Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Thermals in Seattle

Show: The Thermals
Headliner: The Thermals
Openers: Arthur & Yu, Coconut Coolouts
Location: Neumos in Seattle, WA
Date: Saturday, December 1, 2007
2007 Show #: 8

Finally making it to a show in Seattle. Neumos is a cool venue. Plenty of places to sit, and a well separated drinking/no-drinking section, the space size is just right. Fortunately the weather stayed ok and I was able to make it.

The Coconut Coolouts came on first and played a half hour or so. They're a decent band, with the goal of a party atmosphere. The band has 6 people, and for some reason they arranged themselves in a single line across the stage. They seemed a little crowded. They had two drummers too. Not much to say about this band. They put on a decent show, but how excited can you get about a band with a song "Do the Dolphin." That might have worked 40-50 years ago, but requires a certain tongue in cheek to do well now.

Next came on Arthur & Yu, a 5 piece group that called themselves the soft center in a hard rocking sandwich (as they joked often enough). They played a mostly melodic set. Good stuff, but I didn't feel like I could fully appreciate in the environment. I'll check out some more of their stuff...

Finally the Thermals came on. I've seen them once before, but I don't think I've written about it. Last time wasn't a very good show, with the crowd mostly emptying out by the end. This show was a lot more energetic though. And the crowd was much more into. It made the show a lot better all around. Of course all their songs sound the same, but it was a happy same. The mosh pit was kind of lame. And one jerk kept jumping around and was even kicked out once, but like a bad sock he kept turning up. The show was certainly a better one then last time. I may give the Thermals a second chance after all.

Hopefully I'll be hitting more Seattle shows soon....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Pipettes SF Premiere

Show: The Pipettes San Francisco Premiere
Headliner: The Pipettes
Openers: Smoosh, Monster Bobby
Location: Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, CA
Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2007
2007 Show #: 7

Getting this review up pretty late. I took off for Europe the day after the show, and am just now back. Anyway, back to the show review.

The show was listed to start at 9, so I got to the show at 9:45 figuring I'd miss at least one opener. I wasn't really interested in Smoosh, having seen them before, so I wanted to miss as much as I could.

Of course, these club/show venues always suck like this. Monster Bobby was coming on just as I got there. And he was bleh, just as I expected. I can't remember anything positive about this set. Apparently he's in the Pipettes backing band.

Smoosh came on second. They are a band that you don't need to see twice. They're ok and all, but I feel like I'm set for the seeing them for life. The only high point was the cover of a Bloc Party song.

As for the Pipettes. Good times. The show was in a lot of ways what I expected it to be. They were just as cute and adorable in person as their press would have you believe. They put enough variation in their songs to make them interesting. They didn't do anything too surprising, but that's ok. I can't remember any particular song highlights, but they did hit all their standards. I really enjoyed 'Your kisses are wasted on me.'

Good times, and worth the trip to go see these gals.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Shins

Show: The Shins at The Warfield
Headliner: The Shins
Openers: Viva Voce
Location: The Warfield in San Francisco, CA
Date: Monday, April 16, 2007
2007 Show #: 6

The first of 3 consecutive SF shows. And the last 3 shows of a long tour that apparently started in January. The show started and ended early, and I guess I can see why.

Viva Voce came on at around 8:10 and played just over a 30 minute set. They a male/female duo from Portland, and they play a variety of instruments. In the first few songs, the guy was playing both an acoustic guitar and drums, at the same time. It made for an interesting show, but it's value was questionable. It seemed like they'd have been better off with a third band member or a drum machine. The girl played a double-guitar at one point. But during the songs she used it, she only used 1/2 of it at a time. Why not just have two guitars?

The set was decent. It started off with a lot of new stuff that I didn't know at all. They finished with some stuff I recognized more. The set got better as it went for its recognizability and for ditching the boring aimless jams the earlier set started with.

The Shins came on at 9:15, and played a set that met my expectations in every way, but didn't really exceed them in any. Before they came on, I told my friend they'd have just over 1 hour main set (63 minutes in fact) and then play a 10-15 minute encore (13 minutes in fact). They mixed stuff from all their albums, though saving most of their newer stuff for the beginning and end. The middle was mostly songs from their first 2 albums. Everything was enjoyable, putting just enough variation on the songs to make it obvious I wasn't just listening to the album, but not so much so that they became different songs. My only real complaint, and probably the reason my expectations were as high as they were was the price of the show. Damn you "Garden State!"

The only particularly exciting things were the covers they did. They closed the main set with a cover of Pink Floyd's Eclipse (I think it was at least. I can't remember which song for certain but I'm 99% certain that it was off Dark Side of the Moon). The cover was thoroughly enjoyable. The 2nd (of 3) song of the encore was a cover of a Modern Lover's song. I didn't recognize the song, and found the performance only okay.

