Live Review

Cass McCombs greets the Great American Music Hall crowd warmly

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There’s been a lot of talk about how Cass McCombs is an impenetrable character, so much so that it’s become tiring. We’ve heard about his elusiveness and nomadic lifestyle; about his tendency to either act bitterly in interviews (i.e. Pitchfork interview) or shun them altogether. Oh, and that he’s never happy. Admittedly, McCombs has shaped this cryptic persona himself — he’s even made it difficult to know what he looks like (recent photographs have been vague, he’s always altering his “look”). It was an enormous pleasure then on Sunday night to be able to experience the songwriter first hand when he performed at the Great American Music Hall, where it was all about the music. Read more »

Live Shots: Iggy Pop at the Warfield

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It had been a long wait to see Iggy Pop live (not like, Morrissey-long, but more like three months later than anticipated). When I spoke with Pop back in September, he was ecstatic to be out on the road again. Read more »

No more introduction needed: Pterodactyl at El Rio

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On Saturday night in the cloistered show room at El Rio, Joe Kremer of Pterodactyl passed through the idle crowd to consult the sound guy about his microphone reverb, making a whacking hand gesture to illustrate the slap back resonation he wanted -- something he's probably had to do at every venue between Brooklyn, NY, (where the band is from) and San Francisco because it’s so essential to Pterodactyl’s sound. Read more »

Live Shots: tUnE-yArDs at the Regency Ballroom

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tUnE-yArDs seemed so playful and free on Wednesday at the Regency, like a band of highly skilled children, in particular the ringleader-pied piper of the bunch, Merrill Garbus. Hopping around barefoot, playing with different toys – pedals and looping samples, ukuleles, and crash drums – all on a square of carpet that had a curvy gray racetrack: genius kindergartner. Or as a show companion described it, "it feels like the world's greatest camp band." Read more »

Live Shots: WU LYF at the Independent

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I showed up pretty early to catch WU LYF at the Independent on Monday night. A cold breeze drifting through the venue and the giant white Wucifix standing on an empty stage made for a decidedly ominous vibe. It quickly warmed up, though, as a sold out crowd filled the place to capacity for the Manchester, UK, quartet’s very first performance in San Francisco. Read more »

Kimya Dawson keeps it confessional, relatable at the Rickshaw Stop

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The recurring theme of Sunday night’s Kimya Dawson show at the Rickshaw Stop was: be who you are and plainly say whatever you have to say. It began with Dave End— whose eccentric set included a cover of Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” in a dress made of flowers — followed by Clyde Pattersen, from Your Heart Breaks, who flat out told the audience that one song was about his schizophrenic mother. It all culminated with Kimya Dawson. Some would have disparaged the night’s roster of confessional, fun-loving songwriters — it’s the prey of critics. But the night was about relating to people and — dare I say it? — Having fun. Read more »

Live Shots: They Might Be Giants at the Fillmore

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They Might Be Giants wrapped up a busy weekend in the Bay Area last Sunday night, playing a second night at the Fillmore on top of a free show at the SF Amoeba Music earlier that day. Starting the show, Johns Flansburgh announced that the band would be playing Flood --which he later called the band’s “1990 near-breakthrough album”-- in its entirety. And, since the album was only about 43 minutes long, it would be padded first by some old and new hits. Read more »

Future Islands release the beast within at Bottom of the Hill

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As I retreated from the Bottom of the Hill’s courtyard into the venue Tuesday night, Future Islands vocalist Sam Herring held the door open and flashed me a dazzling smile. As soon as Herring took to the stage, however, gone was the polite Southern gentleman I’d met outside. He transformed into a raving beast that would hold his audience captive for an intensely theatrical and cathartic performance. Read more »

Holy Ghost! proves it's worth the wait at Slim's

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I’d been worried about making it to the Holy Ghost ! show at Slim's on time, so it was a relief to see the singer of Jessica 6, the opening band, standing outside Slim’s having a
smoke. Black hair, black heels, black mini skirt, black leather jacket: Nomi Ruiz is recognizable. I wished her luck and went inside to find out just how early I was. Read more »

Live Shots: Real Estate and Big Troubles at Slim's

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The sunny, indie rock jams of Ridgewood, NJ’s Real Estate cured my rainy day blues on Friday night at Slim’s. San Francisco’s unshaven, flannel-clad urban lumberjacks showed up en masse to seek shelter from the rain and soak up some seriously good vibes. The five-piece kicked off with “Suburban Beverage” from its 2009 self-titled debut. Inviting us to mellow out, leader Martin Courtney repeated the song’s only words, “Budweiser, Sprite, do you feel alright?” Fans responded with blissful head-nodding. Read more »