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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

Sondre Lerche Brings Pleasure to the Independent

Posted by xneverwherex on May 21, 2017

Sondre Lerche
Dedekind Cut
Independent
May 2, 2017

Sondre Lerche brought a dance party, as well as his charm, to the Independent on Tuesday. The Norwegian-born, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter is currently out on tour for Pleasure, a companion piece to 2014’s Please. He emphasized the pleasure, ready for a dance party and to let loose.

Lerche entered the stage dancing to an ’80s synth intro and kicked right into the dance-heavy

Sondre Lerche

Sondre Lerche

Soft Feelings,” the first song off his new album. He stayed in constant motion from that point on. Pure indie dance pop track “Bad Law” had Lerche dancing up a storm along with the audience. Later on, Lerche performed “I’m Always Watching You” solo, with only his guitar as accompaniment. He didn’t even sing into his microphone, creating one of the most intimately touching moments of the show. It was so quiet during the song that every note rang out emphatically. Lerche’s soft vocal delivery was beautiful.

As a songwriter, Lerche has a knack for love as well heartbreak. As he sang “Legends,” his heartbreak was palpable: “Please disregard/ My endless hope/ It just paved the way/ For the end of our rope.” Without missing a beat, Lerche’s band—drummer David Heilman, bassist Jordan Brooks and keyboardist Alan James Markley followed up the lonely number with guitar-driven, crowd-pleaser “Phantom Punch.”

“Let’s revisit sins from the past,” Sondre said, introducing earlier material. He performed “No One’s Gonna Come” from his debut, Faces Down. With its jazzy guitars, the song had Lerche crooning like Burt Bacharach. The song continued to build, eventually incorporating a gaggle of thrashing guitars and an emotional punch. Like no other, Lerche segued into a slow jam. Talking about the weather, he threatened to take off his shirt, which had both men and women erupting in joy, (and later followed through). He then bent down and serenaded women at the front of the stage during “Minor Detail.” To say that it didn’t make my day would have been an understatement. It felt like it was just for me at that moment.

Sondre Lerche

Sondre Lerche

The beautiful soaring harmonies of Markley, Heilman and Lerche on “Two Way Monologue” made it seem like the three had been performing for years. In truth, this tour almost didn’t happen after two of his original bandmates were denied entry into the country (thanks Trump, really) and Brooks and Markley were last-minute replacements.

The band concluded the concert with a 15-minute rave/dance party. As the drums kicked in, and a techno beat kicked in, Lerche hopped onto the floor and formed a dance pit with concertgoers. His arms in the air and sweat dripping down, he implored everyone to let loose with reckless abandon.

New York experimental artist Fred Welton Warmsley, performing as Dedekind Cut, opened up the concert and took early arrivers down a rabbit hole into sonic exploration. Without notice, he would shift from thumping bass filled with feedback and reverb to a dark and moody mix. There was no time to acclimate with styles. As soon as it felt like there was a recognizable dance rhythm, it would morph into another genre with overlaid heavy tribal percussion. The way he played with samples and used sound to create unique mixes was amazing.

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Stereolad = !!!

Posted by xneverwherex on December 6, 2015

!!!
Stereolad
Slim’s
12/4/2015

It was one of those nights that was just bizarre. While waiting in front of the club, a woman comes up to me and asks me if I want dinner tickets to the show. I tell her that I already have tickets, and she says she has no one else to give them to. So now – Ive got 4 tickets. Because the show isn’t sold out, nor even close to it, and there arent people roaming around I talk to the bouncer/security guy and he is game to help me out. He agrees to text me if it does sell out so I can come back out and sell my tickets. I won’t even spill the guy’s name, because I am sure that this is not supposed to happen. Wouldnt matter anyway, as that did not happen.

But, I did get a free dinner out of it. So, I cant complain too much, especially because it meant I didn’t really have to hear the first band which I just wasn’t enjoying, nor really paid much attention to.

Stereolad

Stereolad

As excited as I was to see !!! again, I was even more excited when I realized/hoped that Stereolad was indeed a Stereolab cover band (with the members of !!!). Im not sure if it was a better thing that I had read up on this, or the surprise in person would have been better. Either way, it was simply brilliant and maybe even the highlight of the show. Oddly enough, Laetitia Sadier, lead singer of Stereolab, had just performed in concert a few months ago.

