Friday, February 24, 2006

Nada Surf/Rogue Wave

Show: Nada Surf at the Fillmore
Headliner: Nada Surf
Openers: Rogue Wave, Inara George
Location: The Fillmore in San Francisco, CA
Date: Wednesday, February 23, 2006
2006 Show #: 3

I don't really have a good reason why, but this was the first time I've seen a show at the Fillmore. It's a great venue. Large enough for a big crowd, but not so large as to lose intimacy. The place seems classy too. I'm not certain about the quality of the neighborhood, and the 2 cokes I got were quite pricy. Other than that, I like this place.

First up was Inara George, and I got there amidst her set. Presumably halfway through. When we first got in, she was doing some cover that made her sound like a Chan Marshall clone without as good of looks. In the end, she got away from the folksie stuff a bit more, but nothing really to make her stand out. My girlfriend compared her to Regina Spektor, but I don't buy it. She put on a good show, but nothing made me want to instantly become her #1 fan.

Inara George's set ended at 8:43 and Rogue Wave started at 9p. He played a great 45 minute set that was enjoyable all the way around. Zach Rogue started off announcing his Oakland roots and then talked about how excited he was to be playing the Fillmore. Then he just went into the music. The set is somewhat hard to describe in that no one thing stood out too far. Much like the album "Descended Like Vultures," it's just of such consistent good quality that it makes the entire product stand out as great. Definitely worth seeing again. I'll be excited to follow Rogue's progress.

Nada Surf came on at 10:23p, and played a 75 minute main set. I left during the third song of the encore. Not that anything was wrong, simply that they'd hit almost every song of theirs I knew and I was too tired to try staying longer. The only songs they missed were "Popular" and "Blonde on Blonde." Some asshole near me kept yelling out for them to play it, and I wouldn't be surprised if they ended the encore with it. In the stuff I did hear, it was just generally fun and solid all around. It didn't add up to quite the fantastic product that Rogue's set did though. But it was enjoyable to see them play all their poppy hits. And it was really neat to see Zach Rogue join in on guitar for "Do It Again." Good times. I wouldn't rush to see Nada Surf again, but I would be happy to see them on a bill for a show I go to.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Phenomenauts

Show: The Phenomenauts At 924 Gilman
Headliner: The Phenomenauts
Openers: The Bananas, The Shruggs, The Guy Guys, and The Touch Me Nots
Location: The Gilman Street Project in Berkeley, CA
Date: Friday, February 3, 2006
2006 Show #: 2

My first trip to the legendary 924 Gilman. The starting point for such bands as Operation Ivy, Rancid, and Green Day. A hub of east bay California punk. And a straight edge (no alcohol or drugs), all edges, ripping good time kinda place. Or so they advertise. At least everything was cheap.

For somewhere straight edged, I was expecting a lot more respect. But I suppose that was naive. A rule against fighting isn't going to stop fighting. It'll just mean people can be more of assholes since the threat of retaliation is removed. The mosh pits looked like the least fun I've ever seen moshpits. They were closer to fighting then many real fights I've seen. People weren't looking to lets loose and have fun in the pit. They were looking to push people around. And what's with all the smoking. Though I suppose it makes sense when everyone's around the age of 15.

I'm not going to give much space to the openers. Certainly not individually. They can all be pretty well summed up with the word "sucked." I only head two songs by The Touch Me Nots and I wasn't that impressed. I enjoyed the concept of a cover of The Go-Gos "Our Lips Are Sealed," But execution was somewhat lacking. The all girl band The Guy Guys was similarly blah. A female vocalist for The Fall's "Victoria" just doesn't work, sorry. But they did have the fastest set up time I've ever seen. The Shruggs made me shrug in boredom. They had at least written some songs though, if only two of them. The Bananas started out ok, but quickly stopped impressing. And what was with them letting that guy keep getting up on stage and knocking band members around? Egads. Several boring hours.

The Phenomenauts put on the best show of all 5 bands. Or maybe it was just the only band with talent. My problem was that they came on at 12:30a and played til 1:30a. Considering I got to the club at 8:30p, I was exhausted by the time they started. They have a space band schtick, which very much reminds me of Devo. They have costumes and songs to match though, so it comes off pretty well. Certainly if you're at least somewhat forgiving. They had a fun show though. I liked their "Earth is the best" song. My thought is that if they opened for a 'good' to 'very good' band, it'd make for a heck of show.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Unlimited Sunshine

Show: Unlimited Sunshine 2006 at The Warfield
Headliner: Cake
Openers: Tegan & Sara, Gogol Bordello, Eugene Mirman
Location: The Warfield in San Francisco, CA
Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2006
2006 Show #: 1

I truly am a Californian now. I arrive late, and leave early. To be fair though, I didn't really miss anything by showing up late. Only Eugene Mirman's main set, but more on that later. As for leaving early, I was exhausted, and practically falling asleep in my seat. I mention this just so you know what colors my review.

As for the seat thing. Yes, I was in a seat on the balcony of the Warfield. And a seat in the very wings no less. How anyone can enjoy live music from this perspective is beyond me. It's such a neutered version of what music was meant to be. You can't move. You can't shake. But that's what I get for waiting too long to get tickets.

One other note on this before I get into the music. When this tour came around in 2002, I saw it at the Greek Theatre. It came around other years, but I didn't see it those years. The name unlimited sunshine made sense, since it was an open air venue. The name doesn't make so much sense in a closed in space during winter. But hey, that's just me.

Anyway, up first was Gogol Bordello. A gypsy punk outfit from New York, this act was everything I'd hoped it would be. Wildness. Craziness. The lead singer regularly jumping out towards the crowd. Dancer hoping around on Stage. An according. And I just wanted to jump around. This band is coming to Slim's in late March, and I for one can't wait. The Gypsy Punk name really is apt, since it's a punk ethos with eastern European flavored music. I don't know how this band got indie cred, but I'm sure glad it did. The only disappointment was that it was nearly impossible to understand them when I didn't already know what they were saying. But for good punk, is that normally the case? Quite an enjoyable 40 minute set.

Before Tegan & Sara came on, Eugene Mirman did a short bit. He's a comedian that I guess is a bit of a leftover from the SF Sketchfest. I didn't really find him that funny. He showed a video about the "evils of pot," but it was just a little to over the top. And Dave Chapelle did the joke better anyway.

Tegan & Sara came on and did a 45 minute set. This band I was least excited about seeing. And they didn't disappointment, but exactly met my expectations. Ok, but not really enjoyable. Catchy, but not something I want to catch. And they're Canadian. I'd managed to miss these two Canadian sisters in every one of their other bay area performances, but somehow I've caught their last live show for awhile. They're not a band I run away from, but I wouldn't go to a show simply for them.

Finally, Cake came on at about 10:50p. Unfortunately I was already exhausted at this point. And I've seen Cake twice before, once in 2001 and once in 2002. I didn't expect the show to change much, and it didn't. As a result I ended up leaving after four songs (the exhaustion didn't help either). I was happy though, since they started with "Frank Sinatra," my favorite song of theirs. They put on a good if unspectacular show. Not something I'll actively seek out again, but I'd happily go their shows again.