Live Review

Live Shots: Radiohead at HP Pavilion, 04/11/2012

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The first time I saw Radiohead, it was opening up for Belly, back when “Creep” was an exquisite oddball of a radio hit.

Actually, it wasn't so much opening for Belly as it was a double bill, but Radiohead played first and Thom Yorke had a platinum rock star hairdo and the band was touring on an unspectacular album with a title gleaned from a Jerky Boy’s joke. Read more »

GWAR honors deceased guitarist's return to the home planet

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Those sleazy, salacious scumdogs of the universe in GWAR wasted no time in unleashing their riotous brand of musical mayhem on Friday night before a packed audience at the Regency Ballroom, with fake blood spraying and splattering the audience as quickly as the first notes came screaming out of the amplifiers. Read more »

Hot Snakes reunion thrills

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Right out of the gate, late '90s San Diego post-hardcore supergroup Hot Snakes kicked off its reunion show at Bottom of the Hill Friday with "I Hate the Kids" (Suicide Invoice, 2002). Read more »

The Magnetic Fields play '69 Love Songs' and then some at the Fox

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While the Magnetic Fields' newest album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, recaptured the group’s love for synthesizers and electronics, Saturday night’s Fox Theater performance was a testament to the timeless quality of its stripped-down acoustic format. Read more »

EMA deals with a tough crowd at Rickshaw Stop

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No one likes to be shushed. The most intense shushing I ever endured was at the Independent, during an Owen Pallett show. I was talking to a friend as the lights went down, when the woman standing in front of me turned around, stuck her finger closer to my mouth than hers, and said “shush.” Maybe it was because Pallett is associated with Arcade Fire and plays violin – two things that demand musical respect, right? – but considering that the dude hadn’t even picked up his instrument yet, and we were standing back under the balcony, I thought the least this stranger could do was let a guy finish his thought. That said, I would have preferred all the preempting, anal shushers in the world to the shitheads at the EMA show last night. Read more »

Chucho Valdés and the Afro-Cuban Messengers score a standing ovation at Herbst Theatre

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Last week, Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés demonstrated a shared skill set with San Francisco 49er tight end Vernon Davis. Both are impressively big men whose physical presence belies a breathtaking agility. 

Performing in front of a packed Herbst Theatre last Monday evening, the 70-year-old Valdés spent the majority of the 90-minute concert alternating between Latin and jazz, delegating and allowing his Afro-Cuban Messengers to shine. Many of the tracks were off Valdés’ recent album Chucho’s Steps (Four Quarters Records), with the constant shifts of “Zawinul’s Mambo” and the cool, breezy “New Orleans” serving as highlights. Valdés, resplendent in a violet velvet sportcoat and purple tones, spoke little, allowing a gesture here and a glance there to guide his team.

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Spanning time with the Flaming Lips

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I ran into a temporal anomaly while driving. My first warning sign was the police cruiser with one headlight flashing its sirens behind me. Wrong place at the wrong time? Well, I was getting pulled over in Sebastopol on the way to Richmond from SF, but when the cop told me I was doing 78 in a 55, it suggested one thing —speeding. Read more »

Blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. solos as long as he damn well pleases

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“Well you gonna know my name, by the end of the night,” Gary Clark Jr. sings during his take off Jimmy Reed’s blues classic, “Bright Lights, Big City.” The Animals, Rolling Stones, Clapton, Dylan –  many have had their take on it, but Clark flipped the tale of urban intoxication, giving it extra bravado and, with a notable performance at the Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 and resulting Warner Bros record contract, turned it into an announcement of his own impending stardom (with risks involved). Read more »

Local musicians reinterpret Nick Drake’s "Pink Moon" at the Rickshaw Stop

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Had you been skeptical about the “UnderCover Presents: Nick Drake’s Pink Moon” event Sunday night at the Rickshaw Stop you wouldn't have been alone. It had the potential to be disastrous. Coordinating the sound alone must have posed a considerable challenge. How do you get 11 eclectic local bands — 50 performers each with specific sound needs — to play one song from one album without frazzling intervals between each performance and each set up? And then of course there's the album to consider, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. How can the bands perform the covers without butchering the album? Read more »

Live Shots: Phonte and 9th Wonder at New Parish

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I’ve heard complaints that the Occupy movement doesn’t have a clear message, but Saturday night you could read it from a passing car. At an intersection off of Broadway, where a large crowd had gathered, a few people held up a giant banner on the corner that read “FUCK THE POLICE.” And as we passed groups of officers in riot gear and searched for parking among  the cop cars on nearly every block, it was also obvious that a confrontation was brewing. Read more »