This was a part of Noise Pop. Enorchestra changed up their set. They changed up the order and even added "King's Lead Hat" from "Before And After Science". Many people were there to see Devotchka. I'd never heard of them. I asked Jeff beforehand if they did klezmer Devo covers or something, but they don't. What they do is have 4 people playing upright bass, Sousaphone, accordion, trumpet, violin, guitar, Theremin, other stringed instruments I don't know the name of and drums. It's all quite good too. In one song I heard a little bit of Manishevitz, and at times (mostly due to the Eastern European sounds and the multiple instruments) I was thinking about Camper Van Beethoven. I'll keep my eye out so I can see them again.
This was also a part of Noise Pop. I didn't really pay close attention to the show, I'm afraid. Devil Makes Three were an acoustic 3 piece. The woman in the band had a large Texas Longhorn skull tattooed across her chest. The horns made it all the way to her shoulders. Otherwise nothing really strikes me about the band as I write this. Two Gallants were the headliners. Thankfully they kept with the apparent theme of the evening, and they had only two members, a drummer and a singer / guitarist. This guy sang with an oscillating falsetto or something. It was grating. We stayed a few songs to see if we would lose our first impression. We did not so we left.
The Slint shows in San Francisco were not all announced at once. Each of the three were announced separately. So when the Friday one first went on sale, many of us bought extra tickets. I did this hoping that any friends who may have missed out on buying tickets could get some. I wonder if everyone did that. Among my friends I think we bought 22 tickets in only 4 purchases! So late last week we noticed that the first show of the tour on Wednesday wasn't sold out yet. Aram traded two of his Friday tickets for some Wednesday tickets. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to the same show twice, but the more I thought about it it made sense to me. I'd get to see a great band who had hardly played in the first place on a final reunion tour. I quickly confirmed it was a good idea with Kevin Elliott. Aram was wearing a suit to the show since he had just gotten off of work. After picking up the tickets at will call, we saw David Pajo smoking outside. Interestingly enough, Aram knows him. So Aram chatted with him for awhile. I pretty much just listened; I wasn't introduced. He told us that Slint were going to do the songs straight. They had considered changing up "Washer", but had decided not to since then they'd feel like it would continue to happen to all of the songs. And they agreed that everyone liked the songs as they were anyways, and that's what fans would want as well. Interestingly, they had thought about playing an unreleased song, but decided against it. So we went inside before the opener started. The crowd seemed to be pretty evenly mixed in age. I had expected to see a bunch of other people my age. Soon Aram says, "There's Boche." After a little bit of talking I gather that this is Boche of Billions Corp., the booker for the Slint shows. I even introduced myself this time. He tells us that this tour (of which this was the second in the U.S., the first being in Louisville) has been in the works for seven months. One of the interesting things he mentioned was that they really had no idea how to sell this tour. They had no idea how many or how large of a show the audience would support. So they rolled out the shows gradually to gauge the response. Slint has been practicing every weekend since November, with some longer practice sessions before they headed over to Europe for the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival. He said that the band wanted to do this right. He mentioned that Slint had only played about 50 shows altogether when they were an active band! During these shows, the sound system was usually a lousy one that didn't really capture what Slint could do. So they made sure they had a great sound system for the show. At the show you could hear all of the quiet parts, feel all of the loud parts, and you knew exactly every movement each guitarist made on his strings or when the drummer barely brushed a cymbal. I had earplugs on for this show, mainly to keep any background sounds out. This show was filmed by 6 different cameras and the next night's show will be as well. On Friday it is being recorded. It seems like a DVD or some such wouldn't be out of the question. So I got a cool t-shirt from the show. On the back it has the classic handwritten Slint logo. On the front is the spider from "Spiderland", but in solid white, and only the spider smack in the middle of your chest. I'm happy to report that I proudly wore it the next day. I haven't worn a rock t-shirt to work in a long time. The lighting was great, fairly subdued, always dimmed to black in-between songs, and they were brightly lit from below during the songs. They were spread across the stage, pretty much in a line. The drummer wasn't on a riser, so you couldn't watch him closely. This was unfortunate since the rest of the band has an extremely subdued stage presence. Brian McMahan only played the guitar and sang at the same time for one song. When it was an instrumental, he'd be the only other guitarist besides David Pajo. When he had to sing, another guitar player came up on stage. The other thing that I never knew is that Britt Walford, the drummer, sings some of the songs. I had always thought it was just one singer. They played the songs flawlessly. It sounded as clean and as wonderful as the albums. For "Rhoda" they played the longer more raucous version from the 10". A few of the songs from "Tweez" sounded a little different to me, but that's probably because I don't listen to it as it is meant to be, which is on vinyl. Someone called out for a Squirrel Bait song. When the singer told him no, the guy said he's leaving. So the singer said "Later." All of the quiet whispered vocals sounded as disquieting as they do on the records. All of the off beat times were there, even that odd riff at the end of "Nosferatu Man". The little running fade up and out riff at the end of "Don, Aman" caught my attention. As far as I can tell they played all of the songs from "Spiderland". I'm pretty sure they played all but three songs on "Tweez", and all of the EP. There was no encore. The entire set was an encore.
