Your latest SF gentrification soundtrack: Cold Beat, Thee Oh Sees, Violent Change, and more


Is San Francisco doomed?  The legendary SF punk band Crime said so 35 years ago on their album San Francisco’s Doomed. Yet with tech money flowing into San Francisco and musicians being priced out of the city, the phrase has taken on a new resonance among those musicians who have stayed in town.

There’s been no shortage of music and other art forms lamenting the sea change in our dear city: Earlier this month, Katie Day drew accolades and vitriol with “San Francisco (Before the West Falls),” and tonight [Wed/25], cabaret singer-songwriter Candace Roberts will celebrate the debut of her theatrical “Not My City Anymore” with a party at the Gold Dust Lounge (where the music video was shot).

Stepping up to the plate for the indie/garage/punk kids is Hannah Lew, currently of Cold Beat, formerly of Grass Widow, and most recently the curator of a compilation whose name differs from Crime’s album by one contraction: San Francisco Is Doomed.  Released on Lew’s Crime On The Moon label, the compilation features 13 songs by either former or current San Francisco bands and artists, from Thee Oh Sees to Erase Errata to Violent Change, all of them dealing with the tech boom’s effect on the city and its music scene.

Lew has lived in the city since 1989, and was a first-hand witness to the ascent of the city’s garage-rock scene to international prominence as a member of Grass Widow. Though she plans to stay in the city, it’s increasingly difficult for musicians in San Francisco to keep up with increased prices. Most of the artists on the compilation have since moved.

“People are moving here to make money now,” Lew said. “It’s never really been like that before — not since the Gold Rush. Because of that there’s a lot of foodie culture…things catered to people with a lot of money. I think that creates a cultural divide.”

The compilation isn’t an act of war against the “techies,” though; according to Lew, some of the artists on the compilation actually work in the tech industry. It’s not a benefit album either. It’s simply a snapshot of the time and place in which SF musicians currently exist. 

For now, Lew and Cold Beat are still headquartered and playing shows in the city — the compilation seems timed nicely to coincide with the release of the band’s latest, Over Me, which will be out July 8 (a music video for the first single just premiered over at NPR). But it’s hard to say the band is part of a “scene” anymore. Bay Area scenes have come and gone, of course, from psychedelic rock to ’80s thrash metal, and, as others have noted, it’s increasingly apparent that the garage-rock movement is at the end of its lifespan. The question of whether or not San Francisco’s music scene is truly doomed relies on a different equation — whether musicians are willing to move into San Francisco. And according to Lew, it’s not exactly an attractive option for most.

“I can’t really imagine people moving here for a thriving music scene without the rent prices going way down,” she said. “Usually the towns with a thriving music scenes are affordable to live in. But it’s hard to even find an affordable practice space in San Francisco these days.”

“There’s nothing we can do about it,” she added. “[San Francisco] is becoming more of a fancy town. But we just want to talk about it and hopefully provide another voice in that conversation.”
San Francisco Is Doomed Record Release

With Cold Beat, Synethic ID, Violent Change, Caged Animal

July 1, 9pm, free

Brick and Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission, SF


Fuck Buttons on their wildly visual live show, the writing process, and bringing “fuck” to the world stage


“I think I’ve heard of them before,” is the kind of spineless response you’ll never hear if you ask someone about Fuck Buttons.  If you’ve heard them, you’ll most definitely will remember.  With music that elicits feelings of wonder and rebellion, intense live shows, and of course an, err — catchy name, Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung leave a lasting impression.

If you didn’t catch them when they played at The Independent last October, chances are you heard Fuck Buttons in 2012 when the band received arguably the most widespread kind of exposure — their tracks “Surf Solar” and “Olympians” were featured separately during the London Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Their self-produced third effort, Soft Focus, has earned the band a multitude of accolades, including an 8.7 and Best New Music honor from persnickety Pitchfork, as well as the #3 Dance Album Of The Year 2013 from Rolling Stone.

I got the opportunity to chat with Fuck Button Benjamin John Power about the process behind the band’s unique live performance set-up, as well as the AV show they’re bringing to the US for the first time.  The English experimental-electro duo are currently in the middle of a monthlong tour, coming back to The Independent this Fri/27.

San Francisco Bay Guardian So you just played North By Northeast. Taking some time off on the West Coast right now?

Benjamin John Power Yeah, that’s right.  Andy had to go home to a wedding so there is a slight break in the tour, but it’s cool.

SFBG I’m sure the time off to before the shows next week is welcomed.

BJP I get a week off in LA and my wife is coming out to join me for the time off. It’s nice to take a breather.

SFBG NXNE has such a diverse lineup, between all the acts and comedians.

BJP NXNE was great. Quick turnaround, but a really amazing crowd. I didn’t get a chance to see anyone else on the lineup, but I wish I could have seen Tim Hecker.

SFBG It’s funny you mention him. You’re familiar with Steve Hauschildt, yes?

BJP Yep, from Emeralds? I’m a fan.

SFBG I liken his and Tim Hecker’s music to your solo project, Blanck Mass. They form a genre I refer to as “lunar planning music.”

BJP Oh yeah? That’s a nice term.

SFBG I mean that in the best way possible.

BJP It is welcomed — fear not.

SFBG You recently played a show with Mount Kimbie that involved some some special visuals.  Can the stateside crowd expect anything like that?

BJP Yes, 100 percent. We have brought our full AV show with us this time — for the first time in the USA — so that’s totally in the cards. We wanted to make sure that the visual aspect wasn’t just a bunch of video loops, as a separate focus.  The visuals are interactive and in real time, so it’s a more interesting show and it’s working out really well.

SFBG Sounds great. I saw you last year at Primavera Sound, and your music translates really well on stage.

BJP Thank you. The live show and the recorded output go hand in hand, so when we write, we write in exactly the same way that we do when we play live — across the table from each other, with all the gadgets in front of us — so it translates easily into the live performance.

SFBG You also produced the last album (Soft Focus) yourselves — have other people been contacting you regarding production work?

BJP Yeah, a few people have.  We like to keep ourselves busy, and I think from working on the last record primarily by ourselves we have picked up some pretty helpful production tricks.

SFBG Last question — do you feel the word “fuck” is losing its potency?

BJP I don’t really think too much about the word fuck losing its potency. If anything, it probably makes my life easier, haha.

SFBG I can see that.  Being featured in the Olympics, you guys are like ambassadors of “fuck.”  Bringing “fuck” to the world stage.

BJP Yeah! Well, in those instances, everybody just seems to go with “F Buttons.” It’s really fine. What’s in a name anyway?

With Total Life
6/27, 9pm, $20
The Independent
628 Divisadero, SF


Happy Hour: The week in music


Hey you. Yeah, you. Are you still sitting at your desk, despite it being a beautiful day outside, and despite the proximity of large-screen TVs tuned to the World Cup inside multiple alcohol-serving establishments within three blocks of you in every direction?

Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. And you have less than an hour to go!

To help kill those last few minutes of clock-watching, here are some musical highlights of the past week, and a thing or two to do this weekend:

1. YouTube is about to fuck up 95 percent of what you and I use YouTube for. Sorry, not cat videos; I meant listening to audio and watching videos from independent artists. An executive from the Google-owned giant recently told the Financial Times that YouTube was prepared to remove videos from labels that didn’t sign their contract for the new YouTube Music Pass (a paid licensing program) “within days.” Reps from a lot of these labels (like 4AD — see ya, The National, tUnE-yArDs, Deerhunter, et al) have said they’ve been offered the extraordinarily shitty end of the terms stick.

2. If you’re sticking around the Bay Area this weekend — unlike the 8 out of 10 musicians I’ve talked to in the past few days who are all taking off for Hickey Fest — you could do a lot worse than to check out the ULUV Music Day, a festival of free music featuring more than 100 bands playing throughout the day at parklets, BART stations, and other public locations in every neighborhood in the city from noon to 5pm. At 6pm, head over to Dolores Park for a “music flash mob” and official proclamation from the City of San Francisco.

3. New owners for Yoshi’s SF (following bankruptcy under the current ownership) signal “an all-but-final blow to the original aims of the Fillmore Jazz Preservation District,” says SF Weekly.

4. Biopics are in the works about NWA and Aaliyah, though the latter’s family is none too happy about it. By contrast, Ashanti has hit the county fair circuit.

5. Jack White (who’ll be at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium Aug. 22 and 23) debuted his latest, Lazaretto, at #1 on the Billboard charts, selling 138,000 copies in its first week — some 40,000 of them vinyl. That broke Pearl Jam’s record for the largest sales week for a vinyl album, a title that previously went to 1991’s Vitalogy. Let’s compare and contrast (quick, before YouTube takes them down).

Now then. Beer time?


