These charming men

Pub date September 18, 2007
SectionMusicSectionSonic Reducer


SONIC REDUCER Last night I dreamed that Morrissey played San Francisco. And waking, stumbling out of the top bunk, and triggering an avalanche of promo CDs, I was happy in the haze of that Estaban-drunken hour, but heaven knows I’m wondering, what difference does it make when that charming man has teased us so often before? Now I know how Joan of Arc felt, charging into Mr. Steven Patrick Morrissey’s onetime Los Angeles hood to flyer his street with mash notes. And on the cusp of Mr. Smith’s first San Francisco–<\d>proper shows since his two-night stand at concrete box Maritime Hall in 1999, I can’t help but wonder, my PETA poster child, why you have ignored your acolytes so, playing seemingly everywhere but here since canceling your 2004 Now and Zen Fest turn due to sinusitis and laryngitis. Do we make you sick? Is it my forlorn fashion sense? Our inability to untangle your artful Gordian knots of pop-song allusion? Is it my Kahlua breath?

Pop professionalism is such touchy subject these days — poke it with a stick and turn it over to find the now-chastened Britney Spears. Give it another nudge and find, on the other shining side, perhaps Prince and Morrissey, who’s fired away at his share of prefab stars who have no business fingering the hem of his tear-away dress shirt. Regardless of his latent music- and cultural-crit tendencies, Mr. So-Called Bigmouth is one of the greatest performers alive. I finally saw him in 2002 at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, opening for Los Jaguares and utterly besotting the seething mass with "The World Is Full of Crashing Bores," "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," and plenty of scrumptious previews of his You Are the Quarry tunes, and his magnificent feints and swoons, his fetal and Christlike poses during "Meat Is Murder," his heartfelt "Mexico," and the moment he tossed his shirt to the snatching crowd made me badger anyone who’d listen to give Morrissey a regular Vegas gig, years before Prince held down a brief lounge act there. So all those who have been missing the King (or are so green they don’t even remember one) or never believed he left the building, take (Irish blood, English) heart — Morrissey carries forth his flaming rock ‘n’ roll torch, embodying all the sexiness, expressionism, originality, professionalism, and subversion of long-gone rock regents like Elvis Presley. If you are a follower, this will only fan the fire. If you’re not a fan, you will be. Maybe Brit would have been forgiven if she had mumbled, "Gimme Moz," instead.

SOUNDING OFF James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem knows of what I speak, rasping amiably from New York City before embarking on a tour with the Arcade Fire. Hot on the heels on the infectious electro rock ‘n’ disco of Sound of Silver (DFA/Capitol), Murphy talked up the forthcoming vinyl and CD release of his "Nike thing," 45:33 (DFA) ("It was just a download thing, which infuriates me because MP3s sound like shit!") and a comp EP of remixes evocatively titled A Bunch of Stuff (EMI). Why the release frenzy — add in a Fabriclive mix CD by Murphy and LCD drummer Pat Mahoney — when the DFA Records cofounder could be enjoying his downtime watching The Fashionista Diaries and Ultimate Fighting with the missus?

"I don’t like things coming out on difficult formats," Murphy, 37, grumbles. "I don’t like it if something’s not on vinyl or CD, so I kinda regularly remember my roots as a big Smiths fan, scrabbling around. I know they put out [Louder Than] Bombs and Hatful of Hollow, where they compile all the little things so that you can find them on the right format. I try to diligently do that."

At least he can look forward to some carefree, cutthroat fun with the Arcade Fire. "We have band crush!" raves Murphy, who’s expecting to battle Win and Will Butler over a steaming croquet set. "Win is very competitive — there’s no i in team, but there is one in ‘Win’!"

Not to mention a declarative "Win." But what does the a in "James" stand for? "Aaayiii!"


Sun/23–Mon/24 and Sept. 26–27, 8 p.m., $65


1805 Geary, SF


With the Arcade Fire

Fri/21, 6 p.m., $26–$46

Shoreline Amphitheatre

1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View

For more of the interview with James Murphy, go to the Noise blog at



The mind-morphing NYC psych songstress partners with Tom Carter and Christian Kiefer in Oakland and Giant Skyflower Band, Glenn Donaldson’s "bummer psych" outing, in San Francisco. Wed/19, 9 p.m., sliding scale. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakl. Thurs/20, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF.


After editing the film Favela on Blast, Wesley Pentz touches down in Jessie Alley with collaborator Switch. Sat/22, 10 p.m., $20 advance. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF.


The fusion guitar maestro offers a taste of the SFJAZZ fall season. Sat/22, 8 p.m., $25–$80. Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California, SF.


The Dead live! Brooklyn’s bucolic sing-alongers strum along with Oakland’s indie chantey rockers Mist and Mast. Sat/22, 10 p.m., $10–$12. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF.