Music interview

Imelda May on motherhood, rockabilly influences, and when to say “Screw it”


Taking the sounds of traditional rockabilly, blues, and jazz and giving them an injection of her own infectious energy and style, Irish chanteuse Imelda May can make listeners swoon at a ballad or jump up to the searing rockers that pepper her excellent new album, Tribal (Verve), which was released last month here in the United States.

 May has been rocking stages for well over a decade in the UK, and is finally gaining the popularity here that she and her talented band so rightly deserve — local fans have a chance to see her up close and personal tonight, Oct. 9, when she hits The Fillmore, a follow up headlining gig to her searing set in August at Outside Lands, where she rocked the opening slot on the main Polo Fields stage.

After that performance — where she and her band were one of the standouts of the entire weekend — May sat down for an interview backstage, talking about her new album, touring around the world, and playing a big show in Golden Gate Park. 

“I loved it! Great audience. I always love doing festivals abroad, because you can see kinda half of the crowd has come to see you, and then half the crowd don’t know what the hell or who you are. So it’s nice to see if you’re winning people over as you’re going along,” said May in her distinctive Dublin accent.

“There were a lot of people up in the front, kind of thinking, ‘Who is she?’ and then by the end were jumping up and down, and singing back to me, so they were an open crowd.”

The last couple of years have been whirlwind ones for May and her band, as they’ve been steadily building a bigger and bigger fan base, constantly gigging across the globe — which even the now-seasoned veteran of the road admits can get to her occasionally. 

“I’ve often said, ‘It’s great to be in…’ and I turn around and say, ‘Where are we? What country are we in? What month is it?” laughed May. “Because you just jump on the bus, you get off, you play, you get back on, sometimes you lose your mind of where you are, or what time zone you’re in.”

Having gotten her start singing while still a teenager growing up in Dublin, Ireland, May was always attracted to the sounds of  early rock n’ roll, particularly classic rockabilly — a style that she was advised early on in her career to cut out of her repertoire.

“I love a lot of music, and I started doing roots music, and blues, jazz, rock n’ roll, punk, and then rockabilly of course, and then all of a sudden you’re shunned — why is there no room for the music that basically started rock n’ roll, that started punk? Without it, you wouldn’t have the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin…I mean, they started a whole new movement.”

“All of the classic greats over the years — Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Marc Bolan, Jimi Hendrix — they all cited rockabilly artists as their influence,” she continued. “And if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be doing anything…so why is it shunned, if it’s that influential? I didn’t get that, so I thought, ‘Screw you!’ and I’m going to do it more, and I’m going to keep going until people hear it, and I knew when people heard it more, they would love it.”

That searing spirit is evident throughout Tribal, where on the title track May sings, “When you look in the mirror, tell me what do you see?/Someone new or your ancestry?/You’re a king, you’re a queen, you’re a wizard, a fool/Or if you’re me, then rockabilly rules.”

That core concept and rebellious attitude have fueled May’s connection with fans, and she shares a basic love for the purity and simplicity of the music.

“Audiences get it. They don’t really care what it’s called, they just know that it feels good, and you go crazy with it. It has no rules, the original rockabilly. It was exciting, it was adventurous, it was thrilling, it was dangerous, it was sexy. It was just fabulous music,” said May. 

“And I thought, people now would completely relate to that, so I said, ‘I’m doing it anyway.’”

In 2012, May and her husband Darrel Higham — who is also the ripping guitar slinger in her band — welcomed a baby girl into their lives, and took some time off from the road and performing. One of songs on Tribal, “Little Pixie,” is a sweet ode to their daughter, based on a poem written by her brother.

“I turned it into a song, and I thought it turned out really beautiful,” she said. “I’m from a normal, Dublin working-class family, and I don’t think he believed how great he was. I think this has helped. I was going, ‘This is brilliant!’”

Once the family and band were ready to get back to work, May says the material that comprises Tribal just came out naturally in the writing process — in addition to a tender ballad like “Little Pixie,” there are rollicking and raucous tunes such as “Hellfire Club,” which tells the story of an infamous den of inequity outside the city of Dublin. 

After the release of the album, May said she’s been questioned about how becoming a mother didn’t change her writing or singing style to veer away from rock n’ roll — a fact that she finds rather irritating. 

“Mothers are feral…your protective instinct comes out. I think being a mother magnifies a lot of stuff within you. I get a lot of interviews, and I cannot tell you how bored I’m getting with it, having them say, ‘So, you’re a mother, how come you’ve written a rock n’ roll album?’ And I’m like, ‘Geez, shoot me now!’” laughed May. 

“I’m madly in love with me baby, but you don’t all of a sudden become like, ‘I’m a mother now, I better not rock n’ roll’ — why not? The reality of most people is that you magnify different parts for what you need, so if you’re out partying on a Saturday night, you’re not going to be in that same mood for most people in an office on a Monday morning, you know? It’s the same way as when I’m on stage going crazy: I’m not going to be like that when I’m putting my baby to sleep.”

In addition to her successful albums and touring, May has been delving into other aspects of the entertainment world: She recently started taping episodes of The Imelda May Show back home in Ireland, where she is showcasing artists that might not otherwise have a chance at large-scale exposure.

“I never aspired to be a TV presenter — never, ever — however, I have a great interest in Irish bands and in the music of Ireland. There’s too many good bands, and there’s nothing on [to showcase them] except The Voice or The X Factor. And I think those are TV shows, I don’t think they’re music shows. They’re fun TV shows,” said May.

“I think for bands that are already working, and already gigging, and want to find some kind of platform, as supposed to somebody that just wants to be ‘discovered’ — I think there’s nothing really for them there.”

American fans can find the shows online at, and catch the incendiary performer live on her U.S. tour, which runs through mid-October, before she heads back to Europe for a slate of gigs scheduled through the end of the year.

“I love it. Tthis is what I do, and I’m really glad I stuck to me guns. I wasn’t going to change for anyone,” said May. 

“I wasn’t after fame, so I wasn’t going to change to chase something I didn’t really want. I just wanted to make good music.”


Thu/9, 8pm, $29.50

The Fillmore

1805 Geary, SF

 (415) 346-6000

The funkmaestro of Vulfpeck on gaming Spotify, German pronunciation mishaps, and Google search optimization


By Jonathan Kirchner

Members of the band Vulfpeck describe themselves as a “half-Jewish German-American rhythm section.” Creators of severely catchy, mostly-instrumental grooves, the four-piece — who first met in a German literature class at the University of Michigan — have built a following with their quirky YouTube videos: Each album track is accompanied by a cleverly shot and edited video of its recording. The videos not only capture the band’s camaraderie, loose attitude, and sense of humor, but also their musical cohesion as a group. Each song is endlessly and effortlessly funky.

As we listened to their fourth EP, Fugue State, released last week, a passerby commented on how their music has a distinctly familiar quality. This makes sense, for a group modeled after the great rhythm sections of the ’60s and ’70s: tight-knit groups of studio players like those in Detroit (Motown), Memphis (Stax) and Muscle Shoals (Atlantic, Chess) that played on not only countless soul and R&B hits, but on classic pop and rock records as well.

The LA-based band created a bit of a stir earlier this year with their Sleepify album — a collection of 31-second-long silent tracks that they told their fans to stream on Spotify, on repeat, as they slept. (That’s the minimum song length after which the music streaming service pays bands a small fee.) The group promised to use the Spotify proceeds to fund a tour of free shows, booked around the cities where the album was streamed the most — and that’s just what they did, after raising about $20,000. (Spotify has since removed the album.)

We spoke over the phone with Jack Stratton, multi-instrumentalist, audio/video engineer, and mastermind for the band, ahead of their upcoming performance at Brick & Mortar Music Hall on Mon/15. It’s a free show, of course. Frequent Vulfpeck collaborator Joey Dosik opens.

San Francisco Bay Guardian Do you want to talk a little about Sleepify and how it came about?

Jack Stratton The first time we had talked about touring, we were trying to play live, because there’s somewhat of a demand from our fans of the YouTube videos. So we were just talking about ways to do that, and get information from other groups about what it costs, and it seemed like a losing-money venture.

So we were trying to think up ways for it to make sense, because really we enjoy playing live, and simultaneously we were talking about this demand-funded tour, where you say: If 100 people in any given place say they’ll go, we’ll show up. And we talk about Spotify all the time when we release stuff — whether it hurts sales or has no effect. It’s hard to judge. So all of those conversations kind of collided into this demand-funded Spotify tour.

SFBG Would you consider it a success so far?

JS Oh, absolutely, yeah. Especially since our last release, it’s hard to say how many fans came in from Sleepify. Probably the majority of people were just interested in the Sleepify part of it, but people did end up checking out the band and enjoying it. I think it almost doubled our fanbase since then, so there’s no way to spin it negative, really.

SFBG I know you’re based in LA. Are all the members there these days?

JS No, not right now; we’re all scattered.

SFBG How do you find time to get together and make music?

JS Vulfpeck is a strict Monday-through-Friday workweek, once a year. Our last album we did in a week in Ann Arbor, and definitely the eventual goal is to be doing that way more often, with other artists, like a classic rhythm section. That’s the vision.

SFBG Do you seek out freelance work backing up other singers? It seems like your records could serve as a great demo tape.

JS Yeah, we’ve done a little bit of that. That’s definitely the vision for it, because you can put out a lot more material. Like, you watch any documentary about [classic soul/R&B rhythm sections], and they played on so many hits. Because with any single artist, there’s just a limit to how much new material you want to hear in a year, [but a rhythm section] can just crank it out — and we’re very fast.

The larger concept to start a rhythm section was that — name a band. If you name any band, I could name their dramatic falling out, but all the rhythm sections, they just kinda do their thing. And then there’s a documentary 50 years later and they’re all still hanging out.

SFBG Fugue State is your fourth EP; how would you say the band’s sound has evolved?

JS Well, I’ve gotten better at mixing, we’ve all gotten better at playing, we’ve gotten better as an ensemble…so those are hard to quantify. The team is improving. We’ve had a mastering engineer since the second album, Devin Kerr, and that’s really helped the overall sound.

SFBG I saw that you and Devin released a Vulf compressor plugin for other musicians to use. Not a lot of bands can say that. How did that come about?

JS Yeah, I’m very excited about that. That was, man, a long time in the works. Not heavy duty work, but I was really into, at one point, this sound of Madlib and Flying Lotus and J Dilla. Whatever that sound was, that pumping, where the whole track pumps — I was like “What the hell is that?”

And I did some research, and the Internet is a magical thing, and I was directed to these late 90s/early 2000s digital samplers. And the compressors on those, certainly Madlib was using them, so I went to Devin and was like, “Check out these sounds I’m getting with these digital compressors.” And he was trying to replicate it with his plugins and he couldn’t do it at all, so he just did a ton of listening to these characteristics, that were not, I think, programmed.

SFBG Right, they might have been bugs or imperfections…

JS Yeah, and actually they were, because [the manufacturers] started phasing out certain effects that were classics. They just didn’t know. [Devin’s] a dangerous dude because he’s very good at DSP [Digital Single Processing] and he’s a mastering engineer, so he’s very musical and has this very technical side. So he did his thing and we would test it out and it was really thrilling. And then our friend Rob Stenson did the interface with Devin and now its in beta and eventually it’ll be out. 

SFBG Do you have a take on analog vs. digital recording?

JS We’re fans of both. We’ll do stuff to tape; we’ll use a nice mixing board and go into the computer or some funky cassette preamp. We’ll do it all — no hangups.

SFBG A lot of your videos are shot in living rooms and bedrooms and they look pretty impromptu. 

JS Yeah, I was kind of all about building a nice tricked-out studio for us. But Theo [Katzman, drummer-guitarist] mentioned part of the charm is all of these different locations and how rugged the setups are.

SFBG The last couple records have each featured a song with Antwaun Stanley [on vocals]. Do you envision more collaboration with him in the future?

JS Oh yeah, I mean, he rules. It’s really fun to work with him. Honestly, not many people could [with us]. It’s not just picking a good voice with us; the person has to be a really good improvisor, like Antwaun, because they have to make it happen on the spot, and there’s no overdubs or background vocals. It’s not just a nice timbre; you have to be a really talented singer and improvisor — a performer.

SFBG Did you write the lyrics or did he?

JS I wrote those. That is one of the greatest joys I wish everyone could experience is having Antwaun Stanley sing your lyrics. Because they go from, like, ridiculousness, to sounding like they were meant to be.