Party Radar: Hardkiss Brothers celebrate 1991, “Flowers Blooming”


It’s a tribute to the resiliency of SF’s classic Hardkiss Brothers — and the soul of the SF house music scene — that, after the devastating loss of musical brother Scott last year, Gavin and Robbie Hardkiss have bounced back with an exuberant tribute to the roots of their legendary collective, new album 1991.

This Fri/20 at Public Works (9pm-3am, $10. 161 Erie, SF), they’ll be bringing the Hardkiss family together to celebrate the release of exuberant floor-stomping single “Flowers Blooming” — a rework of lovely 1980 Change track “Glow of Love.” Free download below!

Besides calling to mind the joyful-disco, Luther Vandross-fronted original — oh man, how I love me some Young and Gay American Luther — plus the Inner City “Big Fun” sound of the late ’80s, and the glowing “Flowers in Your Hair” SF Summer of Love aesthetic, “Flowers Blooming” also slips into a luminous legacy of flora-based raveytime anthems. 1991 indeed.

Anyway, I’m high. Here’s what the brothers themselveshave to say about the track, which boasts a slew of remixes and inclusion in this cool flashback “Megamixx”:

“In the latest single off the album, ‘Flowers Blooming/Glow of Love,’ Hardkiss take Change’s 1980 classic ‘Glow of Love’ out for a driving musical journey. First stopping in ’90s Detroit before putting the top down and heading straight for the California sunshine. The result is sun-drenched track that is both irresistible and feel good- a must have addition to any summer playlist. Featuring vocals by Robbie Hardkiss, there’s enough on the new Hardkiss album to satisfy any dancefloor intent on rising up in celebration.” 




Snap Sounds: Lone



Matt “Lone” Cutler’s heart belongs to hip hop.  It’s easy to forget this given how the British producer only started to attract critical notice after switching from the post-J Dilla instrumentals of his early albums to a style that had more in common with house and rave music. The transition wasn’t terribly unnatural given that his sonic trademark was rich synth chords, a sound rare in hip hop but prevalent in dance.  He kept those intact; he just switched up the rhythm and instantly went from generic beatmaker to underground dance hero, producing one of 2012’s best electronic albums in Galaxy Garden.

Reality Testing is his follow-up, and remarkably, it makes no attempt to refine or outdo Galaxy Garden. It’s less ambitious and more playful, incorporating hip hop influences in equal measure to house influences. Cutler’s cited Madlib and Boards of Canada as influences; though Galaxy Garden carried traces of those artists’ respective hip hop and ambient styles, Reality Testing sounds pretty much exactly like the midpoint between those two.

The result isn’t anywhere near as entertaining or evocative as Galaxy Garden. With the exception of the relentless “Airglow Fires,” the dance-oriented tracks are nothing special compared to the ones on any of his previous albums. A lot of them seem to be based on the same formula he’s used for all his dance tracks, except with a rather dull constant 4/4 kick rather than the skittering rhythms that define his best work. (He’s even using the same chords.) They don’t sound like attempts to refine or replicate his past successes; they’re just not that well-made.

The hip-hop tracks don’t fare much better.  Though “Cutched Under” and “2 is 8” both rank among Lone’s best productions, the other tracks don’t retain much of the his personality and end up sounding more like the generic bedroom “beats” that dominate much of SoundCloud.  As much as Lone loves hip hop, he’s frankly a better dance producer, and it’s a shame he didn’t play more to his strengths here.  If the dance tracks were better, his beats might be more forgivable.

I believe Reality Testing chiefly serves as an establishment of Lone’s independence from musical trends or critical expectation.  If so, it’s an admirable gesture.  Critical acclaim can sometimes scare artists into simply refining their sound rather than expanding on it or exploring new directions, and it’s thus a relief to see Lone continuing to play by his own rules.  But after listening to Reality Testing, I find myself wishing he’d just played it safe.

Your Treasure Island Music Festival lineup: Outkast, Massive Attack, and more


Thanks to a glitch in Ticketmaster’s system (or a human who works for Ticketmaster who is now having a very bad day), we got the lineup for this year’s Treasure Island Music Festival (Oct. 18 and 19) a little earlier than promoters Another Planet Entertainment were planning on announcing it. [Update as of noon-ish: The lineup’s now on the festival’s official website, too.] Here we go:

Massive Attack
TV On the Radio
Janelle Monae
The New Pornographers
Washed Out
St. Lucia
White Denim

The Growlers
Chet Faker
Ryan Hemsworth
Ana Tijoux
Painted Palms

With the exception of Painted Palms and Waters (good on ya, boys), it’s a pretty non-local crowd — but otherwise a pleasant mix of electronic and indie/garagey kids, which is of course in line with the crowd the festival usually draws. And if you missed Outkast at Coachella and BottleRock (where they were somewhat disappointing and excellent, respectively), well, here’s your next chance. At this point, honestly, we just hope it’s warmer than last year, because the chilled-to-the-bone memory of chugging overpriced wine and wondering if our hands would ever regain feeling again while waiting for Beck to come on is still alarmingly fresh.

Tickets go on sale this Thursday at 10am. Other thoughts on the lineup, folks?

Gimme 5: Must-see shows this week


Happy Monday, y’all. I know, it’s rough. I hope at the very least that your weekend was better than this guy’s.

If not, don’t despair! Here are some rad shows to look forward to this week from the Bay Guardian team. As the late great Casey Kasem (aka Shaggy) would say, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars. Keep your friends close, and your pizza closer. (Okay, that second part’s just me.)


Zara McFarlane
You’ve got to be plenty ballsy to venture a cover of “Police and Thieves,” the immortal 1976 reggae track by Junior Murvin (produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry, no less) and transformed into a rock classic by the Clash on their debut 1977 album. But this fascinating Jamaican-British singer’s version, a hypnotic cabaret-jazz version floated by a voice clear as a bell, earns the praise heaped upon it. Included on McFarlane’s new album, If You Knew Her, “a tribute to women, from the alpha female to the housewife,” it puts a feminist spin on the spooky lyrics that decry “scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition, from Genesis to Revelation.” With her classic poise and lucid style (Roberta Flack springs to mind), it’s easy to see why global soul guru Gilles Peterson snagged McFarlane quick for his Brownswood label — Marke B.

8pm, $18 advance
Yoshi’s SF
1330 Fillmore, SF.
(415) 655-5600


Ten years ago Philadelphia’s experimental post-hardcore outfit mewithoutYou released their sophomore album Catch For Us the Foxes. Now, a decade and three albums later, Foxes is still a beloved fan favorite and the defining album of mewithoutYou’s lyrically rich and musically unique career. The album, which borrows its name directly from the Song of Songs, tackles the band’s usual themes of spirituality, nature, and literature in their trademarked spoken (well, shouted)-word vocals over beautifully melancholy, churning instrumentals. In honor of the record’s tenth birthday, mewithoutYou will be playing the entire record front to back, followed by a set taken from the rest of their catalog. — Haley Zaremba

With The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Dark Rooms
8pm, $16
333 11th St, SF
(415) 255-0333


Dean Wareham
While his sharp tenor has gotten a bit lower and his hair is noticeably grayer than it was during his days fronting Galaxie 500, Dean Wareham has remained astonishingly consistent since his burst onto the burgeoning indie rock scene almost 30 years ago. His eclectic and minimalist guitar work and profoundly detached lyrics are on display once again on his eponymous first solo album, which came out in March. To celebrate the occasion, Wareham has embarked on a tour of intimate venus along with his stellar four-piece band. Wareham’s wife and frequent collaborator Britta Phillips, who was an instrumental creative force in Wareham’s post-Galaxie 500 group Luna and on several duet albums since, will also perform with the group. The Chapel, with a capacity of a few hundred, provides the perfect venue to examine Wareham’s instrumental and emotional subtlety a set that he has promised will include tracks from throughout his career. — David Kurlander

9pm, $20
The Chapel
777 Valencia, SF
(415) 551-5157


Nightmares on Wax
With a career that now spans two and a half decades, producer George Evelyn (aka DJ E.A.S.E., aka Nightmares on Wax) is credited with being among the first to merge early New York hip-hop with the British B-boy and graffiti scenes of the ’80s, forming what would come to be known as trip-hop. Work with greats like De La Soul followed, but Evelyn has evolved with the times — he’s still considered a go-to inspiration and dream collaborator for today’s up-and-coming hip-hop, dub, and funk hopefuls. He also just released a two-disc “best of,” N.O.W. Is the Time, so this show should be a good time to time-travel a bit — while dancing your ass off, of course.

With Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist
9pm, $22-$25
Regency Ballroom
1300 Van Ness, SF


Fresh from an appearance at Hickey Fest in up in Medocino County, the psych-garage quartet will bring their grooved out, British Invasion-influenced swagger to the stage at GAMH. It makes sense that three of four Allah-Las members met while working at Amoeba in LA; their sound comes off like they’ve absorbed the entirety of the ’60s soul and pop sections of a record store, thrown in a healthy handful of ’70s psychedelia and surf-rock, mixed them all together, and now can’t help but have the dark-tinged, dreamy result basically leaking out their musical pores. It doesn’t hurt that lead singer Miles Michaud channels Jim Morrison eerily well (in vocal tone, hopefully not in recreational drugs of choice).

