Showing posts from July, 2013

Operation S at Thee Parkside - 10/23/04

Operation S
Thee Parkside

I just wanted to get out of the house and see something, but I never expected that it would be this damned entertaining!  I heard through the grapevine that a French band called Operation S would be playing in town at Thee Parkside, and that they were worth checking out.  I wasn’t doing anything this fine Saturday night, so why not check out some new music?

The evening started off with a blackout in the club, and over the whole immediate area apparently – someone said some troublesome kids had been shooting fireworks at a power box/transformer/whatever and set it on fire.  The delay thinned the crowd out some, but I didn’t have anything better to do so I waited it out, and it was certainly worth the delay. 

They were definitely French – I didn’t understand a damn thing they sang except for their cover of The Avenger’s “The American in Me,” a fitting cover given their location (you think they play a punk song from a band based in each town they play in?…

Jim Yoshii Pile-Up / Meanest Man Contest at Edinburgh Castle - 4/11/2003

Jim Yoshii Pile-Up
with Meanest Man Contest
Edinburgh Castle

All Music guide has this to say about Meanest Man Contest – "Oakland's Meanest Man Contest is like Boards of Canada doing hip-hop."  I would say this assessment is pretty spot on - the music ranged between Boards-style mellow electronica and DJ Shadow-type beats, with Eriksolo having a voice pretty similar to Lateef from Latyrx.  I had never heard of these chaps, but it turns out that the man making the music in MMC is also the guitarist for Jim Yoshii Pile-Up, but it had been so long since I’d seen JYPU that I didn’t realize this until they took the stage later.  Back to MMC though – I dug it.  I used to be really big into hip-hop, but have become pretty discouraged over the last few years; it just doesn’t seem to hold the same zest for me as it used to.  Lately though, things have been picking up, with all of the Solesides guys finally getting a little respect, Dalek producing some of the most innovativ…

Queens of the Stone Age at The Warfield - 10/11/2003

Queens of the Stone Age
The Warfield

Over the last few months I’d seen more "big shows" than at any other point in my life, but one thing I hadn’t seen is a serious, large-scale rock show.  And for this itch that I had, Queens of the Stone Age certainly scratched it.  Even through the plugs, my ears were still ringing after the show.  I’m by no means a super fan of QotSA, but in the live setting they were pretty damn great.  If I had to write this review in just one word, it would be "tight" – they were a well oiled machine out there, playing at that level you can only achieve through an extremely high level of skill paired with lots and lots of touring.  Most of their material came from their newest album "Songs for the Deaf," with a few randoms sprinkled throughout.  Midway through the set, Mark Lanegan, who’s been collaborating with the band for some time now, came out and sang a handful of songs that had me feeling like I had transported back…

Modest Mouse / The Shins at The Fillmore - 11/3/2003

Modest Mouse
with The Shins
The Fillmore

This was the first time I’d been to the Fillmore and not been an usher in ages.  No more chasing people out of places they didn’t belong, now I get to enjoy the full set of the opening act without interruption.  which was great considering who the opening band was – The Shins.  They played pretty much every song I wanted to hear...they may have actually played every song they’ve recorded.  It was one of the longest opening sets I’ve ever seen, especially at the Fillmore where they follow a pretty rigid schedule.  Nonetheless, it was the best set I’ve ever seen by The Shins; every other time I’ve seen them their sound has been sorta muddy, but this time every note was crystal clear, the vocals were spot on, and the keyboardist was funny as ever (note: the best show I’ve ever seen from this crew was a solo show by singer James Mercer playing all Shins songs acoustic, but it’s really not fair to compare the two – apples and oranges and all t…

