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 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 October 22, 2014
October 14, 2014
Finally! A show at the Rickshaw Stop that did NOT start at 11pm. It must be a sign that Im getting old as those shows are always so insanely late. I guess those are just Popscene nights.
DC-based Ex Hex
was in town ‘opening’ up for Speedy Gonzalez who I didnt stick around for. Its hard to believe that Mary Timony’s new band was not the headliner as everyone was there to see her and her new band. Mary Timony
, of Wild Flag, Helium and her own band, as well as others, had formed a new trio with other DC natives Laura Harris
(kick ass drummer) and Betsy Wright
The band was awesome. On tour for their new album Rips the trio played a fast power-punk-pop set. It had the all-girls feeling of The Go-Go’s if they were a bit more punk. The band started out with new single ‘Dont Wanna Lose’ which is catchy, fun, jumping goodness. Its just awesome. They wasted no time as they went from song to song with insane guitar playing and incredibly catchy bass lines. Betsy and Mary have great chemistry on stage and feed off each other, playing up close to each other, leaning against each other and playing the hell out of their instruments. Betsy has amazing vocals and sounded amazing on the songs she sang on.
It was a bit of a bummer when the sound totally cut out right after “All Kindsa Girls” and the girls were left on stage to fend for themselves. Perhaps its amusing because right before they played that they dedicated it to the bartenders and said ‘yes – we are really going to play this song’. Then, a total absence of sound techs (or pretty much anyone that worked at the club) and they had to kind of wing ‘Outro’. So instead it became an instrumental guitar heavy song with lots of drums and no vocals. I recall Mary trying to sing some and even in the front it was hard to hear a thing. I could watch them mouthing words, but it was pretty sucky. I knew at one point Mary was about ready to give up, but Betsy kept telling her to play on. Was so glad that they did and managed to do one more song. And somehow the mic started working again.
It was a really awesome set and the trio were awesome together. Theyre still on tour and making their way back to the East Coast again, so if you havent seen them and are a fan of either Mary or just incredible guitar playing/power-punk-pop music, make sure to see them.
SF-based Wild Moth opened the show. Sadly, it was impossible to make out vocals with such insanely loud guitars. It sounded so muddled that I couldnt figure out if the sound system was just awful at Rickshaw Stop or this was the bands sound. If theyre on another set, Ill definitely see them again to see if its any better.
Dont Wanna Lose
Waste Your Time
How You Got That Girl
Hot and Cold
You Fell Apart
All Kindsa Girls (The Real Kids cover)
Outro (minus vocals)
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, DC, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 10/14/14, Betsy Wright, DC, Ex Hex, girl-band, indie, Laura Harris, live, Mary Timony, pop, power-pop, punk, Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on December 20, 2013
Its hard to believe that 2013 is nearly over. But Wild Cub made it clear that they would end out the year with a bang! It was their final concert of the tour and year and the band was beyond excited to be back in San Francisco. They had only played one other time in SF (back in July – when I missed their show but ended up in Austin) and had an awesome time. I had heard others on the street outside talking about how awesome that first show was. So, of course, my expectations were now set a bit higher.
It was a late show night with doors at 10pm. I was told it would definitely not be a late night, but it turned out that the band didnt hit the stage until around 11:15pm. Indeed another late night at Popscene. Thankfully, Aaron Axelsen was spinning some great tunes and the new War on Drugs song is f’ing brilliant. I cannot wait to hear the new album.
March also brings the release of Wild Cub’s debut album, Youth
, which is INCREDIBLE. Ive been listening to it on repeat the day-after and am seriously not disappointed at all. The band formed after Keegan left Brooklyn (the rents too damn high!) for the greener pastures of Nashville. He is an endearing front-man who just exudes energy and still looks like he probably did in the 90s. Pegged pants, nice shoes, a slightly shaved head with long hair in front.
The band has a Prince vibe on some of their songs. Check out ‘Wild Light’. Their music is fun, catchy, indie-pop thats quite dance-y and will have you clapping in no time. Add some great melodies and infectious keys and some great hooks on their bass and voila! The band wasted no time getting the crowd moving with the ever-catchy ‘Jonti’ early in their set.
‘Wishing Well’ with its hook of a bassline and a sound that will take you back to the 80s, is one awesome song. Seeing it live is even better as Keegan tears up the stage. He dances all over the stage while playing guitar exuding fun and pleasure. The band then slowed it down with ‘Drive’ which is probably one of my favorite songs. With gorgeous guitars and Keegan’s smooth vocals the song feels like blissed out summer joy.
