Posts by: Nicole L. Browner
November 27, 2013
Last night, The Chapel may as well have been a spiritual gathering.
Julianna Barwick‘s vocal performance is shape-shifting, whether it’s in the high-ceilinged Austin church in which I first witnessed her live, or the moderate height of the open two-story interior of The Chapel. Although volume plays into it, the sounds she emits adapt to their container naturally. Weighing the options just here in San Francisco, I was relieved that the show ended up at The Chapel; it was well attended, but not packed – which led several audience members to sitting on the floor, some even meditating.
In Seattle, there’s a church that on Sunday nights hosts a choir that performs Gregorian chants. People of all backgrounds and ages crowd into the cathedral, using all the space available to stretch out on the floor or huddle in corners to listen to the choir. Regardless of one’s beliefs, it’s a moving experience that even brings some to tears. The voices fill up the space in such an arresting way that I hadn’t again felt until witnessing Barwick’s live performance.
Standing or sitting, observing Barwick’s set last night felt much like meditation. Her method of performing live invites you to concentrate on Barwick as she layers each track onto the previous loop. She uses the low end of her vocal chamber to build a base layer then varies her falsetto onto that, all while playing heavily reverberated piano. On this tour she is accompanied by a guitarist, who provided massive, oceanic swells in an amusing fashion – when the room was silent, you could hear the guitar strings being plucked before the volume knob was turned up in order for the guitar effect to be audible.
November 26, 2013
Tuesday evening at The Chapel will be an ambient affair, as Folk Yeah presents Julianna Barwick and Mark McGuire. Touring in support of her second studio album, Nepenthe, the extremely talented solo artist Julianna Barwick has been busy this fall: she did a few dates with Sigur Ros earlier this month, and was joined by Sharon Van Etten as well as Prince Rama’s Taraka and Nimai Larson at a church in Greenwich Village (see video below). Unlike her previous solo ventures in the studio, Barwick decided to integrate collaborators into her process for Nepenthe, including Iceland-based Alex Somers, and string musicians from both Amiina and Mum.
As the above video demonstrates, the church setting might be the best to witness Barwick’s performance (my first time seeing her was at Central Presbyterian Church during SxSW 2012, and it was haunting). The second best place, at least in San Francisco if a church hypothetically weren’t available, would have to be the gorgeous-sounding Chapel. On top of that, seeing this kind of show for just $12 is a steal (tickets are still available online).
Her support tonight comes from Mark McGuire — not the one most Bay Areans first are reminded of — but the Portland-based guitarist of former Books-esque electronic trio Emeralds.
Julianna Barwick, Mark McGuire
November 26, 2013
7:00pm doors / 8:00pm show, $12
November 8, 2013
Northern California songwriter Garrett Pierce has been a Seal fan for a long time. Today, we’re happy to premiere his version of “Crazy” — a cover which comes with a little bit of a backstory to it:
Around five years back a group of some of my favorite musicians and friends came together to do a cover song contest reinterpreting Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose”. Though I was invited to participate, I never recorded a version I liked, and truthfully, I’ve always preferred “Crazy” if I was going to record a Seal song.
Well, after receiving an email from my old friend Payam Bavafa of Sholi, I decided to spend a week doing my own take on Seal’s breakthrough single.
Put together by a director who at this time will remain nameless, this is probably my favorite video I’ve been involved with. Why, because it makes me smile (and my shit is usually so gloomy).
Garrett also added that he once saw Seal perform at Fry’s Electronics in Burbank, where he grew up. “He walked into the store, kinda in his own head, and he was singing to himself…probably working out a melody or lyric in one of his songs,” Garrett explained. “I thought that was pretty cool.”
Garrett Pierce’s latest record, City of Sand, was released last year on Narnack Records. He has a string of regional tour dates coming up in which he will be playing solo, including a house show with B. Hamilton’s Ryan Christopher Parks. See full dates below:
11/19 Los Angeles – Satellite (Neil Young Tribute Show)
11/20 – San Francisco, CA – Terroir Annex (1114 Folsom St) w/ Dagan Minestero, Jonathan Patch
11/21 – Davis, CA – Third Space w/ Luke Sweeney
11/22 – Redding, CA – Vintage Redding w/ Luke Sweeney
11/23 – Portland, OR – The Blue Monk w/ Luke Sweeney
11/24 – Oakland, CA – Private House Show w/ Luke Sweeney, Jessi Phillips, Ryan Christopher Parks*
*Email email@example.com for more information.
October 7, 2013
After a Friday performance at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Omaha’s Conor Oberst extended his Bay Area weekend with an evening show at The Fillmore on Saturday evening. Admittedly, having not attended Friday’s daytime outdoor show, I report without the preexisting knowledge of how Oberst approached his HSB set. Regardless of what he had already played for the day-drinking Golden Gate Park audience, Saturday night’s setlist certainly felt like a special one.
To say that Conor Oberst’s career has been longwinded would be an understatement. Under the 18 year old moniker Bright Eyes, Oberst churned out an epic 9 studio albums, a handful of EPs, and then officiated the rest of his recordings through collections of b-sides. Then a few years ago, he decided to carry on under his own name and put out three studio albums, sometimes accompanied by the Mystic Valley Band. As Jason mentioned, on this tour Oberst has been reportedly playing tracks from all his projects.