Fruit Bats at Bottom of the Hill - 6/9/2003

Fruit Bats
Bottom of the Hill

I’m a late comer on the Fruit Bats bandwagon, at least among my group of friends.  I’ve been told to listen to them for a while now, and I've always put it off.  But I finally got around to it, and their new album "Mouthfuls" is one of my favorite records so far this year.  I’ve been listening to it fairly obsessively over the last couple of months.  Needless to say when they announced their tour was coming to SF, I was pretty hyped for the show...and was not left disappointed.  The band played most of "Mouthfuls" including a fantastic rendition of "When You Love Somebody," my favorite song of their record.  They also played a handful of their older songs, and although I’m not familiar with them yet, the tracks were great and I plan changing that level of familiarity the next time I make it to a music store.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Giddy Motors / Caesura at Lipo Lounge - 7/30/2003

Giddy Motors
with Caesura
Lipo Lounge

This was my first show at Lipo, although I had been here a few years earlier just to have drinks with some friends. Who knew they had that bunker compound down there? not only did it feel like a bunker, it was decorated as such also. This venue seems to run on the same time schedule as The Hemlock, because even though I thought I had gotten there late, it was still a while before Caesura started playing. I can’t say that I’ve ever been moved terribly by their recorded output, but Caesura’s live shows keep getting better and better as far as I’m concerned. Noisy, skronky (can you even be skronky without a saxophone in the band? I’m not sure really), loose at times, but wound tight at others; it was short set that left you wanting for more, my favorite kind of sets. There was a fair amount of kids there to see them, without the place being packed (I don’t even want to imagine how hot and sweaty Lipo would get if it was packed, it was hot en…

Frank Black at The Independent - 3/9/2004

Frank Black
The Independent

With the recent announcement of a Pixies reunion, the internet chat boards were ablaze before this show, spreading rumors left and right that this would be a secret Pixies show, a warm up for their upcoming tour.  And while I didn’t really buy it, I certainly hoped it was true and bought a ticket just in case.  Because what’s the worst case scenario – you get to see Frank Black play?  Not a bad consolation prize.

And it turns out it was just a Frank Black show, as (mostly) expected.  There were no Catholics there to back him up, so it was just a solo show – the man and his oft out-of-tune guitar.  It was mostly his solo material, but he played a handful of Pixies songs, and it was pretty noticeable from the reaction of the crowd what most of them were there to hear.  Off the top of my head, I know he played “Veloria,” “Wave of Mutilation,” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven” – which Frank claimed was his default song to start playing anytime he messed any othe…

Explosions in the Sky at Café du Nord - 10/22/2004

Explosions in the Sky
Café du Nord

This was the first time I’ve ever seen Explosions in the Sky as a headlining band, and most likely the only time I’ve ever seen them at an all ages show.  Otherwise I wouldn’t have been so overwhelmed with wondering when/why/how are they so popular with really young kids?  I’d be highly surprised if very many of the folks standing around me were out of high school; it was really effective in making me feel even older than I usually do when I go out to shows.  But the band, they were terrific - they played a lot of material from their last two albums plus some of the soundtrack for the movie “Friday Night Lights” that they just recorded.  They would often let one song blend into another, culminating in sort of an uber-song of epic proportions that would go on for quite some time.  The kids ate it up; I’ve never seen so many photos taken - if you didn’t know any better you’d think some pop diva was gracing us with her presence.  Here’s to hopin…

Explosions in the Sky at Bottom of the Hill - 12/7/2003

Explosions in the Sky
Bottom of the Hill

Explosions in the Sky have slowly and surely over the last couple of years moved pretty high on my "favorite band" list, and their new album is so good I sometimes forget other bands exist.  Since my last time seeing them live, my anticipation for their next appearance in town nearly had me in convulsions by the time they actually came on the stage.  The sea of beautifully chaotic noise that my ears were awash in for the next 45 minutes was some of the best I’ve ever heard.  Every single time I see them, they are better than the last time I saw them and I think it can’t possibly get any better.  And then next time in town, it does.  How many bands can you say this about?  Here’s to hoping that these Texas recluses continue to visit our fair city ever few months like has been happening recently.

(Photo not mine, found randomly online.)

