In touch with the current movements of metal, they would fit nicely on a bill with Boris, Torche or Deafheaven, as they respect the impossible hugeness of metal music, without all the macho BS. With Lanayah at Local Color is San Jose’s Dreamspoiler, who have that name for a reason. Fans of extreme music should not miss Dreamspoiler’s potent mix of doom, black metal, dark ambient and thrash.
Twenty One Pilots
Feb 10 | SAP Center, San Jose
Does this band even need an introduction? Twenty One Pilots are almost impossibly big, especially considering how strange they are. With their Bauhaus red-and-black wardrobe, frontman Tyler Joseph’s painted hands and neck, and an enigmatic logo they refuse to explain, the Ohio duo have stormed the charts—delivering six chart-topping singles (three platinum singles and three gold). Those are Michael Jackson numbers.
Feb 11 | City National Civic, San Jose
Formed in the early ’70s—when too many rock bands decided to name themselves after major metropolitan areas—and shimmering walls of vocal harmonies were demonstrating the possibility of multitrack recording, Chicago are best known for the cryptically named track “25 or 6 to 4.” Recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the band is currently in the midst of a nationwide tour and are the subject of a brand new documentary, Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago.
Feb 12 | Local Color, San Jose
It’s hard to overstate how important zines have been for up-and-coming writers, artists, poets and thinkers over the years, largely because of how community-minded the culture is. The Bay Area has always been well represented in the vibrant global zine community, and in recent months San Jose has been host to a growing number of zine events. SJ ZineCon looks to be the biggest and best-organized yet. The event has an open call for zinesters looking to table, with a special emphasis on people of color and LGBTQ folk. Come and meet creative folks in your community.
Feb 14 | The Catalyst Atrium, Santa Cruz
If 2016 was an Empire Strikes Back year, Surfer Blood represent the hope we all have that 2017 will be a Return of the Jedi year. The Florida indie rock group comes to the Catalyst Atrium this Valentine’s Day, touring on their first album since their original guitarist’s tragic death last year. Surfer Blood play what might be considered “classic” indie rock at this point—which is to say they would have fit in nicely during the early ’90s. They keep the formula simple and strong: a little Pavement, a little Echo & the Bunnymen and a lot of hooks.
Feb 15 | The Catalyst, Santa Cruz
Though he wasn’t the inspiration for James Franco’s character from Spring Breakers (that dubious honor goes to Florida’s Dangeruss), RiFF RAFF is often compared to Franco’s Alien, the corn-rowed white-guy party rapper in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. In reality, RiFF RAFF is an incredibly hard worker who came up hustling home-burned CD-Rs in Houston and turning himself into a viral craze through numerous avenues—including MTV’s G’s To Gents and on the now-defunct micro-vlogging app Vine.
Feb 22 | The Catalyst, Santa Cruz
Though they are divisive among jazz traditionalists, BadBadNotGood are putting a lot of work into keeping the genre alive and relevant in the 21st century. The Canadian quartet is like a dilated pupil, bringing in the light of countless contradictory genres and musical movements and processing them all at once. They’ve worked with rappers like Ghostface Killah and Earl Sweatshirt, and jazz experimentalists like Colin Stetson. This is a group of hard-hustling, actively touring musicians exploring new spaces.