The Bay Abridged Heading

In this recurring feature known as The Bay Abridged, our staff writers will provide short, witty recaps on shows they attended around the Bay Area. A scene check, a heat check, and sometimes more — stop by every Wednesday for the most comprehensive and concise recap of last week’s Bay Area concert scene.

Empress Of, Abra at The Rickshaw Stop (SF) Sept. 29
People simply aren’t talking enough about how great Empress Of’s Me is, but the Rickshaw Stop was packed last Tuesday with fans more than willing to dance to Lorely Rodriguez’s immaculately crafted electronic-pop. The artist hit the LP’s many highlights throughout a stellar set, and the loud collective groan when Rodriguez announced her last song made clear that there are big things in her future. Opener Abra’s set was a little more peaks-and-valleys, but I’m more than willing to cut her some slack; it’s the artist’s first tour and the high points revealed a real knack for inventive synth-R&B. —BVH

Crooks on Tape, Bob Schriner at Hotel Utah (SF) Sept. 30
John Schmersal has spent much of the last 20 years (through Brainiac, Enon, And Vertical Scratchers) taking strange sounds and coaxing them into melodies and rhythms. I wasn’t expecting Crooks to deliver one my favorite shows of the year — or one of my favorite Schmersal shows ever — but they did. This trio’s skills are at full strength: manipulating keyboards, samplers, guitars, and loops with expert proficiency, producing undeniable head-bobbers that reek of distorted, electronic funk pop. —Ben Russo

Algiers, Bambara at the Independent (SF) Sept. 30
Seeing Algiers on this fateful Wednesday night made me realize how many bands I’ve seen from Atlanta lately. (Go Atlanta music scene!) The band, who just put out their brilliantly dark debut record on Matador, have seemingly come out of nowhere, but their mix of gospel, post-punk, and politically-charged calls to action feel timeless and relevant. On this night, they brought these elements to life. The club was mostly empty through the opening band, but once time came for Algiers to take the stage, people came trickling through the woodwork to witness the dark sounds of bass, guitar noise, and Malcom X samples—and especially the frenetic energy and powerful voice of singer Franklin James Fisher, who descended to the crowd’s level during one song and made his urgency known. Keep an eye out for these political punks, they’re only just getting started. —Hailey Simpson

Big Star’s Third at Great American Music Hall (SF) Oct. 1
By virtue of my date of birth I thought I had inherited the misfortune of being excluded from ever seeing Big Star in concert. But with Big Star’s Third – an all-star tribute to the late Alex Chilton’s masterwork “Third/Sister Lovers” featuring the likes of Wilco’s Pat Sansone and R.E.M’s Mike Mills, among many others – I think it is safe to say I have been gifted one better. The sound mixing was exceptional, and much better than it had any right to be (balancing distorted guitars, delicate strings courtesy of the Kronos Quartet, a revolving cast of woodwinds, a bounding basketball, and Jody Stephen’s pummeling percussion can only be described upwards of daunting) – and with a nearly 30 song set that included celebratory renditions of classic Big Star tracks like “When My Baby’s Beside Me” and “Watch the Sunrise,” I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for turning out to actually be in the perfect place at the exact right time. —Pranav Trewn

Ringo Star and His All Starr Band at The Masonic (SF) Oct. 1
Ringo marches to the beat of his own drummer. With a smile and a slow strut, the iconic drummer and a half dozen seasoned musicians including Steve Lukather (Toto), Gregg Rolie (Santana and Journey), Todd Rundgren, and Richard Page (Mr. Mister) thoroughly entertained a sold-out audience at The Masonic. It was a walk down memory lane with the all-star band playing songs from each of their respective bands, as well as the many hits of Ringo Star. —Paige Parsons

Jessica Pratt, Felice Brothers, Punch Brothers at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (SF) Oct. 2
Like any good parent, I pulled my kids out of school early last Friday to go experience the smoke and the dust and the music of Hardly Strictly. We arrived at the Rooster Stage right before 1pm, just in time to land an obstructed view of the stage on the hill and hear Pratt struggle through some early sound problems. I’m not complaining, though — it was all absolutely lovely. The weather was beautiful, it was a Friday crowd, Pratt captured my daughter’s heart, The Felices impressed with their storytelling, and The Punch Brothers’ technical picking followed by a little Silent Disco left us satisfied till next year’s HSB Skip Day. —Russell Jelinek

