SAN FRANCISCO -- The Stern Grove music festival returns with its eclectic lineup of musicians this Sunday, with performers Geographer and Cold War Kids both having Bay Area ties.
The artist Geographer, whose name is Mike Deni, started his music career in San Francisco. The former SF resident will make his second appearance in ten years at Stern Grove on Sunday.
"The Bay Area -- for me, when I think about the things that I love -- it's really the beauty of the place," said Deni. "But usually when you go in a venue, you're inside, it's dark. And it's great, but you don't get to experience the city that you're in. That happens so often when you're on tour. You're like, 'I don't know what Baltimore is like, because I just went to the venue and I left.'"
Stern Grove will be different. The oldest musical festival in the Bay Area set in a natural amphitheater has drawn capacity crowds every Sunday this summer for its weekly free concerts.
Geographer's sound has been described as soulful and synth-driven. Deni got his start performing at open mic nights at the Hotel Utah in the city's South Park neighborhood.
"Every Monday, I would get my friends together, get them all down there to watch me put my name on the list. And then wait all night, watching all these other great artists. I mean some of them were kind of insane, but that's what made that made that place really great. And that's where I met my first band mates, and my friends," said Deni.
Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett says their music is soulful rock and roll. Like many artists, he spent much of the pandemic performing virtually and on Instagram Live.
"Just kind of being very spontaneous and loose and messy about it. Like, there'd be times I would be playing a Cold War Kids song I hadn't played in years and going, 'Uh oh, I don't know this second verse lyric. It was just fun," said Willett.
He's since been on tour with the band, but Sunday will be the first time the East Bay native will be rocking out on the Stern Grove stage.
"My family, we would ride our bikes over the Golden Gate Bridge. Just so many times that we played there, getting to get away and walk around all these different neighborhoods. it's just a special city to me," added Willett.
For more information on this Sunday's show and to register for tickets, visit the Stern Grove website.
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