LZ & I got there while 77 El Deora was playing. The first thing you notice is there's a woman who sings along with an older (for a club show) guy wearing a cowboy hat playing honky tonk guitar. When the band announced the name, we were both really confused as to what they said. I thought it was 77 LTD, and I can't recall what LZ thought. She did say that it was a crappy name to easily find via Google. Thankfully I found their name on the Cafe Du Nord web site before the end of their set. We met Logan, the drummer for The Whisky Richards, a few months ago, which is why we were interested in the show. This band was great fun. It was more honky tonk. The singer was great, and the woman who sang and played fiddle was wonderful. Sometimes I heard what sounded like horn sections played on her violin. They also had a great honky tonk guitarist, also complete with a cowboy hat. They played many clever songs. One memorable one was a cover of "She Left Me For Jesus", the sad song about a man who lost his girlfriend. We had great fun this evening, especially since there was an old-fashioned pie eating contest.
It is time for the semi-regular January Willie Nelson multi-night stand at The Fillmore. LZ & I arrived as the opener was ending their set. In a little bit, the band came out, and soon thereafter, Willie. They went right into "Whiskey River", and when it kicked in, a giant Texas flag rolled down behind the stage. It really got the crowd going. Having seen him before, I knew exactly what to expect. Willie did not disappoint. We finagled a pretty good spot towards the front. We could see pot smoke everywhere. Not entirely unrelated, I especially noticed Willie's extremely bright eyes. He really looks at the crowd while singing, which doesn't really seem to be the norm for singers anymore. He played all the hits. At one point I was waving my arm in the air and Willie pointed at LZ & I. He knows the game. There was one annoying guy attempting to record the entire show on his iPhone standing in front of us. So we always had a picture in picture view of the show. The set was shorter than I had set up LZ to expect, but it was still just full of hits. I'll say it again; everyone should go see Willie Nelson!
We got there just before they started. It was a later start than I had expected. Maybe they do things differently there on Saturdays? I think we may have gotten out of there around midnight. So I don't know too much about this band, despite seeing them years ago in their home state of Texas. The singer wears eyeliner. He likes to shake his ass. He'll do this windmill motion anchored at his elbow to strum his guitar. It kind of looks like Pete Townsend's windmill, but just from the elbow. Sometimes the band would really give me this vibe like The Replacements. They covered The Rolling Stones "Rocks Off". The bass player reminded me of Mike Mills from R.E.M. They have a song called "Champaign, ILL" whose chorus is basically "No, you will not go to heaven, You'll go to Champaign, Illinois". I guess you can hear that as either a damnation or a gift to the old C-U.
The opener was a guitarist who has played with Brian Eno who now is at Mills College in Oakland. It was guitar looping with feedback, played along with a saxophonist. It was super interesting, especially for the 1000th band I've seen. At one point the saxophonist was only playing the mouthpiece, making it sound like a musical duck call. The middle band was a one trick pony. They had a Korg MS-20 synthesizer. I know this because a co-worker had just been showing me an iPad app version of the same synthesizer. The band also had a live drummer. So they had an 80s sounding synthesizer and a drummer, and that is exactly what it sounded like. There was no stretching to see what else could be done with this. It was disappointing. They'd try to get the crowd to dance (and sporadically succeeded). But to me it was all too simple, as if they were only dancing because they believed it sounded like 80s dance music. It was poor. Therefore I was pretty happy when Deerhoof took the stage. They walked out holding up paper masks in front of their faces. The 3 guys in the band were wearing matching t-shirts. The singer was wearing a puffy shouldered red dress and had this awesome Darryl Hannah in Blade Runner eye makeup on that had lots of glitter in it. They rocked old songs and new songs. I'll say it again, because it's true. I love how they mess with their own songs when they play them out. I swear they never sound the same. Great show by a great band. I bought their new album on vinyl at the show. It came with a download code so I could get the songs digitally too. A funny thing was that they were selling brand new cassette tape versions of the albums at the show too, which also had a download code. First time I've seen a new cassette in ages!