I'd see the Shins again. It would have to be under the right circumstances. Their popularity makes their price tag out of proportion with the live show experience....

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Noise Pop Day #6 - Afternoon

Show: Midlake in Noise Pop
Headliner: Midlake
Openers: Minipop, Ester Drang, Minmae
Location: Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco, CA
Date: Sunday, March 4, 2007
2007 Show #: 5

I was starting to burn out from Noise Pop, so this was my last show. The afternoon show at Bottom of the Hill. I've gone to 2 afternoon noise pop shows at bottom of the hill before, and have been happy with both. And I was mostly happy with this one too...

The show started with a 35 minute set from Minmae. Minmae hails from Portland. They are a 4 piece, playing some rocking tunes. It was good, enjoyable stuff. I was considering buying their CD, but decided to save my money for other pursuits. I will look up more of their stuff.

Ester Drang came up next, also playing about a 35 minute set. They're a 3 piece, playing in front of a video projector with videos from a laptop (I couldn't see the laptop to verify). The videos were arty, and the music was atmospheric to go along with it. It was enjoyable, but unspectacular. I wouldn't shy from seeing them again, but I wouldn't seek it out either.

Minipop came on half an hour later. They were a 5 member group, with an additional little kid with a guitar standing on stage. The kid couldn't have been more than 10 (and probably younger than that). He introduced the band. They play an enjoyable female vocal indie pop.

Unfortunately, about half way through the set, the club got super full. The heat of all the people, combined with the heat of the warm day, made it much to warm in there. I started to feel sick. Since the club had no ins and outs, and I couldn't find anywhere to just stand and catch my breath, I just took off. It was good music, but I got in for free and it wasn't worth getting sick over to me. Bummer. Good show though.

Noise Pop Night #5

Show: Ghostland Observatory in Noise Pop
Headliner: Ghostland Observatory
Openers: Honeycut, The Gray Kid, Land Shark
Location: Mezzanine in San Francisco, CA
Date: Saturday, March 3, 2007
2007 Show #: 4

Not a happy experience. I came to the show wanting to see Honeycut and Ghostland Observatory, not knowing the other two bands. In the end I only saw 1. Why? Well, most places list the show start time and the door time. Mezzanine in contrast, only lists 1 time. Since Mezzanine is so close to the BART, and every other Noise Pop show has ended shortly after midnight, I took the BART in. The last BART train out was at 12:20. As a result, I completely missed Ghostland Observatory. I'm beginning to really dislike Mezzanine as a venue. Booo!

Anyway, on to the show I did see. The show started (at 9:45 pm!) with Land Shark. Land Shark is a 4 person group playing a mix of atmosphere, new wave, and electronic that simply mixes to crap. Couldn't get into this, and I couldn't wait for the set to end. I liked the name, but that's where it ended.

Next up was The Gray Kid. The singularness of the name isn't a mistake. It really is just one guy. Dancing around between several microphones and singing/rapping to music from a laptop. This reminded me very much of Har Mar Superstar from the other day. Like Har Mar, it just didn't work. Unlike Har Mar, he didn't even have an interesting gimmick. Oh well.

Honeycut came on at 11:30 pm and played a 40 minute set. They played a solid set, and had some good showmanship. They started with a instrumental track, played a solid set from their 1 album. They worked in a cover of 'Strawberry Letter 23,' played their top single 'Shadows' second to last, and then ended with a jammy type song. Good stuff, if unspectacular. I then had to leave, disappointed, and not a fan of Mezzanine.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Noise Pop Night #4

Show: Ted Leo in Noise Pop
Headliner: Ted Leo And The Pharmacists
Openers: Georgie James, So Many Dynamos, Pony Come Lately
Location: Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA
Date: Friday, March 2, 2007
2007 Show #: 3

This is my second draft of this, having lost the first draft to a firefox crash. This is the Noise Pop show I was most (only?) looking forward to. It was a pretty uninspiring line up this year. Fortunately, it delivered.

I got to Great American late, so unfortunately missed most of Pony Come Lately's set. The guide says they're a San Francisco "super group," for what it's worth. I enjoyed what I heard though, and I'm looking to learn more about these guys.

Next up was So Many Dynamos. This was the only real down point of the show, and it wasn't that down. It just didn't do anything for me. And for no obvious reason. Plenty of energy, but just didn't get any response. A head scratcher, but I won't be looking for any more from them.

