Kimberly Chun

Digging the roots

Rescuing acoustic
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Whinny, moan, or emote weakly, if you will, at the prospect of so many bland acoustic guitars — singer-songwriters have it rough, warbling softly alone on a big stage, so often the first to get slapped with the "you suck" stick. The worst scenario is too easy to picture: cliché love ballads about the lady or lad up front with the wine spritzer, uncompelling bellyaching about dead pets, lame chord progressions, an unexamined affection for James Taylor and Simon and Garfunkel. Read more »

SxSW rocking, mocking

Ah, Austin
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Every spring I wing toward Austin, Texas, and the South by Southwest conference and music fest like some PBR-swilling, Lily Allen–aping mockingbird, in the hope of getting my imagination kick-started by some mysterious band of outsiders from Leeds, Helsinki, or Cleveland, armed with only guitars, samplers, or taste-testing facial hair. Little did I realize I'd be clocked in the noggin instead by This Moment in Black History's Chris Kulcsar at the Blender Balcony at the Ritz. Read more »

Attack of the killer Ts

Are T-shirts the eternal hipster uniform
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kimberly@sfbg.com

"Ironic T-shirts — where the lameness of my T-shirt is in inverse proportion to my hipness!" comedian Patton Oswalt shouted at a recent sold-out Noise Pop show, pointing out in particular one special Salinas lass in a skull-and-hearts T. "I'm so cool I can defeat my own T-shirt!"

You know T-shirts have arrived — and by now may even be taking the last BART train to Fremont — when they've crept into the routines of comics desperate to warm up a 6 p.m. crowd. Read more »

Big wheel

Joe Boyd and his White Bicycles
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kimberly@sfbg.com
SONIC REDUCER Perhaps Fall Out Boy said it most succinctly: this ain't a scene — it's an arms race. Joe Boyd — Hannibal Records founder, producer, general 1960s-era scenemaker and welcome arm for many an intrepid musical tourist, and now author of White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s (Serpent's Tail, $18) — has seen battle on the front lines of UK rock. He knows when to drop his fascinating bombs, when to jump into the fray — such as when he stage-managed Bob Dylan's landmark electric Newport performance — and when to step back and let nature or L. Read more »

SFIAAFF: Got fangs?

Why I like Finishing the Game director Justin Lin
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kimberly@sfbg.com

What a difference an indie blockbuster makes. The last time I spoke to Better Luck Tomorrow writer and director Justin Lin, he was energetically doing the grassroots festival rounds, beating the shrubbery on the importance of Asian Americans making Asian Pacific Islander films with empowered, complex characters. Yet judging from the craft, ideas, humor, and humanity that went into Lin's compelling final product, luck was only one part of it. Read more »

God chillin'

Sophomores, all: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Arcade Fire
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER O brother, where art thou, blog-worthy, buzz-besieged bands? Whither the classes of 2004 and '05? As memory fades and fads pass, the Klaxons and Beirut had best look to the respective fates of Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, both of which have spawned second albums at a time when Britney Spears's postpartum-postbreakup cue-ball cutes (uh, was she actually a musician, mommy?) score almost twice as many hits as Beyoncé or any ole artist who has actually issued fresh tracks in the last four years. Read more »

Can't explain

The Who's Green Day moment
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kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER What's the difference between the Who and other boomer–classic rock combos hauling their bones out on the road these days? The fact that onstage at the cozy Reno Event Center on Feb. 23, midway through the kickoff for his group's cockeyed US tour, Pete Townshend interrupted his own between-song hawk for the Who's generally ignored recent album, Endless Wire (Universal), with a defiant disclaimer that went roughly like this: "We don't care if you do buy it. Read more »

The rise and fall of the Donnas

But don't count out the Bay Area-bred all-girl band yet
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kimberly@sfbg.com

The Donnas have every right to be bitter — and the general nonexistence of delectable male groupies is just one item on a laundry list of spoilers. Read more »

Gimme Grammy?

She survived!
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Kimberly@sfbg.com

SONIC REDUCER Strip away the pre-Grammy bashes and after-parties, the hunger pangs, the monstrous Staples Center and the surrounding downtown LA sketchiness, and the mandatory earful you get from radio broadcasters playing brain-numbing Grammys numbers games as if they were rattling off sports stats — and I'd say I'm glad to have made the five-hour drive to the awards show. Read more »

Splendor in the ass

Sara Thrustra's Ten Pictures and Two Pin-Ups calendar
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365 NAKED DAYS I didn't care if 2006 was half over when I discovered artist Sara Thustra's poster-size, silk-screened and stitched butcher-paper calendar last year. Stuffed with a zine and riddled with mythical critters, a hairy hippie Adam and Eve, and a monstrous Paul Stanley–esque rock 'n' roll hydra head, it was so handsomely handmade — the paper-ephemera equivalent of a fun-loving, snaggletoothed boy toy with dirty locks who sews his own clothes — I had to have it anyway. Despite the handful of calendars dangling on my walls, I'm always late. Read more »