Posted by xneverwherex on March 25, 2017
Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz
March 23, 2017
Coming to SF straight from SXSW with lots of well-deserved hype was Vagabon. Vagabon is producer and musician Lætitia Tamko, born in Cameroon and raised in NYC. In a far too short set, she played nearly all of the songs off her debut album Infinite Worlds. Vagabon, who played a number of songs with just a guitar and synthpads, also brought 2 other women musicians with her for some added bass and drums.
Vagabon’s haunting vocals brings an emotional punch to the songs. During “Cold Apartment
” you can feel the angst in her voice and it clings to your skin. There is such a rawness and vulnerability and it feels stripped to the bone, yet the moment the drums and bass join in it packs a real punch. “Minneapolis
” bursts out with punk aggression and explodes with lots of guitars and bass and has you stomping along in no time.
Lætitia even teased us with her new song as the other musicians left the stage. She literally had just written it and it was still a work in progress. In her new song she has a line about the moon and her lyrics are so picturesque that you can visualize her words. She knows how to bring more than emotion to her songs and uses her words expressively.
She ended the set with single “The Embers“. As she sang “I’m just a small fish” repeatedly over punk drums and the crowd sang along, it was clear that she would not be a small fish for long. As she said early on, with a huge smile on her face, “Thank you all for coming. This is fucking crazy.”
Philadelphia’s Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz had a hard act to follow. She said right away that she didn’t want to keep the crowd waiting and came on earlier than expected. She started the set by stating that “I hate men, but I love California” and then went into playing 2 songs about California. Her song “I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California” is a catchy lo-fi bubble-gum pop song.
Some of the songs were more catchy than others and it seemed to lull in the middle before picking up again with new song “Charlie” off her debut album Tourist in This Town. Her songs tended to work better when she harmonized with her guitar player as it gave her songs a more interesting fuller sound. The band ended their set pretty early on saying there was just one more song. It seemed that the energy was just waning but it worked out as all the bands played the same amount of time. She ended the set with their very catchy song, “Dean’s Room“. It was one of their more dancey songs, which the crowd loved, and sounds like it came courtesy of New Order with their recognizable keyboards/percussive hooks.
Locals Joyride! opened up the set. The very loud trio, fronted by Jenna Marx, is bringing the ’90s pop punk sound back. During “Don’t forget the first one”, as the drums and guitars quiet, Jenna’s sugary pop sweet vocals burst through the song. It made the song feel alive and brought freshness to set it apart from their other songs. Their 20 minute set, which felt far too short, consisted of tight pop punk songs that came alive with their explosive energy and loud guitars. It was a great way to start the set and get the crowd ready for an incredible evening of music.
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 90s, Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz, Cameroon, concert, indie, Joyride!, Laetitia Tamko, live, music, NYC, pop-punk, punk, Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco, SF, Vagabon | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on July 17, 2016
Great American Music Hall
Baltimore’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack (aka Wye Oak) came to town last night and for so many reasons it was a show not to be missed. I hadn’t seen them since my NYC days (why, I still do not know) and they did not disappoint. It was fairly amusing to see Jenn come out in a tank top, bent over plugging everything in and setting herself up for the show. With no crew, the band is a minimalist act in nearly every way possible.
One of the things I most appreciated (and it seems like perhaps I hadn’t seen/heard this in far too long), was a band who clearly was doing this because they loved it more than life itself. Before playing ‘Civilian‘, and having a very out of tune guitar, she mentioned they were too poor to afford a guitar-tech. She went on to talk about how thankful she was people still came to see them play and people still paid for shows. She mentioned how this was an artist’s life and how if it was not for the fans coming out, they clearly would not still be doing this. Thankfully, Wye Oak still has a big enough fan basis.
While the GAMH was not sold out, it was still quite full and even with quite expensive tshirts, there was still a line after the show ended for shirts and records and other things. Probably the best $25 I spent, assuming the band took 100% of profits.
I hadn’t been in a mood to write about shows for a long time. Sure, there’s been good shows (I’ll do a rundown in another post), but none were leaving me with this blissful feeling. Perhaps it comes with humility and a band that does everything for themselves. When I left the show, I felt like I had just seen something even better than expected.
The band opened with “If You Should See“, a very dreamy-pop song that brings back the haunting vocals of Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays. The song is off their new album Tween (a new album of sorts “mini-album” of out-takes between Civilian and Shriek). Their new album is not quite as guitar heavy as their other album but is bringing in some synths to the mix giving it a more light, dreamy feel.
The band’s next song “Better (for Esther)” also off of Tween is a great mix of the old meets the new. When the guitar comes into action it gives the band a nice full song plus shows off how great Jenn is on the guitar. She loses herself in the guitar, just shredding away, head moving to the music. It’s moments like these that the crowd really got into the performance.
Wye Oak played a good mix of their work from the newer to the older. I was never a huge fan of their last album, Shriek, which was more synth-pop. It drifted almost too far from what I had liked about them, but “The Tower” did sound quite great live. This new album has grown on me quite a lot. Dance-y dream-pop songs had never sounded better and Jenn’s vocals were just soaringly beautiful on “Watching the Waiting”. Lyrics that so perfectly rang true, “And there is nowhere I need to go. And there is nothing left to do. And I am sitting watching myself. Watching you. Watching the waiting”.
