The last time I saw Yo La Tengo, on its fabulously gimmicky Spinning Wheel tour, the trio delivered an abrasive, garage-y opening set under an alter-ego, Dump, and closed with a Jackson Browne cover. This past Friday, the band took the Fillmore stage with a loose, meditative acoustic set, before eventually closing with an incendiary rendition of a Black Flag song. There's no predicting the content, or structure of a Yo La Tengo show; yet, no matter how vigorously it flips from one genre to the next, it sounds unmistakably like Yo La Tengo.
From its yearly run of Hanukkah shows, to its infamously vast archive of cover songs, the Hoboken, NJ trio of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew has cultivated a rich mythology over nearly three decades as a band. It’s also maintained remarkable consistency and prolificacy within its recorded material, which, like Stereolab, has caused many a fan to take its casual greatness for granted. Alternating between insistently bouncy pop songs, blissfully droned-out jams, and cozy ballads to wear your autumn sweater by, Yo La Tengo has assembled a wildly eclectic back-catalogue that continues to pleasantly surprise, and occasionally confound live audiences. Read more »
This video has been floating around of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield floating in space, slowly turning inside his vessel, playing the acoustic guitar and singing Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie (“Space Oddity,” naturally). It’s an arresting image, melding science, sound, nerd culture, and pop culture together in the coolest of ways. And it was his goodbye love letter to space, as he returned back down to earth yesterday.
Outside the spaceship, and also back here on earth (and playing San Francisco this week, naturally) there are bands that are grounded by gravity, though little else -- the celestial atmospheric head case of Kisses, larger-than-life Big Boi, otherworldly solo pounder Black Pus (Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt), cosmic soul duo Myron and E, and more invade our shores in the coming days. Maintain your curiosity, and greet them live in the flesh, eyes and ears wide with wonder. Read more »
The Detroit-based trio, Jamaican Queens, makes instantly catchy, hip-hop-influenced, electronic-soaked pop gems and performs them in a dance-inducing glam pop fashion. Although Ryan Spencer, Adam Pressley, and Ryan Clancy have been laying down beats together for less than a year, they have already released a full-length album – Wormfood – hit their hundredth show, and written album number two (which they’ll record once they’ve concluded their lengthy West Coast and summer tours). Read more »
I like a little grit. Usually I feel that a great show combines unpredictability, recklessness, and some raw, unpolished vulnerability. That’s what makes live music exciting and dynamic. If we wanted flawless vocals and sonically airbrushed instrumentals, we’d just stay at home and listen to the music on iTunes. So I’m trying to figure out why Marina and the Diamonds’ shiny, choreographed, factory-sealed set at the Warfield Sunday night felt so right. Read more »
It’s one of those things about attending a concert – any concert – at HP Pavilion in San Jose: no matter how you approach the venue, you’re likely to run into those hardline Jesus freaks waving signs and condemning you to hell for whatever music you’re about to enjoy. So, like clockwork, last night as I walked towards the ticket office outside the arena, one of them turned his bullhorn on the bunch of us crossing the intersection and, in full brimstone righteousness, shouted - “what are you gonna tell the lord after you die?” To which, a lone voice from the crowd responded – “I’m gonna tell him I saw the Rolling Stones.” Read more »
I don't know who any of those RuPaul Drag Race queens are, goddess love 'em. And I sure as hell don't need anymore invites to local parties where one or more of them are appearing (seriously, it's like a plague of TV wigs, smelly bodysuits, bad names, and hastily assembled signature "songs" upon the gay bars -- NO TEA NO SHADE).
Holding down the weekend of the weekend with the Dark Room Theatre's "Ghostbusters: Live" and Har Mar Superstar
Among the true creatures of the night, Saturday Night has always been passé, amateur night if you will, when even the most accommodating of dive bars or clubs are suddenly jammed tight with lightweight dilettantes, whose allegiance to the night life is as superficial as it is truncated. But the real weekend has always begun on Thursday, straddling the line between Wednesday’s hump and Saturday’s slump, a connoisseur’s indulgence.
Though San Francisco is happily full of those who understand that Thursday is when the party starts, any number of theatres can still attest that packing the house on that particular evening can be a tricky prospect, a trend I can attest to from the personal experience of having attended many a Thursday show where the actors outnumbered the oddience. Awkward. Which made entering the oversold, packed to the rafters performance of "Ghostbusters: Live"! at the Dark Room Theatre that much more refreshing. This is one Mission Street outpost that has thus far ably resisted the siren song of gentrification and co-option, and remains a place where silly good fun can be had for the price of cheap, with an additional calendar of ten p.m. comedy shows that caters specifically to the committed night owl crowd.
TOFU AND WHISKEY The twin star driving forces behind Bleached (hellobleached.tumblr.com) have been around. Not in a cruising with delinquents kind of way, but that's probably where their music is best blasted — careening down the California coast in a shiny convertible with a shitty ex-lover or two, rooftop down, an open bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, lipstick-stained cola can, and the stereo crackling.Read more »