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.
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.