Blog

  • gig review: michael penn @ cafe du nord

    Mar 7 2014, 8h12

    Fri 9 Sep – Michael Penn

    We got there late, so we only caught 4 or 5 songs of Jesse Sykes's act. Her voice is like Hope Sandoval with Melissa Etheridge's scratchiness. She played acoustic rhythm guitar with Phil Wandscher on lead electric, although some of the songs begged for a lap steel. They were soft, dreamy songs and i liked them.

    Michael Penn set up quickly and launched right into his first song with no preamble. His show was short, but fun. They took off at 65 minutes until the encore cries brought `em back, for a total time from start to finish of 80 minutes.

    Try
    Denton Road
    A Bad Sign
    High Time
    On Automatic
    Bunker Hill
    Out of My Hands
    O.K.
    Me Around
    Long Way Down (Look What The Cat Drug In) {this one had a couple of false starts}
    Don't Let Me Go
    Walter Reed
    Brave New World

    encore

    I Can Tell
    Figment
    No Myth

    Before "Bunker Hill", he told the story about the Angels' Flight, the world's shortest railroad, designed to bring the gentry from Bunker Hill to the shops down the hill. Before "Walter Reed", he talked about the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Donald Rumsfeld's plan to shut it down.

    After "I Can Tell", i yelled out, "Play 'Figment'!" He replied, "'Figment'? Dammit! That's one of the ones we haven't got quite down yet." Then he reconsidered, put the capo on the first fret, and warned us that it would be a "train wreck." It wasn't. It was beautiful and it got the biggest applause of the set. Do go see him if he's playing in your vicinity.
  • the joy formidable @ the independent

    Mar 20 2012, 0h56

    Mon 12 Mar – The Joy Formidable, A Place To Bury Strangers, Big Black Delta

    I hadn't secured a ticket for this show, which then sold out; luckily, my friend Sam had bought tickets for both Monday and Tuesday, but then decided he didn't want to go to both shows, so i got to pick up the slack. I ate at Tsunami (good but overpriced, except for a fantastic cocktail called The Cloister, of which i had two) with one of Sam's friends and his cousin, then walked two blocks to the Independent. The two opening bands were Big Black Delta, who had some songs with potential, and a good drummer with style, but an annoying frontman; and A Place to Bury Strangers, who were technically adept but whose songs were dull, and the guitarist (who looked like Nicolas Cage in "Raising Arizona") and drummer looked like they hadn't showered all year.

    The Joy Formidable was everything i'd hoped they'd be, with two tiny and one small complaints: the setlist shows that they neglected to play "Chapter 2", nor did and also that they fake-ended their set after a mere 9 tracks, which is pretty damn horseshit in my book. But they know they can get away with it because the music's so good, they have so much damn fun on the stage, and look genuinely happy to be playing in front of the crowd and with each other (and unlike APtBS, are all so handsome and well-dressed). They were augmented by a harpist named Stephanie on "Llaw = Wall" and "Whirring", and that worked out pretty damn well. I look forward to a subsequent tour after they have another album under their belt, so the set isn't so short.
  • gig review: battles @ bottom of the hill

    Mai 6 2011, 6h27

    Tue 3 May – Battles

    You know, if my wife and i have to stand in line with a bunch of scruffy, chain-smoking hipsters waiting for the doors to open, i would expect to actually have the band start playing sometime in the vicinity of the posted start time of 21:00. At 22:35, we said, "Fuck this," and left, because she needs to sleep and i need to get to work.

    On the bright side, our friend Melissa recognized us and we chatted a bit over the din of the warmup music (why does the pre-concert music have to be played as loudly as the live music?). Oh, and the Anchor Steam was excellent and fresh (which it ought to be, given that the brewery is only a few blocks away). But i'd be hard-pressed to give Bottom of the Hill, or Battles, another chance.
  • bob mould @ great american music hall

    Mar 28 2008, 6h56

    Wed 26 Mar – Bob Mould, Saturna

    Yesterday, i had soccer at 17:00 with Quakes (we won 4-2; my defense performed admirably and i had a nearly flawless game), then came home, showered, and on our way out to San Francisco, we stopped for food at El Pollo Loco, but the drive-in line was huge, which caused us to arrive at the GAMH a tad late. Then i forgot to get the earplugs from my emergency stash in the car, so i had to run back to get them, then on the way back i realized i lost my ticket, so i had to track back my steps; fortunately, i found it in the parking garage, so in we went.

