Ryan Prendiville

Live Shots: Death Grips at Slim's

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When I first saw Sacramento's Death Grips — about a year or so ago at 1015 Folsom — they had to work especially hard. The room was half full and Stefan Burnett made up the difference, jumping down into the crowd and taunting it into action. The intervening time before a repeat performance was longer than expected (Death Grips suddenly canceled their last scheduled tour to finish their second album of the year) and at Slim's Monday the crowd seemed prewound, eager to see the sold-out show, jockeying for position near the front, and admiring freshly purchased t-shirts showcasing the attention-baiting cover art for No Love Deep Web. Read more »

That special Christopher Owens show at the Lodge

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The show was being filmed for a music video, and the crew told people in the front row that they might get photographed for reaction shots. When I mentioned to the couple next to me that a sure fire way to get on camera was to cry, the apparent director turned around from where he was kneeling near the stage and said, “I’ll pay $500 dollars if you do it,” before adding, “but I think you might cry anyway.” In his first performance since breaking up his former band, Girls, Christopher Owens was set to debut an entire album of new material, and it sounded like a tear-jerker. Read more »

Live Shots: AU at the Independent

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It was my first time seeing Portland's AU live Saturday night, and I had some important questions I hoped the show would answer. First of all, how does one pronounce AU? Aww? Awe? Oww? Gold? More importantly, how would the band recreate its sound live? I had theories, but as AU began its set at the Independent with its most recent album's first (and most prominent song) “Epic,” those quickly proved false. There were no guitars. Read more »

Live Shots: Crystal Castles at the Fox

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Arriving early to the Crystal Castles show Monday at the Fox Theater, discovering that one opener, HEALTH, had canceled its performance, and that the photo pit would be off limits for the other, Kontravoid, I was left with some unexpected time on my hands. Time that I spent trying to recall where I had seen the eerily familiar image hung over the stage, of a veiled figure cradling a fragile, vulnerable looking man in their arms.

Presented without context, it could be potentially tenderly romantic or gothically morbid, an ambiguity which seemed to typically invite the sort of let-me-Google-that mystery that recent bands have found so chic.* Read more »

Live Shots: Treasure Island Music Festival 2012

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Music nerds talk lineups the way sports fans manage fantasy teams, particularly with festivals, where suddenly strategy becomes a part of catching a show. Treasure Island Music Festival, is sort of an exception, since in theory you can catch every single act, given the two alternating stages. At the same time, this means that unless you head to the silent disco or take a nap, one of those geeks will be standing behind you during a set, obsessively talking about how the lineup should be slotted differently. Read more »

UK producer Max Cooper doesn't want to see computers in tight skirts

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Over the course of a steady stream of heady mixes and original compositions, Max Cooper has been gaining attention in the electronic music world – and not just for his Ph.D in computational biology. With an unconventional sensibility that’s like Philip Glass for the dance floor, Cooper brings a cinematic touch and classical influence to cerebral concepts. We took the opportunity – in advance of a performance at Public Works’s two-year anniversary party – to probe Cooper’s brain. Read more »

Live Shots: Wilco and Jonathan Richman at the Greek Theatre

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What’s that thing that guitarists do in concert, where they get real close, face-to-face, and gaze down intently as if sizing up the other's instrument? The sort of maneuver that the Traveling Wilburys probably did on almost every occasion, in a full circle formation? Does it serve a purpose? Timing perhaps?

While Wilco’s Nels Cline was having his standout moment Saturday, taking his time delivering his solo for “Impossible Germany” off of 2007’s Sky Blue Sky, the other guitarists were communing at center stage, giving each other a Wilbury. At the moment, it seemed that the show – the second of two nights at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre – was dangerously close to veering into jam band territory. Read more »

Evil genius

Mark Mothersbaugh and Devo aim to infect commercialism from within

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Live Shots: Buraka Som Sistema at the Independent

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How much space does a person need to dance? If you’ve been to a packed, over-sold massive EDM show lately, the answer could be zero, as being rooted in place and fist-pumpin’ seems to be all the rage. Really, though, if you’re at least going to move your feet then a little more room* is required.

Which is why I was relieved to find that the Independent, while crowded, wasn’t packed to the walls last night. Because Portugal’s Buraka Som Sistema likes to get down in a very specific way. In that way that Tribe liked to get down – devoted to the art of moving butts.

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Retro future

Danish music producer Tomas Barfod moves forward without escaping his past

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arts@sfbg.com

MUSIC The sad truth of dance music is that the party necessarily ends. Tailor a song too much for the floor tonight and it's lifeless on the street or in the car tomorrow. Factor in the conflation between EDM and electronic music, and the latter can be all too often stuck in the shadow of the club. With his latest solo album, Salton Sea, Danish music producer Tomas Barfod steps out into new territory.Read more »