March 27, 2013
Both hailing from Los Angeles, Wavves and FIDLAR are probably two of the most divisive bands currently making music. Critics are torn, fans are torn: are they genuinely as immature and irresponsible as their lyrics portray? Or is it an act — a character of excess (FIDLAR > beer :: Wavves > whining) inspired by rap music’s character-driven style? The answer, as always, lies somewhere in the middle and Friday night’s sold-out show at Bottom of the Hill reminded everyone in attendance that yes, both bands intend to be, in their own way, slightly annoying. And yes, both groups write unbelievably catchy pop-garage rock songs, a style that is easy to half-assedly imitate but surprisingly difficult to deliver.
FIDLAR played a nearly identical set to their sold-out January headlining show at BOTH (which I also reviewed) and, while the crowd wasn’t quite as rowdy (leading singer Zac Carper to reminiscence about the “fucking insanity” of their last San Francisco show), the band’s energy never faltered. They opened with the whiplash-inducing “Cheap Beer” and never let down from there, running through most of their self-titled debut album, including an inspired, head-banging version of “Cocaine,” and a set-closing rendition of the unemployed-slacker anthem “Wake Bake Skate.” I overheard a few audience members mention that they only bought at ticket to see FIDLAR — fair enough, but I don’t think the band has proven themselves multi-dimensional enough to overtake the headlining Kings of the Beach.
March 15, 2013
On March 21st, San Francisco singer-songwriter Lia Rose will premiere a video for her new single, “Snake in the Water,” at Bottom of the Hill. Rose, best known for her collaboration with local acts like Or, The Whale, Minipop and Built for the Sea, will follow the premiere with a full set alongside her band. Arann Harris and the Farm Band open.
Check out some of her more recent work, “Conspire,” performed with Kelly McFarling, here.
Review & Photos: Caspian, Native, Boyfrndz, The Dandelion War @ Bottom of the Hill, 3/3/13 (Noise Pop 2013)
March 5, 2013
Caspian (Photo: Mike G.)
Photo Gallery: Emily Turner
Noise Pop 2013 has come and gone, and it ended on an epically high note. Post-rock mainstays Caspian were towering and majestic, a thing of primal beauty, on Sunday night at Bottom of the Hill, but that being said, supporting act Native was the real story of the night for me, if only because I knew nothing about them going in, and they officially earned my “best new discovery” award for the whole festival.
Oakland’s The Dandelion War opened, and they were the sole local band on the bill. It was an early show, so I missed the first half of their set. I walked in on a hard driving post-rock tune featuring a xylophone. The band’s take on post-rock is pretty standard as far as post-rock goes, except they throw in quite a bit of vocals (for a genre known mostly for instrumentals), maracas, and of course that xylophone (which actually is kind of a post-rock staple—Caspian had one too).
Boyfrndz flew out from their hometown, Austin, just for the show, so they were playing on borrowed gear, which probably contributed to the technical difficulties they experienced early in the set. But once they got it together, they locked into their groove. Their sound leans more toward pure noise rock than the rest of the bands on the bill, but the live loops laid down on almost every song by their guitarist gave their set an experimental vibe. They were also insanely loud. Last time I saw them they were on tour with their own gear, and they were pretty damn loud then too, so I don’t think that was another side effect of playing on someone else’s gear. That’s just how they like it.
Still, Boyfrndz wasn’t the loudest band of the night. I’d say Native takes that title. The band, which hails from Indiana, plays music that is equally influenced by hardcore and post-metal, to my ears. It’s a pretty original formula, and a pretty damn thrilling one, too. It helps that the band has the chops to pull off some wicked rhythmic interplay between the bass and drums, and to lay intricately arranged guitars on top with some extremely tight starts and stops. That’s where the hardcore comes in—abrupt changes not being a common feature of the post-metal genre, which typically moves at a more glacial pace—in addition to the vocals, which were exclusively shouted in a hardcore punk snarl. Apparently Native were playing mostly new material from an album they plan to release in July, and the band told me it’s all darker than their old stuff. It’s a pretty safe bet I’ll be writing about this band again come the summer.