Its so worth checking this out, especially if you’re a fan of Stereolab. Stereolad does not disappoint in the slightest. Nic Offer (lead singer of !!!) comes out in an too short checkered dress with big flowers on the pockets and even puts on a great French accent. He nails it and gets the whole French attitude all so perfectly. With 2 other women singing, alongside him, it almost feels like a Stereolab concert. They have perfect harmonies and opening with ‘French Disko‘ is just about as perfect as it gets. With heavy keyboards, some great droning guitars and Offer singing back-up vocals in addition to him on guitar, their music sounds perfect. Its that perfect amount of indie-pop sung in French and English and has everyone dancing along. How can anyone not dance to ‘Jenny Ondioline‘. I couldn’t have been happier to hear “The Noise of Carpet” off Emperor Tomato Ketchup (which was one of my favorite albums of theirs), especially since the women really killed it on the vocals of that song. Perhaps the best moment is when Nic announces that soon !!! (or pronounced in a French accent – cheek cheek cheek) will be out soon. Never sounded better! The set was just perfect and if you can’t get Stereolab, you definitely can’t go wrong with Stereolad.

French Disko
Transona 5
Jenny Ondioline
Our Trinitone Blast
The Noise of Carpet
Lo Boob Oscillator

!!!

!!!

And soon enough Brooklyn via Sacramento band !!! (chk chk chk) would take to the stage. Nic opted out of his dress and came back with his short blue board shorts (TM). And the band was ready to go in a whole different direction from Stereolad.

The band is on tour for their new album As If. It didn’t take long for them to get the crowd dancing with hands in the air. Sure, maybe the music has changed over the years and has lost the dance-punk edge, but the 80’s dance music is hard to go wrong with. They opened with the ever catchy “Sick Ass Moon” off of their new album. It starts off slow but has a nice build to it and is a good way to begin the show which is obviously going to be a sweaty hot dance mess. “All U Writers” is by far a bit more catchy and it was good that they kept the songs going more upbeat and really working the crowd into a frenzy. The back-up vocals were pretty awesome, although I have no clue on the woman’s name who sang. All I can say is – first time in SF and she was having an awesome time – and killing it. I love that the band now has solid dance routines down for the band members. It’s just so much fun to watch.

Nic Offer !!!

Nic Offer !!!

And Nic’s moves are always sweet. He knows how to work a stage, hands and arms going back and forth, legs moving non-stop. While they may never change, it surely doesn’t matter. It works and everyone loves him for it. Nic clearly was having a good time and spent a good chunk of time in the dance pity on the floor. He worked the entire floor moving all through it really getting the crowd to dance. He was so engaging.

Bam City” was great to finally hear. It’s a total rock party song and everyone was singing along with it. And lots of keys and guitars are always refreshing to hear. It had been awhile since I had heard “Must Be The Moon” performed, so it was really awesome to finally hear it again. The crowd was going pretty crazy and everyone was jumping. Nic was leading the crowd in the pogo-ing and it worked. Plus the keyboardist was really into it. He had a lot more solo dance moves last night and was really into it.

Freedom! ’15” is a song perfect for now – political enough but with dance beats it always seems a bit more light-hearted. And then right into the even more fun “One Girl/One Boy” was perfect. Everyone singing along and dancing to it was just perfect. It’s beyond catchy and has lots of great guitar parts so Nic could catch a breather.

But the highlight by far had to be the encore, “i feel so free (citation needed)” – which more people seem to know it as ‘say it ain’t so’. It starts with just Nic singing and then as he song goes on he says ‘its too quiet without kickdrums’ and sure enough they come in – then the same for guitar. It just builds and builds and its just a huge dance party with the whole floor moving – arms flailing in the air, everyone having a great time together – and dancing all as one. As Nic would lean over the stage, people would rub his head – all sweaty big hair and curls. He would get really into it. And at one point, he messes up, and just starts laughing and laughing and cant stop – then says ‘well thats never happened before’. And that kind of sums up the show. It was just pure fun and to all the blogs/writers out there giving this album mediocre to bad reviews – if you cant get past that the band is all about making great dance music – and sure maybe the punk is gone – but who cares. They put on a show like no one else – and some days that’s all I want in my music.

Set List:
Sick Ass Moon
All U Writers
Except Death
Ooo
Fast One
Bam City
All the Way
Must Be the Moon
Freedom! ’15
One Girl/One Boy
Slyd

I Feel So Free (Citation Needed)

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Bring on Brooklyn: Battles + Buke & Gase

Posted by xneverwherex on October 17, 2015

Battles
Buke & Gase
The Fillmore
10/9/15

I had avoided Battles for awhile just because they seemed like another experimental/art-rock outfit from Brooklyn doing something really out-there; which is not to say that they aren’t any of the above. The band might possibly be more weird/avant-garde than I thought, but perhaps people change (or as I get older, maybe I’m willing to think/listen outside the box). Putting that all aside, seriously, what on earth was I missing.

