Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Archive for March, 2015

On A Mission w/Black Violin

Posted by xneverwherex on March 26, 2015

Black Violin
Yoshi’s Oakland
3/22/15

Couldnt have picked a better venue for Miami’s Black Violin to play. Yoshi’s is a sweet little jazz club that doesn’t leave space for dancing, but is great for a very intimate performance. The sound couldn’t possibly have been better and as it was all chairs and tables, the sightlines were great.

Of course, right from the on-set the band went against Yoshi’s “rules” and told everyone to take pictures and videos and to tag everything with @BlackViolin. They also encouraged everyone to stand up and dance and their shows were not made for sitting. Sadly, there really wasnt much room to stand nor dance, but people did what they could on occasion.

Black Violin

Black Violin

The duo consisting of the always wide smiling Kev Marcus on violin and Wil B on viola are nothing short of impressive. From seeing them at a small hip-hop club last year at SXSW to seeing them at a jazz club, the band doesn’t disappoint.

The band started out with their classical music “Brandenburg” showing just how talented the two of them are. It quickly moved into some hip-hop numbers along with their DJ throwing down the beats and a drummer who was simply sick. The way the guys move between genres and making it sound so flawless is pretty amazing. The wah-wah effects pedal used with Kev’s violin is pretty sick and not something that you see a lot. It gives the instrument such a full on sound taking it far away from a traditional violin sound.

Im a big fan of their renditions of popular songs and just how amazing they sound with violins and their vocals. It helps that they encourage a lot of audience participation with hands in the air, encouraging lots of dancing and of course, singing along. Its a bit of a bummer when the crowd is pretty silent to a song like Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky“, but then again hearing Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” on violins is nothing short of impressive. Of course, the crowd was mostly singing along and a few of us had our hands in the air or were dancing. “Radioactive” and “Stay With Me” were also pretty cool, but Im a bigger fan of their original numbers. “The Mission” is a highly catchy song with great beats/synths and Kev plucking his violin like a guitar and will have you tapping your foot in no time. But the band is most impressive when they perform their song “Freestyle” which is exactly as it sounds – just them performing on the fly, feeding off the energy of the audience and never the same. Its pretty cool to see what they come up with. Of course, after it was done Wil asked for someone to be sure to post it as it was one of the more awesome Freestyles. This is where the band excels fusing classical with hip-hop and making it all sound so fresh and new.

The band had now been touring for 65 days straight and it seems theyre hitting up everywhere. So if they haven’t yet hit your city, its a crime to not see them. Push yourself into a genre you probably weren’t necessarily aware of and enjoy some violin for a night. It will blow your mind. Now, if theyd just start playing the club circuit and then you could have a real party!

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Dope Machines – Airborne Toxic Event

Posted by xneverwherex on March 24, 2015

Airborne Toxic Event
Regency Ballroom
3/21/15

LA’s, The ATE, had announced a shortened tour of just 9 dates for their 4th album Dope Machines. The new album was going in a bit of a different direction than prior albums. It definitely has more of an 80s flare and more synth than their big anthem indie songs of years prior. It was to be an awesome show that would be focusing more on the visuals than the actual band itself.

The Airborne Toxic Event

The Airborne Toxic Event

Mikel Jollett sounds so much more emotionally invested in this album. With raw, passionate vocals you really can feel him. It also helps that they played the new album in its entirety nearly in the dark with all of the emphasis on the video images behind them. The videos ranged from women in lacey lingerie (stockings) to visuals of cityscapes passing by. Songs like “California” still have the catchiness of prior songs and it was great to hear Mikel talking about growing up in the different parts of California and how its made him – of course, hes a product of hippie parents that took him around in a VW bus growing up. And best of all, he tells a story like no other.

Unlike other shows, this show started out a bit on the slower side but thankfully there was a part 2 where they played all of their hits. The band then started out “part 2” with the ever catchy “Gasoline” which got the crowd dancing and revved up. Plus – it would mean we’d finally get the band really working the stage and playing their hearts out. Lots of guitars, lots of great harmonies and of course Anna Bulbrook not just on keyboards, but her violin. And man, I am sure seeing a lot of violins in bands these days, but she tore it up. So with the lights all up and a crowd wanting this – the remainder of the set would turn into a fun affair. The band continued to rip through songs immediately going into “Happiness Is Overrated” — another fun catchy song that had the crowd singing along to ‘i’m sorry, i nearly lost my head’.