Wye Oak – Jenn
It was really great to hear their older songs which are just so full and loud with Jenn tearing it up on the guitar. She is so powerful on “Hot As Day
” and “Civilian
” and gets lost in the music along with the crowd. It’s a lot of noise for just a two-some. Her vocals on these songs have always reminded me of Sharon Van Etten
, sultry, powerful and full. “Civilian” had never sounded better, the guitars were so full and loud, the words just pouring out of her, it was pure raw, emotion.
It was an encore so that actually felt so worth it. Jenn and Andy both came across as so appreciative. Plus, it wasn’t just the hits that they came back to. “For Prayer” was great to hear, a much earlier track that fans really appreciated. Ending the set with “Holy Holy” was quite awesome with Jenn shredding the guitar and the crowd energized and dancing along. It was a perfect way to cap off the performance.
Tushka opened the set. Another duo, comprised of two brothers from North Carolina. Phil was in the band Bowerbirds. A mostly electronic R&B pop was a fun opener. The brothers seemed to have a lot of fun on stage and were really getting into the music. Would definitely check them out again if I see their name around.
If You Should See
Better (For Esther)
Watching the Waiting
Hot As Day
Logic Of Color
I Hope You Die
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Andy Stack, Baltimore, concert, dream-pop, girls who play guitars, Great American Music Hall, guitars, indie-folk, indie-pop, Jenn Wasner, live, music, noise-rock, North Carolina, San Francisco, Tushka, two-some, Wye Oak | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on May 21, 2016
Upstairs at DNA Lounge
May 18, 2016
You know that moment, that you walk upstairs into a club, and you barely hear a sound… and you walk through the door and realize you are one of the only people there… now, imagine that you are the band.
Austin trio, Moving Panoramas, could tell you all about that kind of night.
The one question I repeatedly get asked (and wonder why people feel inclined to ask) is “did the band play” and “did they play like there was a full crowd”. First off, if a band has people at a show – I have never seen a band just walk off because there weren’t enough people at the show and secondly, I have been the only person at a show (which was awkward) and the band still played like they would play for a full house. Naturally, it means I also make even more noise than usual. So yes, they a) played and b) it was seriously kick-ass.
The trio of women were remarkably cool and funny about the show. The band addressed it early on and the crowd for the most part kind of sucked. The band said hello – and no one said a thing – I said ‘hi’ back and they joked that ‘well at least one person is here to see us’. But pretty much they just played all their songs and were so into it that they barely said much to us. Sure there were jokes about how we should all get to know each other as well as at the next show it would be so packed we’d have to push our way to the front but could totally say ‘i was there when …’. So yeah – the band was pretty f’ing awesome!
Singer/guitarist Leslie Sisson has this really beautiful dreamy voice that blends so well into their shoegaze-dreampop sound. And they have one of the most fitting names for a band. Their music has this feel of beautiful, moving landscapes that you can just lose yourself to. The guitar and bass just meld into one full sound. Add the harmonies from drummer, Karen Skloss and it just completes the band’s sound. And while the club was empty, their music filled that emptiness. It filled all the voids with its simplisticness.
Their album, One, is just a perfect blend of indie-guitar-dreampop/rock. With just enough guitars, bassist Rozie Castoe, adds a bit of the fuzziness of the shoegaze sound but still manage to keep it more on the dreamy side of things. Songs like “Magic” and “Tonight” get you lost in their sound. It’s the perfect music to just close your eyes to – hop in your car – and drive for awhile and get lost in this perfect ambient sound. I feel like the best part of their songs is the emptiness within. They were really smart with their songs in that not every moment has to be filled with vocals and it leaves a lot for the listener to fill in.
It was pretty amusing in that when Leslie wanted to dedicate a song to the newly married couple, that she noted that all their songs were way too dark. I think in the end, they chose “One” and said to kind of change the lyrics around or think of it in a different way. Sure their songs are dark and sad, but if you read Leslie’s stories between kidnappings and friends killed, etc. in some ways it makes perfect sense. Regardless, their band is one not to miss – even if you find yourself in a club with just 13 others.
Sometimes it’s about those awkwardly intimate performances where you both know that it’s just you and them. But if you’re lucky enough, the band will put on such a show, you will forget that it was just the 14 of you. Plus, by the end, you will all become friends and even get to talk to the band.
The other huge bonus to the show was the opener, Rabbit Quinn
. A local woman who joked about wearing fairy wings and sneaking into the DNA when she was younger. From the moment she stepped behind the piano, and started her first song, I knew it would be good. She was the reincarnation? of Tori Amos. She was sorta like a cornflake girl, with great stories that were hauntingly beautiful.
Her vocals just filled the room and managed to hush the room with the few people who were talking. She commands attention with both her piano playing as well as her vocals. Her debut album, Lost Children, is dark and eerie and seems to be a story of fables. While it could be mistaken for a long, lost Tori album – she definitely is putting her own spin on it. She has some quite catchy songs that have you singing along. And it’s always great when a singer asks what you want to hear and then plays a song showing that she’s fully in control of the music and the set. She knew how to play to the audience as small as it was and knew how to have fun. One hell of a talented woman. Oddly enough, you can also see Rabbit, performing the national anthem at the A’s games these days. She’s really one to check out if you notice her name at any of the local venues.