Next up was Georgie James, formed by of the former members of Q and Not U. And it was like having an average rock band infused with the post-ness of Q and Not U. It made for enjoyable music, and an enjoyable set. I will definitely be looking for more from this band, and I anxiously look forward for the chance to hear their album when it comes out.

Finally was Ted Leo. This was the only band I knew anything about before coming to the show, but I was very excited. Ted Leo came on at 10:50 pm, and point a fantastic 70 minute main set. He mixed new (a new CD coming out next week) and old stuff. I mostly dug the old stuff, not being as excited about the new CD coming out. But I did enjoy it, even if the new stuff played a lot more dead then the old stuff. The highlight of noise pop so far. The encore was 4 songs. The first song was just Ted Leo playing solo, and the last song was a cover of a Chumbawumba song I didn't recognize (thankfully not Tumbthumping). An excellent set, from a band known to be a top performer.

Good times.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Noise Pop Night #2

Show: John Vanderslice in Noise Pop
Headliner: John Vanderslice
Openers: Damien Juardo, The Submarines, Black Fiction
Location: The Independent in San Francisco, CA
Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2007
2007 Show #: 2

The second night of Noise Pop, despite the club's insistence on calling it the first night. The only thing I really need to comment on before getting into the review was the between set music. Between the first and second band, it was all off an old Decemberists album. Using only one artist, okay, but the Decemberisits? Anyway, what makes it worse is that between the second and third band they played the same songs. Not even different songs on the same album! They fixed it after that, at least.

Up first was Black Fiction. They're a San Francisco outfit. I got in just moments after they began their first song. An enjoyable, if unspectacular set. My biggest problem as that most of their songs just sort of droned. They ended the set with a few songs with some more liveliness. They have some potential.

Up next was The Submarines. I knew of one of their songs ("Peace and Hate") from a podcast, or a blog, or some such. They're a duo relying on a laptop to fill out their sound. They put on an enjoyable set, but again unspectacular. I enjoyed their rendition of the song I knew, but nothing particularly crazy.

Third on was Damien Jurado. I know people are big into this guy, but I've never really got much into it. Just a little to .... morose. Damien is a self-described as "not much to look at," which is fair enough. He said they normally have three people up there, but that their lady didn't do the trip with them, so it was just Damien and 1 guy backing him up. They played a bunch of good songs, but once again just none of it was exciting. Very quality, and very skilled, but eh.

Finally was John Vanderslice. I knew a good bit of his stuff, so he was my draw. Unfortunately, this was once again an unexciting set. I enjoyed everything I heard, but I was just bored the entire show. As a result, and because of a need to wake early the next day, I skipped out early. Everything Vanderslice and his band played, I enjoyed. Just nothing ever happened to make me pleased to be at the concert.

I'd be willing to see each of these bands again, but I wouldn't go for them as the headliners. Enjoyable, but just blah....

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Noise Pop Opening Night

Show: Noise Pop Opening Freedm Night
Headliner: Tapes 'N Tapes
Openers: David Cross, Har Mar Superstar, Extra Action Marching Band
Location: Mezzanine in San Francisco, CA
Date: Tuesday, February 27, 2007
2007 Show #: 1

Another free show. This year, Doc Marten's Freedm opened up the festivals Opening Night to all. Maybe that's why the headliner wasn't as impressive as last years (Flaming Lips)? Not a knock against Tapes 'N Tapes, but they're not the most impressive opening night name.

The night began with a 25 minute set from the Extra Action Marching Band. I began the set standing towards the middle of the audience area, figuring that I was a good ways away. The marching band began their set by walking on stage, and immediately stepping down and marching through the crowd. They then proceed to perform "standard mosh pit" forming procedure, creating a whole in the center of the crowd. They then proceed to perform in that pit. I went from being fairly removed to being right on the edge of the show. Want proof, go here.

Or check this out. I'm on the left holding my beer:

I'm right behind that girl, so you can't see me in this one. This one you can see my face clearly. My head is between the right most extended trombone bar and a trumpet aimed up and right (in the picture).The Extra Action Marching Band is self described as an erotic and wild experience. It's a decent description. They had 5 dancers, though only 3 were women. And though the 3 were pretty, they were somewhat describable as boyish. They were scantily clad and dancing around, which was fun to watch. The music was decent and enjoyable. The only big downside (besides getting pushed around to make that mosh pit) was the male flag waver who walked by me with arms upraised. The stench that hit me was strong to say the least.

Next up was Har Mar Superstar. Har Mar Superstar is a 1 man act. He has a stereo playing, and then raps/sings along with it. Mostly. He's ultra confident and strips down to his skivies during the show. He also made a trip out into the audience, getting a little too close to me for comfort. His shtick didn't really work. It was okay for 5 minutes, but didn't really work for the 30 minute set. The lowlight was probably in the first song when he screams "all the ladies sing," but the female voices that come next were clearly part of the recording. The highlight was the slutty girl who got up on stage and danced almost flashing the crowd.