    Saturna opened, and they did a good job. I went downstairs to buy their CD, Some Delicious Enemy; Matt, the drummer, couldn't unlock the cashbox, so he told me to just take the CD gratis. I dropped by later to pay, so he gave me their EP, ...All Night for free. Swell guys, and their music was good, too. What more can a fan ask?

    Bob Mould came on and opened with the best possible song he could have played as an opener.

    * The Act We Act
    * A Good Idea
    * I Hate Alternative Rock
    * See a Little Light
    * Hoover Dam
    * I Am Vision, I Am Sound
    * The Silence Between Us
    * Hanging Tree
    * Miniature Parade
    * Your Favorite Thing
    * Hardly Getting Over It
    * Changes
    * Paralyzed
    * Can't Help You Anymore
    * I Apologize
    * Celebrated Summer
    * Divide and Conquer

    Encore

    * Egøverride
    * If I Can't Change Your Mind

    Encore

    * Chartered Trips
    * Makes No Sense at All
    * New Day Rising

    ... and closed with the best fucking song he could've played to close.

    Leave it to me to find flaws in what was practically perfection: seeing how often he dipped in the Sugar and Hüsker Dü well, i would have killed to hear "Tilted" and "In a Free Land". And the drummer was awfully sloppy during the first few songs (or maybe i'm just too attached to the beautiful precision of Malcolm Travis's beats). But, damn... it was good. Great. Awesome. I heard stuff i'd never thought i'd see Bob play. One funny thing was that Kim and i sat next to these two twenty-something kids who had a completely bored expression throughout the whole show. On our other side, a man and woman sat listening to the show with their earplugs neatly sitting in front of them. Down the way, there were two girls dry-humping, in an apparent attempt to titillate their boyfriends.

    This is the third time i've seen Bob play and i'm sure i'll be back for more... so long as i don't forget my earplugs.
  • rodrigo y gabriela @ the warfield

    Fev 10 2008, 9h50

    Sat 9 Feb – Rodrigo y Gabriela
    Look, Rodrigo y Gabriela just fuckin' rock. I will belabor this further, but that's really all you need to know, and if you're in San Diego, Tucson, Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane, buy a ticket now and go see them on their current tour. If you're in Denver, Austin, or Tokyo, good luck finding a scalped ticket.

    Kim and i picked up my stepson Dave, and had dinner near his place at Yama Sushi (excellent prices, and they had mirugai sashimi... mmm, mirugai). Afterwards, we headed to the show. The openers were two random dudes, one on electric guitar, the other on harmonica, xylophone, and saw. They were mediocre at best; not offensive, but clearly not very good musicians. Afterwards, the sound guys played a Shakti track that was really good; it wasn't very long, so i'm guessing it was "Lotus Feet". Right before R&G came out, they played Tool's "The Pot", which really warmed the crowd up; i've never seen intermission music used so effectively before.

    Set list:

    * Improv (included a couple of measures from "For Whom the Bell Tolls")
    * Satori
    * Ixtapa/One
    * Orion/Foc (Gabriela 'drum' solo)
    * Improv (included a couple of measures from "Smoke on the Water")
    * Juan Loco
    * More Than Words (just kidding, says Rodrigo)
    * Wish You Were Here (audience singalong)
    * Vikingman
    * Percussion improv (Gabriela alone)
    * (Jimi Hendrix tune?)/Seven Nation Army/Master of Puppets (Rodrigo alone)
    * Stairway to Heaven
    * Tamacun

    Encore

    * Diablo Rojo

    As the lights came up, the sound guys closed out the crowd with AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock". Solid work.