SFBG In general, do you write all of the parts for the band or is it more of a collaborative process as far as the arrangements go?

JS Depends on the tune. I like how versatile everyone is: We’ve done tunes where it’s completely arranged, we’ve done tunes where it’s like: “Do your thing.” Generally, one person comes in with the nugget and they’ll kind of be producer on that track and get to call the shots, but it’s collaborative within that.

SFBG You’ve got some multi-instrumentalists in the band. [Theo Katzman doubles on drums and guitar and Jack plays drums, various keyboards and guitar.] How do you choose who’s going to be on drums, and who’s on keys, etc., for each song?

JS It’s mostly a decision of who will be able to pick up the parts fastest, because it’s all on-the-spot — there’s no rehearsal. Theo’s got a really good ear harmonically. I don’t really, I can’t pick up tunes that quick. If I’ve written the tune on keyboards, I’ll play keyboards, but if it’s someone else’s tune and it’s difficult, he’ll play guitar [and I’ll play drums].

SFBG What does Vulfpeck mean?

JS That was kind of the earliest part of it: It’s “wolfpack,” pronounced by a German, but phonetically spelled out in English. So, if a German saw the word wolfpack, it would probably come out “vulf-pock,” which I screwed up at the time. I thought it would be “peck,” but apparently it’s “pock.”

But that’s the whole idea, and it’s endless joy, because I love the name and it’s great for the Internet, you know? Getting all the [web] addresses. I think there was one military dating profile — that was it — when I first Googled it. I was like “Alright, I think this is open.”

SFBG Search engine optimized…

JS Our Google splash page is — I mean you can’t control these things — but nice, man, it’s all us.

With Joey Dosik
9pm, free
Brick & Mortar Music Hall
1710 Mission, SF


Owen Pallett on integrity, having his boyfriend as a manager, and the baroque pop of ‘In Conflict’


You probably wouldn’t assume that someone who’s been putting out solo material for nearly 10 years would be best known for their contributions to other artists’ work, but Owen Pallett shows us that it can happen, and that it’s not necessarily a bad thing, either.

If you were to break Pallett’s career down into a pie chart (similar to the ones Ann Friedman makes that he and I touched on during our chat), then the contents of said pie would be as compelling as they are diverse. At age 34, the prolific Pallett has fashioned string arrangements for acts ranging from Grizzly Bear and Beirut to Linkin Park and Pet Shop Boys. Super-producer Brian Eno is also in on the goods — he can be counted among Pallett’s fans and is featured heavily on Pallett’s new album, In Conflict. And then, of course, there’s the Academy Award nomination he and Arcade Fire’s Will Butler received earlier this year for scoring Spike Jonze’s nearly-reality-sci-fi film, Her. Pretty impressive pie so far — and it’s not even fully populated yet.

Pallett is currently on the road promoting that new record, his fourth solo work, which marks the artist’s second time releasing material under his given name. (He started his career performing as Final Fantasy and his appreciation of video games is only further established by looking at some of his early track names, like “Adventure.exe.”) Reviews of Pallett’s live performances have been almost unanimously blemish-free, and it looks like his most recent tour is no exception. In spite of being lauded for his complex arrangements as well as mastery of his violin and voice via loop pedal (think Andrew Bird), Pallett took a more minimalistic approach on In Conflict, offering fans a simpler and more languid listening experience. But this is by no means signifies a “normcore” album — Pallett is still safely within the bounds of baroque pop here.

He was in Chicago, his last week on tour with Arcade Fire, taking a break at the Soho House when we spoke on the phone. Regardless of the topic, you pick up on something after a few minutes of conversation with Pallett: He values integrity. In Conflict seems like a preemptive name for his most recent album, as there have been several moments of legal or moral discord in Pallett’s career — he refused to accept the money from winning the Polaris Prize in 2006 because of his “antagonistic relationship with the sponsors,” instead giving it to bands he liked that were in need of financial assistance. He also asked Austrian infrastructure service provider Wiener Stadtwerke to sponsor a music festival of his and his agent’s curation instead of taking the company to litigation when it used one of his songs without approval.

Pallett’s advantageous way of handling disputes could also be a reason why he’s such a desired collaborator, especially since his attitude toward differences of opinion goes beyond business — well, kind of. Pallett’s manager is his longtime boyfriend Patrick Borjal, and as one could imagine, Pallett claims they “fight more about work than (they) do about anything else, to be honest.” He adds, however, that “the way we deal with it, I’m very proud of, is that we don’t communicate verbally about work. All of our work related talk is done through email.” If we could all be so lucky.

The systematic way Pallett views the world is evident throughout our exchange, and beyond it — to get an idea, take a look at one of his pieces in Slate. When he weighs in on what it’s like to have his boyfriend be his manager, he acknowledges that “the division of finances is easy,” but that “having my boyfriend as my manager means you won’t see me on [The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy] Fallon or anything…’cause we don’t know how to do that!” He laughs. “Like, we don’t know the number to call! How do you get on Fallon now?” I suggest Googling it.

Fallon or no Fallon, it appears that Pallett’s schedule is at capacity. “Ah, fuck! You’re so lucky!” he exclaims when I share my recent trip to LA’s FYF Fest. “That’s one of the few festivals I like…the bands and the lineup.” Undoubtedly one of the best acts that weekend was another frequent collaborator of Pallett’s, Dan Snaith, who performed as Caribou and Daphni. Pallett teamed up with Snaith on both his projects recently — he’s all over Caribou’s new album, Our Love, having done strings on six tracks, and he also worked on two Daphni tracks, “Julia” and “Tiberius.”

Pallett spoke modestly about how satisfied he was with the Daphni tracks, saying he “felt they were some of the best things [he’s] ever contributed to,” in addition to chuckling about the tour that never was. “A part of me was like, ‘Ehhh…In Conflict hasn’t been making that big of a splash, maybe I’ll just ask Dan to take me on tour in the fall instead.’” Luckily for us and unfortunately for Snaith, that didn’t come to the fruition.

Owen Pallett will be playing this Fri/12 at the Great American Music Hall. I suggest showing up at 9 when the openers come on, as they are “two of [Pallett’s] favorite bands at the moment,” and given his experience, I’m inclined to trust his tastes.


With Avi Buffalo, Foxes In Fiction
9pm, $21
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell, SF
(415) 885-0750


Kiesza storms the pop scene at the Rickshaw Stop


By Rob Goszkowski

It’s entirely possible that Kiesza outgrew her gig at the Rickshaw Stop a few minutes after it was booked. Those in attendance at the Pop Scene-presented show were fortunate to see the singer, songwriter, and dancer from Calgary in such an intimate club venue on Thursday, Aug. 28, given the staggering rise that she’s in the midst of.

“Of all the places we’ve played — including Wembly Stadium — this has the biggest energy,” she said midway through her set. “Everybody told me this is probably where I belong.” The 25-year-old has already had a #1 single in the UK, among other European countries. Her video for “Hideway,” a single-shot dance routine made on a shoestring budget, has around 97 million views — and lately, it has been tacking on an additional one or two million per day.

If she’s scrambling to get her performance chops up to the level she’s reaching, it did not show on Thursday night. She and her backup dancers only slowed down when Kiesza sat down at a piano for a couple ballads. While she expressed concern about the condition of her voice prior to the show, it proved to be strong throughout the night, particularly when she sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Halfway through it, she got up and finished the song over Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones (Pt II)” beat, another prime example of the 90s aesthetic that has taken over popular culture. In this case, the odd juxtaposition worked. And so did her unironic cover of Haddaway’s “What Is Love?,” the first of the two ballads she played.

Before the show, we caught up with Kiesza to find out how she’s adapting to her newfound success and how she got to where she is.

San Francisco Bay Guardian Welcome to San Francisco. How’s your tour going so far?

Kiesza It’s sort of a tour mixed with promo-touring that has been mixed with finishing up the album. We’ve set an Oct. 21 release date, so it’s nice to have that finished. I’m going to NYC soon, [then] back to the UK for press…there’s a lot of back and forth between continents going on right now.

SFBG Dancing is an important part of your performance. How involved are you with choreography?

K I usually go searching for styles or dance moves that I like and bring them to my choreographer (Ljuba Castot) and say, “I really like this style, can we infuse it into what we’re doing?” Locking is one, there’s a few Bollywood moves that I’ve gotten into recently that I might try to sneak in. I like fusing different styles together and throwing them over different music that they’re not usually associated with. I work really, closely with my choreographer, though. We’ve known each other for three years now.

SFBG It sounds like you keep a close circle. Your brother shot the video for “Hideaway.

K Well…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you know? We’re a good team, very creative, we’ve all started from the bottom and now we’re rising together. It’s not like we’re closed to other people. There’s a lot of collaboration that goes on when we bring people into the nucleus.


SFBG You’ve got a real 1990s aesthetic to what you’re doing.

K I’m into that era right now. It was a great time for music, some of the best ballads were written around that time, some of the best dance music. It was all about the divas! And soul, R&B. Then there was David Foster, I think he wrote the most epic 90s ballads and he just called me up the other day! I went to his house for dinner and he was just the coolest person ever. We talked about writing together and I think it’s going to happen.

SFBG Do you have a grasp of what’s happening right now with your career?

K It’s strange. It’s been happening so quickly. In January, I was completely anonymous. Now, it seems like wherever I go, people recognize me. I’ve been working in the music industry for years but to have it blow up so quickly? I started as a writer so I haven’t even had a chance to develop the way that a lot of other artists have. Usually, it takes a bit longer to launch a career. So this one just exploded on me, but I’m very grateful for it. I feel like we’re almost catching up to the song. It’s just been let loose!

SFBG You tacked on an additional two million views between Tuesday and Wednesday.

K It’s going up so fast! I think we’ll hit 100 million soon and that’s mind-blowing.

SFBG Where are people into your music?

K It started in the UK. Then Germany. Finally Canada — which is a little funny. Someone wrote an article where they said that it’s hilarious that I went No. 1 in the UK and my country doesn’t even know about it. The next thing I know, Canada was all over it. So they’ve been really supportive, too and it’s amazing.

SFBG It sounds you struggled to find success as a writer in the music business. And then one day “Hideaway” came together almost as an afterthought.

K It kind of channeled itself, really. I was going to catch a plane to LA. from the studio. We were finished with the session we were working on and my producer was playing around with the synth (sings the first few chords of the song) and I loved it! That’s such a mysterious sound and the melody just popped into my head as I was about to leave. I turned around and asked him if I could lay something down, just really quickly. It wasn’t even a produced track, just a chord progression. And then I laid down pretty much the whole “Hideaway” melody. It just came out.

We were like, “Oh my gosh. . . this is really good! Let me write some lyrics!” I was rushing right through it because I was late for the plane. So I wrote them out and demo’d the lyrics and said to send it to me when I arrive. It was done by the time I got to the airport but I was so late that I couldn’t listen to it before I left. When I arrived in LA, I opened it up and the demo vocals sounded so good that we just kept it. We didn’t send it off to be mixed and mastered, he did it himself. That’s it. The whole thing, everything was done in 90 minutes from start to finish, even the production.


SFBG The video came together pretty organically as well, with you bringing together your network.

K The single shot was my producer Rami Samir Afuni’s idea. I knew that I wanted to do some street dancing and I went to Ljuba who said that she always wanted to try something like this. Rami’s sister Lianna and I went location scouting and we ended up finding this street we liked that captured graffiti art and the New York skyline. And then I called my brother and said, “Can you please film this for us?” He lives in Toronto, so the biggest expense was flying him from Toronto to New York. The rest of it involved rounding up friends to perform in it. My brother was the most professional person there!

SFBG And he paid the bills by working at weddings.

K Yeah, he’s a very proffesional cinemetographer, but that’s exactly it. Weddings paid the bills. But he’s so phenomenal at these wedding videos!

SFBG All he had to do was apply that skill to this project and he’s getting recognized for it.

K Right! Now he’s a go-to guy for music videos, or at least it definitely helped him.

SFBG What’s driving you? Do you have a dream gig?

K I’ve never thought about that. I just want to keep getting bigger and bigger, but the drive is to keep topping myself, to keep getting better. It’s a challenging show that we do. Singing live, dancing live. There’s no backing tracks and it seems like a lot of people sing over top of vocals to help with touring. Maybe I’m a purist, but I’m just like, “I won’t do it! I can’t do it!” I’d rather be out of tune than do that.

