To mask or not to mask, that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer a mild inconvenience to ... oh, stop it. It looks like the numbers are climbing and the governor — with a recall election looming that he might want to take a tad more seriously lest we all have to suffer Larry Elder weaponizing identity in the most cynical way possible to break a gubernatorial glass ceiling in the worst way possible — might be bringing back more restrictive mandates. Indoor masking is one thing, I don't mind it and neither do you, unless you're a crank. I actually find it nice to have a little cover for my barely controlled and constant stream of rude public commentary. But if we go into a further lockdown, this column goes away and makes me sad, so let's try not to mess this up again. And while I believe that Newsom will likely do anything to avoid another lockdown given its political unpopularity, recall politics don't change the number of infections and the county officials will do whatever they deem necessary to keep the hospitals emptier. And I have some discretion here, too, insofar as my column goes. I'm not going to tell people to replicate The Masque of the Red Death with an EDM show in place of Prince Prospero's doomed ball. Not if I can help it, anyway. All this is messy, none of it is black and white, and a complicated moral calculation is the best way to describe the situation. As I recently told an estranged relative who will not stop sending me unsolicited anti-vax posts: No, I am not a slave to "Big Pharma," nor am I a fan of the American government. I don't like Procter and Gamble either, but I still wash my hands with the municipally provided soap when I use a public toilet. And having known people who died of this evil crud, I took whatever risk there was and I got the jab ASAP. Thankfully my side-effects were minimal. I know that it's not a guarantee from infection but it's the best I've got to work with at present. No, I am not gleeful when anti-vax people get sick, just as I would hope for the same restraint from the other side if I happen to incur illness despite my precautions. And we left it at that.
Do the best you can and have a great week.
Here's a nice outdoor event that even the most gig-shy among us can enjoy. Claire Bent and Citizen Funk is one of those durable, soul-drenched groups whose covers-friendly sets are tight, delightful in their arrangements and, most of all, fun. The musicians inhabit a certain perfect space for a group like this, with flawless renditions of familiar songs done with enough personal style that the band truly has its own sound. And the less said about Claire's vocals the better — no, I'm not trying to insult her, far from it — what I am saying is that her fantastic pipes speak for themselves. Anything I try to add here will only be a pale shadow of the real deal. I can't imagine a nicer band to enjoy in a park on a summer evening, and that evening is tonight at 6 p.m., that Park is Pierson, and the price is right: free.
If you can handle an indoor dance thing that's likely to be populated by lots of young people from all over, then the Arcata Theatre Lounge is your destination tonight. I am reporting on this show with the usual caveat that I am assuming, in the spirit of charity, that my readers are smart enough to be fully vaccinated and follow mask protocols when applicable. That's what my doctor told me would keep me out of the hospital and I tend to defer to him for this sort of info rather than Facebook posts by estranged relatives that draw a chilling connection between the Delta variant, 5G, chemtrails and the Chinese Communist Party. Anyway, there's a Tropicali Showcase tonight at 9 p.m. ($10). What does that mean? Well, it means a lot of local rap and reggae flavored acts are going to be spinning and rhyming through the night, including Ishi Dube, Eli Fowler, Mika Sun, G. Davis, DJ Just One and, of course, The Tropicali Crew.
Following an emerging tradition of having electrically amplified stringëd bands on its stage for weekend shows, the Siren's Song has a hard rock special tonight. Local heavies War Möth will be sharing the timbers with Insomnia Syndrome, who are not, as far as I can tell, named after what happens when I go down a YouTube wormhole about bees or the CIA. Music starts at 8:30 p.m. ($10). If you have been itching for a nice loud one with the heavy drums and distorted guitars that out-volume the intrusive thoughts, this one's for you.
One of the cool things about putting "dead" in your band name is that after you die, the music will still seem fresh. And if you add "grateful" to the beginning? Well, buddy, you've got a recipe for posthumous appreciation-bordering-on-worship that would make the pharaohs of ancient Kemet jealous. Are you telling me that a dead guy made this? Cool! This is almost the case anyway, as local tribute act Grateful Getdown is getting together at Humbrews at 6 p.m. to celebrate what would have been the 79th birthday of one Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia, who I am told was an influential guitarist of some note in a well-known San Francisco counter culture band ($10). And while I don't love the neckties and non-fungible tokens associated with the late master, I have no issue with people keeping his extensive songbook alive.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Calendar and online. Bands and promoters: send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to email@example.com.
Collin Yeo (he/him) thinks almost nothing is funnier than someone sharing misinformation about tracking devices in the vaccine on devices and social media platforms that we know are explicitly, algorithmically tracked. He lives in Arcata.