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 5/18/2016, Austin, concerts, cornflake girl, DNA Lounge, dreamgaze, dreampop, live, Moving Panoramas, music, Rabbit Quinn, San Francisco, shoegaze, SOMA, Texas, Tori Amos, trio, Upstairs at DNA Lounge | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on April 21, 2016
The Last Shadow Puppets
The Fillmore/The Catalyst
It was only 8 years ago that I had last seen The Last Shadow Puppets. At the time, I was raving about how brilliant their album was. It was also a show that had stayed with me. I remembered seeing them upstairs in the Hammerstein Ballroom. Even then, I knew it had to be too small for them. So, I am still a bit dumbfounded that The Last Shadow Puppets aren’t huge and can still play venues like The Fillmore. It’s not a bad thing, at least as a fan. But they came back stronger than ever with their second album, Everything You’ve Come To Expect.
TLSP – Alex Turner
Long story short, Alex Turner
and Miles Kane
, should be that huge with this band. It’s a departure from the Arctic Monkeys
, but this is by far the better band. The two of them are the ultimate crooners. The way they sing to you, as if you’re the only person in the crowd, is pretty amazing. With their suits and dapper look, I was instantly reminded of some of the best – an homage to the Rat Pack – straight with Alex Turner combing his hair back as he takes a rest while Miles Kane sings. Throw in a bit of the cool swagger of Tom Jones and the emotion of Morrissey and you get Alex Turner. He has charisma and charm in a way that only Morrissey exudes. I don’t think I had been to a show in that long of a time in which the girls were screaming like this was The Beatles. The girls were going crazy for Alex – including throwing things on the stage (please say it was a bra or panties). Their high pitched screams and giggles if Alex looked their way, was amusing. Sure, he’s attractive (he knows it), but my god – when he sings – he becomes even more attractive. And Miles, is the much louder, brasher of the two commanding attention. But the two of them together work perfectly. And when the two sing together – arms around each other – it really shows their fondness of one another.
I was telling a co-worker about last night’s show and his comment was “from the sounds of your description – they sound amazing and someone not to be missed”. And that is what I walked away with. I wasn’t even supposed to be at the show on Sunday night at The Fillmore (Lush had to cancel) and it worked out that I was there, and honestly, having 2 shows back-to-back made me fully appreciate the band even more.
Onto the music – TLSP added a strings section to their show. It was needed to add another element to the band. They begin the show with just the strings, violins and cellos which sounded so beautiful. Just a small group of performers really added to the show. The moment TLSP got on the stage, the whole floor of The Fillmore just lit up in billows of smoke. Im sure the band was stoned by the end of the show if they weren’t already. The band also seemed beyond excited to be playing in San Francisco. Miles and Alex must have yelled out something about SF every few minutes and incorporated SF into some of their songs. They were so incredibly tight and I felt their set in some ways was a bit better. The mix/order of the songs felt a bit more succinct at the Fillmore.
TLSP – Miles Kane
Most of the songs were the same, save for “Used to Be My Girl
” – which is pure sexy, sultriness. The melodies from Miles and Alex in that song are just perfect. Their voices blend together so beautifully; it’s a song they should always play. “She Does The Woods
” (with the intro from Arctic Monkeys “Joining the Dots” was also missing). Alex sounds so great on that song with Mile’s breathy vocals joining him.
Really, the one thing missing was the talkativeness of the band. They must have mentioned/asked ‘How you doing SF’ almost after every song and were just saying how excited they were. In retrospect, the Santa Cruz crowd was insane and way more into it. People were beyond excited for this show with a line wrapped around the block and down the street (this was over an hour prior to showtime). The crowds were polar opposites with the Santa Cruz show filled with a ton of college students and younger. Perhaps, SF has become the ‘cool scene’ where people just don’t show emotions. Regardless, both shows were incredible.
Some of the stand-outs from the evening were easily off the first album The Age of the Understatement with the ever catchy ‘My Mistakes Were Made For You‘ showing just how awesome of a vocalist Alex Turner really is; ‘Standing Next To Me‘ (easily one of my favorite songs) and having some of the best harmonies ever especially as they go into the chorus; ‘The Age of the Understatement‘ which was my first foray into the band – and has the best build-up of any song – always making me think of a bull fight as it just gets more and more intense – it’s pure brilliance; and possibly my favorite TLSP song ever ‘Meeting Place‘. With the strings opening the song and played throughout it just adds to the emotion of the song – coupled with Miles Kane softer vocals to Alex, who really works the song with all of his moves and hip shaking. The lyrics are just heartbreaking, but so beautiful.
The Last Shadow Puppets
It’s also pretty awesome that they still play pretty much everything off each of their 2 albums. They could have cut their shows short, but they really put on quite the show including a Beatles cover that is quite impressive ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
‘. ‘Dracula Teeth
‘, which is Alex singing with Miles playing the hell out of the guitar is quite the pretty song. And the single ‘Bad Habits
‘ is the ultimate in catchiness and has Miles doing one hell of a scream while Alex does more of his slides and dance moves as he plays the guitar. Just brilliant.