So this was the original show of the three to go on sale. This one was full of friends and friends of friends who were on the grape vine. I paid more attention to the opener this time around. Musically they were interesting to listen to. However the singer sang with this vibrating falsetto that was punctuated by the most affected face-making I've seen in awhile. Aram had reported beforehand that he was told that Thursday night was 'the night', but this had somehow blown the singer's voice. To be honest, I couldn't tell from listening to tonight's show. They mixed up the set order compared to the previous show. The singer introduced one song saying that this was as close as they'd come to a new song. It was the song "Pam" you can find on the live site. After one song, one kind soul yelled out "More vocals!". I couldn't decide if they were joking or if they just were sadly mistaken. I was so glad to finally see these guys. Easily worth two days of being tired the next day. Afterwards I saw a few of Slint having drinks up the street at the Hemlock Tavern.
This was a weird place to see a show. This space had been empty for as long as I can remember. It was an unusual place for the rock and roll. Both of these bands were very rock. It was one of those shows where the line up actually seems reversed, where the headliner plays before the opener. I've seen this when it's a show on a school night. So lots of folks were there, probably too many. The first band had a big grunge garage feeling to it. They even had a manager there. I think the place was too small to be a band with a manager. Triple Cobra came out dressed in costume. The singer is androgynous, and a few days later I saw him at a restaurant in the Mission. It was the tattoos that I recognized. They had a glam thing going on and two women go go dancers. I didn't stay too long, I was beat.
The opener had a heavy drummer, a clarinet put through massive amounts of effects, and a flutist / singer. They were clarinuts. For the first few songs it left you with the feeling of "dude, what the hell is going on with this heavy duty rock clarinet?" But as the set went on you got the feeling that this was their sole schtick. There's not much else going on. Due to their instrumentation, the songs were simple and nursery rhyme like. The singer's sing-songy singing and rhythm only enforced this idea. The singer also wore lots of black eye makeup, I guess to make herself appear more panda-like. Deerhoof put on another seems like chaos but they actually are in total control rock show. The drummer is intense. He's the anchor. The the two guitarists swirl about with huge riffage a-flowing. The singer is a short Japanese woman (she's not close to being as tall as any of the guy's shoulders) who plays bass, and sings non-sensical lyrics in an accented falsetto. She often does little hang signals in time with the songs. For the last two songs she put down her bass and did great interpretive dance moves to the music. They played a lot of new songs, and the hits from the last two records. "Dummy Discards A Heart" was the encore. In my opinion, this is their signature song. It has massive guitar riffs, huge drums, and quiet parts where you realize she's singing nonsense. They have a lot of prog rock going on too. There's one song where the guitar, I don't know, rises, and it sounds like "Roundabout" by Yes. But in a good way. Deerhoof is one of my favorite local bands.
This place was absolutely crowded with hipsters. According to a posting at The Coachwhips' record label's web site, this was their last show. It was the typical loud and raucous event I've come to expect. When they play they usually set up in an unusual location. This time they were in a corner upstairs instead of downstairs on the tiny stage. This was good because the basement of this place is like a hot dungeon. We noticed them starting to haul in their gear, so we decided to move to one side to get a better view and to get away from the stairwell. Some in our group didn't quite notice this right away, so I turned around to wave them over to us. Standing next to them was a blonde woman who looked quite like the singer Jennifer from Royal Trux. This also is probably due to the fact that she also looked wasted. We made eye contact when I first waved. I turned took a few steps and looked back to see if my friends were following. 'Jennifer' was right behind me. The closer she was, the better I could tell that some part of her was far away. She says to me "Do you have any coke?" I was shocked, shocked I tell you, and answer her "no". She continues along, and I notice my friends laughing hysterically. They catch up with me and ask what 'Jennifer' said. I told them and they laughed more. This woman is apparently the singer for a band called So So Many White White Tigers. Apparently at the last show my friends saw this woman went topless while singing. They didn't tell me how they sounded. Strangely enough I learned from my friends that she apparently had just zipped up her jacket before asking me for coke. This seems like an unusual tactic for scoring free coke. Anyways, The Coachwhips did their thing. I couldn't hop around too much; I had my PowerBook and a brand new copy of Mac OS X Tiger in my bag on my back. The crowd was crazed. During the entire set the coke woman was right behind the drummer with her faux fur jacket open. This wasn't necessary to drive the crowd nuts. Too bad there won't be more shows by The Coachwhips.
