2013 was a memorable year for the Bay Area independent music scene, with both established acts and up-and-comers making waves far and wide, local labels and studios thriving and expanding in number, and the region’s musicians providing unending opportunities to catch great live performances at our ever-growing grouping of unique local venues. It was also a year of great change, with the departure of scene stalwarts to supposedly greener or, at the very least, more affordable pastures (Ty Segall and John Dwyer), and the heartbreaking loss of one too-young local luminary in his fight against cancer (Steve Brodsky).
Like all of our staff, I have my picks for the year’s best albums (Tony Molina’s Dissed and Dismissed, Fuzz’s self-titled debut, Mikal Cronin’s MCII, Joseph Childress’ The Rebirths, Deafheaven’s Sunbather, and Thee Oh Sees’ Floating Coffin, just to name a few) and my favorite shows (Cronin’s record release show at Rickshaw Stop, Childress’ underground show at Vacation, Kelley Stoltz’s release party at The Chapel with The Mantles and Sopwith Camel, Fuzz’s Noise Pop gig at The Knockout, Colleen Green’s Pro Fans showcase at Cafe Du Nord, and Cool Ghouls in the Sutro caves). There was, without a doubt, no shortage remarkable music created in The Bay Area in 2013, whether in a studio or on a stage.
But the last twelve months not only left an indelible mark on the Bay’s already remarkable musical history, 2013 was also a watershed year for The Bay Bridged, seeing the production of several successful live shows (with Thee Oh Sees’ raucous Phono Del Sol set no doubt being the highlight) and the expansion of our website’s staff, allowing for wide-ranging coverage of the local independent scene’s musicians and live shows, as well as the ever-evolving dynamic between the established arts scene and the region’s unrelenting growth.
It was this expansive coverage which I had the privilege of helping to oversee. Below are my picks for the year’s best from our devoted staff.
2013 saw the rise of a renewed class conflict in San Francisco and the surrounding areas, with entrenched locals resisting being overrun by the influx of transplant “techies” (which may as well have been a four-letter word around the Bay this year). As the clash reached a fever pitch, with $1,600 per square foot condos being built on Valencia and protesters blocking a Google bus in the Mission, our own Lauren Espina sat down with 15 local musicians to chronicle the effect of the changing landscape of the Bay Area population on their lives–an effect that led to the aforementioned departures of Segall and Dwyer to LA. Espina’s even-handed examination of the tech industry-led gentrification of neighborhoods formerly known as affordable locales for artists and musicians made it clear that this story isn’t as simple as it may seem. Look out for part two of her story in early January.
2. “Meet Marcel of Marcel’s Music Journal” (Jody Amable)
One of the most interesting characters to emerge in the Bay Area music community during 2013 was Marcel, the 13-year-old proprietor of Marcel’s Music Journal who began making a name for himself with incredibly professional work, including interview of the likes of Deafheaven, Ty Segall, and Tame Impala. Our writer Jody Amable trekked to Marcel’s native Santa Cruz with photographer Daniel Kielman in tow and met with the burgeoning music critic and his mother, yielding an endearing and even inspiring portrait of a young man following his dream.
3. “For the Record: Women’s Audio Mission at 10 Years” (Nic Buron)
The Bay Area is full of interesting and innovative music projects, including the Women’s Audio Mission (WAM), a San Francisco-based non-profit founded at City College in 2003 with the goal of increasing the amount of female audio professionals. The Bay Bridged contributor Nic Buron recorded and produced this video profile of WAM in recognition of the program’s first ten years, detailing the staff and students’ unique perspective as females in a male-dominated industry. We’re looking forward to seeing the final version of the next video production from Buron (a profile of local band Makeunder), who recently departed SF to accompany his wife to Los Angeles where she’ll attend grad school.
4. “In Defense of San Jose” (Jody Amable)
The Bay Bridged writer and South Bay native Amable’s piece on the Bay’s most populous, yet maddeningly scene-barren city brought to light the plight of San Jose musicians and music fans alike as their growing metropolis searches for its artistic identity.
5. “Interview: A look behind the scenes at the making of Outside Lands” (Roman Gokhman)
In its sixth year as NorCal’s foremost multi-day, multi-stage music festival, Outside Lands 2013 featured the likes of everyone from legends of yesteryear Sir Paul McCartney and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to present day torchbearers Kurt Vile and Jessie Ware. Although some locals continue to disparage OSL for its high price, large crowds, and predilection for acts deemed “too mainstream,” there can be no doubting its positive effect on the Bay Area’s music scene, with its penchant for giving some of the best independent acts from the Bay and around the world a forum to play in front of throngs of otherwise unknowing, but obviously fervent, music fans. Roman Gokhman provided our readers with an enlightening look behind the scenes of the festival, getting the lowdown from Another Planet Entertainment Executive Vice President Allen Scott.