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  • Live Show: Asobi Seksu - March 8, 2011

    Mar 10 2011, 18h52

    Tue 8 Mar – Asobi Seksu, BRAHMS, The Dandelion War
    ---

    It's been two years since Asobi Seksu played a show in San Francisco. I know because I went to that show way back in March 2009 at the Independent. I was kind of surprised when I found out they'd be playing at the Bottom of the Hill this time around; when you compare both venues the Independent is about three times as big, and if that show was pretty crowded, then... yeah.

    And truth be told I haven't been to the Bottom of the Hill much. In fact, this was only the second time I'd been there, the first being to see Metalchicks (an obscure metal side-project of the Japanese band Buffalo Daughter) ... back in 2007. Four years ago. It was certainly a lot bigger than I remembered, and the atmosphere was actually a lot different given that there seemed to be way more hipsters and people my age (I was a few days under 21 back then). There were also way more of my Asian brethren, heh.

    ---

    My friend Mari and I arrived not long before the opening band, The Dandelion War, took the stage. A small local band from the Bay Area (represent!), they played a good set with songs that, as Mari said, were "like Explosions in the Sky, but with shorter songs and lyrics". To me they sounded incredibly similar to Explosions and This Will Destroy You, which is by no means an insult considering those are probably two of the best post-rock bands out there. The singer kind of sounded like the dude from Sigur Ros, and his vocals actually complimented the post-rock sound they seemed to shoot for, proving you actually can do vocals and post-rock well. It'd be interesting to hear a female vocalist with similar range in that setup.

    But yeah, Dandelion War was highly enjoyable. They're definitely a band that I hope stays on the radar and gets some due credit and praise, as there seem to be few post-rock bands from the Bay Area that gain recognition. (Or maybe I'm just out of the loop. Whatever.)

    ---

    We moved closer to the stage for the second act, a New York-based electronic rock trio called BRAHMS. I don't know why, but they looked like New Yorkers to me - lanky as heck, tight jeans, shirts way too large, long hair. ANYWAY... Their setup was interesting, as they utilized a traditional guitar and bass with synths (each of them had one), a few drum machines, and a standing drum with attached cymbals in lieu of a drummer on a full set.

    Their music was catchy and fast, the kind of music that really makes you nod your head and tap your foot to the beat. The meshing of the guitar/bass with the drum effects gave the music a nice clash, and the standing drum kind of gave it a bit of a tribal feel every now and then. Unfortunately for the lead singer one of his drum pads kind of died by the end, but it didn't take away too much.

    Overall, not the kind of music I'm all that into, but they played a good, energetic set with neat lighting effects they set up themselves. Afterward Mari mentioned how this was probably the first show we'd been to where both opening bands were actually really good, and I wholeheartedly agreed.

    ---

    And, at last, Asobi took the stage. They played a good mix of new and old songs, including some of my favorites like New Years and Thursday. The songs sound incredibly good live, with Yuki's vocals much clearer (and decipherable), and watching James rock out on guitar like he's in a trance was actually pretty awe-inspiring for someone like me who's just starting out on playing guitar and messing with effects. And they've got one talented drummer, which is something I didn't notice before I actually saw him play. Of course, it's kind of hard to notice anything else when Yuki is front and center ... in a really cute outfit.

    Gah, sorry.

    It's hard to describe the set for some reason. I guess it's because when I wasn't grimacing from my legs cramping up from standing I was entranced by the band playing.

    ---

    What I like most about the Bottom of the Hill is that it's such a small venue it's easy enough to go right up to the band afterward and talk to them. Which is, fortunately, what I did. Mari and I stuck around for awhile after the show since we had to wait for our ride (no way I'm walking around SoMa at midnight). We wanted to grab a picture with Yuki, and she went over to the merch table after a few minutes. Got a picture, talked awkwardly about stuff like playing at the different venues in SF, got her and James to sign a copy of their latest album, regret that I was so awkward after leaving... Yeah, it turned out to be a good night.

