Erin Dage

Bleached brings the sunshine at the Rickshaw Stop


It’s no question that Bleached has come into success within the past year with the release of its debut album, Ride Your Heart, on record label Dead Oceans. But how does the band gauge its success? By a younger man sneaking into their green room, which apparently didn’t happen the last time Bleached played San Francisco.

This time Bleached brought along power-punks Terry Malts, psych rockers Mystic Braves and dark psych band Tropical Popsicle for a packed Noise Pop show at the Rickshaw Stop.

Initially seeing the name “Tropical Popsicle” on the bill, I tossed the band off as another kitschy garage-rock creation. But I was wrong. Despite it’s name that evokes visions of summer and dessert, Tropical Popsicle veers to the darker side of things.

As the band started its set on a dimly lit stage, a post-punk synth tune reminiscent of New Order played. As the set wore on, Tropical Popsicle picked up the pace slightly with spooky and moody psych tunes.

tropical popsicle
Tropical Popsicle

Then Mystic Braves walked on the stage, some members clad in floppy sun hats that could have graced the heads of many grandmothers in the ‘70s. Going for a contemporary psych-rock vibe, the band is in the same vein as Allah-Las and Froth. Mystic Braves showed great musical prowess, playing intricate and fuzzed-out riffs amongst shallow, subdued vocals.

Next up was Terry Malts, the only band boasting Bay Area “citizenship” on the bill. Playing what they call “chainsaw pop,” the Berkeley based band plays distorted, up-tempo power-punk with deadpan vocals.

Just like the speed of its music, Terry Malts barreled through its set. Vocalist and bassist Phil Benson was reluctant to play “I Do,” off the band’s 2012 effort, Killing Time. He was caught saying, “Well, I guess we’re playing this song” in an exasperated and apathetic-sounding voice. But that could very well be Benson’s normal voice.

terry malts
Terry Malts

As Bleached finally went on stage, the front of the room was packed, leaving very little space for breathing.

Before I delve into the exacts of the show, here’s a little background information on Bleached. The band is well known for having sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin in the mix. But before Bleached was even a glint in Clavin sisters eye(s), they were in a Los Angeles post-punk band, Mika Miko. Though Mika Miko may be gone and a thing of the past, the sisters Clavin have regrouped to form Bleached — a band decidedly more wholesome, hook-filled and poppy than its predecessor.

Playing a slew of songs that share common themes of having fun, boys, and causing a ruckus, Bleached whipped the audience into a frenzy in record time. It was only a few songs into the set before people started in with stage dives.

Bleached, from above

Clear-cut crowd favorites, such as “No Friend of Mine” and “Think of You”, were played. The band also lended it’s way in performing a few sonic treats, such as a cover of the Misfits’ “Hybrid Moments” and previously unreleased song “For the Feel.”

With three-quarters of the bands on the bill based in Los Angeles, sunny Southern California was brought to a dreary and rainy San Francisco, if only for a night. And boy, was it good.


Real Estate indulges the fans — in a good way — at the Independent


So this New Jersey-based band called Real Estate came to San Francisco this weekend to play two sold-out shows for Noise Pop at the Independent. The lighting and stage design was spectacular. The opening bands were superb. The venue was excellent.

Though all of these factors came together for a great experience, the one thing I will take away is that one drunk girl who screamed at Real Estate to play it’s song “All The Same” for the entirety of its set, and how she unintentionally fostered a sense of community.

But that will all be explained later.

Opening was Dominant Legs, a trio  out of San Francisco. The band had three easily defined traits: strong, jazz-like basslines, a pre-recorded, kicky synth beat and a vocalist who sounded strikingly like Andy Bell (of Erasure fame) to match. At times, the drum machine on the recording synced up with the actual drummer’s beat, making for a full sound that bands such as the Melvins and the Feelies (for a spell) have achieved with two drummers.

dominant legs
Dominant Legs

Next were The Shilohs, a Vancouver-based band that draws from influences such as Big Star and Neil Young, maintaining a ‘60s rock spin. Off of New Images, a record label run by Matt Mondanile of Real Estate and Ducktails, the band released its full-length, So Wild, last year.

Though The Shilohs try to maintain an allegiance to the ‘60s, there’s no question that both the band and Real Estate sound incredibly similar. This was probably why the band was booked for the show, and how they landed on Mondanile’s label. And the audience ate it up, as many more people gathered close to the stage to watch the band play.

The Shilohs

After The Shilohs finished up, Real Estate appeared on stage in due time. In the interest of promoting new material, the band opened up with “Had to Hear” off of its latest album, Atlas.

Then it started soon after that song. Off in the distance I heard someone yell “PLAY ‘ALL THE SAME!’”

Initially I thought nothing of it — I mean, it’s a good song. It’s the perfect, psych-rock infused closer to the Real Estate’s well-recieved 2011 album, Days. Skip 15 minutes or so ahead to the third song of the set: three others have joined the plight for Real Estate to play “All The Same.” Song after song, (that wasn’t ‘All the Same’) more and more joined in the chorus for that damn song to play.

And you know what? Eventually Real Estate did play “All the Same” during its encore, along with “It’s Real.”

real estate
Real Estate obliges.

But instances such as this, when the demand of one inebriated audience member becomes the demand of many, remind me of how much I enjoy attending shows. Seldom do you enter a room to find that (nearly) each and every person in it all enjoy the same thing. And this was the case for the Real Estate show at the Independent.

And there’s definitely something to say about that.

BARF-y, in a good way: Bay Area record labels draw a cattle drive of local music lovers


On Saturday, the first annual Bay Area Record Label Fair (BARF) was born. As a labor of love between Father/Daughter Records and local promoters, Professional Fans, the event set out to be an ode to the ingenuity and entrepreneurial efforts of record labels in the Bay. Some 17 labels, including Slumberland Records, Loglady Records, Polyvinyl Record Co., Alternative Tentacles, and many more, displayed and sold their music at Thee Parkside.

It was a given that BARF would be successful — after all, it was free, and boasted a live show with uber-talented Bay Area acts — but it was truly staggering to see how packed the place was. At times, wandering through the vendor section was nothing short of a cattle drive. The layout of vendors was superb, however; I was pleasantly surprised to see how the folks behind BARF turned the patio at Thee Parkside into a marketplace for music wares.

al lover

Al Lover

Of course, one big thing that initially attracted me to the event (other than the possibility of spending too much money) were the performances by Al Lover, Cocktails, Twin Steps and Dog Party. All bands were from various record labels tabling at BARF. Al Lover kicked off the more musical aspect of the event. As a San Francisco-based music producer, he combines various beats from ‘60s psych-rock and heavy-sounding drum tracks much like those of Wu-Tang Clan alum RZA. Al Lover has also been known to make remixes of tracks from fellow Bay Area artists, such as Fuzz and Burnt Ones.

More people started to filter in when Cocktails, self-dubbed “slop-pop” from San Francisco off Father/Daughter Records, started to play. At times, vocalist and guitarist Patrick Clos’ vocals were reminiscent of Elvis Costello. Often fuzzed out and with a tendency to combine sneering and saccharine-sweet vocals, the band cranked out its set in record time.


Twin Steps, off 1-2-3-4 Go! Records, is a sample-based quartet from Oakland that blends elements of ‘60s soul, weirdo rock, and pop. Known for surf riffs punctuated with yelping vocals, the band is flying off the handle exemplified. Vocalist Drew Pearson tried to engage the audience by routinely darting off the stage and using the crowd as a crutch (literally), but they weren’t quite as receptive as he’d maybe hoped. This was a little disheartening, given the band’s track record of rowdy (or raucous, if you will) shows.

twin steps
Twin Steps

It should be noted here that the audience for the show portion of the event was ultimately meek. Since the event occurred between the hours of noon and 5 pm, maybe there just weren’t enough fierce advocates for day-drinking in the crowd? Pearson was caught saying “I didn’t know we were in a library” during the band’s set. So yes, it was very quiet.

Despite that one shortcoming, Dog Party, a Sacramento-based sister duo (ages 17 and 14) brought an air of Ramones worship to the house. Known cronies of Kepi Ghoulie, their fellow Asian Man Records labelmate and the former frontman for ‘90s pop-punk mainstays Groovie Ghoulies, it’s easy to see where the band draws influence from. The high point of the Dog Party set was its cover of “Los Angeles” by seminal ‘80s punk band X.

dog party
Dog Party

After that, the audience dispersed. Some mingled, others ventured out to vendor area saddled with questions to the tune of “Should I buy this cassette for $5, though I have never heard of this band before?” or perhaps “How did I spend so much money at an event that’s supposed to be free?”

Long story short: BARF was pretty much everything a fan of independent Bay Area music could hope for. So when does this all happen again?