I only saw the very last song of the first band. They are a two piece and really energetic. I wish I caught more of their set. The guitarist was jumping around with big guitar sounds ringing out. The middle band was a little run of the mill. Their singer was barefoot on stage. They had a stage banter as if they were a band that everyone knew their personalities. The turnout wasn't too big, so it just seemed so out of place. The Tunnel were playing a record release party for their new vinyl. It's a beautiful sounding and looking record. I know they spent lots of time on it. I'm pretty sure that I only remember hearing one of the songs they played that night before. But now that I bought the new record at the show, I know much of it is from the new one. I like how Jeff gets into The Tunnel singer mode on stage. They really are rocking lately.
This was a tour in support of the re-release of Bakesale and Harmacy. The always entertaining Quasi opened. I loved the way his organ sounded this time around. In an older review I indicated I didn't like it. I'll assume I changed, and not the band. The drummer for Sebadoh is in The Fiery Furnaces with Jason from Sebadoh. They played plenty of old songs. It was only their second stop on the tour, and they mentioned they had only just practiced together last week. As usual, Jason's songs rock, and Lou's are great. I love the differences in this band. At one point Lou says something about how angry he used to be and how this band always sucked. I think he meant it with how they acted at shows, since Lou seems to be extra sensitive at times. He also mentioned that this tour was going to be about the re-releases, but SubPop had decided not to re-release the albums. So they were touring for a t-shirt. Towards the end of the set Lou was playing this 12-string guitar that only had 6 strings on it. Four were on the top, tuned to the top and bottom two of the six tuning pegs on that side. It was odd looking. Lou mentioned that he had asked Jason what songs he wanted to play, and that Jason had said it wasn't a Sebadoh show without "New Worship". Then Lou mentioned there had been one tour where they didn't play it. Their first one. He said that Eric had moved across the country to Portland (a proto-hipster) about 2 weeks before their tour started, so he didn't join them on tour. They ended the show with "Brand New Love", which is always a great song to hear. It's been over 10 years since there's been a new Sebadoh record, yet both of them still play elsewhere. I wonder if we'll see Sebadoh come through again? I really had a great time at this show. I hope so.
My work has a box at the Oracle Arena. Occasionally they will send out emails for free Warriors or Disney on Ice tickets. In other words, I typically ignore and delete the emails. But then there was an email about Prince. He had just announced two shows there the week before. I just happened to be reading my email when it popped up, and I immediately replied yes. I got lucky again and got a response that I got a pair of tickets. LZ didn't have her writing class that evening, so the date was set. We took BART over, and were able to get into the place via a VIP entrance. That was nice because the main line was terribly long. We got to the box. It was a pretty good location. The stage was in the middle of the arena, and it is shaped like the symbol that Prince used to use for himself. Graham Central Station has a few members of Sly And The Family Stone, and they played a couple of those hits. The singer had this crazy microphone mounted on a stalk attached to the top of his bass guitar. At the end of their set, they marched out around the entire stage. The lights came up and about 10 minutes later Prince and his band arrived, back with Graham Central Station. I think they covered "Everyday People" and "Higher". The sound was huge. After a break, Prince came out in a new costume. They only did a few of the few Prince sounds I know. I remember "Purple Rain", a snippet of "Raspberry Beret", & "Kiss". Sheila E was there playing percussion, and of course she played "Glamourous Life". At one point, Carlos Santana was on stage, and played his guitar while walking around the stage once. I'm sure there was a Santana song somewhere in there, but there was just a lot going on. There was a noticeable lack of hits otherwise. At one point Prince asked how many in the crowd were coming again the next night (in the end there were 4 shows booked). There was a huge response. I think this is why he saved so many of the hits for later. Once the band left the stage, and the lights came up, the crowd wasn't accepting that this was the end of the show. The band returned with the house lights still on. It was some sort of a Jimi Hendrix rocker. This was our queue to get back to BART to beat the crowds.
LZ & I headed to this one after a wonderful dinner and Souley Vegan, which is obviously a vegan soul food joint in Oakland. So tasty. We then still got to the Fox a little early. We saw the opener and didn't know much about them. Aram surprised us when he showed up at the show. He said he only knew them because The Minutemen covered a song of theirs. Yo La Tengo had a wheel like that on Wheel of Fortune. At the beginning of the show a lucky person got to spin the wheel to see what the first half of the show would be. They may act out a sitcom, they may play songs that start with "s", etc. What the wheel chose was covers of the bass player's band Dump. I didn't know any of the songs (except for the Prince cover), but they sure were great. The second half was Yo La Tengo songs. I can't really recall what songs they played, but we enjoyed the set. Towards the end they did the typical long rhythm jam with spazzy guitar. This was about when LZ & I left for the rest of our evening's adventure.
