Jen Snyder

Legs that just won’t quit


Long Legged Woman seemed to come out of left field when it performed at the Eagle Tavern a few months back. The group had the feel of a touring band: freakish energy, precision, and a name I hadn’t heard before. And the self-proclaimed ‘Tardcore trio turned out to be a terrifically raucous opening act for some of San Francisco’s most favored indie bands.

As drummer Justin Flowers informed me months later, Long Legged Woman may be new to SF, but its members certainly aren’t new to the game. In fact, they’re more south field than left field.

The three-year-old, once-Athens, Ga.-based thrash-rock combo was just "ready to get the fuck out of Georgia," Flowers told me as he sucked down Marlboros at a coffee shop. The outfit — which will import a fourth member from Georgia soon — has been reaping the benefits of its integration into the San Francisco underground ever since its move. An upcoming tour with Dark Meat to South by Southwest, accompanied by a 7-inch split, are just some of the big plans Long Legged Woman is optimistically pursuing.

One of the best things about music coming out of the past decade has been the birth of the most killer subgenres in the world. Psych-rock, surf punk, and deathcore — to name a few — are the direct results of the filtered interests of versatile musicians fitting all their favorite filthy influences into one song. Long Legged Woman is one of the finest examples of this. You must see them and own the record to get your fill.

Live, you will get a taste of Mayyors-esque thrash in terms of the vocals, while Nobody Knows This Is Nowhere (Pollen Season, 2008), which was recorded on a 4-track, offers a more psychedelic, garage-pop feeling and an eclectic batch of tunes. "We all write songs for the band," says Flowers with a slight Southern twang. "So they’re always different."

Long Legged Woman finds its own sound by rotating members Gabe Vodicka, Alex Cargile, and Jeff Rahuba on bass, guitar, and vocals. The result is a ratatouille of Neil Young-meets-Death-in-an-opium-bar: it makes you want to light your flannel on fire and throw it onstage. (Jen Snyder)


With the Hospitals and Eat Skull

Sat/14, 8 p.m., call for price

Li Po Lounge

916 Grant, SF

(415) 982-0072



Sometimes bands come together in the same way chords are formed: distinct sounds marry and create something bigger and brighter than themselves. I sat down at a bar with a few members of the Fresh and Onlys and left feeling like they were band wizards. Headed by Tim Cohen of the late Black Fiction, the Bay Area outfit is fleshed out by Shayde Sartain, Wymond Miles, James Kim, Grace Cooper, and Heidi Alexander. Although all have played in other groups, they made it click in the unlikely company of close friends. "When we first decided to do this, the reaction from our mutual friends was like, ‘At last!’" said guitarist Miles. It’s like when Batman and Superman and all their friends finally decided to join up and start the Justice League. Only this incredible six-piece is for real.

Perhaps that’s why the Fresh and Onlys have received such positive attention in the five short months they’ve been a formal group. "Basically it’s a recipe for instant soup," Cohen said. "You just pour the powder into the bowl and add water … We’re really comfortable making music together." As Black Fiction’s songwriter, Cohen was used to guiding his songs almost single-handedly. Now with a new ensemble of players who trust each other’s abilities, he has been able to let the tunes take their course. "It’s really freeing for me, and probably really freeing for everyone else."

The Fresh and Onlys’ live performances are completely rocking and true to their recordings, suggesting that you aren’t seeing a one-time special, but something manicured before delivery. As Miles explained, "Playing live can be strange because we are all shedding inhibitions. It’s like we’re some strange creatures behind the looking glass looking at one another and trying to figure out what the fuck this person is made of."

The damaged-pop psychedelic band proudly wears its eclectic influences — a wax museum of skewed adaptations of bands from the past, with a modern coating. Think Brian Eno, Christian Death, and the Dead Boys having tea, but in a grungy, lo-fi haze. Yet there is an undercurrent in the Fresh and Onlys’ sound that doesn’t deny the sadness of life. Cohen’s lyrics complicate the otherwise sweet and dewy songs, bringing a downbeat mood to songs like "Nuclear Disaster" or "The Mind Is Happy," though Cohen claims it’s unintentional: "You can’t control what goes in your brain and what comes out of it." The overall effect is that of a group of musicians playing the role of the leader and the orchestra at the same time, building and suggesting, following and provoking each other.

Plans for an album titled The No Foot Boogie are in the works, as the Fresh and Onlys weed through the 60 songs they’ve written, and the combo plans to go light on shows until the disc is released — a novel idea for a San Francisco band. Next show, prepare to boogie with both feet.


With Bronze, Skeletons, and Mayyors

Thurs/13, 9 p.m., call for price

Eagle Tavern

398 12th St., SF

(415) 626-0880

Lose yourself


Every big city hosts its fair share of great bands that attract crowds with centrifugal force. While other performers flyer mercilessly only to play to the opening act and bartenders, some draw a crowd only money can buy. But money seems to have little to do with it — some acts are just really fucking good.

I sat down with Ty Segall in the Lower Haight last month to find out what he was putting in the water. "If I put out a hundred records in my life, I’ll die happy," Segall said after a good, hearty spiel praising Billy Childish.

Segall sets the scene physically. Onstage, the 21-year-old can be sighted in tight jeans and a striped T-shirt, crouched over a guitar in front of a bass drum with a tambourine duct-taped haphazardly to the front. The reverb is turned up so high you can hardly tell where the lyrics end and guitar begins. Then imagine it sounding great — almost like you’re listening to an old record. Every pause between songs is heavy with echo and the hiss of amplifiers. Suddenly you realize that punk’s not dead — we just weren’t doing it right.

