May 22, 2013
Forget what you’ve read about Ariel Pink’s anxiety-filled live shows. Actually, don’t. Because everything I’ve heard and read about his self-indulgent performances made last night that much more amazing. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti filled The Chapel with nothing but celestial vibes. He was, at moments, outrageous, sensual in his flamboyant mannerisms, child-like, theatrical and genuinely humbled.
Before Ariel took the stage, Holy Shit! (pictured above) offered a dance party soundtrack of forgotten 1980s hooks and melodies that a good portion of the crowd was hesitant, at first, to get into. As the band went through songs like “Written All Over Your Face,” a decidedly slinkier number, and the stripped-back “The Castle,” the band’s three-guitar, one bass and one drum machine repertoire eventually melted the audience. Matt Fishbeck’s longtime project, which used to include Ariel and a certain SF-based singer/songwriter who happened to be lurking in the audience, fared much better in this venue than in places like Brick & Mortar, where the band played earlier this year for Noise Pop. With its superior sound, The Chapel cradled the tip-tap beats coming from Matt’s fisher price-looking drum machine, allowing for each guitar part to be distinguished and appreciated, though Matt’s vocals remained characteristically indistinguishable.
After Holy Shit bid farewell with the instrumental “Bombs,” the crowd prepared itself for the main event. After fifteen minutes of downtime, The lights dimmed and, letter by letter, Ariel Pink’s name began appearing on the backdrop, as if an invisible hand was drawing it on with a neon green marker. [More...]
May 21, 2013
Early in their set of thrashing, frantic mathcore on Sunday night, The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s lead singer Greg Puciato pulled himself up by the chains of a hanging PA speaker at the DNA Lounge, leaning dangerously forward ten feet above the shoulder-crushing mosh pit on the floor. DEP are well known for their insane live shows — the band members never really stop moving, using cordless guitars and microphones to allow them to go anywhere in the venue — but even still, I was sure Puciato wouldn’t jump into the mosh pit. That’s too dangerous.
Still hanging, Puciato pointed towards the crowd, smiled, and leaped from the hanging PA speaker, landing with knees and elbows bent on the throbbing crowd. Momentarily lost in a pit of bodies, the crowd spit him back up and onto the stage. The rest of the group continued to blaze through “Farewell, Mona Lisa” from their 2010 LP Option Paralysis — a sprawling, whiplashed hardcore piece that ends in a destructive fury as Puciato screams “What did you expect from us?” Nothing less, I had to admit.
That moment set the tone for the rest of the set as DEP pulled hits from their entire catalog. It was the kind of night where the salaciously catchy swagger of “Milk Lizard” would butt up against lurching, double-speed jams pulled from 2004′s Miss Machine and other more obscure releases.
May 21, 2013
Emily’s Army began submitting recordings to 1-2-3-4 Go! about four years ago, when most members were 13. I could have fathered them. It helped that the guy to my right could be their grandfather (and he was sporting a dog collar). It’s a little uncomfortable how great they are. It is frightening to think what they could be doing in a few years. My only fatherly advice: notch down the Green Day, study Sandinista, and stay away from my daughters. Check them out June 8th at Oakland’s Uptown with Meat Market! Get their record Lost at Seventeen as soon as it is released on June 11th.
Kepi Ghoulie formed the Groovie Ghoulies in 1983 in Sacramento. Although they disbanded in 2007, Kepi continues to churn out solo records and scary-beautiful artwork. For the Go! Go!, Kepi teamed up with Portland’s Mean Jeans (who played the following night) to play all the Groovie Ghoulies’ hits. Paradise. Kepi kicks off a huge tour in June. Send him off in style at Luigi’s Fungarden in Sac on June 6th.
May 20, 2013
If the only time someone has seen San Francisco’s Midi Matilda was at last year’s Live 105 BFD, when the guitar and drums synth-pop duo struggled with gear malfunctions through the first half of a short set to a dwindling crowd, that person would have a very wrong estimation of what it was capable of.
Friday night at Rickshaw Stop, Skyler Kilborn and Logan Grime fully entertained a sold-out house, introduced several new songs and paid tribute, once again, to former manager Steve Brodsky, who passed away too soon, recently, after a brief fight with cancer.
Midi Matilda’s set began with a Grime tribal-esque drum solo on a stationary tom in the middle of the dance floor and quickly moved back onto the stage for the rest of the 50-minute-long set that included a cover of the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination.” The two played fast and furious.
The duo’s appearance – Kilborn’s early ‘80s new romancer outfit coupled with Grime’s never-ending movement and a mop of hair that had a mind of its own, resembling Animal from The Muppets – presented an interesting dynamic.
Halfway through, the set took on the air of a victory lap, of sorts.
“We’ve travelled a lot recently around the country, but this is home,” Grime declared.
May 15, 2013
May 14, 2013
Stardate 1993, planet ‘aLaBaMa’, Man or Astro-man? are born. 2013, flying via rental ship (their rocket ship broke down somewhere about 1/2 way to LA), they land 60 Earth minutes late at Bimbos 365. In decent English they report great losses of equipment in the aftermath, yet it didn’t stop them from lighting a theremin on fire.
May 14, 2013
On Sunday night, May 12, Jim James floated onto the Fillmore stage looking like he had just been electrocuted. His mess of hair and beard frizzed wildly in every direction and his crazy-eyed stare poured into each fan in the front row, one by one, as he reached out to touch their fingertips – and then bowed to the crowd in Namaste. His humble entrance was endearing, and kind of hilarious. His wide-eyed stare got comically creepy after piercing my soul for a few seconds too long and about two feet away from my face, but it was obvious he appreciated the audience contact as he sauntered back and forth across the stage and sang into the crowd.
After penning six respectable studio albums with his claim to fame My Morning Jacket, a one-LP stint with stellar supergroup Monsters of Folk, and two cover albums (of George Harrison and Woody Guthrie, respectively) under the pseudonym Yim Yames, James released a solo album of original tracks, Regions of Light and Sound of God, in February of this year. Incorporating his saxophone skills and a four-piece live band to back him up, the new album is much more jazz-influenced and ostentatious than his folky past, though his Louisville southern twang remains.
James opened Sunday’s set with the first track from said LP, “State of the Art (A. E. I. O. U.)”, and staggered through the majority of the album with a somewhat manic rock star swagger. The bluesy “Actress” and “All is Forgiven” stood out while the artist flailed around stage, and the sentimentally cosmic lyrics of “A New Life” (“there’s more stardust when you’re near”) made the track one of my favorites. Throughout the two-hour set, the artist traded off between his Flying V (which otherwise sat locked onto a stand), an acoustic guitar, a brassy saxophone, and he went hands-free to belt in his notorious falsetto. He’d take breaks between songs to acknowledge the golden bear statue enshrined on the amp behind him and did an spirited praise dance (or something) with it. This, combined with the Namaste greeting, made his set seem like some ritualistic offering to the gods of rock and roll. Strange, but I can dig it.
May 13, 2013
The first annual BottleRock Napa Valley Festival brought over 50 bands to the Napa Valley Expo for four days of music over the weekend, and our Roman Gokhman was on the scene for all four days.
Below, check out his live-tweeting from the festivities, which included standout performances from The Flaming Lips, Sharon Van Etten, and Grouplove.