With Dream Boys, Old Testament
8pm, $16
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell, SF

The under-celebrated influence of Guided By Voices


In a conversation about ’90s rock staples the other day, a friend casually mentioned that he’d never really listened to Guided By Voices, a statement that provoked in me a somewhat surprising level of panic, alongside a strange sense of injustice.

“Here!” I cried, throwing on the starter-friendly greatest hits compilation Human Amusements at Hourly Rates. “Listen!” He listened politely for a few songs.

“They sound like every other lo-fi indie band from the mid-’90s onward,” he said.

“NO,” I said. “Every other lo-fi indie band from the mid-’90s onward sounds like them.”

If people know one thing about GBV, it’s generally that frontman Robert Pollard is one of the most prolific songwriters of his time: Try 23 full-length albums inside 22 years, figuring in a six-year hiatus in the aughts, and not counting the hundreds of songs Pollard has released not under the GBV moniker. If people know a second thing, it’s that the band’s live show is legendary, known for sometimes stretching over three hours (even more impressive considering their propensity for two-minute songs) and for continuous, gleeful onstage drinking.

Other things you should know: Equal parts psych, prog, punk, and British Invasion garage rock, Guided By Voices have influenced a shit-ton of other artists. Their songs are deceptively simple and sing-songy in places and straight-up dark and noisy and uncompromisingly weird in others; often incomprehensible lyrics give way to depths of feeling and wonderfully dreamlike moods that somehow leave you feeling nourished. Pollard’s a bit of a nut, but in a heartfelt way; he’s not putting it on. I love the Pixies and Sonic Youth as much as anyone, but goddamn, now that I’m thinking about it, there is no good reason that GBV doesn’t quite enjoy the same universally accepted recognition as a rock elder from today’s lo-fi younguns. Even White House Press Secretary Jay Carney agrees.

To trace the band’s evolution from early ’80s Dayton bar band up to the present — which finds them about to play The Regency Ballroom tomorrow, Wed/11, in the middle of the fourth year of what was expected to be a one-off reunion that began in 2010, and after releasing their sixth reunion record, Cool Planet, last month (after Pollard announced that the fourth, 2013’s English Little League, was the last) — would take a rather long time. So we won’t do that.

Suffice it to say: Here. Listen.



The Pogues’ James Fearnley on Shane MacGowan, the difference time can make, and the diary that became his new memoir


Mixing a high proof distillation from the sounds of traditional Irish folk music with the piss and vinegar attitude and energy of punk rock, The Pogues burst upon the music scene in London in 1984 with Red Roses For Me, and further established themselves with the albums that followed, such as Rum, Sodomy and the Lash (1985), and what many consider to be their masterpiece, If I Should Fall From Grace With God (1988).

The band’s output showcased their stellar musicianship and the masterful songwriting talents of singer Shane MacGowan, whose reputation for wild antics and marathon bouts of drinking took on mythic proportions, and eventually lead to a decade-long estrangement within the band.

The epic rise and fall of the “Boys From The County Hell” has finally been properly chronicled, and by perhaps the best person to do so — Pogues accordion player James Fearnley himself.

Drawing on years’ worth of personal diaries, Fearnley’s book, Here Comes Everybody: The Story of The Pogues (Chicago Review Press) was released last month in the United States, and paints a thorough and deeply rich picture of what life was like as a member of one of most raucous — and supremely talented — bands in rock history.

“I kept a diary because I really enjoyed looking at things and experiencing things and knowing that later on I was going to put it down in words, so it made me pay attention — I like to pay attention,” says Fearnley.

“Years and years ago somebody said, ‘If somebody is going to write a book about the Pogues, it’s going to be you, James.’ And I heard that a few times, I was always the guy down in the breakfast room in the hotel scribbling away in my notebook, and in tour buses as well.”

The book came about after Fearnley had taken some writing workshops when he moved to Los Angeles, and Shane MacGowan kept appearing as a subject in his work.

“I think there is a sense of understanding that you come to, about the people that you write about and my reactions to them and my feelings with them, particularly about Shane, who is an extremely inspiring person to write about.”

Fearnley says that the many years that had passed since the original break-up of the band provided some helpful distance from the situations, and a new outlook on what took place in their lives.

“It’s useful to approach one’s experiences back then without so much luggage of self-worth, or lack of self-worth, that one had back then, and to have a look at what was actually going on. I think it’s one’s curiosity about things that helps you kind of move through, rather than get stuck in self-judgement or beating yourself up.”

After producing a large amount of material from the writing workshops, a friend had read some of it, and offered to pass it along to an agent; from that point on, the book came along fairly quickly — but as Fearnley points out, it took a long time to get to that place.

“It’s been in the air for quite a while, it came out of this slow, simmering, cooking process, I suppose — it wasn’t like I just said, ‘Oh, this is what I’m going to do now.’”


Steeped in detail, the different chapters transport readers to varying times in the life of the Pogues; it starts at the end of the story, where the group had to decide that it had come to the point where they had to fire MacGowan.

Fearnley’s descriptions of the moments leading up to the sacking should make fans feel as they were there in the room with them, in this case a tense situation punctuated with minute elements of information that one might not expect, but that provoke an immediate reaction — after building the scene, he adds a simple sentence, “The room smelled like toothpaste.” A detail that might night seem very important, but that lends the reader a sensory experience jumping off from the page.

“If you are going to write something, use all the sense. I scanned around to remember, what my senses were in that room, and that was the one that came up first,” says Fearnley.

Based on just some of the stories included in the book, the fact that the band members all survived the tumultuous 1980s and 90s is nothing short of a miracle — though guitarist Philip Chevron, to whom the memoir is dedicated, passed away last year from cancer.

“We did a couple of shows before Christmas in England last year without Philip there, and knowing that he would never come back, they were very emotional. I’m going to miss him.”

Fans can be assured that The Pogues’ story will live on forever now though, meticulously archived in Fearnley’s fascinating chronicle.

“I always liked Philip Larkin, he said about his writing was that it was an act of preservation — writing to preserve an event or emotion that he had had,” says Fearnley. “I suppose in writing a memoir, that’s an act of preservation in itself, so I felt that was my job, to bring everything to bear on making it sort of live again in a way.”

James Fearnley
June 9, 7:30pm
Moe’s Books
2476 Telegraph, Berk.
(510) 849-2087

Party Radar: Daybreaker gets you moving – on a Tuesday morning


Back in 1988, I hung out for a summer in West Berlin. Yep, this was before the wall fell, when West Berlin was a roiling, hyperactive, neon-crazy island in a sea of Communist repression — kind of like the most exclusive nightclub in the world.

One of the things that took my breath away: high school kids and college students went to clubs before school. At least the few I knew would met their friends around 5-6am at the all-night club du jour and dance it out for a while before heading to class. “This is the best place in the world!” I thought at the time.

Also: “Why can’t we have this?” Well, now we kinda do. Welcome to San Francisco, Daybreaker.

OK, OK, it has no alcohol, and you still have to be 21 to get in. (And it’s $15-$20, so you may have to save up that pocket change.)

HOWEVER, this 8am-10am Tue/10 morning dance party at the beautiful Audio Discotech — hello, morning skylight! — looks incredibly promising for what organizers Radha, Brimer, Steph, and Mustafa call “a little mischief.” You get music from cutie pie DJ Bradley P. Plus it sounds like a damn fun morning workout! So much better than a gym.

See you there, bright and bleary. Press release:

Over a late-night falafel in Williamsburg a few months back, we mused over an idea. An idea about dancing before the day broke with people we love. About cultivating a community that values camaraderie, self-expression, wellness, immediacy… and mischief. About going to work with our brows slightly dewed from moving our bodies with reckless abandon, sans alcohol but with so much spirit, surrounded by the most amazing people we know.

DAYBREAKER is a morning dance party and community of good-hearted people, and on Tues, June 10th, DAYBREAKER SF will commence.
No more dreary treadmills. No more lackluster mornings. No more dancing only when the sun is down.
With your ticket, you get:
+ good beats by DJ Bradley P
+ fresh Philz coffee
+ delicious smoothies
+ live musicians & performers
+ occasional costumes
+ (no booze)
Be a part of something new and different. Daybreaker will set the tone for your day unlike anything has before 🙂
// Tuesday, June 10th @ Audio — 316 11th St. (btw Folsom and Harrison)
// Dance Party: 8 am – 10 am

Middle fingers to the sky, Lady Gaga takes San Jose for an artRAVEy ride


There are a lot of critiques that I can make about Lady Gaga’s Tuesday night performance in San Jose — the sports arena acoustics, the horrifically boring opening acts, the focus on her new and less popular album Artpop, $80 sweatshirts, the fact that she performed some of her most popular tunes in truncated versions and neglected to play “LoveGame” altogether — but the fact is, none of these shortcomings made a dent in the incredible energy and impassioned performance that Gaga dished out. The show was fucking incredible.