I work really hard, too. I’m always studying other artists. I’m kind of doing it all in the spotlight because it blew up so quickly. A lot of people develop off the stage or off the camera and then when it goes off, you’re seasoned. But with “Hideaway,” that was basically the first time I did the street dance. Ever. And now I’m really learning about that style of dance. I did ballet for years, so I was coordinated. I could pick up dance moves. But now I’m learning the movement, the style, the swag of all these other dances. It’s very different, but it’s fun. With all this creativity behind us, there really is no limit to how far we can go and what we can do.  

Catching up with The Presidents of the United States of America


Though they hit the peak of their fame in the mid-’90s post-grunge era with hits like “Peaches” and “Kitty,” the Presidents of the United States of America have enjoyed a more fruitful and fascinating career than many of their ilk.

From collaborating with Shonen Knife and Sir Mix-A-Lot to starting an indie label to performing a Pokemon tribute song at the Pokemon Black/White American launch party, their career is shaping up to be as long, delightful, and brilliant as their name.

This year saw the release of two POTUSA albums — Kudos to You, their sixth studio album, and Thanks For The Feedback, their first live album.

We had a chance to speak with drummer/singer Jason Finn before the band’s show on Wed/27 at Slim’s.

San Francisco Bay Guardian What are some of your favorite places to hang out in SF?

Jason Finn The traditional hotel for rock bands at least in our place has been the Phoenix in the Tenderloin, and there are three Vietnamese noodle houses within three blocks of there. I don’t know the names of any of them, but I’ve had many a bowl of pho there over the years. There’s a place on Potrero Hill called Chez Maman which I just love, I’ll go out of my way every visit to get there. And then of course you’ve got to have a burrito, and El Farolito is my jam — I’ve actually flown home with burritos from El Farolito for my friends.

SFBG Thanks for the Feedback is the first live album y’all have released. Why did you decide to finally release a live record 20 years into your career?

JF We had a hard drive with all the [recordings of] shows on it on the table while we were having a meeting about something else. We looked at the hard drive long enough and said, “let’s try to do something with this.” We were gonna go through the whole hard drive and pick songs from various shows, but we found this one show from 2011 that had so many songs we were going to pick anyway, and we decided “let’s release the whole show.”

SFBG At one point you were in a band called Subset, with Sir Mix-A-Lot. Do you still keep in touch?

JF [Subset] wasn’t really an official band, but we did eight or ten shows in the Seattle area that were a lot of fun. We did some recordings, but they didn’t really see the light of day because we never really finished them and we’d need someone to mix and release them. Mix-A-Lot is really easy to work with, he’s very talented and very fast. We got those songs together through just a few informal meetings. We played a show with him three or four weeks ago in Seattle. His voicemail box has been full since 2001 as far as we know, but it’s always fun to run into him.

SFBG You’ve played for Bill Clinton, an actual President of the United States of America, in the past. Did that lead to any bad jokes?

JF We actually played at a congressional rally that Clinton flew into, but he wasn’t there when he played. We did get to shake his hand, though. I don’t know if he knew that was our name — he was just in a room with 75 people, shaking everyone’s hand. You don’t get to be a politician of that standing unless you’re very good at shaking 75 people’s hands at once.

SFBG Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring singing drummers, like yourself?

JF Your hi-hat is always a little bit louder than you think it is. Whatever amount of open hi-hat you’re using on a song, maybe close it up just a little more than that. Your bandmates and your sound guy will appreciate that.

Presidents of the United States of America

With July Talk

Wed/27, 8pm, $26


333 11th St., SF

Not just an Animal Collective side project: Entering the Slasher House with Avery Tare


In spite of music videos that are more than vaguely reminiscent of the horror film genre — not to mention the band’s name — the “jazz power trio” of Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks are far more than some campy side project.

Comprised of multi-instrumentalist and founding Animal Collective member Avey Tare, Angel Deradoorian (of Dirty Projectors, Deradoorian) on keyboard, and drummer Jeremy Hyman (of Ponytail, Dan Deacon), Slasher Flicks aim to make sounds that “come from a place that’s not human.” Live music fans will be happy to hear that the group used only minimal overdubs while recording their debut album Enter the Slasher House (out this past April), which is somewhat of a rarity amongst many of today’s crispy jams — and also something that’s immediately evident when Slasher Flicks take the stage.

Avey Tare, aka Dave Portner, spoke to the SFBG about one of his favorite places to play, letting each band member’s personality shine through, and creating an experience for the audience where they can synonymously get lost in something and feel like part of a collective. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks will be playing LA’s FYF fest this weekend before making their second visit to the Great American Music Hall this Sunday the 24th.

San Francisco Bay Guardian You’re clearly a person who likes to stay busy, considering the Slasher Flicks tour and the Animal Collective DJ sets that have been popping up recently. As far as live performances go, do your various projects satisfy different creative needs? I’m thinking about the elaborate stage set up for the Centipede Hz tour, which makes anything else seem minimal, really. Or are the props irrelevant and it’s more about the kind of work you get to produce?

Avey Tare I think the longer I play with Animal Collective or even just make music in the live realm the more interested I become with creating some all encompassing submersible experience. Who knows where this will go next. I’ve reached a point personally and creatively where I want to go beyond just showing up at clubs and playing live. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that my interests are deep in the visual art and film world. That said I have been enjoying the more minimal set up with Slasher Flicks. It’s nice to just set up and jam and have that be that. As long as our fans can get lost in something or feel like they had some unique experience then I’m happy.

SFBG How was it that Jeremy, Angel, and yourself came together to form Slasher Flicks? You’ve been cited as the main songwriter for most of the Animal Collective albums, but for Enter the Slasher House you crafted an outline of sorts for the songs on acoustic guitar, and let Angel create melodic lines to flesh them out.

AT Sort of. All of my songs do start on on a skeletal level.  It really depends on what is needed after that or how I want them to be produced. Each song requires its own place and sounds and atmosphere.  A lot of the melodic lines for Slasher Flicks were actually written by me but when it comes down to playing something with other people, you don’t really know what its going to be like til everyone is playing it. For me it’s crucial that Jeremy’s and Angel’s personality gets to shine through so a lot of the rhythms and melodies are sort of loosely placed and left open for their embellishments or reworking etc. You just sort of know when everything clicks. It’s more of a feeling. That’s what playing music with people is about for me. It’s definitely a collective experience, and when you can make your audience feel a part of that collective, then it’s even more rewarding.

Angel and I have been a couple for awhile now. Because we are around each other in creative situations and so aware of how each of us operate it has always just seemed natural that we would work on something together especially ’cause of the respect we have for each other’s talents. I met Jeremy through Angel, actually, but was immediately into his drumming after seeing him play a bunch over the last few years.  For some reason I just got it in my head that I wanted to do a collection of songs for a three-piece. Once the songs were written it seemed logical to ask Jeremy and Angel to play them. I guess we are lucky in that we melded very easily.

SFBG Last year Slasher Flicks opened up for Deerhunter at the GAMH before Enter the Slasher House was released. Are you looking forward to returning to the venue and headlining this time? I was fortunate enough to attend that first show, but after being able to listen to the album at home I realize all the more how fitting the GAHM is for the music — especially the bouncy, funhouse-feel of “Little Fang.”

AT I love Great American. It’s definitely my favorite place to play in SF and one of my favorite places anywhere. I have great memories from playing shows there. I think this size venue is probably my favorite to play.

SFBG Speaking of “Little Fang,” the video for the song was directed by your sister (Abby Portner) yet it still has that undeniable Animal Collective hallmark — sharing similar aesthetic qualities to ODDSAC (a visual album collaboration between AC and Danny Perez). I know that ODDSAC took over four years to complete. How has the process of marrying the audio and visual changed for you since working on that project?  

AT ODDSAC was unique in that we were trying to write the music and make the sounds as the videos were being created and attempting to piece it together as a whole while we worked. It also took awhile because we were working on other records during the process, as well. It’s always tough putting visuals to my/the groups music because I always have such intense feelings and visuals attached to it that are inside of me.  There is often a moment where I have to just give up the resistance to someone else’s vision of the music. It can be tough, but it’s been really rewarding so far and taught me a lot about what I like and don’t like. 


Sun/24, 8pm, $16

Great American Music Hall

859 O’Farrell, SF

Little Dragon roosts at The Fox


By Rob Goszkowski

Janet Jackson was in heavy rotation when Little Dragon went to work on Nabuma Rubberband, the album they released in May. That’s the Janet-era Janet — the sexy, sultry version of the R&B superstar — so it’s no coincidence that there are a few slow jams on the fourth record by the electro, soul, and synthpop quartet.

“I think we fit in right now at the moment. But we do love the ’80s and the sounds of that era have been a big part of our childhood soundtrack,” explains drummer Erik Bodin.

At the moment of this correspondence, he and the band, including vocalist Yukimi Nagano, bassist Fredrik Källgren Wallin, and keyboardist Håkan Wirenstrand, are “in Japan, trying out all the extra technical features everything has. Like automatic toilet cover lifts and such. We are also doing some shows at the Summersonic festival.” The lack of high-tech privies not withstanding, the band is excited about its return to the U.S. (They hit the Fox Theater for a sold-out show tomorrow, Fri/22.)

“We always felt love from California, and especially the Bay Area,” says Bodin. “People really seem to have an easy time getting down to our music.”

Indeed, much of Nabuma Rubberband is easy to dance to. It’s also restrained and mature in many respects, amid the bounce and clap of its soundscapes. It is — and feels like — an album recorded during winter months in Sweden. The beats can be sparse, the lyrics world-weary, yet they’re still fun. That dichotomy is well-represented in the album cover artwork by Chinese photographer Li Wei. It features a photo by of a little girl in a white dress in mid-air with her arms outstretched, the background a flat field of dormant, brown grass and traces of a smoggy/foggy city on the horizon.

And then there’s “Paris,” one of the album’s three singles, with its wonderful depth: a rollicking hi-hat and a danceable beat, but with somber chords and singer Yukimi clearly expressing that pulling away from the relationship in question.

It’s a workable songwriting strategy and they return to it over the course of the record. While there’s a solid groove in every track, the band may pair it with sober warnings about the greed (“blinded by the rubberbands”) or the risk in the pursuit of fame (“You’re aiming the royal scene/Fast luck /TV dreams/ Pretty girl, don’t get struck”) “It’s all up to each and everyone to interpret the lyrics … but of course we put a lot of consciousness into our lyrics and music,” Bodin says. “It’s nice to mix it up and pair dance music next to deeper, more-serious lyrics.” (Nagano breaks down the meaning of the title track here.)

The band has deliberately not abandoned what made them creatively compelling when they first formed the group as high school students in Gothenburg, Sweden. Youth provides energy and unpredictability, which is great for creativity, but it can also lead to bad decisions that can hurt the group and its career. The band’s name is reference to Yukimi’s feisty personality — she’s the youngest in the group. While the resulting tension has settled, Bodin contends that they haven’t changed that much since they started playing together in 1996.

“Fred is still the tallest. Yukimi still the smallest. Håkan is still the smartest (he thinks). Erik is still the smartest (actual fact). It feels like the circumstances have become different, though. We don’t have as much time as we used to just playing, fighting, painting and such. It’s both a good and sad thing. We feel it’s important to protect the childishness and playfulness.”

Their spurts of levity aren’t hard to find. In their music video for “Paris,” the band halts its road trip through the countryside in an orange VW bus at a small roadside deli. Håkan, repleat with a magnificent red beard, loses badly in an arm-wrestling match to a petite, straight-faced girl. Why is unclear. “That is a question we all wonder about,” Bodin says, maintaining the band’s dry humor. “He is not so strong after all, it turned out.”

Or they’ll apply a few less-serious words with a serious message. A trifling man playing games with his lover is called “smooth cat rider.” A pretty girl hung up on “the free fantasy” of easy fame?  That’s “Riding a unicorn through your Dali.” Bodin will neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of these interpretations during his interview with the Bay Guardian, only acknowledging that, “Fred wants to ride a cat, but the rest of us prefer the more reliable unicorns.”

Despite the diversion in opinion about which animal is more worthy of a saddle, the band is committed to being a single unit with the inevitable rise and fall of internal disagreement that accompanies it. “You get a buzz out of seeing all different wills and wishes clash and turn into a beautiful ‘trasmatta,’” Bodin says cryptically. “There is a hidden translation quest calling upon the reader in this answer.”


Friday, Aug, 22, 8pm, $29.50

1807 Telegraph, Oakl.


Catching up with David Kilgour


A couple of years ago, on a warm summer evening in the city of Blue Lake, California, I stopped by my friend’s house after work. A man with a curly mop of hair was sitting in the front yard with his toes in the grass, strumming an acoustic guitar.