Battles

Battles

The trio from Brooklyn did not disappoint. While waiting for the band to come out, it was impossible not to notice the insane drums front and center of the stage with a crash cymbal that was beyond high for the average person, yet somehow was perfect for John Stanier. And then to his right (in front of me) the dueling upside down keyboards of Ian Williams and of course the band wouldn’t be complete without Dave Konopka‘s guitars/pedals.

Battles started out with the ridiculous sick ‘Dot Com‘ off of their new album La Di Da Di . Dave starts it out with repetitive loops that seem to carry on and on as the song has a slow build of just him until finally the guitars come in then throw down some synth beats. By the time a good solid 5 minutes have gone by the drums finally come into play. Have no doubt about Stanier — the guy is ridiculous. The way he seamlessly hit the insanely high cymbal while sitting down making it look so easy. He is quite possibly the best drummer I might ever see. He puts drummers to shame the way he went took to the drums. By the time the first song ended, the guy was dripping in sweat.

And then if you really wanted to dance, Battles went straight into ‘Ice Cream‘. One of the few songs that isn’t entirely instrumental featuring Matias Aguayo’s vocals. Its catchy and dance-y even if its all loops and blips and just makes you want to move. Guitars, synths, instruments all sounding like other instruments its one of the most brilliant songs.

Battles is like an aural symphony. The different, unique sounds and the way it comes together seems so organic like its happening fresh before your eyes. Even if they’ve done the same setlist night after night – it never felt old. There was so much sweat flying everywhere you could tell the band played their heart out. Even after they talked about San Francisco (“their favorite city to play in”), even as Dave kindly admitted they said the same thing the night prior in Portland – it was clear that they were having an awesome time. They even joked about how many cliche things they could say about San Fran, Cisco – and even asked what they should call it. But it was clear – they were at The Fillmore – and super excited to be playing there.

FF Bada‘ was beyond catchy and really showed how well the band played off of each other. Different time signatures and music all over the place – it somehow comes together and fits perfectly. The band was focusing mostly on their new album but did play ‘Atlas‘ which was definitely a crowd favorite. While not a lot of songs were played, the songs that were played seemed to go on forever and blended together like a beautiful symphony of sound. What more could one want.

Buke & Gase

Buke & Gase

Buke & Gase also of Brooklyn opened the set. If Battles was pretty out there, Buke & Gase held their own with also being pretty bizarre. I had seen them before in New York opening for The National and also with Ra Ra Riot and remember liking them but this time may have been more memorable. The duo Arone and Aron play hand-made instruments that are beyond creative. Arone plays the ‘toe-bourine’ which is exactly as it sounds (tambourines played as she click clacks across the stage) as well as the “buke” (six-string baritone ukulele) while Aron plays the “gase” (a guitar-bass hybrid).

Their music is definitely interesting and started off on the slow side until it really started to hit a stride. Arone has beautiful vocals that are strong and just flow with the sounds. Lots of solid repetitive beats and just a really unique experimental sound. Its pretty amazing that with just 2 people there are so many instruments that are heard. The band is beyond creative and definitely has their own style. If you’re into avant-garde/experimental music – these bands are both worth checking out!

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The Singer Addresses His Audience – The Decemberists

Posted by xneverwherex on May 5, 2015

The Decemberists
Lucius
The Greek Theatre
5/1/15

Portland, OR The Decemberists were in town for their latest release What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. The band performed one of their best shows ever to a sold-out crowd in Berkeley. It was the bands first time playing at The Greek, and they had never sounded better. The acoustics were fabulous in the amphitheater and their sound filled the venue.

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The setlist focused mainly on their newer material (which is nothing short of awesome) but also had a few songs from the impressive Hazards of Love. Overall, they did a song here and there from their prior albums. Of course, its always great when they are playing songs from their earlier material. Plus, Colin Meloy wanted to focus on California and all things/songs California – which meant we got the ever fitting ‘Grace Cathedral Hill’. He also seemed to start to wax poetic about Los Angeles before commenting on the rivalry between the two areas. Regardless, it was pretty awesome to hear ‘Los Angeles, Im Yours’.

Of course, any Decemberists show without the charm of Colin Meloy, would really not be a show. Colin was in great form and oh so talkative. He talked about writing the song ‘Calamity Song’ and how it was much better when it was initially written to be “Hank Eat Your Oatmeal” which is obviously a classic. Written to get his son to eat oatmeal, the song was just that line but oh so precious. And of course, the worst song to ever be written ‘Dracula’s Daughter’ is always pretty awesome even if its just a small clip.