It should be known that I have been following Oberst’s career for about ten years now, having been acutely aware of every exhale of Bright Eyes. With every admirable songwriter that has the power of building up a “cult following” over time, there are the low moments. During parts of Oberst’s career, I lost interest — mainly as he starting shaking off the youthful torment associated with the name Bright Eyes, and work on a more mature persona. He broke out with force, shifting focus from the themes of dark, emotional disturbance and despondent, yet romantic poetry to political opinion, atheism and an overall bohemian redress.
Fast forward to Saturday night’s show, and it seems as if Oberst now splits the difference and ultimately embraces both sides to his artistic imagery. At the Fillmore, his setlist was comprised of reworked songs from various points in his career, so far back as early Bright Eyes records from over a decade ago. It came together in a cohesive, relevant, and folk-inspired manner that allowed for his number one quality as a musician to shine through: his lyrical ability. There wasn’t that overpowering quiver in his voice, or any other stylistic distraction that could take away from Oberst’s on point lyrics. The crowd responded positively, practically yelling each word to Bright Eyes classics like “We Are Free Men” and cheering after noteworthy, politically commenting lines in “No One Would Riot For Less.”
October 7, 2013
Editor’s Note: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass fell on a gorgeous weekend this year, and some of our staff photographers were able to capture the festivities. Enjoy!
Saturday, Day 2
Photos by Jon Ching
Photos by Daniel Kielman
Sunday, Day 3
Photos by Daniel Kielman
October 1, 2013
Every year, Treasure Island Music Festival brings two days’ worth of scenic music consumption to that island out in the Bay. The way the booking pans out, Saturday rounds up most of the electronic and dance-inducing performers of the weekend, leaving Sunday for indie rock enthusiasts. This year’s lineup looks slightly different. Especially for those who enjoy electronic music, the second day lineup for this year’s festival is experiencing a slight spillover of said genre artists — including the relentlessly innovative Animal Collective, the aggressively pop-electro duo Sleigh Bells, and the current king of electronic pop, James Blake.
Full disclosure: this is my first time hearing about LA-based band IO Echo, who is currently on tour with Haim (whether or not intentionally humorous, the band advertises that they’ll be playing ‘Treasure Isle’ on this tour). IO Echo fit perfectly in the ultra-feminine section of the bill – sandwiched between their tourmates, the all-sister group and SPIN October cover girls Haim, and the fantastic Portland-based, female-fronted Deep Sea Diver.
Let’s cut to the chase — aside from all of the additional electronic pop and the femme rock invasion, the Sunday lineup is really killing it with the inclusion of Real Estate. To think, this band’s first few shows in the Bay Area were at tiny venues like the Hemlock just a few years ago! Now with two solid full-lengths under their belts, and another on the way (see album teaser video below), the band will be playing select dates in New York, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, and in San Francisco for the festival. No doubt some of their new material will be tested out on the Treasure Island crowd.
Treasure Island Music Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 19–20. Both single day and two-day tickets are still available for purchase.
September 24, 2013
What to say about Wild Moth’s record release show at Thee Parkside last Saturday? Well, it wasn’t for the faint of heart.
When The Bay Bridged booked Wild Moth to play our Noise Pop Happy Hour this past February, they were just getting settled into being a four-piece, and working through music to soon be compiled into their first full-length for Asian Man Records. In addition to self-releasing an eponymous 10-inch, Wild Moth released their “Mourning Glow” 7-inch on AMR last year. The Bay Bridged premiered side A of Over, Again back in August, and the entire record was officially released this week.
Truthfully, Over, Again proves just how much wisdom and emphasis on aesthetic this young band holds, with the album’s tightened tracking and DIY-spirited recording quality (again they worked with Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden Studio). It starts out strong with bold, guiltless melody, then transitions to the aggressively punk “Souvenir (No Future)” — only to take a slight pause with the interlude, “Coma.” Fast forward through the second half of the record, and “Pt. Dume” concludes with abrupt optimism. Drummer Cal Tung was all the more explosive on Saturday, adding lightning fast fills where they didn’t exist previously, and an overall energy that raised Wild Moth’s performance to a level adequate for the album’s celebration.
Over, Again‘s peaks and valleys reflect sophisticated songwriting, and while the mediocre sound system of a bar venue may mean you lose some of that subtle, high-end melody heard better on recordings, all of the set interludes were inversely affected. Rather, these heavy, two-minute segments were my favorite part of the most recent sets I’ve seen, both on Saturday and at the very memorable one inside of a cave:
Support on this album release show came from Permanent Collection, Tender Buttons and No Tongue, all of whom offered phenomenal and uniformly loud sets. It’s safe to say that between the bands at this show, and a handful of others (yes, this includes Terry Malts), the nostalgic, melodic vein of punk is alive and doing well in the region.
September 13, 2013
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros return to the Bay Area for a very special performance as part of the America’s Cup 2013 Concert Series. The band just released their third album, the self-titled Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, this past July. The concert series takes place on Piers 27/29 in the evening, post-races — more information and tickets are available via Ticketmaster.
Want to win a pair of tickets to the show? To enter this contest, email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Edward Sharpe Giveaway” in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the email. A winner will be selected at random and notified via email.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
America’s Cup Pavilion, Piers 27/29
September 20, 2013