MUSIC To locals, Andee Connors is perhaps best known as the longtime co-owner of Aquarius Records, an independent record shop in the Mission. Aquarius, which specializes in obscure underground releases, is a landmark vinyl provider in SF that first opened its doors in 1970 to a group of stoners in the Castro, as the story goes.

Connors began working at aQ in 1994 (the shop by then long settled in the Mission), and became co-owner a decade ago. These days, he can still be seen behind the counter.

And yet, for math rock enthusiasts, Connors is recognized for a different music-related profession: He was the drummer and vocalist behind 1990s San Francisco rock band, A Minor Forest.

“Some people come in to the store and recognize me from A Minor Forest,” Connors says from his post in aQ. “It’s amazing when people in their early 20s tell me that they like the band. I’m like: ‘Holy crap, you were probably two years old when we were touring!'”

With noisy and jam-packed intricate time signatures and musical arrangements, A Minor Forest (AMF) stuck out in the Bay Area music scene years ago, taking on a post-rock sound in a community with a simplistic punk tradition. And on Sat/9, the band is reuniting to play its first show in 15 years — at Bottom of the Hill with Barn Owl, fellow labelmate of Chicago’s much-loved Thrill Jockey Records.

It all began in the early ’90s, when Connors left his home and school in San Diego to play music in the Bay Area. Shortly thereafter (’92), he teamed up with bassist John Trevor Benson and guitarist and fellow vocalist Erik Hoversten to “make the most difficult music possible.”

According to Connors, A Minor Forest took on a higher calling early on: making weird art and fucking with audiences as much as possible.

“A lot of our early shows were 45 minutes of nonstop repetition,” Connors says. “Over time, we drifted away from that and became less overtly annoying.”

Along the way, some people caught on to A Minor Forest’s “weird art project.” One such person: Legendary Nirvana producer Steve Albini, of Big Black and Shellac fame, who recorded AMF’s album Flemish Altruism (Constituent Parts 1993-1996) on Thrill Jockey in 1996.

With that, the band toured relentlessly and built a fanbase across the country, picking up friendly connections along the way.

“A lot of people I know now go back to my time in A Minor Forest,” says Connors. “When I look back on my life, it’s one of the coolest things I did.”

Though AMF hasn’t been active for the past 15 years, members Benson, Hoversten, and Connors have hosted their own musical projects. Currently, Connors lends his talents to four different bands: pop group Imperils, Ticwar, and Crappy Islands (respectively) with Benson from AMF and Common Eider, King Eider with Rob Fisk of early Deerhoof. Hoversten, meanwhile, was a touring guitarist for Pinback.

No matter what band he plays in, whether it be pop-punk or post-rock, Connors keeps it within a similarly complex, often calculated drumming style, whether he intends to or not.

“I think probably because of the bands I grew up listening to, and the era AMF was active, a lot of my drumming ended up being pretty mathy,” Connors says. “[It] became sort of permanently ingrained — and thus it seems like most bands I play with, I end up making them sound more mathy, whether I mean to or not.”

Weird time signatures, intricate arrangements, and long songs are a few of his favored sonic techniques. And Connors embraces math rock bands of yore like Polvo or Slint and newer bands that take on that same tradition.

“I loved math rock back in the day, and I still do,” Connors says. “I tend to dig bands that do whatever they do, pop, metal, whatever, in a way that’s…complex and weird. I also still dig that old ’90s style…and love the new bands that channel that sound.”

Although no longer active, AMF has long been embraced by enthusiasts of the fallen genre. So the question of the reunion remains: Why now? It goes back to A Minor Forest’s early supporters, Thrill Jockey, also known for releasing albums by bands such as Tortoise, the Sea and Cake, Wooden Shjips, and Barn Owl.

“We live in an era where many bands are reuniting, and though it’s great to hear that your favorite act is getting back together, I’ve been reluctant with the trend,” Connors says. “When Thrill Jockey expressed interest in reissuing our albums as a Record Store Day release recently, we thought that it would be weird and fun to play together again.”

Adding, “I’m psyched.”

And according to Connors, AMF will only be playing the finest and intriguingly named tunes like “…But the Pants Stay On” and “So Jesus Was at the Last Supper…”

“I know the frustration when an old band plays and is like ‘Hey we’re only going to play stuff from our new album!” Connors says. “We’re just sticking to the songs that people like and want to hear.”


With Barn Owl Sat/9, 9:30pm, $15

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St, SF

(415) 626-4455




MUSIC It’s entirely debatable what year this current wave of the garage rock revival broke out.

But for all intents and purposes, let’s just say the genre came back into vogue yet again around 2009: the year Total Trash Productions came into existence. For the past five years, the booking company has served up dozens of garage rock shows and fests in the Bay Area.

And this year, on their fifth anniversary, the folks behind Total Trash are bringing a relic from the first wave: The seminal Washington-based 1960s garage rock band, the Sonics, will play a string of shows for the annual Total Trash Halloween Bash.

The Sonics were there in the very beginning. They got their start in a time when the British Invasion was in full swing. Rejecting sugary-sweet mop-topped bands, the Sonics idolized Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.

“We thought, to heck with wearing suits and neckties," keyboardist-vocalist Gerry Roslie says. "Playing love songs felt wrong — we could only play music with power. We played loud and we played how we felt: like animals.”

The band released a string of albums in the ’60s, with a mixture of rock n’ roll covers such as "Have Love Will Travel," "Louie, Louie," and "Roll Over Beethoven" and edgier, screaching original numbers like “Strychnine” and “Psycho.”

Many credit the Sonics as a proto-punk band of sorts, but Roslie says he saw the band as an outlet to live out his rock ‘n’ roll fantasy until the grips of adulthood came.

“I didn’t know we were garage rock or proto-punk, because those terms didn’t exist at the time we were playing,” Roslie says. “I just knew that we liked being crazy and wanted to play something different than what was out there at the time.”

Roslie left the band in 1967 and started an asphalt-paving business. For decades he had no idea of the influence that his band had left, with future acts such as the Cramps, the Mummies, and the Fall all performing Sonics covers at one point or another.

During that time, Roslie lived a quiet life. That is, until the band was approached in 2007 to play Cavestomp!, a garage rock festival in Brooklyn. That was the first time the band played in well over 30 years.

“We were so nervous — we decided that we would only start playing shows again if people still liked us,” Roslie says.

And sure enough, the Sonics were received with great fanfare, and continued on to play shows in Europe. The one thing that still amazes Roslie is the enthusiasm of new and old Sonics fans alike.

“We’re still scratching our heads going ‘wow’ — I feel that we’re finally getting the attention we deserved,” Roslie says. “We played for teenagers and 20-somethings back in the day, and we’re still playing for that kind of audience. A lot of the kids look the same as they did back then.”

Like many bands that reunite, the Sonics are playing songs made when they were quite young themselves, for the most part covering issues surrounding teenage culture. But as it stands today, all of the members of the band are old enough to be card-carrying AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) members.

“I’m a teenager inside of some wrinkled old body,” says Roslie. “The songs that we made back then are still relatable because we’ve maintained our attitude. We’ve still got that.”

And the Sonics mojo is still intact. So much so that the band is creating a new album. According to Roslie, fans can expect it around late December or early 2014. The release isn’t titled yet, and the label is yet to be determined.

“We didn’t want to go off in a different direction like many bands that have been around for a while do,” Roslie says. “We’re keeping to what we know and do best — loud, crazy rock n’ roll.”

Perma-teenagers or not, the Sonics still have attitude and candor aplenty, spreading the underground rock ‘n’ roll gospel (actively or not) since before you were born.

With Phantom Surfers, Legendary Stardust Cowboy
Fri/1, 7:30pm, $35
New Parish
579 18th St, Oakl.

With Roy Loney, Dukes of Hamburg, Wounded Lion, Chad & the Meatbodies
Sat/2, 7pm, $35
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF
(415) 861-2011

Thee Oh Sees, OBN III’s, and more shake up the Chapel


Once (three years ago) I broke my wrist at a Thee Oh Sees show, and despite the gnawing pain from my misshapen wrist, I stayed to watch the rest of the set.

You see, you just don’t leave a Thee Oh Sees show early. It is a band you experience, because it’s not that often that you get the chance to see a band that enjoys what it’s doing quite so much, and may just want to pull you into the hectic fun.

My most recent encounter with Thee Oh Sees was last Thursday at the Chapel; the band was kicking off its sold-out, three-night residency with spooky electronic act Fryborg, proto-punk worshippers OBN III‘s and precise psych-rock band the Blind Shake.

Fryborg started as people began to file in to the Mission venue. A one-man act, Fryborg tinkered away on various sound boards with his back turned to the audience. Haunting, Halloween-like imagery was projected on to a screen behind the stage while he did his best to conjure up beats for the better part of 30 minutes. It was either hit-or-miss with the audience (as is with most acts of Fryborg’s ilk), with people either nodding along to the music or hitting the bar.