Lilys / Explosions in the Sky at Bottom of the Hill - 6/6/2003

with Explosions in the Sky
Bottom of the Hill

I don’t think words can do justice to how excited I was about this Explosions in the Sky show. I saw them a few years back opening for And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, before I even knew who they were, and thought it was pretty good. Then I got their album "Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever" and have listened to it obsessively ever since. The last time they played in town I couldn’t make the show and was quite bummed, so this go around I was definitely not missing it. It was unbelievable – they are a sonic firestorm on par with Mogwai or GY!BE; the fact that they haven’t gotten their due is nothing short of scandalous. How can one band rock out with such intensity and still have the ability to reach into your chest and fuck with your heart? I’m by no means one of those emo kids, but something about their music really goes to my core.  

Lilys were the closers for th…

Rum Diary / Kilowatthours at 40th Street Warehouse - 6/14/2003

Rum Diary
with Kilowatthours
40th Street Warehouse

I was excited that Kilowatthours had been added to this bill last minute. Apparently they were on tour and in desperate need of a last minute Bay Area show, and the kind folks at 40th Street hooked them up. Which was awesome, because they were the main reason I came out on this night – the catalyst that actually got my sorry ass across the bridge, a task that is often tough to pull off for us "City" dwellers. Bottom line – despite some minor technical difficulties at the beginning (the band might argue about how "minor" these difficulties were as I believe the singer broke his guitar amp), they sounded fantastic. They remind me of a mixture of Radiohead, Tristeza, Appleseed Cast, and maybe even a little post-rock-ish stuff like Mogwai. I can’t speak for their other releases as I haven’t heard them, but "Strain of Positive Thinking" is a fine album everyone should check out post haste.  A very enjoya…

Les Savy Fav at Slims - 11/12/2004

Les Savy Fav

A Les Savy Fav show will never leave you wanting for entertainment, even if you don’t like the music.  Lucky for me, they are both musically and visually one of my very favorite bands of the last few years, and this show only strengthened those feelings.  The band played a ton of their older singles, which I guess makes sense since their most recent release is their singles collection called “Inches.”  I was a little let down that “Adopduction” and “Blackouts” were left off of the set list, but I think they’ve played both of those every other time I’ve seen them so whatever.

I would say that the band's singer Tim Harrington was in rare form, but he always is. The show started with the man on the stage by himself for a good five minutes in a sea captain outfit, complete with pipe, talking in to the microphone as if he were dictating his sea captain's diary.  It was pretty damn hilarious.  Once the band came out, as the show progressed he got to more an…

Lambchop at the Castro Theatre - 4/18/2003

Live Score to "Sunrise"
SF International Film Festival
The Castro Theatre

This is my second year making it to the live band portion of the San Francisco International Film Festival, and I wasn’t disappointed. Last year Superchunk (along with the help of Chuck Johnson of Spatula and Idyll Swords and Ash Bowie of Polvo, Helium, and Libraness) performed a magnificent score for the film "A Page of Madness" and they subsequently released the live recording of this event for the home listener. It was a vast departure from anything else they had ever done, and it was probably one of my favorite performances I’ve ever seen.

But enough about last year – this year, the film was F.W. Murnau’s "Sunrise" and the band chosen to accompany it was Lambchop, another Merge recording artist that Mac from Superchunk hooked up with the gig. The story for the film was fairly simple, a couple falls back in love after some very trying times (you know, husband cheats…

Kelley Stoltz / Rogue Wave at Thee Parkside - 1/27/2004

Kelley Stoltz
with Rogue Wave
Thee Parkside

What can I say about Rogue Wave that hasn’t already been said?  They played a short set of half old and half new songs, and it included both my favorite old song (“Postage Stamp World”) and my favorite new one (“10 to 1”).  I’m insanely eager for them to get back in the studio and record the follow up to their awesome debut “Out of the Shadows” just so I can have these new songs in some form where I can hear them at home and not just at shows.  I suppose I could always bootleg one of their shows, but I don’t have the equipment…and like I said before, my laziness usually gets the better of me, just making it to a show is a feat all on it’s own.  This show was their warm-up before embarking on a two-week tour supporting cool-kid-favorites Mates of State.  They were damn excited to be going on this tour and it showed in their playing.  I’m so glad to have a band of this quality who is local and plays all the time…and nice folks too, go up…