But really, there were two major highlights of the night. The first and very unexpected surprise was the band performing “The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle The Thistles Undone). I really didn’t think I would ever hear it again live after seeing it performed with Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) back in 2009. Nor, did I ever think it could be that impressive. If you’re not familiar with the song, right about now you need to be hearing it. But, Kelly Hogan KILLED it! Thats an understatement, Kelly (Neko Case’s partner in crime aka a vocalist in her current band) has a wonderful voice. And her addition to the song was nothing short of beautiful. So that was a very pleasant surprise. Plus, it turns out some friends know her and couldn’t have enough praise for her and how thankful/excited she was. Seriously, this is beyond awesome.

And if that wasn’t enough, ’16 Military Wives’ (which I just love), got all the better. During the ‘la di dahs’ towards the end of the song Colin had a lot of crowd participation from getting the audience to sing along, to engaging all parts of the amphitheater from the very front to the grass on the hill. He singled out a few people getting them to do individual performances plus also in typical Colin format, telling the crowd to be quiet because ‘Im a professional’ and naturally he can do it better. But one of the best parts was when he told the crowd to stop singing and be quiet and don’t think about the song, but think about the song ‘Sailing’ from Christopher Cross and to sing it to yourself (which naturally he did) and then forgot the lyrics and of course, it couldnt have been more amusing.

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The band was tight and the back-up vocalists were awesome. Chris Funk was having a great time as always switching it up from the banjo to the guitar to some mandolin. Colin, vocally, has never sounded better and of course the harmonica playing was all the better; but seriously no concert is ever complete without Jenny Conlee – naturally kicking ass on the accordion and piano. But all the better when she adds her vocals to a song and Colin will typically take a moment to applaud her. The crowd just loves her!

Sadly, the band was running out of time which meant they had to cut their set short. Always a pity as theres so much material to want to hear. Of course, no show is complete without having ‘The Mariner’s Revenge Song’ as the finale/encore. So of course, with roughly 15 minutes left before 11pm, the band announced it would be their last song and dove right in. And the song was as fun as always – with a couple practice rounds of screaming … how often are most of us eaten by a whale, so you definitely have to prepare. He said us Californians would probably be more used to dealing with this (sharks in an ocean??) and gave us a practice round. Of course, it wasnt quite good enough but with 2 rounds we were ready to go. And just like that the quintet began the journey. It felt like you were on a ship going down, and you could feel the crowd going back and forth like being on the ocean. As the song continued, soon enough the whale (which seems to have grown), came out and swallowed us all. Obviously, there were survivors (hence the song), and the song continued. Nate Query on stand-up bass and Chris on mandolin and of course Jenny providing backing vocals all sounded amazing! The song just couldn’t possibly have been better.

The show was just brilliant. Ive now seen the band a handful of times and this show might have been the best. The band was in top form and Colin just seemed so happy. And of course, the crowd loves him. Berkeley ended up being a great night for them.

Plus, Lucius opened. The two women who sing (who dress the same, yet aren’t sisters) also sounded really great. The Brooklyn based band has an indie-pop-folk sound with some of the most beautiful harmonies. They also at times sound like a 60’s girl band and add a bit of guitar and you get a perfect pop band. They will definitely get big and opening for the Decemberists is sure to help them out. A perfect complement to the Decemberists and it made for a special night.

Set list:
The Singer Addresses His Audience
Cavalry Captain
Down By The Water
Hank Eat Your Oatmeal/Calamity Song
Grace Cathedral Hill
Anti-Summersong
Make You Better
The Wrong Year
The Island
Los Angeles, I’m Yours
Carolina Low
The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone) w/Kelly Hogan
A Bower Scene
Won’t Want for Love
The Rake’s Song
16 Military Wives
Dracula’s Daughter/O Valencia
A Beginning Song

The Mariner’s Revenge Song

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Brooklyn Takes on SF

Posted by xneverwherex on September 7, 2014

Bear in Heaven
Young Magic
Miles Cooper Seaton
The Independent
September 3, 2014

Brooklyn came to San Francisco for a full night of music and it was pretty awesome. And I didnt even have to go to a large venue to see them all (compared to NYC). One of the major pluses. It was a very awesome, respectful crowd and not even sold out (which was a surprise, albeit a nice one). The band was in town touring for their 4th album, Time Is Over One Day Old.

Adam Wills - Bear in Heaven

Bear in Heaven – Adam Wills

While I hadnt spent much time listening to Bear in Heaven‘s new album, I had heard it a few times thanks to streaming on NPR. The new album is very accessible but still has their own distinct sound. Not as pop sounding as earlier albums, they still managed to have catchy tunes that will stick in your mind. A woman and I were saying at the show, ‘and their music is still so blissful.’ You can just disappear into their songs, with the constant beat from the drums and the droning spaced out guitars – you just dissolve into their music – the beat just takes you along and it doesnt feel like its always distinct songs – just a feeling of blissfulness. And it doesnt leave as they continue their set (which always seems way too short).