Duran Duran and Chic at the Greek Theater (Berkeley) Oct. 2
With a nip and a tuck and countless hours at the gym, Duran Duran were looking fit and trim. They boldly opened with a new song, “Paper Gods,” and kept the hits coning all night long. Two backup singers spent a lot of time front of stage to help with the vocals, and everyone enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Chic got the party started and Nile Rogers and crew didn’t disappoint. Their funk and disco ages well, and they had phenomenal vocals to boot. The light show was straight outta Studio 54. Good times! —Paige Parsons

Walter Salas Humara, Robyn Hitchcock & The Sadies play “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”, Mini-Mekons, Big Star’s 3rd, Charles Bradley & beyond at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (SF) Oct. 2-4
Far and away the best HSB yet!  Perfect weather, 11am with the almighty Sadies, two of the world’s finest records played in their ENTIRETY (as god intended), the incredible new/tiny Bandwagon Stage and a multitude of soul stirring cover songs. Mark Bolan shone down from on high with the Waco Brother’s cover of “20th Century Boy.” Robyn Hitchcock & The Sadies’ bonus tracks included The Band’s “Stage Fright”, “Lucifer Sam” from Pink Floyd’s debut record and “Queen of Eyes” from The Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight! Walter Salas Humara dug deep into The Silos catalog opening with “Susan” from the 1st record and closing with a flaming “Tennessee Fire” from the 2nd (Cuba). Charles Bradley sang his heart out, drenching 2 outfits before walking directly into the swirling sea of fans. —MBL

The Milk Carton Kids at Hardly Strictly Blugrass (SF) Oct. 3
Though amplified sound barely made it’s way past the first 50 festival goers, the duo engaged the masses with their seamless harmonies, suave suits, laudable acoustic licks and their drollery. Joey spoke out with tongue in cheek on behalf of fathers everywhere debunking the myth that childbearing is anything less than violent and painful for men. Their set ended with the best cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Oh and did I mention a standing ovation? —Jess Luoma

Donnie Fritts & John Paul White at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (SF) Oct. 3
The icing on Saturday’s cake came from the Rooster Stage. We headed to the Buddy Miller & Friends event thinking we were going to see Tony Joe White but arrived just as Donnie Fritts took the stage. The introduction rightly hailed him as a real deal, Muscle Shoals, original having written “Breakfast in Bed” for Dusty Springfield. He played keyboard for Kristofferson for 40 years. This might be good… we stayed and were treated to some of the most honest, down to earth, soulful, NEW music of the past decade. Funky Donnie Fritts, as he is known, is just that. His fascinating career has brought him full circle with his latest recordings, Oh My Goodness (produced by John Paul White of The Civil Wars), a throwback to the glory days of music with lots of fresh insights. It is streaming now on NPR. —MBL

Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Brick & Mortar (SF) Oct. 5
Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO) were at Brick & Mortar Monday night as part of a series of free shows for subscribers to the concert app Jukely. The increasingly psychedelic four piece who gave us their third album earlier this year and not long since wooing crowds at Outside Lands and The Independent eventually appeared on stage fairly road weary. This realization quickly disappeared once UMO took up their arms. The set leaned heavily on Multi Love and included a transition from drummer Riley Geare between “Ur Life One Night” and “How Can You Love Me” that made the remaining three quarters of their set hard to top. That is, until “Stage or Screen” prompted frontman Ruban Neilson to lounge about atop some 6ft speakers. —Mike Chouinard

Don Henley at The Masonic (SF) Oct. 5
Don Henley turned the volume down and gave us slow and soft versions of some of his biggest hits. I was only around for the first three songs, but the passion was present from the first note. He kicked off the evening with a stripped down, nearly accapella version of “Seven Bridges Road.” —Paige Parsons