Best-ofMusicSan Francisco

Top 20 Bay Area Bands of 2017

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Make your New Years resolution to listen to more hot Bay Area bands in 2018.

Creating a limited list of only 20 local bands is a challenge for me, I have access to a lot of new music. In fact, this list doesn’t include a lot of friends that are crushing it in the Bay Area right now. Thus, to make filtering easier, my top 20 list only features bands that created new music in 2017 and booked a local show to perform said new tracks. The following artists accomplished that and more. LISTEN NOW

PLANET BOOTY

In addition to being great guys that are fun to spend time with, the band had an amazing year. They played shows in SF as well as festivals like SxSW, Santa Cruz Music Festival, and performed in cities like Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Pontiac, Iowa City, Chicago, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Denver. If you’re fortunate enough to see them in a venue near you, watch out for Dylan, he’s bound to release the freak inside you while progressively getting more naked.

GEOGRAPHER

This is the second year that Geographer has been on my list. Lead singer Mike Deni continues to impress with new songs every year. The band hasn’t stopped dominating the scene! With sold out shows in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, DC, and New York the band is continuing to grow in popularity.

BELLS ATLAS

I had the pleasure of doing an interview with the band before their set at Phono Del Sol Music Festival last July. We discussed new music, band plans, and the future goals. In addition to playing Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, the band also toured to Miami, DC, Philadelphia, New York, Seattle, and Portland. See this band ASAP and thank me later.

VVEREVVOLF

New to the scene, this band has already made waves and is starting to catch the eyes and ears of local fans and industry professionals. Mostly playing local shows, the band hasn’t yet broken out of the Bay Area scene. I know their management team, Mixtape Artist Management, and suspect there are big things in the works for this band.

DANGERMAKER

This band is the epitome of Rock & Roll. They release new music on a regular basis, they walk the walk and talk the talk. Always striving for perfection the band is prepared to impress. They mostly plays in the Bay Area, but have experienced love from Aaron Axelsen on what was formerly known as Live 105, and have played BFD Festival, SxSW, and other festivals like BottleRock (which I wrote about hilariously here).

CON BRIO

So much energy on the stage when Ziek and his bandmates hit the stage. From his outfit to his moves, lead singer Ziek has embraced the funky energy of artists like James Brown, Rick James, and Elvis Presley. Con Brio is the band I will talk about when I reference the music of my generation. I had the pleasure of seeing them at High Sierra Music Festival and BottleRock Music Festival, and wish I could have seen them at Nice Jazz Festival in France.

CRASHING HOTELS

I see their stickers all over SF and in every venue bathroom I frequent. This is a band that spends a lot of time prepping for shows and is super deliberate about their stage presence. They are fun to see live and their sound translates well from performance to the recorded product. They are a two-piece band, but if you’re lucky, the next time you see them their stage will be filled with live mannequins pretending to play with the band.

THE TAMBO RAYS

This band feels like an SF staple to me. The band has been playing shows in the area for years. However, if you’re like me, you may have felt like we were in a music drought and no new music was coming from the band. Perhaps due to the fact that lead singer Sara DaMert and her bandmate and brother Brian DaMert have been spending a lot of time working on former SF band Waters. However, with that band on pause, I think we will be seeing a lot more new music from The Tambo Rays in the new future.

TRAVIS HAYES

If ever there was a band that I can say, “I remember when you were just a wee little band.” This is that band. From singer-songwriter to a full touring band … Travis has come a long way with the look and feel of his band. I think everything clicked when he booked his first show at The Independent. The band knew they needed to up their energy and truly bring it. After that show, they traveled over 15,000 miles and played 72 shows in 13 states.

DONCAT

You may know lead singer Duncan Nielsen from his work with City Tribe. However, if you want to see him shine, these days you’ll want to seek out his performances as Doncat. A great pairing of strong vocals, finger plucking, and synthy electric guitar. His music goes great with a glass of whiskey, both live or on your record player.

