So we drove up to Bolinas in the dark and in the fog on US 1, which hugs the coastline up a couple hundred feet above the ocean, just north of San Francisco. This was amazing enough. Bolinas is a small town just north of Stinson Beach, where the great white shark attacks occur all the time. Apparently people in the town take down the highway signs that lead to the town to keep people away. But we had maps and a purpose. We got to the bar, and it was a tiny place. There was a very short woman working the door. She was very nice. There was a dude in a skunk fur hat and paper clips all over his jacket. The first singer was very dramatic, and she had a great voice. The second singer enchanted the audience yet again. She has an unusual but interesting voice, even odder lyrics, she plays a harp, and she's cute. What's not to love? She packed the place.
So I went to this with some friends to see a band I know nothing about, nor do I even recall the name. But as we walked in, they were in the last 30 seconds of the big crescendo before the end of a set. So that cause was lost. We decided to stick around to see what the rest were about. Why? were terrible. The singer was going on about whiny personal things and mixed up much too high. Ugh. The Unicorns came out wearing odd clothes, and immediately it was apparent they were a little messed up. The played clever catchy songs, and a medley of covers. But that was not all. In between songs, there was this voice telling them to get going. I don't think I thought much of it the first time. Then it happened again, and it got me to try to figure out who on stage was the one talking. Soon it was clear it was no one, and that it was the sound guy. He was giving them hell about messing around in between songs, and that they should get going because "these people paid good money to get in here." The band went on, and then the sound guy gave them a hard time again. Then the band started yelling at the sound guy. The argument went on so that the sound guy shut down the show. The lights went up, and the music started playing. But the crowd knew this was a joke going on, albeit a hilarious one. Then the band came back out, said that they heard that the guy didn't even work there, and that they were going to keep going. During the show they had also been making pot jokes. Then, this being San Francisco, someone passed this Canadian a joint. He smoked it on stage for a song, and at the end his band mates were laughing at him because he was so high. Pretty funny show, with two things I've never seen at a show before.
This was easily the best show with 4 bands I've seen in a really long time. Holy Kiss had a gothy feel to them, but they did rock. Rock & Roll Adventure Kids took a bit to get started. The singer even took a cell phone call while on stage before they started. That didn't seem too rock and roll to me, but once they started it didn't matter. They had several songs about chickens and many nonsense lyrics. It was really fun. 400 Blows are the tightest heaviest 2 piece heavy riff rock with the least compatible singer ever. If the singer wasn't there, this band would be perfect, just drums and guitar. The Coachwhips started soon after the set because they were set up on the pool tables in the middle of the crowd. They whipped the crowd into a frenzy with an incredible hard loud set. Wow. I guess The Kilowatt used to have shows a lot before I moved here. This was their first show in awhile. It was a fun place to see a band, especially since it's so close to my house. Here's hoping they have more.
Fayvor Love are a band that apparently are named after their lead singer. I was told this by a woman who apparently has a cabin in the mountains with his brother? Anyways it is true. So they sound like many different bands from the 80s. They did it well, but it was all over the map. The Panty Lions are a low key two guitars sit down and sing band. I don't think this is what the crowd at Thee Parkside was looking for this evening.
The Court And Spark do a mid 70s country rock kinda thing. It was good, nice to listen to, and I don't recall much else about them. I'll remember to check them out again though. The Autumn Defense have the bass player from Wilco. The music and the songs were all nice, but somehow forgettable. My friend pointed out that if the lyrics were more memorable (I wasn't paying attention to those) that the set probably would have been better. I don't know if that would have changed much for me, but maybe if I paid more attention to the lyrics, I'd have been more interested in their set. Preston School Of Industry features Spiral Stairs of Pavement fame. There are a few songs where this is very apparent. My friend Aram told me that he was responsible for some of the Pavement songs, and those are those very apparent moments.
My friend David is the drummer in this band. They are just a two piece, so sometimes I think they could use a larger sound, but it's pretty fun. They've played twice now at their friends' studio. This is pretty cool because it's in an old warehouse down in SOMA, and there's always an art exhibit going on while they're playing.