The floor in this place was as sticky as a movie theatre after 6 showings of a kids movie. During lulls in the music, you could hear everyone's shoes squishing on the floor. I have no idea why, as this place is usually in good shape. Perhaps it was some sort of non-lethal mosh pit deterrent. The opener had their moments, but the crowd wasn't there for them. The middle band was doing an homage to the late 1980s. Their songs all had an anthem-like quality to them. I heard Happy Mondays (which was probably due to the percussionist's bongos) and INXS, and some others. So this was the Gang Of Four's second show of the original line up reunion tour in the United States. They played the night before at the Coachella festival outside of Los Angeles, and several shows in the United Kingdom. This line up hadn't played together in over 20 years, and the band hadn't been together for something like 15 years. Nevertheless they sounded like they had been practicing every weekend since then. They played the hits, and they were having a great time while doing it. They were all running around the stage during the show. There were 3 microphones on the stage, and they'd change up which one each using, depending on where they were running around at the time. The singer, Jon King, dances around and is basically very emotive. The guitarist, Andy Gill, often had a droll look about him while he was playing his great guitar lines. The bass sound was huge and the drummer was solid like a rock. They were often smiling at each other during the songs. They were really having a great time, and so was the crowd. They did 3 encores. I was exhausted at the end of their set; there's no way that right now I'd have the energy to do what they did at this show. Amazing. I actually danced a lot and went home a smelly sweaty mess.
This was a great set. The band was the same as the core band of both of his solo records. This is one of those shows that's hard to write about. The band was perfect. They played many songs from the two records, but the lack of new songs was slightly disappointing. Their drummer Chad Talyor is fantastic. By just now checking Google I learned he regularly plays in the "Chicago Underground" iterations. Sometimes its hard to tell if I want a band I've not seen to sound just like the record, or if I want them to take me in a new direction.
I was excited about this show, as The Coachwhips were going to have a bonus show after their final show, and I'd get to see So So Many White White Tigers. Things only got more exciting after the singer for SSMWWT sent me an email about The Coachwhips show that was formerly known as the last Coachwhips show. I had mentioned her in my summary, and she had a correction which basically said that her fur was real, not faux fur. Always. I responded, essentially saying I hoped she'd wear her fur at this show. She wrote back the one word response at 5 AM was "LOVE". The Mall were fairly interesting hard keyboard rock. I was told that T.I.T.S. were an all female heavy metal band, but they frankly reminded me of Bauhaus. So So Many White White Tigers were next. The singer wore a revealing dress, but to her modesty's credit, I don't believe she ever flashed the audience. The songs are harsh and quick. She has a healthy dose of attitude. Nevertheless the set left me wanting something more. I'm still not sure what that was. As usual, The Coachwhips didn't set up on stage. They were upstairs, and were lit by a single 100 watt bulb. As the crowd gathered, it reminded me of seeing bands in college at house parties. It was hot crowded and chaotic. There was even a sense of danger as the floor bounced in time with the crowd. The woman who plays the keyboard wasn't there, and there was another guitarist in her place. And as far as we could tell the set was all covers. The ones I know of were The Sonics' "The Witch" and Alice Cooper. The energy was there, but somehow this set also left me wanting something more. While leaving, we said hello to Miss SSMWWT. I finally quoted her email to her "So is your shit for real? Always?" She looked at me and smiled. She knew exactly what I was talking about, and seemed a little embarrassed about it. She said she was up late searching for her band on the internet, and found The Coachwhips review where I only mention her antics without knowing squat about her. Apparently her clothes are designed, and she wanted me to know that it was real fur. She also said she was only 20 and didn't know about this Royal Trux thing, so she appreciated the heads up. She said Jennifer has a great sense of style. We weren't sure if she was really just 20.