Alexandra Savior opened the set. She collaborated with Alex Turner on her album and he co-wrote most of the songs with her. I noticed at the Santa Cruz show, he stood by the side and watched her perform and seemed quite pleased. While she does have good vocals, she seemed a bit too precious/twee for me. She was almost too cute, but at times she did have a sultriness/sexiness to her and that made her quite appealing. If she toned down the preciousness and upped the sensuality, I think she’d made for one hell of a performer. Regardless, she still put on really captivating show and is definitely one to watch.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to see The Last Shadow Puppets, or can see them at one of the festivals this year, you really shouldn’t miss them.
Set List The Fillmore:
Everything You’ve Come to Expect (Extended string intro)
Sweet Dreams, TN
Calm Like You
Used to Be My Girl
She Does the Woods (Arctic Monkeys’ “Joining the Dots” intro)
Only The Truth
The Element of Surprise
The Age Of The Understatement
My Mistakes Were Made For You
In My Room
Standing Next To Me
The Dream Synopsis
I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (The Beatles cover)
Set List The Catalyst Club:
Black Plant (Live string intro)
Calm Like You
The Age Of The Understatement
The Element of Surprise
Separate And Ever Deadly
My Mistakes Were Made For You
Only The Truth
Everything You’ve Come to Expect
Sweet Dreams, TN
In My Room
I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (The Beatles cover)
The Dream Synopsis
Standing Next To Me
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: Alex Turner, alt-rock, concert, crooners, indie-rock, live, London, Miles Kane, music, rock, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, strings, The Catalyst, The Fillmore, The Last Shadow Puppets, TLSP, UK | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on April 10, 2016
April 1, 2016
One of my favorite bands was finally in town again. Well, it wasn’t exactly the same as Supergrass is no more, but Gaz Coombes is going strong as a solo artist. He was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize (sadly, did not win it) for his album Matador. He was back in SF after at least 5 years, if not longer. And it was great to have him back.
Sure, he looked a bit older, but he still had the same muttonchops and looked quite the same. His voice sounded as strong as it ever had. Plus, he had his signature row of guitars all lined up across the stage. And they were as beautiful as ever and looked to have seen (played) a show or 2 – like the most loved guitars ever.
Gaz opened the set with “Oscillate
“, psychedelic trippiness and the perfect opener off the album Matador
. That led into “Buffalo
” – which sounds like a forgotten Supergrass track – a lot of angst and emotion as the song progresses. “One of These Days” is a beautiful track which takes him away from the guitars and is just him and a keyboard. It’s dreamy and airy and with the lyrics of countryside and graveyard, it evokes the feelings of being there. The album doesn’t seem to stay in any one direction but is a bit all over the place. But, it works.
It seemed like everyone was just waiting/hoping to hear some Supergrass songs and Gaz did not disappoint. While a lot of people were yelling out for certain songs, Gaz mentioned he had certain songs that he would be playing and this wasn’t request hour. He then went into one of the most gorgeous covers of “Moving” which had never sounded better. The crowd sang along happily and Gaz seemed to be overjoyed.
He was able to reminisce about spending some of his formative years in the Bay Area (Palo Alto – he mentions) stating it’s not quite San Francisco. An interview had just been published about him growing up here and his father working in the Valley as a tester of sorts. He seemed to have fond memories of living here – especially weather – even though it had been so long ago, but always loved coming back to San Francisco. A feeling of a second home.
Gaz played some songs off his first solo-album, Here Come the Bombs, and the songs had never sounded better. “White Noise” just pulls you in with lyrics that just evoke emotion. You could feel them come through as he sang his heart out. The set, which felt all too short, ended on the biggest high note. Gaz told a story of being 15 and getting “caught by the fuzz” for possession of marijuana which of course meant the debut single of Supergrass “Caught by the Fuzz“. The crowd yelled out the lyrics with Gaz as he strummed along at a quick pace singing along with us. If he wasn’t sure about a Supergrass reunion, hopefully seeing everyone so happy singing along should have been an indication.
Piney Gir, a Kansas musician – but based out of London, opened the set. She was quirky and fun. Plus, she had stories for all of her songs. They were catchy and fun and songs like “Gold Rules” had me tapping along and bobbing my head. She had a great voice and had names for all of her instruments. If anything, she made herself memorable not from her music exactly, but from the quirky things she did. I guess these days, however people remember you, it doesnt really matter. She is definitely someone I would see again and is worth catching. Strangely enough, the two acts together worked out really great.
One of These Days
The Girl Who Fell To Earth
Caught by the Fuzz (Supergrass)
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 4/1/16, britpop, britrock, concert, Gaz Coombes, live, music, Oxford, San Francisco, Slims, Supergrass, UK | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on March 27, 2016
March 23, 2016
Yannick Ilunga, the singer/songwriter/producer out of Cape Town, South Africa, was here in town with his band for his first show. He plays under the name of Petite Noir and is someone not to be missed. I wasn’t familiar with his music, but it was clear the crowd knew some of his songs. His first EP, released in 2015 ‘King of Anxiety‘, was all the buzz at SXSW that year.