Mekons certainly look like a British band. They were saying that this would be their last show in San Francisco. They didn't tell us why. While writing this up I realized I had apparently seen them years ago, and I didn't remember it. It was a rocking fun time. Paul Burch is from Nashville, and he does a country honky tonk singing thing. I wasn't into Waycross as much as I was the last time that I saw them. I didn't get an excited feeling from the band nor the music.
A nice mellow evening at the nice mellow Ivy Room. Yard Sale started with their female harmonies, and then 86 came up with their Flying Burrito Brothers stylings with harmonies. Interestingly, their electric banjo had a cut out like a heavy metal guitar. On a completely unrelated note, this date was the 18 anniversary of my first rock show. Onwards.
Kraftwerk pulled out all of the hits. "Computer World", "Pocket Calculator", "The Model", "Trans Europe Express", "Radioactivity", "Numbers", "Musique Non Stop", "Tour de France", "The Robots", "Autobahn", "The Man Machine". They had huge video screens behind them with amazing graphics. The total design of the show was phenomenal. You can see a lot of the same graphics on their website. The robots came out for "The Robots", and they wore green glowing pin stripes for the Computer World songs, and Musique Non Stop. This show was a keeper.
This was right in the middle of a rock star evening. A friend of Aram's is this nice guy Tom Windish. He's a booking agent, and so he knows lots of people. So it was a rock star evening. We got into this club free, and complimentary drinks as well. This is a cool space. When you are there, you feel cool, and that people not there are not cool. The band was cool. They sang in Spanish and English. There are just two of them. They had a screen behind them showing interesting graphics that were timed to the music. Aram thought that the music triggered the graphics, I think it would be much simpler if the graphics were just video on a DVD with a rhythm track that they they sang and played along with. Rock star cool.
Waycross did a cover of a Brian Eno song off of Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. Two of the members of this band put out an album that is a complete cover of this classic album. On the album cover they use images from the Chinese Revolutionary Opera that I have that my brother got me from China! Through a friend I've met the woman in this band, and I actually lent them the book. They had already made the album covers, so they were going to use the new scans for posters. So if you should see posters for a complete cover album of Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, I'm pretty sure those Chinese opera pictures you'll see will have been made from my book.
Garage Rock evening. The openers wore tunics like some knights of yore. The singer wore a metal full face helmet like the Black Knight who loses his arms and keeps fighting in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. So he was the singer, and his face was completely covered by his helmet. So he had a little wireless microphone up in the helmet so he could sing. It sound terrible, but it was totally hilarious to see a singer in a knight's helmet, whose face you couldn't see singing. He also lamely swung around a big sword, and once used his helmet as a slide on the bass guitar. All the songs were about Christianity. The Okmoniks just screamed and played the organ through a good set. The bass player and drummer were different than the last time. This was a fun evening.
This was the biggest show I've been to in awhile. We had great seats, 9 row up from the floor. Prince was in the center, and on a X shaped stage. There were all sorts of video cameras capturing his every move for the giant video screens. However I couldn't figure out where the cameras were in the first place. He started out big and loud with a stream of hits. He played every song I could think of, except maybe "1999". The band was amazing. They were tight, and actually sounded good despite it being a hockey rink. And they had Maceo Parker in the band. Can't beat that. Prince had 3 different costumes for the evening. The first was a suit that the other guys wore too. It was a suit where the back was half of a short suit, and half of a tux and tails jacket. Strange. He did a great acoustic guitar set in the middle of the show. I heard a cover of Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You" in there. During "Let's Go Crazy" the place was absolutely full of confetti. He had a solid gold microphone and stand as well. I've never really listened to Prince, but this show rocked. I just may have to pick up some Prince now. Oh, they also gave out a copy of his new album to everyone in attendance!
They did a full song for song in order version of Brian Eno's "Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy)". It ended with a song I had never heard, which apparently was the only Eno song to ever hit the charts. I guess it happened around the same time as when then the album came out. This was a great show. I loved hearing the songs live, and I even found myself wishing it were louder. They had 3 guitars and a bass on stage, and the guitar wankery was in full effect. The main guy behind the idea was even wearing a feather collar ala Eno in '74. I really enjoyed this show, and I guess I knew more words to it than I thought. I sang along most of the time.
A short in store. I was pretty far away. I couldn't see much of the band, but it was a good set. They handed out some percussion instruments to the crowd to play along. It was an attractive crowd, with a substantial amount who had graying hair. I'll have to check this band out, since I really don't know much about them.