THE HA

In addition to being a sexy model, lead singer Brooks Dierker plays a mean mouth harp and slams on the ivory keys. I had the pleasure of touring with him to Denver for UMS and hope to accompany the band to many more festivals in the near future. If so, hopefully it’ll be in Brooks’ touring stage that he’s creating from an old RV camper.

TINO DRIMA

Coming up quick, I expect big things from this band, things that might even be bigger than the lead singer. If you know lead singer Gregory DiMartino, that’s big. So clearly I can see this band going places. Their music is best described as a blend of all the good hipster stuff mixed up with the parts of surf music that you want to listen to. At times it feels like a flashback to the 60s and 70’s with a touch of the 80’s to make it feel relevant and hipstery fresh.

HOT FLASH HEAT WAVE

Making a big splash in the local music scene the band has played up and down the west coast as well as various legit festivals. The band is young and fresh and while they have already made their mark on the scene, they have plenty of time on their side to blow up even more.

FRIENDS W/O BENEFITS

Are you confused by politics? Are you tired of politicians shitting on your dreams? Do you have an opinion and a desire to change the state of your government? I have the perfect band for you. FWOB will make you want to stick it to the fucking sharks. Their music is filled with frustration, anger, and spit. Just the right amount of punk paired with skateboards and raw WWE type energy.

THE DAMN FANATICS

Lead singer Andy Strong is a musician trapped in the body of a thespian. The stage is home and he uses it to entertain. The band has gone through some changes in bandmates, but it seems to be a good way for the band to find their sound. They put on a show that engages the audience and blurs the line between the stage and the crowd.

VAN GOAT

It’s scary for bands to change their name after spending years promoting their old band name. Formerly known as Bear Lincoln, Van Goat hasn’t let changing their name slow them down. In fact, they’ve hired a new bandmate Lindsay Alexis on the trombone and are coming off a successful crowdfunding campaign. I think we’re about to see a lot of more new music from this band.

EVERYONE IS DIRTY

In addition to touring to Austin to play the Balanced Breakfast showcase during SxSW, Everyone is Dirty also played Treefort Music Festival in Idaho. In addition, they also played shows in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Reno, Albuquerque, and Bisbee, Arizona. In her jumper, whipping the microphone cord around the stage, lead singer Sivan Lioncub is a delight for your eyes and ears.

THE BAND ICE CREAM

If you ever feel like you need more garage rock in your life I may have the perfect band for you. Do you love songs about masturbation and hot girls? I assume I’m not alone in my love of these topics. Check out the enjoyable sounds of The Band Ice Cream. You’ll get everything from the love of other to the love of self.

SWAMP CHILD

It often feels like a lot of amazing music goes into tech. However, in the case of local band Swamp Child, you might say lead singer Brandi Mod came out of tech to go into music. A young band, with very few songs released for streaming, if you start listening now, you can say you knew the band when. Brandi has a lof drive, focus and goals for the band, I look forward to hearing more from her band.

LORDS OF SEALAND

Possibly one of the best examples of a band that flows smoothly from one song into another. Each of their songs feels like a long journey into music exploration. It’s not shoegaze per se, but at your house or at a show be prepared to get lost on the path to a trippy far away place. Best described as four skilled musicians and good friends showing off their musical prowess.

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Stefan Aronsen

Stefan Aronsen

I do not sing, play the drums, clarinet, guitar, piano or harmonic ... but I have tried! My passion for music began when I was still a pre-teen begging my parents for my first drum set. After a year’s worth of lessons, it was clear that I wasn’t very good at drums. So I moved on, joined the school band, and tried my hand at the clarinet. Again after a year’s worth of lessons and hard work I was without much skill. This continued through elementary school and into college with voice lessons, guitar lessons and finally piano. It turns out that while I could recognize good music; I lacked the talent to make it.

Now I'm broke, beautiful and writing about music for Stuart...