I really enjoyed The Death album when it was re-released a couple years ago. This was their first ever California appearance. But first we got to experience the opener, Zolar X. They had on glowing space alien antenna and blonde wigs and odd skirts. They had a drum machine and their own sound system, which sounded terrible. They sung a few songs in a space alien language that the internet told me they had invented about 35 years ago in L.A. Their set went on a little too long for my taste. The main thing they brought to the table was persistent knack for being odd. Death came on next, and they were visibly overjoyed to have the opportunity to play here for the fans in California. Their smiles were infectious. They played lots (if not all) of the songs off the album. They sounded great. The original guitarist had passed away, and his old friend was playing guitar for them. They had a large banner set up behind the band. It had their pictures when they were both old and young. At one point the singer gestured to the largest of them all photo of his brother and honored him nicely. The band rocked.
Yikes, I hadn't seen a show here in five and a half years. The opener was interesting. Minimal guitar by a fay lead singer. Chords on the bass and loud drums carried it through. The songs and the lyrical delivery reminded me of late 70s Joy Division with some early 90s indie rock thrown in. This band alone made the fact they were the 1st of 3 openers not as dismal as it first seemed. Buffalo Tooth were next. They had a hell of a lot of hair and huge cabinets. It was loud bluesy boogie rock. I stayed outside for most of the next band. The Tunnel were up last and therefore late. Another great set, and there was even a person dancing in the crowd.
It was a night of Americana topped off with some serious Elvis Costello channelling. The opener was a woman who played ukelele with a backing band. The middle band was harder rocking with a woman singer who had a big voice. The guitarist (and fiddler) apparently were (are) in Camper Van Beethoven. The last band are friends of my friend, which is why I wound up here. The singer plays guitar and is greatly influenced by Elvis Costello, including his stage stance (right off of the cover photo of "My Aim Is True"). They had a very pretty backup singer. However she just gave off a vibe of not really being into the show or being there. It was off-putting, as the rest of the band was fun and energetic.
This was the third time I've seen Jeff's band in the last 8 weeks or so. It was my favorite so far. They sounded really good in this room, which in my experience isn't easy to do. I got there just before the show. It was a record release party show, and they actually forgot to bring their records! So Kate ran back to Sam's place (thankfully in San Francisco, and not all the way back to Fairfax) to get them. She got back just after the band started, so at least they had the records for after their set. They had a pair of dancers on stage who were wearing fishnets and bustiers. The bump and grind was an interesting addition to the set. Jeff says the band is going to get out of the Bay Area soon. I wonder if they'll bring along the dancers?
I read about this on the Mission Mission blog that morning. It was a beautiful sunny day, and seeing death metal in the sunlight seemed it would make it even better. I tried to rally some friends, but none were up for it. So I headed over and grabbed a Rhea's Deli Korean BBQ sandwich along the way. I got a nice spot up the hill from the stage. I'd guess there were about 50 people there, and probably 20 of those were in the bands that were playing that afternoon. I stayed for two. The first is a trio from Oakland. I have no idea how these metal bands sing like they do without destroying their throats. The guitarist and the bassist would trade off on vocals, sometimes in the same song. That is about as close as they got to being like The Beatles. The next band have had a few records released. The 3 guitar players all had something like a uniform on. One of the mic stands had a skeletal spine attached along its length. Before they started, I noticed that the bassist guided the drummer by his arm to his kit. The drummer was blind. He sat down and reached out to where he expected all of drums and cymbals to be and set them in place. Once they started up, the drummer had put on a black cap, but it was pulled down to cover his entire face. This is how he played the entire show. This band had two guys that would trade off singing duties as well. I presume this is how you preserve your wood shredding voice. At one point the bassist said something that summed up the afternoon well. "Nothing says death metal like children playing and dogs frolicking."
