It was during my early teens that the obsession struck. I oversaw the building of a stage, booked a bunch of bad garage bands, and charged $10 for admission to boondocks Maryland's first semiannual Punk Fest. During my high school years I snuck into the seediest venues that Baltimore and Washington DC had to offer still the scariest I've seen to date. By my arrival in San Francisco, I was a full-fledged music scene devotee, immediately taking a job at the Great American Music Hall to pay the rent during college. Read more »
WHAT IS IT?Beowulf may be raking in box office bucks worldwide, but its monster has been making his own rounds. Crispin Hellion Glover and I holed up in Chicago's House of Blues to wait out a snowstorm and talk about the second installment of his It trilogy, It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine.
Twenty years ago Fine codirector David Brothers handed Glover a script penned by a man with severe cerebral palsy. This wasn't a touchy-feely autobiographical affair nor a trite story about overcoming diversity to make the world a better place. Read more »
New Pornographers ringleader A.C. Newman's life has changed a lot since his 2004 solo debut, The Slow Wonder (Matador), became the secret darling of indie aficionados round the world: he relocated from his native Vancouver to Brooklyn, married the girl of his dreams, and became a morning person.
His music has metamorphosed too. "Some people think that this record is a real departure for us," Newman explained early one recent morning from his Park Slope home. Read more »
It all starts innocently enough. One day you decide to order a mocha instead of your usual cappuccino; the next you grab a few Ghiradelli squares from the impulse aisle at Safeway. By the end of the week, you've blown your savings at Joseph Schmidt and are curled in a fetal position, watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on loop, stuffing your face with take-out pastries from Tartine. Scharffen Berger and Cocoa Bella are only the tip of the iceberg San Francisco is host to one of the premiere chocolate cultures of the world. Read more »
These days everyone is a gourmand, and caring about the earth is so cool it's made even Al Gore popular. The time is ripe to give a fuck.
But all this focus on artisanal and organic products is complicated. What's easiest for the consumer to understand isn't always correct. Stickers can't always be trusted. And certified or not nothing holds a candle to family tradition.
It's true for tomatoes. It's true for tangerines. Read more »
Our little bundle of noise is almost all grown up. Damning the brooding tradition of adolescence, Noise Pop has learned to laugh at itself and anything that involves swigging beer and heckling Patton Oswalt without a two-drink minimum sounds like pure fucking genius to me. I recently spoke to Oswalt on the phone from Burbank. After soaking in enough indie to keep you cloaked in scene points until next year, you may want to check out his act alongside fellow comedians Brian Posehn and Marian Bamford. (K. Read more »
What happens when you can fit your entire tour into a pickup truck? When your song can follow a Neil Young track in a juke joint? When you're able to blend your steel guitar with indie rock unironically? What happens when you stop playing loud and start getting real?
Things get really, really good.
Could this be the culmination of what was intended when Armchair Martian guitarist-vocalist Jon Snodgrass and All frontperson Chad Price decided to unplug their amps and form Drag the River? Read more »
CULT MOVIES Cobbled and crumbling streets with a homegrown musk of fish, piss, and National Bohemian Beer wind through Charm City — a place where ragged and palsied vagrants stroke crack pipes atop benches reading "The Greatest City in America." The dainty, dapper man serving me coffee from an antique tray couldn't be further away from Baltimore.
His recent San Francisco appearance has been moved from the Fillmore to the Swedish American Hall. Read more »
The stage floods red, and the guitars churn. This rock is southern grit — a real heartland affair. Onstage, a man with straggly black hair steadies his guitar and returns to the microphone stand: "They've never known want, they'll never know need/ Their shit don't stink, and their kids won't bleed/ Their kids won't bleed in their damn little war/ And we can't make it here anymore." The crowd goes off, the band keeps up, and then James McMurtry puts down his guitar.
This is pretty much what preaching to the converted looks like. Read more »