Each year during Apple's WWDC, they have a big beer bash at the Apple campus and invite all of the developers along. They've also always had a music act perform. Until the last couple of years, it was always a lite jazz type of band. Pretty horrible. Then last year they got Sting's son's band. Ever so slightly better. This year was the best so far, as it was a band people had actually heard on the radio, and it wasn't half bad. I don't know any of their stuff, but they played a few hits, and then some new stuff they were trying out. It was pretty fun, but they usually always have the bands play too loud. They play in this center area that reminds me of the quad back at the University of Illinois, but smaller. They are cranked up, and it echoes off the buildings like crazy.
This was a repeat of the last time I saw them, so it was a great set of a great album. They all wore white this time, and added a percussionist. The opening band ended with a cover of Eno's "Here Come the Warm Jets". I was standing outside at the time since I didn't really care for their set, but this was the highlight for me.
This was some acoustic punk rock. The band was split all over across the back of the club. It was as if they were in a big old stage, but really the drummer was by the bathrooms, the bass player was on the floor by the bar, and the guitarists were up on the stage, and the singer was on the stairs. They did straight up no garbage punk rock.
I only heard of this show the same day from my friend Jeff. The Stud is yet another gay bar. This time they were hosting a thing called Death Rock Booty Call, which is a roving dance party where they play the hits from my high school years apparently. We danced for a long while. We were having a great time, even forgetting that there was still a band to come. The place was full of freaks having a good time. There were two who were dressed in silvery outfits with glitter makeup on, but I think they were displaced from the center of attention by the two half naked women, one of whom seemed to have unintentionally lost her top for a bit, since she looked distressed while she was getting it back on, all the while still dancing in the cage. At about 2:30 in the morning The Coachwhips set up in front of the stage and blasted out about 30 minutes of rock. They were having equipment problems; the crowd kept knocking them over. It was another intense set. Each time I've seen them play they do it in a unusual way. Who knows where or how I'll see them next.
I wound up here because I had heard a CD by The Wrens that was pretty good, and a friend from Apple was going to the show, so I tagged along. I had recently been listening to a little Paul Newman, and The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up band really reminded of Paul Newman with their mathematical guitars. However the vocals were something that just rubbed me the wrong way. Somehow the singer's voice just didn't fit with what I was hearing. This ruined the set for me. The Wrens very quickly told the crowd that they've been together for 15 years. This made me think they could be my age. Then someone pointed out that they were bald. At least I'm not bald. So this band, being together for so long, is quite tight. They are a great band, but I didn't care for the dude throwing his guitar into the air all of the time. Their stage presence was distracting and annoying. Either that or it was the beer. Anyways, I left not as happy as when I went in.
This was another great show for a Sunday afternoon. I wound up meeting some folks from Champaign! I saw them, and they looked familiar to me, but I didn't figure out I knew them from Champaign until I asked them. We went out drinking, and I stayed out much too late.
This was billed as the Turbo Acoustic Tour. They played a bunch of old songs, and there were only Jason & Lou. They had a CD player (named Phil) that played the drums tracks, and they had their guitars plugged into amplifier synthesizers that were plugged directly into the P.A.. It was a good show. Lou called it the "Sebadoh Survivors." Lou also dedicated one song to Eric Gaffney, who he said he thought about nearly every day. I was surprised Gaffney didn't open; he opened for Jason the last time he came through town.
