Bay Area Concert Buzz: July-August

Bay Area Concert Buzz: July-August

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Loving music is a requirement for working at Blackfire Research. As a smart home entertainment solutions company, we’re listening to music all day while testing wireless speakers, surround sound systems, music streaming applications, and more. Although we specialize in perfecting wireless home entertainment, there’s plenty of excitement to experience outside the home. One of the best aspects about being located in San Francisco is the immense access to all the live concerts, shows, music festivals, and events that the Bay Area has to offer. And, believe me, there’s a lot. Here’s a list of some upcoming concerts near the City by the Bay we’re excited for this month.

 

On Saturday July 22, the hugely successful and highly acclaimed hip-hop duo, Run the Jewels, are taking the stage at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. In the wake of their third album, “Run the Jewels 3,” they’ve been selling out venues and headlining summer music festivals. With their political lyrics, they’re widely viewed as the future of hip-hop. For ticket information, click here.

 

On Sunday July 30, legendary folk rock singer, Neil Diamond, will be performing at San Jose’s SAP Center as part of his 50th Anniversary World Tour. Presented by Live Nation, the world tour is in celebration of the artist’s astonishing career: from selling over 125 million albums worldwide, to multiple Grammy wins and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Neil Diamond and his music has helped shape the American landscape over the past half century. For more information, check out this link.

 

 

The Band Perry will be coming to the Bay Area and performing at two different outdoor venues this summer. The first, at Mountain Winery in Saratoga on Tuesday August 1st; and the second, at Wente Vineyards in Livermore on August 3rd. Both venues will serve as a perfect background for an evening with the unstoppable pop-country trio. Their popularity and massive industry success leaves other country stars shaking in their cowboy boots.

 

At the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Friday August 4th, the most talented and sought-after rapper in the business, Kendrick Lamar, will be gracing the stage to what is sure to be a spectacular night of hip-hop. Lamar is coming to the Bay as part of THE DAMN. TOUR, celebrating his latest album, which went straight to No. 1 and was certified platinum. For more ticket information, click here. And check out my review of DAMN. here.

 

Finally, Hans Zimmer, the Academy Award winning composer behind over 150 film scores including “The Lion King,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Pirates of the Caribbean” series and “Inception” has been on tour this year. To the surprise and delight of many music and movie fans, he was even a headliner this year at the largest summer music festival, Coachella. Now, Zimmer is scheduled to take on the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Wednesday, August 9th. Get your tickets now before they sell out! And don’t forget to bring some popcorn.

What concerts or events are you most excited for this month? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Movies to Watch on the 4th of July

5 Movies to Watch on the 4th of July

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For Bay Area dwellers, the 4th of July is usually a disappointment: most years it’s too cold for a backyard barbeque, and good luck trying to catch a glimpse of any fireworks through the dense layer of fog that incessantly rolls in every evening during the summer. Most people who live in the Bay Area tend to skedaddle out of town for the holiday, but for those staying in chilly San Francisco today, instead of trying to make out colors through the clouds, here’s a list of movies to watch on the 4th of July while staying cozy and warm inside.

 

Forrest Gump

One of the most quoted films of all time, “Forrest Gump” is an excellent choice for The 4th of July. The film chronicles the life of a lovable Southerner, Forrest Gump (Played by Tom Hanks), and takes viewers on an American history tour that spans the second half of the Twentieth Century. Through coincidence, talent, and sheer luck, Forrest continually finds himself in the midst of history unfolding: from meeting Elvis before his big break, fighting in the Vietnam War, engaging in 1960’s counterculture and even investing in Apple Computers. The carefully curated soundtrack especially helps the film fully manifest each decade and provides a perfect anthology of American rock. With a runtime of two hours and twenty minutes, “Forrest Gump” is a great film to watch when you’ve got the entire day off to enjoy. And on the 4th of July, it’s a near-perfect, American-themed film.

 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

You probably watched this uplifting, 1939 film about overcoming political corruption, the goodness of humanity, and the unflappable bedrock of morality that is the American Legislative branch (*sigh*) in your 8th grade Social Studies class. The story follows a Junior Senator, Jeff Smith, who takes on a powerful and corrupt political machine, culminating in an epic, 24-hour long filibuster highlighting American ideals. This film is exactly what your therapist wants you to watch this 4th of July.  

 

Apollo 13

The 1995, major box office success directed by Ron Howard depicts the true story of the on-board explosion and subsequent emergency landing expedition of the Apollo 13 lunar mission. Starring Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell and Kevin Bacon as Jack Swigert, the film was praised for being scientifically and historically accurate. Besides the all-star cast and stellar attention to detail,  “Apollo 13” is an excellent story about the science, ingenuity, and perseverance that defined the Apollo Program and lifted the American spirit during the Cold War.

 

1776

This 1972 movie-musical about the events leading up to the signing of The Declaration of Independence features our Founding Fathers (Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, & Company) in neatly choreographed musical routines. Based off of the 1969 Broadway musical of the same name, “1776” borrows portions of its dialogue and song lyrics directly from the letters, diary entries, and memoirs of participants of the Second Continental Congress. Overall, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, putting a jazzy twist on a long, tiresome debate and the birthday of American Independance.

 

Independence Day

No 4th of July movie list would be complete without “Independence Day,” the 1996 sci-fi disaster flick about aliens coming to Earth to destroy all of mankind on – you guessed it – the 4th of July. Featuring iconic performances by Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum (and an epically inspirational speech by fictional President Thomas Whitmore), it’s easy to remember that this movie was a really big deal when it first came out – from its high stakes action scenes to its cutting edge special effects (like blowing up the White House), “Independence Day” helped define the modern blockbuster heading into twenty-first century. But most importantly, “Independence Day” brought to light a Utopic vision of all of humanity putting aside their differences once and for all to seriously kick some evil alien butt.