This isn’t unusual in Blue Lake. The unincorporated town hides among the Humboldt County redwoods and always seems to attract a steady flow of tone-deaf vagabonds. But it turned out the man was not at all tone-deaf and only partially transient. It turned out the guy on my friend’s lawn was David Kilgour of the New Zealand indie rock band The Clean.

The Clean is perhaps one of the most unsung legends of post-punk lo-fi in the ’80s and ’90s. The band is regularly cited as having influenced relatively more known titans, such as Yo La Tengo, Guided By Voices, and Pavement (in his college days, Stephen Malkmus is said to have played the Clean on his radio show). At its core, however, the Clean pioneered a sound characterized by trebly psychedelia and strident nonchalance — often dubbed “Kiwi rock.”

That night in Blue Lake, David Kilgour — along a couple of his collaborators, Steven Schayer (of California band the Black Watch) and Tony de Raad (of the Heavy Eights) — had come to play a show. It wasn’t as part of a tour, or because Blue Lake was on Kilgour’s list of places to visit, but simply because my friend had sent him a shot-in-the-dark request that he come play a gig.

But why? I later asked him. “The whole music thing now is just sort of an adventure,” he said. “It’s not about selling records or making it anymore — it’s about making music…and sometimes that takes you to interesting parts of the world.”

“It’s a lot like being at sea,” he continued. “Sometimes we feel like we’re pirates. We come into bay and take their gold and maybe their women and jump back on the boat and get the fuck out of town and sail to the next port.”

All pirate imagery aside, the fact that Kilgour even responded to my friend’s email — and followed through — really says a lot about him as a person. Merge Records, the label that produces his current solo project, David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights, describes him as “a guitar god for guitar athiests..he’s worthy of worship, but neither expects nor demands it.” The band plays the Rickshaw Stop Friday, Aug. 1.

At the Old Logger Bar in Blue Lake that night, Kilgour played to a crowd of roughly 30 people, who seemed almost suspicious of his talent. “Who is this guy?” one craggy old barfly whispered to me as Kilgour strummed the opening chords to “Anything Could Happen,” one of the Clean’s most classic tunes.

But in our recent conversation, Kilgour expressed that the Clean (which he consistently referred to as “The Clean thing”) is a thing of the past for him. He explained that, these days, the band doesn’t come up with new material, or even rehearse. “It’s just sort of a hobby now,” he said. 

These days, rather, the self-described “hippie pagan with punk undertones” is more engaged with his solo project. The Heavy Eights showcase Kilgour’s journey away from the angsty celebrations of the Clean, toward a more feeling-based sound of psychedelic good will, which has always seemed present — even in his earliest work.

“Let me put it this way,” he said. “I’ve always had a belief in the other-ness of life and I’ve had some incredible experiences with that other-ness…I just want to send out a good vibration, really, and I do want to help people, and if it does help people — bloody great — because it helps me.”

After the show, everyone went outside of the bar and watch Kilgour, Schayer, and de Raad roam the streets and jammed on old folk tunes outside. At one point the vibrations were so high, Schayer, still playing the guitar, splayed himself out in the middle of the street, causing a car to come to a screeching halt. These guys had the rock star mentality without the rock star pretension. That night, they were one of us, and that experience was truly “other.”

Kilgour is back is California, this time with a full band, and he will be release his new album, End Times Undone on Aug. 5. For those daring enough, he will return to the Logger Bar this Thursday, July 31 before heading to the Rickshaw Stop Friday, Aug. 1.

Carletta Sue Kay on strip clubs, literature, and dumpster-diving after art exhibits


Not long after I sat down with Randy Walker, the male, non-performing ego of one of San Francisco’s most undefinable musical acts, vocal powerhouse Carletta Sue Kay (who performs at The Chapel this Fri/25), we talked a bit about college. Walker asked me the prerequisite questions about the social scene and my major, perking up at the sound of a humanities-centric discipline. I asked if he’d done the whole college thing. Walker chuckled, a glint in his eye, and said he had. “I went to Redlands College but didn’t graduate. Started out in Theater Arts, ended up switching over to English…but what are you really going to do with an English degree?”

As the conversation continued, however, Walker’s dismissal of the formal literary arts became increasingly incongruous with his mastery of language, the modern canon (from David Foster Wallace to Elizabeth McCracken), and allusion in his performances. The singer, whose music is a deft blend of Joplin-esque blues and far more cerebral and melodic existential examination, is anything but simplistic. As Walker’s mind opened up, we twisted and turned through a deliciously intellectual and sordid discourse about strip clubs, eccentric cousins, and the Swiss conceptual artist Thomas Hirschhorn. By the time we left the coffee shop, me with Carletta Sue Kay’s debut album Incongruent in hand, it was clear that Walker and his alter ego were far more complex (and hilarious) than the average wigged, pastichy, four octave-ranged singer-songwriter.

Carletta is a real person, says Walker. So was Walker’s last singing character, a plastic surgery-obsessed Belgian who Walker often presented with a variety of gauze pads and other bandages preferred by convalescents of cosmetic procedures. Both Carletta and the Belgian are Walker’s cousins (his last project was called Mon Cousin Belge). “While I was doing Mon Cousin Belge, I was writing songs at home that I thought needed to be sung by a girl. I thought, ‘I’m going to find some great female singers to record this stuff.’ But then I thought, ‘Hold on…’”

Carletta Sue Kay, Walker’s eccentric, ex-criminal cousin, was an ideal persona that he could put on to present his new works. “Carletta is a very troubled girl. She was involved with a guy and became very obsessed with him. She found out that this guy was sleeping with another girl and constructed a pipe bomb with the intent of killing him in his apartment.” Walker, clearly embracing the macabre underpinnings of the story, smiled and spoke with a bounce in his tone as he recounted her his cousin’s homicidal urges. “Well, they busted her and she went to prison. So the band became Carletta Sue Kay.” The more sorrowful of the band’s songs, which often focus on lost love and sadness, evoke the woeful tale. Now a free woman, the real Carletta has never agreed to see a performance by the band. “She’s completely chill with it. She’s a funny girl.”

The band’s inaugural performance is just as legendary as its naming. Mon Cousin Belge needed an opening act for a headlining gig at Bottom of the Hill, so Walker decided to unveil his new group. He crafted a Grecian arch, covered it in autumn leaves, sprayed it with glitter, and enlisted his friend, artist Greg Gardner, to create a cartoon rendering of his burgeoning alter ego on a piece of fabric curtain that hung down from the arch. “He drew a big fat naked girl. Her nipples were painted with pink glitter. They do the intro music (strum, strum) and I pull the curtain up to reveal myself standing there. The birth of Carletta!”

Throughout his contextualization of Carletta, Walker dropped hilarious one-liners and unexpected anecdotes about culture. I wasn’t surprised to hear The Magnetic Fields’ frontman Stephin Merritt’s name come up a few times, as Carletta Sue Kay has provided back-up vocals for several songs by the group. More surprising, however, was Walker’s invocation of Stephen Sondheim as a primary influence. And when a shirtless, seemingly inebriated man with an unruly mullet danced by in the front window of the café, Walker looked up and, without missing a beat, said, in questionably PC fashion, “It’s a character out of a James Fenimore Cooper book!”

While Walker sprinkled our conversation with bands, authors, and artists, his charisma was not so much in his prolific knowledge of and interaction with the art world, but rather how he used his experiences as a means of telling remarkably funny and compelling stories. In one such story, Walker told of his love for Thomas Hirschhorn’s installation “Utopia, Utopia = One World, One War, One Army, One Dress.”

The exhibit, which showed at the CCA Wattis Instiute of Art a few years back, included juxtapositions of camouflage wear in fashion and the military alongside globes with small camo-tinged tumors growing on them. “After the exhibition ended, they were tossing 80 percent of the work into the trash. So we’re like…dumpster dive!” After snatching nine of the globes used in the exhibition, Walker began to sell them off. “It’s ephemeral,” Walker retorted when I suggested that he was dealing in the conceptual art black market.

Walker informs his new songs, which he’s collecting for an upcoming record called Monsters (much of which he will sing on Friday), with a similarly diverse range of artistic interests as his stories. “It’s influenced by Hammer classic horror films — Creature from the Black Lagoon — anywhere from comical to kitschy, but always with a dark theme. But then it’s going to mixed with a lot of genuine sadness.” Stylistically, Carletta Sue Kay continues to move towards more piano-heavy, lyrical wandering in comparison to the high-octane blues of its initial incarnation. Walker is seemingly aiming, both in his tales and his music, for the intersection between poking fun at cultural elements and emotionally engaging with their deeper messages.

How we ended up talking about strip clubs I may never know (and I have a complete recording of the conversation). Seemingly, it branched out of a conversation about Walker’s boyhood home, Fontana, Calif., which he cited for its high methamphetamine rates and large Pentacostal population. Before we knew it, however, we were talking about a wide range of California strip clubs, from the sketchier SoCal ones that he saw as a younger man and more upscale ones like Mitchell Brothers. Walker, who is gay and has been with his partner for more than 20 years, goes with his straight friends seemingly as a means of understanding the culture and to have fun. His stories, however, soon entered surreal realms of aggressive strippers, extreme money-spending binges by his friends, and abstract deconstruction of the vibes inside various clubs.

Whatever the reason for the digression, it perfectly captured Walker’s unabashedly entertaining form of communication — simultaneously intellectual, pulpy, and laugh-out-loud funny. For a man with such powerful personae, Randy Walker is wholly himself. 


With The Dead Ships and Titan Ups

The Chapel

777 Valencia, SF

Thick as blood: Sibling duo Broods are the next kiwis on the rise


“Kiwis tend to hold back and be too humble. They don’t want to be over-confident, but I think people are starting to realize that a little bit of confidence can go quite well,” says Caleb Nott, the elder brother of the sibling sensation from New Zealand known as Broods. He sits comfortably next to his sister, Georgia, in the back of The Independent, several hours before their show.

The brother-sister electro-pop duo didn’t get that confidence until the release of their first single, “Bridges,” on SoundCloud, created waves on the world wide interwebs last October. “Bridges” became a hit in the blogosphere and in this hemisphere alike, earning over 200,000 streams in a week.

“It all happened at once,” says 19-year-old Georgia. The singer has an innocent face, giving her the appearance of a much younger teenager. “We went from nobody really knowing us to people on the other side of the world wanting to meet us.”

Later that night, the band starts the night off with “Never Gonna Change,” a deep-synth track with correspondingly morose lyrics. “You’re pushing down on my shoulders, and emptying my lungs,” sings Georgia, lyrics reminiscent of a certain internationally-acclaimed Kiwi. Georgia moves slowly around the stage while Caleb creates layered synths and hypnotic beats. The two remain relatively reserved both on stage and in private. Georgia’s voice is sweet and breathy to the likes of Imogen Heap and Romy Madley Croft of The XX. Caleb brings more energy during the upbeat tracks, bouncing up and down behind his keyboard while Georgia skips around stage in a printed corset crop top and white billowy shorts.


Georgia, a self-proclaimed depressing music lover (“I love sad songs,”) falls deeply into “Taking You There,” a personal favorite and one of the strongest songs from the self-titled EP. Caleb gently strums an acoustic guitar and offers deep vocals to accompany his sisters’ silvery, dream-like hums. The audience moves to the soft beat and sings along. Most of the audience knows the words to every song on Broods’ EP, which the siblings admit to still be adjusting to.

“Seeing people wearing our T-shirts in the crowd,” says Caleb before the show. “That’s so weird and crazy, you’ve got my face on your T-shirt.”

Since October, Broods — the name obviously referring to the band members’ blood relation but also the melancholic nature of their songs — has played two US tours, spent a brief stint touring with Haim, and is scheduled as the opening act for Ellie Goulding’s Australia/New Zealand tour this summer.

“Over the last couple of years, people have started to look over to Auckland and to New Zealand as a whole for new music.” Caleb explains. From LadyHawke, to The Naked and Famous, Lorde and now Broods, the New Zealand music scene is a treasure trove of indie talent. Caleb says the music scene remains relatively tight-knit where everyone supports each other in their own music genre but doesn’t reach out beyond, reminiscent to a private high-school. “It’s pretty cliquey, because it’s very small.”

“This one’s for Lorde,” says Georgia in between songs. She dives into the gentle lullaby “Sleep Baby Sleep.” The mesmerizing beat and soft vocals is characteristic of Lorde’s debut album.

