Rock ‘n’ read

Pub date June 26, 2007
SectionMusicSectionSonic Reducer


SONIC REDUCER Anyone who’s thumbed through the oodles of zany organ, squealing chipmunk, and queasy-listening albums from the ’50s onwards knows this to be true: every generation has its version of Muzak, whether its members like it not — thanks to clueless parental units. And the class of 2025 will undoubtedly have vibe ‘n’ synth instrumental renditions of "About a Girl," "D’yer Mak’er," and "Cherub Rock" dancing in their heads — no thanks to the Rockabye Baby! series on Baby Rock Records that appears to be multiplying like bunnies monthly. What next — sleepy-time Mentors? But what would baby lend an ear to once he or she started dabbling in books, student-body politics, and witchcraft? In other words, WWHPLT — what would Harry Potter listen to?

Boston’s Harry and the Potters have been working off that premise for the past three years, touring the country’s finest libraries. After outgrowing San Francisco’s main library and drawing several hundred to their show at the Civic Center last year, they’ve decided to get booked, adult-style, at Slim’s, alongside Jurassic Park IV: The Musical, which dares to pick up where the last dino blockbuster left off.

So, I tease, you’re doing a real tour this time? "Why is playing libraries not a tour?" the older, seventh-year Harry, Paul DeGeorge, 28, retorts by phone as he hauls T-shirts into the cellar of the Tucson Public Library, the site of that night’s show. "It’s actually a lot more work, because we set up our sound system every day."

He may be playing in a basement, but DeGeorge and his brother Joe, who appears as fourth-year Harry, aren’t playing to our baser instincts. "I thought this would be a great way to play rock to a whole new audience that doesn’t experience that," he explains. "If Harry Potter had the cool effect of getting kids to read more, maybe we can get kids to rock more too!"

The proof is in his now-20-year-old sibling. DeGeorge started feeding his younger brother Pixies, Nirvana, They Might Be Giants, and Atom and His Package CDs when the latter was nine, and apparently the scientific experiment paid off. "I could see the effect immediately. By the time Joe was 12, DeGeorge says, "he was writing songs about sea monkeys that referenced the Pixies" — and popping up in the Guardian in a story about early stars.

And what about the silly kid stuff on Baby Rock Records? "I’d rather hear the original songs," DeGeorge opines. "Instead of Nine Inch Nails for babies, I’d just make a good mixtape for my baby. You can do ‘Hurt’ and just lop off the ending. It’s supereasy — anyone can do it!" Read it and weep, Trent.

SERPENT SPIT "So the proctology jokes remain." Thus came the news from filmmaker Danny Plotnick that Nest of Vipers, his freewheeling podcast highlighting the wit and storytelling chops of such SF undergroundlings as Hank VI’s Tony Bedard, the Husbands’ Sadie Shaw, singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet, and Porchlight’s Beth Lisick, was now officially off the KQED site and fully independent (and available through iTunes). "I had a contract for six episodes to be distributed by KQED," Plotnick e-mailed. "Ultimately they released eight episodes. They didn’t renew the contract because the show was too edgy for them."

Unfortunately, that also means the customer-service episode that triggered those treasured proctology-convention yuks, which was supposed to go up on the public station’s Web site on June 15, has been delayed till July 1 as Plotnick figures out new hosting.

But at least the assembled vipers will continue to writhe unchecked. Inspired by Plotnick’s favorite sports talk shows, Nest of Vipers aims to issue a weekly breath of venomous, randomized air in an ever-constricting radio landscape. "So often on radio there’s a bunch of experts pontificating about whatever," he told me earlier. "This is more about real people talking about real experiences," or like hanging with the gritty raconteurs at your favorite dive bar. The next episode, for instance, sounds like a doozy: Bucky Sinister talks about working the phones at PlayStation on Christmas morning, and Bedard has a yarn about biting into a Ghirardelli chocolate bar and finding a maggot — thinking it’s his big payday, he returns it to the company. You have been served! *


With Jurassic Park IV: The Musical

Fri/29, 8 p.m., $12

Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF

(415) 522-0333




Seattle Matador starlets break out the rustic initial Invitation Songs. Wed/27, 9 p.m., $8–$10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455,


Jamin and J-Dubber combine protest gangsta with ye olde funk and minihyph on Grind Pays (Organized Grind). Thurs/28, 10 p.m., call for price. Fourth Street Tavern, 711 Fourth St., San Raphael. (415) 454-4044


Partake in the Hot Jet’s imagescape of "visual music." Fri/29–Sun/1, 8 p.m.–2 a.m., $20–$25. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-2787,


Incoming Korg attack! James LaValle’s gorg dream orchestrations cavort with Lee and Nancy–esque vocals. With Under Byen. Sat/30, Slim’s, 333 11th St., SF. (415) 522-0333,


The Oakland combo parties over its new CD — after vocalist Ryan Karazija spent a very unlucky Friday the 13th in April being brutally mugged and left in a pool of blood with a fractured skull after a Minipop show at Mezzanine. Sat/30, 10 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455,


On Behold Secret Kingdom (Release the Bats), the night critters generate a fine squall of free jazz, noise, drone, and jungle psychedelia. Knocking over trash cans never sounded so intentional. Tues/3, 9:30 p.m., $6. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. (415) 923-0923,