Live Reviews

Live Shots: Dan Deacon at New Parish

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You go to Dan Deacon in a bad mood – a no-good-reason sort of bad mood, where you’ve been sleeping a lot just to turn it off. (Works for a while, until the stress dreams start.) And even though you’d seen this guy a few times before, you have doubts about the show. Do you really enjoy the music, the high-pitched, manic indie electronics with screeching chipmunk vocals over it? Has he progressed enough as an artist to make a return worthwhile, or enough to brave the crush of an amped up, teenage and hyper crowd? Read more »

Butthole Surfers, 400 Blows keep it weird/bloody at Regency Ballroom

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I had some pretty significant nightmares last night thanks to Butthole Surfers. Don't get me wrong, the legendary avant-garde punk band, born in San Antonio, Tex. in 1981, was aces during its show at Regency Ballroom – just as weird and earsplitting as it ever was. The three enormous screens behind shaggy-haired lead vocalist-saxophonist-noise box manipulator Gibby Haynes and the rest of the band projected the images that stalked my dreams.

Slowed-down, reversed, and replayed horror flick scenes of gruesome bloody deaths, chopped up bodies, and viscous blood trickling down porcelain skin. But what else would one expect from hardcore's longest-running freaks. Read more »

Two views:Joanna Newsom at the Fox, 8/2/10

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By Amber Schadewald and Sam Stander

TAKE ONE "Have you seen her before?" a spirited woman asked a random couple in the front row at Oakland's Fox theater Monday night, just before the lights began to dim. "She's a fucking angel." And it's hard to disagree. California's own folk-harp-composing-wonder Joanna Newsom is a beautiful, beautiful being who produced a perfectly impressive evening with song after long song of feather-light melodies. 

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Noise Pop 2010: Loquat at BOTH; Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Bimbo's

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Loquat at Bottom of the Hill

The San Francisco band started their set with a request for more blue lighting at the Bottom of the Hill Friday Feb. 27, half-joking and half-hoping to make things look “cooler” and more “ocean-like.” Loquat has been playing their brand of electro-pop in the Bay Area for almost a decade and therefore I was expecting some really sweet synth action as a precursor to headlining band, Memory Tapes. Instead, racing guitars and strong bass muddled all of my most favorite parts of Loquat’s soun: the subtle waving melodies and vocalist Kylee Swenson’s floating lyrics. Their newfound heavier sound translated into a rock version of L.A.'s Bitter:Sweet, with tons of energy that twinkled over the crowd like the venue’s vintage Christmas lights. Read more »

Noise Pop 2010: Magnetic Fields at the Fox

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Spare but touching, playful yet perched oh-so-formally on chairs with music and notes on hand, accomplished and unafraid of the occasional sour or dissonant note. Yep, that’s the Magnetic Fields.

The ensemble had the sold-out mob in their precious paws on Feb. 27 at Fox Theater -- from opener “Lindy-Lou,” off the 6th’s Hyacinths and Thistles to “Falling in Love with the Wolfboy” to a haunting version of “Acoustic Guitar.” “Yes,” yowled one fan when the group announced “I Don’t Want to Get Over You.” Even the group's "B" set (the "A" set list will be performed at the March 1 Herbst show) was, as Claudia Gonson put it, teeming with "awesomeness."

The combo could do no wrong -- magnetism worked in its favor, though you got the impression that the band was still working out the kinks, still psychically at the start of their tour. They were a bit casual, a bit messy -- Stephin Merritt sticking to ukulele and Gonson pointing up helpfully when she’d try and miss that exact right high note. Read more »

Noise Pop 2010: Scout Niblett, Sonny and the Sunsets at Cafe du Nord

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More impressions of Noise Pop, comin’ right up.

Blame it on a lingering head cold but I was bummed that I had to skulk off before Citay took the stage on Feb. 25 at Cafe du Nord. I got there just in time for Niblett, however: the Portland, Ore., performer was a solo powerhouse, conjuring estrogen-fueled might with a plaintive wail and some blissfully crunchy riffs for a packed house. At the risk of waxing rockist, I only wished it were even louder and harder. Read more »