    They're intensely engaging, stopping songs in the middle to incite applause and ripping right along after, urging clapping and yelling, and just displaying general showmanship. They swear a lot. They have a lot of fun on stage and it is quite contagious. My only regret was that i wished that they'd played "Take Five".
  • soda stereo @ home depot center

    Nov 24 2007, 1h12

    Wed 21 Nov – Soda Stereo
    After more than 20 years, i finally got to see Soda Stereo. palecur and i flew to Los Angeles to see them at the Home Depot Center in Carson (we expected the airport to be a mess on the day before Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving morning, but it was quite normal). We brought along my college bud Ronnie, who kindly let us crash at his place and thus avoid a hotel. Despite almost suffering a car crash when some idiot drove past the traffic cop that was guiding us into the parking lot, we managed to make it there safely and only barely late, but not as late as the band. The set list was:

    Juego de Seducción
    Tele-Ka
    Imágenes Retro
    Texturas
    Hombre Al Agua
    En La Ciudad De La Furia
    Picnic En El 4º B
    Zoom
    Cuando Pase El Temblor
    Final Caja Negra
    Trátame Suavemente
    Signos
    Sobredosis De TV
    Danza Rota
    Persiana Americana
    Fue
    En Remolinos
    Primavera 0
    No Existes
    Sueles Dejarme Solo
    (En) El Séptimo Día
    Un Millón De Años Luz
    De Música Ligera

    Encore

    Disco Eterno
    Cae El Sol
    Prófugos

    Encore

    Nada Personal
    Te Hacen Falta Vitaminas

    Oddly, i didn't smell any pot until about halfway through the concert, but there was a lot of tobacco being smoked. The lines for the men's bathroom were longer than the women's bathroom lines. After the show, we ended up eating at Denny's, because i was famished and it was too late for anything decent.

    I dropped over $250, including travel and food, to go see Soda Stereo. I don't regret it, not one bit.
  • battles @ slim's

    Jul 5 2007, 8h08

    Mon 2 Jul – Battles

    I first heard about Battles when Warren Ellis brought to my attention their video for "Atlas", a march for a "fascist Smurf society." It was certainly captivating, but when i later found out somehow that their drummer is John Stanier, once of Helmet, well, i was sold. Stanier's work on Helmet was top-notch, and he's one of my favorite drummers.

    I was hoping that my stepson would join me at the show, but it was sold out, so i went in alone. The opening band, Ponytail, was terrible. Flat-out awful. The vocalist was a pint-size girl essentially imitating a strung-out-on-sugar Björk imitating Diamanda Galás, and the two guitarists emitted dork radiation. The songs themselves were disjoint and unlistenable; occasionally, the guitarists would put together a melody, but that only lasted for a few measures. Only their drummer, who was solid, saved them from being a total loss. I can't decide whether Ponytail, or watching Mark Eitzel open for Bob Mould, was the worst show i've ever seen.

    Ponytail's set was eventually and mercifully over, and in between sets we were treated to a Speed Racer episode. Then Battles came on; first, it was just Konopka who came out, played a short time on the bass, and looped it. Then the rest of the band filtered in and everyone got to work. And they rocked the hell out of a very, very packed house, easily the fullest i've ever seen Slim's. I was surprised by the amount of women at the show, maybe about 40% of fans; i wouldn't've expected this kind of music to be popular among women. I only recognized two songs, "Atlas", which they played around the middle of their set, and "Bad Trails", which they played as their encore. One interesting piece of equipment was a huge square amp that had a microphone fixed to a bracket, pointing directly at the speaker. At one point in the show, i offered my spot to a guy with a nice camera who was having a tough time getting a good shot of the band because there was some 6'6" guy blocking his view. As the show was winding down, i asked him if he was putting the pictures online, and he said he was, so i asked him to send me the URL. Behold!

    The whole band was dripping sweat by their second song, except for Stanier, whose black shirt and pants were drenched. He looked hot in every sense of the word; you watch him play his drums and see the expression on his face that belongs to a man who is consumed by playing drums, who cannot conceive of doing anything else. In the video, you might have noticed Stanier's unusually high placement for his crash cymbal; that is how he had it set up on the stage as well. He plays it less often that way, and therefore it is more dramatic when he looks up and reaches up to smack it.

    If it sounds good to you, they'll be back in SF at the Great American Music Hall in November.
  • rodrigo y gabriela @ the mountain winery

    Jun 29 2007, 23h24

    Wed 27 Jun – Rodrigo y Gabriela

    Some time ago, my stepdaughter Renée texted me and Kim, letting us know about this band she caught in Santa Cruz that she was sure we'd love; unfortunately, before i got a chance to check them out, i blew away my phone's inbox after getting a bit of a page storm from work that filled up its memory. Later, Marc Andreessen posted about them (and if you had any doubt that Dave Winer is a douche, check the comments). I was really impressed, and upon visiting their Web site, i saw they were playing nearby soon, so i bought tickets.