Lady Gaga doesn’t do concerts. She does productions. With a full band, an elaborate set, a dozen or so backup dancers and as many costume changes, her artRAVE tour is a feast for the eyes and ears alike. The set, bulbous, white, and otherworldly, looked straight out of Tattooine and the dancers’ eye-catching array of outfits reflected this extra-terrestrial theme. Part of artRAVE’s spectacle is simply witnessing Gaga’s amazing ability to dance in five-inch pumps and a leotard with shiny black tentacles sticking out in all directions. These theatrics, however, are in no way a crutch or a form of compensation. Lady Gaga’s talent is stunning.

From the moment that she rose out of the stage floor in angel wings and a rhinestone bodice, it was impossible to tear your eyes from Lady Gaga. Amagnetic presence, impressive dancer, and truly powerful singer, it’s easy to see why she’s made such a lasting impression on pop culture. Mixing her set with dance anthems and ballads, Gaga was able to show off her versatility as a singer; her voice is unbelievable — its clarity and power are not adequately represented by her highly-processed recorded material. Live, it soars between roaring rock growls and deep, rich vibrato, all in perfect pitch.

Though the surface of Gaga’s persona is all rhinestones and superstardom, the show was peppered with heartfelt moments and breaks from the highly organized and choreographed show. Some of her fortune cookie-wisdom lines (“Welcome to a place where we judge no one tonight. We criticize no one. We hate no one.”) are clearly rehearsed, but also clearly strike a chord with her fans, who roared appreciatively with every mic break. In the best moment of the show, Gaga pulled two fans out of the audience to sit on the piano bench with her as she sang an impassioned ballad version of “Born this Way,” as each of the girls she pulled up sang along, weeping openly.

Lady Gaga embraces and uses her status as a queer icon to spread a gospel of love and acceptance that actuallly feels incredibly urgent and genuine, and clearly impacts her fans deeply. At one point between songs, she paused to read aloud a letter that a fan had thrown on stage. In a deeply emotional note, the fan credited “Born This Way” for getting him through high school and allowing him to survive being bullied for his sexuality.

In one of her most impassioned moments, pointing out how many people had come out for her show despite warnings early in her career that she was too queer or warnings from her label that Artpop (which was indeed a flop compared with her previous albums) was too artsy, Gaga roared, “just because we’re gay or like art doesn’t mean we’re fucking invisible, ok?” with both middle fingers to the sky.

In addition to her dedication to supporting her LGBT fans, I found myself extremely inspired by Lady Gaga’s unapologetic sex-positivity and her disregard for gender roles. Her dancers wore unisex outfits that drew heavily from the gender-bending Club Kids of the early ‘90s, and Gaga herself sang openly about masturbating and even deconstructed her own typically flawless image by doing her last costume change onstage, topless and wigless, with a crew of people to help her undress and redress into a truly awesome Derelicte-Harijuku-raver oufit. Before she dirobed, Gaga joked, “Just in case we didn’t make any of you uncomfortable tonight, we’re about to.”

While the production of artRAVE is an airtight spectacle of choreography and stunning visuals, it’s the candid moments that make Lady Gaga’s stage show something special. Underneath the glitter, tentacles, and rainbow dreadlocks, there is something very real and emotionally raw.

Her messages of equality and universality are both genuine and revolutionary in an artist as mainstream and financially successful as she is. Artpop may not have been a huge success, and the Haus of Gaga certainly doesn’t hold the same untouchable status as it did in 2010, but Lady Gaga’s refusal to compromise and willingness to stay strange are truly inspirational.

There is too much going on this weekend: The Congress, Not Dead Yet Fest, and more


Y’all ever have that thing where a week or two will go by without a show you’re particularly stoked on, and then all of a sudden there’s one weekend where you want to go to everything? But you can’t, because you’re human, and science is too busy ensuring you’ll have nightmares of outstanding proportions tonight to get on that teleportation thing, so you have to make all these god-awful decisions?

Yeah, me too. This is one of those weekends. Here we go:


The Congress with Andy Allo and Wil West at the Great American Music Hall:

A self-described Army brat who moved around for much of his youth, composer-singer- trumpeter Marcus Cohen grew up on gospel music in church, with a magnet arts school in Philadelphia nurturing his obvious talent at a young age. That explains the unmistakable soul coursing through the veins of The Congress, the 10-piece purveyors of a very danceable funk-soul-hip-hop-R&B stew, who’ll bring their unique sound to the GAMH Friday.

“I tend to write when I’m in transit — on planes, subways,” says Cohen, who recently moved to LA after nine years in SF. We can forgive him the wanderlust if it keeps producing songs like those on last August’s Conversations. Since then, Cohen has been working on new material, adjusting the band’s lineup, and singing more — the record he’s begun writing over the past year sounds more like where he’s at right now, he says. This show should be a good, sweaty dance party, and a good chance to hear some new tunes.

French Cassettes with Major Powers and the Lo-Fi Symphony at Awaken Cafe in Oakland: Because nothing says First Friday like a local two-fer, featuring crazy-nerdy-glam-rock-costumed-piano-funk (fresh off a spot at BottleRock) followed by danceably infectious indie pop hooks from these SF scene darlings (fresh from the Locals Stage at BFD). All of it for the low price of zero dollars!


Scraper with Midnite Snaxx and So What at Hemlock: Classically and somehow reassuringly misanthropic punk rock with a sense of humor. Yes please.


Oakland’s own tUne-yArDs with dream-team electro-funk-pop East Bay openers (and Goldie winners) The Seshen at The Fillmore: Duh.

Not Dead Yet Fest with Strange Vine, Cellar Doors, Annie Girl & the Flight, Ash Reiter, and tons more at Thee Parkside: Don’t believe the hype — not every single SF musician is deserting for more affordable pastures. It was with that in mind that the Bay Bridged organized this one-day fest, with a nice, diverse lineup of local indie kids. Fresno’s Strange Vine in particular put on a weirdly alluring psychedelic shitshow of a good time.

Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang with Reformed Whores at Great American: Music writer and lady with good taste Haley Zaremba says: Les Claypool has an amazing eye for weirdness. His band Primus has made a decades-long career out of defying every possible genre classification, wearing monkey masks onstage, and naming their albums things like Pork Soda and Sailing the Seas of Cheese. Now Claypool is going the opposite direction, creating the most minimalist, deconstructed music possible, with one vocal, one bass, one guitar, and one makeshift percussion tool — but don’t worry, it’s still bizarre.
In his Duo De Twang, which was originally organized as a one-off for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Claypool teams up with longtime buddy and collaborator Bryan Kehoe to play originals and tasty twang covers (including the Bee Gees and Alice in Chains). The show promises down-to-earth, intimate weirdness, plus seriously incredible musicianship.

Lagos Roots Afrobeat Ensemble at The Chapel: How often do you get to see a 17-piece afrobeat ensemble in a room like the Chapel’s? Led by Geoffrey OMadhebo, these musicians will temporarily make you forget exactly what decade and continent you currently inhabit, in a good way.

The pedestrian pop of Sylvan Esso


Upon first listen, Sylvan Esso kind of takes hold of you. Nick Sanborn’s melodic, layered, driving electronic beats pair perfectly with Amelia Meath’s blissful voice and artful lyrics. The way Sylvan Esso — the band’s self-titled debut album, which dropped May 13 — is wrapped together feels so intuitive, so ethereal, that it will likely bring you to your feet for an impromptu dance session.

“Hey Mami” will loop in your head; “Dress” will become your jam. And you’ll be in good company this Fri/6 at the Fillmore, when Sylvan Esso open for Oakland’s own tUnE-yArDs.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Meath from the Free Press Summer Festival in Houston on Sunday. She posted up in her trailer for our call after seeing Lauryn Hill’s performance – which, she assured me, was awesome.

So how did Sylvan Esso come to be? Well, for starters, lyricist Amelia Meath and electronic producer Nick Sanborn fortuitously found themselves playing on the same bill at the Cactus Club in Milwaukee one night. They became instant friends. When Meath needed a remix for “Play It Right” — a song she wrote and played with her indie folk trio, Mountain Man — she asked Sanborn to make it and was very pleased with the product.

After collaborating on “Play It Right,” Meath and Sanborn both felt like they should collaborate some more. And then, after some tweeting and planning, Sylvan Esso was born. “It almost feels like magic how good we are at working together,” Meath says.

