Has Food Killed San Francisco’s Edgy Music Scene?
Back in the days of yore, San Francisco concertgoers used to sneak off to the bathroom to do bumps of cocaine or heroin in between sets. That’s the way God wanted it. Now local aural revelers prefer to luxuriate in such edibles as artisan pizza or bacon endive wrapped pancreas butt while listening to emasculated crooners with no visible ass. The marriage of music and food is about as edgy and creative as the Vh1 Fashion & Music Awards, or so hints Ian S. Port who penned this thought-provoking piece on food and music in SF Weekly. He claims that young “full-time freaks and out-of-the-way spaces that host them” are disappearing due to terrible tech ilk and the fine food they cram down their gullets. More or less.
Here’s how it goes: Creative people — not web designers or software developers, but artists, musicians, activists, writers, and other colorful types — tend not to make much money. As this city becomes less and less affordable, those people leave. And when those people leave, whom will the city’s entertainment events target? The people who can afford to stay: Young, well-off tech workers or high-income young couples, whose tastes and lifestyles are cushier, more conservative, less driven by purely creative aims, and, often — if only in comparison with the people they’ve replaced — dull.
These bougies-in-training will want events to practice their conspicuous consumption, whether on food, booze, music, or all at the same time. And they’ll get it at events like Noisette. This kind of high-minded consumerism — fun as it is — will become the norm, even more than it already has. So while it was once a respite for low-income creatives and real deviants, who would pay $5 or $10 to go a show or a party (at the Eagle Tavern, or Annie’s Social Club, or Kimo’s, remember those?), swill cheap whiskey, and watch something freaky and loud until early in the morning, San Francisco will slowly become one big pork-belly party, an amusement park for well-off residents to discover some new consumer good to become picky over, or for bridge-and-tunnel types to visit on the weekend, go to an overpriced club, and meet a hookup. Big concerts will draw kids from the ‘burbs paying $50 or more a head. They’ll never believe they could be rich enough to actually live here.
Or, maybe most twentysomethings really are into food that much? This New York Times article seems to suggest as much. And from what few twenty-year-old types we selectively keep in our social harem of unbridled lunatics, they sure do go on and on and on about pop-ups and gastronomic thingamajigs. (Hand to God, if just one of them brings up another pop-up restaurant into conversation, we shall steal their youthful essence Charlize Theron-style.) After all, punk is dead and more of a distant Gen Xer memory, yes? Then again, the music scene here in SF is admittedly quiet, so… who knows? Maybe your pork slider is the cause of it all. And if it is, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Anyway, Port goes on to point out a harrowing future, one involving…Oakland. He writes:
The freaks and creatives won’t go too far — they’ll go to Oakland, where there’s much more space, at much lower cost. The kinds of reckless energy that powered San Francisco music from the ’60s through the ’90s will trickle away, as much of it has already. And the city will be worse for it.
Read the piece in its entirety. It’s a good read.
Update: Grub Street editor (and SFist contributor) Jay Barmann weighs in as well. He says that, hey, this is what people want, adding, “the times are a-changin’, and on the bright side, at least the food is way better here than it was ten years ago.”
Contact the author of this article or email email@example.com with further questions, comments or tips.