The band is clearly following in her footsteps, from the grassroots release of the Broods EP, to the dark coming-of-age tones, to the producer who discovered them. Joel Little found Caleb and Georgia while a judge for a music competition in 2011 but the band wasn’t formed until early 2013 in Auckland. After producing Lorde’s Grammy Award-winning debut album, Joel Little began work on “Bridges.”


Broods closes the show with its first single, “Bridges,” a moody track about broken relationships. Georgia starts out with muted piano chords and an ethereal voice that builds into Caleb’s rich synth soundscape. Georgia’s voice is exceptionally developed for her age. She plays a soft version of a song from their upcoming album. She’s most comfortable behind the piano, her instrument of choice. “And I’m trying hard to make you love me, but I don’t wanna try too hard,” she sings moodily about falling in love with the perfect man.

Broods has played in San Francisco twice now but has yet to play a show in New Zealand. The siblings will head home next week to work on their debut album with Joel Little. Then, they will play their first proper show in their hometown of Nelson with their 17-year-old sister, who is set to open with her folk band. Clearly, talent runs in the family.

Telegenic Band Check: Corpus Callosum


SFBG videographer Ariel Soto-Suver met local SF band and performance troupe, Corpus Callosum, in their studio to record a live set and learned all about their love of video game music.

Think this is Judas Priest’s final concert? You’ve got another thing coming


With some of the most memorable and recognizable heavy metal anthems ever put to tape or performed live, Judas Priest has been at the forefront of the scene for some 40 years now. Featuring singer Rob Halford’s piercing vocals, the twin guitar attacks of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, and the rock solid rhythm section of Ian Hill and Scott Travis, the band has come a long way from its humble beginnings in Birmingham, England, where it earned the moniker, “Metal Gods.”

Songs such as “The Ripper,” “Breaking The Law,” “Living After Midnight,” “Hell Bent For Leather,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” are among just a few of the classic tracks that fans will be able to sing along with the band when they take the stage in Concord tonight. Although this outing for Judas Priest is being dubbed the “Epitaph” tour, and some venues are advertising it as a “farewell” tour, that doesn’t exactly mean what it might imply, as Halford explains over the phone from a tour stop in Las Vegas.

“We don’t want to get wrapped up in these farewell fiascos where people say ‘We’re quitting,’ and then come back three years later, we think that’s not a very cool thing to do, so we’re making it plain and clear to fans that this is not the end of Priest — this is our last world tour, but we will be going out for selected shows in the future.”  Halford, who recently turned 60, said the band’s decision to stop undertaking massive world tours after this one was due in part to several factors, with the desire to continue to making quality music and put on the caliber of shows that fans have come to expect from Judas Priest being the ultimate reason.

“We’re just facing mortality and reality — the fact that these big world tours take a couple of years to accomplish, and we’re such a physically demanding bunch of guys, we really push each other on stage, so it’s a workout as much as anything else. We just had three back to back shows and I’m feeling it today,” Halford says.

He promises fans an epic concert tonight, worthy of the band’s storied reputation — a nearly two and a half hour set featuring songs spanning the entire spectrum of it’s career, and of course, an elaborate stage show, complete with the lights, lasers, smoke, costume changes, and more. The singer adds that he will ride out on his signature Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which is something done for JP tradition, and it also represents something for him personally.

“The Harley really represents rock ‘n’ roll — it’s made of metal, which is very apropos, and then of course it’s loud and smells and pisses certain people off. Rock ‘n’ roll should still be a kick in the butt, it should still be offensive to some people who don’t understand it.”

As a sign that Judas Priest really is going to continue on in the future, Halford says the band is working on a new album. With most of the songs already written, he hopes to record and have it out sometime next year.  “We’ve been in each other’s lives for so long, it would just seem an impossible thought not to see each other again, and not to work with each other again. There will be more to come,” Halford laughs, “as Johnny Carson used to say…that’s showing my age!”

He ends in a more serious tone: “It’s a combination of a lot of feelings and emotions when you’ve been doing something as wonderful as we have for the last four decades — we’ve loved every minute of it.”

Judas Priest
With Thin Lizzy and Black Label Society
Thurs/27, 6pm, $20-$108.50.
Sleep Train Pavilion  
2000 Kirker Pass, Concord

Big Harp on writing lyrics, Saddle Creek, and touring with kids


I listened to Big Harp’s debut album, White Hat, without any preconceived notions, and fell in drippy, folky, love. I fell into the slight country twang and gentle plucking of baritone singer-guitarist Chris Senseney, and the sweet backing vocals of bassist Stefanie Drootin-Senseney.

It was only after I went back and read up on it that I realized (1) Big Harp is a Saddle Creek band (my forever weakness) – meaning the musicians have been part of the ongoing Saddle Creek creative community, known for swapping members and working together in fluid ongoing capacities. Drootin-Senseney has played with Conor Oberst’s Bright Eyes and Tim Kasher’s the Good Life among many other bands on the label. Plus (2) the duo behind Big Harp is married with two kids. Too adorable.

So I jumped at the chance to learn more about Big Harp, chatting with Drootin-Senseney while she, her husband, her babies, her mother-in-law, and Big Harp’s drummer John Voris trekked through the Southwest in the modern folkrock take on the covered wagon caravan.

San Francisco Bay Guardian: Where are you in the tour?
Stefanie Drootin-Senseney: We’re driving through Arizona. We stayed in New Mexico at a Holiday Inn last night and they had a restaurant [laughs] – we had our first sit-down meal of the tour.
SFBG: How is it touring with the kids?
SDS: It’s so different, we rush home after the show because they wake up at six in the morning. It’s like a family road trip with a show at the end of the night. I’m seeing more of each place we go to then before we had the kids. We’re seeing lots of zoos and parks and museums.
SFBG: You and Chris actually met on a tour, right? When Good Life toured with Art in Manila.
SDS: We met a month before the tour, but we definitely got to know each other on tour. That was the end of 2007.
SFBG: When did you start making music together?
SDS: It happened out of nowhere, we were so wrapped up with raising the kids that we didn’t have time to make music – but I’d always been a big fan of Chris’ songwriting, and we’d been talking about him making a record, then he wanted me to work on it with him. He really writes all the lyrics and most of the melodies, I work on tempos and structure, change this and that, but he comes in with the core of the song.
SFBG: Are Chris’ lyrics autobiographical?
SDS: He says it would be a mistake to take the lyrics as him writing it personally, it’s more storytelling.
SFBG: Tim Kasher once said the same thing to me and yet, both of their lyrics seems so personal.
SDS: [Chris] and Tim both take inspiration from personal lives, but it’s not like reading a diary.
SFBG: Did you  always know you’d want to put out Big Harp on Saddle Creek?
SDS: We really wanted to be on Saddle Creek – it’s family, going with another label would have been different, but we wanted to stay in the family.  I was 17 when I met Conor and Tim and we really kept a closeness, there’s something so similar to the friends I had, their personalities, the relaxed, laid back, friendly, warm vibe. We’re on tour right now with [fellow Saddle Creek artist] Maria [Taylor] and I’ve played with Azure Ray and her solo work, she’s one of our best friends in the world. We’re all attached to each other in ways. We want to stick around the same people and play in each others bands.
SFBG: What did you and Chris grow up listening to?
SDS: [I listened to] Violent Femmes, Bob Dylan, fIREHOSE, Tom Waits. My mom listened to a lot of Neil Young and Carol King. Dad listened to Queen and Black Sabbath and jock rock [laughs]. I think it definitely had an influence on me. Chris grew up listening to a lot of old country, he grew up in a small, rural town, Valentine, Nebraska, and you can hear that. 
SFBG: What do your kids listen to?
SDS: Twila is one so she listens to whatever we listen to. Hank [who is three] likes Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles, Neil Young. His favorite is “Back in the USSR” – that’s his song.
SFBG: Will you teach them to play instruments when they get older?
SDS: They definitely show an interest already, Hank will say “Let’s go to band practice.” We won’t push them, but we’ll encourage it.

Big Harp
With Maria Taylor and Dead Fingers
Sat/22, 9 p.m., $12-$14
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF


We want the airwaves: KFJC’s birthday party


At 8 p.m. on Oct. 20, 1959, the first words spoken on local college radio station KFJC came pumping through the air waves. It was station manager Bob Ballou, operating from a broom closet at the old Foothill Junior College campus in Mountain View. In the decades that followed, the station has grown known for its eclectic show lineup and in-house concerts: Noothgrush, Exhumed, and Foxtails Brigade, among so many others.

With KUSF ripped off the air earlier this year (an aside: Save KUSF), the debate about local college radio has, if nothing else, continued. It’s part of a far bigger issue – where do people learn about new music and how do they listen? For those who tuned in to this type of programming as students, or those who live nearby and still click the dial as post-grads or never-grads, the gaping gap is felt. KFJC DJs have stood by KUSF throughout the protests and legal discussions, clearly aware of the brevity of the situation.

KFJC, 89.7 FM, which is operated as a teaching lab for the fine arts and communications department of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, is thankfully still pumping – this year celebrating its 52nd anniversary. In honor of the milestone, there will be an open house Saturday, Oct. 22. Meaning: you can peek your nose around a living, breathing college station.  (It’s just south of San Francisco).

The station also is on the verge of possibly receiving CMJ’s most adventurous station College Radio Award – results are in this Thursday. On the eve of these events, I got the rundown on the news and events from KFJC DJ and volunteer Jennifer Waits and KFJC Publicity Director (and DJ) Leticia Domingo.

San Francisco Bay Guardian: What will take place during KFJC’s open house?
Jennifer Waits: Listeners will get an opportunity to meet KFJC DJs and tour KFJC’s studios at Foothill College. It’s also during our annual fundraiser, so they will be able to pick up some KFJC goodies in exchange for donations to the station.
SFBG: How has the station grown in the past year?
JW: A big project this year was the installation of new shelving at the station. KFJC has tens of thousands of pieces of music, from vinyl to CD to cassette tape, and we’ve been bursting at the seams. The new high density shelves helped give us some breathing room so that we can continue to add music to our library at the current pace. We also traveled to Milwaukee this summer in order to broadcast live from the Utech Records Festival.
SFBG: Why do you feel KFJC is up for CMJ’s most adventurous station award?
JW: During my tenure at KFJC, I’ve always felt like the station has been an innovator. Not only is KFJC’s airsound unique – with music ranging from experimental to country to soundtracks to metal to electronic – but the station has also been a pioneer in international live remote broadcasts. KFJC’s first international broadcast was from Brixton, England in 1996 and since that time we’ve traveled to New Zealand (2000) and Japan (2008) in order to present live music performances to our listeners. The 2008 live broadcast from Japan also featured a live four-camera video stream, so that listeners from around the world could both see and hear the musicians on stage.
SFBG: To what do you attribute KFJC’s longevity?
Leticia Domingo: Obviously our listeners have kept us alive for so long. They are our staff, the hands that feed us. They’ve allowed us to indulge our creativity and breathe life into the ho hum/indie/college radio scenes.
SFBG: What’s your take on the current state of college radio?
: I’m saddened by the loss of some of our peers from the terrestrial dial, particularly KUSF in San Francisco. But at the same time, we’re lucky in the San Francisco Bay Area to have a number of thriving college radio stations on the dial. Personally, I’ve become even more connected with people from other stations this year and am happy to see the college radio community strengthening.
LD: Unfortunately and fortunately we are at crossroads. People don’t need DJs and college stations to turn them on to music or shows anymore. However at KFJC we are still very fortunate to be able to continue to discover new sounds and keep the saw sharpened. Without preemptive action, radio broadcasting is going to phase out like broadcast TV signals. And for college radio stations, we are at the mercy of the colleges.

KFJC Open House
Sat/22, 1-5 p.m., free
Directions: Here

Feminist dance pop: Q&A with MEN’s JD Samson


Just as she did with Le Tigre, JD Samson blurs the lines between feminist theory and modern pop music with her most recent musical endeavor, MEN. The experimental art-pop band, which began in 2007, is a collective with fellow Le Tigren Johanna Fateman – among others – that’s as subversive as it is danceable.