It was a great fun night, but this crowd left a lot to be desired. From the young kids in front of me who insisted on slow-dancing then having a full on make out session (yes – this was right near the stage) and having no clue that they were yes, at a concert. It was just awkward. Worse, instead of paying attention to Mikel who is literally right behind them playing his guitar to the far right area, they were filming each other. If that wasnt enough, we then had a woman come up to us asking if we would be her friend. Now I have seen a lot at concerts, but I dont think Ive been asked about the friend thing since I was 5. She was insistent on hanging out with my friend and I, while I was more interested in not having any conversation and watching the band. Plus, I had the kids in front of me now making devil-horned signs the entire show.

The Airborne Toxic Event

The Airborne Toxic Event

So yes, it was an interesting night, and they had an encore or two, plus its hard to go wrong with the violin opening of “Sometime Around Midnight“. Its just gorgeous having the addition of the strings. And the song just resonates with these lyrics:
And it starts
Sometime around midnight
Or at least that’s when you lose yourself
For a minute or two
As you stand
Under the bar lights
And the band plays some song about forgetting yourself for a while

And in a nutshell it rather sums up the night. Theyre definitely a band to see if you havent before as its always a good time, even when the crowd isnt quite what you were expecting.

Set List:
Dope Machines Set
Wrong
One Time Thing
Dope Machines
California
Time to be a Man
Hell and Back
My Childish Bride
The Thing About Dreams
Something You Lost
Chains

Fan Favorites (might be out of order)
Gasoline
Happiness Is Overrated
Changing
Change and Change and Change and Change
Papillon
Welcome to Your Wedding Day
Sometime Around Midnight
All I Ever Wanted

Elizabeth

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A Little Bit of Country — Dinner With The Kids

Posted by xneverwherex on March 21, 2015

Dinner With the Kids
+ other local bands
50 Mason Social House
March 20, 2015

Lots of different bands and lots of different sounds filled 50 Mason Social House last night. With the first band that was your typical indie rock fare, they had some good moments and it definitely wasn’t anything horrible, but sadly it was just rather forgettable. I dont even know if they ever said their name so that in itself isnt quite good, but then again I was outside for part of the set.

Really, I was there to see San Francisco local band Dinner With the Kids. Thanks to their “new” mandolin player, Ben Graham, I found out about them. And yes, really its definitely a little bit of country and a little bit of bluegrass and a little bit of Americana. Its foot stomping, hand-clapping sweet sweet music. And while last night was a set way too short, it was nothing but awesome.

Dinner With The Kids

Dinner With The Kids

“Wild At Heart” which has to be one of the catchiest songs with Nick Poulos‘ scratchy gruff vocals is a foot stomping good ‘ole time. When Michelle Juola joins in, their harmonies are just beautiful together. Their voices blend together so perfectly with her higher vocals softening up the song. Add a bit of banjo and cello (sadly missing last night) and the song just gets better. It reminds me of a song that you’d hear at a Decemberists show that just goes on and on and picks up with speed and intensity the deeper into the track.

When Nick sings, its hard to not pay attention to him. With a full lumberjack red beard and a hat, he has a voice that just commands attention. (“Voodoo Call” is the perfect example – he just draws you in with those vocals). The band, with all the different instruments, just blends together so beautifully. Bassist (Reese Douglas) and mandolin player (Ben) fit in so well amongst the guitars and vocals of Nick and Michelle, it just seemed that they all could have been playing together now for quite awhile. Drummer (Kevin Rypma) was tucked away in back, but his drumming definitely added to their full sound.

The real asset of DWTK is the guitars and harmonies of Nick and Michelle especially on songs like “And Everything Moves On” – the two of them together have a beautiful interplay and you can feel the emotion when they sing. They just bring you into the song and hold you captive during those moments and its hard not to fall in love with them.

The show last night sadly may have had too many bands that were all over the place music genre wise. The crowd was pretty tame with most people sitting down and not terribly interested. But I did hear some people talking about how good they were, so thats a good thing.

