The M's were interesting in that they usually had 3 singers going at the same time. David Holloway mentioned that Archer Prewitt looked like Johnny Cash, and he did look like a young Mr. Cash. I don't have any Archer solo records, so I wasn't sure what to expect. His voice didn't sound like I expected, and lyrically there were a lot of "Yeah's". Most surprising to me was that there were quite a few fans there that knew the words and were taking all sorts of pictures and movies of the show.
This was a showing of the movie "Koyaanisqatsi" along with a live performance by the composer of the movie sound track. Now I had never heard of this before, which surprised several of my friends. My words can't really do this any justice, as I was simply affected more than I believe I have ever by art before. With only images and music (no dialogue, characters, or plot), I felt happy, sad, concerned, elated, angry, awed, and more. I was telling my friends afterwards that I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to see it again, as the first experience I had with it was so powerful that I don't want to risk diluting my strong feelings. If you haven't seen it, I hope your experience was as nice as mine. If you have, remember how it made you feel.
Aram, Mary, Eleanor, Elowyn and I went to Little Star Pizza before the show and stuffed ourselves silly. I think this slowed us down for the show. We nicely got to The Fillmore during Stereolab's first song, so we didn't to stand around too long. Elowyn pointed out the place smelled just like the last time we were there: lots of marijuana smoke. Elowyn and I scored a decent viewing spot upstairs, though the sound was a little muffled up there. It was sad to not have Mary singing backup, as I enjoyed it so much the last time I saw them play. They played many songs I've heard before, and many I hadn't. I don't think I've kept up on the last couple of Stereolab releases as I should. It may be that many of their songs sound similar, but they all sound so good.
What a show! Apparently half of Animal Collective is Avey Tare And Panda Bear. If you go read the review of that show (at the Stork Club, no less), I hated them. Either these guys figured out what they were doing since then, or I didn't know what I was hearing back then, as this show was great. It was energetic, completely different, exciting, and engaging. The guy can scream. They can make noise. They get into grooves. Oh, and there was lots of weed in the air in the audience. All with one of the strangest soundtracks you've probably heard. I know this was simply the strangest band I've ever seen at The Fillmore. For those of you not in San Francisco, The Fillmore has this mystique about it that says, "If you play here, you are part of the musical canon." They have hundreds of photos and posters of past shows all over the place (From Grateful Dead to Ornette Coleman to Jefferson Airplane to Superchunk). Animal Collective is nothing like anything that's ever played there, I'm sure of it. The thing was this was a strange band that had a full house of people cheering along to songs and whistling afterwards. It all surprised me while I was having a great time.
For a short while when reading about this show before going, we thought Nick Macri may be playing with The Zincs. However it was not to be, despite that he's in the band. I talked to The Zincs' singer Jim afterwards, and he said Nick is in the band, but it was a package deal. So Edith Frost's regular bass player stood in since, just like the last time I saw her, her backing band is the band that opens the tour. The Zincs have some Television qualities, but the singer is British. The joke with Aram was what if there was a British version of Television? I said they'd be called "Telly". Anyways I liked the band and picked up a CD. Did you know they were once on Andy Mueller's Ohio Gold label and now are on Thrill Jockey? Well, now you do. Edith Frost was fine again, and I recognized many more of the songs than the last time out. I was reminded of how much I like her song "Cars and Parties".
Headlights are from Champaign. I'd never heard of them until I read about this show before going. When I read about them, I saw that the singer was about 23. Since I last lived in the heartland 13 years ago, we probably wouldn't have much in common to talk about. All I can recall a week and a half later is that they were fine, but nothing too special. My neighbor David wanted to see the headliner. They are a Japanese band with 3 women. They had three sets of costumes for the night, including one while setting up. They were preceded by a Japanese comedian who did imitations of movies. The band came out in lobster outfits. After losing the claws, they did garage rock and robotic dances. David used earplugs, and at one moment of silence yelled to Brandi and I that they were like Deerhoof, but cuter! Everyone in the bar heard him, and I bet half of them were thinking similar thoughts. They were certainly cuter, but I think they have more straight ahead rock in them than Deerhoof.