    My ears are still kind of buzzing though. Perhaps next time I ought to get some ear plugs. Still, it was worth it.
  • Live Show: X Japan - September 28, 2010

    Out 6 2010, 23h06

    Tue 28 Sep – X JAPAN
    ---

    Man, it feels like such a long time since I've written up a review for a show, much longer than the five months since the Zion I show. And heck, I went to two shows in the span of a week. Both bands happened to be Japanese, and on both cases my girlfriend treated me since I'm always inviting/dragging her to see bands I like, heh. This is the first of the two shows.

    As much as I like - and loved - pop and rock, I mostly like the bands that aren't so mainstream, like a lot of artists; I count Buffalo Daughter as one of my favorite bands of all time. Oddly enough, for a band as big as X Japan, I had never really heard their music before, nor did I give them a listen before the show, so I had absolutely no real expectations going in.

    Same goes for the venue. Despite living in San Francisco all my life I never really venture outside the City for shows, especially when it comes to Oakland. The prospect of being in that city late at night is kind of scary, but fortunately the Fox Theater (a large concert hall similar to SF's Warfield) is literally a block away from the BART station so I could make a quick getaway. Knowing this, I may start going there more often actually, as a lot of good bands stop off there in lieu of San Francisco; The Flaming Lips actually played for two nights the following weekend.

    So my girlfriend, a friend of hers, and I arrived maybe half an hour before the doors were to open, and the line was pretty huge already, wrapping all the way around the corner and down to the parking lot in back of the venue. Fortunately we had seats upstairs so it didn't matter where we were in line. When we got in we headed right to our seats, which wound up being almost front and center on the balcony - which had an awesome, awesome view that let us see the entire stage, as well as the beautifully decorated walls and ceilings up top. Gotta hand it to the Fox Theater, it's got a gorgeous interior.

    Although no one was expecting such, an opening band came on stage first - a band from LA (I think) called Vampires Everywhere!. All six guys were decked out in black leather and emo haircuts and played some catchy, fast-paced rock coupled with lyrics being screamed into the microphone to the point where you couldn't understand a single word being "sung". I'm not much for // or whatever you want to call it, and all I'll say is that the show could have done without an opener altogether.

    And seriously, what the hell is up with this vampire business? Oh god, stop it, teen America!

    After VE's short set and a bit of a delay, X Japan finally took the stage and proceeded to play an epic set full of engaging and tender rock ballads. From what I can gather, their music is pretty much stadium with some classical bits thrown in - the drummer, Yoshiki, plays mean piano and one of the guitarists also doubles as a violinist. The singer had unbelievably good range, and his energy was all over the place, though I was kind of getting a little annoyed when he kept shouting lyrics for everyone to sing during one song (everyone knows the words, stop yelling at us!). There wasn't anything I really disliked about X Japan, and it was really a pretty amazing show. I can see why they sell out stadiums and arenas back in Japan, and it really is lucky that I got to see them live considering they broke up a few years back and have never played in the US before.

    Overall it was a great show, especially since I didn't know what to expect. Hopefully X Japan will be around for quite awhile longer and build a successful career not only in the US but worldwide. They certainly seem capable, and it would be a shame for those fans that live outside of Japan to be deprived of seeing such a great live performance by these guys, who will probably be one of the bigger bands in the future of Japanese rock music.
  • Live Show: Zion I - April 2, 2010

    Abr 4 2010, 5h15

    Fri 2 Apr – Zion I
    ---

    It felt like forever since I'd been to a show, so last night was definitely a refreshing change of pace for me, especially considering I'm not exactly a fan of Zion I -- or at least, I wasn't before last night. Like with the Del show back in November, I happened to catch an e-mail post advertising the show, told my friend Johnny, and from there it turned into a nice group outing.

    Honestly, I love The Independent. Being a 21+ venue, they seem way more laid back than even the Great American Music Hall. No frisking or bag checking, you can go in and out as much as you want, and they don't seem to care that practically everyone inside pulls out a blunt or cigar. The only thing that sucks is the parking; with only two cars it took us about an hour to find parking around the neighborhood. Seriously, I think one of the nearby buildings needs to go in order to make room for a parking garage or something. There are enough bars and restaurants around Divisadero to warrant it.