David Cross was MC, and spoke to introduce each band. He also DJed a bit before the show, which was enjoyable. I was amused by how he laid into Doc Marten's. Doc Marten's enjoyed it, for presenting themselves as some "alternate art" organization. Or such is was their front.

Tapes 'n Tapes came on last. They came on at 11:30p. I unfortunately had to leave a 12:05a in order to catch the last BART train back to east bay. They put on a solid and enjoy if unspectacular set. I really only knew a couple of their songs, and I enjoyed their live rendition of 'Cowbell.' Not too varied from what was on the album, but I enjoyed the music. Overall a good time.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Vodka Latka

Show: Vodka Latka at The Independent
Headliner: Golem
Openers: Conspiracy Of Beards, DJ Anaan, Festival of Rights Menorah-Lighting
Location: The Independent in San Francisco, CA
Date: Thursday, December 15, 2006
2006 Show #: 15

Vodka Latka was the second annual festival put on for Hanukkah. We managed to win some free tickets via the Noise Pop mailing list, making the price of the evening right. The evening began with more freebies. Specifically, free latkas (though no free vodka). The latkas were tasty and plentiful for those who arrived early.

One interesting note though was Latka hippy lady. Before the latkas were served, a rail thin looking women came up to us (the group I was with) and started going on and on about how hungry she was and asked whether we thought they'd serve the latkas to us. I tried joking that they wouldn't, but she didn't get it. She then proceeded to walk over to the supplies and proceeded started sticking her hands into things. Until she got swatted away by a staffer. The last I saw of her she was dancing by herself in the middle of the floor between the sets...

DJ Anaan played between sets. There isn't much to say about the DJ. Standard enjoyable choices, but nothing particularly significant.

The festival of rights menorah lighting was interesting. For each candle, a person came up and spoke about their social action initiative and how people could act. Good stuff.

Conspiracy of Beards is about a 30 man acapella group that sings solely the songs of Leonard Cohen. It's an interesting concept. Unfortunately, it just wasn't working that night. I enjoyed that they sang "Everybody Knows" (though I like the Concrete Blonde version best), but that was the first song they did. They didn't hold the audience's attention, which is kind of death for a acappella band.

Golem played about an hour set from 10:35p ish to 11:30p. A very high energy set. Though not as high energy as I'd expected, at least in comparison to Gogol Bordello. There were often times of a more sedate nature. Golem is an eastern European Jewish folk punk band from New York (thus validating the Gogol Bordello comparison). They do put on a good show though. One song, they had 3 professional dancers in the crowd to really get things going at one point. Their attempt to dance the hora resulted in an effective mosh pit. We ended up doing a 1 song encore, but we split between the main set's end and the start of the encore. Overall, a good show. Not worth going too far out of the way for though.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Best Of 2006

This list could change at just about any moment, but as I sit down to write this, here's my best of lists for 2006.

Top Songs of 2006
1. Oppenheimer - Breakfast In NYC
2. Band Of Horses - The Funeral
3. Swan Lake - All Fires
4. The Pipettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me
5. Built To Spill - Conventional Wisdom
6. Beirut - Postcards From Italy
7. Sufjan Stevens - Springfield, or Bobby Got a Shadfly Caught in His Hair
8. Sunset Rubdown - They Took A Vote And Said No
9. Psapp - Hill of Our Home
10. Destroyer - European Oils
11. Tortoise & Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Thunder Road
12. Danielson - Did I Step On Your Trumpet
13. The Hold Steady - First Night
14. Wolfmother - Tales From The Forest of Gnomes
15. Electric President - Good Morning, Hypocrite
16. Herbert - Something Isn't Right
17. Lily Allen - Knock 'Em Out
18. El Perro Del Mar - G-d Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)
19. Final Fantasy - This Lamb Sells Condos
20. Cat Power - Could We
21. Voxtrot - Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives
22. Hot Chip - Over And Over
23. Psapp - Hi
24. The Pipettes - Pull Shapes
25. The Hussy's - Tiger
26. Cansi De Ser Sexy - Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above
27. Sufjan Stevens - The Henney Buggy Band
28. Destroyer - Looter's Follies
29. Islands - Rough Gem
30. Lily Allen - LDN
31. Zero 7 - The Pageant Of The Bizarre
32. The Dresden Dolls - Shores Of California
33. Borat - Kazakhstan
34. The Awkward Stage - Heaven Is For Easy Girls
35. The Carrots - Beverly
36. Man Man - Engwish Bwudd
37. Midlake - Roscoe
38. Belle & Sebastian - Sukie In The Graveyard
39. Snowden - Anti-Anti
40. The Sounds - Song With A Mission