As a part of the San Francisco International Film Festival, Deerhoof composed a score for "Heaven And Earth Magic," a film by Harry Smith. The band was in the orchestra pit at this beautiful old movie theatre. The film score was mostly sound effects, with occasional added riffs that stole from some of Deerhoof's songs. I was so beat after my vacation that I regret to say that I dosed off a few times. The movie has a narrative, all told through animated collage. It was hard to follow in my tired slightly drunk state. However after the main film, Deerhoof played 5 of their own songs to shorts by Harry Smith. These were very abstract (moving colors and hand painted frames), so they were engaging. And the music was louder. It was quite amazing how 'in tune' the band's music was to the film. A few times I wasn't sure if the film was edited to match the song!
The openers jumped around the stage with lots of energy, making the crowd excited. At one point the singer described the band as Joy Division, but faster. I'd say that is somewhat accurate, but still sounded self promoting. They all looked about 23 and short, so perhaps they weren't even alive when New Order started? A funny point was when the singer said something about how "they say you aren't supposed to do new songs in front of a large audience" but they were going to do it anyway. Then a woman in the crowd yells out "It's not that big, you'll be OK." So The Fall had a very interesting back story for this show that was one of the main reasons I didn't want to miss it. About a week before, there was a post on Pitchfork about one of The Fall's shows. The singer for the opening band threw a banana at Mark E. Smith's head because he treats his band terribly. This caused the show to stop there. Then MES apparently fired the whole band except for his wife. They were due to go into the studio to record the next week as well. This would seem to be pretty dire. But he had an entire new band for the next show, all Americans. They played a shortened set, and the reviews were pretty good, considering. So I wanted to go to the show since I was pretty sure it would be chaotic, and if it wasn't, well it would be exciting. Lucky for me it was both. The band was raw. MES was himself, using 3 microphones, knocking over the stands and making big tangles. He'd also adjust the amps of all the members at times, as well as toss one of his mics into the bass drum for a big flap sound every now and then. They actually played a song off of I Am Kurious Oranj, as well as a couple others that sounded familiar. After a bit I (and others) noticed he had about a 2 inch diameter hole in the seat of his pants through the pocket and the pants where you could tell that he wore no underwear. He would occasionally step to the front of the stage to sneer at the audience, and then wander back to the back of the stage. His wife did some nice plinky keyboards, and when she wasn't doing that, she'd step back and strike a pose. Once a couple drum mics were knocked around by MES. The sound guy noticed, and went through the back to fix them up. MES saw him doing that tried to wave him away, and when that didn't work, gave him a light shove. The drummer set the mic back up at the end of the song. This was a rocking show, with all the chaos and excitement I expected.
I actually last saw Tom Verlaine something like 15 years ago (the date is apparently lost). I'm certain I wasn't familiar with him then. But I do remember enjoying his show, because I told him so. I was working the show as a part of Starcourse, and I ran into him afterwards. I don't recall exactly what I said, but it was something pitying, along the lines of too bad the crowd didn't seem to dig you but I did. Sheesh. What a jerk I was! Anyways, I dug this show too. The show was full of dynamics, all throughout many songs. His voice is still interesting. I also enjoyed the band, they were a bunch of 50 odd year olds rocking out in a club. There was one song that I thought was a Television song, but I couldn't find it in my collection. One funny part of the show was that Tom broke a guitar string at one point, and the other guitarist requested someone from the crowd who could change a string. A guy volunteered and changed the guitar string. Seemed to be OK too, though he broke another one by the end of the encore.