Bear in Heaven

Bear in Heaven

The band focused on their latest 2 albums which sound great live. The band started out with ‘Autumn’ and then went into ‘I Do You’ off their second album (and one of my favorite all-time albums – Beast Rest Fort Mouth). Its just hypnotic as the keyboards take you away, the band swathed in lights which sometimes turned into strobes giving them a far-away feel spaced-out feel of psychedelic grooviness. While the strobes are definitely not intense as they are in Brooklyn (they don’t take their lighting designer, Will Armstrong, along with them on tour) it works. And you still get the same feel.

Jon Philpot, lead singer, wasnt too talkative but was quite happy to be back in San Francisco. He was cool and obliged a fan who yelled out for ‘Lovesick Teenagers’. That was definitely one of the highlights for me and was so glad that they played it. ‘Sinful Nature’ sounded better than ever; Jon’s vocals sweeping into the air amidst the beat from the keyboard and bass.

If you haven’t seen the band in awhile, or perhaps never at all – I would highly recommend checking them out as theyre still playing a good mix of most their music.

Young Magic

Young Magic

Young Magic, a band I was familiar with mostly by name, was one of the openers and they proved to be a great match for Bear In Heaven. They were possibly even better than Bear in Heaven playing an experimental electro-trip hop set. Lead singer Melati Malay’s voice floated through the set with a sense of longing. Lots of influences could be heard with African beats standing out. The band, now hailing from Brooklyn, is from a mish-mash of places mostly of the South Pacific (Indonesia and Australia) and its noticeable in their music.

The music is just beautiful and like Bear in Heaven, will just sweep you away. The vocals of Isaac Emmanuel and Melati sound gorgeous when they sing together and it just blends seamlessly. Throw in some solid drum beats and you feel like youve escaped to another part of the world. Just drifting in and out it takes you elsewhere.

This might have been one of the best pairings Ive seen in a long time. They could have been extensions of each other musically and it was so worth it to show up early to see them.

Miles Cooper Seaton

Miles Cooper Seaton

I shouldn’t leave out fellow opener, singer-songwriter and founder/creator of Akron/Family, Miles Cooper Seaton. Just him, a guitar and laptop, and add some soaring vocals (damn could he hold his notes). He was also quite the storyteller too – talking about punk music, playing covers and his musical sensibilities. He was simply put – awesome! He was just so comfortable on the stage it would have been hard to know it was his first time really doing this on his own. His music ranged from more punk influenced songs to ambient songs. He was a great addition to the set and his music fit in just perfectly.

Bear in Heaven Set List:
Autumn
You Do You
Sinful Nature
Time Between
If I Were to Lie
Cool Light
Kiss Me Crazy
They Dream
Lovesick Teenagers
You Don’t Need the World
Dissolve the Walls

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Sharon Van Etten Sizzles & Shines (and is secretly a comedian)

Posted by xneverwherex on July 2, 2014

Sharon Van Etten
Jana Hunter (Lower Dens)
The Independent
June 30, 2014

Sharon Van Etten, the charming singer/songwriter from Brooklyn, was all smiles and looking incredible. Clad in a form fitting black dress with gold up the middle and very high heels, she was looking smashing! Better than looking good, she was all charm with a witty/dry sense of humour and seems to laugh at her own jokes and is very light-hearted. Its not exactly what one expects after listening to her songs. She doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously and knows how to let loose. As mentioned, she is charming and delightful.

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

SVE played to a packed house Monday night. Both of her shows sold out in San Francisco. She could easily be playing much larger venues, but its clear that shes comfortable and loves the intimacy. From the sounds of it, her show on Sunday night was nothing short of spectacular so it was hard to know what the show would be like. And this show was beyond incredible.

The majority of songs were off the new album Are We There. While her music is still powerful and haunting, she’s moved beyond heartbreak. Its clear that this is the grown-up version of herself, moving on with life. Her new album still has an angst to it, and its easy to get caught up in it and just feel it all. Its like everything she’s ever felt goes into her songs and it exudes from her as she plays.

She played ‘Leonard‘ dedicating it to the ex who probably knew it was written for him. As she said, his real name is ‘Bleonard’. It was like an inside joke that we were all part of, no matter how stupid it sounded. It was a funny joke and even better to see that she can now joke about this toxic relationship.

She talked lots about her merch, oh yeah she does have kleenex with her face on it so you know, you can blow your nose into. (no im not making this up!). And umbrellas for the rainy days we don’t seem to have (clearly an ongoing joke, with someone and her yelling ‘too soon’). She’s even thought of adding a new part to her show ‘current events with Sharon Van Etten’. Hah! Seriously, she could be on a talk show at the rate shes going. She talked to a huge fan in the front asking what current events she missed. Naturally, the story brought up was the student stuck in the vagina in Germany (because these things always occur). Ive got to hand it to her, without missing a beat she said ‘and the next song is “Break Me“‘, giggling as she starts playing the droning, lo-fi song. Its gorgeous like everything she plays.