When I first listened to Sylvan Esso, I felt hard-pressed to assign it a genre. Meath’s lyrics are deep and introspective, and Sanborn’s arrangements are incredibly inventive; but I think the undeniable catchiness of their songs makes Sylvan Esso, essentially, pop. Meath likes to call it “pedestrian pop”: pop music that illustrates universal human experiences and makes you “shake your butt” — and feel emotion — simultaneously.

Meath feels that electronic music has a marketed effect on people; she loves pairing her lyrics and melodies with Sanborn’s electronic arrangements. “I always wanted to make electronic music because I really like that electronic music shakes people; it actually vibrates people at the same rate at the same time,” Meath says.

The duo has many varied sound influences, such as They Might Be Giants, Aliyah, John Lurie/Marvin Pontiac, and Stina Nordenstam. Meath also looked to pop goddesses like Beyoncé and Rihanna while writing the lyrics to Sylvan Esso. “When you write a pop song, you’re trying to make something that’s going to sink into the brain of someone and stay with them after hearing it once,” Meath says.

The duo will be opening for tUnE-yArDs at the Fillmore on Friday, June 6. (They’re in the Bay Area for one night only.) Meath is no stranger to San Francisco, as she used to spend summers here during her teens while training with a Chinese contortionist. (Yes, Meath also happens to be a badass.)

“We have to be in Pasadena the next morning,” Meath says, “but if I were going to be in San Francisco for the weekend, I would walk up Russian Hill, and eat some really delicious food — that’s for sure! Oh, I also always really like to go to Tartine, and then I go to Bi-Rite and spend way too much money on groceries, and then sit in Dolores Park all day long!” She’s an honorary San Franciscan for sure.

When asked what she enjoys most about performing, Meath stressed the communal aspect of live music. “My favorite thing about performing is that you get to be the hinge for the whole room to become a small community,” Meath says.

Sylvan Esso opening for tUnE-yArDs on Fri/6
9 pm, $26
The Fillmore
1805 Geary, SF

The Damned on playing small venues, headgear that protects you from spit, and why they won’t stop ’til the Stones do


For nearly four decades now, legendary British rockers The Damned have been haunting stages around the world with their brand of gothic-inspired punk.

Since storming onto the London punk scene in 1976, the band has evolved and survived multiple line-up changes over the years, with the group now led by founding members Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible, who are keeping the original spirit of The Damned alive and well.

Today, Vanian’s punk-meets-rockabilly crooner vocals and Sensible’s wildly blistering guitar are backed up by the jackhammer rhythm section of drummer Pinch and bassist Stu West, along with keyboardist Monty Oxy Moron, who often looks like a possessed version of Beethoven, his hands flailing wildly about when not pounding the keys.

Bay Area fans are in for a treat this week as The Damned play two shows in Northern California ahead of their appearance at the Ink-N-Iron festival in Long Beach — and these are the only U.S. gigs on the books for the year.

“I love visiting San Francisco, it’s the most European city in North America and a vegetarian’s paradise. My home is in Brighton, the gay capital of the UK and a lot of the relaxed liberal attitude we have there is over here too,” says Captain Sensible, via email. “I like the way the Bay Area is a collection of villages all with their different vibe, but mainly it’s the smart, friendly people here that make a visit such fun.”

Looking back over almost 40 years of on and off history as a band, Sensible offers a candid assessment of what life has been like as a member of The Damned.

“I’m not one for regrets, we’ve had a splendid crack as a band. A lot of things that went pear shaped was our own stupid fault — and how we survived the mania of the 70s / 80s without anyone dropping dead I’ve no idea. But as you can imagine it was bloody good fun in a time when bands could pretty much do what ever they wanted in the studio without label types breathing down our necks; in fact, when they did turn up we always put on a little show for them, band splitting up, drummer climbing in a grand piano to add nonsensical avant-garde overdubs on a straightforward punk tune, food fights. They got the idea in the end and left us alone, and we actually made a few decent records despite all the chaos.”

The Damned were the first punk band from the UK to release a single — “New Rose” — and an album, Damned Damned Damned.

They also broke ground as the first to cross the pond and tour the United States, a jaunt that saw them play the infamous Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco back in 1977.

“It’s all a blur as you can imagine, but we met loads of young upstarts who told us they were getting their bands together. It was a great time, a clean slate if you like. And it felt good to give the jaded stadium rock stars of the time a kick up the arse.”

“I also remember American beer being universally appalling. In fact I would cram my suitcase with as much booze as possible, if you can believe that. Now, of course Californian craft beer is the cutting edge of brewing and we intend to visit a few breweries this trip.”

As for Sensible’s now-signature stage attire — a red beret and crazy sunglasses — it turns out it had nothing to do with trying to make a fashion statement: It was born from the environment that came to epitomize live shows in the early days of the punk movement.

“The truth is that at first I only wore a beret to stop the ‘gob’ (spit) getting in my hair. After Johnny Rotten and Rat Scabies had their famous spitting incident at a Pistols gig in ’76 it became part of the punk scene for a year or so. The problem was the hot stage lights baked the gob in your hair and it was almost impossible to remove the hard lumps afterwards, so I wore a beret and sunglasses to stop it getting into my eyes. That’s the true story, it wasn’t fashion — it was self preservation!”

Fans will be able to hear all sorts of first-hand accounts and behind the scenes stories in the near future when a documentary film about The Damned is released, made by Wes Orshoski, the filmmaker behind “Lemmy,” the award-winning portrait of the iconic Motorhead frontman.

“I took Wes to do an interview outside the former home of my parents — where I spent my school years — and no sooner was the camera rolling than a drug crazed mugger made a grab for it and a good old fashioned punch up ensued in which $50,000 worth of film equipment got completely trashed. Wes ended up being rushed to hospital. He probably needed a rabies antidote,” says Sensible.

“I should have mentioned to him that I was born and raised in the roughest part of South London — where one person’s posh movie gear is someone else’s years supply of crack cocaine.”

Despite difficulties such as that jarring incident, Sensible says that the rest of the project has been proceeding along well.

“He’s captured some very funny footage already as the Damned are quite a strange bunch these days. People think they know us, but I reckon there will be a few surprised faces when the film is released.”

One fact that casual fans of The Damned might not know is that Captain Sensible is a huge train buff — he’s driven steam engines in England, and even had a diesel locomotive named after him.

“There was a company that had a punk fan as boss and he named his locos after his heroes. John Peel, Joe Strummer — mine was originally going to be called Morrissey but it came to the guy’s attention that he made a point NEVER to travel by train. Whereas I do all the time, so I got it instead!”

Unfortunately, Cotswold Rail went out of business a few years ago, and when the engine was sold, a disgruntled employee that was owed money stole the nameplates.

“I’d maybe buy ‘em if he offered, gotta be worth a fiver, eh?” says Sensible.

While the Damned often perform at large music festivals around the world these days, Sensible still favors smaller shows, like the one the band will play at Slim’s on Wed/4.

“I prefer the club gigs, the closeness to the audience. And when I see bands, that’s also the environment I prefer. Festivals with screens and the musicians half a mile away on a distant stage is not great is it? The problem is that now we are a certain age, and there’s not likely to be another club tour as it’s a bit knackering.”

Although Sensible mentions that the members of The Damned aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore, he’s adamant that they have no intention of hanging it up anytime soon.
“The Damned ain’t going to quit while the Stones are still lurching on,” he says. “We’re not gonna be beat by a bunch of old Tories.”

The Damned, with Koffin Kats and Stellar Corpses
Wednesday, June 4
8pm, $30
333 11th St., SF
(415) 255-0333

Listen: Katie Day’s anti-tech bro jam “San Francisco (Before the West Falls)”


Between POW!’s “Hi-Tech Boom,” the schticky “Google Bus Song” from Cachebox, and Violent Vickie’s “Fuck You!!!!!”, it’s safe to say San Francisco musicians — the ones that are left here, haha! sorry — are currently leading the nation in anti-gentrification music.

This is a good thing, of course. It means the city still has a pulse. You know what we’ve been sorely lacking, however? As Emma Goldman basically said, give the people a summery, socially conscious anthem we can fucking dance to.

Enter Katie Day, who self-released her new EP, Burn It to the Ground, yesterday. There’s a lot to like here, including a love song for the Lower Haight, but the instant earworm is a semi-tongue-in-cheek indie-electro-pop jam called “San Francisco (Before the West Falls),” with shimmery, bubble-gum synths and keys layered with lyrics that lament the bygone days when coffee was 80 cents, and give serious side-eye to the tech bros moving into her neighborhood: “Someone told me about the boys next door/They put the boards on the window of the record store/And now the kids don’t get to play no more…”

“The extreme wealth disparity we’re experiencing in SF as a result of tech can make living here as an artist straight-up oppressive, but I think having a song that speaks to that oppression and makes you want to get up and dance anyway can negate any feeling of self-pity, even if you’re living under constant threat of eviction while there’s trained German Shepherd acting as an elevator operator at the Google office,” Day wrote me when I asked about her inspirations. “It’s something they can’t take away from you.”