Top Albums of 2006
1. Build To Spill - You In Reverse
2. Pipettes - We Are The Pipettes
3. Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
4. Lily Allen - Alright, Still
5. Hold Steady - Boys And Girls In America
6. Voxtrot - Mother, Sisters, Daughters & Wives EP
7. Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
8. Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming
9. Dresden Dolls - Yes, Virginia
10. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
11. Electric President - Electric President
12. Cat Power - The Greatest

Top Concerts I Attended in 2006
1. Built To Spill/Brett Netson #9
2. Britt Daniel/Laura Veirs/Martyn Leaper/Meric Long #6
3. Radiohead/Deerhoof #11
4. Belle & Sbastian/New Pornographers #4
5. Nada Surf/Rogue Wave/Inara George #3
6. Laura Veirs/Your Heart Breaks/Karl Blau #14
7. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young #13

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Laura Veirs

Show: Laura Veirs at Cafe Du Nord
Headliner: Laura Veirs and the Saltbreakers (formerly Laura Veirs and the Tortured Souls)
Openers: Your Heart Breaks, Karl Blau
Location: Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco, CA
Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2006
2006 Show #: 14

The first show I've gone to in quite some time. And I decided to go to this one on something of a whim. It was a good time though. Before the show I saw Laura Veirs just hanging around in the crowd as well as other people from the band(s).

The show started at 9:35 with Your Heart Breaks. A folksy band with a boyish looking woman for lead singer and singing songs about issues that matter to teenagers. Songs were about things like fighting the city to protect public access areas and about getting annoyed when waking up to find your walls spray painted again with a message while living in a punk house. Yep, read that sentence again if you're having a hard time digesting it. The band wasn't that young though. The lead singer could have bee as young as 22 or 23 at youngest. It was an enjoyable set though, if nothing to wow my socks off. They get points for an enjoyable band name. The played a 25 minute set.

Next came on Karl Blau. Karl was the drummer (I think) for Your Heart Breaks. His instrumentation consisted of several different types of microphones and several looping recorders. The kind of recorders where you record a few bars, and then loop those bars non stop. Everything else he did with his voice. After creating some soundscapes, he'd read the works of various lesser modern day poets to the beats.

He was incredibly nervous for the show. Several times early on he seemed ready to quit and very much needed encouragement from the crowd. I heartily chipped in and he continued on to do a 30 minute set. I enjoyed the show. It's definitely an interesting set. Enjoyable, but it needs some work. I think it'd be great stuff with a bit more polish, a bit more obvious hectic-ness (one guy with a recorder and earnestness really isn't enough to sate for a full set), and a bit more confidence.

Laura Veirs and her band came on at 11:15 and played til 12:22 (main set)/12:30 (+ encore). On the marquee (well, Du Nord doesn't have a marquee, but on the posters out front) the band was called Laura Veirs and The Tortured Souls. Midway through the set though, Veirs stated that they were abandoning the other name and were now Laura Veirs and The Saltbreakers. She then went on to explain that Saltbreakers were waves. Anyway, the band consisted of everyone from Your Heart Breaks minus the earlier lead singer. That's a lot of work for the guys, especially Karl Blau. He was out there for all 3 sets.

The band is on a short west coast swing they said. Mostly to live practice their new stuff. Veirs said next week they'd be going into the studio to record the new stuff. I'm looking forward to it. As near as I can recall it (with help from the written but incomplete setlist), the setlist is as follows:
Pink Light (with a drawing of a duck's head quacking)
Bright Glitt
Riptide (not on the setlist)
Cast A Hook
Secret Someones
Black Butterfly
Wandering Kind
Fire Snakes
Don't Lose
(A picture of a heart)
Ether Sings (Encore)
Spelunking (Encore, not on setlist)
I recall them playing Black Gold Blues somewhere in there too. Of the new stuff, Saltbreakers is my favorite. I eagerly look forward to the release of the new material.

The show was a very good set. It was a good contrast from her solo set at Swedish American Hall that I saw earlier in the year too. I was probably 4 feet from Veirs for the length of the show, which was neat. I've never made an effort to get that close before. There was no one between me and her. Overall, just an excellent show, a sort of relaxed preview of the next album with a few old favorites mixed in.

