Emma Silvers

Arts & culture writer, editor, grump

A New Guest at Your House Show: The Middleman

But a contingent of local artists say there’s one increasingly unavoidable sour note: performers at Sofar shows don’t get paid. A first-time Sofar musician is instead compensated with a “high-quality” video of his or her four-song set; after that, a performer is considered a Sofar "alum" and offered a $50 stipend (depending on a room's capacity, as low as three percent of the door) for an unfilmed gig. At all shows, musicians have the chance to sell merchandise, promote upcoming appearances, and

Deep Breaths: A Dispatch From the Gwyneth Paltrow Industrial Complex

Let’s start with this: I am not here to hate bluntly on Gwyneth Paltrow. And a desire to do that is not, I swear to you, why I felt a subtle yet unmistakable gravitational pull toward the actress’s new San Francisco pop-up shop, Goop MRKT (apparently she got the memo about ditching vowels if you want to do good business in the Bay Area), when I learned she would be appearing there May 5 to sign her new cookbook and shower plebeians with her effervescent, organically produced glow.

Booker T. Talks 'Emotional' Return to Monterey Festival 50 Years Later

Of the now-legendary performances at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival in 1967, perhaps none carried the social weight of Otis Redding's. In a sharply segregated music landscape, the young soul singer had been a staple on R&B charts since 1963. But backed by Stax Records' house band Booker T. and the M.G.'s, Redding's searing Saturday night headlining set marked the first time he'd played to an overwhelmingly white audience – one that, it turned out, couldn't get enough of him. Redding died less than six months later, at the age of 26.

How We Keep Killing Talented Women, Over and Over

Around me, on a darkened airplane, people were sleeping, or watching separate, small, silently flashing screens: Friends or When Harry Met Sally or Baby Driver. We were crossing the Atlantic Ocean, headed home to the U.S. after two weeks in Europe, two weeks I’d spent trying to enjoy simple things like ancient architecture and wine at lunch, without being suctioned into the vortex of Twitter and cable news and Trump’s latest horrors and oh god, the entirety of the monstrous Harvey Weinstein moun

Oakland Fire Benefit Serves Up Tears, Sweat and Musical Catharsis at the Fox Theater

There was a moment last night, sometime around 11pm, when the view from sidestage at the sold-out Fox Theater was absolutely perfect. As Hieroglyphics, the collective/record label that helped put Oakland on the hip-hop map in the early ’90s, launched into their classic “’93 ’til Infinity,” the silhouettes of two Oakland residents just slightly obstructed our line of sight

Railing Against Fascism and Complacency, 'Howl' Relevant as Ever

If you’re not lucky enough to have ever seen Ginsberg live, however, there’s the next best thing: recordings. In early 1959, the poet read his famous piece and others at a benefit for a new literary magazine that had been born out of censorship at the University of Chicago. Later that year, Berkeley’s Fantasy Records pressed the recording to translucent red vinyl and released it as HOWL and Other Poems. And nearly 60 years later, at a time when the poem’s impassioned cry against fascism and comp

Erykah Badu takes music lovers on otherworldly trip during SF Armory show

The San Francisco Armory served as a set for BDSM pornography for about a decade. One week ago, it was reported that the historic Mission District building had sold for $65 million to a developer who plans to convert it into manufacturing and office space. But for two hours and 15 minutes on Wednesday, Feb. 14, Erykah Badu stopped by and made roughly 3,000 people forget all of that. It was Valentine’s Day, and music lovers were on Badu Time. “We create stress by living in the past, living in t

At the de Young, the 'Summer of Love Experience' Is a Broken Record

It was a stormy evening on Thursday, April 6, but inside the lobby of the de Young Museum, a warm glow emanated from lava lamps propped on the makeshift bar. Large, flower-adorned peace signs topped a pair of appetizer tables (pita and hummus, couscous salads, goblets of shrimp) while an ambiguous psychedelic tribute band -- decked out in bell-bottoms, colorful vests and questionable Afro wigs -- swayed on platforms and played bongos in front of a neon-lit wall.

During a Natural Disaster, Everything's a Performance

It all took a matter of minutes. NBC cut his mic, Myers looked like he’d just peed his pants, and suddenly we were no longer watching a standard celebrity telethon. In its place was the exhilarating sting of something we weren’t supposed to see: unvarnished anger, mixed with truth, breaking through the shiny, removed, and thoroughly predictable packaging of a tragedy. People often talk about natural disasters as unifiers: the way they remind us we’re all just people at the end of the day, how t

‘Virtual Insanity’ At 20: Did the Internet Kill the Music Video Star?

The music video is dead; long live the music video — as long as by “music video” you mean visual album. That was one (admittedly clunky) proclamation that hung in the air last week, as MTV reported dismal ratings for its big annual celebration of music set to film and scripted celebrity drama set to aggressively sponsored content starring DJ Khaled and Nikes and Snapchat. Are those things still called commercials? Let’s call them commercials.

This Time It’s Personal: Why Losing David Bowie Means Something Different to Everyone

It is 1997, I am 13 years old, and I have the house to myself. This is a situation people relish at any age — but when you are 13 years old and confused all the time and spend most of your days in seemingly vacuum-sealed rooms, occupying a series of plastic chairs lined up next to other plastic chairs containing other 13-year-olds who are seething with tumultuous home lives and hormones and unfortunate harbingers of facial hair, a house to yourself is a kingdom. It is possibility.
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