Live Review

Live Shots: Starfucker and Painted Palms at Great American Music Hall

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Though Starfucker hails from Portland, Ore., it’s easy to see why the band feels at home here. If a bunch of hip, pasty dudes performing in drag doesn’t scream “San Francisco,” I don’t know what does. Its name is edgy enough to elicit parental concern (the less offensive STRFKR is often used instead), but Starfucker’s trendy synth-pop is catchy and sweet. Read more »

Live Shots: Avey Tare at New Parish

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It’s been over a year since Dave Portner – the yelping member of Animal Collective better known as Avey Tare – released his crocodile-inspired solo debut Down There (Paw Tracks). Maybe Tare needed to spend some time away from the songs that dealt with divorce, death, and illness, as he only recently set out on tour in support of the album. He finished his brief solo tour on Sunday night at Oakland’s New Parish, and I couldn’t wait to finally check him out. Read more »

Live Shots: José James at New Parish

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A couple of phrases used (and possibly made up) to describe José James’s show Friday night: swoontastic and baby-making-music. The rising neo-crooner gigged in San Jose and SF the preceding two evenings, but it's hard to beat the intimacy of Oakland's the New Parish, which has a certain bohemian vibe. Read more »

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 »