Music

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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Snap Sounds: Void

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VOID
SESSIONS 81-83

(DISCHORD)

Void was hardcore in a blender. It was loud, frantic, messy, and fast as hell. A brief yet seminal (there's that word again) punk act, formed in 1979 D.C., Void was known equally for its early mix of hardcore and thrash, as its frenzied live shows, which often turned violent. And for such a memorable act, we future listeners were left with little to actually, well, listen to. It was all buried in seven-inches, splits, and hard-to-find comps. Read more »

Noise Pop Roundup 2: Cursive, Budos Band, Emily Jane White, DRMS, Atlas Sound

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My personal strategy for Noise Pop 2012 was to pack in as diverse a personal schedule as possible, taking into account old obsessions (Cursive, Bradford Cox) and favored newer acts (Allah-Las, DRMS), national and local bands and musicians, weird and precious live indie music.Read more »

Promising newish acts at Noise Pop 2012: Surf Club and FIDLAR

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He asked if there were drink tickets. The bartender nodded, saying that the band could have wine now, and then beers on stage. Neither of those options would work for Stockton’s Surf Club, whose members were all sporting big black X’s — the mark of the underaged — at their Café Du Nord Noise Pop appearance. Read more »

From California to Ethiopia with Allah-Las and the Budos Band

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If you could handpick its most redeeming qualities and inhabitants from any time period in the past half century, Los Angeles could actually be a rather magical place. Pluck the psychedelic guitar strains reverberating through Laurel Canyon, scoop a fistful of bronzed sun-kissed surfers and sparkling waves from the coast, add two shakes of downtown weirdness, and you'd likely come up with something along the lines of Allah-Las, the quartet that opened for Budos Band during the Noise Pop lineup at the Independent Thursday. Read more »

Bounce to this: Rusty Lazer does Mardi Gras

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Due to health problems, Big Freedia had to cancel her and Rusty Lazer's Noise Pop gig at Public Works Sat/25. The event been transmutated into a big gay dance party with Double Duchess, DJ Bus Station John, and more. You should still read this interview, though.

With all its technicolor thrift flair, Mardi Gras costumes in state of midway-preparedness, and sleepy passels of breakfast-cooking houseguests, Jay Pennington's New Orleans clapboard house is pretty hallucinatory on the Saturday afternoon of Carnaval weekend. Staring out the window waiting for the bounce DJ to call me up for our interview, I was to be excused for imagining that the shed in the side lot was producing actual chords while the New Orleans monsoon that raged outside hit it. Read more »

Snap Sounds: Islands

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ISLANDS
A SLEEP & A FORGETTING

(ANT-)

Nick Thorburn started constructing A Sleep & A Forgetting alone, on a piano, while processing a painful breakup. His soul-exposing lyrics carry questions and incredulity. Although there aren't many uplifting spots in here — literally every song is sad — his voice oscillates between sunny and depressive, heartfelt and sardonic. Quite a conceptual turn from Islands' last album, Vapours, which featured upbeat, carefree love songs. Read more »

Cursive gets candid during Noise Pop

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Tears, booze, sex, pain, martyrdom, regret. Against my better judgment, I was singing along with the band. I was singing carefully, with my eyes closed and likely a smile creeping up in the corners of my mouth. I couldn't help it, it came from within, as much as that particular act generally annoys me in packed settings. The swell of angular guitar and thundering drums pulled back mostly leaving higher octave vocals from a scale that slides to and fro: "Your tears are only alibis/To prove you still feel/You only feel sorry for yourself/Well get on that cross/That's all you're good for." Read more »

Whither indie?

As Noise Pop turns 20, tracing sound from Overwhelming Colorfast to Young Prisms

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MUSIC How does one trace the warp and woof of Bay Area indie rock's silky, sick, multihued tapestry — with ticket stubs to long-ago shows, holey concert T's, or grainy snapshots of sweat-swathed guitar players, red eyes gleaming in a haze of smoke machine emissions? Perhaps one way is to chart SF indie's course from the first Noise Pop to the latest 20th anniversary edition, teasing out the tenuous connections between the first fest's headliner Overwhelming Colorfast, reunited this year, and newish local poobah Young Prisms.Read more »

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 »