Jounce with us, if you will, through the Guardian staff's frenzied weekend. Here's our live reviews, hot raging, random sightings.
**I'm a firm believer in the idea that whenever Atlanta's Mastodon comes to town, you must go. The last three times I saw the band, however, resulted in nearly identical experiences (with setlists culled largely from 2009 release Crack the Skye; the tour had a special visual component in the form of a trippy video synced to each song). Granted, Mastodon is one of the best live acts today, or in any era, I dare say — no fucking around, no stage banter, just solid rocking from opening notes to "Thank you, good night!" — but the same show three times did get a little tiresome. (That's what you get for being obsessed.) Fortunately, the band's set Thurs/3 at the Warfield was an outstanding mix of new songs (from brand-new disc The Hunter, an album stuffed with meaty rockers well-suited for live performance), plus songs from, yes, Skye, but also Remission, Blood Mountain, and personal favorite Leviathan ("Blood and Thunder" was the encore). Portland, Ore. openers Red Fang have their own cult following, very well-deserved. Come back soon and headline, Red Fang! (Cheryl Eddy)
**It's not every day that you recieve a commendation from the State Senate for hosting a happy hour, but then you don't work for an alt weekly that's turning 45 years old all that often either. The Guardian's 45th anniversary happy hour went off at the Buck Tavern last Thursday, to the tune of $1 Bud Lights (blame Executive Editor Tim Redmond's atrocious taste in beverages), copious political cameos (including aforementioned appearance by State Senator Mark Leno and a big plaque), and tons of giveaway vibrators courtesy of Good Vibes. The end of the night was a little fuzzy, but I do recall a lot of female Baby Boomers stoked on their new sex toys and some delinquent reporters smoking weed in the beaded curtain room towards the back. Uncalled for. (Caitlin Donohue)
**I had to be pretty stoked on Das Racist to brave the armpit of San Francisco known as Ruby Skye – where the drinks are as overpriced as the staff is hostile – on Friday night. Despite the poor choice of venue, I had a pretty awesome time. In his signature skinny jeans, opener Danny Brown made groupies swoon with some debaucherous selections from his mixtape XXX. Das Racist’s set featured a ridiculous number of cameos, the best of which was a swagger-drenched re-work of Dr. Dre’s “Xplosive” by Boots Riley of The Coup. A close second was scraggly-haired newcomer Lakutis, who dropped his absurdly catchy track, “Lakutis In The Haus,” and re-appeared for a verse on “Rapping 2 U.” Das Racist’s Himanshu Suri (a.k.a. Heems) strutted the stage playing air guitar and flashing rock star devil horns at the crowd. Though he did a stage dive early on, Victor Vazquez (a.k.a. Kool AD) seemed a little too relaxed. He messed with his phone and remained seated for the majority of the set. I don’t really blame him, though, as the sound issues at Ruby Skye were unrelenting. The sub-par sound accommodations didn’t stop fans from going bonkers over favorites like “Power” and “Michael Jackson.” Check out a full review with photos in Noise Blog later this week. (Frances Capell)
**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. The hazy, cracked psych-pop tunes dreamed up by Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s progenitor Ruban Nielson blossomed and came to life with help from bandmates Jacob Portrait and Julien Ehrlich. See full review here. (Frances Capell)
**There’s no real way of knowing how much crossover there was between the fans of Dresden Dolls singer-solo artist Amanda Palmer and fiction writer-poet Neil Gaiman before the two married last year. Now though? Well, it would have been amazingly helpful if the seating arrangement at the Palace of Fine Arts Friday night had been his and hers to properly delineate whose fans wear more Victorian-styled coats, Sherlock Holmes hats, video game references, tucked in long-sleeves t-shirts with jeans, early '90s Jean-Claude Van Damme haircuts, and black. But since that didn’t happen, it was up to the audience to stake their own claims. “We’ve been Amanda fans for quite a while,” one man told the people sitting in front of him, arm draped over his companion. “We’ve been with her longer than he has.” (Ryan Prendiville)
**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. Jumping on stage without a word and whipping through the first three songs of the set (all off the self-titled debut), the band set the bar high early; the energy between vocalist-guitarist Mary Timony and vocalist-guitarist Carrie Brownstein was instantly electric. The two snaked around one another, in classic sex-soaked rock god movements. Janet Weiss' complex drumming remained a blissful flurry of pummeling hits. Organist Rebecca Cole added cool retro garage charm. This is a pack of insanely talented musicians, and the crowd fed off their every lick. It was a packed, attentive, ecstatic house. See the full review here.
**J-pop and the Ramones; a combination you might not hear anywhere else besides a Shonen Knife show. On Friday night, the Osaka-bred trio of pop punk rockers received audience cheers as we collectively spotted them through the window behind the stage at Bottom of the Hill, making their way down the stairs outside and into the venue. The band played crowd favorites off 2010's Free Time, including first track "Perfect Freedom" and "Rock Society" off 2006's Genki Shock. They covered "Redd Kross," which is Yamano's favorite band (not the Ramones?). They also highly recommended the burgers at Bottom of the Hill (which: really?) though Shannon Shaw, during the Shannon and the Clams set did mention that on their joint seven-day tour, she'd learned that Shonen Knife "really likes burgers, especially from Wendy's." (Emily Savage)
**The skies opened up just like the forecast said on Saturday, just in time to soak 2011's last few hours of Hard French at El Rio. The good news: no one was electrocuted (way to weather-protect your 45s, DJs Carnita and Brown Amy) and the party kept going straight on into Sly and the Family Stone's 1968 hit "Everyday People". And like, c'mon, as if anyone ever exited the dancefloor of the two-year-old queer soul party dry? (Caitlin Donohue)