    The first opener, Dublin - who is an MC from Jazz Mafia, not a Brazilian ska band - was pretty funny. Honestly when he took the stage I thought he was just some guy with a beer, maybe a friend of the DJ, who hopped on stage to say hi. But then he started singing. What's funny is that this white guy was dressed in a mismatched suit that made him look like a 1950s lounge singer or something ... yet he was rapping with such speed and skill! Very entertaining to watch and listen to, especially when he busted out an electric violin and started playing some classical pieces alongside the hip-hop beats - neat juxtaposition there.

    Next up was Pep Love, a member of Hieroglyphics, a local collective from Oakland. Much like Johnny had told me, Pep Love pretty much just went through a straight set of songs without pausing, without much excess, and ... well, without expending a whole lot of energy. His set was all about the lyrical content, which was strong and consistent. In all honesty though I don't really remember much. It wasn't exactly the most memorable act to tell the truth.

    And finally there was Zion I. I wouldn't really have guessed by listening to their music - which we do a lot of since Johnny listens to hip-hop in his car pretty exclusively - but they utilize live instruments for performances instead of strictly using a DJ system. They had a drummer and keyboardist, both of which were awesome, and the use of those live instruments really added more depth to the music itself, allowing it to be on par with the lyrical content. Not only that, but they came out with a ton of energy, and Zumbi, the MC, was jumping around and dancing pretty much the entire set. I daresay the group had a lot more pep (SORRY) than even Del and his group from the last show I went to. It definitely got me and the rest of the crowd pumped up and moving. Good stuff.

    Haha, and man... the crowd. Lots of interesting stuff there, for sure. Like I said, there was a lot of weed being passed around, among other things. At one point I saw some guy pull out a pipe - not a bong, but one of those old-fashioned tobacco pipes. And of course a few people said, "Screw this whole law thing" and smoked cigarettes and cigars. Not that I really care about that sort of thing. Still, hella hot-boxing.

    And for the last half of the show there was some girl standing next to me, high and possibly buzzed. Either she didn't see (or feel) me standing there or she was purposely inching her way into me the entire Zion I set, which was kind of awkward but not altogether unpleasant I suppose. On the other side where my friend Marty was though some couple were freak dancing the entire time, oblivious to ... well, pretty much everything and everyone around them. He kept shaking his head every time one of them accidentally elbowed him and I couldn't help but laugh. I think they started making out between each song too. All of sudden they kind of disappeared. Probably ran to the bathroom after one of them had an orgasm, or something... who knows!

    All in all it was a pretty awesome show, and I'm glad it turned out that way. Heh, on Monday I'll be heading to another one since my friends actually got me a pair of tickets to see Angels & Airwaves at the Warfield. Should be a good show, albeit very different.
  • Live Show: Del tha Funkee Homosapien - November 25, 2009

    Nov 27 2009, 17h50

    Wed 25 Nov – Del tha Funkee Homosapien
    ---

    A first for me in that I had never been to a show before, but I'm glad I went. When glossing over GAMH's calendar a few months back I happened to see Del - part of one of my friend Johnny's favorite bands, Hieroglyphics - was going to be performing, and we decided to go. Surprisingly enough most of our friends, many of which don't even listen to hip-hop, came with us.

    The night started off kind of weird, because I realized at the door that I didn't actually order a ticket like I thought I did, so after rushing back to my apartment and frantically trying to find some record (and failing) we came back so I could buy a ticket. We were pretty much the first people in line save for a guy who got there maybe a minute or two ahead of us. Surprisingly enough, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien came out a few minutes before the door opened to grab a smoke and say, "Thanks for coming early". He's actually kind of short in person (no offense, man!).