Next up was OBN III’s. The Austin, Texas based band is Stooges worship in the best way possible. The five-person outfit created a wall of sound that enveloped the audience. It was loud, dirty, and leaning on the edge of proto-punk. The frontperson and namesake of the band, Orville Bateman Neeley III, took notes from Iggy Pop with a confrontational stage manner, and straight-up pissy demeanor. The band shredded through its set with great voracity, and the audience ate it up.

Then a trio of bald men graced the stage. One person from the audience thought it was a crew setting up for Thee Oh Sees. But alas, it was not! It was the Blind Shake, a Minneapolis-based group that serves up intricate psych rock for all ages. Though the Blind Shake airs on the noisy side, that doesn’t stop it from cranking out songs with intense, military-like precision. Also of note: the band released a full-length on Castle Face Records this fall, dubbed Key To a False Door, which is worth checking out.

Finally San Francisco locals, Thee Oh Sees graced the stage. If one gazed upon the crowd-goers surrounding the stage, he or she would find that the people in attendance were nothing short of starry-eyed as the band dutifully prepared for its performance.

Now, accurately describing what a Thee Oh Sees show is like describing colors to a person who has never seen before. (Though I digress.) While I have seen the group numerous times by this point, there is something that always brings me back. It’s likely the effort that the band puts into its sets, and the kinetic energy it exudes that’s nothing less than infectious.

While the Thee Oh Sees played a combination of old songs and new tracks off newest release, Floating Coffin (Castle Face Records, 2013), a good portion of the audience danced and pogoed with the best of them.

Oakland’s Negative Standards support future punks


The band Negative Standards is essentially a crust art project.

While maintaining d-beat chords and sludge-like breakdowns, the Oakland-based group makes use of non-instrumental noise and videos created by the band’s bassist, Will, during shows.

And as a quartet that blends elements of crust, doom metal, and noise; Negative Standards sticks out like a sore thumb in the endless sea of fellow crusty brethren and fuzzy lo-fi that exists in the East Bay.

Anonymity is key for the band. Negative Standards sticks to Roman numerals in place of song titles and prefers not to have band members names attached to the project. While being interviewed, the guys chose to keep it on a first-name basis.

So, for housekeeping purposes, the band is as follows: Al on guitar, Will on bass/video, Max on drums and noise, and Will — who wasn’t interviewed — on vocals and non-instrumental noise.

According to Will, the choice to maintain anonymity is to let the music speak for itself.

“From the beginning, the idea was to present each recording as a coherent whole, rather than just a collection of unrelated songs, and doing it this way somewhat anonymizes the individual components,” Will says. “Another effect is that the lyrics, music and samples have to speak for themselves, not having been distilled into a name or a slogan.”

The band makes the conscious decision to only play all-ages shows to battle the age-old problem of gentrification in the Bay Area.

Drummer and non-instrumental noise creator, Max, expands on this idea: “Gentrification and the attendant cultural colonialism of bars and ‘the underground’ is threatening the existence of DIY all ages spaces in the East Bay more with each passing year,” Max says. “It makes sense that, as a band, we would want to resist the destruction of the cultural environment that has made our existence possible.”

Guitarist Al recalls going to Berkeley’s world-famous all-ages punk venue, 924 Gilman when he was growing up. Al believes that without all-ages venues such as the Gilman, bands like theirs would not exist. Everybody has a starting point, and Al credits the Gilman as his.

“If it weren’t for this place, I wouldn’t know most any of my current good friends, let alone be in this band,” Al says. “I think it’s important to support the future punks instead of shutting them out because you want to drink.”

The band credits the Bay Area for having a thriving scene with the likes of fellow bands such as Noothgrush,Permanent Ruin, Ordstro and Vaccuum. But like most to all existing punk scenes, there exists various isms.

“Seeing the amount of misogyny, transphobia, and racism that goes totally unchecked within some corners of our supposedly ‘radical’ scene can be pretty disheartening, but there’s also some incredible people working against those normative tides,” says Will.

Negative Standards, however, is leaving the sub-cultural hub of Oakland to embark on a European tour, playing with the likes of European punks Bacchus and Throwers.

“Vendetta Records from Germany put out our LP and hooked us up with Timo from Alerta Antifacista Records, who busted his ass to put this tour together for us,” Al  says. “I’m incredibly excited. I’ve never travelled in Europe before and am looking forward to it greatly.”

The band also has a split LP with doom band Whitehorse coming out on Vendetta Records in October.

Most of the band remains extremely cordial and modest, lauding other bands and the proverbial scene at large (for the most part). But as mentioned before, this band sticks out amongst others and Max is sure to break the tide.

“Fuck this false modesty,” Max says. “I defy you to name another local band that has both a totally gnarly wolf AND an outlandishly colored manatee on their van’s dashboard.”

You can catch this band at its upcoming going away show at the Oakland Metro. As the Oakland Metro site states, “no turds allowed.”

Negative Standards
With Ordstro, Sutekh Hexen, Filthchain, Xenotaph
Thu/26, 7pm, $7
Oakland Metro
630 3rd Street, Oakland
(510) 763-1146

On its fifth anniversary, Sunday Streets offers a lesson in urban experimentation


It’s hard to believe that Sunday Streets — San Francisco’s version of the ciclovia, or temporary closure of streets to cars as a way of opening up more urban space for pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, performers, and loungers — is five years old. It’s even harder to believe that this family-friendly event was once controversial, especially feared by the businesses that now clamor to hold them in their neighborhoods.

But it was, and that’s a great reminder that ideas that disrupt the status quo and seem quite radical and unsettling can embody just what The City needs to feel like, well, a city, a place with people mix and mingle and get to know one another in the streets, strips that can become important social spaces and not simply conduits for cars.

“Sunday Streets provides the opportunity for recreation and activity in neighborhoods all across San Francisco,” Sunday Streets Director Susan King of Livable City told us. “Each community it’s in is helped with health and economic benefits and the easing of community cohesion.”

This Tuesday, Sept. 17, the folks from Sunday Streets will be hosting a fundraiser and celebration at Cityview, atop the Metreon, in honor of the hard work that has been put into various Sunday Streets events around the city throughout the years. The event will feature speeches, snacks, an open bar, a raffle, live entertainment, and other hoopla.

Among those being honored at the event will Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who as mayor worked with alternative transportation activists from Livable City (the event’s main sponsor), the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and other groups — including a large contingent that attended the first ciclovia in the US, in Portland, during the Toward Carfree Cites conference in 2008 (which we at the Guardian covered) — to create Sunday Streets.

At the time, the business-friendly Newsom stood up to opposition from merchants in Fishermans Wharf and Pier 39, and both progressive and conservative supervisors looking for a way to tweak the mayor, to help become one of the first cities in the US adopt the ciclovia model that had been pioneered in Bogota, Columbia, and which has now spread to cities around the world.
“We really have to thank former Mayor Gavin Newsom for instigating Sunday Streets,” King said. “Without him, Sunday Streets in San Francisco wouldn’t exist.”

First hosted in the late summer of 2008, King has overseen Sunday Streets since its inception, hustling up fiscal sponsors and volunteer support like a whirling dervish the whole time. 

“There’s so much that goes into Sunday Streets,” King said. “I had no idea that it would get to where it is now.”

The anniversary event costs $50 and lasts from to 6 to 10 p.m. Proceeds will go to future Sunday Streets events.

This year there have been Sunday Streets in a handful of neighborhoods, making appearances in the Embarcadero, Mission, Bayview, Great Highway, Tenderloin, and Western Addition. There are two more Sunday Streets scheduled this year in the Excelsior (Sept. 29) and the Richmond (Oct. 27) districts.


Bugging out


MUSIC As Urinals folklore goes, the band was formed in 1978 by a group of five UCLA students looking to have a spot in their dorm talent show. Guitarist and vocalist John Talley-Jones recalls the band’s earnest beginnings as an experiment that evolved into something much more. “We were in film school, not approaching it as musicians, but as conceptual artists,” Talley-Jones says. “It was an experiment to see if you put five people with limited music in a room and see what they can do with one quasi guitarist. It was like an art project.”

And 35 years later — save for a decade-long hiatus and a few changes in the lineup — the Urinals are still at it. The group play’s Oakland record shop Stranded’s one-year anniversary party this weekend, and has a new full-length in the works for next year (label yet to be determined).

Coming forth in a time when virtuoso-like musicians were most valued, inexperience and ineptitude were the Urinals’ calling card — from music on down to the etching of a garbled face on its Sex E.P. (Happy Squid Records, 1980) and anthology Negative Capability…Check it Out! (Amphetamine Reptile Records, 1997).