This was a fun show for two 15 year old reasons. First, it's been 15 years since I last saw Pixies. Second, I went to the show with a bunch of folks I first knew about 15 years ago from University of Illinois. We were most all on Starcourse together back then. This is the 'club' I was in in college that put on shows. We actually even put on Pixies once. So since we're all in our 30s now, and this was an outdoor concert, I thought that fruit, wine, cheese, and crackers would be appropriate. Unfortunately we couldn't bring the wine into the place, but they let me bring in everything else. So because of talking with old friends who I hadn't seen in about 10 years (in some cases) along with eating the food, I didn't pay much attention to the opening bands. I paid enough attention to know that they really weren't too interesting. We finished up the food just about when the Pixies finally came out on stage. They were bigger looking. It's over a week later while I'm writing this, so I can't remember all of the songs. Suffice to say, they played all the hits. It seemed like all of "Surfer Rosa" was played, and quite a bit of "Doolittle" as well. They played a couple off of some later albums, and a new one too, but I had no idea what they were. One of the things I noticed was how little guitar Frank Black Francis played, and how little Joey Santiago played as well. Joey would seem to play incidentally, and the right parts would be there. They didn't talk much between songs either. Thankfully, Jeff Wagner remembered that this is the way they were back when we were teenagers too. Because of this, I was no longer disappointed that they may be hating the Berkeley crowd anymore. Their encore was hilarious. They stopped playing, put down their gear, and walked to the edge of the stage and waved and smiled at the crowd. They kept on doing this for a few minutes, walking from one end of the stage to the other. They even looked like they were recognizing people in the crowd. Then they started looking at each other as if to say "should we play these nice people a few more songs?" They agreed and did the encore. They never even left the stage, so it was amusing. It was a good night. One last note; thankfully I think Kim Deal is the only one in the band who isn't bald.
Gare-edge (pronounced as "care" "edge", aka garage) rock. The Undertaker and His Pals wore makeup and did horror themed songs. I don't know if it was Halloween related for the upcoming holiday or not. The Killers Three celebrated one friend's 21st birthday while we were there. This made me feel older than I usually do when I see the garage rock shows. One dude wearing Adidas indoor soccer shoes and a split red mohawk decided to start a mosh pit. Everyone got the hell out of his way; no one wanted to play. After about a minute of bouncing around by himself he gave up.
This was an interesting space. It's a loft near Jack London Square in Oakland. It really gave the feeling that you were at someone's pad. There were couches around. Off in the front there was the space where someone actually lived. There wasn't a huge crowd, and Eleni made one comment that led me to believe that she didn't really figure this is what she was going to get playing there. But she did a great set, as usual. I love her voice. Her merchandise friend is cute. My Life Is On The Line has both a cellist and violinist. Their songs are dramatic, and I was quite into it by the end of the set. The opener remained unusual.
This was some sort of a Russ Myers salute party. Which meant that reels of large breasted topless women dancing were projected above the bands at all time. This enhanced the experience when the bands, for whatever reason, weren't up to the task. The opener were 3 singing and dancing go go girls. It was pretty fun, they even had a costume change. The crowd was dancing, and there was one in particular who was just as fun to watch as the band. The Hut Dwellers played psychedelic rock; since my friend David knew the band, I somehow wound up with a free CD. The headliners all wore the same t-shirt. The drummer had a great scream to go along with the garage rock-n-roll.
Lezzies On X rocked. The leather bound gals got the crowd hopping, despite being Canadian. It was all old school dance tracks with a huge punk rock attitude. The lead singer had the crowd under her spell (one was inspired to mosh topless); she was so good she needed a bigger room. Good thing her band was opening for Le Tigre at the Fillmore the next night. She has awesome dance moves as well. Apparently they do standard lesbian songs, but with the punk rock dance-a-thon twist. There was one song with hilarious vocal effects that must have been called "Super Dyke". There was also another odd one about a high school. The second band had a bunch of cute smiles. For one of their songs they mentioned that they were playing it for the first time. I got the impression that this wasn't the only one. My snide remark is to say that are 4 strings on a bass, so why not use them all? When we got there, The Holy Men were already playing. The only song we saw was a cover, which I can't remember at all as I write this.
(Smog) played with the same hard hitting drummer as the last time we saw him. The woman who played bass for him just had to be his sister. The feeling was really loose, but as usual, it worked. He said they were practicing new songs for a record they were going to start recording in December. One was called "The Well". Another was probably called "The Colts". It was about a man waking someone up early in the morning to see the colts. Because he wanted to see how they would run the next year. The gambling man wanted to know more about the future. There were other interesting songs; quite a few had a river theme. He was the usual riveting and quirky performer. He'd dip down in front of the mike, like he was underwater. He had a great splayed legs pose. He played acoustic guitar the entire time. He changed the lyrics to "Dress Sexy at my Funeral" to say he was never going to die. He also changed the words to "Vessel in Vain" to say he was never going to die, and he only wanted to sleep with his one woman. He then sang about how actually he was going to sleep in the hotel, with his band, and there were 2 beds. He is one of the best performers. I always look forward to his shows now. There is no one else like him, he's fun to listen to, he's pretty funny with a dry sense of humor. Here's a sample paraphrase. "I'm hard to get to know, but impossible to forget." It's true. The opener was solo on an acoustic. He had a big John Fahey, Jim O'Rourke vibe going on. He played his guitar so that it rattled a lot. He ended his set with a big feedback session where he tilted the guitar over the amplifier. This is the kind of thing I've seen so many times, it actually bothers me, and not because of the noise.