The New York band is currently on tour with Brazil’s CSS – the road show hits SF tomorrow at the Fillmore – and to celebrate, the groups released a tour-only split 7″ vinyl called “We Are Friends.” Earlier this week, I got the rundown on MEN, trashed humanity on the Web, and the possibility of another JD’s lesbian calendar:

San Francisco Bay Guardian: Where did the idea for MEN originate? What was the original concept and how has that changed?
JD Samson:
Well, that’s a complicated question because MEN’s original concept was a couple different concepts that kind of became enmeshed at a certain point. When Johanna and I started MEN as a remix/ production/ DJ/ Original music team. We kind of imagined that we wanted to continue making music together and wanted to make dance music. So we went for it. But then MEN combined with another project I was working on with Michael O’Neill, Emily Roysdon, and Ginger Brooks Takahashi. That project was called Hirsute and our concept was to creative an artist/music collective of people that came in and out of the project freely. I think both concepts show themselves at different points to us and work in harmony to give us what we want at any given time.
SFBG: Why name the band MEN?

The idea for the name came out of a feminist confidence boosting philosophy that Johanna was teaching me. If you are in a club and the promoter is being a dick, don’t apologize to them, or feel guilty for existing. what would a man do? at the time she was telling me this, we were asked for a name for the project and we decided to go with MEN.
SFBG: How did you hook up with CSS? Can you tell me a little about the tour split record?

I have known CSS for a while now. Luiza Sa and I are friends from NYC and I have hung out with the band several times at different festivals and stuff. Yhey asked us to go on tour and we were so so so excited and happy that they wanted us to support them. We had the idea for MEN and CSS to remix each other and to create a tour only 7 inch. Lovefoxx made one part of the artwork and I did the other. I’m super into how it turned outSFBG What is your song writing process like? Where do you most like to create?
SFBG What is your song writing process like?
Usually our song writing starts with a sample or a beat and then moves forward into a melody and then words get thrown down. Either words that were already written or words that the song feels like. Michael and I do it all together actually, which is a cool process. We love completely changing songs after we have sat with one idea and it isn’t feeling perfect. It’s fun to remix ourselves.
SFBG: Can you tell me about making the videos for “Off Our Backs” and “Who Am I To Feel So Free”
JDS: Well its important to us to be involved in the conceptual arena of our work at all times. I am also a visual artist and MEN prides itself on existing within an art community so it is important to us to go to any lengths for this. Bryce Kass directed the “Off Our Backs” video and created magic from an idea I came up with on a phone call to him. Techa Noble and Paola Maorabito from Sydney did an amazing job with both the concept and follow through for the “Who am I” video. I have known Techa for years and she does amazing work so it was a dream of mine to work with her
SFBG In some ways, it seems like MEN would appeal to a wide audience because, while the lyrics and ethos are about sexual liberation, the sound is upbeat, it’s danceable pop — would you agree? Was this intentional?
JDS: I think we hoped we could appeal to a large audience, yes. We had no idea what to expect, and honestly didn’t expect too much. We were just ourselves. So it was a great experiment. Unfortunately I would say that I think we are still much a part of the gay ghetto in a lot of ways.
SFBG: Conversely, I see a lot of disheartening misogyny and homophobia in the Web comments — how do you combat those?
JDS: Well I don’t read the web comments, but thanks for the heads up! Ha. No. Seriously it rolls off my back. I’ve been looking like this for a long time. I’m proud of that at least. But in terms of the Internet. people say fucked up shit. That’s just the deal with not having to look someone in the eye and say something shitty. It’s cowardly and it’s all about trying to get attention and trying to be as cruel as possible. The internet has done wonders in some ways, but literally trashed humanity in another.
SFBG: Is music itself liberating?
JDS: I think music is whatever you want it to be. it can be inspiring and at the same time completely oppressive. I feel so free with music, and my body, and I wish to create a space where everyone can feel safe to do so.
SFBBG: Who inspires you musically and otherwise?
JDS: Talking Heads, Tearist, Das Racist.
SFBG: Is Le Tigre writing songs or planning any future albums?
JDS: Nope, not at this time, sorry. Kathleen [Hanna] is doing Julie Ruin again, which is rad!
SFBG Will you ever do another ‘JD’s Lesbian Calendar’?
JDS: Hmmm. maybe. I hope. If I feel good enough about myself. Ha.

With CSS
Thurs/6, 8 p.m., $35
1805 Geary, SF

Who Am I to Feel So Free:

The instruments of my life: Q&A with Beirut’s Zach Condon


Zach Condon, the pied piper of Beirut, is known for a great many things – his quavering voice and heart-tugging music (watch the new video for “Santa Fe” and try not to weep, I dare you), the global journeys on which he embarked to gain such a worldly sound, and, perhaps above all else, his skilled takes on an array of string and horn instruments. He employs their use to enable listeners an audio-vacation: the far corners of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, to the chateaus of French chansons, to his mariachi-filled hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

As Beirut’s two Bay Area shows this weekend (at the Fox Theater in Oakland and the Independent in SF) are very, very sold out, I’m assuming there are a few of you out there grasping tickets as you read this. And if not, there are always scalpers (note: we do not condone buying from scalpers).

In a phone call a few weeks back from his current home of Brooklyn, Condon gave me the rundown on the instruments of his life:

San Francisco Bay Guardian: What’s the first instrument you ever played?
Zach Condon: I have to be honest, even though it makes for a jarring twist in the story. It was actually a guitar. When me and my two brothers were really young, my dad bought us an electric guitar. A Peavey Raptor if I remember correctly – it’s kind of a generic Stratocaster or something? I don’t know, I really don’t know guitars very well. And then some sort of cheap amp for it. Then he signed us up for some lessons. And I just remember thinking distortion was really funny and interesting but hating the lessons that I was taking.
SFBG: Why weren’t you interested?
ZC: I guess I’ve always had some sort of problem with authority. But it also felt like I hadn’t chosen the instrument. My dad, it’s really great that he did that, but he was really intense about us learning to play an instrument because his grandfather was a multi-instrumentalist. My dad was an obsessive guitar player so it always felt like, oh I don’t want to do that, that’s what my dad does.
SFBG: So what was the first instrument that you chose?
That’s the funny part, I was also supposed to play saxophone, which is what [my dad] also played. My older brother and I signed up for band – this was probably about fifth grade – and I walked in the first day and they asked me what I was going to play. I said trumpet. I went home and told my parents some bullshit story about how they had too many saxophone players and they wanted a trumpet player. I don’t think they believed me but you know how when you’re a kid you kind of think that you got away with something? I think they were just like ‘well if he wants the instrument whatever, let’s just get him an instrument.’ They took me to a shop and I bought a pawn shop box student model trumpet That was an immediate love.
SFBG: What specific instruments did you play on 2006’s Gulag Orkestar?
I played my grandmother’s accordion. She had died three or four years before that, and I had asked my grandfather to send me all her instruments that he could pack, which ended up only being the accordion. But she also played bagpipes, piano, organ. She was a good singer too. So he sent me her accordion and I had it fixed up a little, and I had a better trumpet at that point. At this point the family had finally gotten a real piano in the house and I had first bought a ukulele a year before that. Just this really janky little soprano uke from a guitar shop. I bought it as a joke at first then I totally fell in love with it.
Outside of that I had some percussion that I’d assembled from friends and neighbors – weird things. I remember thinking at the time, if I’m going this route then I probably shouldn’t use a general rock drumkit. So I was collecting tambourines and little hand drums. My neighbor in Santa Fe had this really funny conga djembe drum, which ended up being the basis for most of the percussion that Jeremy Barnes didn’t play on the record. Every songs is like eight tracks of me hitting the conga drum and then a bunch of tambourines.
SFBG: And 2007’s The Flying Club Cup?
A bunch of the songs were written on this organ that someone had actually donated to me. There was a movie theater I worked at for quite a while, and I ended up developing a relationship with the people there. They were also attached to a theater that would have these weird traveling acts and there was this faux-circus cabaret act that had come through at some point and while they were there, they were taking this beautiful Farfisa organ which had broken down in Santa Fe and the guy just left it. They said, ‘if you can fix it, you can have it.’ I was able to fix it just enough. There are still notes on there that don’t work, so I had to write every song around certain notes, the entire album is almost in the same key. The rest was me picking up new brass instruments, phoneom and French horn, trying to open up on the brass front a little bit. And of course my grandmother’s accordion, although I bought a new one later that year from this mariachi shop, I don’t even remember the brand, because my accordion player can run circles around me blindfolded, so there’s kind of no point.
SFBG: Most recently, on The Rip Tide, what were some of the instruments you picked up for that?
Not so much picked up, but went back to. The main one there would be the piano. I actually bought my first piano –I’d never had one of my own. I bought this Yamaha upright from this guy in Jersey and I had it shipped to upstate New York where I was writing, and I just spent a lot of time with this piano, writing these loops and chord progressions and melodies. A lot of this was based on me hammering around on the piano until I felt like I was sufficient. There’s just something cool about the piano, being next to it, it just wraps you up like a warm blanket. It’s such a big instrument. When you start playing the big chords on it, the acoustics are so interesting.
SFBG: Which instrument stands out as the most important to you? Your grandma’s accordion?
To an extent yes, because it’s part of me writing songs. But I can’t help but feel like it was the trumpet that made me fall in love with writing and making music in the first place. As a kid it was the first instrument that I connected with. It was the first time I was proud of making a new note. There were a few false starts, between guitar and saxophone, it may never have happened if I hadn’t just randomly stumbled upon an instrument that immediately spoke to me.

Sat/1, sold out
Fox Theater
1807 Telegraph, Oakl.

Sun/2, sold out
The Independent
628 Divisadero, SF

Sound and environment: Moving beyond tropical bass with Chief Boima


A couple weeks ago I shot a long-winded email to former Bay Area DJ and producer Chief Boima. I had just finished speaking to Dun Dun of the Los Rakas crew for what eventually became this article, and he mentioned an upcoming EP with former Bay Area DJ and producer Boima. Now, if you don’t know about Boima, you need to get acquainted with the Banana Clipz digital funk on Ghetto Bassquake (for free download, too). It’s a joint instrumental album between Boima and Oro 11 of Bersa Discos that merges electronic architectonics with rhythms, melodies, and sound bits from the African diaspora.
Enough of that, though — Boima withstood my long-windedness, and after a couple exchanges, he did all the explaining.

SFBG Dun said that you do with instrumentals what Los Rakas does with lyrics. Do you see similarities in your respective styles? Your backgrounds and influences?
Chief Boima Well, when I first came across Los Rakas I had just come back from Panama, and I was on this high from hearing all the big carnaval tunes and the mix of sounds that reflected my musical and cultural background, but in a Spanish-speaking world. I grew up on the stuff that a lot of Panamanians grew up on, zouk, dancehall, soca, etc. So I was at the SF Carnaval and I heard Panamanian reggae but with this Bay Area flavor to it. (Check my initial reaction here, and I had been posting stuff like this.) I identified with what they were doing immediately.
Also, my father is from Sierra Leone, and I grew up with West African cultural influences, so I try to incorporate that musically into my electronic and hip-hop beats. I feel like Los Rakas do the same thing with Panama, and what Dun said is a great compliment.

SFBG Dun also mentioned a future EP coming up. What’s your process working with Los Rakas? What are some of your thoughts on this upcoming EP?
CB Well I linked up with Rico and Dun after not seeing them for maybe a year. I had given Rico some instrumentals and I never had gotten the chance to record on them. At that point I had a little studio set up in my spot in Oakland, so I invited them down to work on stuff. I think it was a real natural collaboration because we knocked out a lot of different stuff in like 6 months. They would come over and just freestyle or write. A lot of songs came out through different processes. Like one song they gave me an acapella and I constructed a beat around it. Other songs, I played them the beat and they’d just start writing to it, and we’d record. This would all happen after work and on weekends, so it was cool because the sessions were real compact but productive. I’m real excited about the EP. I think the material is strong and unique, so I can’t wait to see the reception.

SFBG “Tropical” or “tropical bass” seems to be the new term which has emerged to cover the range of new electronic music informed by both American and Afro-Latin styles of music, and their many convergences and hybrids. Do you see yourself as part of this tropical movement? Would you trace its form or define it differently?
CB I get the name tropical bass, but I see it akin to a label like world music that’s just kind of vague. I think the styles that are included under the genre are diverse musically, but they share similarities in the production process that is informed by increased access to technology and information across the world. It’s also really related to urban environments, like hip-hop and house were in their beginning stages. So I see all this music as a kind of continuum of hip-hop and electronic music from Detroit and Chicago. I see myself as part of that production process, more than a musical genre.
The genres I enjoy and work with are informed by their local environments and have names like hip-hop, dancehall, coupe decale, house, soca, and kuduro. They come out of specific regions, and their environments inform the music. A lot of the most popular rhythms are related to Africa and its diaspora, people who are generally scattered around the tropics. So that’s why people use tropical, but I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself or anyone else that way. It doesn’t really work anymore when you get [sounds like] Balani in Mali, or UK Funky, which are not tropical [in setting], but are still informed by the same aesthetics and production processes.

