Writers’ picks: Arts & Entertainment

SN&R writers share their favorite places to see, hear and feel all things creative

Artist Lin Fei Fei recently gave Holy Diver a dark makeover fit for a music venue that regularly toasts to the metal gods.

Artist Lin Fei Fei recently gave Holy Diver a dark makeover fit for a music venue that regularly toasts to the metal gods.

Photo by Nicole Fowler

Best new music venue in a beloved old space

Holy Diver

The metal community was understandably devastated when Starlite Lounge closed and Holy Diver went in its place. (And the electronic dance music community was understandably peeved when Starlite took the place of the Townhouse. So it goes.) But Sacramento desperately needed a venue like Holy Diver, an all-ages, small-but-not-coffee-shop-small space inviting to both touring acts and local bands across a range of genres. The music sounds better than ever, thanks to upgrades by owners Bret Bair and Eric Rushing, former Ace of Spades owners who also run Goldfield Trading Post. And they still book a lot of metal. 1517 21st Street; holydiversac.com. J.B.

Best way to get lost in halls of art

Jazz Night at the Crocker

A light liquor buzz, a fine art maze and a muffled score of the region’s best jazz bands feeling it out in the courtyard; that’s a winning combination to lose your way for a few hours, possibly every summer at the Crocker Art Museum—you’ll have to wait for it to return next May, however. Jazz Night at the Crocker, which happens every fourth Thursday through August, features two 45-minute jazz sets a night. There’s buyable dinner at the café, too, but the best part: the museum, all three of its floors, is open after-hours. Sit yourself in the courtyard and ride out the music, get up to dance, or wander, corridor through corridor, as interstellar jazz jams whisper to you. $8-$24; 216 O Street; crockerart.org. M.Z.

Best weird music pairing

Sacramento Audio Waffle at the Red Museum

The tradition started at the first Norcal Noisefest. On the last morning of the weekend music festival, the palate of experimental racket blustering inside of the Guild Theater got its balance: a sodium-high meal of waffles and coffee for concertgoers. It’s where Lob Instagon got the idea for the “loudest breakfast in the Valley,” or the Sacramento Audio Waffle, which he started in 2006 and revived this year (Lob works at SN&R, by the way). On the third Sunday of every month, six noise artists, vegan waffles and coffee at Red Museum continue the tradition of cross-hatched pancakes and ear-aches going strong since 1995. It starts at noon, so sleep in and get there early. $8-$10 sliding scale; Red Museum, 212 15th Street; norcalnoisfest.com/audiowaffle. M.Z.

Best place for art from the Upside Down

Groundswell Art

In a city pulsing with artistic talent, abstract artist Micah Crandall-Bear and Seattle-based photographer John William Johnson aim to create even more. The pair collaborated on a Warehouse Artists Lofts show in 2015, and decided to keep the partnership going with Groundswell Art. The space opened earlier this year and in the months since, Crandall-Bear and Johnson have showcased brightly vibrant, thought-provoking and fun works. A recent exhibit, for example, was inspired by the Netflix hit series Stranger Things. 2508 J Street; groundswellart.com. AHS

Best place to contemplate Sacramento's changes

Revival at The Sawyer

Whether it’s the gentrification of Oak Park or skyrocketing rents in Midtown, there are a lot of places in Sacramento to consider how the city is changing. What—if any—of these changes are beneficial for the greater community? Perhaps the most stark place to think such thoughts is Revival at The Sawyer, Sacramento’s first-ever rooftop pool, bar and lounge. Perched atop the boutique hotel, Revival overlooks the Golden 1 Center and the Downtown Commons—shiny behemoths that weren’t here all too long ago—with Las Vegas-style luxury cabanas, bottle service, deejays, oysters and a dress code. You might forget you’re in Sacramento at all. 500 J Street; (877) 678-6255; sawyerhotel.com. J.B.

Best honorable mention

Hobo Johnson's “Peach Scone”

There was only one NPR Tiny Desk Concert winner this year, and it wasn’t Sac rapper Hobo Johnson. The cake went to Columbus, Georgia alternative guitarist-singer-virtuoso Naia Izumi, who scored the coveted performance in front of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s office desk in Washington, D.C., an opportunity for rising indie musicians given every year. But what about Johnson, the Loomis-born sad-boi slam poet-slash-rapper and his band the LoveMakers? NPR did give “Peach Scone,” his uncut ode to unrequited love, a shout-out in a write-up of standout contest entries. The story also recognized the hype: “Peach Scone,” released in March, was an overnight success, gathering some 3 million Facebook views in under a week. Since then, the band and the man have sold out venues across the U.S. and Europe, performed at Outside Lands, got signed to a record label and became Sacramento’s latest claim to fame. And, happier ending: On September 12, NPR aired a Tiny Desk Concert with Johnson & the LoveMakers, where they performed four songs, including “Peach Scone” in front of Boilen’s table—or desk. Whatever. hobojohnson.com. M.Z.

Best watering hole for heshers

Blue Lamp

If you’re into the heavy metal headbanger underdogs: Pallbearer, Yob, Ruby the Hatchet and stoner/doom, the dirge lives on at Blue Lamp, where former Starlite Lounge show booker Chris Lemos has staged worth-it metal shows for the past year. There’s good beer to slosh and good crowds to mosh with. 1400 Alhambra Boulevard, bluelampsacramento.com. M.Z.