Happy 4th of July! Do you have any favorite 4th of July movies that didn’t make the list? Add yours in the comments section below!

Bay Area Concert Buzz: Outdoor Venue Special

Bay Area Concert Buzz: Outdoor Venue Special

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Despite Mark Twain’s cheeky remark that “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,” the Bay Area does have the occasional temperate day during the so-called “warmer” months. Like most major cities across the US, summertime in San Francisco is a frenzy of music festivals and outdoor concerts, because what better way is there to celebrate summer than spending time outdoors listening to excellent music? Here’s a list of outdoor concerts and festivals we’re excited for throughout June and July in the Bay Area. (Just don’t forget to bring a sweater!)

John Mellencamp is performing a two night engagement on June 13th and 14th at The Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California (just south of Cupertino) as part of his “Sad Clowns and Hillbillies” Tour. Listen to classics like “Jack and Diane,” “Hurts So Good,” and “Pink Houses” while taking in breathtaking views, overlooking the entire Valley. The Mountain Winery hosts it’s Annual Summer Concert Series in an outdoor amphitheater facing it’s historic, ivy-covered Winery Building. For more information, check out The Mountain Winery’s website. For ticket information, click here.

The Monterey International Pop Festival is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this summer. Founded in 1967, it was the first major rock festival, predating Woodstock, and was an influential force behind (and kickstarted) the famous Summer of Love in 1967. The original festival hosted the likes of The Jimi Hendrix Experience (their first major US performance), Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, and The Grateful Dead. Now, 50 years later, the festival, scheduled for June 16th-18th, boasts big names like Leon Bridges, Father John Misty, Regina Spektor, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Dr. Dog, and The Head and the Heart. The festival is taking place at the same location as it did 50 years ago, at The Monterey County Fairgrounds. For more information, check out their website here.

ID1OT Music Festival and Comic Conival, created and hosted by stand-up comedian, Chris Hardwick (“@midnight with Chris Hardwick”), will be taking place at The Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View on June 24th and 25th. This two-day event features musical acts on The Mainstage, such as Weezer, Girl Talk, TV on the Radio, OK GO, and Animal Collective; a Comedy Tent with comedians Demetri Martin, Michael Che, and Garfunkel & Oates performing; a Comic Book Artist’s Alley; and a Comic Conival with games, interactive displays, photo ops, and more. For more information about this unique festival, check out their website.

Australian rock legend, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, will be performing at The Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Saturday, June 24th. The architecture of this gorgeous outdoor amphitheater is based off of the ancient Greek theater, Epidaurus. Over the years, The Greek Theater in Berkeley has become one of the most well known, and well liked, outdoor concert venues in the Bay Area. Located at the base of the Berkeley Foothills, The Greek Theatre overlooks the city, as well as the picturesque UC Berkeley campus. The Greek Theatre is owned and operated by the University. On July 14, multi-talented musician and singer, Beck, will  be performing at The Greek Theatre alongside fellow Los Angeles native, Thundercat, for what’s sure to be an unforgettable night of funk-rock. For upcoming concert information, click here.

 

Also on July 14, rocker Alanis Morissette will be performing at The Wente Vineyards, just south of Livermore, in the midst of the beautiful, rolling hills of the East Bay. Wente Vineyards provides a unique amphitheater experience, where guests can reserve a table for the concert and enjoy a sunset dinner provided by the Vineyard’s restaurant. So go ahead, swallow that “Jagged Little Pill” while feasting on a gourmet meal with world class wines. For more information, click here.

What outdoor concerts or festivals are you most excited for this month? Let us know in the comments section below!

Bay Area Concert Review: Foxygen, My Guilty Pleasure

Bay Area Concert Review: Foxygen, My Guilty Pleasure

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Recording duo Sam France and Jonathan Rado, who make up the indie rock group, Foxygen, are midway through a US club tour as a 9 piece band (including an awesome brass trio).  I caught their gig in San Francisco on Friday, April 7, on the small stage of The Independent. Unapologetically cliché-ridden, Foxygen played a captivating, high-energy set that was equal parts psychedelic 70’s performance-art and rock concert. France and Rado proudly wear their influences on their sleeves, with overt musical riffs  on their extensive 70’s record collection: Elton John , David Bowie, Captain and Tennille, Donovan, Abba, Exile-era Stones and even James Brown’s stage dynamics made an appearance  during the course of the night. Bandmaster Rado’s piano and guitar playing were outstanding, and the brass section were Motown-esque in their professionalism, but it was France’s stage presence that held the audience’s attention. And for a feel-good Friday night out, you really can’t beat that.

On this Day in Music History: April 27, 1994

On this Day in Music History: April 27, 1994

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Brought to you by Blackfire Research….On this day in 1994, San Francisco‘s historic concert venue, The Fillmore, reopened to the public after years of refurbishments. Originally built in 1912 as a dance hall, The Fillmore was made famous thanks to legendary concert promoter, Bill Graham, who began booking high profile shows there throughout the 1960’s. Pretty soon, the San Francisco venue become a mainstay for the decade’s burgeoning counterculture, playing host to artists such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix. In the early 1980’s under new management, The Fillmore became a punk rock venue called The Elite Club, but several years later, Graham decided to take it back. Unfortunately, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the Bay Area in 1989, severely damaging the building and forcing it to close. Then, in 1991, Graham was killed in a helicopter crash. In honor of his memory, Graham’s family and friends decided to refurbish and retrofit The Fillmore, restoring it to it’s former glory. The Fillmore reopened to the public on April 27, 1994 with a surprise performance by the Smashing Pumpkins.