    The show was simply excellent. Rodrigo y Gabriela are really good musicians and showpeople. The crowd at the Mountain Winery was diverse in many ways (young, old, straight couples, gay couples), but everyone was decidedly rich-looking, so i didn't expect a lot of energy from them. However, Rodrigo and Gabriela's music had everyone jumping, singing, dancing, and clapping along. The tickets were a bit expensive, but the venue is very nice and, because it's not enclosed, no earplugs were necessary. The woman in front of me complimented my singing of "Wish You Were Here", which was quite flattering. Rodrigo y Gabriela also covered Metallica's "One" and "Orion", and their signature cover of "Stairway to Heaven" was excellent, but the one that took the prize from me was their cover of Brubeck's "Take Five"; i can't begin to describe the length and subtlety of it. And these guys headbanged often through their songs, Rodrigo on lead, and Gabriela on rhythm and percussion, strumming and whacking her guitar in the same motion.

    They just played at Glastonbury, so i'm wondering if any of my Glasto-attending friends caught them there. They're touring constantly, so you should definitely catch them if they come by your neck of the woods. It was easily one of the best 5 shows i've seen. Look for them on YouTube, too.
  • the drift @ great american music hall

    Mai 18 2007, 4h41

    Fri 27 Apr – Mono, World's End Girlfriend, The Drift
    I finally got to see The Drift. They were opening for world's end girlfriend and Mono. I didn't recognize the first song, but they then played "Invisible Cities", "Transatlantic", and closed with "Gardening, Not Architecture". During the break, i said hi to Safa and introduced him to Kim. After the break, WEG played disjointed, loud guitar that quickly became obnoxious, so Kim and i left to get some food; we stopped a block up O'Farrell at Thai Stick 4.0, where i had some fabulous garlic calamari. We then walked back to check out MONO, but the noise was so brutally loud just walking through the front doors that we got our parking ticket validated and went home. Despite the disappointment of the two latter bands, seeing The Drift was a lot of fun.
  • kristin hersh @ the attic

    Mai 18 2007, 4h31

    Sat 12 May – Kristin Hersh
    My wife, my niece, and i got to The Attic a little late, almost halfway into Dolorean's set. They were OK in an alterna-folk-country sort of way, like Wilco or Ryan Adams or The Jayhawks.

    Afterwards, The McCarricks set up a video screen and started playing their songs backed by video. The videos were fairly edgy, sometimes in presentation, sometimes in content, sometimes both; the most disturbing one was like a nightmare designed by Dalí if he knew about furries. Their music, though, was quite enjoyable, cello and violin over synthesized music, loud and energetic and matched up perfectly with the video.

    Once they were done, i ducked out to buy some earplugs. When i got back, Billy, Kristin's manager and husband, wished all mothers a happy Mother's Day and gave Kristin a smooch. She was joined by her 50 Foot Wave bandmates, Rob and Bernie, and the McCarricks.

    * in shock
    * wild vanilla
    * Day Glo
    * Under the Gun
    * nerve endings
    * Gazebo Tree
    * Your Dirty Answer
    * Winter
    * The Cuckoo
    * Your Ghost
    * sugar baby (You should watch Bernie during this song, not me. The bass part was really good, but i thought at first that they were gonna play Civil Disobedience... don't i wish.)
    * Listerine
    * the thin man
    * White Bikini Sand
    Encore
    * Pearl (I don't know this song.)
    * Sundrops
    * The Letter (I hate this song.)
    * Hook In Her Head (This is a song about an old woman who died on a bus.)

    I didn't identify Wild Vanilla when i heard it, so i went up after the show to ask Kristin about it. She was engaged with another fan, though, but i saw Billy give the set list to another fan. On it, the second song read Thor Slabisky (not 100% on the last name). I asked Billy about it, and he said that Kristin had been calling it something different every show, by pulling names from the Newport, RI (where she was raised) phone book. In the encore, she came out alone to play Pearl, was joined by Martin for Sundrops, and everyone for the last two songs. The Attic's sound was a little muddy (partly because it was too loud), but it was still a great show.