The Cutouts gained a bassist and had a lot of time to get much tighter. I think the presence of a sound system helped them out as well. It's too bad that 2/3 of The Cutouts are leaving the Bay Area. It was a good time. The singer / guitarist for Crime And Punishment apparently always wears tights and a mini-skirt with his belly hanging out. Their songs and music were quite dramatic, and actually kind of fun. I find it hard to believe such a dramatic band can have such a non-dramatic name.
This was a great night. The opener is a Japanese gentleman. He does a straight homage to Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Tubb, and others. It's interesting because he yodels and has a high lonesome voice. Underneath you can hear his Japanese accent. You can tell that he loves the songs, and he loves singing them. The headline band was actually the backing band. The evening was Hank Williams' karaoke. The band played 40 separate songs, and each had an audience member singing who had signed up earlier. The band was top notch. They had upright bass, fiddle, lap guitar, acoustic guitar, and a snare drum. They were all dressed for the occasion in western wear. The drummer was pretty funny, since he just had to keep a snare beat going. He'd drink his beer and spin his hat on one of his drumsticks towards the end of the set. The affect of all the beer & whiskey no doubt. One of the highlights is that on the whole the singers were pretty damn good, some stellar. It was a blast. The songs are great, and with the great backing band everyone sounded great.
This was The Cutouts' final show in their two county tour. They sounded better here than they did about two weeks before, mostly due to the mix. They were the headliner for their final show. The other band that was supposed to play cancelled. Pete bops around alot while playing, obviously having a good time. I guess all that is left for the band is recording an E.P. Viva Los Cutouts!
This was a benefit for one of The Whoreshoes. She's charismatic and going to run in the Honolulu Marathon to raise money for AIDS research. The proceeds from the show were all going towards this effort. Toshio Hirano had an upright bassist this time. He put on an endearing show again. He seems like a country music historian on stage, since he'll describe who originated the song he's about to play, as well as list a few artists who have also covered the song. I saw some people in the audience snicker in between songs, but they stick around since he's quite good. The Whoreshoes are four women doing a little more of an old timey style. There's only a non-acoustic slide guitar on a few songs. Their fiddle player had an interesting tattoo of The Great Lakes across her back. The Shut-Ins had a ukulele and basically played hula-billy, just as their web site says.
They played many hits, nothing but tracks from the first 3 records. J didn't say much. He'd rock back and forth while singing and playing huge guitar riffs. He had four Marshall cabinets behind him. It was a loud show. When there was the inevitable guitar solo, the rhythm section would still crank it out just as loud. Lou was much more animated, bouncing all around. He also would talk a little in between songs. He mentioned that one of the songs was off of their first album. I liked that they rocked, they they were just a tad older than me, that they were all a little fat, they they all didn't have tattoos. Such a throw back. I turned in some concert karma for this one. I arrived about 30 minutes after the show started without a ticket. I locked up my bike, stood there for about 30 seconds before a guy offered me a ticket for face value. All in all I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure the band was. Lou mentioned that everyone but Murph was sick.
It sounded great, of course. They played quite a few new songs, and the hits. You could tell the set was made up on the spot. Steve no longer looks like the skinny punk rocker to me. The crowd was quite into it. They were taking lots of pictures. I guess this can happen if you're influential and rarely tour. Bob led a few question and answer sessions which were pretty funny. One question was "What is the worst thing about rock and roll?" The answer from Todd was "Rock and roll never forgets." At one point Steve mentioned there were a few more songs, the crowd cheered, and he teased that the crowd was so easy. Generally the band seemed to be in a great mood up there and having a good time, and this really made the show better. During most of the show, some tattooed guys had been harassing Todd. Todd's an amazing drummer, and quite freaky looking while he does it. Towards the end Todd went up to the microphone and said something like, "See these tough guys with their tattoos? They must think they're tough with the tattoos. What are you going to do, beat me up?" He basically shut them down. I like that non tattooed guys are rocking. Let's hear it for no ink! At the very end of the last song while Todd was still drumming, Steve and Bob put away their guitars, and started taking down the drums. Once only Todd was left, they picked him up and exited the stage. They really put on a good show. The back of the stage was covered in odd paintings by Steve Smith. They were stock landscape paintings like you'd see in hotels that the artist had painted odd stuff on top. For example, there were two drunken bunny rabbits swimming in the duck pond. Scout Niblet is a combination of P.J. Harvey and Kurt Cobain, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. She yells quite a bit. I asked my friend Ted what she said, and he says, I don't know; I tend to tune out when a woman is yelling at me.