SVE seems to know how to push people and understands concert crowds all too well. While there was lots of banter back and forth between the crowd and her, there were the inevitable naysayers who were getting upset and wanted her to just play. She joked about blogs and what kinds of nasty things would be written about the show and people would complain about her lack of playing and even more importantly there’s always the people who complain that enough old songs weren’t played. Its the nature of being in a band, and you never can win them all. But I actually think she should have garnered even more fans. And for those not paying attention, she played more songs last night than she did at her prior shows.

She quickly introduced the band as others yelled out for that in the mix of the banter. Her band is just awesome and it appears most of them aren’t going elsewhere. Heather Woods Broderick (Efterklang), is a great addition and matches Sharon Van Etten’s raw, haunting vocals. On the crowd-pleasing hit ‘Serpents‘, the women go back and forth almost as in a duel with each out performing each other with the vocals. Its strong, powerful and is beyond emotional. It packed a punch and made the already powerful song sound even better. Doug Keith, on guitar and vocals, was nicknamed ‘Pretty Boy’, by a fan who wanted to know which effects he was using on the guitar. Turns out it was the ebow, which he was nice enough to even spell.

She ended the set asking for some weed and promising a setlist in return. As she played the last song of the night, “Everytime the Sun Comes Up“, complete with laughter and giggles, some guys in front of her were nice enough to blow smoke up at her. It was the only song she had written totally stoned. After the show they gave her a joint and she kept to her word and gave out a setlist.

All in all, SVE sounded amazing and full but still has a haunting ache to her voice. Her fans relate as we all have stories, but she’s managed to articulate it so well with not just her lyrics, but with the music itself. This album is a nice departure from the last. Instead of all the amazing guest collaborators (The Dessners, Wye Oak, etc), this is more herself and perhaps it shows.

Jana Hunter

Jana Hunter

Jana Hunter, lead singer of Baltimore’s Lower Dens, opened the set. Armed simply with just a guitar and a laptop, she sat down in a chair and played a lovely short set. It felt so intimate as if we were watching someone in her recording studio preparing her new album. The material is dark and ethereal and comes across as oh so moody. Simply put, its gorgeous and just takes you away.

It was great to hear her have some fun with Hall & Oates’ ‘Maneater‘; ’twas an amazing cover. And her voice had the perfect amount of rasp, which probably meant she did smoke the perfect amount of cigarettes.

SVE Set List:
Afraid of Nothing
Taking Chances
Tarifa
Save Yourself
Nothing Will Change
Break Me
Don’t Do It
I Love You But Im Lost
Leonard
You Know ME Well
Serpents
Your Love is Killing Me

I Know (SVE solo)
All I Can
Everytime The Sun Comes Up

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Nonono Yesyesyes

Posted by xneverwherex on October 24, 2013

Nonono
Helado Negro
Rickshaw Stop
October 23, 2013

Nonono played their first show in San Francisco last night on their first tour of the States. Luckily for them, they’re playing Live 105’s Not So Silent Night, because I would have pegged them to become a one-hit wonder. How badly I wanted to like them, but the band for the most part was just boring and the words most people hate to hear – forgettable.

Stina

Nonono

Stina Wäppling, lead singer, chatted it up about how excited she was to be in San Francisco. She looked like she had just run from somewhere else and suddenly remembered she had a show to perform. After coming to the stage late (bathroom or so people muttered), and continuing to keep people wait, she finally arrived in a little black dress with her sweater wrapped around her waist and sneakers. I had actually thought I had stepped into the movie ‘Working Girl’ as she wore her sneakers with her nylons.

The band was a tight-knit 3some, with a really talented bassist. Astma & Rocwell were the other 2 members. While I didn’t think Stina sounded great on all of the songs, she did kill the single ‘Pumpkin Blood’ which was easily the highlight. The set was quite short and had a range of upbeat dance songs as well as much more subdued sad songs. Overall, it was just a bit lackluster.

Helado Negro

On the other hand, I had forgotten about Helado Negro (couldnt remember if I had even liked him or not). Helado Negro, Roberto Lange, now calls Crown Heights (Brooklyn) home but grew up in South Florida. His music has a very Florida feel. Everything that might emanate from living in Florida is channeled into his music. He sings in Spanish, and even if you don’t understand all the lyrics (or any) you can feel his music.

