Based on our work as judges at last month's Air Guitar Championships, John thought I might possess some kind of keen observation skills (I could really differentiate between delivering a perfect-squish-face-6.0 score and a close-but-no-Van-Halen measly 4.8 to the contestants). So after hitting some of the Mission Creek fest for Fecal Face, he's offered me a blog on sorta music-related goings on in San Francisco. Below is a random collection of the things I've perused over the past week or two. I apologize in advance for the quality of some of the photos - some day I'll learn more than two settings on my camera.
I get invited to some weird shit sometimes -- and as a rule, I never pass up a booze cruise. So on a recent summer night, I had visions of sailing the Bay aboard the massive battleship S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, cocktails in hand.
Unfortunately the crew relayed that not only was the O'Brien not a battleship (it was just a stinkin' cargo ship) but that it also would not be leaving the port.
That did not mean, however, that the hull of the ship couldn't display some wicked information on Sea Perils! I think we encountered a peril later that night. Or maybe it was a sea lion.
I have no idea how I got on the guest list for this Xingolati party -- a group I've since learned operates huge Burning Man-crowd vacation cruises with bands like the Flaming Lips -- since a) the one and only time I went to Burning Man was over six years ago and b) I'm not the type to drop references to life on "the Playa" in everyday conversation. But hey, my friends and I were in agreement that Burning Man people are very friendly, so we hung there for a while.
This guy was playing into the sink by the bathroom, and it echoed into all of the stalls. [editor's note: I think these people's photo looks better sideways. I don't think I can handle that shirt that guys is wearing above vertically!]
There were many conversations about hot springs and organic fuel alternatives in between sets from DJs spinning free-love one-world sorta music. [or any of these shirts]
But really, it was pretty amazing to sip gratis wine at sunset aboard the Battleship Burning Man.
After the boat, we were released into world of Fisherman's Wharf on a Friday night! Which was crazy! How crazy? Fried-food-hamburger-chain-place-crazy!
From there we went to the Hemlock to see garage punks the Country Teasers, who are a bunch of witty crummudeons who talk shit about everyone and everything to the delight of snarky smart-asses everywhere.
The show was fun, it was packed, and it made dance partners out of the most unlikely-looking companions.
I was disappointed that the same big crowd hadn't packed the house for the Tough & Lovely show at the Hemlock a couple nights before. T&L re-work '60s girl-group songs into original garage pop 'n' roll. The singer belted her lyrics like a woman whose heart isn't to be messed with. (Check out their MySpace page ...especially "Hard to Love Me.")
What else? Last weekend a Japanese MC named Tigarah had her first show in San Francisco. She's being touted as the "Japanese M.I.A." and her music was a mishmash of hip hop, funk, crunk, and a whole bucha other stuff from around the world. She and her Brazilian DJ, Mr. D, were decked out in the colors of baile funk, the yellows and greens of Brazil.
Tigarah played the Rickshaw for club Loaded, a good match even though the crowd didn't know her stuff well enough to dance much during her set (her CD isn't even out yet, although she does have some songs online). The show itself felt a little raw as it went along - it needs more time, polish, and definitely more bass.
But hey, at the end of the night, it was Loaded, and people danced.
Saturday we went back to the Hemlock. I swear I don't only go to shows at the Hemlock. But here's Tony from the Hemlock and Tim, who's played sax for Comets on Fire and Howlin' Rain and lots of other people.
The headliner that night was Howlin' Rain, Ethan Miller from Comets' new band. Ethan calls the music "van rock" and it has a slightly mellower vibe then Comets (keeping some of the good feedback freakouts and cool guitar work intact). You can actually hear Ethan's rapsy, salt-of-the-earth singing, which is awesome. (image 866, image 900)
What it feels like to stand in the Howlin' Rain.
Monday night was totally "smells like teen spirit" at Bottom of the Hill for Liars.
I mean that in a good way. The club was sweaty and packed and it was the start of the work week and being a sold out show at Bottom of the Hill it was impossible to see anything but your neighbor's dandruff. But these kids totally lit up the room from the opening acts, slamming into each other, pouring water on one another, and basically projecting that "holy shit I fucking love this band don't you" vibe that you really only get (with that level of enthusiasm) from total drunks - who, when they try to mosh, tend to crush your feet. But these guys were the best. The reminded me of jumping around at shows when I was a teenager in Portland, only it was like Camper Van Beethoven and stuff back then.