"It’s all about the sound … the old, live rock thing," he explained. "Childish is famous for saying you don’t need more than a day to record something. That’s how I feel recording should be done. Quick, on the fly, fast — real."

The new sound is the old sound. In a media-saturated culture where you can listen to anything from GG Allin to the Shangri-las without having to have a cool older brother, the only place to turn is your roots.

"For me, there’s nothing better than oldies stations," Segall said. "All the girl groups and Buddy Holly — it’s real rock ‘n’ roll. It’s not even the song. It’s how it sounds. It’s got soul. The style of recording, the real, live sound, and the real feeling it portrays. You can feel the live, on-the-fly mentality."

Ask Segall about his influences, however, and you’ll get a lot more than Childish. You’ll get an array of genres and styles: surf music, glam, the Stooges, and local bands. Segall has basically jumped into a dream.

"I’m the luckiest person in the world," he said, referring to his upcoming US tour with indie greats Thee Oh Sees and the Sic Alps. "I’m touring with two of my favorite bands in the city. This is as far as I ever wanted to take this project, and I’m already there." And the man has gone even further: Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer is releasing Segall’s new self-titled album on his Castle Face imprint, though at this point he has released only one other recording — by his own band — on the label.

But then everyone gets carried away and forgets him or herself when they see Segall live. In fact, you almost forget to dance. His songs are so spot-on and inspired that you lose your focus on the surroundings. Instead you glue your eyes to his performance the same way you fix on a TV set when you’re hungover. People already consider Segall’s SoCal-ish lo-fi ballad "The Drag" a classic, and I have the hypnotic, Syd Barrett–inspired "Who Are You?" on every playlist on my iPod.

I mean, I don’t want to get all afterschool-special about it, but if you want to see something new and don’t want to waste an entire night, catch Segall the next chance you get. And you know what? If Segall puts out a hundred records in his life, I’ll die happy too.


With Thee Oh Sees and Sic Alps

Thurs/11, call for time and price

Eagle Tavern

398 12th St., SF

(415) 626-0880

Also with Master/Slave and Girls

Fri/12, 9:30 p.m., $7

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF

“Not tough”


It wasn’t long ago that I stood in a small gallery, getting the same feelings I have on the F train in August: I’m going to get stampeded or dehydrate, and no one will notice. But since the Tea Elles had come highly recommended and was the only band playing, I stuck it out — along with a pack of sweaty citizens who, despite the B.O.-heavy sauna atmosphere, didn’t budge from the front of the room.

Months later in SoMa, I’m sitting in an airy kitchen with three of the four Tea Elles. It’s a bit like you imagine the "cool kid" dorm room to be: people with rolled cigarettes and guitars filing in and out and obscure music crackling out of a boom box.

"We picked the name, thinking Tea and Elles are like British and French. The most pansy, flamboyant name, which is kind of fitting for what we are doing," drummer Jigmae Behr tells me. "I mean, we’re not tough."

It’s true, the Tea Elles — which includes vocalist-guitarist Jeremy Cox, guitarist-vocalist Amelia Radtke, and bassist-vocalist Tanner Griepentrog — are not "tough." But funny enough, I’d have to say they’re kind of punk. Kind of punk and kind of surf — and kind of psychedelic too. Oh, yeah, and they’re also amazing.

The randomness of the band’s music is its most enticing aspect. It’s like a cocktail made by a mad scientist that hangs out at your favorite record store — a little Billy Childish with some Ventures and a dash of Syd Barrett thrown in. It makes a lot of sense when you hear it, but I’m amazed someone made this monster walk.

And the Tea Elles aren’t alone. The more independent shows I go to, the more I see this style emerging. Behr has his theory. "There was a mass consciousness," the 26-year-old explains, rolling another cigarette. "There were a lot of kids all over the country, going to the same shows, buying the same records, and loving the same bands. We all made these projects that came from the same cesspool. We are just all coming through the same filter of a punk aesthetic.

"So we evolved and whatever direction we take is going to be through that lens. If we decide we’re gonna be surf-oriented, or have more girl group harmonies, it’s all coming through that lens."

Oh. Where was I when everyone was getting so awesome? While some of us feel like having instant access to every type of media in the world has become daunting, other young musicians are pulling muses from every vine they can reach. And in a city like San Francisco, where — unlike Los Angeles or New York City — you won’t have a talent scout from MTV at every show, these performers seem to be making music for all the right reasons.

"When I’m writing a song or playing music I’m not thinking about any of that shit," says Cox, 19. "I’m thinking about a handful of people whose music I like."

The so-called egocentric notion of a frontperson is out, too, along with the idea that a band would ever release an album — unless it was done independently. It’s as if groups like the Tea Elles never imagined anyone would ever help them, although David Fox of local art collective Wizard Mountain recently recorded the band free of charge. That session, along with a recent Portland, Ore., jaunt means the Tea Elles probably have enough material for a full-length, which means I can finally stop listening to the melodic howling of "Chance of a Trance" on the outfit’s MySpace page. Before the band left for Portland, they felt that their songs weren’t "album material" — but apparently now they are. And regardless of whether San Francisco listeners are finally handed a DIY-burned CD or some indie label gets wise to the Tea Elles’ innovation, I just want to hear them. (Jen Snyder)


With Maus Haus and Ty Segall

Fri/5, 8 p.m., call for price (Sew-Op benefit)


2050 Bryant, SF
(415) 648-7562