It’s been over three years since Caspian made the trek from their home base in Boston to play San Francisco, and the band seemed as stoked to be back as their fans were to see them. Caspian is one of the main bands that gets name-dropped whenever the topic of post-rock comes up, along with the likes of Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai, but their music is decidedly more ambient than those two. It’s so ambient, in fact, that there’s very little in the way of melody, and certainly nothing you’d really call a hook (not that Explosions or Mogwai are at all incorporating pop hooks, but they generally have something a little more catchy going on). Caspian still achieves the mountainous walls of delay and reverb that is a staple of their genre, but they do it in a more subtle, creeping kind of way. One minute it’s all calm and serene, and before you even realize what’s going on, the band is wailing away on some of the most epic, monolithic music you’ve ever heard.
Thanks for lots more fun this year, Noise Pop. ‘Til next time…
Review & Photos: The Fresh & Onlys, R. Stevie Moore, Plateaus, and Burnt Ones @ Bottom of the Hill, 2/27/13 (Noise Pop 2013)
March 1, 2013
Photos by Lauren Espina
This week’s Noise Pop 2013 festivities continued at Bottom of the Hill on Wednesday night with toe-tapping performances from San Francisco garage rockers Burnt Ones and The Fresh & Onlys, plus San Diego’s Plateaus and D.I.Y. legend R. Stevie Moore. Each of the four bands is a quartet, providing for a well-rounded rock show.
Burnt Ones warmed up the stage with an impressive rock ‘n’ roll set. Frontman Mark Tester relied on feedback from his amp to provide the set with gritty distorted guitar sound as he belted out his vocals to the crowd. Amy Crouch kept time on the band’s two-piece drum kit, communicating with her band members through glances and smirks. Adam Finkin of Blasted Canyons joined Tester as the second guitar player for the show, with Brian Allen on bass. The band offered a taste of their forthcoming LP You’ll Never Walk Alone, ripping through their latest singles “Strawberry Tombs” and “Fountain of Youth.” Tester even attempted to shred his guitar behind his head for all of two-and-half seconds, setting the tone for the evening.
San Diego pop-rockers Plateaus hit the stage next, incorporating elements of punk and surf-rock into their danceable rock set. The quartet play a no-frills set of bouncy anthems recalling summer days on the beach.
Twenty minutes after Plateaus packed up, R. Stevie Moore’s backing band hopped on stage, consisting of guitarist J.R. Thomason plus a drummer and an additional guitar/keyboard player. They were closely followed by a man with a cotton candy blue Santa Claus beard protruding from his black hoodie, who proved to be none other than American lo-fi legend R. Stevie Moore. Moore, now 61, is a pioneer of D.I.Y. music, with over 400 home and studio recorded releases to his name. The casual showman was armed with a bass guitar, which had a baby doll head covering one of the tuning knobs.
The band opened with what I think may have been a rendition of “Mason Jar”, followed by “Carolyn Will You Come”. Moore then plopped down in a chair positioned a couple feet behind his microphone, caught his breath, and blew the audience a kiss. He quickly stood back up and said, I kid you not – “Where my bitches at? Swag, swag, swag, swag, swag…” – successfully getting a rise out of the young crowd. Thomason, out of breath, asked for more vocals in his monitor. Moore and his band continued to serve up pop-rock jams from his extensive back catalog. Recognizable numbers included “Play Myself Some Music” (after which Moore ad-libbed “she blinded me with silence…silence”) a former collaboration with Ariel Pink called “Irony”, and “I Like to Stay Home”, one of his earliest hits.
The band took a brief intermission, then returned on stage for a few more songs. “Hella love y’all,” Moore said to the enamored audience, explaining that the band was touring from Vancouver to San Diego, or, “to hell and back… hella.” Moore threw off his hoodie and clipped dark lenses onto his glasses, finishing his memorable set with more stage antics such as lying down and playing on the floor.
SF garage rock favorites The Fresh & Onlys closed with a set spanning fourteen cuts from the quartet’s catalog. The band opened with “Wash Over Us” and focused mostly on material from last year’s Long Slow Dance. Sneaking in a pair of tracks from each of their previous full-lengths, The Fresh & Onlys ended with “Diamond in the Dark”, followed by an encore of “Endless Love” and “Feelings in my Heart” from their self-titled debut.
To say that frontman Tim Cohen was in rare form would be an overstatement, but his inebriated banter was nonetheless entertaining. Rather than babies or hallucinogens, his chosen topic for the night was Fireball Whiskey, which the bar did not carry. “Fireball is what keeps the positive sweat coming through the pores,” Cohen said, after he already claimed to be seeing double. Before “Fire Alarm”, he announced, “This is our fifth song,” and then instructed the audience to hug it out during “Loving Kindness”. No flubs in the performance, though. The seasoned rockers sounded as fantastic as usual. Cohen dedicated “Fog Machine” to San Francisco, admitting that he misses the City since moving to Arizona. He did, however, make a concerted effort to shut himself up and finish the set, not that anyone minded his jokes.