The kids also made me think how cool it is that the Internet has opened people still sporting braces up to shit like Liars. This is music with no hooks, no choruses really, nothing but deep rhythm (two drummers and guitar) and chanting and scorching white noise like a Sonic Youth makeout anthem. So while the Red Hot Chili Peppers shit out another two gold bricks of mall funk for their high school brethren, these younguns found their long-haired messiah in Angus, the lanky Australian front man for Liars. Smart choice.
All the bands playing that night had a singular moniker. First up was Rabbits, and then Apes (who had a totally different singer all the times I've seen them before. The last dude was like a cross between Devendra Banhard and Charles Manson, and the new guy - who introduced himself as "the new guy" looked like this.)
Apes' music was a good match with Liars. Apes had that intense, arty San Diego/GSL sound that's equal parts PiL-goth and dirgy Stooges grind. The lyrics were delayed so much they were like runny egg yolks sliding down the speakers. The band was just keyboards, a singer, drums, and one guitar - but the guitar sound was so full and so loud I think this guy bore a hole into my ear drums and excavated the last of my hearing during their set.
The night was all about Liars, though. Not only were their songs the most complex - and weirdly soothing, in their beyond-the-fray-metallic-jams-but they came on stage in a bundle of clothing that the trio stripped off in layers. Angus had his weird pajamas-in-prison thing going on towards the end. It must be a statement about penal colonies.
Magic (if you ignore that that kid's hand is pushing the back of the girl's shirt up a bit high).
Hello and welcome to the first edition of "My Life Is Ruining My Life". If you are wondering how I got a music column on fecalface the answer is I asked. If you are wondering how qualified I am to write a music column the answer is I am not really. I have a lot of records and I have a lot of opinions and I have a computer I can type on so maybe that qualifies me. Or maybe its just that I said to John one day "Hey can I write a free form music column on fecal? I have a lot of opinions and I ramble on about things a lot." And John said yes. That's kind of how it went anyway. I hope you are not expecting me to write about all the hottest bands and how good their show was and how their record is going to be the next big thing because I probably won't be writing about that. I am getting free form to do what I want or at least write about what happens.
Let me tell you about what I thought was going to make a great first column but didn't turn out how I expected at all. A few months ago right after I first approached John about this column I saw there was a High On Fire show going on in my neighborhood. It was at 12 Galaxies and I remember Gargantula played too. They were great by the way. It's people from B'last and Spaceboy and it sounds like that genre of Santa Cruz metal but a little catchier than Spaceboy was. I can't say they are better than B'last just because when I first heard "Start The Machine" it changed my life. Not my whole life but seeing Jason Jesse skate to that song in a video when I was a wee lad growing up on the east coast it made me realize there was another world out there and it's called California. I actually just got up from the computer and put on "Take the Manic Ride" from B'last after writing that last sentence. There is so much nostalgia in my record collection it makes me feel old but in a good way. Not the "been there done that" way but the "damn those were good times and I got see some amazing things when they were happening" way. Wait a second, I am rambling too much, back to my story. That what the readers want right?
I thought "this is my opportunity to really impress people with a High On Fire interview in my first column". I figured I see Matt Pike (vocals/guitar) around. We have some mutual friends. I have talked to him before. It will be no problem. I put new batteries in my mini tape recorder, I wrote out some questions I thought would be funny. I read them later and they weren't. Now, all I had to do was find Matt and ask some questions right? Well the only time I actually saw him was while they were playing and I don't think he saw me, and that would not really be the time to do an interview. Maybe I should try that sometime though. Yell a question to a band as they are between songs. So here I am now reflecting on that night and thinking about what I did manage to do. First I managed to get really drunk. There is a liquor store up the street that has cheaper drinks than the club and there is a nice set of steps between the two to drink with your friends on. Good times. And the other thing I did manage to do was record some really dumb things on my tape recorder. One of which was my friend telling me on the drunken walk to another bar afterwards about some retarded relative who shat out 2 feet of their intestine and how the toilet was filled with intestine. Totally gross story but maybe more interesting than just another interview. Maybe not. Either way High On Fire did kill it.
I hope my ramblings are enjoyable to someone. If not then "Ha! Ha! I have a column so I can say what I want!" Write to me if you want. I have an email address. Thanks for reading.