SFBG Do you try to digitize or transfer Afro-Latin/Caribbean folk sounds, genres, or ideas into electronic form?
CB Yes, but I don’t explicitly set that as a goal. I add in all my influences, which are informed by growing up in the Midwest and spending time on the West Coast as much as “folk” music. I was into hip-hop and electronic music growing up, and my older relatives would get down to music that was recorded by live instruments. I love those older tunes, they make me nostalgic, and make me feel connected to my culture, so I wanted to bring the feelings that I have when I hear them to a contemporary club space.

SFBG Our sense of place is now more amorphous than it was maybe thirty years ago. The Internet has in many ways uprooted us, and with regards to music, given us access to all sorts of folk genres, sonic forms of indigenous culture, traditional sounds and instruments, beforehand only accessible perhaps by being there or coming into contact with someone who was indeed there. To what extent do you think the open source availability of the Internet influences the way you channel folk forms of music and older sonic traditions in your production? In what way does place or region (whether the Bay, Cuba, NY, or online places, even the temperate range of tropical) inform your music?
CB I think the Internet has facilitated interactions and dialogue, but you can’t overlook things like increased immigration and traveling. A New York Times article recently said that New York is as diverse as it’s ever been. It claims that NY has more people born in other countries living there than ever before. The whole United States is changing. Europe is changing. The feedback loop to global centers of production in the “South” is super influential. International travel is becoming cheaper, so it’s easier to see the whole world. I think we’re going to reach an energy crisis in the near future where all that will be curbed a little, and the Internet will keep those interactions going, but we’re really living at the apex of an empire, just like the Romans, and the Ottomans, and the Greeks were super diverse civilizations informed by cultures from all over the world. So the Internet is just our current means of achieving those interactions. It takes the place of the role that sailors and desert caravans and conquerors had before. It’s just faster, and totalizing across the globe.
I travel a lot, and I have a diverse cultural background with multiple influences. That puts me in a certain position of influence because of my experience, but someone who has never traveled can have the same influences because I post about it on the Internet. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a new thing. Cotton and sugar comes from India. Potatoes come from Peru. Coffee comes from Ethiopia. These are things that are fundamental to our cultural identity today, but we don’t necessarily think about them as coming from other places. I feel like these things seep into everyday life, and they become a part of wherever they end up whether NY, London, Rio, Kampala, etc. But when they get to those places I think they change. In other words, environment’s influence is fundamental and if you listen hard you can tell the difference.

Q&A: The unexpurgated Books


Accurately summing up the music The Books create is a tall order. Folktronica, indie-pop, cut & paste, experimental — all these tags can loosely be assigned to it, but none can fully capture the group’s mix of acoustic virtuosity and trippy electronics. First meeting in New York City in 1999, Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong soon began crafting their unique combination of found sounds, cello, guitars, vocals and studio experimentation. Their work has led to four albums, a remix collaboration with Prefuse 73, and a commission to create elevator music for the Ministry of Culture in Paris. Zammuto took some time to chat about the group’s use of samples and its newest release, The Way Out (Temporary Residence Limited). Below is a longer version of a Q&A that recently ran in the Guardian.

SFBG You guys seem to put a lot of thought into the venues you perform at. How do you choose?

Nick Zammuto At first, beggars can’t be choosers, so we kinda just played wherever people would have us. And then I think the promoters started to realize that our show just works better when there’s a little more focus and when the ceiling is high enough for our projection to look the way it should. More than anything, the venue — the shape of it and the sound of it — creates the evening. And it’s amazing how it brings out different characteristics in an audience. Part of it is what they bring and part of it is what we do. But there’s that third element, which is the venue. It’s a mysterious thing. I love shows that are sitting down because I think it brings out this more careful detail that we try to bring out in our records, which is difficult to translate to the stage when it’s a noisy environment and beers bottles clinking and stuff like that. But then again, I love the energy of shows that are standing up because people can express themselves easier and we get more feedback from the audience. So both have their benefits.

SFBG You’re playing with Gene Back this tour, which will be the first time you’ll be performing as a three-piece. How did this come about?
NZ He’s a guy from Brooklyn who we met through a project we did with a cellist named Zach Miskin. He was kinda Zach’s right-hand man for this project and he came up to record at my place and I was just really taken with his playing. He can play anything you put in front of him. He learns really fast, so it’s been great to throw stuff at him to see what he can do. He doesn’t disappoint.

SFBG How much of a collaborative process was it in terms of him adding or not adding his own touches to the existing material you guys will be performing?

NZ It depends on your definition of collaboration, but I think the energy he brings with his playing, it changes our set drastically and that’s definitely something we have no control over, you know. That’s his thing. He’s tried to execute the parts that we’ve created for him, but he’s also solved a lot of problems that we wouldn’t have foreseen, not being able to play them ourselves. And he loves to dive into things. For example, he can actually play the guitar riff on “Tokyo.” He came up to us and was like, “Hey, look what I can do.” That’s something we never expected to be able to play live, and sure enough, it’s in the set now because of him.

SFBG Speaking of the guitar line on “Tokyo,” that’s one of many parts on your guys’ albums that makes you wonder how exactly it was created and recorded.

NZ I think nothing is really what it seems on our records and we do a lot of work to cover our tracks in terms of where things come from and how things were made. But essentially, I played that guitar line just as it appears on the record, except it was about half the speed when I originally played it. I just sped it up to see what it would sound like. And it turned the tambour of the guitar into this high-strung, mandolin kind of sound, which was cool, so we kept it. My fingers just don’t move that fast. But luckily there are people out there who can execute my ideas (laughing).

SFBG As diverse as your music can be, there is still a very recognizable overall sound. But it’s not always easy to describe. After all these years, have you guys settled on a fallback response when someone asks what kind of music you make?

NZ The word we go back to because it’s kind of open-ended is “collage.” We pull things from all different places and try to put them together in some compelling way, and I guess the most basic word for that is collage. I think people try to attach all kinds of genre names to it, but none of it has really felt comfortable to us. We just kinda do what we do. But you know, sampling is a big part of what we’ve always done. Figuring out a way to connect all these disparate elements is the basic work we do. So, it feels like collage.

SFBG I’ve always been curious about how you find the material you sample. Where did the material featured on The Way Out come from?

NZ During our tours in 2006 and 2007, we stopped at thrift shops all along the way, wherever we could. We’d pick [up] VHS tapes and audio tapes. Paul is kind of in charge of the audio side of the collection and I do more of the video side. Basically, we take the tapes and digitize them and then go through them and save all the stuff we think might be useful, having no idea what it might be used for. If it kind of has this memorable, emotional quality, we save it and keep it around. And the cream rises to the surface, in a way. We end up with these samples that are so far and above anything that anyone would expect, and you just have to use them. So, we throw all those in a folder called “Must Be Used.” And that’s what starts a lot of the ideas for the compositions.

SFBG The answering machine messages in “Thirty Incoming” are simultaneously touching and kind of silly. How do you decide what musical tone and context you’re going to frame a sample in once you decide to use it?

NZ A sample like that just speaks to everyone, you know. And it’s interesting how the interpretation of that phone message varies from “Wow, this is the most sincere man I’ve ever heard in my life” — which was my interpretation when I first heard it — to “That’s creepy. I don’t know what I’d think if I got that message on my phone.” So, it just has this sort of supercharged quality to it where it means a lot to everyone who hears it, but for different reasons. You can’t really go wrong with it, unless you were to counteract its tone somehow. What it suggested to me was this oceanic kind of sound. Those lines go so deep, that it had to be this wave after wave of pulsating sound coming in and then receding. Then we tried to find musical elements that could achieve that sound. So, we ended up using cello and effected vocals, electric guitar and bass to pull it all together. And also this drum tom that I recorded last summer while we were in London. This is the first time we’ve used real drum sounds in forever. It was fun to work with that quality of sound.

SFBG Hearing drums sprinkled throughout was a nice surprise on this album. I particularly like the hi-hat pattern throughout “I Didn’t Know That.”

NZ That was a lucky find. It was from a rare record with only like 500 copies made in the 1970s. It’s from this black history record. And it’s just this great hi-hat riff that’s just there between these two spoken word tracks. When we heard it, we were like, “Wow, that’s totally amazing.”

SFBG Have you ever been contacted by someone who appears in one of the found samples you’ve used throughout your career?

NZ People ask this a lot, and we haven’t, I think for a couple of reasons. Like going back to the “30 Incoming” samples, that tape must be 20 years old already, so who knows how old those people are now. And you know, we’re a pretty small band and it doesn’t really go outside of a certain circle of people who listen to this kind of thing. So, I don’t know how it would get to them, unless it was through some crazy kind of way. Maybe it will happen someday.

It would probably take some crazy series of connections. But it’d have to be a crazy feeling for someone to stumble upon a song that contains something they said or did and most likely forgot about 20 or 30 years ago.

It feels like archeology, even though it’s of the recent past. It feels like there’s some distance between now and then, so it takes on a totally different meaning. There’s all this inadvertent cultural information in these tapes. Stuff that was in the background when people were making them, but now they become the foreground because it’s so different from how we are now. And it often comes across as funny. But it also has this unconscious quality to it, which is what I like about it. That none of this stuff is planned. It’s not preconceived what this stuff means. It’s really honest in the way it comes though. It’s just people being themselves.

SFBG As meticulous as you guys seem to be at crafting albums and each individual song, do you ever struggle with deciding when something is done being worked on?

NZ Yeah. I mean, I compose the stuff and it takes forever (laughing). And it’s a completely exhausting process. But you just kinda know when you’re done, because you don’t want to work on it anymore. It becomes like a zero-sum game. Nothing you can do can make it any better than what it is, so you just let it go. Tracks are never finished, they just kind of escape.

SFBG You switched from the European label Tomlab to the US-based Temporary Residence Limited for The Way Out. Is there a difference between how Europeans and Americans approach your music?

NZ I think Europeans think of us as kind of like a freak show (laughing). And they like us for that reason. But I think when we play in the US, there’s this familiarity because there’s more nostalgia to it. Because we all grew up in the times that we’re sampling from, the ’80s and ’90s mostly. It’s less of a freak show and more of a warm look at the past and where we came from. Kind of reclaiming our childhoods in a way.

SFBG What kind of music inspired you both during the creation of the new album? And is there something you’ve been particularly into as of late?

NZ Me personally, I’ve been on a big Police kick. I don’t know why. But going back to their catalog, I love the way their records are produced. And I especially love Stewart Copeland’s contribution. He can play the drums like no one else. It all has this clarity and precision and energy to it that I really love. So, I’ve kind of been studying that from more of a production standpoint. As for inspiration during The Way Out, during our visit to London in 2009, Nigel Godrich’s engineer Drew Brown invited us to Nigel’s studio for about a week. Nigel was away working on something else and Drew was like, “You should just go and play,” and we were like, “Are you kidding me?” (laughing). And seeing how that studio is put together and the music that has come out of it, Nigel’s and Drew’s way or working is really inspiring to me in terms of getting a mix that’s kind of warm and transparent but also really powerful. I think that had a direct effect on our record.

Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard talks emotional lyrics, covers, and 80s pop


Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard has had one helluva year. He and his bandmates released their highly-anticipated LP One Life Stand in February and took a massive risk by going for a more streamlined, cohesive sound.The gamble payed off: the disc has received generally positive reviews and the group has spent the latter part of 2010 criss-crossing the globe, including a Sun/17 stop at the Warfield. Just a few months removed from a triumphant American headlining tour that was supported by critical darlings the XX, the Londoners are back opening up for their longtime friends LCD Soundsystem and playing some of the American biggest gigs of their career. Throw in the birth of his first child and a hectic DJ schedule, the Guardian was lucky to grab a quick word with the Hot Chip main man at his home in London.

San Francisco Bay Guardian: Considering how high expectations for One Life Stand were, how are you feeling about it now that it’s been out for a while?

Joe Goddard: It feels good. It was a stressful process, but it seems to have gone down quite well. Honestly, when I get done making an album, I always get a little bit tired of it and want to move on to the next one, so I really haven’t listened to it much myself. That said, the shows have been going well, and people seem to really enjoy the new tracks in the live setting. I don’t exactly know what people’s opinions are, but I guess people have been enjoying it, which makes me happy [laughs].