If youre local – the band is playing a bunch more shows in the city. Next up – Wed night a free show/fundraiser to raise money for a new album! Come out, come out wherever you are!

Set List:
Sonoma
Sarsaparilla Roots
Wild at Heart
Southern Hospitality
Whiskey Riders
Devil at the Crossroads
15 to Life
Voodoo Call
And Everything Moves On

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Clan of Xymox @ DNA Lounge

Posted by xneverwherex on March 21, 2015

Clan of Xymox
Anthony Jones
DNA Lounge
March 19, 2015

Dutch band, Clan of Xymox, finally made it back to San Francisco just 10 years later. Having a very brief tour, just 3 dates in California before heading to Europe, Northern CA was lucky to get one of their shows.

Clan of Xymox

Clan of Xymox

While I had never seen the band back in the day, it was great to finally see them. Ronny Moorings sounded just great and still looked awesome. He is just great to watch on guitar, but even better when he’s not playing as his hands are so expressive. Always moving and just perfect with the music, it was gorgeous to watch.

Their earlier songs with the catchy synth beats over dark and moody guitars and vocals, sounded incredible. The music just goes on and on with incredibly long songs that just beg for dancing. With songs like ‘This World’ that just seem to keep going and a pulse that never stops, its easy to get lost in the music. No matter how long the songs are, you just dont want them to end.

‘Jasmine and Rose’ was another crowd favorite and everyone was singing along to the chorus of “sensual” — bodies writhing to the music, clad in black latex and leather, mohawks everywhere you turned, lots of very dark eye make-up and black eyeliner, the crowd was just beautiful. Unlike most shows where theres lots of pushing and shoving, it was a pretty awesome crowd. Everyone just dancing (and not the pseudo jumping around) people were caught up in the music. Arms floating through the air, bodies moving to the music, its the perfect music. Darkwave has never sounded better.

I’m definitely partial to their earlier songs, but the music off of their latest album, Matters of Mind Body and Soul, is really quite great. The band which has definitely gone away from the more synthpop 80’s sound, still has their darkwave/gothic/electronic feel. Its melancholic, emotional, atmospheric sounds tugs at the heartstrings. The songs are emotional and raw and just beautiful. You can just close your eyes and with the background keys and guitars, get lost in the music. It just takes you along and is perhaps one of their best albums since their earlier music. Opening the set with “I Close My Eyes” off this new album was a brilliant way to start the set. It just set the mood for an incredible dark ambient show.

The band ended the show with a brilliant cover of Shocking Blue‘s ‘Venus’ changing up the words just a bit from “Im Your Venus” to “Shes My Venus, She’s My Fire’ which was an awesome little change. Its a nice dark, heavy cover with moody vocals and couldnt have been better. Of course, they had to end the set with one of their most popular songs ‘Obession’ which created a surge of energy and finally lots of moshing. By that time, with everyone a hot sweaty mess, it didnt even matter. It was a brilliant way to end the show and I couldnt have left more happy.

Anthony Jones @ DNA

Anthony Jones

San Francisco’s Anthony Jones, whose music and shows benefit the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary, opened up the set with musicians on violins and cello. It had to have been the most beautiful gothic, Victorian music I have ever heard. It felt like a time and place of yesteryear. The women in their Victorian/gothic dresses with gorgeous headpieces were just breathtaking. It was all so intricate.

The music takes you to another place and Anthony’s vocals echoed through the DNA Lounge. It just filled the room along with the backing instruments. It felt like a full orchestra even if there were only 3 of them on instruments. He has such a strong presence and the way he works the stage, he commands your attention. As he sings “Long Live The Queen” you begin to feel like you are in a different era. His music is like period-pieces and depending on where he takes you, you get sucked into that era.

As he played “Come to Me” (which starts with the opening line ‘Welcome to Fright Night’), youre immersed in a world of vampires. Keyboards fill the room with manic sounds, and then Anthony’s voice comes in, haunting and beautiful. Ariellah comes out in beautiful black latex and starts dancing, her body undulating across the stage. She grabs him and clings to him and its just beautiful to watch, if not a bit of a voyeuristic feel. The music is just made for a movie, all dark and haunting, brooding and gothic.

By far, he is one to go out and see. Its hard to go wrong with beautiful vocals and violins and a cellist that just add to the whole world. The two bands were so well paired together. It couldnt have been a better set and with an awesome crowd, it made the night all the better. Plus, so many great outfits to look at. An awesome night!

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Caribou Closes Out Noise Pop Fest

Posted by xneverwherex on March 4, 2015

Caribou
Koreless
The Fillmore
March 2, 2015

Canada’s Dan Snaith, also known as Caribou, came to SF for a couple of days to close out the Noise Pop Festival at The Fillmore. The show had long been sold-out and unlike most shows, tickets were hard to come by. After finally making the decision that I had to see him, I just threw down the money and hoped for the best.

Caribou

Caribou

The band came out clad in white to a stage of red and blue lights that would eventually be a lot of strobe lights (I somehow did not see the warnings!). The band started out slow with the lo-fi house drum beats on “Our Love” and immediately the crowd was shuffling around. With a slow progression, the music gets faster with lovely synthy dance beats and the crowd followed along as Dan & Company would take us on a full-on dance party always in command. Just as you feel it getting close to the climax and youre ready for more, the band turns it down a notch. And it worked.

Caribou, which is labeled under ‘idm’ (intelligent dance music), isnt your typical indie dance electronica band. Dan manages to encapsulate so many styles in their songs – from experimental to jungle to house and of course electronic – and as a whole the songs work. There are so many layers on his songs, with some of them having a shoegaze influence but also still has the continuous throbbing beats. The new album, Our Love seems to have branched out even more and just might be even more accessible.

On tour, Dan brings along a guitarist, bassist and another drummer and the 4-some are tight on stage. Packed neatly into a small space in the center of the stage, each band member contributes as an individual and a whole to the band. It makes for an intimate closeness as they all play and work off of each other. Its hard to imagine that this is all done as just one when its so perfect live with all the different instruments. If you love drums, they have plenty, with 2 drums going on for most of the night – a throbbing beat just keeping the show moving along.

It definitely helps that Caribou has a fan-base that is pretty solid. Before the show started, I heard someone talking about all the different shows he had seen mentioning of course Caribou. How I was so tempted to say that I saw him perform under Manitoba years prior. People that love his music, really love his music. Throw down some awesome synths to solid drum beats that have a tribal sound along with one hell of a light show, and you get one hell of an awesome show. Plus, the pulse of the crowd which was in constant movement (and they say people don’t dance) and bam! I mean, how can one not move to his music.

It was one hell of an impressive set. The band played for nearly 70 minutes without stopping between songs. Throw in ‘Sun‘ as an encore and for nearly 10 minutes you just get lost in the music. Dan was having such an awesome time, playing in purple socks, and every once in awhile staring out at the crowd with a huge smile. It was just pure happiness. The other drummer, played the set with just one shoe on. The whole band just seemed so comfortable and it was clear that it wasnt just the crowd who was so into it. Everyone was so lost in the music and with hits like ‘Odessa‘ (one of his most catchiest songs) and my own favorite ‘Leave House‘ (I never want to stop dancing when this is played – it just goes on and on and on). Plus, The Fillmore (not usually known for having electronic bands), was the place to see this. Sure, normally it’d be at Mezzanine or a more club environment, but the acoustics here were spot on. It could not have been a better space for the band.

Koreless

Koreless

Scottish electronic producer Lewis Roberts, a.k.a. Koreless, started the evening armed with just a laptop. It might have been the exact opposite in electronic music when compared to Caribou but to say it was not brilliant would be a lie. Koreless manages to add a lot of layers and textures to the music that it seems you can actually feel it. Between the ethereal shoegaze sounds to the space-y ambient noise, you feel like youre in your own world. In my own version of Interstellar, this is the music that would be with me. It transports you to another space, its moody and delicious. With a continuous haze of pot smoke above, it added to the ambience.

I walked out of the show and my back was drenched in sweat. The dress I was wearing was now clinging to me and soaked. Sure, it was disgusting after the fact, but during the show just the feel of the crowd dancing and super into it and connected was an awesome feeling. Surely worth every cent I paid for the show and probably even more.

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