Today I spent a lovely afternoon at Stern Grove, soaking up some much-needed sunshine and supa fresh music. For non-locals, Stern Grove is a park in San Francisco where free concerts are held every weekend during the summer (great deal, right?). Usually you can expect the weather to be cold and foggy, because that’s just what it’s like all the time around here. But today was gloriously hot, perfect for laying out a blanket and eating cherries until your stomach hurts and your feet are on fire from the sun (I’m a true San Franciscan now; apparently direct sunlight makes me melt).

The concerts are held in the “recreation grove” which is half picnic area, half magical pixie forest. See photo below for proof.

That is a homemade funfetti cupcake. A magical treat for a magical afternoon.
That is a funfetti cupcake. As if the day wasn’t awesome enough already.

The sound gets pretty eaten up by the time it gets through all the trees, but the nice thing is you can always venture down to the front and find a spot up close, which is what we did later.

Today’s performers were Dakha Brakha and Tune-Yards (tUnE-yArDs). Although the former is from Kiev, Ukraine and the latter is from Oakland, I can see why these two acts were booked together. They are linked by really amazing, unique vocalists and lots of percussion, although they use these things in very different ways.

Dakha Brakha was up first. I’d seen a video of them online but that was only one sample of what turned out to be a very diverse set. I am in love with their tight harmonies and visual energy (and also those hats).

Kinda wish I’d gone up closer to really watch what they were doing. Come back to the Bay Area soon, Dakha Brakha!

And then Tune-Yards came out and brought the house (grove?) down. We watched the second half of the set from the side lawn, surrounded by dogs and dancing babies and guys who looked like Jason Mraz (ok, maybe there was just one of each of those). It’s a bummer that the below video cuts off abruptly, but I chose it because the lineup and vibe are closest to what they were at today’s show. There are a lot of YouTube videos where the background riff in the beginning is played by saxophones, but the vocal hocketing version is so cool! (Ethnomusicology majors love hocketing.)

For more about Stern Grove and the current season (this has been going on for 78 years!), click here.

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