Welcome back to the Boulevard Ear, a regular feature on The Bay Bridged, where our man about town examines a community’s live music offerings over the course of one evening. What is it like to be a show-goer whose experiences are dictated entirely by location? Follow Todd as he explores Bay Area music venues by neighborhood, finding a variety of independent music along the way. First installment: In the Nethers.
The Boulevard Ear ~ Whither Valencia?
We flanneurs make a point of wandering many paths â€“ both beaten and neglected – in search of excitement and edification, and we are fortunate indeed that our benighted burg offers an infinite variety.
However, even in such a honeycomb of possibilities, the connoisseur of fine living finds oneself drawn repeatedly to certain stretches of pavement where culture is robustly served at all hours. Let us not beat around the boulevard, then. Tonightâ€™s topic: Valencia, the Champs Elysees of the hipoisie.
The Mission is, of course, full of many boulevards, and we intend to report on each corner in detail. But Valencia itself is many boulevards, not just across space, but, more to our current point, over time. We have left particles of our soles along this stretch since it housed such long-gone establishments as The Chameleon and The Crystal Pistol (now Amnesia and Range, respectively).
As captured in Camper Van Beethoven’s classic “Down and Out,” the neighborhood was even then decades into its cycle of being embraced for new energy, and reviled for slipping into the clutches of arriviste financiers and self-appointed tastemakers. The past several years has seen a burst of musical activity here, with our finest â€“ Thee Oh Sees, Sonny and the Sunsets, Grass Widow, Fresh and Onlys â€“ holding court on small stages.
And yet lately, our local punditry has sniffed a change in the air, the inevitable hangover that follows a period of creative fecundity. Valencia, one scribe asserts in the latest parlance, has “jumped the shark.”
And so, as your Boswell of bonhomie it is my duty to survey the question first hand: Valencia â€“ in, out, or back in again?
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