“Carey Southall, a person I worked with at UCLA, drew the illustration using his non-dominant hand,” Talley-Jones says. “It was a metaphor for the Urinals — he was handicapped by not using his dominant hand [and] we were handicapped by our musical capabilities.”

And yet, it’s no question that the Urinals have been deemed influential by today’s music scene, with covers of “Black Hole” by lo-fi punk outfit Grass Widow, “Male Masturbation” covered by noisy punk group No Age, and “I’m a Bug” by hardcore punk group Ceremony. But if one takes notice of all these songs, they are all from early Urinals releases. And Talley-Jones is sure to take notice of this.

“When I think of the Urinals, I see a band that got together in ’78, and developed in the last 35 years,” Talley-Jones says. “Not many people have heard or recognized material past our first few releases.”

And just as people grow and develop, so did the Urinals. In their infancy, the Urinals were known for their raucous, simplistic sound. As the band members matured and learned how to play their instruments, the band reached its adolescent stage, becoming an admittedly post-punk outfit dubbed 100 Flowers for a brief stint during the ’80s and playing shows during the 2000s.

“I remember starting out with the Urinals, feeling that I had to carry on a certain stage persona, mine being theatrically psychotic” Talley-Jones says. “But as time wore on, I grew into my own. When I first started I would be anxious the entire day before the show. After the first few years, that disappeared.”

Though many elements have shifted with the band throughout the years, one thing remains pertinent: DIY ethics. In the age of virtuoso-like butt-rock, Talley-Jones and fellow band mates accepted the fact that two-chord songs seldom lasting more than a minute about just being a bug (“I’m a Bug”) or a hologram (“Hologram”), weren’t exactly a hot commodity. Known for putting out many of their releases on self-owned record label, Happy Squid Records, self-production was a necessity.

Talley-Jones recalls being approached by Vitus Matare, keyboardist for Los Angeles power punk outfit the Last, about recording the Urinals.

“Everything was starting from the ground up,” Talley-Jones says. “Of course Vitus Matare recorded us initially, but following that we taught ourselves how to write, play, and distribute. We had no misapprehension to ever be signed, because what we were doing was not marketable to the masses.”

That being said, the Urinals appreciate doing things on the cheap — that’s why the band is playing this free show with the original lineup (comprised of Talley-Jones, Kjehl Johansen, and Kevin Barrett), in honor of an East Bay record store.


With Meg Baird, Ava Mendoza, Dominique Leon Sat/14, 3pm, free Stranded 6436 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 858-5977


Feds force pot clubs to deal in cash, then ban use of armored cars


In the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s latest attempt to smoke out medical marijuana dispensaries in the United States, the federal government agency made the decision to ban the use of armored cars by marijuana providers. Compounding that problem, over the last year banking companies, under pressure from the feds, have been refusing to do business with dispensaries, forcing them conduct all-cash transactions.

Dispensaries and their employees all around the Bay Area are being needlessly endangered by this decision. Businesses such as Oakland’s Harborside Health Center — which brings in about $30 million a year, according to co-founder and executive director Steve DeAngelo — stand to take a big hit.

“This decision puts my staff and I at risk,” DeAngelo told us. “People have been known to stake out the property, and having unarmored transport without a secured professional to the US Treasury makes the job even more dangerous.”

DeAngelo declined to comment on how his dispensary will transport money without armored cars. Others, such as Diane Goldstein, a retired lieutenant commander of the Redondo Beach police department and member of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, finds the decision to be downright unethical.

“It’s unethical in the sense that the DEA made the decision without considering the collateral damage that could be caused,” Goldstein said. “It endangers the people that have to transport large sums of money unprotected, law enforcement, and the community at large.”

But there is a glimmer of hope: the Department of Justice issued a memo last week that was a step forward in support of the federal government respecting states like Washington and Colorado where even recreational use of marijuana has been made legal by state ballot initiatives. The DOJ memo outlines enforcement policies such as not selling to minors or having revenue from dispensaries go to gangs or drug cartels.

“There is hope with the new memorandum released,” Dan Goldman, community liaison for the Green Cross in San Francisco said. “Though it does not directly apply to states where marijuana has not been legalized, it is a step forward.”

DeAngelo and others decried the memo as vague, but ultimately counted it as progress that may support a “large increase in momentum” in the plight for further legitimacy in the medical marijuana business.

But this clearly isn’t the first or last time DeAngelo and many other dispensaries have had the legality of their business questioned. Harborside has been locked in court battles since U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag made the move for a forfeiture proceeding for the businesses’ Oakland and San Jose properties last July. Last month federal magistrate Judge Maria Elena James granted a temporary halt to the forfeiture proceedings.

Is DeAngelo worried? “We’re in a holding pattern for the next two to two-and-a-half years,” DeAngelo said. “I’m positive that our business will continue to thrive just as it always does.”

In the meantime,  US Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has invited Attorney General Eric Holder to testify at a Sept. 10 hearing regarding whether the feds should be respecting state marijuana laws. 





North Beach conflict-of-interest zone

It’s been over a year since North Beach’s Piazza Market closed its doors – but nothing has come along to take its place. The property, boasting 12,000 square feet at $4 per square foot, has attracted plenty of interest yet still remains empty.

“There’s been strong activity on the space – we’ve had several offers,” notes realtor Jeremy Blateis. “If there were less restrictions this place would have been sold already.”

According to Blateis, the place has not been leased to prospective renters because of zoning issues. Though the ad for the building says that it’s zoned for retail and restaurant use, potential owners would have to go through “lots of red tape” to have it used as a restaurant – which North Beach doesn’t have a shortage of.

This is where Claudine Cheng, recently resigned member of the Treasure Island Authority Board, comes in. According to a San Francisco Chronicle report, as a public figure she was paid money to influence decisions of city officers. And a company by the name of 627 Vallejo LLC – the owners of 627 Vallejo – paid Cheng $10,000 in hopes that she would smooth out the zoning situation.

According to the same report, she had been emailing Board of Supervisors President David Chiu seeking amendments to existing legislation in order to change the zoning of the area. Former Board President Aaron Peskin authored that legislation to prevent North Beach retail stores from being transformed into restaurants and chain stores.

Asked whether Chiu would have been open to a possible legislative amendment, legislative aide Judson True responded, “Supervisor Chiu would be open to making legislative changes that have community support,” but added that “the issue was whether or not Claudine Cheng was a lobbyist.” Judson noted that Chiu “also understands that there are laws that should match particular circumstances in neighborhoods like North Beach.”

Peskin, who filed complaints against her with the Ethics Commission and Fair Political Practices Commission, didn’t mince words.

“What she did was illegal,” Peskin said of Cheng’s decision to accept the $10,000. “What should fill 627 Vallejo is something that would further serve the community. Not another restaurant.”

Just a pipe dream? SF’s Whirr gets ‘Around’


In the cyclical nature of sonic trends, shoegaze has risen from the grave and out of obscurity again. With old guard bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Mazzy Star releasing new material, acts from this generation are following in their footsteps, reviving what was once out of vogue.

And in the midst of this comes Whirr, a dichotomy of sound, layered and simplistic at the same time, wrapped up in a tight package. Formed in San Francisco in 2011, through what guitarist and founding member Nick Bassett describes as basic boredom, the six-piece outfit decries its shoegaze leanings, searching for a heavier sound.

Bassett cites Whirr’s influences as former SST power trio Dinosaur Jr. and European shoegaze band Nightblooms. Despite these influences, critics have been quick to point out that the band also sounds like My Bloody Valentine. Slowdive, and the like. And why not? Much like those forefathers of sound, Whirr has heavy instrumentals that overpower dreamy female vocals. It’s an easy comparison, but also accurate.

And it’s easy to tell that Bassett isn’t exactly thrilled about that comparison. In response, he takes the path of resistance to these accusations.

“We’re louder than them, and I don’t think we really sound like them,” says Bassett.

But the statement that Whirr is louder than MBV is entirely disputable. Known for being the “loudest band on earth” to some, MBV was accused of being criminally negligent by the press while touring to promote Loveless in 1991.

Admittedly, Whirr is also very loud live — and the band has met opposition from venues and crowd goers alike throughout the course of its month-long tour with doom metal band Lycus and shoegaze group Nothing.

“The worst location we played was in Midland, Texas,” says Bassett. “They were blocking their ears and stuff because they thought we were too loud — they probably didn’t get it. Also Washington DC [was bad] because the sound guy wouldn’t let us play loud.”

Formerly of San Francisco black metal band, Deafheaven, Basset is no stranger to playing deafening music. And it seems that references and comparisons to Slowdive are something that have followed Bassett throughout his career as a musician — Deafheaven’s band name came as an homage to the English band.

But in the pursuit of maximum volume, some locations along the way have met Whirr’s arduous expectations. According to Bassett, Tampa, Fla. was the best stop on the road.

Why? “Because we were really loud and got a lot of money,” he says, concisely.