Good times.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Show: Crosby, Still, Nash, & Young at the Concord Pavillion
Headliner: Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
Openers: None
Location: Chronicle Pavillion at Concord in Concord, CA
Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2006
2006 Show #: 13

I was invited to this show by a friend, and it's a bit out of my normal sphere of music. It was a good time though, if a bit pricy. The audience seemed to be mostly the older, richer, suburban hippy type (occasionally with family in tow). And from the people I talked to and talked to me, I got this impression confirmed. It's amazing to see a souvenir T-shirt going for $35 dollars (and that was the cheapest) one.

We got there a little late (8p), but the band was supposed to start at 7:30pm. They played until 9p, took a half hour break, and then played til 11:15pm (ish). The main set ended at 11p and the played a 1 song encore.

They played songs from across the board, mixing the group members in various combinations (2, 3, or all 4 of them playing together). They played quite a few of their songs as well as songs they had written individually. I particularly enjoyed their version of Young's 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart.' Not surprising considering the hippy element, criticism of the current administration ran heavily throughout the night. Besides a few groaner moments though it was ok. Overall an enjoyable, but not life changing, experience.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Classical in the Czech Republic.

Show: Concertino Orchestra at the Rudolfinum
Headliner: Concertino Orchestra
Openers: None
Location: Dvorak Hall in the Rudolfinum, Prage, Czech Republic
Date: Sunday, July 9, 2006
2006 Show #: 12

While in Prague, I attended a concert in Dvorak Hall in the Rudolfinum. This is a gorgeous venue and since the have concerts nightly, we were able to get good seats rather inexepnsively. I won't be able to give detailed desriptions since it has been a good bit of time since the actual concert.

The first half consisted of Water Music by Handel, Concerto in C Major by Mozart, and The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. The second half consisted of Moldau by Smetana, Two Waltzes by Dvorak, and "Carmen" Fantasty by Bizet.

I found everything very enjoyable, and the orchestra was very skilled. I was impressed how much effort they put in while playing to such a small audience. Definitely worth seeing a show at the Rudofilnum if you are in Prague.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Radiohead #2

Show: Radiohead at The Greek Theater
Headliner: Radiohead
Openers: Deerhoof
Location: The Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA
Date: Saturday, June 24, 2006
2006 Show #: 11

Yep, the same show two days in a row. The difference this time is that I had tickets to the show and hence was able to see the band. I do have to say that tonight's set list exceeds last night's.

Deerhoof was about the same both nights. Out there music that was enjoyable to listen to. My friend complained about the vocalists child like vocals on top of the solid rock music, but I enjoyed it. And it was kind of fun to see her bouncing around on stage.

Being in the crowd was definitely a big plus for the second night. Kept me much more into the show. I liked the songs played better too, though this show also had it's dragging parts too. The show probably wasn't really worth the money, but it's much easier to swallow when I realize that it was really two shows for that cost. Good times.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Radiohead #1

Show: Radiohead at The Greek Theater
Headliner: Radiohead
Openers: Deerhoof
Location: The Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA
Date: Friday, June 23, 2006
2006 Show #: 10

Like the last time I show at the Greek, I didn't actually "see" the show but instead sat up on the hill above the show and listened to the concert. The atmosphere isn't great, the seating uncomfortable but the price is right. Yesterday was especially bad in that it was hot during the day and then cold and foggy during the show. It made it hard to prepare dress-wise.

Deerhoof started the show off at 7:30p and played a solid 30 minute set. They're a bit out-there music-wise and put on quite an interesting set. It definitely spurred my interest. I'd heard some of their stuff before, and I knew they were an SF band, but now I want to know more.

Radiohead came on at 8:40 and played a main set until 9:45. A bit short a main set in my opinion. Their first encore went until 10:15. Due to the aforementioned chill, we left before the second encore. The music was good. Not the most exciting thing I've ever seen, but quite enjoyable all throughout. They played some of their big hits, but I didn't hear 'Karma Police' unfortunately. One of my friends did start to sleep during the show, but I thought that's a bit harsh an assessment. A good time, especially considering the price.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Built To Spill

Show: Built To Spill at Slim's
Headliner: Built To Spill
Openers: Brett Netson
Location: Slim's in San Francisco, CA
Date: Wednesday, June 21, 2006
2006 Show #: 9

This is the 3rd time I've seen Built To Spill, and they've been a hit each time. Last night was the first of 4 shows they'll do at Slim's this week. All 4 sold out, but I was able to get my ticket for face value outside the venue from a guy who had an extra ticket.

To open the show, a friend of Brett Netson's read a narrative poem aloud. The guy was something of a modern day hippy/beatnik, and the poetry was correspondingly mediocre. Then Brett Netson came on and played a 40 minute set consisting of 4 songs. On the stage was him playing guitar and a girl playing xylophone. Each song was indeed about 10 minutes long. Good stuff, but not mind-blowing. I wasn't able to find anything about Netson individually on the web, but it looks like he's joined up with Built To Spill full time.