Thankfully for me, Shellac make up their set while they go, so I heard different songs tonight. A couple new ones again, and some old ones they didn't play the night before. During Bob's Question and Answer session tonight, he said that Shellac had all of the recording done for a new record, but he didn't know when it would come out. Someone also asked if Todd gets paid more since he rocks? Bob said yes, he should get paid more, but they share equally. This allowed Steve to point out how Shellac is a Class S Corporation in Illinois, and they are all equal shareholders, who could only benefit if they liquidated the company. Todd said he like being in Shellac because he was "Vice" President, heavily emphasizing the vice part.
Another outstanding Smog show. He had the drummer from The Dirty Three again. He's an interesting drummer to watch, switching his sticks all the time. In one song he had a light snare sound by dropping his stick on the high end of the snare and letting it roll across. Bill Callahan was his usual inscrutable self. He only did the songs and said thanks a handful of times. He sings with his face quite twisted up, and then suddenly his eyes open and he will stare into the audience for a bit. After that he steps away for an odd Smog dance. There was only one song I didn't recognize, and for all I know it was just one off an album I don't have already. He played one of my favorites, "Dress Sexy at My Funeral", so I didn't have to request it like I usually wind up doing. He played acoustic guitar, and there was another guy on the electric guitar who added the ambience. One of the great things about seeing Smog from tour to tour is that he doesn't seem to play the old songs the same way. So even going as a fan you find yourself listening to the song in a new way. In this way, this show and last week's Shellac shows had made up for the handful of reunion shows I've seen this last year.
Apparently Jonathan had just come back from Iceland and had laryngitis, so he actually did two instrumentals. His drummer Tommy wasn't present for this one. One of the instrumentals was about walking home from high school in the fall. It was a short set, but wonderful as usual. This was the end of the Literary Map of San Francisco Litquake event. Unfortunately, I missed all but two of the readings. I had heard that one of the best ones was when Jerry Harrison (once of Talking Heads and former band-mate of Jonathon in The Modern Lovers) read J.T. LeRoy about the Tenderloin. I'm pretty sure it was the closest I've ever stood so someone in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
My friend Michelle invited me to this show. Her brother Jonathan was going to be visiting in town from Illinois. I went with Elowyn to the show a little late. We got there in time to see two of the bands on the main stage. All in all, this was about a ten hour show. We got there just about at dusk, and Arcade Fire were about to go on. They were wonderful. They played many of their songs on their album, and quite a few I hadn't heard before. They were all over the huge stage. For most of their set I was regretting not having seen them at a club a few weeks before. They were quite good. We were way up on the lawn, so we got to watch the show via large projection screens. The woman who sang had a wonderful dance. Most all of them all switched instruments frequently. Their set ended with The Extra Action Marching Band. Once it was done there were what seemed like an hour of commercials on the screens. We shivered on the lawn from the wind waiting for Modest Mouse. I've never been quite fond of them. They didn't seem to be very animated on stage. I don't know if it was the size of the stage, the cold, or what. From the monitors, we could tell that the singer doesn't blink much. It had gotten cold enough that we all decided to leave.
They played a few songs that weren't familiar. They played plenty that were. They had what appeared to be a laser enabled xylophone. They are quite talented and I had a good time. But a week later, I can't really think of anything special about the show but the graphics projected behind the band. They were organic computer graphics. Tortoise was also the backing band for Daniel Lanois. Sometimes it was just a portion of the band on stage, depending upon the song. Mr. Lanois seems to be quite a guitar virtuoso. He also played the pedal steel guitar. I couldn't stay for the entire set since I was quite tired. I'd been packing, hanging out with Elowyn, working, and I got the keys for my new home that day.
I went with my new neighbors and Elowyn to this show. It was a funk jam band from New Orleans. There were a lot of people there in costume. Lots of weed going around too. A small part of them reminded me of the band Morphine, mostly because there was a saxophone. One of the benefits of the evening was that we were one ticket short; the show was sold out. As we stood asking people to pay list for an extra (forget the scalpers - $90!?), a guy hopped off the bus, asked if we were going to the show, and handed us 2 tickets gratis, courtesy of the band. We gave the spare to another group of people, who kindly offered us illicit substances, which we declined.