Aside from getting the chance to make lots of noise and get paid, Whirr has had a productive year with the release of a new EP this summer, which was the followup to last year’s LP Pipe Dreams (Tee Pee, 2012). 

Pipe Dreams
is an album of many layers, tossing together slow and kicky uptempo tunes. Some of the guitar riffs on the album, found in tracks like “Toss,” are downright pop-punk. But the band’s newest EP, Around (Grave Face), released in July, goes for a decidedly different temperament. There’s a slowed down pace.

also steps away from Pipe Dreams with its far longer tracks (not one under five minutes) though maintains a heavy, funeral dirge-like sound.

“These songs sound better when we play them live,” Bassett says.

If you’re interested in seeing if Bassett’s claim is accurate (or you just want to damage your hearing, if only momentarily) you can see Whirr at Bottom of the Hill this week. Oh, and bring earplugs just in case. Things might get loud.

With Nothing, Lycus
Wed/28, 9pm, $10
Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th Street, SF
(415) 626-4455


Attorneys debate toxic turf during Beach Chalet project opponents’ last stand


Opponents of a city plan to install artificial turf soccer fields and stadium lights at the Beach Chalet soccer fields in Golden Gate Park — after losing at every stage of the project’s approval process — had their day in court Friday, beginning what could be their last chance: to have a judge block the project.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if these were the most heavily scrutinized soccer fields in the country,” attorney James Emery, who is representing the city and the project, said as he started off his opening arguments to defeat the lawsuit.

Groups including the SF Coalition for Children’s Outdoor Play and the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter filed a lawsuit based on the claim that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act when it chose to use what the plaintiffs lawyers describe as “toxic turf.”

The main argument on the plaintiff’s side was that the styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) that will be used for the fields is inherently toxic. Other arguments included the lack of hybrid alternatives on the Environmental Impact Report conducted for the fields, as well as deletion of emails by a city department.

Plaintiffs attorney Vernon Grigg started off with the assertion that the SBR turf being used for the soccer fields is made from crushed up tires “that aren’t even allowed in a landfill without a permit,” and that the EIR failed to offer other alternatives such as carpet pad rubber or cork.

His co-counsel Richard Drury also pointed out that SBR turf has a 18.8 in a million chance of causing cancer, exceeding the significant threshold of 10 in a million the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) adopted in 2010.

Attorney Scott Emblidge, another lawyer contracted by the city on the case, said that wasn’t a standard that the city has adopted, criticizing the oft-repeated point by saying, “San Francisco has not formally adopted significance standards, though they have said it 17 times in their opening brief.”

But Drury emphasized that the city is compelled by CEQA to consider a less toxic option. “There are no alternatives to less toxic turf,” Drury said. “It wouldn’t have been hard for them to do that — they just didn’t do it.”

But Emblidge said the EIR didn’t identify the turf choice as significantly toxic, a point Drury disputed.  

“The EIR does mention alternative forms, and does discuss alternative turf composition,” Drury said. “They consistently covered that there were significant health effects. There’s lots of speculation, but nothing that truly shows it.”

Other points were made that people within the Recreation and Parks Department were deleting emails related to the project, but coverage on that subject ran short as Judge Teri L. Jackson had to leave the court because of other engagements.

Attorneys for both sides are scheduleed to meet on Wednesday to be questioned further by Jackson.

Lawsuit challenging the Beach Chalet turf project goes to trial


Plans to place artificial turf and stadium lights on Beach Chalet’s soccer fields in Golden Gate have been in the works since 2011, and local environmental groups have been fighting the proposal and losing each time. Now, their final hopes rest on a lawsuit going to trial this Friday.

[UPDATE 8/16: Presiding Judge Teri L. Jackson is calling for more input from the plaintiff and defendant attorneys on Wednesday, August 21, so a decision in the case isn’t expected until then at the earliest. on that day at the earliest. Check back on Monday for coverage of went down in the courtroom during today’s trial.]

The SF Coalition for Children’s Outdoor Play, the Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter, and other groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act of 1970 when it chose turf that uses styrene-butadiene rubber from old tires.

“We’re going to argue that it violates the Environmental Quality Act when the city decided to use the most toxic rubber,” plaintiffs attorney Richard Drury said. “We’re asking the judge to do a new environmental impact report and to consider other alternatives, such as using more environmentally friendly material.”

Katherine Howard, spokesperson for SF Ocean Edge, a group of environmentalists and residents who live near the site, has been a leading opponent of the project.

“We feel that the project is totally wrong,” Howard said. “Golden Gate Park is described as an escape from the city, and to cover acres of it’s land with grounded up tires is awful.”

In May, the California Coastal Commission denied an appeal of the project after a hearing was called to determine whether or not the plan violates the Coastal Act and the city’s Local Coastal Plan, which calls for naturalistic conditions at the site.

“We believe that this is a strong case,” Arthur Feinstein of the Sierra Club said. “If we lose we have the opportunity to go to a higher court of appeals.”
Trial for the lawsuit starts at 9:45 a.m. this Friday, August 16 at the San Francisco Superior Court of California in Room 503, and is expected to last two to four hours.

Dream deferred


Nearly 50 years ago, hundreds of thousands of people marched at our nation’s capital to demand racial equality and respect. And half a century later, people are still fighting for that same cause.

In July, when George Zimmerman was found not guilty of any crimes for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, racial tensions flared in the Bay Area and abroad. Martin’s death brought the issue of racial profiling to the surface, energizing a new generation of activists just in time for Aug. 28, the 50th anniversary of the Great March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Rev. Arnold Townsend, vice president of San Francisco’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement. Townsend told the Guardian that Martin’s death triggered memories of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American who was lynched in 1955 for flirting with a white woman.

Townsend was 12 when Till was murdered, and he says seeing the pictures of Till’s disfigured body in a casket posted in Jet magazine was what inspired him to be actively involved in the movement for racial justice.

“What happens in the world finds ways of bringing people together. What happened to Trayvon Martin isn’t so different from what happened to Emmett Till,” Townsend told us. “I knew that people could come for my father, my uncle, but from this I learned that they could come for me.”

The Zimmerman verdict resulted in large demonstrations of anger and outrage all across the country, including Oakland and San Francisco. The verdict inspired Zack Aslanian-Williams, a 24-year-old San Francisco resident, and others to join the NAACP and become activists.

“There is something about the Trayvon Martin case that definitely impacted my willingness to get involved,” Aslanian-Williams told us. “The case caught fire, and I have a sense of urgency to get involved in any way I can.”

In the wake of the verdict, many new and veteran activists targeted National Night Out, a neighborhood watch program event that African American activists fear fosters the kind of racist vigilantism they say motivated Zimmerman to kill Martin.

Jesse Strauss and more than a dozen other Oakland residents fanned out all over Oakland during the Aug. 6 event, visiting dozens block parties in an attempt to educate people as to why they should be wary of police and wannabe cops.

“We’re doing this to build community and talk to people about real safety,” Strauss said. “I think that the way that police function has been steady, and from that we have so many black and brown people locked up. This is a reflection of the struggles that have been going on and this shows that racism has not stopped at all.”

Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP chapter, said he wants to see people come together around racial equality and he fears the targeting of neighborhood watch programs may hinder that goal.

“We don’t need extreme provocateurs,” Brown said of anti-police activists. “The movement is like an airplane, and if one wing is too heavy, the whole thing goes down”

But Brown is just as critical of police, saying the 52 hours of sensitivity training that all personnel at San Francisco Police Department have to undergo isn’t enough.

“If relations were good between them, we would not have numerous calls coming in from people who were profiled by police, immediately being asked if they were on parole when they were approached,” Brown said.

Many San Franciscans are sensitive to the racial profiling issue. Last year, when Mayor Ed Lee proposed a stop-and-frisk policy to combat the proliferation of guns — despite studies showing a similar policy in New York City disproportionately targets African Americans — the community rose up and forced Lee to abandon the idea.

“Being a person of color who has been racially profiled, I couldn’t stand back and let this happen,” says Theo Ellington, president of Black Young Democrats of San Francisco, which organized people against the idea.

But activists say it’s not enough to play good defense. Fifty years after the strong show of support for racial justice, there is still much progress to be made.

“We need to keep pushing forward,” Townsend said. “Success is not measured by what you have done, it’s measured by what you’re going to do next.”

On Aug. 24, the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP plans to head over to Mosswood Park in Oakland for a rally commemorating the march put on by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

The University of San Francisco will also be hosting an event on Aug. 20 to discuss the progress and setbacks in the march toward racial equality since the 1960s. Speakers at the event will include Clarence B. Jones, Martin Luther King Jr.’s former lawyer and adviser, and Mayor Ed Lee.

“It’s important to pause and see what’s happened in the past 50 years. It is the 50th anniversary of the dream and it is important to recognize that there’s been some unraveling of the dream,” USF Vice Provost Mary Wardell-Ghiraduzzi said.

