Live Shots

New 'Romance': Wild Flag stole our hearts at Great American Music Hall

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Despite the awesome spectacle (high kicks, guitar humping) and the resumes (Sleater-Kinney, Helium, the Minders) Wild Flag's music stands on its own. The indie rock foursome (don't call it a supergroup) from Portland, Oreg. and Washington D.C. ripped the Great American Music Hall to shreds on Saturday night, likely Friday night too, but I wasn't there. Read more »

Live Shots: Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Rickshaw Stop

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We all know the story: Some dude records an album in a basement, garners considerable Internet attention, tries to perform live, and totally blows it. Fortunately for the audience at the Rickshaw Stop on Thursday night, Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a bold exception to this emerging parable in modern music. Read more »

Live Shots: Anamanaguchi at Slim's

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The self-proclaimed “nerds” behind me in the will-call line at Slim’s Sunday night were lamenting the theft of their culture. “I hate it when hipsters try to act like us,” one said, with threatening hostility. “Because you’re not one of us, you don’t know what it’s like, and it’s not fucking cool.” Oh crap, I thought, looking straight ahead. Are they talking about me? Do they think I’m a poser, coming to this show because it’s hip? That I wear chunky orthopedics and thick rimmed glasses for the purpose of ironic style? I got my ticket and went inside as fast as I could, away from the geek toughs. Read more »

Live Shots: Soulwax at the Independent

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Whether more or less true in other places, the crowds at shows in the Bay Area can be disappointingly savvy regarding encores. They know that if the band says goodnight and leaves the stage, the show is only possibly over. Or if recorded music comes over the speakers, the show is likely over. And (of course everyone knows) that when the house lights come on, the show is definitely over. It’s a convention that the bands and audience both understand, but robs everyone of some fun. Which was why it was wonderfully surprising that the majority of the people at the Independent Thursday night stuck around clapping, shouting, and making noise 'till it hurt in an attempt to get Soulwax to come back out on stage. Read more »

A very Nobunny Halloween turns crazy, quickly

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It’s a little nerve-wracking going out in costume for a show when it’s not quite yet Halloween. What if no one else dresses up and it’s a scene out of Legally Blonde? Luckily the bands at Brick and Mortar (Zulus, Uzi Rash, Apache, Nobunny, Ty Segall) were slated to perform costumed covers, so I figured it would be safe. (Plus, I spent enough money making the damn thing to ensure I’d be living with my dad for an additional month--so I was gonna milk it.) Still, when I got inside the venue, I scouted to find some other outfits among black clothes and leather. A guy was wearing a 1994 USA Olympic Dream Team windbreaker (“Carl Mullen” he told me, pointing to one of the figures with a basketball). Another guy was dressed as Business Man Who Has Too Much To Drink, Tries To Mosh Too Early, And Is Never Seen Again, but this was easily topped by the best costume of the night: Totally Trashed Crazy Girl. Read more »

Live Shots: Zahara! at Swedish American Music Hall

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Yeah, so sometimes I cry a little when I listen to live music. You got a problem with that?

This may have happened last Friday night (10/21) when I went with Sam Love to Zahara!, a performance that featured singing and dance with roots in passionate flamenco from Kina Mendez, live Moroccan musicians (a group by the name of El Hamideen), and even some belly dancing.

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Live Shots: Portishead at the Greek Theatre

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Once while talking music with friends on a long road trip I was posed with the task of describing Portishead’s sound. Struggling to articulate the sum of their collective parts, I did a hasty mental cut-and-paste and said, “They’re sorta like…if Pink Floyd was a hip-hop band…and Billie Holiday was their singer.” It’s a clunky description, not so much for the references, but because Portishead’s greatest attribute is their ability to bend genres so seamlessly that it all morphs into their own sort of singular sonic universe. Even the prevailingly appropriate moniker of trip-hop (of the Bristol variety) really seems more of a launching point than a description. Read more »

Save a horse, ride these cowboy pictures: Shots of the Grand National Rodeo

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So struck were we by the spectacle that is the first weekend of the Grand National Rodeo (read our print coverage of the event here), your Guardian news team lost a couple hundred dollars worth of camera equipment, by a conservative (uneducated in the ways of photography) estimate (your writer's). Luckily, we still brought back photo documentation. They never should have let us stand by the bronc pit.Read more »

Mini symphonies and Beach House: Treasure Island, day two

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Though Wild Beasts' brand of baroque, sensual dream-pop is better suited for a dark and smoky bar, I consider it an honor to catch the UK band in any setting. A sizable crowd gathered around the Tunnel stage at Treasure Island Music Festival to enjoy songs from this year’s Smother, along with older material like breakout hit “The Devil’s Crayon.” Hayden Thorpe’s heavenly falsetto rang out over chiming guitar provided by Ben Little. Read more »

Space Mayans and techno-African kuduro: Treasure Island, day one

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Treasure Island Music Festival rewards the stout of heart and non-possessive of blanket space. The way the island fest is set up, no two concerts overlap – if one feels up to it, one can traverse the 100-some meters between the Bridge and Tunnel (get it?)  stages to catch any given day's entire. Music. Lineup. Upshot? I spent a solid hour in the press tent with my feet on a card table, tapping away on my smart phone as though taking notes, incredibly unstout. Read more »