Some of the old songs they played were Eric's Trip, Catholic Block, Expressway to Your Skull, and a song off Confusion is Sex. Otherwise I believe they were all new songs. As usual, they rocked. Thurston still looks 22 from across the room. Kim still jumps around alot. I think one of the reasons that they seem so utterly cool is that they seem rather normal, if not nerdy. As has been true for the last several shows of theirs I've seen, they had a great stage show. The lighting and the back drop were excellent. The back drop was black and white, and the white portions where obtuse teen's of the 1900's style shapes. The video projected across them were mostly random abstract repeating patterns. They had a new 5th member this time around (Mark Ibold from Pavement). One of the guys who came along with Aram said it was the third best show he's seen. This is significant because he's been seeing shows regularly since before I was around. I didn't get to ask what the top two shows he'd seen were.
The Flaming Lips shows are always huge spectacular extravaganzas, and this one was no exception. There were Martian women to one side and Santas on the other. The screen was there along with the lipstick camera. Wayne walked out into the crowd in his plastic bubble. I'm supposed to tell you he came down from the sky, but I can't be too sure. I believe all of the songs but one (She Don't Use Jelly) were from The Soft Bulletin or later. Wayne used no fake blood during this production. He did however use lots of streamer shooters and confetti. With the new songs, there were new videos on the screen. There was a particularly good one for "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" that was all extreme close ups of mouths saying "Yeah" with a quick list of foreign language spellings of "Yeah". The entire frame was people lips, and the verses showed Wayne's throat. Wayne spent quite a bit of time emphasizing the main theme of so many of their songs. Which I'd sum it up as things can get pretty bad, so you must make the most of the time you do have. There's lots of corollaries to this as well that I won't bother going into. It can't be easy to play before The Flaming Lips, and it has to be worse to play after them (too much confetti on the stage). My friends and I were discussing who was 'bigger', Ween or The Flaming Lips? They were surprised who headlined, but one of them knows Ween, but strangely didn't know The Flaming Lips, so who knows. Nevertheless, Ween played lots of songs I can remember hearing back in my college days. The Flaming Lips played no songs from back then. But I digress. Ween have the most unlikely lyrics to the most unlikely songs sung by the most unlikely singer. They played while the sun was still out on the hottest weekend in Berkeley in a long time.
This was an interesting show. Brightblack Morning Light (what an awkward name) had vocals processed like My Bloody Valentine with two drummers. There was a definite hippy vibe, but it was overwhelmed by not being too bad. Os Mutantes' history can be read about elsewhere on the web; I'm not going into it. The backing band was quite good (there were 10 people on stage in all). The main guitarist could seem like Santana or Paul McCartney from song to song. I thought the brother on the keyboards sometimes seemed a little lost, which is apparently a problem that he has had over the years. The lyrics were a mix of English and Portuguese. A Brazilian co-worker of mine who was at the show was disappointed that there was any English. The show itself was hot and cold. There were really good parts (the afore mentioned 1960s inspired parts, "Baby", and the end of the show), and some parts that just didn't seem to click very well.
We sat high up over the stage in the eucalyptus forest, so I didn't see much of the show. There were countless people at this last show of the Stern Grove Festival, which puts on shows here during the summer. I haven't heard the band before, but they were a funky mix of many different musical cultures that you could dance to, of course only if you weren't sitting on a hill of sandy dirt at nearly a 60 degree incline. We adjourned to my house for deep dish Chicago style pizza.
What an angular show. Both bands' music are mathematical exercises. Ceramic Dog only played about 10 songs in their 1+ hour set. The drummer was doing all sorts of polyrhythmic nutso stuff. There were also plenty of effects on the two guitars. Deerhoof are now a trio instead of a 4 piece. This allowed them to take apart and deconstruct their songs even more than usual. The mix sounded sparse to me, almost like their amps weren't mic'd up. Perhaps that was a result of the smaller band. But they were loud, especially the drummer pounding like there was no tomorrow. The singer did her great angular dances again. The guitarist makes faces galore as he rips between loud and soft, fast and slow. It was a blast seeing a band who knows how to do what they do so well. They basically play their set like a medley; I don't think they play 'complete' versions of the songs so they can get even more into the set. It was a great line up with two bands who really don't give their audience a chance to relax.