Ellington said he’s still waiting for his own generation’s Great March on Washington. “The death of Trayvon Martin was a wakeup call. It proved that my life, as a person of color, is not as valuable as my counterparts,” Ellington said. “We have to be the ones to turn the tide. There’s still a lot more work to do to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream. We are still fighting the same social ills we faced 50 years ago.”

Agency official under fire for development project endorsement

Did a high-ranking official of a regional conservation authority improperly use her influence to secure $10,000 for a nonprofit she chairs the board of? That’s the allegation raised against San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Vice-Chair Anne Halsted in a complaint filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission, a statewide ethics agency.

Halsted appeared in a campaign ad produced by Open Up the Waterfront, which is pushing a San Francisco ballot measure seeking public approval for 8 Washington, a controversial waterfront development project that has become a political flashpoint in San Francisco.

Halsted also chairs of the board of directors of SPUR, a member-supported San Francisco nonprofit focused on planning issues.

In addition to publicly endorsing Open Up the Waterfront, SPUR received a $10,000 donation from San Francisco Waterfront Partners, the 8 Washington developers and major funders of the ballot initiative, sometime between May and the end of June. The campaign ad was posted to YouTube on July 22.

Geraldine Crowley, a volunteer working on a competing ballot measure campaign formed in opposition to 8 Washington, No Wall on the Waterfront, seized on this donation in her FPPC complaint. Crowley charged that Halsted violated conflict-of-interest rules under the California Political Reform Act, saying Halsted “used [her] official position to influence a governmental decision in which the official knows or has reason to know that he or she has a financial interest.”

“I would just like to have her portion of the commercial erased,” Crowley said in an interview. “What she says in the commercial does not reflect how all of BCDC feels about Open Up The Waterfront.” 

The video also features an appearance by Will Travis, retired director of BCDC. “This appears to be a violation of the conflict-of-interest rules designed to prevent financial gifts from influencing public officials entrusted to steward public assets  such as the Bay,” said Jon Golinger, a spokesperson for No Wall on the Waterfront. 

Halsted didn’t respond to our request for comment, but she did contact BCDC Chair Zack Wasserman to address the concerns raised by No Wall on the Waterfront in a message that was later forwarded to the Guardian.

“For several years [I] have supported a project called 8 Washington which is near the waterfront, but totally outside BCDC’s jurisdiction. Because a recent video advocating the project indicated that I, a supporter of the project, am vice chair of BCDC, some have worried that it implies BCDC support – something I have never envisioned or contemplated!  Please be assured that my advocacy is personal because I believe it is an excellent project, not because any organization with which I associate has voted to endorse the project!  Sorry if this confused anyone.”

Whether Halsted influenced the $10,000 donation to SPUR in connection with her support for the project remains unclear. The organization’s operating budget exceeded $3 million during the 2011-2012 year, according to SPUR’S annual report.

“When it comes to conflict-of-interest violations, it needs to be found that a public official is making governmental decisions based on money that has been given to them,” Gary Winuk, chief of the enforcement division at FPPC said. “After we receive the complaint, we wait 10 days for the person accused to respond, then launch an investigation and review all the facts if there is just cause.” 

David Beltran, spokesperson for Open Up the Waterfront, criticized the complaint as “a reckless and meritless attempt to suppress free speech.”

It’s likely to be a week or more before the FPPC determines whether Crowley’s complaint has any validity. If the FPPC determines that that Halsted did indeed violate the conflict-of-interest rules under the California Political  Reform Act, she may face penalties such as a misdemeanor and $5,000 per violation.

Larry Goldzband, the commission’s executive director, noted that BCDC has yet to endorse the project.

“The multi-use project proposed at 8 Washington Street in San Francisco is not in the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission,” Goldzband said. “BCDC has neither considered nor endorsed the project, nor has any Commissioner asked that the Commission review the project in any manner.”

With a rising profile, King Tuff still prefers music that sounds like it came out of a trashcan


Garage rock troubadour King Tuff is no stranger to playing outdoor venues like Golden Gate Park for Outside Lands.

“One time I played in my parents backyard — another time I played in a shed in Massachusetts, called the Shed, that could literally fit only three people,” says Kyle Thomas, the man, the figurehead behind King Tuff.

But this will be a little different than his parents backyard or a shed in Massachusetts. Outside Lands is a decidedly bigger event  — already sold out for 2013, and attracting 65,000 people alone in 2012.

King Tuff — who claims he represents rock n’ roll, freedom, sex, and magic — will bring an entirely different flavor to the festival, whose major headliners include folks like a legendary former Beatle, NIN, and Daryl Hall and John Oates.

“I feel great about it,” Thomas says, punctuated with a giggle. “I’m just excited to play with Paul McCartney and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.”

Every answer from him ends in a giggle.

Though one may glean that the King Tuff sound gets its influences from classic glam and garage rock, Thomas says he’s influenced by genres across the board.

“Pretty much everything, there’s not just one band I really want to sound like,” Thomas said. “There’s so much music going into my head that it’s hard to decipher everything.”

Suffice to say, King Tuff is most known for his release, Was Dead, which reached #8 on Billboard’s Heatseekers in June upon its late May reissue. Also in his arsenal is his self-titled album, released May 2012 by Sub Pop and a seven-inch dubbed Screaming Skull, released October 2012.

But one thing Thomas has had to deal with upon the success of Was Dead rising to popularity in 2008, is talking about it. Constantly.

“Oh god, I just hate to talk in general,” Thomas says. “I don’t mind talking about it, it just gets tiring coming up with answers to the same questions that I get asked over and over again.”

Many things have changed since Southern California garage rock label, Burger Records, put out its cassette issue of Was Dead five years ago. As the sixteenth cassette released, the record label has gone on to add dozens of bands to its roster and put out hundreds more cassettes.

“It’s been quite a few years since that  was released and it’s definitely blossomed a lot into what it is now,” Thomas says. “There’s a lot of good bands on Burger Records now, but I just want to hear something that sounds like it actually came from a garage.”

Thomas would like to a see a grittier approach to garage rock, in terms of presentation and recording quality.

“Like, with some dudes with some missing teeth that are playing in a garage and sing about yard sales,” Thomas says. “A lot of music is produced on a laptop, and I want to hear something that sounds like it came out of a trashcan.”

Known for having gold teeth, Thomas may just want to have validation of some sort. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

King Tuff, gold teeth and all,  will be taking his own personal brand of music and flair to a town near you later this year.  Starting in late September, King Tuff will hit the road with Wavves and Jacuzzi Boys, touring the US for a few weeks.

Other than ample tour dates, can we expect anything new from King Tuff? Maybe.

“I got a lot of stuff in the works,” Thomas says, noncommittally.  “It’s just all sort of invisible, in my head.”

In the end, if Kyle Thomas wasn’t King Tuff, a guy venturing throughout the country spreading garage rock gospel, he would take on a more lax occupation. As some sort of mutant “frog man.”

“If I wasn’t King Tuff I would be a frog man, that’s how I feel, I feel like a frog man,” Thomas said. “I just like chilling out on a lily pad, sticking my tongue out and watching the fruit flies.”

Though Outside Lands may be sold out, you can see King Tuff, or just the frog man, here:
King Tuff
With the Men, Twin Peaks
Sat/10, 10pm, $20
Brick and Mortar Music Hall
1710 Mission, SF

Pedaling slowly


With San Francisco bicycle rental companies such as Blazing Saddles and Bay City Bicycle Rentals and Tours having bike fleets numbering in the thousands, why does the new San Francisco bike share program only have 350 bikes? And can that really be effective?

In August, San Francisco and a handful of other Bay Area cities will join the ranks of the dozens of cities in the country that have bicycle share programs, although most are more robust than ours. For example, New York City’s bike share program offer 6,000 bikes.

Sponsored by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and bankrolled by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission with more than $7 million, the program will bring 700 bikes to the region — half of which will make their way to San Francisco.

In the following months, San Francisco could be allotted 500 total bikes. For the initial launch, 35 bike share stations will be spread throughout the city, and when the bicycle count rises, the number of stations will jump to 50.

MTC spokesperson Sean Co told us that most of the money for the program goes to the cost of the bikes themselves. Each bike costs $5,000, is outfitted with tracking technology, and is expected to last 10 years. In addition to being high-tech, all bike share bikes are unique to Alta Bike Share Systems, and require special tools to be taken apart, another factor in the high price tag.

The rest of money goes toward the stations and fees for a consultant that helps run the program. Co believes that the membership fees alone will make up for the over $7 million spent on the program. But that’s assuming the program isn’t a flop, which some fear it could be given the anemic number of bikes being offered.