It has this gorgeous feel of tropical weather, humidity, heat. It makes you just want to close your eyes and move with the music. Its just him on the stage, with his computer, and its such a heart-felt performance. Everything about the music is almost dream-like. It just takes you somewhere and you get lost in it. Its definitely no surprise that he remixed Bear in Heaven’s album. Check out ‘Dance Ghost’ — a great name for a song and describes it perfectly.

He talks to the crowd, trying to engage them, but clearly San Franciscans are too cool for school. A major disappointment that the front of the room, would just not shut up. Its not even that – no one seemed to care. He tried to have fun with it saying something like ‘just add some hips in addition to your lips’. And of course, a cute joke about getting a taste of black ice cream (helado negro).

Roberto was very friendly. After the set, he seemed quite happy that at least some of us enjoyed it. I definitely feel his music has grown since seeing him 4 years ago. And I would definitely see him again – perhaps next time he will get a crowd who appreciates what he’s doing.

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Rhythm Is A Dancer – Bastille

Posted by xneverwherex on September 21, 2013

Bastille
Little Daylight
Nightmare & The Cat
Great American Music Hall
9/19/2013

Dan Smith, lead singer of Bastille, might not be the greatest dancer (as he said so himself), but does he know how to get a crowd moving and dancing and jumping. Their cover of Snap!’s ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ and Corona’s ‘Rhythm of the Night’ was pretty impressive and definitely changed it up just a bit. But it was fun and the crowd loved it.

The band, hailing from London, was excited to be back in San Francisco yet again. They made their first US appearance over the sumer at Rickshaw Stop (Popscene); sold out instantaneously. Their music has some fun catchy pop tunes, but also a number of songs which is mostly Dan on the keyboards singing alone. He has a powerful voice and exudes emotion. The band (or at least Dan) is also a huge film lover. With the song title ‘Laura Palmer’ – he definitely likes David Lynch. And their music sounds like it could be in one of his movies.

One thing is for sure – Dan’s energy is infectious. He jumps around all over the stage and makes use of every space. He climbed everywhere he could and did a walk through the crowd. The ever catchy and oh so popular ‘Pompeii’ ended the set and the chanting was just as powerful live. The entire band seems to have a lot of fun and everyone is quite versatile with the instruments.

Definitely a band not to miss – theyre pretty much sold out everywhere on their tour, but if you can snag a ticket its worth it.

Now — not to make the other bands seem inconsequential — but they are also SO worth seeing. I was told that I needed to check out Little Daylight, from Brooklyn, as my friend Jordan’s wife Nikki is in the band. I had her prior band Xylos and thought they were quite good, but never had a chance to see them. The only real complaint is their set was impossibly short at maybe 20 minutes long. She told me later they only had 5 songs. They must be the most catchy fun songs ever. In a way their music reminded me of The Go-Go’s (and Im a huge fan!) but really I think it was Nikki’s voice that reminded me of Belinda Carlisle. She has strong vocals amidst the keyboard playing that are definitely reminiscent of the 80s. They were lots of fun and she has energy. Lots of dancing on the stage and lots of songs with hand claps and of course a catchy sing-songy chorus. If John Hughes were still alive, their music would definitely appear in one of his movies. I have to say — I had more fun during their set than Bastille. It was just so my type of music – that I cant wait for more.

LA–based Nightmare & The Cat, consisting of 2 British ex-pat brothers, must be one of the most stylish bands. Django, the lead singer, is captivating and just draws you in. The way he moves his hands and expressions reminds me of Tom Smith (from the Editors). The music has a soulful sound with a hint of a folkiness to it. They have some beautiful harmonies, and I constantly felt like I was drawn into the art world – part of a gorgeous painting that is just expanding with lush sounds (as if that makes any sense).

Definitely dont miss any of these bands if youre going to be seeing them. Its an awesome lineup.

Bastille Set List:
Bad Blood
Things We Lost In The Fire
Overjoyed
The Silence
What Would You Do
Oblivion
Weight of the Living Pt II
These Streets
Laura Palmer
Haunt
Icarus
Flaws

Get Home
Rhythm is a Dancer/Rhythm of the Night (cover)
Pompeii

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Shout Out Louds – We’re All Happy

Posted by xneverwherex on May 24, 2013

Shout Out Louds
Haerts
Great American Music Hall
May 22, 2013

One word can easily describe the set last night. Awesome! Or maybe its happy! Its been about 3 years since the Shout Out Louds were last on tour. Its true that Adam (lead singer) was here last year with his side project – We Are Serenades – but really, its not the same.