Overall the night was a lot of fun, and although fans seemed to be conserving their energy for the rest of the festival, a rocking good time was had for all.
Interview: Maserati returns, exploring futuristic new directions (Win tickets to see them at Bottom of the Hill, 3/4/12)
March 1, 2013
It was the last element added to Maserati’s latest album. The record was tracked and ready to go, but bassist Chris McNeal of the Athens, Georgia-based instrumental psych/post-rock band had one last idea.
“We went back to the studio for an hour,” guitarist Coley Dennis said. “Chris had this idea and I’m glad he did, because it makes the song.”
After more than 13 years as a band, what Maserati had was its very first sung part. It was heavily processed through a vocoder, and only a few lines long, but it was lyrical nonetheless.
“We always think about that kind of stuff,” Dennis said. “If you always do this or do that, then you are limiting yourself.”
The sung words appear roughly a third of the way through “Solar Exodus,” a seven-minute track off Maserati’s sleek, futuristic 2012 album, Maserati VII. The quartet, which also includes guitarist Matt Cherry and drummer Mike Albanese, plays Monday at Bottom of the Hill.
(Want to win a pair of tickets to this show? To enter, submit an email to email@example.com with your full name in the body and “Maserati” in the subject line. The winner will be chosen at random.)
The vocals, sung by McNeal, are not the only new developments for Maserati. VII, released last October, dives into a vast depth of electronic influence for the post-rock band.
For nearly their first decade of existence, Dennis and his bandmates were influenced by the likes of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine; fuzz-drenched indie guitar rock.
“Now I’m 36 and have listened to a lot more stuff over the last 10 years,” Dennis said. “Your palette (gets) broadened. We wanted to evolve. We wanted to push in new directions.”
And of course, Maserati now features a new fulltime drummer in Albanese. The band was devastated in 2009, as were the indie rock and dance communities in Athens and New York, with the death of previous drummer Jerry Fuchs.
February 22, 2013
Last March, Hank IV drummer Scott Jones suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling backwards down the stairs in his home. After spending a number of months in a coma and undergoing several surgeries, Jones is now back living at home, where he needs around-the-clock medical care that is not covered by his insurance. To help cover these costs, there’s a benefit show this Sunday at Bottom of the Hill, featuring a full afternoon of entertainment for just $15 (100% of which will go to the Scott Jones Medical Fund).
The benefit features performances by Hank IV and fellow locals Hot Lunch and Mitchell & Manley, as well as a set by Brickbat, a post-punk trio that Scott Jones had been in during the late ’80s and early ’90s. To make the reunion all the more special, original Brickbat members James Sardone and Scott Renner will be joined by David Yow and Mac McNeilly of The Jesus Lizard at the show.
The Scott Jones Medical Benefit Rock Show
Bottom of the Hill
February 24, 2013
2pm, $15, All Ages
February 19, 2013
A whole lotta rock happening at Bottom of the Hill this week . . . we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away below.
To enter this contest submit an email to jody.amable[at]thebaybridged.com with your full name in the body and the concert you’re entering the contest for in the subject line. You may only submit your name once to only one contest. Winners for will be chosen at random and will be awarded one pair of tickets unless otherwise noted.
February 15, 2013
Casually born out of a ramshackle San Francisco State dorm room in 2011, Sheepeaters are now a fully-formed unit primed to make a splash on the local indie pop scene. The band first began to take shape when college roommates Taylor Giffin (drums) and Ty Lyman (bass) befriended guitarist Joe Raedeker on the SFSU campus. After adding second guitarist Joey Buttitta to the fold a couple weeks after its first show, the four-piece began to solidify its slightly off-kilter take on surf-tinged indie rock, pulling from a range of influences it refers to somewhat tongue-in-cheek as “falling somewhere between The Beatles and Mobb Deep instrumentals.”
Sheepeaters have only recorded and released a couple of demos via its Bandcamp page thus far, but both are impressively fleshed-out and catchy as hell. In particular, the bouncy “GMO” drifts by with Islands-esque breeziness and chiming Tropicália-inspired guitars that whet the appetite as to what these guys could do over the course of a full, proper release. Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait too long to find out.
French Cassettes, Black Cobra Vipers, Sheepeaters
Bottom of the Hill
February 15, 2013