    When we got inside we headed over to the merch table to check out the offerings, and like we had heard about Del's other shows, they gave us all a free pair of Skull Candy headphones (a decent enough over-the-head set) and a copy of Funk man, which Johnny and I got signed by Del himself (sweet!). Now that is a great way to promote your music.

    I kind of found it interesting how many white people there were in the crowd. Okay, so I'm half, and my friends and I are all Asian, but still. It really does kind of match that article over on "Stuff White People Like", haha.

    Up until the day before none of us knew there would be any opening/associate acts, and even then we didn't really know who the heck any of them were. The opener, Hopie Spitshard, a local SF rapper, was alright. I'm not really into straight-up rap, and she utilized a bit too much background/pre-recorded vocals for my taste, and both she and the DJ messed up during their set a few times. I mean, if she's collaborating with high-caliber artists like Del then she must be good, so I'm willing to go ahead with the notion that she just had an off-night.

    The following act, Serendipity Project, a Santa Cruz (SC represent!) based band combining hip-hop, , and , was more my thing. Their songs really got the growing crowd moving to the music, and they had so much energy it was hard not to at least tap your foot while they were up there jamming. The combination of styles was interesting to listen to, and during their last song they gave each and every member a solo - including the DJ Zack Hendrix, who didn't do much during SP's set but wound up sticking around to DJ for Bukue One and Del. Great stuff.

    Bukue's set was long and interesting. He did a lot of minimalist, freestyle rap in between the song tracks, and joked a lot with Hendrix while also pulling off some skateboard tricks on-stage. He's definitely got a way with words, for sure.

    Sometime around midnight - later than any of us thought the show would last - Del took the stage with fellow Hieroglyphics members A Plus and Nobody (they said he was new to the group). They brought a ton of energy and performed songs not only from Del's solo work, but also some Hieroglyphics songs, which Johnny was excited about. Some of the memorable tracks for me include Mistadobalina and No Need For Alarm; I don't know the Hiero tracks since I've never heard more than what Johnny's played on his MP3 player in the car. Del even took a step back and let A Plus and Nobody do a few songs themselves, which was cool. Though they didn't do an encore, they ended with a song pretty much everyone in the audience knew: Clint Eastwood. That was pretty awesome, especially since Del did his own lyrics instead.

    All in all it was a great show, and I'm actually glad it went on longer than it did. Johnny was satisfied, especially since he got to see one of his favorite artists live and picked up a free CD and a Hieroglyphics shirt. The vibe at a hip-hop show is so different than that of the usual indie/rock shows I go to, and I'd totally be down to see others in the future. Heck, we were looking at The Roots for New Year's Eve, but I hear the tickets are expensive as hell. Oh well.
  • Music, Memory, and Moments

    Nov 1 2009, 23h47

    No one can argue the importance that music has on a movie. A great soundtrack can make a bland movie a bit more colorful, and can turn an otherwise dead-pan scene into a creepy or suspenseful moment. And sometimes there are moments when the music flares up and sends a tingle down your spine, gives you goosebumps, makes you just think to yourself, "That is IT." It's an impression that can stay with you long after that initial contact.

    That's kind of how I felt the other day when I chanced on an old playlist of songs I've had on my computer for years. They're songs I hadn't listened to in what felt like forever, songs associated with very specific images and memories, more often than not of events and people I tried so hard to forget. Despite not thinking about them for years everything came washing back to shore in one swift motion like a tidal wave of nostalgia. What I found most interesting was how I associated particular songs with ... well, let's be honest, with particular ladies in my life. Unsurprisingly, each one links up with particular periods in my life, periods where I went through major changes, which you can kind of track across the list if you look at it in chronological order of what I listened to.

    Personally, I find it amazing how these individual songs can trigger such strong emotional reactions considering how little I've listened to them in recent years. Heck, some of them I didn't even realize were still on my computer. It makes me wonder what songs will achieve similar reactions when I'm older. What songs will make me think most of my college life and my current girlfriend? What songs will make me think of being back at home in San Francisco and trying to find my way in life? Who knows if I'll even listen to the same stuff a year or two from now; my music taste has been shifting in the last few years or so as far as I've noticed.