The band, hailing from Sweden, were here for their new album Optica. I spoke with the lead singer’s brother, Robin, for a bit and I made him do the honors of picking out which cd I should get from them. I know I never had bought Work, and I couldnt remember if I actually owned Our Ill Wills. He convinced me that the new album is brilliant and prob his favorite album of theirs (as he said completely biased). We then got to discuss The Serenades and of course their excellent Christopher Cross cover and who even knows who he is anymore. We both laughed as people around us looked on with a ‘who?’ look across their face.

As always, The Shout Out Louds put on a really great set. Its hard to not leave feeling completely happy. I had only heard a few songs off their new album before the show but was pleasantly surprised with how well they fit in with their earlier songs. The band wasted no time with going to earlier songs and started their 3rd song with the ever recognizable intro to ‘The Comeback‘. The crowd went nuts as people started jumping up and down, dancing and really getting into it. Everyone was so excited and Adam seemed to be having a lot of fun on stage. Bebban, who rarely seems to acknowledge the audience, took a few moments to wave to people and seemed pretty into it. Its hard to know with her, as she always is looking either down or at other band members.

The band worked out a pretty amazing setlist and made sure to hit upon songs from all of their albums. I was still glad that there was plenty off of Howl Howl Gaff Gaff as its always been a go-to album for something shiny, fun and upbeat. So it was awesome when they played “Please Please Please“, my favorite song of theirs.

Must point out that the crowd was quite nice and friendly. I met some really awesome people and had fun dancing and talking with others. The band was in top form and Adam did a little walk through the middle of the venue dancing and taking photos as he went on. They ended the show with the hugely catchy song ‘Tonight I Have to Leave It’ and its fun and a great sing-along. And who doesn’t love a lot of cowbells. Everyone on stage was dancing and moving and really into it.

The opener Haerts, living in NYC but from England, Germany, wherever else were just brilliant. The band could not have picked a better opener. Indie dream pop, catchy songs and very dance-y reminding me a bit of the movie Drive. If you havent seen it, it could be them doing the music. Their music was meant to be on an 80s soundtrack and the lead singer — she has amazing vocals and a powerful voice. She transports you and you feel like a teenager again dancing alone in your room. It was their first show in SF and I really hope they come back. How I forgot to buy their cd for just $5 is what the real travesty is. I cannot say enough good things about this band, except to check them out. Just lose yourself for a bit, dance a lot, and forget it all.

Its hard to go wrong with 2 amazing bands. If you havent yet seen either, do yourself a favor and make sure you do, soon! In the meantime, check out Haerts and pretend youre just a kid dancing in your room with the music up loud.

Set List:
Sugar
Walking in Your Footsteps
The Comeback
Impossible
Candle Scurrned Out
Chasing the Sinking Sun
Fall Hard
Illusions
Blue Ice/Where You Come In.
Hard Rain
Please Please Please
14th July
Very Loud

Destroy
Walls
Tonight I Have to Leave It

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Wash The Sins – Esben & The Witch

Posted by xneverwherex on April 10, 2013

Esben and The Witch
Heliotropes
Brick & Mortar Music Hall
April 4, 2013

The Brick & Mortar Music Hall is one of those venues that is barely noticeable. I had walked and driven by it too many times and didn’t even know it existed. Right down the street from a gas station, it just blends into the block. With that being said, the venue is quite cool. Its a pretty small spot with a bar directly in front of you as you walk in and a stage off to the left. Lots of seating available and a very low-key crowd.

Esben & The Witch

Hailing from Brighton (UK), Esben and the Witch are a 3 piece band that puts on a great subdued show. I had seen them open up for Foals and was curious about their show on its own. The band hardly spoke to the audience but did have a few ‘thank yous’ after the songs. They introduced themselves oh so quietly and then just tore into their set. Rachel Davies, who has a striking resemblance to Keira Knightley, has an amazing voice. Her vocals are reminiscent of Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance) or even Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins). While their sound can be described as gothic, the band definitely has some of the shoegaze influence.

During much of the show, it felt like you were transported to somewhere else. Stuck in a movie that just keeps on going, youre swept away. The music is hauntingly beautiful with guitars that soar. The band had hardly any interaction with each other and played the 45 minute set with hardly any breaks between songs. The band was on tour in support of their awesomely named album, ‘Wash The Sins Not Only The Face’.

Simply put – the show was wonderful.

The semi-local, but mostly Brooklyn, Heliotropes opened up the show. It was their San Francisco debut. At least one of the girls was from Foster City and possibly others. The lead singer seemed excited to be performing for the first time for her mom and sister and friends. The band was very excitable and were having a really great time.

Heliotropes

In contrast to the headliners, this girl band was the exact opposite. They were very talkative about their songs, their new album (coming out in June) and just how excited they were to be on tour. Their short set was fast and punchy and balls out rocking. While I wasnt totally into them, it was easy to become swept up in their excitement.

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