This was the first day of the Touch And Go Records 25th Anniversary block party. Mike and I ate dinner after he got off of work, so we got there after it had started. I only saw a little Girls Against Boys. Ted Leo + Pharmacists are a new band on the label, and I liked the set. At times they have a Clash feel to their sound. I spent most of my time this evening seeing folks I hadn't seen in some time. The whole show was a reunion of more than just some of the bands on stage.
This was the second day of the Touch And Go Records 25th Anniversary block party. This was the big day. And I stayed up until 4:45 AM the night before talking with my brother! I forced myself to get out of bed and make it to see The New Year. I love their records, and they don't play outside of Texas too often, it seems. I caught the last 3 or 4 songs of their set, and I was glad I made it. During the day, more reunions were made. I saw some friends I hadn't seen for 15 years, 10 years, 5 years, etc. Pegboy's singer had a great time, usually making fun of himself and the audience for how old they all were. The crowd really got into Pegboy. Tim & Andy of Silkworm played what I think was one song that seemed to be all about lost friendship. I had read it was going to be closure after the loss of their drummer, and I thought it was very fitting. The Ex had some great guitar sounds; one song I recall in particular had a great feedback drone behind it. I was really looking forward to Killdozer; I don't know how I missed seeing them the first time around. They sounded fine (despite their re-tuning all of the time) and the songs were hilarious. He had all sorts of funny things to say in-between songs, one I remember being "What city is this!?" I wound up not being disappointed they didn't play "The Pig Was Cool." Didjits were a blast. They were tight, hilarious, and totally rocked the crowd. Bob Weston was at the sound booth singing along, for crissakes! Rik acted like an ass, and everyone gave him the finger. The bass player Doug had so many damn tattoos, including one that wrapped his neck that had a large mouth with pointy teeth. Oh, and he is still missing some teeth as well. They sounded as good as new. I was running around kind of like a maniac looking for people food and tickets, and then Scratch Acid came on. I wasn't close to the stage at all, and I just never got engaged in the set. Such a bummer, as so many people really dug it. I got closer for Big Black. It was just as harsh and abrasive as you'd expect. They only played 4 songs. Steve Albini even took a moment to be sentimental about Touch And Go, believe it or not. Shellac put on a typically tight set, big on the favorites and the new songs. They put on such a good show. This was an incredible day full of rock and friends.
This was the last day of the Touch And Go Records 25th Anniversary block party. I got there late, as the weekend was already wearing me down. I'm going to lump the San Diego bands together. Three Mile Pilot, The Black Heart Procession, and Pinback all had a similar vibe, not only due to the commonality in members. I saw some members of The Black Heart Procession in O'Hare when I left the next day. Tara Jane ONeil mostly did a solo set of emotional songs. Seam sounded just like I remembered, but I wasn't able to engage with their set. They played plenty off of The Problem With Me. I think it was Brad who regretted that Bob Rising wasn't playing drums. I swear I have seen Brick Layer Cake before at Lounge Ax, but I don't have it in my show list. He played two of his songs, songs like no other. He dedicated "Stars" to Syd Barrett. It was a great set. Calexico did a Minutemen cover (Jesus and Tequila), and sounded great. They were a perfect closer for the 3 day weekend.
A great set. I was more engaged this time than the last time I saw Tortoise; I think it was because I was standing much closer. I think this is also the reason that the faces John McEntire makes while playing kinda bugged me out. However, this band is tight. Excellent show.
David and Brandi invited me to this burlesque show. Rocket is an all-woman garage band. Their guitar could have been a little louder. Chow Nasty were the stupidiest white boy hip hop band I've seen, but it was quite hilarious. They had one dude who had a utility belt of harmonicas he'd play. Suicide Girls delivered exactly what you'd expect. A Google search will tell you more. I honestly think a discussion of the meaning and differing interpretations of feminist empowerment would be a worthy subject, but not on this web site.
