Or even to the massive creative infusion that came to the Bay with the dot-com Gold Rush, and then suddenly found itself with free time after the tech crash young, imaginative minds that viewed the last psychedelic revolution as a starting point.
Witness the Friday night scenes at the Mission District's Adobe Books, where artists and fans spilled out onto the street, socializing and sloshing red wine, to see microscopic, well-curated exhibits and hear a local band or two. Or the memorable one-offs that might find you stumbling down a rocky Caltrain track in the pitch black, after the trains stopped running at midnight, to hear DJs play in the tunnels. Or the Oakland parties of local music dynamo Vice Cooler.
Onetime SF Art Institute undergrad Banhart and Mills College compositional major Joanna Newsom might have drifted away by '06, but the Bay Area rock, noise, and electronic scene still boasted binaries and beyond Comets on Fire and High on Fire, Music Lovers and Lovemakers, Finches and Faun Fables, Deerhoof and Clipd Beaks, Rogue Wave and Thee More Shallows, Kid 606 and Six Organs of Admittance.
In the last half of the aughties, Thee Oh Sees, the Dodos, Ty Segall, Nodzzz, Wooden Shjips, Jonas Reinhardt, Mi Ami, Sleepy Sun, Sholi, Howlin' Rain, Colossal Yes and more joined the locals crew, while onetime NorCal-ers like !!!, the Rapture, and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio made a splash on the other side of the continent. Arthur magazine caught the Bay Area tailwind, swathing its covers with the images of Bay-bred performers, which fed a sister scene down south. How did one get a handle on such a sprawling sonic landscape populated by the children of Blue Cheer and Moby Grape, Brian Wilson and Neil Young?
By going out every night and then some and why not? There was always something going on and though so many of these talents didn't bust out into the mainstream like Lady Gaga or Weezer, the Bay made its presence known, big time, as a site of audio and music technology revolution amid the chat and twitter of the overall tech boom.
The Bay once home to Universal Audio innovator Bill Putnam (who developed stereo recording and studio essentials like the 1176 and LA-2A compressors) and Redwood City magnetic tape giant Ampex (supported by Hillsborough retiree Bing Crosby) has, in the aughties, changed the ways music is made and listened to. Daly City's Digidesign produces Pro Tools, the widely adopted digital recording platform that transformed the sound of studio-produced music in the '00s. Cupertino's Apple and its iPod, iTunes, and Garageband sped the spread of digital music, the demise of physical product, and gave everyone with a MacBook a tool to make their own beats, podcasts, and songs.
Napster brought file-sharing to new highs, or lows, depending on whether you think "information wants to be free" or "home-taping is killing music," until Bay neighbor Metallica brought it down. East Bay-bred DJ Shadow made it into Guinness World Records in 2001 for supposedly creating the "first completely sampled album" with ... Endtroducing (Mo' Wax, 1996). UC Berkeley grad and MySpace cofounder Tom Anderson brought DIY oomph and social networking savvy to bands eager to promote themselves, and Brisbane's YouTube revived the video as a viable pop-art form. Now Pandora is breaking pop hits down to their quantifiable components slightly easier than reducing the multitudinous Bay Area music scene into Google-able, bite-sized bits.
You had to be there. And on the cusp of this adolescent century's teens, amid the flux and flow of music-makers and pop creatives moving in and town, it's time to ask some new questions: what are we doing and listening to next?
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