And now he’s back again, with the album La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful
. It’s clear that he has influences from all genres and blends it all together making his own sound. Upon the band’s entrance to “Intro Noirwave
“, I was reminded me of the genius of Battles (pre-Yannick’s appearance). If you stripped out vocals and just had instrumentation – you might have a band that sounds all too similar to Battles (which is not a bad thing in any way), but the minute that Yannick joins with his bandmates – and the dynamic changes.
Yannick has a stage presence that is all to awesome to see. He owns the stage and is a charismatic frontman. He works the stage engaging the audience. His vocals reminds me of a cross between Twin Shadows and Kele of Bloc Party. The band has a similar sound to Bloc Party with the indie/post-punk sound. Songs like “Seventeen (Stay)” could be a new Bloc Party track. I’m a fan of the music when he starts to blend African beats into the music. It then differentiates him from the Bloc Party(s) and bands who are already doing that music.
After listening to his work online, it’s totally clear that this is a band that needs to be seen live. “La Vie Est Belle” is just beautiful when it’s performed. The images that are shown on the backdrop of him falling just add to the sound. Add the African beats to the R&B influences and you get an amazing song that incorporates it all. In songs like these, you can hear all the music that he listened to – from Kanye to Mos Def to Prince – its a beautiful blend. “Just Breathe” shows off the 80’s influences and had the crowd dancing. Add some positive lyrics with “be the change you want to see” over synth-pop beats – it makes for a good dance party – and then to dive right into “Freedom“. You can feel his emotion in all the songs, from discontentment to frustration to exhilaration.
As he neared the ending of the set, there was a crowd sing-along with “Down” which went on and on and made sure to include all of the audience at some point. Yannick seemed like he was having a great time and said over and over how SF was such an awesome crowd and so loud. The crowd danced along and sang along and clearly showed him and the band a really great time. Can’t wait to see what happens when he comes back to play a bigger venue.
What made this show even more awesome were the openers from the other side of the bay – The Seshen
. Two bands that were paired perfectly and both had amazing shows. The Seshen clearly had a big following and many people were out just to see them. The two lead singers, Lalin St. Juste and Akasha Orr, both had amazing/strong vocals – and both were awesome dancers. They just take you away with their lush voices.
Plus – The Seshen has one hell of a percussion section. A set of congas and bongos along with a whole drum set, and a drummer with a contagious smile, and it elevated the music. The afro-caribbean beats mixed in with a fusion of R&B/hip-hop/electronic music and indie and it made for some awesome songs.
The band had the crowd dancing in no time. It’s so easy to get swept up into their music. “The Fall” is just infectious and its swirling melody reminds me of Beach House. It just transports you and you get lost in the music as you dance and move along to it. “Unravel” is pure catchiness over the electronic dance beats that will keep you moving. Their set is just brilliant and the only bad thing is that it felt like it was over before it even began. Between the catchy/dance-y music and the amazing singers and their dancing – the set just felt like it was way too short. We definitely need to be seeing more of the Seshen in the Bay Area sometime soon!
Set List Petite Noir:
La Vie Est Belle
Till We Ghosts
Set List The Seshen:
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 3/23/16, African, afro-caribbean, Bay Area, Capetown, electronic, hip-hop, indie, live, music, noirwave, Petite Noir, post-punk, R&B, Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco, South Africa, The Seshen, world music, Yannick Ilunga | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on February 15, 2016
Super Furry Animals
Great American Music Hall
February 9, 2016
Wales Super Furry Animals (SFA) always puts on a great show and this night was no exception. The whole night was nothing short of awesome. As I had a rental car, I wanted to be sure I parked in a safe spot vs some of the alleyways Im prone to park in with my own car. It was only fitting that as I pulled up a woman was getting out of her car at the same time and turns to me to ask if I was going to the SFA show. Seems we’re off to a great start. To make it all the more interesting, turns out she lives a block from my grandmother. Who said the world really wasnt that small.
SFA – gruff
Then I really wanted to buy a shirt. And Guto
, bassist (whom I didn’t even recognize, but guessed he was in the band due to the Welsh accent), had to deal with my lack of cash and actually felt bad that he was taking all of my cash. He was quite concerned; meanwhile I still did not have enough cash for the shirt. He was willing to work with me and gave me the shirt for even less. Man, that totally made my night. And hell, the bands hadn’t even played yet.
Long story short… I really love this band. SFA OK!
The band came out with lead singer Gruff Rhys in his spaceman costume and all the guys in white lab coats with the oh so spacey psychedelic sounds of ‘Slow Life‘ from 2003’s Phantom Power. The song is one of those slow burns as it delves into other styles from the 90s Manchester baggy-dancey rave sounds before it feels like we’re back to the 60’s psychedelia. It’s the perfect song to get the crowd worked up as it just builds with energy.