Get your un-gentrifiable dance on when she plays with Stages of Sleep, New Spell, and Memory Motel this Sat/7, 8pm at Amnesia.


The 8 things that made BottleRock, well, BottleRock


I am surrounded by people with purple teeth, stained from too much red wine. These people are twisted beyond belief, screaming obscenities about forgotten 90s bands, while wine sloshes around in glasses suspended by those stupid-looking lanyard wine glass holders. I want to say to them, “Literally, handle your shit. Like, physically hold your glass of wine. You’re a grown up.” It’s like a bad summer picnic for rich winos…

Or at least that’s how I imagined BottleRock to be as we drove up from San Francisco blaring the Gin Blossoms. It was my first time at this particular festival and like everything, I imagined the weirdest possible outcome. While I was dead wrong about the particulars, it was right about something: this festival was strange as shit. Here are a few things that made Bottle Rock, well, Bottle Rock. 

1. Cargo shorts – There were A LOT of cargo shorts. Especially the first day. My friend Lauryn was right, the time machine had worked. But instead of a My So-Called Life fashion parade, it was more like all the style trends of the past 40 years muddled together with large dollop of not really trying. Cargo shorts are the vanguard of not really trying. While I appreciate their utilitarianism, how many things do you really need to hold? I know I sound like a San Francisco snob, but really…cargo shorts.  


2. Middling bands – There were some really stellar, world-class acts at BottleRock. Outkast, The Cure, Weezer, TV on the Radio; these are the groups whose music helps not only define the moments of your lifetime but also whose existence has influenced the way music is created. That said, a lot of the bands who played over the weekend were probably as surprised as you were that they were booked. I wonder how many of them first said to their booking agent, “Are you fucking with me?” While groups like Smash Mouth, Third Eye Blind, The Spin Doctors, and Cracker all have one or two solid hits, festival-goers spent most of their sets fidgeting anxiously while muttering, “Dude, play the one song already.” We didn’t even get to stay long enough to find out if the Gin Blossoms played “Hey Jealousy” because well, The Cure was about to start. BottleRock was held where the Napa Town and Country Fair is held, which makes sense considering how many of the bands now play the fair circuit.


3. The crowd was really well-behaved – Honestly, what a nice group of 40,000 people. I remember saying at one point, “Nobody gets arrested at this festival.” Anyone who’s spent time in large groups of drunk people knows that feeling of menace being in the air. Like when you walk out of a sports game at the opponents home field after your team just won. It’s that feeling of, “things could get ugly real fast”. Well there was none of that at BottleRock. You could’ve headbutted somebody’s child and they would probably have apologized to you. Well done, Napa. You sure bring out nice folks. Case in point: At one point my lady friend Ashley lost her phone and some well-meaning person found it and brought it to a security guard. Ashley had it back in less than an hour.      

The Cure. Photo by Lauryn McCarthy.

4. The crowd was also kinda weak – At two different times during their incredible set, Andre 3000 and Big Boi, the principle members of Outkast, asked the crowed “Are you still with us?” [Ed note: this is embarrassing.] Outkast didn’t even come out for an encore. Maybe it’s because after two days of watching bands like Third Eye Blind, where the festival goers only knew one out of every six songs, they just weren’t emotionally equipped to handle a set this good. At this point they so yearned for something familiar that anytime Outkast strayed from their megahits, the crowd lost interest. I’m sorry, Andre and Big Boi. I was there with you the whole time. 

5. Matt and Kim make the world a better place – Seriously who knew that two people, a drum kit, and a synth could be so enthralling? Matt and Kim are the most fun band ever! I was never that into their recorded music, but after seeing them live, I want to start saving up now so I can afford to hire them to play my as-yet unborn child’s bar or bat mitzvah.

matt and kim
Matt and Kim

6. $20 glasses of wine – Yes, really. Glasses of wine were $20. Maybe that’s why everyone was so nice to each other, nobody could afford to get drunk.  

7. No place to stay and terrible traffic – One of the things that makes Napa so nice to visit, besides the whole being buzzed on wine samples thing, is that it’s a quaint and lovely little town. The problem with that is that when you have 40,000 people come in for the weekend it makes it really had for people to find a place to stay. This makes people stay in the Bay Area and commute each night, which in turn potentially puts a lot more intoxicated people on the road. There isn’t even shuttle service offered from San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley etc. Even though we stayed with friends for the weekend, everything was so impacted that it took an hour an a half to get an Uber. These are all things that the organizers should take into account for next year.   

8. The strict 10pm curfew – Napa’s lovely quaintness also means that BottleRock has neighbors who hate everything about the festival. Somebody told me they saw a sign on a nearby house that basically said, “Hey Bottle Rock: Get the fuck out of here”. Thus there was a strict 10pm curfew that lead to both The Cure and Heart getting the plug pulled on them. I’m not saying anything instructive here about it, I’m just saying “bummer.”

If my snarkiness makes it seem like I hated the festival, I apologize. Overall BottleRock was a good time and has a lot of potential to get even better as the years progress. Until then, let’s all make an effort to rid the world of cargo shorts.  

Pink Mountaintops get weird at The Chapel


By Jordannah Elizabeth

The Pink Mountaintops performed last night at The Chapel in the Mission District to a loyal crowd of friends and fans, who patiently waited for McBean and his new line up — which includes Dead Meadow’s Steven Kille, Will Scott, and Gregg Foreman of Cat Power — to take the stage.

McBean strolled through the venue with a peaceful flow in his step, but the night was colored by a dark undertone, thanks to a number of quiet quips that from McBean that mounted into a surprisingly violent climax at the show’s end.

“I don’t know, maybe it’s just that weird thing of life and pushing through it, the beauty of it, the sadness and the happiness of it,” McBean had said of his new album, Get Back, while he slowly sipped his first cocktail at the bar a few hours earlier. “The more you’re on the planet, the more amazing things will happen to you, and the more terrible things will happen to you, and you have to have the ability to constantly shake it off.”


While the hazy, eerie atmosphere coated the venue, LA’s Giant Drag was able to play a sensually dark set of songs, completely appropriate for the early evening. The crowd slowly trickled in throughout the night, not quite filling the room, and people seemed to shift and cycle through the venue, never standing in one place for too long. There was never a moment where there was a complete loss of the crowd’s attention, but there was quiet level of distraction going on. Whether it was because everyone had a chance to drink was much as they could possibly consume by the time Pink Mountaintops stepped onto the stage or whether the band’s hazy wall of sound was slightly lost in translation was not really clear. (“Me and Kille are the drunks and Gregg and Will are the sober guys,” Mc Bean had noted earlier.)

After opening with “How Can We Get Free?” and a fresh song, “Ambulance City,” from the new album, Stephen McBean broke a string and took his time to service and tune his guitar while the rest of the lineup improvised a song. Steve Kille swayed back and forth across the stage with his signature dance that closely resembles a confident swagger. After McBean got his guitar back in order, the set became more coherent and solid. The band flowed through “Wheels,” “Plastic Man You’re the Devil,” and “The Second Summer of Love” and the crowd began settling in, planting their feet on the The Chapel’s floor, finally beginning to engage with the music they were hearing.

Gregg Foreman, who has played with McBean as a duo and the sparsest version on Pink Mountaintops, shined. His erratically blissful guitar playing sewed the rest of the band’s slightly eclectic instrumentation styles together. Kille and drummer, Steve Scott, are very different musicians. If not for Forman’s unique experimental psych guitar style, the band would have lacked an off-kilter characteristic that kept the crowd’s attention during the middle and end of the show.


Everything seemed to flow peacefully as the show ended with the songs “New Teenage Mutilation,” “Sweet 69,” and “The Last Dance.” McBean played solo for the last song, and it was endearing and really lovely to watch — until McBean suddenly smashed his guitar over his amp, hurling it over his head several times until it cracked, ending the show on a strangely violent note.

The band had joined him on stage seconds before McBean attacked his guitar, and they put their instruments down just as quickly as they had picked them up after McBean walked past them leaving stage. The rest of Pink Mountaintops mingled with the crowd, seeming unaffected by McBean’s behavior, allowing their non-inner circle to slowly disperse from the evening’s odd occurrence. The show was weird, but the band is great.

LA siren BANKS enchants The Independent


On Wednesday night at The Independent, a sold-out crowd anxiously awaits the mysterious creature known as BANKS. Cloaked in layers of black fabric that fall to her ankles, the dark chanteuse struts deliberately to center stage, where a spotlight shines onto her pale face. The L.A.-based signer-songwriter seductively sets into the dark R&B track “Before I Ever Met You,” recalling instrumentals by The Weeknd, with whom she toured last year.