Interesting show near my house. High Castle played some straight up punk rock with the skinniest drummer ever. In hindsight this band was the most traditional, and therefore listenable, of the evening. Next up was T.I.T.S., who I remembered I had seen years before. Back then I mentioned that they had reminded me of Bauhaus, which is still true. I think it's from the vocals that are chanted rather than sung. This band was not tight whatsoever after 5 years. Some idiot yelled out the predictable "Show us your tits!". The unpredictable thing was that the band did not have a sassy come back to this obvious heckle. She said something like we named our band this to fight ideas like that. Awkward. Jon & I wanted to yell out "Show us your dicks!", but we did not. Next up was Lightning Bolt. You could tell the crowd of mostly dudes was ready to rock! This made me wary of what was going to happen. It was chaos. All this band is is a drummer and a bass player. They play really loudly, maniacally, and with effects. The drums are nuts. There are times where you realize he's playing to loops he's already laid down and then these odd toms pop out on top. The sound is huge. There were people moshing like crazy, non-stop. When the moshers needed a break, they'd push back through the crowd all aggro to get some water or another beer. If I was to pick a 2 piece loud rock band, I'm afraid I'd pick No Age. They have actual songs. Lightning Bolt's assault on the senses is nice, but maybe only for half the length of their set.
So this show winds up being a farewell to the venerable Eagle Tavern. They were losing their lease after 30 years of leather and beer. It was also to raise money to save KUSF. I wish them luck, but I never even listened to it. I met up with Meli beforehand for drinks at Bloodhound, and we walked over. The bar was packed tight like a sardine can. Thankfully we could still get in at 10 PM and Ty Segall had just started. Perfecto. This band was so fantastic and the crowd was going nuts with lots of crowd surfing. Oh man I regret not seeing this band sooner. Right now I want to buy all their records and record whatever ones they haven't yet recorded. I'll drop everything and learn how to do it just for them. I read their next record is coming out on Drag City. Maybe they don't need me. Next up was Thee Oh Sees, who gave a cake of some sort to the bar. Then the bartenders were passing out pieces on bar napkins. We'll just assume there were many phallic symbols on the cake. Another great set from Thee Oh Sees. There were quite a few new songs to me since they have a new album out that I still have to get. This great night had me out until 1:30 AM. Work the next day was only made tolerable by remembering the rock from the night before.
We had a great dinner beforehand on this warm night, so we arrived just as the opener was leaving the stage. We headed down to the second tier for the show. Coming as no surprise, lots of weed was being smoked all around us. Since the last time I've seen them, the band added an additional player who played various instruments including an upright bass and a saxophone. This band sounds terrific. I had bought their new album when it came out 2 days before this show. The songs are great. They are mellow. A month later now and my impression was that it was a terrific show, but just a little too mellow for how I felt that evening. I know, Fleet Foxes, mellow? Well, they were and Suze agreed with me.
Another fantastic Bill Callahan show. It's been awhile since the show, so this will be brief. The opener was a fantastic guitarist who told a story about knowing John Fahey, and that song was very Fahey-esque. Bill Callahan came out in a light colored suit. He played acoustic guitar, and his band was a drummer and an electric guitarist. So the arrangements were minimal. Of course, this allowed him to change up songs from how one is accustomed to hearing them. He played plenty from the last few years, and a couple from the Smog days, including "Bathysphere." Meli had heard Smog, but she had never seen him play before. It's always fun to introduce great music to people. I decided I now know how to re-mix a Bill Callahan song for live performance. If the line is "This is the line to a Smog song" then you sing each verse adding a new word each time. So it would go "This", "This is", "This is the line", "This is the line to", "This is the line to a", "This is the line to a Smog", "This is the line to a Smog song." I love his songs, but I can see that as a valid criticism.
I was happy to get tickets to this one. Fleet Foxes under the stars at Big Sur was fantastic. We got a good spot sitting on the ground towards the center. They had a video behind projected behind them that was typically showing time lapsed stars. Apparently the band had spent some time hanging out in Big Sur before and reminisced about it. Mangus played a song before their set. It was a fantastic show.
This was a great show. The band was super. Marc was visiting for the first time since he moved to California. We rocked like it was 1994 and then went up to Mendocino to spend a night in the woods. It was one of the more agressive crowds I've seen in years as well. That is still fun, but makes me feel the worst part of being 25 again.