New York City’s bike share, Citi Bike — financed completely by Citigroup Inc. with no public funds — launched in May with 6,000 bikes and 300 stations. That program is already approaching a million total rides. Chicago’s Divvy bike share system started off with 750 bikes at the beginning of July and will increase to 3,000 at the end of August.

Kit Hodge, deputy director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, is one of the people who says that 350 bikes just isn’t enough for San Francisco. “The city and SFMTA have estimated that it would take 3,000 bikes to have an effective bicycle share,” Hodge told us. “We definitely are pushing for more bikes.”

But San Francisco’s bicycle share may get the thousands of bikes that some believe it needs. The Board of Supervisors recently passed a resolution that calls on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Department of Public Works to have a much larger system by 2014.

“Five hundred bikes isn’t enough for a citywide bike share,” Sup. Scott Wiener, who sponsored the resolution, told us. “If you look at other cities with a large population and a lot of people biking, bicycle share stations have to be heavily concentrated in many different areas. With the 500 bikes, other areas of the city will be excluded.”

But critics like Wiener and Hodge may not have taken into account that this program is only a trial run, with enough funding to last a year, according to BAAQMD representatives.

BAAQMD Director of Strategic Incentives Damian Breen told us the program is just the right size: “We feel the pilot is appropriately sized. I don’t think we’ve limited ourselves at all. This is to test the waters and see what it can grow into.”

Breen also thinks that mainly focusing on San Francisco for the Bay Area-wide bicycle sharing program would be unfair to other cities. Unlike other bicycle sharing programs, such as New York City and Chicago, San Francisco’s bicycle sharing system is just one part of a regional program that includes Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose.

“This stage of the program is to see what works and what doesn’t,” Breen said. “Maybe the bicycle share might be used more in the suburbs than in San Francisco. When you do something regionally you have to take all cities and all outcomes into account.”

When asked if the bicycle sharing program would have increased the number of bikes in San Francisco if there was additional funding, he said no.

“I think obviously all partners would have liked the program to be bigger in certain areas,” Breen said. “Whether or not it would have been bigger in places like San Francisco, if there was more funding, I cannot say.”

Breen says BAAQMD will consider corporate sponsorship for the bike share once the initial money from the pilot runs out.



The possibility of more stations and bike share rides in the city isn’t appealing to Blazing Saddles bicycle rental company owner Jeff Sears.

“If stations are placed in areas like the Fisherman’s Wharf, or North Beach, people may be tempted to use bike share instead,” Sears said. “But, we’ve been assured by the BAAQMD that that’s not going to happen.”

Breen says the service is directed at residents who commute, and may need the bike for that “last mile” of their trek.

“This is different than bicycle rentals, which are usually meant for a day of riding,” Breen said. “They are designed for 30 minute use — the main audience is folks who are looking for that last mile after they get off of Caltrain or BART.”

Breen went on to say that areas with bicycle sharing programs also saw bicycle renting programs go up as a whole. But Jeanne Orellana of Bay City Bicycle Rentals and Tours believes otherwise.

“We absolutely feel that it would affect business,” Orellana said. “We wish that it would coexist with our business, but other cities with bicycle sharing programs have seen bicycle rental shops close down due to the competition.” A scenario similar to what Orellana imagined played out in Miami Beach, Fla. Unlike the program in store for the Bay Area, Miami Beach’s DecoBike offers pricing plans for residents and tourists, and many of the tourists find themselves choosing the bike share over rental shops in the area, causing business in bicycle rental shops to reportedly drop 40 to 50 percent. Wiener acknowledges the reservations that Orellana and Sears hold about bike share, but he said that both options can coexist in the same city. “They’re two completely different markets,” Wiener said. “I understand the concerns that they have but comparing bike sharing and bicycle rental is like comparing apples to oranges.” And the BAAQMD, SFBC, SFMTA, and Wiener all agree on one thing: Tourists choosing bike share over bicycle rental companies just doesn’t make sense economically. Renting a bicycle for a day at Bay City Bicycle Rentals and Tours is $32. Taking a bicycle out for the day at the bike share comes at a heftier price. For $9, customers can get a 24-hour subscription with unlimited 30 minute rides from station to station. But after those 30 minutes are up, fees get added. A 31- to 60-minute ride costs $4, and each 30-minute increment after that costs $7, which can build up to over $150 in a day if the bicycle is not returned to a station. In the meantime, Orellana hopes that consumers will make the right decision for themselves. “I trust and hope that many people will do the math and find that bike share isn’t cheaper for exploring the city,” Orellana said. Co said that more than 300 people purchased memberships for the Bay Area bicycle share 24 hours after memberships were up for grabs a couple weeks ago. BAAQMD is pleased with the results, and viewed it as a good turnout. The official launch date has not been released, but its infrastructure is now being put into place with its imminent launch.

Cave of garage rock dreams: Primitive Hearts, Pinkslime, Lunch, Sweat Lodge


I came to an Undisclosed Cavernous Area (let’s call it U.C.A from here out) on Saturday in the greater Bay Area with the promise of two things. First, that I would see an array of garage and surf punk bands for free — and second, that I would be going to something possibly illegal, which is fairly punk, as well.

The setting was, as mentioned, a fairly damp U.C. A. The stage was to be determined by the bands that played. Powered by a generator and dimly lit with a couple of clamp lamps, the show boasted dozens of people gathered close to hear the bands and to (literally) be kept in the light.

The first band up was Primitive Hearts, a garage-pop band from Oakland. Airing on the side of Ramones-worship, the trio cranked through its set playing selections from its latest full length released this year, High and Tight. Throwing a bunch of glow sticks into the audience, Primitive Hearts set the party-like atmosphere of the show.

Up next was Pinkslime, yet another band from Oakland via Portland, Ore. (definitely a trend for this show). The duo served up good and sludgy surf-punk. Some songs were similar to Thee Oh Sees with buckling riffs, and vocals that take a backseat to said riffs. Either way, the audience ate it up, and things got a little rowdy with a few po-goers. Unfortunately, this was Pinkslime’s last show for the next few months.

Lunch, which is a messy garage pop-punk band from Portland, pretty much killed it. The touring group, hot off the release of its newest full length cassette, Quinn Touched The Sun on Resurrection Records, ripped through its set, ending with a cover of “Skulls” by the Misfits.

Last was San Francisco’s Sweat Lodge, self-described “pow wow punk”. With overwhelming bass lines, sleepy vocals, and fits of thrashy-ness, Sweat Lodge draws from psych, punk, and garage rock influences.

The nature of the band, loud and sloppy, was greatly reflected in the U.C.A.  The singer beckoned people to get as close as possible to the group. But this caused problems. The vocalist darted in and out of the audience, every which way, falling and leaning into the crowd-goers pinned against craggy walls.

In a turn of events, he fell and knocked over Lunch’s sound equipment, possibly damaging it irreparably (according to one member from Lunch). Though he apologized, the atmosphere in the U.C.A was tense as Sweat Lodge cranked out its last few songs.

But still, I commend Sweat Lodge for taking the no boundaries approach — it brought everybody closer in an actual and sentimental sense, and ended the show on an interesting note.

All the folks that played that night were solid, and all had one thing in common: they were all people of the punk ilk trying to jam in a U.C.A.

Also of note: On August 3, Sweat Lodge is playing with Nobunny and The Shrills at El Rio in San Francisco for $8. The show starts at 10 p.m. and is 21+.

Q&A: If Sebadoh was a meal, it’d be chili over spaghetti


Many things have changed since Sebadoh released its last full-length album, The Sebadoh, 14 years ago. We’ve seen three respective presidents hold terms, have started and ended wars, and the Backstreet Boys have broken up and reunited once again.

Taking influences from proto-punk masters such as Captain Beefheart and noise bands like Unwound, Sebadoh comes together to form a delightful trio with varying musical influences. With its latest full-length release, Defend Yourself, expected to drop in September, Sebadoh is returning to do-it-yourself ethics, recording the album on its own terms on a smaller record label, Joyful Noise.

Sebadoh is coming to the Bay Area on July 31, playing with San Diego garage rock revivalists Octa#grape at Cafe Du Nord. Here’s what Sebadoh’s vocalist and bass player Jason Loewenstein had to say about the new record, Sebadoh-as-food, Courtney Love, and returning to the DIY:

San Francisco Bay Guardian Why hasn’t there been an album in 14 years? Will this album be extra-special?

Jason Loewenstein We’re not trying to make up for extra years we went without having an album, but it is a a little bit special because we made it by ourselves, unlike our past six albums. The album returns to the early days of Sebadoh.

SFBG What are some influences for the new album? What has changed since the last album?

JW Since we made our last record, I’ve indulged in country music, so there will be a few songs on there that have that feel. As always, we’re a fan of noisy bands like Unwound. When it comes to guitar, there’s some nods at Captain Beefheart. But all of this would be fairly obvious listening to Sebadoh. Also having a new member of the band has influenced this album. We went from having Russell [Pollard] on drums to Bob [D’Amico], and it’s changed the way the band sounds. So, Bob is the main influence.