Rosie Thomas sang love songs. She told funny stories in between songs. One of the reasons that it was funny is that her speaking voice in no way seems to match her singing voice. She speaks as if there is a cloud of helium surrounding her, while her singing has a lower register. Lambchop were accompanied by the Tosca String Quartet. The band sounded great. More songs about unusual things. They had the upstairs closed and lots of tables and chairs on the main floor. The problem is that it crowded up quite a bit once Lambchop started.
This was a part of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, held in Golden Gate Park. It was a beautiful weekend for seeing bands in the park. We saw each at a different stage. We saw the T Bone Burnett electric set. They were some dark songs for the middle of a beautiful afternoon, but the band was great. To top things off, Elvis Costello came out to sing with the band. We then wandered over to see Billy Bragg. He was just as interesting and sparse as ever. Just him and his guitar, spending as much time talking as singing. We then wandered over to the largest stage to see Steve Earle & The Bluegrass Dukes. Steve Earle is known to be politically outspoken, and he lived up to it today. The crowd was all for his dispatches against the man. They had a traditional acoustic lineup, all crowded around a single microphone. Whoever had the lead would step up closer to the mic. An excellent day.
This was a part of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, held in Golden Gate Park. It was another beautiful day. We caught a little bit of Freakwater. We left so that we could also catch some of the rocking Alejandro Escovedo. We wound up moving up the hill to the side of the stage so we could sit down for a bit. The Coward Brothers are Elvis Costello and T Bone Burnett. They did covers running the gamut from old country to hippie music. They told jokes about their history as brothers in a band. Emmylou Harris came out and sang back up for them towards the end. A great end to an excellent festival.
This was a great show. The new record is incredible (it was a hear-it-the-first-time-listen-to-it-again-immediately kind of record), and the show matched. They played plenty off of the new record, as well as old ones. They had organs and an electric piano on stage to handle many of the new songs. Of course Ira had lots of guitar wankery to please us all. The entire band is great. They covered Richard Hell and Gram Parsons in the encore. The first was in honor of CBGB's while we were all in purgatory waiting for it to show up in Las Vegas. This record and this show have definitely moved Yo La Tengo up in my rankings. Too bad even I don't know what those rankings are.
My friend Jon won free tickets to this show. I knew nothing about the bands, and I had a great time. I'd describe Slowerfinger as hard southern rock, despite doing a decent cover of "Ace of Spades." I enjoyed this set so much I want to see them again. Thankfully they are local, making that an easier goal to reach. This is the Split Lip Rayfield farewell tour. The guitarist has cancer, and doesn't have too long to live. I only know this from reading the web site; they never mentioned it during the show. However it made the show a little more than your average show. First off, they were great. It's like a modern punk bluegrass. Fast and lonesome. The bassist plays an automobile gas tank which sounds like a bass drum and bass at the same time. The crowd was wild. I mean I don't think I've heard a crowd the size of the Great American Music Hall cheer so loud before. I was surprised (yet again) that some band I'd never heard of was so good and had such a large following. This is what made me think even more about what the guitarist and the rest of this band were thinking. I wonder if their happiness was tinged with regret?
I went with my friend Michelle to this show. Neil Hamburger opened. I don't know how to describe him, but he's a guy playing the worst most horrible comic ever. He looks horrible, sounds terrible, and tells completely tasteless jokes. But it's really funny. The crowd (not all apparently in on the joke) were booing like crazy and throwing stuff at him. Once a penny hit his drink glass, and everyone could hear it over his mic. So he said (paraphrased here without the alternating swear words) "Thanks, you've just doubled my salary for the evening!" Tenacious D came on soon thereafter. It was a couple days before the Tenacious D movie opened. They had a huge backdrop that looked like a living room (complete with Dio poster and bong). They played a few songs, then another guy came in, as if he were a neighbor and interacted with the band. It was like a Vegas show or something. So eventually the band dies via electrocution, and goes to hell. Now on a huge video screen, they decide to form a band there, since it's hell and has all the great rock gods. They hear some shredding in the distance walk over and it looks like Jesus Christ. He says no, but lots of people make that mistake. I'm the anti-christ (who they call anti thereafter). Now they need a rhythm section, and find Colonel Sanders on drums (in hell for killing millions of chickens) and Charlie Chaplin (in hell because he's gay) on bass. So they all then walk onto the real stage that is full of jagged rocks and steam and lots of lights (most elaborate stage I think I've seen) and rock out. Then the devil shows up, saying that they sold themselves to the devil. Jack Black disagrees, and they have a rock-off to decide who wins. Of course Tenacious D wins. One of the stranger shows I've seen. The band is fine, the lyrics are funnier than the band rocks. And Jack Black is only playing Jack Black in anything you've seen him in.