Sheesh! I just looked, and it's been 6 years since I last saw Edith Frost. Well, that's just too long. She has a beautiful voice and the songs to match. It started out with just her and a guitar. I was a little worried; the opener was an energetic band, and it was getting late. Would I be able to handle just singing and a guitar? After a couple songs, the rhythm section of the opener, Manishevitz, stepped on stage. This was a welcome addition for how tired I was. I really only recognized 3 of her songs, but then I only have one of her records. She said they'd be recording soon, so I assume there were a bunch of new ones played. At one point she mentioned that she had quit smoking about 4 months ago. I think she was actually apologizing for her voice, believe it or not. Then a wasted woman offers her a cigarette. The crowd's not into this evil suggestion. Then she proceeds to ask Edith what else is she living for? Edith says she's 40 and has lots to live for. The wasted woman proceeds to light up in the club (for you out of state folks, keep in mind that this is California, and that's frowned upon). Then an older lesbian sweeps up behind the wasted woman and snatches away her cigarette and whisks it away to the back room. Earlier, the wasted woman had snagged a big punk rock dude from the audience and slow danced with him in front of the stage. I swear they were kissing too. This spectacle delighted the shortest lesbian ever who was standing in front of us. The wasted woman was saved by her pencil thin friend after a little bit. If this woman turned sideways, you'd miss her. And let's just say she was dressed up for something other than an Edith Frost show. Lots of skin and tight jeans. Very strange crowd. I haven't even mentioned Manishevitz yet. They were excellent. They were a five piece; 2 guitars and a saxophonist / flutist. The vocals were reminiscent of Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music in that the cadence or emphasis on the words was usually lifting. The guitars were good. The lead guitarist would pick intricate little noodlings while the rest of the band was chugging along. Then the baritone sax would blurt in. Excellent. It had a good Television vibe with the clean rocking guitars climbing around each other. The singer would occasionally break into this running in place dance. Great set. These guys are from Chicago. I wound up buying their CD at the show it was so good.
This was an unusual show. I went in expecting a good one. I left wondering what went wrong. Tracy seemed to be off from the get go. She even said so while stopping the video along the way, though from reading her website today I gather this is something she does as a part of the performance nowadays. However there were some less than ideal members of the audience. One really liked the sound of her voice, letting everyone in the small space know what she was thinking. My friend told me that others were mocking Tracy as she sang. She really did seem to end it early. There was less video interaction than I remember from last time. The opener started out playing Grateful Dead covers on guitar. It was pretty horrible. Then she donned a wolf hat-mask, and a guy came up donning one with a bear. He played keyboards. The wolf harkened back to the Tony Clifton insulting voice I've heard her use before. The wolf insulted the first act, saying it was horrible, and then sang songs about being a wolf. It was mercifully short.
This was called "Godwaffle Noise Pancakes." For $3 you got waffles or pancakes, coffee, and noise. Each set was only about 15 minutes long. Perhaps even the noise fans believe that is enough. The first one I was had a saxophone going through distortion and another guy twiddling knobs (just about everyone in the show but the sax player twiddled knobs). In my opinion, Hans Grusel's Krankenkabinet was the best of the lot, and not just because my friend was in it. Not because they threw out candy. Not because they had a Christmas theme. Not because they all had interesting wood like costumes. And not because they had a candy cane and spray snow fight. It was because the singer jumped out of a gift, and then sang Christmas tunes on a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon, 5 stories above the heroin central in the Mission. This was the band that actually put on a show that was worth seeing. The others suffered from the same problem that guys who play samples on their Macs live have: it simply isn't very interesting to watch. The pictures of the show give a good idea of what went on.