As if the show couldn’t get any better, they immediately delved into the even more space-y jam ‘(Drawing) Rings Around The World‘. The crowd was really into it with everyone singing along and dancing — and yes, there was a lot of dancing people which is always an awesome thing to see. Plus, most the people around were really cool and actually looked out to make sure they totally weren’t blocking the view.
The set was a good mix of deeper cuts and more popular tracks. Gruff has never sounded better and it was nice to hear him perform with SFA again. It had been far too long (6 years too long!). It’s hard not to re-fall in love with the romantic love songs like “Hello Sunshine” and lyrics as great as “I’m a minger and you’re a minger too, so come on minger, I want to ming with you.” The space-y experimental Pink Floyd-esque Welsh song “Pan Ddaw’r Wawr” always sounds amazing. It’s so hard to not fall in love with the band; their music is all over the place crossing into so many different genres including country-fused ballads like “Run! Christian, Run!”
Their music is always a bit trippy with costume changes seeming to come from space, white coveralls and of course YETIS!! Like seriously, how can any band go wrong when they walk around holding signs saying “applause”, “more applause”, “thank you” and the ever cheeky “resist phony encores”. So naturally, they ended the set in coveralls playing “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck
“. It was wild and awesome and so had everyone worked up, fists in the air. And of course they walked off the stage as the song nears the end leaving us just the pulsating sounds of the reverb before the band comes out dressed as Yetis! and kicks it into high gear and finishes off the song with a bang.
And this truly explains why encores are so never needed. If you can finish off a set like this, there is truly no reason.
Opening the set was San Francisco’s own, Heron Oblivion. The band was just recently signed to SubPop Records. The band was tight and this experimental psychedelic band is one to watch. Lead singer/drummer Meg Baird comes from Espers while the other band members came from a variety of other bands including Comets on Fire.
Put them all together and the band is the perfect opening for SFA. Vocals come in here and there but its really all about the 3 guitarists behind her and this blissful psychedelic music they make. Meg’s vocals are haunting as they come through over all the noise. They are definitely a band to catch and I have a feeling they will be opening up for some amazing bands in the near future (or at least one can hope).
Short Clip from “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck About Anybody Else”
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: Cardiff, concert, experimental, Great American Music Hall, Gruff Rhys, Heron Oblivion, indie, live, neo-psychedelic, psychedelic, rave, San Francisco, space rock, Super Furry Animals, Wales, Welsh | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on January 23, 2016
Car Seat Headrest
January 20, 2016
Not unlike another Virginian (Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing), Will Toledo has a similar story. Both seemed to start recording their albums very lo-fi in their bedrooms and then managed to get signed by labels and record albums and go on tour. It’s almost too familiar. Both artists are clearly masters of what they do and have incredible music. Will, playing under the moniker Car Seat Headrest, has moved onto wetter pastures aka Seattle. And then he got signed by Matador Records. The even crazier part of this – he already had some 11 albums released. Pretty f’ing impressive!
Car Seat Headrest
On album, some of their songs are fuzzy anthem sing-alongs and they’re fun to listen to, but it was a wonder of what it would be like live. I already had listened to Car Seat Headrest’s Matador debut, Teens of Style
, more than enough times. I had come across them while asking friends which bands I needed to check out from CMJ (think SXSW – smaller and in NYC). And then next thing I know, a co-worker is sending me all these links of the band and how much press they are getting. Seriously, the prestigious New Yorker
had written about them. And that’s when you know you’re going places.
To say that I was beyond pleasantly surprised about their show would be an understatement. I didn’t even realize they had that much music to perform and it seemed like the entire audience know their entire catalog and had seem them play countless times. The band started the set with “The Ending of Dramamine” which had to be the coolest song they had. The solid drum beats in the background with the minimal sound of the throbbing bass and then the guitars come in oh so slowly. At first a note here and there its slow and drawn out. I was so reminded me of Explosions in the Sky at this moment. As the 13 minute song continues it picks up. The guitars come in full force getting louder and louder and more aggressive. It comes to a full swell before backing down and then picking up. It was just beautiful and one hell of a song opener. And then once it seems like the song is over, 5 or so minutes in, Will comes in with his lyrics. It’s strangely beautiful – his vocals just emote. You can nearly feel the pain of the lyrics as he sings.
My only wish was that it continued just like that, but the songs change up and they’re not all that heavy. But regardless, the show was awesome. From the crowd chanting out songs and the drummer joking that it’s a school night and we should all be home sleeping. The band clearly was quite comfortable with the crowd. Will almost seems embarrassed from the way the audience loved him and it was somewhat cute. There were moments that I felt like I was watching an early Pavement show. Some old-school songs that clearly felt like they were from the 90’s independent scene. Then there were songs like “Bodies” which has a more electronic fuzzy pop sound and got the crowd dancing and jumping.
Im definitely a fan of their songs being played with more guitars. But even their pop songs that were more well known were awesome live. Everyone singing along they also managed to capture the 60’s neo-psychedelia sound. Its hard to place the band on where they should be filed under and who would like them, but it seems that they cross genres and have a pretty cool fan-base. Im totally into seeing them again whenever they come around. Plus – Will is multi-talented and watching him on drums was pretty sweet.