Built To Spill came on at 10:10 pm and played through to midnight with a short break for "encore." Netson seems to have joined up with the 4 normal Built To Spill guys making it a quintet. The show more or less had 3 pieces. About 1/3 of the show was old stuff. Another 1/3 was songs off the latest album ('You In Reverse') for which the were ostensibly touring in support of. The last 1/3 was new songs (4 in total) not off any recordings I'm aware of. Does this mean that another new album is in the works already? That'd be fantastic. I really dug the new songs, even the one with a bit of a reggae vibe.

New to the performance was a projection screen Built To Spill used. Throughout the show, they projected images for 10-20 seconds at a time. They mostly seemed to be in the style of the album art for 'You In Reverse.' It was odd, and didn't add a ton to the show, but didn't really detract from it either.

There were 3 other songs that don't really fit into the categories above. The first was a cover of a song by the Gladiators (so said Martsch) whose lyrics seemed to come largely from Kennedy's inauguration address ("Don't ask what your country can do for you..."). The second was Martsch and Company jamming to a video of a guy ranting about how eco-terrorist are better than normal terrorists since eco-terrorist only attack property and not people. It went well with the sticker Martsch had on his guitar of a crossed out W. The last was the song of the encore, a 15-minute jam version of 'Broken Chairs.' Good stuff.

Overall a fantastic show. I wish I could make it to another of the 4 shows this weekend, but it doesn't look like I have the time. I'm excited about the potential of new songs too.

The Set List (minus the encore):

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Show: Bay To Breakers Footstock
Headliner: Better Than Ezra
Openers: Finding Mercury
Location: Polo Field in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA
Date: Sunday, May 21, 2006
2006 Show #: 8

Bay to Breakers is a 12K foot race across the San Francisco peninsula from the Embarcadero to Ocean beach. After the race, the post-race festivities are called Footstock, and usually a couple of bands play while other sorts of "entertainment" goes on. Though this is the 4th time I've done the race, it's the first time I've stayed for the bands. The reason is solely for the 90s Alt. Rockers Better Than Ezra.

The concert is open air and this year was free to the public. The acoustics are bad and the crowd barely interested. Not really the place for a rocking experience, but not a bad way to enjoy some music. The weather that day was overcast with occasional bouts of rainyness.

I didn't pay too much attention to Finding Mercury. They're that sort of whinny, blah, alt. rock nowadays that does nothing to make itself stand out. And from what I was able to hear, I was right.

As Better Than Ezra came on, the weather was getting worse and my wariness from the race was starting to get the best of me. As a result, after I heard "Good" off Deluxe and "King of New Orleans" off Friction Baby, I left. The rendition of "Good" was modernized, not much to my liking but not too detrimental. "King of New Orleans" was done more faithfully to the album version. Before those two songs, they mixed in other songs from across their catalog, with some new stuff and some old stuff. Enjoyable to listen to and the band did some enjoyable banter between songs. They talked about how the race had a Mardi-Gras feel, which is a fair assessment. Overall enjoyable, and I think I'll have to give Better Than Ezra's new stuff a more thorough listen.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Filter Music Appreciation Night

Show: Filter Music Appreciation Night
Headliner: Helio Sequence
Openers: Band Of Horses, Halou, Aaron Axelson of Live 105
Location: Mezzanine in San Francisco, CA
Date: Saturday, April 1, 2006
2006 Show #: 7

For whatever reason (likley promotional) Filter magazine has decided to do a series of free concerts across the United States. Last night was the first ever one for San Francisco, and it looks like this was about halfway through the system. Each show seemed to have different bands according to the info I got. After going to the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show at Mezzanine, I got on Mezzanine e-mail's list. As a result, I got the announcment e-mail for this show and put myself on the access list. Good stuff.

Not particularly music related, but quite to my enjoyment. For the first 50 people there, they gave out free bags. I grabbed a back pack that looks to be of real solid quality. A Tag on it says $75 retail price. That and a bunch of free crap (a shirt, sampler CDs, magazine, etc.). They also had free beer. It was some weak italian beer that I probably wouldn't get again, but free is free.

Aaron Axleson played music between sets. An excellent selection of music all around. I remember enjoying almost all of it. The only detraction was that it was played at full volume. This is only a problem because I usually like to give my ears a break between band sets. The music was loud enough that I had to leave my earplugs in the entire time.

