Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Go! Team

Show: The Go! Team at Bimbo's
Headliner: The Go! Team
Opener: Tussle
Location: Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco, CA
Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

After whiffing on both Built To Spill and Sufjan Stevens shows (they sold out before I bought tickets), I decided to buy these tickets ahead of time. It was probably unnecessary though, and I needlessly spent on "convenience" fees. A hearty fuck you, to Ticketmaster and their ilk. But anyway....

One more side comment. Why would someone dress as a cheerleader for this show? She was cute, so it wasn't that I minded. Quite the contrary actually...

Tussle came on around 9:10 and played a 40 minute set of ambient music. Basically a percussionist band, the band consists of two drummers, one bass drum/percussionist, and a keyboard synthesizer. About 10 minutes in they asked that the stage lights be turned off and played most of the rest of the set with only the light of a rotating red light. The lights only came on again when the house wanted to let them know it was time to end. Their music was ok. Not bad, but not really good either. They opened to a song that reminded me of the music I heard while standing in the lobby of Rain Forest Cafe in suburban Chicago a decade ago. Not particularly encouraging, but they rallied to put on an acceptable 40 minutes of music. I wouldn't mind though if I never encountered them again though.

One other Tussle comment. Wow where they silent, at least in terms of talking to the audience. They went directly from song to song almost directly. I think they once went so far as to say quietly into the microphone "We are Tussle." How can a touring rock band be shy?

The Go! Team came a little over a half hour later (at 10:15) and played a set a little over an hour long (ended at 11:20ish). On a side note, it seems like shows at Bimbo's always end really early. Is it something about the noise ordinances in North Beach? Noe Valley shows (BOTH) always run at least until midnight.

I came into their set with high expectations. The Go! Team's release Thunder Lightning Strike is pretty high energy and certainly fun to listen to. The band stuck almost exclusively to tracks from this disc (and the Japanese version of it) for the set. About half the time they stayed true to the material. The other half, Ninja (their lead vocalist) rapped to the songs in a way I wouldn't have predicted being familiar with the source material. It was interesting.

The show in the end met my expectations. Since I had high expectations coming in, this isn't a bad thing at all. It's simply that they put on a good if not spectacular show. Not a disappointment in any way but also not a surprise. One thing I do have to commend them on though is how hard they work for audience interaction. Talking between each song and encouraging people to dance.

In the end, a show worth seeing but not going out of the way for.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Stern Grove Festival

Show: The Stern Grove Festival
Headliner: Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Opener: Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir
Location: Stern Grove, San Francisco, CA
Date: Sunday, July 17, 2005

This was another show at the Stern Grove. Like the symphony show, the weather was overcast and gloomy. Worse than symphony show though, the placed was absolutely packed and we had to get seats way up the hill and behind trees. We had absolutely no view of the show. At least not without walking around. We could hear it though.

This time I didn't bring as much food. The food they have their is good, but wow is it expensive. I'll have to remember to go this thing prepared whenever I go again. The picnic was enjoyable though, as my friend who organized did remember to bring plenty of beer.

The Cultural Heritage Choir put on an enjoyable show. It's not something I too into but I certainly enjoyed the show.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo put on a good show too. They are a no instruments kind of band, doing everything with voices. It's always neat how they can get so many sounds and such rhythm without instruments. It was also clear, from how much jumping around and such they did, that they were having a great time during the show.

Once again, not my focus area, so I can't really offer much in the way of insightful criticism.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Stern Grove Festival

Show: The Stern Grove Festival
Headliner: San Francisco Symphony Conducted By Edwin Outwater
Opener: None
Location: Stern Grove, San Francisco, CA
Date: Sunday, July 3, 2005

This was my first time going to the 60 some year old Stern Grove Festival. This is apparently a pretty big thing. We got their just before noon for a 2:00pm show. Worst of all, we got only decent seats for getting their that early. It's a fun setup though. You go and picnic and hang out with friends until the music starts.

The symphony played "From The New World" by Dvorak. I much enjoyed the show, sitting in the grove despite the overcast weather. The symphony came out for an encore even, which wasn't something I expected for a free show. Definitely the kind of event worth going to.