A fine Calexico show. Their horns were in full effect. The Minutemen cover this time was "Corona." The crowd skewed older for Los Lobos. While I was getting a beer there was someone talking I overheard to say that he hadn't been there for years and years and that the apples used to be laced with acid. I doubt this. There was a guy having fun wearing reindeer antlers during Los Lobos; a grumpy guy 20 feet behind him ran up to him to ask him to take them off. Los Lobos' t-shirt said they had been around since 1973. I don't believe they played the sole song I know of theirs, which is a cover of "La Bamba."
Eric Gaffney played a Sebadoh song or two. It was him playing electric guitar along with the drummer from the opening band, who was apparently picked just before the show. Eric would describe the beat he wanted before the song and then go right into it. While waiting for a drink before his set, I wound up talking to a woman who asked me why I was at the show. I said that I had listened to Sebadoh plenty and also that my friend was thinking of playing an open-mic at Hotel Utah, but had never been there before. Then the woman says that she's dating Eric, but hadn't ever seen him play before, wondering what he's like. I say I believe he was no longer in the band by the time I saw Sebadoh. So after the show is over, we said goodbye to the girlfriend and Eric. He says that his final show in San Francisco was a couple of months ago. I say that he just played, so he's had a new final show in San Francisco. He lives here, so maybe there will be some more. Johanna Kunin has a great voice and sang quirky songs (one about blueberries) accompanied by a drummer and violin while she played electric organ. I'd see her sing again.
Joanna Newsom started out solo on her harp playing a few songs from 'The Milk-Eyed Mender'. Then the band came out to fill out the sound for a rendition of 'Ys' in order. The drummer was perfect for the material. She had backup singing and accompaniment, which hasn't been like the other times I've seen her play. She sounded great, and would flash a great smile in between songs. The crowd was generally enraptured with her the entire time. For the encore, she played a couple more songs off of the first album. Then the band came back out, and she told the crowd they were going to play one they hadn't played before. She then told everyone to turn off their recorders, because she knew they were there. She said when people hear 'in-progess' songs on the internet, they tend to like the 'old ones' better. She laughed, and then said we were about to hear the 'old version'. Apparently most of her home town was in for the show, including harp teachers, high school teachers, and family. She had three sold out shows in a row here!
The Parish were more crunchy than I remember from the last time, which I only just learned was their first show with that line-up. My friend Andy who plays guitar in the band had been mugged about 3 weeks beforehand. So he was playing with a broken skull and a wired jaw. Unfortunately the cretin who did this hasn't been caught. I really liked Pets. It was a gal and a guy rocking from Sacramento who played along with a drum machine. The guitar had plenty of distortion. Because of all of this they gave a Jesus And Mary Chain Joy Division Le Tigre 1980s vibe. I couldn't tell if the gal was just rocking or totaly nervous. She never cracked a smile until a guitar string broke. Social Studies gave me a large Arcade Fire vibe. It seems most of the crowd was there to see them, as they all moved to the front of the stage for their set. Their drummer was somewhat annoying (he bopped around in an affected manner). The best part about their set was the group of people standing in front of us. Two dudes were dancing goofy most of the time trying to impress the cute skinny blonde in a black slinky dress. She wasn't impressed with one of the guys, and would pay some attention to the other. The shot-down guy twice tried to put his arm around her, and she shrinked away. It was entertaining.