3rd Annual SF Guerilla Music Festival at Toxic Beach - 8/24/2003

3rd Annual SF Guerilla Music Festival
featuring Jim Yoshii Pile-Up, Spider Compass Good Crime Band, Charmless, Mushroom, Zach Rogue, and Shimmer Kids Underpop Association
Toxic Beach

Some might say that I’m biased in this review since I help organize this little be it, don't care.  Since I don’t play in any of the bands, and stand nothing to gain by lying or embellishing for or about them, I see no conflict.  That said it was a fine, long day at Warm Water Cove (a.k.a. Toxic Beach).  Almost too fine really, as the sun was beating down in that way that only happens here in SF a handful of times a year.  All of the showgoers were scattered to the few shady spots, leaving the crowd pretty spread out for most of the show but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves nonetheless.  There was a grill for cooking goodies, many coolers full of beer and pop, and crazy people everywhere for entertainment.  These crazy people included:
 - A bunch of biker/druggie types, there fo…

Guided by Voices at the Fillmore - 11/13/2004

Guided by Voices
The Fillmore

I’ve seen Guided by Voices a bunch of times, and this is going to be my final show by them.  The band is retiring…Robert Pollard, the only "true" member these days, is shelving one of the most famous names in independent rock.  I’m sure he’ll probably tour under his own name, and he’ll probably even play some GBV songs since he wrote pretty much all twenty million of them, but will it be the same?  I doubt it.

I guess it is fitting that this was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen by them.  They played for nearly three hours, but there were only a couple of times when I really noticed I had been standing in that same spot doing my poor version of what most kids call dancing to some of the greatest pop music ever written for that extended period of time.  Time flies when you’re having fun and all that. 

But most notably was the encore – the encore alone was probably the best thing I’ve seen all year, it was a veritable cornucopia of all o…

Harold Ray: Live in Concert / The Duchess / The Mothballs at the Rickshaw Stop - 6/9/2005

Harold Ray: Live in Concert
with The Duchess and The Mothballs
The Rickshaw Stop

I don’t think The Mothballs were as drunk as the last time I saw them, but it didn’t seem for lack of trying.  I’m pretty sure when I saw JJ before they started playing he had an alcoholic beverage in each hand (now that I think about it, it’s fairly common for JJ to have two drinks at once regardless of whether or not his band is playing).  They were sloppy and happy and great all at the same time just like they are supposed to be, and it brought a big grin to my face.  About midway through the set the singer (Carlos?) broke one of the strings on his guitar, but instead of putting on a new one like most folks, he just said fuck it and played the rest of the show on a 5-string guitar.  Friends, that is punk rock, not spiking up your hair and paying too much money for a pre-worn in leather jacket.

The only thing I knew about The Duchess going into this show was that they were taking up valuable time be…

Low / Pedro the Lion at Great American Music Hall - 3/29/2005

with Pedro the Lion
Great American Music Hall

it seems like I haven’t seen Pedro the Lion in forever, but in reality it’s only been a couple of years.  I can’t say that I’ve listened to him much over that time either, but there was definitely a time in my life when he was one of my very favorites.  His sound hasn’t changed, I just think my tastes have shifted somewhat, as is prone to happen as you get old and cranky.  All that said, he put on a damn good show, probably my favorite performance ever by him and his band – and I’ve seen him a bunch of times. 

It was a much more rocking affair than previous efforts, and despite my lack of knowledge of the current catalog, I knew almost everything they played anyways.  Lots of classics like “Big Trucks,” “Priests and Paramedics,” that song whose title I forget but it’s about women shaving, and tons more.  Sadly he did not play “Bad Diary Days,” which is not only my favorite song of his but one of my favorite songs by any band or p…

Low / Jolie Holland at Great American Music Hall - 2/26/2004

with Jolie Holland
Great American Music Hall

These Noise Pop bills always have a million bands on them, and there’s no way I can tolerate a four band line-up unless I completely love every single band (and even then I’m likely to get cranky and leave early), so timing is critical.  You want to get there in time to see what you want to see, but not have to put up with too much extraneous stuff.