    For now though, here's what I've been calling my "Nostalgia" playlist:

    1. Back To Me
    2. Everything You Want
    3. You're a God

    These tracks comprise some of the songs I listened to in my late middle school years and when I first got into high school. I had a huge crush on this one girl who was worlds different, and since I had never really had a girlfriend I guessed I kind of put her on a pedestal, which caused a lot of anguish.

    4. Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now
    5. Summer Wind Was Always Our Song
    6. Screaming Infidelities
    7. Again I Go Unnoticed
    8. Heart Of A Broken Story
    9. Apt. #5

    Next we have the mid-high school years when I was with my first girlfriend, the one I can't ever forget and who I despised for pretty much the following five years or so. A lot of these songs were actually from her MP3 player, which I borrowed on the way from her place on a few occasions. Mostly emo stuff, which accurately reflects the mood of that tumultuous relationship.

    10. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
    11. What Sarah Said
    12. You Don't Know Me
    13. Fire Eye'd Boy

    There's a huge gap between my senior year of high school and the start of my second year of college when I was in my second serious relationship, but ... eh. The above tracks are mostly from the last two years of college, around the time my current girlfriend and I started dating. Going through a second major break-up not long before was still pretty gritty, and I was feeling somewhat vulnerable and lonely. Yeah, kind of emo, but what a slightly different feel to it.

    14. Whatever You Want
    15. Spectacular Views
    16. The Only Moment We Were Alone
    17. Tracy (Kid Loco's Playing With the Young Team Remix)

    Tracks that remind me of living in Santa Cruz with my girlfriend from 2007-2008. It was probably the best year of my life, and these are some of my current favorite tracks of all time. Nice correlation, huh?
  • Live Show: Mono - October 12, 2009

    Out 19 2009, 4h20

    Mon 12 Oct – Mono, Maserati
    ---

    This was one of those rare occurrences when I decided to go ahead and buy tickets for this show when A) I didn't know if my girlfriend would even be able to go with me, and B) I wasn't very familiar with the artists performing. I mean, as a big post-rock listener I've naturally heard of Mono, but I've only ever listened to You Are There which, though it's incredibly good, has never gotten much playtime on my iPod or computer. And don't get me started on Maserati - I think I had only listened to them once or twice before going to the show. So overall, my expectations were pretty non-existent.

    As much as I love going to the Great American Music Hall for shows, it really was more of an aural experience this time around. My girlfriend and I sat on the sidelines downstairs for Maserati's performance, which meant we didn't really see the band. I liked what I heard from them, though I have to say that some of their songs sound alike; it seems like they play a slightly more up-tempo style than most post-rock bands, and I thought it seemed more "action-y" in a way. Seems like a fitting way to describe it since the friend that tried to introduce me to Maserati likes them because they "make music that's good for action sequences" (not an actual quote, but that's pretty much what he said).

    Even though we were both kind of tired and my girlfriend was a bit sore I suggested we head out onto the floor to see Mono, but that didn't pan out well since most of the people around us were tall and crowded around close enough so that we really couldn't see much better than when we were on the sides. Plus it was getting uncomfortable, so we headed upstairs to the balcony and instead got a much, much better view (stage right, over Yoda). It's much easier to enjoy the music when you have a better vantage point and can actually see them performing.

    Mono's live performance was actually pretty spectacular considering their somewhat stoic, "meh" attitude. I mean, it's kind of fitting considering the type of music they play, but still. Perhaps they prefer to sit back and let their music do the talking. That'd be understandable at least, given that the music is incredible. Slow build ups and progressions that explode into a cacophony of sound that isn't unpleasant to the ear. Even if I don't listen to Mono any more than I do now, it was well worth seeing them live.

    And I picked up a copy of their 2004 album, Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined, though since I didn't know about any of their albums other than You Are There I picked it out based on which album cover caught my eye. Yeah, not a very informed purchase, but I've been enjoying it thus far.