Halou came on first. They're a San Francisco band that seems to want to be Portishead. They mix percussion, guitars, and both a cello and upright bass with vocals to make their sound. Their lead singer came out in a prom dress and used a variety of microphones to mix up her voice. It was interesting and I picked up their EP to give them a further listen. Worth checking out further. They played a 45 minute set.

Band of Horses played a very troubled 40 minute set. Their lead singer was at no point happy with the level of the vocals, and would complain between each song to try and get more vocals. Never having produced music live, I have no idea what it should hav been. I did notice that he had to get right up to the microphone to make the vocals audible. Was it necessary to be closer then is reasonable? I have no idea. Combining the complaining and the large gap between each song meant that they totally lost the audience. The large gap between songs was partially due to the audio issues and partially due to the fact that each song required a new guitar and that guitar had to be tuned. I could tell that their musicianship is excellent, but the show I saw last night was something of a disappointment.

Becuase of the late start time of the show, my being exhausted from having driven 7 hours already that day, I left after Band Of Horses' set. Also in consideration was that I had seen Helio Sequence last year during Noise pop. And unfortunately, I was unimpressed that time. As a result, I have no thoughts to add here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Noise Pop

Show: Noise Pop
Headliner: Britt Daniel of Spoon
Openers: Laura Veirs, Martyn Leaper of The Minders, Meric Long
Location: The Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, CA
Date: Wednesday, March 30, 2006
2006 Show #: 6

The Swedish American Hall is up stairs in the same building the Cafe Du Nord is downstairs. Where as Du Nord can get quite rocking, Swedish American Hall is designed for more down tempo things. All the shows I've heard of their were single person acts or solo shows. And this show was no exception. The show featured the one "man" acts of Meric Long and Laura Veirs, and solo sets from Martyn Leaper and Britt Daniel.

The first 2 opening acts, Meric and Martyn, were enjoyable if not super exciting. Both acts made me want to check out more, but neither inspired CD purchases. Meric did have the unique factor when for one song he had a friend join him on stage and play percussion on a chair. First using drum sticks on the chair, but then switching to a tambourine.

Though Britt Daniel headlined, in my opinion Laura Veirs stole the show. As a result, I'll cover Daniels first. He covered a wide variety of stuff, mostly from his work with Spoon. He was impressive in that he showed a willingness to take random requests. Even of songs he didn't think would play well as a solo act. But he put on a fine show, playing for 65 minutes combined main set and encore. The solo versions were interesting takes on the songs, but nothing amazing.

Laura Veirs though was fantastic. She set up and came on 7 minutes after Martyn finished and played a 45 minute set. She mostly uses her voice and guitar for the songs, but in addition she used recorded feedback to harmonize with herself. She'd sing a few bars, get it going in the loop, and then add another layer. Successively doing this, she kept getting her songs to near cacophony, but never going too far with it. It was quite enjoyable to see played live, and her voice is absolutely fantastic.

Her hair was in pigtails, and she had a very child-like nature to her. From her expressions to the jeans she had on, she gave an air of a mature immaturity. It was quite interesting to see. She would occasionally, while doing the harmonization, swing back and forth for no obvious reason. Once she even banged her guitar into the mic stand. It was interesting to see her playful reaction.

The highlight to me was during the song "Spelunking." During this song, she went completely unplugged. She wanted to see how it sound, so she played and sang, and then walked a loop around the room. Her voice and her presence was impressive. It was really neat that my seat was on the end of the row, and when she walked by me she had to lift her guitar up to avoid knocking me on the head. That's what I call fan interaction. I was really impressed, and I'm still really excited. I will definitely see her shows again.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Gogol Bordello

Show: Gogol Bordello
Headliner: Gogol Bordello
Openers: Kultur Shock, Zox
Location: Slim's in San Francisco, CA
Date: Saturday, March 25, 2006
2006 Show #: 5

This will be pretty lame as far as show reports go. Part of the problem was getting there late. The other part was that I took BART into the city. To make it back for the last train back to east bay, we had to leave the show early. As a result, I didn't see Zox at all, and only caught about half of the sets of each of the other two bands. I will not be taking public transit to see a late show in the city again.

Both Kultur Shock and Gogol Bordello are very similar bands. Ensembles with very Eastern European sounds and immigrant front men. Both bands include violins (or where they violas), and only Gogol Bordello varies it up by including an accordion. Both play their music with a good bit of a punk ethos. Both put on wild fun sets that are definitely worth seeing. Kultur Shock's frontman had an interesting hair style though, shaving everything but a narrow strip in the center of his head and having the rest of it grown down super long.

On the positive side, it's hard not to want to move your backside when the music gets going. Jump around, be a fool. Good times. I'd like to learn more about these bands and follow how they progress.