Why have you returned back to DIY ethics on this record?

JW We spent the most money we ever spent on last record, and we’ve learned about what we don’t need and do need. Since the last record I’ve done a lot of engineering and have helped other bands record. We’re saving a tremendous amount of money by doing it ourselves and doing what we want.

SFBG If Sebadoh was food, what would it be and would you eat it?

JW Sebadoh is chili over spaghetti with oyster crackers, chopped onion and hot sauce. The reason is because there’s a lot of random stuff that goes into Sebadoh, and you don’t think it would go good together but it turns out pretty good…I’d definitely eat it.

SFBG What was it like being on Sub Pop Records during its heyday?

JW They were a big label with the excitement held for fan zines. It was a coup of underdogs! Possibilities were a big question mark, and there was the possibility that what you did could get on the radio, though it wasn’t what we really expected or wanted. You just couldn’t expect or predict bands like Nirvana (Sub-Pop label mates) exploding the way they did.

SFBG What’s the oddest thing that has happened while on tour?

JW We were playing in front of 5,000 people, and strings (on the guitars) just started breaking. Lou (Barlow, vocalist and guitarist) got so frustrated he broke his guitar, so they handed him a new guitar. Trying to keep the crowd entertained, Bob Fay (the drummer at the time) just started jamming and and I started yelling into mic. All while this was happening Courtney Love was at the side of the stage intoxicated yelling “Don’t disrespect Kurt!” I don’t know why. He had died a year ago? Yeah, that was really weird.

SFBG Are there any grand plans in the future for Sebadoh?

JW We’re just hoping to hit the road a lot in 2014. We want to do a couple US tours and keep super busy. We’ve been waiting for our turn with Lou [Note: Barlow has been touring with his other band, Dinosaur Jr.]

With OCTA#Grape
July 31, 9pm, $15
Café Du Nord
2170 Market, SF

Rent Board Commissioner called a bad landlord, sued for $125,000 in damages


San Francisco renter Deborah Silverman has found herself in a kind of mousetrap. Silverman says she was driven out of her apartment of more than 10 years because of a mouse infestation caused by the unit below her, and she alleges that her landlord, Bart Murphy – who is also a Rent Board Commissioner – failed to address the problem after numerous complaints.

Silverman has filed suit against Murphy, charging that he purposefully let the infestation in her apartment run rampant in order to force her out. She’s seeking more than $125,000 in damages, according to her attorney Eric Lifschitz. That would cover the $700 difference between what she was paying for rent and what it was raised to (multiplied by the years she lived there) and property damages from the infestation, as well as emotional and punitive damages. Murphy is the president of a property management company that runs more than 500 buildings.

Silverman’s lawsuit caught the attention of Tenants Together, a statewide organization that advocates for renter’s rights. Dean Preston, founder and executive director that organization, sees the dispute between Murphy and Silverman as part of a broader trend in San Francisco.

“We see a lot of landlords that don’t make repairs in order to drive tenants out,” Preston told the Guardian. He said Murphy should resign if he is in fact forced to fork over the thousands of dollars for Silverman’s settlement.

“If these allegations are found to be true, Murphy should resign,” Preston said. “Bart Murphy has no business serving on a commission in this city, especially a commission that passes judgment on tenant claims against landlords.”

Murphy could not be reached to comment on the matter, but we will update this post if we hear from him.

Delene Wolf, executive director of the San Francisco Rent Board, told us the case does not warrant the possibility of Murphy resigning as a commissioner on the Rent Board. “He is a landlord and is entitled to have disputes with his tenant,” Wolf said. “He has not been found guilty of any crimes. Nobody is being found guilty of anything, this is a civil litigation.”

But Lifschitz echoed Preston’s stance, saying Murphy should either resign or be forced off of the Rent Board if the trial does not go in his favor. “The best case scenario is that my client is vindicated and is able to find a new home in San Francisco,” Lifschitz said. “The worst outcome is if the jury determines that what Murphy did was reasonable. Every time we learn something new about this case we’re shocked that this happened.”

According to Lifschitz, Murphy has since rented out the abandoned units for a higher price. The next court hearing on the case is scheduled for tomorrow (Thu/25), and the trial is set to begin once a courtroom becomes available.  




“Eviction Free Summer” activists show up outside a landlord’s office to protest an eviction

On July 2, activists from “Eviction Free Summer,” formed to defend tenants facing eviction, gathered outside landlord Rick Holman’s South Park office building in San Francisco to protest an eviction he’d initiated against a Mission-based activist collective.

Organizer Fred Sherburn-Zimmer said it was one of many peaceful protests the housing activists plan to stage against property owners this summer. “We’re taking it to the landlord’s homes and offices,” Sherburn-Zimmer said. “They can’t pretend they’re not ruining people’s lives by displacing them.”

This past April, collective members from In The Works, an organization that rents space in what is often called the “17 Reasons” building, at 17th and Mission streets, received an eviction notice from Holman alleging illegal subletting.

Holman is a managing partner at Asher Investment Group, and from the perspective of Sherburn-Zimmer and other protesters, his move to evict the collective is helping to propel a trend of gentrification in the Mission. “We need this space, and if the whole neighborhood is high-end realty, then it’s not really helping the community,” Sherburn-Zimmer said.

The In The Works Collective bills itself as an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist arts and events collective, which regularly hosts skill-sharing workshops and other activism-oriented events. A collective member who introduced herself as Madeline said Holman has not been the most hospitable landlord.

“When he first came to talk to us, he said we had bad posture and body language,” she recounted. “The day after we got the three-day notice, the locks were changed.” 

When the Guardian reached Holman this past May seeking comment for a longer article about widespread evictions, he declined to comment on the matter but emphasized that he planned to keep the building as commercial office space rather than convert it into high-end condos, and said his other tenants had expressed no complaints.

Like many folks facing eviction from San Francisco rental properties, In The Works may be forced to find another space. Currently, Madeline says the collective is paying 72 cents a square foot for the 5,200 square foot place — and it’s highly unlikely that they’ll find a place in the Mission for a similar price. That’s why they welcomed support from the activists at Eviction-Free Summer.

“I totally respect them helping us out,” Madeline said. “It’s important that we stick together. Our place has always been big on solidarity and community building.” 

Eviction Free Summer hasn’t revealed what other landlords they might target, yet they plan to continue staging protests outside landlords’ homes and offices in coming months. “This is just the beginning of this direct action group,” Sherburn-Zimmer said. “We will do anything to prevent people from losing their homes and spaces.”

Wrongfully terminated Oakland Airport workers still fighting to get their jobs back

A year ago, Hakima Arhab, a former Subway employee at Oakland International Airport, spoke up about the restaurant breaking living wage laws that guarantee paid sick days for employees. For this, she believes she was fired.

Since then, a campaign has been launched to raise awareness about Subway and Jamba Juice workers at the Oakland airport who say they were terminated for speaking out. This afternoon, June 27, members of service workers’ union Unite Here will join with Arhab and other terminated employees in picketing outside the Port of Oakland’s Port Commission meeting, from 4 to 6 p.m. 

According to Arhab, “I left for a vacation for a month and a half, and I had told my employers four months before the fact. They were fine with it.” Nevertheless, “When I came back, they said they had no hours for me, and I was fired. I then knew they had fired me not because I took a vacation, but I had complained about them breaking living wage laws.” 

Arhab said Subway had not given paid sick days since 2009. The Port of Oakland’s living wage law requires employers to provide 12 paid sick days per year. 

Last year, the National Labor Relations Board charged the operators of the airport Subway and Jamba Juice with breaking labor laws by terminating workers who had made complaints to the Port of Oakland. According to a report in the East Bay Express, the port conducted its own investigation, and also concluded that the store operators were in violation.

Unite Here representatives filed an appeal earlier this year to demand that Arhab and Diamond Ford, a former Jamba Juice employee, be reinstated to their jobs. Following an appeals hearing, the port agreed and ordered the operators to reinstate the terminated employees. 

But that still hasn’t happened. Though Arhab has participated in the campaign to shed light on unfair labor practices at the Oakland Airport, she says she still feels powerless. 

“I feel mad and un-powerful that these companies were breaking laws, and they had the power to fire me just because I complained,” Arhab said. “I did the right thing. When will they?”

Picketers who plan to gather outside the Port Commission today aim to pressure the agency to compel the fast food restaurants to comply with orders to reinstate the terminated employees.

Sarah Norr, an Organizer for Unite Here, feels that Arhab and the other employees are being served an injustice. “The airport is on public land and is a public resource,” Norr said. “When workers don’t have sick days or job security, there’s something wrong with that.”