Besides, any band that can end with a really impressive “Psycho Killer” cover from The Talking Heads already upped brownie points. In a weird way, at that moment it felt like we were watching a young David Byrne. Quirky and slightly weird, Will is just quite awesome.
Local SF/Oakland band Silver Shadows
started the set. The almost all-girl band (minus the drummer – Chase – who apparently is a cool dude that somehow everyone seems to know) were a really great start. Sounding like some of the 60’s girl bands they didn’t totally have a wall-of-sound going, but should have. If the guitars were just a bit louder it would have been that much more awesome. A co-worker said they could be the next Dum Dum Girls or Best Coast and I was reminded of a less 80’s version of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Regardless, all great bands to be compared to. The vocals from each of the women was pretty sweet – as their high voices pierced through the air against swirling guitars, drum beats that almost get lost in the background but you can just feel it and keyboards. The guys in front next to me (possibly friends of the drummer for all I know) were really into it and dancing and singing along.
I’ve listened to the EP more times than I could have imagined already and it makes for really great listening. A bit shoegazey at times into crescendoing guitars and they have this really awesomely beautiful sound. I really need to see them again.
So far – a pretty good start to 2016 with Tool being the first show (no words can describe a Tool show but f’ing amazing balls-to-the-walls awesomeness).
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 60's pop, Car Seat Headrest, concert, indie, live, music, Oakland, psychedelic, San Francisco, Seattle, shoegaze, Silver Shadows, The Independent, Virginia, Will Toledo | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on January 2, 2016
The Dandy Warhols
Miranda Lee Richards
December 1 & 2, 2015
The greatest rock band played the greatest show… The End.
Sadly, time some times gets the best of us. And then the year ends, and you get to reflect on all the shows you saw and how the year ended. It was a crazy year – I saw Ride the day after the Paris attacks and I remember being unsure about going to a concert. And then I thought of how many awesome bands I had seen over time – and fuck it – ISIS, terrorists will never win.
ended the concert – she said it was one of the greatest rock concerts ever. Ive seen The Dandy Warhols
so many times, that at times the shows start to blur. There was the string of the 3 hour long sets (some of the best I had ever seen), and then there was December 2. The energy in the club was amazing. The place felt alive and it had been a long time since I felt that feeling in a show (let alone in SF, ever!). And the energy in the club reflected with the band who was as tight as ever. It was like everything converged for that perfect storm.
A co-worker (who was at night 1) and I discussed the rules of music/bands and what happens when a band plays 2 nights. The obvious answer is … you go to both shows. The other answer is — when in doubt always go with night 2. There’s a lot of reasons night 2 always wins out – but to keep this succinct the rule of thumb is the band is all warmed up, they’ve been in town for a bit and everything is all worked out. This happened with The Mountain Goats (I didnt see show 1, but according to those who saw both – night 2 kicked ass) and I’ve seen it with other bands. (Testing this theory out on Sunday night with A Place to Bury Strangers – will report back). So while night 1 was pretty awesome, night 2 killed it.
The obvious – Zia no longer had a migraine and was in great shape. The band was tight and mostly the crowd was ridiculously awesome. Truthfully, with the frat bros pushing forward (and apologies now – never judge a book by its cover yadda yadda yadda) and needing to be front center and not shutting up I wasnt sure what would happen. Turns out – these guys were insane die hard fans.
Zia came out to a crowd that loves her – with everyone chanting her name. CTT likes to talk about how everyone loves Zia and she does a little dance. She looked super comfy in flowy pants and a black tank. CTT – who wasnt in a BJM shirt – was more chatty than usual. And Peter and Brent seemed like they were having an awesome time. I noticed Brent and Zia talking it up quite a bit with lots of smiles.
So what makes it a show that stands out from other shows:
* the crowd can make or break a show. Any crowd that upon request for a song to play actually has people yell out songs with explanations is pretty f’ing amazing. The guy next to me yelling out “Little Drummer Boy
” with Zia stating maybe later – and the guy pleading ‘its December – its the right time to play it’ was quite convincing. Courtney ixnayed it and pretty much every song to state that he’d be sticking to the setlist.
* during the band’s “break”, CTT led the crowd in the loudest sing-along ever for “Everyday Should be A Holiday“. He mentioned that whenever this is played he alawys asks for a sing-along and its never really loud. So this time, when we weren’t loud enough, he asked for it even louder. The whole place must have been singing along. Perhaps one of the greatest moments ever.
* CTT sounding better than ever. ‘Chauncey P’ is a really great song live as well as ‘Some Things You Got To Get Over‘, two of the bands newest songs and so worth a listen.
* Zia dancing and playing the entire set and never stopping (minus the pee break). Plus her awesome dance moves as the crowd chanted her name. Migraines be gone!
* Zia stating it was one of the greatest rock n roll shows ever.
* Pete on guitars in the opening of PIA with some of the greatest guitar work ever – and then his windmill playing. Plus – the droning guitars that go on and on and straight into ‘Boys Better‘. How does life get better than that – and then you end the show!