    So that makes five shows on the year so far, with one more coming up at the end of November (Del Tha Funkee Homosapien). Thinking about seeing Vienna Teng/Alex Wong in December, but it's a big maybe at this point since I saw them back in April already and I'm trying to save some extra cash for the holidays. Guess we'll see what happens.
  • Live Show: The Offspring - July 31, 2009

    Ago 11 2009, 2h11

    Fri 31 Jul – The Offspring
    ---

    blink-182, New Found Glory, and The Offspring. Those were the three bands I listened to religiously back in high school, the ones whose music really inspired and resonated with me. Now, about eight years later I've finally seen all three bands perform live. Better late than never, I guess (like this week-late review!).

    I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this show despite it being free. A few friends of mine told me about it a week before, and they already had a few priority tickets (each worth two admissions with guaranteed entry), so it was a nice change of pace. We usually just spend Friday nights eating out before heading to a friend's place for booze and video games, the typical almost-nerdy twenty-something's Friday night. It was doubly nice that this was really one of the few times I'd be going to a show with friends, the only other time being the Junior Senior show back in 2007 when some friends joined my girlfriend and I.

    The night started with the majority of us meeting up after work, around five. We bussed it down to the Warfield to see a pretty lengthy line which - when looking back on it - wasn't really that long at all considering how many people eventually showed up. We met up with another friend and waited in line, taking turns going for food and drinks to satiate our hunger and thirst since we wouldn't be going for dinner until much, much later, all the while dealing with annoying smokers who looked underage and a growing line of people behind us. I'm glad we had priority tickets, because by the time we got in the general admission line was seemingly endless; someone told us it went almost all the way around the block.

    The only other time I've been to the Warfield is when I saw Motion City Soundtrack back in 2007, and I was late getting there from Santa Cruz so I didn't really have time to take a look around the place. I knew there was a balcony level so I insisted my friends and I head up there, and it turned out to be a great decision since we were sitting front row center with the perfect view of the stage.


    The crappy quality of my cell phone picture does not do the view justice.

    Anticipation was pretty high as nine o'clock grew nearer. The seats behind and above us were filling up quickly, and the floor had long since grown packed, asses to elbows. Some crappy MC came out, tried to amp the crowd up by throwing t-shirts and saying something about decorating it for prizes (which required said lucky bastards to actually EXIT THE BUILDING to do so), and left us holding our breaths for The Offspring. Nine o'clock came and went. Okay, that's odd. The MC came and went a few more times amidst impatient booing and calls for the band to emerge. Nine-thirty came and went. What the hell! There must've been some sort of problem with the equipment or sound systems because I've never heard of a two-hour wait after the doors open. It was already quarter after ten when the curtains finally came apart and Dexter and the gang came out.

    From there on it was one hell of a show.

    Despite the band looking visibly older they sounded good and gave off a ton of energy. The lighting setup was incredible, and really added to each and every song they performed, which ranged from the newer songs from Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace and Splinter to the old classics, songs like The Kids Aren't Alright, Pretty Fly (For a White Guy), and All I Want. The entire place was pumping with every guitar riff, and it was almost as much fun watching the mosh pit below us as it was watching the band itself - boy, I'm glad we were on the balcony! There's no other way to describe the show except that it was incredible, and would've been worth every penny if I actually would've spent any money on it.

    It's surprising that The Offspring is still the same kick-ass band it was a decade ago, despite the guys being what... almost forty? Dexter still sounds great even if he looks like he's put on some poundage, and overall the entire experience made me as giddy as I was back when I first started getting into their music. I remember feeling that way when I saw blink-182 at the Shoreline in - was it 2003 or 2004? - and New Found Glory when they came to Santa Cruz during my freshman year of college in 2004. It's the good kind of nostalgia, a feeling I don't get very often now that I'm back home in San Francisco.

    Thanks, guys. And keep on rockin'.
  • Live Show: Vamps - July 25, 2009

    Jul 31 2009, 18h44

    Sat 25 Jul – VAMPS LIVE 2009 U.S.A.
    ---

    Talk about your deja vu. This show made me feel like I was back in 2006, probably because of the two Hyde shows my girlfriend and I went to last time he was in San Francisco. Well, he said he'd be back, and I guess he made good on that comment, huh?