I got to this show about half-way through the set of Jolie Holland.  It was somewhat of a letdown, but I was somewhat expecting it so I wasn’t surprised.  The main issue was the crowd – Noise Pop events are known for drawing a large number of folks who wouldn’t normally be out, and generally leads to some pretty raucous behavior and loud, abrasive attendees.  Let it be said that the letdown was not because of Jolie Holland – her magical voice tried and tried to rise above the din of the crowd, but it was fighting a losing battle.  She was obviously upset by it all, but what can you do? …

Low at Great American Music Hall - 11/13/2002

Great American Music Hall

Low, how beautiful your voices are, they mesmerize me.  On paper, I don’t think I would enjoy a Low show, given how mellow they are, but something about them manages to keep me rapt for the duration of their performance.  It is my contention that Mimi Parker’s voice is possibly the best female voice in rock music today.

They played a wide array of songs, and many that the audience yelled out to hear.  My two favorites "Over the Ocean" and "The Plan" were played, as well as "Dinosaur Act," one of their Christmas songs, and a whole slew of others.  Possibly the best song of the night was "Fearless," a Pink Floyd cover, which sounded very much like a Low song while still retaining the overall feel of the original.  I love it when they cover songs - their version of The BeeGee’s "I Started a Joke" is one of my favorite songs that they play.

All told, a really amazing show that will probably make my top t…

Liars / Young People at Bottom of the Hill - 3/30/2004

with Young People
Bottom of the Hill

I am constantly professing my love for Young People to pretty much anyone willing to listen.  The music is rad, Katie has one of my favorite female voices out there, and they put on a great show.  I’m still a little bummed that they moved to NYC, it was great when they were still in California and would come up and play the Hemlock or house parties or whatever all of the time…but time marches on or some such stupid saying.  At least they have been touring quite a bit since moving so very far away, allowing me at least periodic glimpses at their greatness.  Predictably, like every other time I’ve seen them this time was great as well.  This is minimalist art-pop, and probably one of the best examples to be found anywhere (for lack of a better genre to throw them in, and I’m pretty sure this one doesn’t even exist – think Bjork meets Cat Power for the closest approximation).  For their finale, the two non "giant Aussies from Liars&qu…

Tig Notaro / Kyle Dunnigan at the Carolina Theatre - 5/4/2013

Tig Notaro
with Kyle Dunnigan
The Carolina Theatre

I've seen Tig Notaro a few times, and it was only a year or two ago that she was performing at Kings.  Then she gets sick, her mom dies, she's diagnosed with breast cancer, and Louis CK puts his weight behind her and now she's playing the Carolina Theatre.  That's a pretty dumbed-down version of her timeline on my part, but it covers the biggest touchstones, and dumb comes easy to me.  Any anyways, the end result was another hilarious set from Tig just in a larger venue.  More than any other time I've seen her, she really did a lot of crowd work - I'd guess at least 50% of her set involved interacting with the audience.  This might prove dicey for a lot of comedians but like Todd Barry, Tig is a master at interacting with people in a humorous fashion.  At one point she tried to do her noisy stool bit on the stage, only the stool wouldn't make any noise...she then tried a wide assortment of chairs, none…

The Men / Organs at the Pinhook - 5/1/2013

The Men
with Organs
The Pinhook

The Men have made quite a change in their sound since I last saw them at Hopscotch a couple years back.  Their recorded output was heavy then, but in a live setting they were bordering on a hardcore band.  But in the past two years they've released a couple of records that shifted in a very different direction, and I was curious how their live shows had also shifted.  It turns out that much like their records, they've become some sort of mid-nineties indie rock band with a tinge of Americana.  I loved the old version of the group, but their "new" songs are great as well, and the live performance is just as furious as ever - just not as musically aggressive.  The band is playing as a five piece now, with a keyboardist doing some serious heavy lifting on most of their songs.  Most of their set was from their past two records "Open Your Heart" and "New Moon," and they ended the set with an epic kraut rock jam that…