The band definitely ended their tour on a high note. They talked about the great Chinese food they consumed (for about 7 people) and just their love of the city. They changed their set list a bit from their usual set. Keegan wanted to play his favorite song of 2013 and did a great rendition of Lykke Li’s ‘I Follow Rivers’. It was really awesome. They added a couple new songs and just did not want the night to end. So they pushed it out as long as possible. Instead of vanishing for an encore, they just remained on stage – announced their last song and broke out ‘When Doves Cry’ from Prince. While its hard for anyone to hit Prince’s notes – this was a pretty awesome cover.
One hell of a way to end 2013. Wild Cub delivered and made it an awesome last show of the year!
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 12/19/13, 80's, concert, covers, indiepop, Keegan, Live Music, Lykke Li, music, Nashville, Prince, Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco, Wild Cub | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on October 24, 2013
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 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.
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.
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Live Music, Random Ramblings, San Francisco | Tagged: 10/23/13, Brooklyn, concert, dreampop, experimental, Florida, Helado Negro, indiepop, live, music, Nonono, Pumpkin Blood, Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sweden, tropical beats | Leave a Comment »
Posted by xneverwherex on September 6, 2012
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
A B & the Sea
Perhaps age and more than likely perhaps living in NYC has made me somewhat jaded about shows. Or perhaps I have been spoiled with seeing many of these bands earlier in their career that sometimes it just doesnt pay to see a show.
A B & The Sea
Arrived at Popscene, (which is not the popscene I had remembered from the 90s — oh the people and times have changed) long gone from the very cool warehouse like 330 Ritch and now over at Rickshaw Stop – a smallish tightly packed club, to a long long long line. It was a bit confusing at first as no one seemed to know where to go. Then of more things crazy – they let the ticket buyers (not holders) into the show first. So we had to wait an additional 30 mins or so just to move an inch. Of course, Popscene is now filled with a very young high school crowd who were more excited about seeing each other late at night and high fiving each other for being in the very front. The whole thing just was weird. Id like to take this moment to say I really hope I was not that obnoxious in high school at shows (then again everywhere was 21+), so it was usually The Warfield and Shoreline.
The club was pretty packed by the time friends and I arrived. The Popscene DJs were spinning the same stuff youd hear on Live 105. No one danced and it was just a tad sad. As we had waited outside so long, at least it wasnt too long a wait for A B & the Sea to come on. Plus, random videos on the screens made it go by a bit quicker.
San Francisco’s A B & the Sea put on a pretty awesome performance. Some of the songs were beyond catchy and had a sunny California pop sound. It just made you want to dance and sing along. Songs like ‘California Feeling’ are guaranteed to be a pop hit. Its fun and light. ‘Constant Vacation’ is another very catchy dance-y song. They make you feel like summer is in the air and its going to be a great night. The only problem with their music is that they are all over the place. There are the total pop songs that are light and fun and then a lot of their music is in a totally different direction. It was like the band wasnt sure which way to go. A pity. The crowd was really into their lighter feeling songs.
Either way – Id see them again if theyre playing in SF.
Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Brooklyn’s Pains of Being Pure at Heart
had finally come back to SF after about 5 years. The crowd was beyond tightly packed inside and even at the beginning everyone was pushing against each other. Their fun dream pop sound that I had come to love from their first self-titled album was somewhat gone. With another guitarist added to their stage performance, it became a lot more loud and a lot more guitar driven. I somehow missed hearing their earlier stuff and the dream pop sound that had made them popular. And mostly I missed more of Peggy singing. Perhaps she was just overshadowed by the loud guitars?
Their new album ‘Belong’ has some great numbers and it was great to hear it live. The band was excited to be there. It seemed that Weekend (the band) was around and that the 2 bands had decided to switch coasts. Well actually, only Weekend is moving to NY. As the band mostly played tracks off their new album, the crowd got more insane. First the moshing began with people getting shoved to the ground, guys grabbing girls and just pushing them into the pit, and then the crowd surfing. Ive certainly been to plenty of shows with all that, but its rare for a guy to repeatedly try and grab me and push me into a pit.
Overall, it was a bit of a disappointment — but at least the opener gave me something to look forward to. And the cheap ticket… oh yeah that made it all the better.
So the question is, would I see the Pains again? Im not sure if it was the crowd, the music, their new direction. But, at this point, Im not sure I feel a real need to. I loved the first album when it came out and couldnt get enough of it. Ive listened to Belong a number of times, and it lacks something for me. Everything I loved seemed to be gone.
Thankfully I had Wild Nothing to look forward to.
Posted in Adventures in the Big City, Friends, Live Music, San Francisco | Tagged: 8/30/12, A B & The Sea, Brooklyn, California-pop, concert, indie, indiepop, live, music, NYC, Popscene, Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco, The Pains, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart | Leave a Comment »