    For me, the show technically started on Thursday since there was an autograph session held outside of Japantown's Kinokuniya bookstore. After waiting in line for six hours my girlfriend and I got to see Hyde and K.A.Z. in person, shake their hands (I might've used too strong of a grip, haha), and get a couple of autographs. The session was actually fairly short, lasting no more than an hour.

    Skip ahead to Saturday morning and we found ourselves in line again with most of the same people we saw at the signing. We managed to pass the time well enough with Peet's coffee (employee discount +2!), books, and random Asian snacks we found at the Walgreens on Eddy Street. There was a BevMo! right across the street too, so before the line started moving we - along with a friend of ours - had some coffee and peppermint schnapps. You know, just to "keep warm", heh.

    The Regency isn't really that big of a venue, though one of its saving graces is that it has a large balcony area with a ton of seating for those who don't like to stand for two hours amidst large droves of sweaty people. My original plan was to head upstairs and watch from a more comfortable vantage point while my girlfriend stood up front and center (she's a huge fan of Hyde). Unfortunately, the staff at the Regency decided it'd be easier to keep everyone herded on the bottom floor, which meant the best I could do was find a spot along the wall where I could get a decent view while managing to watch my backpack and my girlfriend's stuff; didn't want to pay money for that sort of thing.

    There wasn't an opening band (aw, no Black List Club?), so Vamps immediately took the stage to the greeting of a hundred girls screaming in tandem. We had heard that their set wasn't going to be that long, but somehow they managed to stretch it out to a little under two hours, playing a combination of songs from their sole album and some of Hyde's solo material, including covers of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Life On Mars - the latter of which was particularly nice, and has been stuck in my head for the last few days.

    The lighting effects were pretty good considering most venues of this size - like the Great American Music Hall a few blocks away - don't ever seem to utilize a lot of fancy setups. Really helped add to the tone of the show, along with the bassist's antics, haha. As an intermission, Hyde's attempt to talk about how much he loved San Francisco was particularly entertaining (CRAM CHOWDAR!). Overall it was a good show, though I think I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have because I was tired from waiting in line for so long.

    It really was better than I thought it'd be, and considering I'm not as big a fan of Hyde's solo work or Vamps as I am a fan of L'Arc~en~Ciel, they were pretty good live. I think I prefer their live show to the album itself, which isn't always the case. I'd see them again, probably, but I'm hoping next time they'll just come as L'arc~en~Ciel; the whole faux-metal/rock sound just doesn't do it for me.
  • Live Show: Vienna Teng - April 24, 2009

    Mai 4 2009, 5h10

    Fri 24 Apr – An Evening with Vienna Teng
    ---

    I realize this post is coming almost two weeks late, but whatever. Figured I'd write a little something about the show since I did in fact have a lot of fun, and it was very different than I imagined.

    Originally I was a bit skeptical about heading all the way to Oakland to see a show, even though I missed seeing Vienna Teng at the Palace of Fine Arts back in December. Something about taking public transportation to and from Oakland, especially late at night, is kind of unsavory -- and I live in San Francisco for christ's sake. But it turned out to be a worthwhile trip. I spent the morning and afternoon in the nearby El Cerrito with my girlfriend and we met up with some friends of ours later at Yoshi's.

    Yoshi's itself was new to me. I'd never been to it before, or even any place quite like it. The idea of a swanky Japanese restaurant combined with a jazz bar is a neat idea, and Yoshi's is definitely that. The restaurant area was pretty spacious, and there was a nice little bar area outside the showroom where we sat down for some appetizers (calamari and sushi) before going in. The showroom itself turned out to be much different than most other venues I've been to; there was a large number of tables and booths of varying sizes, and you had to clip a piece of paper with your name on it to the seat you wanted in order to reserve it in a "first come, first serve" basis. Very different, but nice. We wound up picking a table to the far right since the center ones were already taken.