“Everyone knows I’m right about one thing,” she breathes into the microphone. The stunning singer pulls off her long sheer robe to reveal a sleeveless black leather top and black asymmetrical skirt. “You and I don’t work out,” she hums. Banks’ soft crooning overlays the sultry drum beats and rugged electric guitar of her two-person band.

The poised musician seamlessly swims through her set. She pulls her dark straight locks out of her face when she dances seductively to the emotional industrial tracks. At times, she slinks to the back of the stage, surreptitiously veiled behind the strobe light haze.

Despite her coyness, BANKS unveils intense vulnerability as she chants about love and loss. Her lyrics divulge an aching heart but also a fierce confidence. She plays with two personas: a shy soulful singer and a strong, fierce femme fatale.


BANKS at The Independent. All photos by Laura B. Childs.

In heartfelt gratitude, the spiritual singer puts her hands together in prayer, thanking the crowd before diving into the entrancing anthem about women’s empowerment, “Goddess”— BANKS’ newest single and the title of her upcoming full-length. “You put her down, you liked her hopeless, to walk around, feeling unnoticed,” she begins in singsong, with unassuming sexiness. “You shoulda crowned her, cause she’s a goddess, you never got this.”

BANKS connects with the audience through her compelling no-bullshit lyrics. “Fucking with a goddess, and you get a little colder,” she sings before passionately throwing the middle finger in the air. The singer uses singing and songwriting as a means of empowerment during dark times. Her lyrics uncover haunting themes of heartbreak and separation; she first started writing music when she was 15 as a coping mechanism after her parents divorce.

The singer’s honesty is contagious as she reaches her hands out to the audience. She creates an candid connection as the crowd sings in harmony to “Brain.” The song begins with the priestess’ guttural moans about the games we play in the name of love. She repeats the sultry lyrics until the instrumental interlude. “I can see you struggling, boy don’t hurt your brain,” BANKS cries out to the crowd. She rocks back and forth on her black platform boots, twisting her wrists like a somber belly dancer.


Twenty-five-year-old Jillian Banks — simply known as BANKS — got her beginnings on SoundCloud, like many of her peers. She has created a remarkable fan base online, released two EPs, Fall Over and London, and is finishing up a full-length album to be released in September. She is noted for her reluctance to use social media and conceals herself with entrancing tracks and haunting grey-scale music videos. She’s cited musical inspirations ranging from James Blake to Aaliyah.

“I get very nervous before shows,” says BANKS at the show. She sings covers backstage, she says, to feel more comfortable. At the mention of covers, the crowd goes nuts because they know she’s about to sing Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody.”

BANKS brings a sexy, come hither vibe to the 1997 single by the late R&B singer. In a stripped-down acoustic version, she unearths a powerful stage presence, luring her audience to her like a musical siren. Her honeyed voice feels slightly dangerous. “Boy, I’ve been watching you,” she sings. “Like a hawk in the sky that flies and you were my prey.”

Yes, she’s shrouded in mystery. Make no mistake, this mystery is deliberate. The California native strays away from overexposure and she always leaves you wanting more. But the enigmatic priestess doesn’t need to reveal all of her secrets. She’s opened her heart to us with her music. Her message is clear. She’s here to empower us, unshackle us from heartbreak, and liberate us from sadness. “You are all so perfect,” says BANKS to her fans in between songs, “and every woman is a goddess.”



Elbow’s Craig Potter on iPads, tour fatigue, and hitting #1


By Andrew Blair

If you don’t know of Elbow by now, you should probably stop reading this and go spend some time under a tree, staring out into space, contemplating your existence up to this point. Unless, of course, you want to be brought up to speed and welcomed into a community of people who love the brooding baritone lyrical genius of lead singer Guy Garvey, sung over pulsing drums, spacey melodic piano, and topped off with anthemic triumphant sing-along choruses.

Manchster, England’s Elbow have quietly created an international following that stretches into the far corners of the globe (the band will be playing in Russia this week). Having recently released their sixth full-length album, The Take Off and Landing of Everything — which for the first time in their 20 year career debuted at #1 in their home territory of the UK — the band is now closing out a North American tour.

I had the pleasure of talking to keyboardist and arranger-producer Craig Potter before the band played a nearly sold out show at the Fox Theater, the second to last stop on a very successful North American Tour supporting their new LP.

San Francisco Bay Guardian How has the tour been thus far? Nearly every show has been sold out, and you just played the Sasquatch Festival. Any highlights? 

Craig Potter The tour has been really great, a huge success. We’ve been really happy, and the audiences have been really brilliant. Like you said, a lot of the shows have been sold out. It was really fun to sing “New York Morning” in New York; that was a highlight for us, I think.

SFBG This is your first time playing the Fox Theater. How do you like the venue? 

CP Oh wow, we just arrived actually. It is a beautiful room, big stage, really impressed with it so far.

SFBG So the new album debuted at #1 in the UK?

CP Yeah, we are very pleased about that. Our other albums have sold very well, but I don’t think we’ve ever got the #1 slot. We had a chance to [hit #1] with the last album, and it did really well in the first week, but it just so happened that Adele was selling millions every week so we kind of missed out. So this is our first one and we are very pleased.

SFBG Where did the majority of the songwriting happen for the album?

CP We are always writing a lot while we are on tour, and if we take big breaks it takes us awhile to get back into it. However, most of this album was written at home in Manchester. When we are home we all have different days off during the week. So what happened for this album was, we would get together with whoever was available, maybe one or two other band members, and work on the songs. Richard did a lot of the drums by himself, and we are all involved in the editing of the songs, but the lyrics are very much Guy’s lyrics.

SFBG There seems to be a travel or movement theme to a lot of the lyrics on this record, “New York Morning”  being one of the pillars of that theme. Was there something that Guy was going through that influenced the lyrical content of the songs?

CP Guy had recently broken up with a long time girlfriend and he was traveling to New York rather frequently, but the travel side of it is about touring as well. “New York Morning” is about Guy’s experiences there.

SFBG The song “Colour Fields” was created using mostly an iPad. Is that a process the band uses a lot?

CP There are loads of amazing apps out there and we don’t limit ourselves as far as hardware or technology — if it sounds good, it sounds good. The drum track for “Colour Fields” was created using an iPad.  There are lots of amazing things you can do with an iPad, so we definitely don’t shy away from it.

SFBG This being the second to last stop on this tour, are you all ready to go home, or being that it has been so successful, are you sad to see it end?

CP We try to keep these tours to about three weeks — by the time it gets to the end, it is nice to know you will be back home soon. Guy might give you a different answer, as he kind of is just getting going at this point and would like to see it continue a bit longer, but most of us have families now. I am certainly looking forward to going back.



Losing our religion: The Lost Church says farewell — for now


With all the tears shed and (Internet) ink spilled bemoaning the death of the Mission District at the hands of the tech bubble, it’s easy to forget lately that there actually are still artists here. There are people who give a shit about community here — even people who’ve dedicated their lives to building it.

Brett and Elizabeth Cline, who own the homey, intimate, lovingly decorated, and lovingly weird music venue/performance space The Lost Church, are two of those people. The couple (a longtime stage tech veteran and seamstress, respectively, who also play in the band Juanita and the Rabbit together) live behind the space, so it really makes perfect sense that it feels like someone’s very cool living room — a living room where Jonathan Richman and Sonny Smith sometimes drop by to play shows, and cheeky, demon- and Rolling Stones-inspired musical theater takes over at Christmas.)

Long story short: The place, housed in a delightfully unusual and storied David Ireland-designed building featuring windows intended for moon-viewing, is a gem. And now it’s trying to go legit. After a series of benefit shows starting tonight [Wed/28] through Saturday the 31st, the venue will close for renevations to expand the performance area and current 50-person, folding chair seating space into an additional 600 square feet on the building’s ground floor. The goal is to add an ADA-approved bathroom and entrance, as well as a kitchen for food service and an official ABC license, so, you know, that cold beer in your hand as you watch the sweetest, funkiest multi-media folk/punk/theatrical act you’ve ever seen will also be legit.

No official word on how long the venue will be closed, but the Clines are asking for any help they can get — ahem, passing the hat, if you will. You don’t even have to put on your Sunday best.

Watch: Papercuts’ “Life Among the Savages”


Papercuts, the indie-folk output of San Francisco songwriter-producer Jason Quever, has been a San Francisco staple for a decade now. By turns stark and raw and layered, lush and atmospheric, Papercuts’ newest album, Life Among the Savages is full of excellent songs for a long, moody solo drive.

Pick up the Bay Guardian that hits newsstands tomorrow to read an in-depth interview with Quever about what went into the album’s making, ahead of his show at The Chapel on Sat/31. But while you wait for that (I know, it’s tough for me too), you can watch this pretty, throroughly San Franciscan video for the album’s title track.

