Hans Zimmer, Jill Scott, and The Decemberists play gigs this month. Plus the rest of our August event picks.
The Decemberists bring melancholy themes of innocence to their Fox Theater performance on Aug. 17.
Courtesy The Decemberists
August is the month that summer really kicks into high gear, and this month features some major musical talent. He’s the musician known as Hans Zimmer; without him, life would be much grimmer; he scored Pirates of The Caribbean, Gladiator, The Dark Knight, and Inception; so at the Greek Theatre, he’ll be sure to get a good reception. Aug. 9, 8 p.m., tickets start at $114, Hearst Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Road, Berkeley, TheGreekTheatreBerkeley.com.
Alphonse Photography (CC)
Jill Scott comes to the Fox on Aug. 12 with her neo-soul fusion act.
Versatile actress and platinum-selling R&B diva Jill Scott is known for splicing classic soprano voice performance with spoken word and hip-hop, creating her distinctive neo-soul fusion. Her fifth studio album WOMAN topped the charts at its release in 2015. Aug. 12, 8 p.m., $65-$145, Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, TheFoxOakland.com.
The Decemberists have never been afraid to peer in on the lives (and deaths) of more unusual narrators, whether it’s an obsessed sailor plotting revenge against a shipmate while languishing in the belly of a whale (“The Mariner’s Revenge Song”) or an injured college athlete lying prone on the field (“The Sporting Life”), but, beyond the quirky and the irreverent, the band always seems to gravitate back to the melancholy theme of innocence snuffed out, of children abandoned and murdered. From “Eli the Barrow Boy” to “Leslie Anne Levine” to “The Rake’s Song,” it’s a recurring motif throughout the band’s oeuvre and part of an old musical tradition stretching back to the Scottish and English murder ballads of the 17th century. Their quirky steampunk rhythms belie a yearning for answers from a callous world that allows such wanton cruelty. The band’s latest studio album, What a Terrible World, tackles these questions head-on, exploring the tragedy and heartbreak of the Sandy Hook school shooting, and eschewing the band’s signature coy Victorian flourishes for a budding maturity. Aug. 17, 8 p.m., $45, Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, TheFoxOakland.com.
Award-winning journalist Robert Moor discusses On Trails: An Exploration, an investigation of how trails help us understand the world, including everything from footpaths through the woods to interstate freeways to the information superhighway. Aug. 3, 7 p.m., free, Books Inc., 1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, BooksInc.net.
Mike Birbiglia presents his brand of comedy at the Berkeley Rep on Aug. 2.
Each show is a work in progress for comedian Mike Birbiglia, who lets the world see how the comedy sausage is made as he fine-tunes his craft in front of a live studio audience. Mike Birbiglia: The New One opens Aug. 2, 8 p.m., $35-$60, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2071 Addison St., Berkeley, BerkeleyRep.org.
Martin Short and Steve Martin take the stage together in Martin + Martin; we’re only one Amigo away from a Three Amigos reunion now! Enjoy comedy, conversation, music, film clips, improv, and even bluegrass from Martin’s six-piece band. Aug. 11, 8 p.m., $40-$80, Concord Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord, LiveNation.com.
The Buddhist Church of Oakland honors the spirits of departed ancestors in this traditional Japanese Buddhist ceremony at the Oakland Obon Festival. Aug. 6, 10 a.m., free, Buddhist Church of Oakland, 825 Jackson St., Oakland, BuddhistChurchOfOakland.org.
Courtesy Chinatown StreetFest
Kids can hop on a dinosaur ride at the Chinatown StreetFest on Aug. 27-28.
Oakland Chinatown StreetFest offers a chance to celebrate the culture and history of Oakland’s Chinatown area in a two-day event of food, arts and crafts, traditional music, and dance. Browse wares at a bazaar with over 200 vendors. Aug. 27-28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free, Oakland’s Chinatown District between Broadway and Harrison Street from Seventh to 11th streets, Oakland, OaklandChinatownStreetFest.com.
Food & Drink
Courtesy Zucchini Festival
Say hey to the Zucchini Man.
Zucchini has a thousand uses: bread, fries, cakes, and is a really cool name for a stage magician. ZucchiniFest celebrates the first three of those with live music, arts and crafts, a kids’ town, and more zucchini foods than you can comfortably imagine. Aug. 19-20, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., general admission $10, seniors and kids $5, under 5 free, Kennedy Park, 19501 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward, ZucchiniFest.org.
At Eat Drink SF, talented local chefs compete to impress with their best recipes using local ingredients in a food extravaganza that includes tastings, classes, dinners, and events. Aug. 24-27, $99-$189, Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco, EatDrink-SF.com.
Courtesy Art + Soul
Explore art, dance, music, and kids’ activities at downtown Oakland’s Art + Soul.
The 18th annual Laurel Street Fair of world music will feature music acts including the Chinyakara Ensemble, Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic, and Debajo Del Agua. Enjoy free live music from around the block and around the world. Aug. 12, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., free, MacArthur at 35th Avenue, Oakland, LaurelStreetFair.com.
Art takes center stage in all its incarnations in the downtown Oakland Art + Soul Festival featuring blues and gospel music, a world dance party, a poetry slam, a circus stage, art activities, art vendors, and family activities. Aug. 19-20, noon-6 p.m., $15 adults, $7 seniors and youth, 12 and under free, 14th Street and Broadway, Oakland, ArtAndSoulOakland.com.
Courtesy Oakland Triathalon Festival
Athletes hit their pedals, the road, and the water for the Oakland Triathlon Festival on Aug. 27.
The Alameda Recreation and Parks Department and the Ala-Gator and Alameda Island Aquatics swim teams sponsor the 63rd Annual Swim Championships, a swim meet for kids who love the water. All participants must be Alameda residents. All swimmers except those in the novice division must have their current USS Swimming registration. Entries are available at Emma Hood and Encinal swim centers. 5 p.m. Aug. 4, 9 a.m. Aug. 6, free, Encinal Swim Center, 230 Central Ave., Alameda, AlamedaCa.gov.
Run, swim, bike: If you can’t get enough of your three favorite forms of locomotion, then the Oakland Triathlon Festival is the place where you can enjoy running, swimming, and biking with the most dedicated athletes. Race to be followed by prize ceremony, raffle, and post-race party with live music, food, and beer. Aug. 27, 5 a.m., $110-$250, Jack London Square, Embarcadero West, Oakland, OaklandTri.com.
The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence looks at the impact of technology on our world. We’re always sure that the next new gadget is going to completely revolutionize the way we live and think, but the problem is that technology may change, but people don’t. Madeleine George explores four different eras of innovation—from the telephone to artificial intelligence—and characters seeking connection in a world where technology makes us more interconnected but somehow more distant. Opens Aug. 3, 8 p.m., $5-$40, Shotgun Players, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, ShotgunPlayers.org.
Comprising 107 of the top young musical talents from across Asia and the South Pacific, the Asian Youth Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Strauss’ Don Juan. Celebrated violinist Sarah Chang joins the show for a rendition of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. Aug. 5, 8 p.m., tickets start at $36, 101 Zellerbach Hall, #4800, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CalPerformances.org.
Four middle-aged Southern women find a new lease on life—and a new definition of friendship—when they come together for a spontaneous happy-hour celebration at the Savannah Sipping Society. Why, the name just oozes enough genteel Southern manners to transform any mere porch into a proper verandah. Opens Aug. 11, 8 p.m., $27-$30, Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda, Altarena.org.
This report appears in the August edition of our sister publication, The East Bay Monthly.