    After ordering a few drinks (apparently there was a one-drink minimum) and a side of incredible sweet potato fries the show started a little after eight o'clock. Vienna and Alex Wong, her producer and collaborator for her latest album, Inland Territory, took the stage along with a cellist (forgot his name). They played a nice combination of new and old songs, including a great rendition of Whatever You Want, my favorite of her songs. Vienna was great to hear on piano, and her voice is terrific to hear live. Surprisingly, the live versions of the songs benefited from the additional instruments; the album versions tend to downplay any guitar or drum work, something I noticed after the show. Not only that, but Alex used some very, very interesting instruments I'd never seen before.

    Of course, since there was a second show at ten the set didn't last very long -- a little over an hour really, since it ended at nine-thirty. I was kind of hoping Vienna would stick around so I could get my copy of Inland Territory signed, but unfortunately it didn't turn out that way. Instead, the four of us shuffled out with the crowd and called it a night. Still, all in all it was a great show.
  • Live Show: Asobi Seksu - March 13, 2009

    Mar 15 2009, 5h28

    Fri 13 Mar – Asobi Seksu, Bell, Resplandor
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    First show of 2009 for me, and it was a good one. Truth be told I haven't been all that into going to live shows in the last few months, and I'm not really sure why. Maybe it's the atmosphere, or the fact that I don't usually go with a big group of friends since they all have very different tastes. Whatever the case, before last night I hadn't been to a show since seeing Deerhoof back in October.

    I like The Independent a lot. Since their shows are usually 21+ the crowd's mostly made up of people my own age (or older, obviously) - which is funny considering two years ago when I first went to a show here it was on the day I turned 21. The atmosphere of the place was mostly chill, and since it's a relatively small venue my girlfriend and I sat on the sidelines with a decent view of the stage. There was a bit of a late start due to some sound problems apparently, which was annoying since that meant we all had to stand outside in the freezing cold San Francisco wind. Ah well.

    The opening band, Resplandor, from Peru, played a nice and short set. I actually liked them a lot because in a way they sounded fairly similar to Asobi Seksu, with lengthy and repetitive melodies backed by twin vocals I could barely understand. They're the kind of band I'd probably listen to on a consistent basis, and I definitely think I'll look them up sometime soon.

    After a very brief intermission, the three-piece Bell, another band I was unfamiliar with, took the stage. Their setup was a bit unique, utilizing a standard drumset, a keyboard, and an electronic percussion machine. Frontwoman Olga Bell's vocals were the centerpiece of their set for me, complimenting the odd mix of hip-hop style beats and synthesized melodies. And I'm not sure how many people would agree, but the way she sings sounds awfully like Bjork. Well, at least I think so. Interesting sound, but maybe not a band I'd listen to that often, and my girlfriend didn't really like them.

    Last up was - of course - Asobi Seksu. I was kind of disappointed when I missed them at the Rickshaw Stop a few months back due to having to work that night, and now that I've seen them live I could kick myself for not seeing them sooner. Their set was pretty amazing, with songs from each of their albums. They played a lot of stuff from Hush naturally, but I'm glad they also went back and did some of their older stuff like New Years, a favorite of mine. The lighting complimented the songs nicely, and the band had some great energy throughout. All in all their set was awesome, though it felt incredibly short for some reason.

    I found it awesome how Yuki Chikudate mentioned how she loves being on the west coast because she's "not the only fucking Asian". My girlfriend and I - both Asian Americans ourselves - were saying all night how many Asian people were at the show. Hell, everytime we've ever been to a show the crowd's always been pretty much white kids. Nice to see the Asian crowd for once!

    But yeah, that's about it. My girlfriend and I had a good time, and I'm glad we went. Well worth the admission and standing in the cold for an extra twenty minutes. And I wound up picking up a neat poster for the event.

    Next show for me is most likely going to be that Vienna Teng show in Oakland next month. My girlfriend and I are going with a few friends of ours on a double date kind of thing. Should be nice.