Panda Bear brings the Grim Reaper to The Fillmore


By Ryland Walker Knight

The last time Panda Bear/Noah Lennox toured through the Bay as a solo act, he played The Fox in Oakland, offering the crowd a swamp of bass in waves of noise that probably wasn’t what most of those in attendance wanted to see and hear that night. Nobody complained, of course, and did their best to dance, but it was more an evening of sounds than songs.

Last night, at the Fillmore, Lennox played songs. He also layered sample on sample of himself, of synths, of squibs, of bass, of beats, but he seemed determined to work through the very real structures of all new songs (until the encore), getting bodies moving and people smiling. Perched behind a table of electronics and a blue-foamed mic, Lennox started slow, drawing in the ears with a simple organ progression and tremolo-effected vocal swoops of unrecognizable words. Not that the words matter, per se. The first “single” off this new record was first called, simply, “Marijuana,” and the refrain, such as it was, went something like “Marijuana makes my day.” Not very deep, though kinda funny; the thing that made the track was the vibe, the feeling. That sounds just as goofy as the lyrics, but psychedelia is, in one way, about getting beyond language.


Furthermore, these new songs seem designed to look beyond the stage, beyond the instruments and private practices of making the music that typified Tomboy and its tour. The repetition remains, the loops and strategies aren’t terribly different, but the tone is brighter, with more snare drums in the mix, and Lennox’s voice, sometimes just making vowel sounds up and down scales, seems pointed backwards to the Brian Wilson styles found on Person Pitch and his guest spot on Daft Punk’s “Doin It Right” from last year. In fact, it seems like this batch of concoctions has been designed to pick apart harmony, to sort of suspend its pieces in a kind of constellation that brightens here, dims there, and pulses forward always.

A lot of that is simple arpeggios, and I’m not going to argue that Lennox is some Bach-level genius writing symphonic fugues for a digital age or some mumbo jumbo, but there is a certain kind of genius to syncopating things just right — letting silence space out a jam, even on an eighth note, or knowing when to push your voice beyond its range is okay, when it’s okay to break down your own capabilities, only to let a breakbeat bounce in underneath that cloud of yearning and get your betters lifted once again.


There’s a new song he’s playing about midway through his set that begins with a harp melody lilting up, bellow to bright, and builds variations of Lennox caroling “in the family” on that towards a hook (of sorts) wherein he chant-cries “You won’t come back, you can’t come back” that brought the house so quiet in awe it felt like we were all holding our breath. I don’t think it’s an accident that those words stood out, or that he made them the most accessible. One of the more ingratiating aspects of all the Animal Collective music, across their varied catalogs, is how naked they are about pain. It was around this time that I remembered the working title for the new album: Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper.

That’s when the visuals started to make sense, too. The projections were great from the start, a series of shifting fields as ever, this time marked by cherries and waves of cranberries (in my eyes), changing to skin, and then a kaleidoscope of one nude, blue dancer, arranged Busby Berkeley-style into a wave of flesh from one point of perspective, like a shell’s curves, which rhymed with the strings of light roping across the screen at other times, and her face reappearing, quite large, painted like death. Later in the show she emerged from behind Lennox in a red cowl, carrying a sickle, coming for all of us, as she will, only to be multiplied and fed ice cream (?), which she then regurgitated. It was beautiful, hilarious, stupid, hard not to love.


After roughly 10 songs, there was a break, of course, and when he came back out, Panda Noah Bear Lennox gave the goons what they wanted: something to sing along to! And it made me think about necessity. My favorite art is made, rather simply, out of the artist’s innate drive, some might say compulsion, that makes it a necessary outpouring. It doesn’t need an audience, though art without an audience is a fool’s errand, and if music only exists to trigger familiarity, what’s the reason you’re paying your money to experience this arrangement? Is it vanity? Simple distraction? I know I revel in the new, no matter how much a return may appeal, especially if it’s pleasure circling back, as a gift, to swim through me. But pleasure isn’t necessarily necessary; or, it’s only necessary to alleviate pain.

I suppose this is the old catharsis idea, and that may be the basic desire for live music, to transport, which this show certainly did. But what truly great art, and truly great experiences might offer is a picture of those poles suspended as if in either hand, both present at once. So a Grim Reaper makes sense, again: If you want sky, like Lennox once sang, your only route to the clouds is down, into the dirt.


Not even Sean Lennon’s gear is safe in SF


Via Mission Mission: Earlier today, someone broke into the van carrying equipment for Sean Lennon’s The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, which played at Great American Music Hall last night.

Said thief made off with percussionist Connor Grant’s laptop, which seems like a thing that’s probably fairly crucial for performances going forward, like tomorrow night’s show in Seattle. Per Lennon’s Instagram:

Our van window was smashed this morning as [Grant] was getting coffee near Franklin and Hayes. BIG REWARD if computer is returned unharmed! NO QUESTIONS ASKED! If anyone knows anything pleeeeease contact us at

Here’s hoping someone has a change of heart. The GOASTT should know they can call up SF’s Waters, among other bands, if they want to feel lucky that their entire van wasn’t stolen. In the meantime, check our Q&A with GOASST’s Charlotte Kemp Muhl, think positive thoughts, and, you know, imagine a San Francisco where you can grab coffee without someone jacking your shit.


Party Radar: Heidi, Silent Servant, Dr. Israel, Paradise Garage, more long weekend joys


Now that I have a strapping young nephew in the Navy, Memorial Day scares the shit out of me. Best thing for it is dancing, of course — to celebrate our hardwon freedomz!

Also, oscillating wildly will help us get over the fact that we’re neither at the International Mr. Leather Competition in Chicago or Detroit’s huge Movement technofest. But we have Carnaval! And Honey Soundsystem! And Paradise Garage tributes! And so much more.

So let’s get to Memorialing! (Click the names below for more info.) Here’s our theme song, duh:



The great Odyssey after-hours crew calls down the spirits of true house and disco in this tribute to DJ Larry Levan and his epochal dance floor. Eight hours of deep dance madness, with incredible DJs Robin Simmons, Eli Escobar, Bus Station John, Steve Fabus, and Stanley Frank.
Fri/23, Midnight-8am, $10, Beatbox, SF.

Love this classic Canadian mistress of banging’ house. Her Jackathon parties are true, well, jackathons. Get into her. With Kadeejah Streets, DJ M3, and Sharon Buck.
Fri/23, 9:30-3am, $15-$20, Monarch, SF.


Finally, a proper night of 70s glam dance floor STOMPERS and Bubblegum KILLERS.” And with our patron DJ saint of all things dark and glamorous, Omar, at the helm, you know you’re going to hear some things. And stomp like a glitter-strewing monster to them! With Jason Duncan aka Medium Rare, Jodie Yagi Stridsberg, Jeff Glave, and Deedee Robbins.
Fri/23, 10pm, $3-$5, The Knockout, SF.


Aw, Antwon — our favorite cuddly ex-pat SF rapper. He’ll tear up the 120 Minutes based goth party for sure. With DJs Santa Muerte and Chauncey CC.
Fri/23, 10pm-2am, $10-$15, Elbo Room, SF.


The current king of dark ‘n sexy industrial grooves comes up from LA to move the body. He’s joined by live dub-techno kid Austin Cesear for the always smoking Icee Hot party.
Fri/23, 10pm-4am, $5-$10 (free before 10:30pm!), Public Works, SF.



Our master of soulful house takes us on another all-night journey into the deep and up to the stars. His last marathon session broke Mighty into a serious sweat.
Sat/24, 10pm-4am, $15 (free before midnight with RSVP at link above), Mighty, SF.


CLUB 1994
The original ’90s dance party for cool kids, playing “the best and worst” of that churning decade, returns to render us Clueless the next morning. How did we get here, 20 years later? Who cares, let’s party. With Jeffrey Paradise, Ava Berlin, Vin Sol, and more.
Sat/24, 10pm-2am, $10-$20. Rickshaw Stop, SF.



Oh dear — this is the final blowout for these two venerable party crews at Cafe Cocomo, slated for condofication demolition. You can bet it will be amazing (as all S+S parties are), with legendary live disco-house players Metro Area and a host of smiling, stomping people. All day! Big patio! BBQ till 8pm!
Sun/25, 2pm-2am, $20, Cafe Cocomo, SF.

Ace of all dancehall/dub parties, 18-year-old Dub Mission, brings in this incredible live, revolutionary dub artist from Brooklyn to set minds, hearts, and feet a-throbbin’. With Kush Arora and DJ Sep.
Sun/25, 9pm-2am, $8-$11, Elbo Room, SF.

That fearsome foursome of sticky-sweet queer action, Honey Soundsystem, hits the decks all night to transform the dance floor into a moist hole of glory. OK, that sounded gross. Just go and have a blast with hundreds of other really cute gays etc.
Sun/25, 10pm-4am, $15-$20, Beatbox, SF.