And while not to dismiss night 1 – that was awesome too and they were really good. Sure, Zia wasnt in the best of spirits but she looked to be having an awesome night. Plus – we got a Kristen Hersh (Throwing Muses) cover – “Your Ghost” – which was incredible. Also, CTT waxed poetic about SF and him loving the city. And also about how while SF was changing the TL would never change no matter how they try to clean it up.
I should also state that the openers – Joel Gion especially – put on a really great show. If you love psychedelic music – you have to see them. I got to talk to Christof after the show (guitarist in Joel’s band as well as Miranda Lee Richards) and besides being insanely talented he was charming. Him and a few of us were talking about both the nights shows and how he thought the 2nd night for his band was so much better (possibly more drugs?) but how as an audience it seemed the first night was much tighter. Perhaps because the band had so little space to perform, they seemed so connected. Either way – the band was awesome on both nights and Joel (of Brian Jonestown Massacre percussionist fame) has one hell of an awesome band. Definitely a band not to be missed.
Crack Cocaine Rager
Somethings You Got To Get Over
I Love You
The Last High
Everyone Is Totally Insane
Down Like Disco
Every Day Should Be a Holiday – CTT Solo
Chauncey P vs All the Girls in London
We Used to Be Friends
The Legend of the Last of the Outlaw Truckers a.k.a. the Ballad of Sheriff Shorty
Bohemian Like You
Pete International Airport / Boys Better
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 12/1/2015, 12/2/2015, alternative, Brent, concert, Courtney Taylor Taylor, Dandy Warhols, Great American Music Hall, indie, Joel Giol, live, music, Pete, Portland, psychedelic, San Francisco, shoegaze, The Dandy Warhols, Zia | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on December 7, 2015
Aimee Mann & Ted Leo Holiday Show
w/Special Guests Liz Phair, Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick
Bimbo’s 365 Club
In a random twist of events, I ended up at Bimbo’s last night for the Aimee Mann, Ted Leo Holiday show. Let’s just say that there might be hope for Tinder, really. The guy was from Chicago, so obviously he’s already got cool points because thats where Liz Phair is from and well it’s Chicago, and he’s obviously got great taste in music. I had always wanted to go to this show, but just never bought tickets and it seems it usually sells out. All I know is that it’s fully worth the money and next year (assuming it’s happening again), I’m all over it.
I had seen Ted Leo quite a bit in NYC but not on a tour like this and I had missed The Both (his and Aimee Mann’s collaboration). It was a really great set consisting of some really bizarre Christmas tunes and just some great stories. Apparently Ted was running for office in the North Pole as FrosTED the snowman (costume too) (term limits came into effect), and as Aimee mentioned – another white guy running for office and he had a platform/campaign with an awesome poster. Him and Aimee have great chemistry on stage and just feed off of each other.
Holiday Show w/Aimee Mann, Ted Leo
With so many great guests coming together (hello Liz Phair) it was an awesome experience. She came out early in the set to perform “Supernova” along with Aimee and Ted. It sounded as great as ever and maybe better with the addition of the two of them. I did really enjoy the holiday songs that Aimee and Ted performed with Aimee’s lovely voice on “Winter Wonderland
” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas
“. Perhaps the best of the night was Jonathan Coulton
‘s help on a new rendition of “Superstar
” from Jesus Christ Superstar
– with new lyrics “Jesus Claus” “Santa Christ” it was blasphemous and hilarious and so worth seeing.
I’m not sure the show got better than the moment that Aimee came out to sing “Save Me” which was haunting and beautiful as ever. So much pure, raw, emotion. Ted helped out with guitars and vocals and missed the 2nd half of the song as he got so enrapt with Aimee’s vocals and just listened in and forgot to sing. It was *that* special. Plus, she even did the “original” version of “Voices Carry” from Til Tuesday. Apparently, the original version is not what we ever heard on the radio which was about trying to get presents from her step-dad. But, apparently it didnt go well with radio peeps with lyrics like “Hush hush / He’s your dad now / This is Gary”. I think this song will be forever tainted in my head with these new lyrics.
Aimee and Ted clearly have a wicked sense of humour and really play off of each other well. And John Roderick – and a song about Atari 2600 called “2600” was pure awesome. Lots of talk about Atari vs ColecoVision and other ancient video games. It clearly wasn’t necessarily a show for the young hipster crowd, as even my date didn’t even recognize Til Tuesday. Also, there was a great rendition of “You’re A Mean One Mr Grinch” which really showcased Aimee’s beautiful vocals.
In their 2 hour set, it seemed so much happened and was learned. Aimee was once married to Santa Claus (he had no time for her), Ted Leo learned the elections were not happening, he also has a dad who cries mysteriously when some Christmas donkey song is played (report back NYC when he brings his dad on stage for this), Jonathan Coulton (who was initially dressed as Santa Claus) is really Jesus, and the lovely Liz Phair goes all out for decorating the tree so much that you can’t even find her family. What can be better than a night spent like that, hearing lovely stories and laughing a lot and bringing in the holiday spirit.
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 12/6/15, Aimee Mann, alternative, B imbos, Chicago, Christmas songs, concert, folk, Holiday Special, John Roderick, Jonathan Coulton, LA, live, Liz Phair, music, NYC, San Francisco, Ted Leo | Leave a Comment »