SFBG: As it should! As far as the album goes, it definitely seems like the new record is different stylistically to the older material. The tracks seem a little more accessible and light than some of older tracks. Was that a conscious decision, or did it come about naturally?

Goddard: I think all of us wanted to make the tracks on this record a little more streamlined and coherent, you know, a little bit more polished. On some of the previous things we’ve done, there have been layers-upon-layers of synthesizers and really intricate rhythms and percussion, and those sorts of elements. I kind of wanted to do something that didn’t rely on hundreds of layers and strip back the songs so they sound more focused and simple. We also really focused on making the songwriting as strong as possible and for the production to stand up to the songwriting. That was really our aim. I guess I just felt like doing something that sounded more direct, a bit more easy to understand, just something a little bit more straightforward.

In my mind, we were kind of refrencing the great kind of pop stances that you would get in the 80s where you’d get these big kind of epic, emotional songs — like Womack and Womack or Fleetwood Mac — these big polished pop songs that are making a big emotional statements. I feel like those songs are coming back round again, and I guess we were just hoping that people wouldn’t get too pissed off for doing something like that [laughs]. Having done that, I’d really like to do something completely different and more unrestrained for our next project.

SFBG: As far as the songwriting goes, how do you and [co-vocalist] Alexis Taylor break it up? Do you write the tracks together or by yourselves?

Goddard: There isn’t really a formula to it. Basically, either myself or Alexis will come up with something and just send it to the other one. From there, we’ll work on it together. Sometimes its almost a complete song, but sometimes it’s just a fragment of a song. It used to be that we would just sit in each other’s houses, but now its mostly just over email. As far as the lyrics go, generally whoever is singing a particular part tends to have written it. Sometimes I’ll write all the lyrics for a track, sometimes [Alexis] will write all the lyrics for the track, and sometimes we’ll collaborate. We never sit down and have a lyric writing session together where we come up with couplets or anything like that. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever even asked Alexis what the lyrics to a track of his mean. I can make informed guesses about it, but they’re very personal and sometimes actually quite secret.

SFBG: Speaking of lyrics, it seems much more emotionally direct than your previous work. Did that go along with your musical direction?

Goddard: Yeah. I think that most of the record is more emotionally direct. That is partly due to the fact that we were trying to do something that was direct, and we really tried to follow that through in terms of lyrical content as well. We just wanted to let the songs say what they wanted to say, instead of being obtuse or hiding the meaning. Also, it was how we were feeling as people at the time we were making the record. We very kind of focused on our relationships, our home lives, and families, so there’s a lot of love on this record.

SFBG: How are those new, more direct, emotional tracks going over live?

Goddard: Well, I’ve got to preface this by saying that I’ve had six weeks off from playing live, because I recently had my first child. When I come back to play this October, it’ll be my first gigs in two months. From the touring I did before, I really enjoyed playing things like “Brothers” and “Alley Cats” — not only because I wrote most of those tracks — but they’re more emotionally open than most of the stuff I’ve done in the past. Although I guess you could go back to a few of the tracks from the older records and say that, but these are the ones that are fairly explicitly about my relationships and personal life.

For example, “Brothers” is clearly about my relationship and love for my brother, but I also wanted that song to also mean the brotherhood of being in the band and the brotherhood of a group of friends. The song “Alley Cats” is incredibly personal, it mentions the death of my mother. It feels great to be expressing myself with the guys that I’ve been friends with for over 20 years, and I often get quite emotional performing those songs. Of course, it is fun to do the bigger tracks like “One Life Stand” and “I Feel Better”, but I’ve really been enjoying the gentler moments in the set.

SFBG: Obviously, yourselves and LCD Soundsystem have a long history with [Hot Chip multi-instrumentalist] Al [Doyle] touring with them. Are you looking forward to getting back out on the road with them?

Goddard: It feels fantastic. It’s just a really great way to end the year. They are really just great, old friends of ours, and it’ll be great to have a drink with them, you know, and it’ll just be really comfortable. Most of us are about the same age — well, I guess James [Murphy] and Pat [Mahoney] are a just a bit older. We toured with them in the UK about five or six years ago and really learned a lot about touring with as a live, electronic rock band. They taught us a lot on that tour. I’m very much looking forward to doing it again.

I feel like both bands are established enough now that we can both just have fun and do our thing. Whereas a couple of years ago, I was trying more to get people into the music, now I’m really quite happy with what we’re doing and where we are. This tour is going to be a celebration of what we’ve achieved. They should be fun shows where people are just going to want to dance and have a good time.

SFBG: A couple of years ago, you guys closed out some California shows with a cover of the classic “Nothing Compares 2 U”. Can we expect a new cover to sneak its way into your set?

Goddard: Actually, we have been talking about it and trying to figure out something to do. We haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I think they’ll definitely be a little surprise. Alexis has made a few suggestions and we’re trying to work something out at the moment.

SFBG: Real quick, can you just give us some background of your recently-released remix EP, We Have Remixes? How did you end up choosing the four tracks that you did?

Goddard: We really just tried to choose remixes that we’re really excited about by people that are either personally friends of ours in terms of Hot City, Osborne, and Caribou or people that we really admire. I think Todd Edwards is just a fantastic producer, who creates really musical, intelligent, danceable tracks and we love what he did. There’s obviously been some great other remixes, but this was just a collection of four that have come about over ht last few months that were so good it just made sense to put them out on vinyl.

SFBG: Speaking of vinyl, you also spend lots of your time DJing. What’s better an awesome gig or a great club night?

Goddard: Hmmm, it’s hard to pick one, because I really love doing both. I think an incredible live gig kind of beats anything, but the nice thing about DJing is, since its just you, if you have a good night and the crowd has a good time you feel like its a real personal achievement. I mean, it’s hard to pick between the two. I just love doing both of them.

SFBG: No worries. Lastly, since you are a DJ, what have you been listening to and spinning recently? Got any recommendations?

Goddard: The most recent things I’ve been listening to are just lots of new 12-inches. Really, just a lot of new UK dance music, like a lot of garage that’s been influenced by techno. There’s this new UK producer called DJ Naughty, who has a wonky garage record called “Goosebumps” that’s really funky and fun. Another DJ called Red Rack’em just released this 12 inch called “How I Program” which is really good. I’ve also been listening to a ton of Hot City. I’ve been DJing quite a lot, and that’s really what I’ve been focusing on.

SFBG: Great! I really appreciate your time, and we’ll look forward to seeing you at the Warfield.

Goddard: Not a problem. Thanks a lot!



with Sleigh Bells

Sun/17, 9 p.m., $32.25


982 Market, SF

Next stop Mustaine: rappin’ with the Megadeth man


Dave Mustaine has seen more than his fair share of difficult obstacles to overcome throughout his musical career due to his past drug and alcohol addictions, which famously got him kicked out of the early line up of Metallica. Even during his ensuing triumphs with his own band, long-time metal favorites Megadeth, he struggled often with his demons.

Now clean and sober, the singer and guitarist is riding high on his current successes, which include a new autobiography, Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir (Harper Collins) which hit the New York Times’ best seller list earlier this month when it was published. Megadeth’s latest studio album, 2009’s Endgame (Roadrunner Records) was received well by both fans and critics, and the band is currently on the road as part of the “American Carnage Tour” with Slayer and Testament.

Mustaine and company hit the Cow Palace tonight; he also did a book signing this morning. The first-time author is happy with the ways things have been going so far during his first foray into the literary world.

“I’m very excited about it, because when I initially set out to write this thing, it wasn’t to be on the Oprah book club — although now that I know a little bit more about books it would certainly be cool to sit on the couch and tell her a little bit about my story,” says Mustaine, speaking by phone before a concert in Albuquerque.

“My story is about helping other people and just giving people an indication that they’re not the only one that’s going through hard shit — and that you’ve just got to turn your collar up and lean into the wind, and persevere.”

In the book, Mustaine details his troubled upbringing; how his mother had to take her children and constantly flee from his alcoholic father, how her struggles led to an involvement with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and how this religious indoctrination would eventually cause a rift between mother and son that resulted in his moving out on his own at the age of 15. There are the stories of sex and drugs along with the music, as is pretty much a requisite of any rock n’ roll memoir, but Mustaine doesn’t attempt to glorify his past mistakes.

“I’ve always wanted to tell the truth to people about what happened to my career, so they don’t think that I’m such a horrible person. I remember when my son was just a little guy and we did VH1’s Behind The Music and I had talked about crack — my son was coming home on the bus and some of the older students started chanting ‘Your dad’s a crack head’ to the point where he was in tears. It was really painful.”

Mustaine’s now-infamous stint in the early days of Metallica are covered as well, giving an insider’s perspective on what really happened — and despite years of trading barbs in the press, the axeman has appeared to have resolved most of the issues that he had with the other members of that band, who unceremoniously gave him the boot during a 1983 trip to New York. Earlier this year Megadeth and Metallica, along with Slayer and Anthrax — collectively known by fans as “The Big Four” — performed a handful of concerts together in Europe.

“I saw them over in Europe, we had dinner and it was fine. I was sitting there at the table with Lars and James, and I thought it was so great that we were together again — we’re in different bands, but the fact that we as three young little guys, what we accomplished, how we changed the world. I mean honestly, you can’t even listen to a television program anymore without hearing music that’s [evolved from] what we created. To be able to sit there with our brethren and knowing that in this room stands the cream of the crop of American heavy metal talent, and it was such a great feeling.”

“My relationship with Lars and James has been publicized a lot, so I went up to James and I said, ‘I don’t want to try to repair our old relationship. That would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I want to have a new relationship with you,’ and I think that’s what we have now, it’s great, and I’m going to see the guy when I get into town.”

At one of the concerts they played together, the guys got on stage to jam on old favorite, “Am I Evil?,” a cover song that goes back to the formative days of Metallica, when they used to live and play in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

“We would play the Stone and the Old Waldorf, and one of the songs that we would play, guaranteed, every single set, no matter where we played, no matter how big we got, we always played ‘Am I Evil?’ a song by Diamondhead. If you could have been in the little jam room right before we went on, it was so moving, because when the band stops there’s a little guitar part where there’s some hammer-ons, and Lars looked over to James and he said, ‘Hey, who should we have play this?’ He was pointing to me like he wanted me to do it and I thought, dude that is so cool. Who would ever have thought that we would have gone to that place where we were so hurt, and we just kept lobbing grenades at each other, to the place now where we’re playing together again, and we’re hanging out and hugging and having dinner with our wives.”

As he continues on his concert and book tours, Mustaine enjoys meeting the multiple generations of fans that come out, and the fact that he gets to talk to them about what he’s been through in his life.

“One of the things that I want the reader to know is that this wasn’t something that I wrote to be this self-absorbed book. It’s just a lot of revealing stuff that I share about my life and my walk, and how my life changed in 2002 when I became Christian.”

“I really have a hard time saying that I’m Christian because so many Christians are hypocrites, and have just given Christianity a bad name; I believe in God and I believe in Jesus, that’s my bag, that’s it, no more, I don’t push it on anybody. Being a dude who read the Satanic bible and did witchcraft and put hexes on people, that’s pretty cool.”

Doing both tours at the same time have been draining on the metal icon, but he says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m exhausted right now, my voice is sore, my arm is sore, my wrist is sore, but this is what I signed up to do, this is the job I do. I’ve always wanted to be the best at what I do.”

“We’re just constantly searching for that next riff that’s going to set us over the top and give us that number one record, that next lyric that’s going to break us through mainstream radio and we have a number one hit again, that perfect guitar solo, so that we get back on top again. We’re doing everything that we can, we’re every ounce of strength that we have.”

After this current tour wraps up, more touring around the world lays on the horizon — but first, Mustaine is excited about going back into the studio to record a new album — one that will again feature founding bassist David Ellefson, who had not played with the band since 2002 until re-joining earlier this year.

“The cool thing is having the signature bassist back, it gives a certain root to the bottom end again that people have grown to love, I’m excited about how our lives our progressing. I’m just so blessed I can’t even tell you, I look at my career right now and to think there was a period where no one wanted to touch us anymore — here we are,” Mustaine emphasizes. 

“I’ve got the band back, we’ve got a great record that’s getting critical acclaim, I’ve got the book on the best seller list, the tour, everything is so magnificent and I’m so grateful for all of this.”

Slayer, Megadeth, and Testament

Tonight, 7 p.m., $39.50

Cow Palace

2600 Geneva Ave., Daly City