Emily Wells: The Chapel

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At the beginning of the night, the main floor of The Chapel, a converted mortuary on Valencia street is empty. The venue, with red lit lamps and 40’ foot ceilings is stunning.

Emily Neveu at The Chapel
Emily Neveu at The Chapel

Before Ms. Wells takes the stage, the dreamscape sounds of Emily Neveu open the night.. “The other Emily,” as Ms. Neveu refers to herself with a dry delivery manages to break up the initially cold atmosphere that the venue delivers.

Performance spaces set the tone for performers, informing the audience of the aural programming as much as the acoustics. A space like the Chapel is a tough venue to open. Filling a room, sparse with audience is no easy feat, especially with the only open bar in the two room space is the one outside the performance area. Neveu’s set manages to warm the space and coupled with her sarcastic wit between songs, they set the stage for Emily Well’s entry.

As our main act steps on stage, the room becomes instantly quiet. The murmuring of her fans stops. They are captivated before she even begins. She transfixes audiences with her musicianship, the kind of performer who makes a room quiet the second she begins. She’s a storyteller, and her audience is eager for a tale.

Emily Wells | photo by Nicolas Hadacek
Emily Wells at The Chapel

On stage is a drum, pedals, keys, and a violin all manipulated by her into a tapestry of sound. She weaves together a combination of the poetic and the everyday. Her observances are unpretentious narratives.

Behind her a film of Pina Bausch plays silently. Well’s set is the live accompaniment that makes Bausch’s movements audible. Between layers of melody and textures, Well’s shares moments from her journeys. After each song, the audience moves in closer, reveling in her stories of being on the road.

The acoustics of The Chapel are ideal for this symphony of one. The reverberation of looped violin, mixed with excerpts from classical repertoire that acts as liaisons between songs feel authentic in a hall reminiscent of a cathedral.

Tonight we’re her passengers.

 

by Cellista


 

This article is long overdue. Meant to be published after I saw her perform at SF’s “The Chapel,” on October 21st, 2015.

 

 

 

The Watkins Family Hour: A Band of Angels

IMG_5620A name is powerful; it brings meaning to an otherwise empty space or thought. The Watkins Family Hour conjures an older time that harkens back to the Grand Ole Opry or the Johnny Cash show, but with a contemporary twist of new wave bluegrass and Americana goodness.

Friday August 14th at the Freight and Salvage was a night to behold. Former Nickel Creek founders Sean and Sara Watkins front the Watkins Family Hour in addition with Alt rock royalty, Fiona Apple. One could only describe the band makeup as eclectic, but there was something that begged to be heard and experienced.

Sean and Sara took to the stage wordlessly, her fiddle in hand and his vintage Gibson J-45 at the ready. The silence was broken by a fluttering melody from the movement of her bow as she carved the stage with a dance that was punctuated by her stomps. Sean’s clean picking and slides rang out and entranced the crowd. We were in heaven and the Watkins were our host of Angels.

The second tune brought Fiona to the stage and the rest of the Watkins Family Band. It began driving like an old country tune but with the soul of Motown. Fiona’s voice swirled like smoke through the auditorium and intertwined with Sara’s until the two became one. The crowd was gripped and silent until the song’s break where Fiona wailed “Like A Goddamn Fool I Introduced You” –the crowd shouted in excitement as if we saw history being made.

Like a true old timey family hour, the band took a break to make way for folk singer Tom Brosseau. Tom’s quiet Midwest nature and quirky humor were the perfect breath that was needed for the night. The strings of his guitar cut the silence in the room gently and as he finished his last tune the room was in quiet anticipation for what was to come.

The night continued as each member of the Watkins Family Hour took a place in the round of leading a song. From Roger Miller to Bob Schneider to the Boswell Sisters, the air was filled with a blend of sweat, soul, love, longing, and laughter until the band took it’s original form to perform one last tune. Like the leader of a church choir, Sara got every member of the audience to sing along. It was truly a celebration and each song of the night accomplished its task in drawing the people of the occasion together.

The Watkins Family Hour just released their debut Album “The Watkins Family Hour.” It’ll give you a glimpse of greatness.

Tangled, Tied Up, and Drowned by Sound: Bent Knee Returns to Art Boutiki

“I imagine your dead body lying in my bed..” Bent Knee vocalist Courtney mused, playing a light tinkling of bell sounds across her keyboard. With these first few notes the audience plunged into the depths of Bent Knee’s sound- depths sometimes murky and dark, sometimes clear and cutting, and always shocking to a new audience, surprised to suddenly find they could breathe underwater all along.

Bent Knee are not an SF band in the geographic sense, but their establishment as regulars at SLG Art Boutiki in San Jose make their yearly Bay Area appearances something special. Like migrating birds they darken our skies, making the stark light piercing through their feathers that much brighter.

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On this year’s tour from their Boston home, violinist Chris noted they would be trying newer material. “Whatever constructive criticism you have, we’d appreciate it,” he said before sound check.

“We’ve had some feedback with each album that the music has become more and less accessible,” said Courtney. “In the content.. and the music..”

“See if you can come up with an album name while we’re playing,” added Chris.

“I’m leaning toward ‘Six Jaunty Sea Captains, We,’” said drummer Gavin, smiling and nodding enthusiastically. A native of the Bay Area, his parents were in the front row of this show, swaying and singing along. Swaying to Bent Knee is a potentially dangerous act. With complex hit patterns, and unique time signatures, attempts to dance to Bent Knee can lead to some erratic jolting. And jolt the audience did, that is, when sweeping soundscapes hadn’t stunned them into silence.

At the helm of these soundscapes, live engineer Vince wore studio headphones and could be seen in the back corner of the stage pressing keys in his microKORG by the glow of his Macbook. Although a background figure on stage- sometimes hidden faceless behind a gas mask- with just the slightest nudge Vince’s sound wave manipulation can turn Courtney’s already mind-blowing vocals into something almost terrifying in its alien beauty.

As Art Boutiki’s sound man Dustin tested the limits of these vocals for speaker-blowing land-mines, he requested the band turn up bassist Jessica’s effects.

“She doesn’t have that many effects,” responded Courtney. “She’s leveling up; she’s spending time in the grass.”

“Pokemon jokes!” Shouted Gavin from behind his drum set. During the performance, Gavin’s precise, though seemingly erratic hits challenged Jessica’s skills as a rhythm collaborator. As if harnessed by her bass, Jessica lashes out at Gavin’s baiting beats like a wild animal. The movements are all in good fun, as each member of Bent Knee seems to be having the time of their life as they play with equal parts savagery and serenity.

From these movements their songs leak out, pulling each of the members like marionettes who have taken hold of their own strings. Playing a few songs off of their November 2014 release “Shiny Eyed Babies,” the band members broke into grins to hear their song lyrics whispered and oftentimes shouted back at them by the audience.

This energy carried into the band’s new material. With songs that crept down carpeted basement stairs into locked cabinets, songs that chanted in four-part drones, and songs that unsettlingly sounded like powerhouse pop anthems about flashbulbs and LEDS, Bent Knee’s new offerings kept the audience in a sort of trance as their captivating performance continued to generate electric energy.

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Nearly an hour and a half later, the audience came up for air. Fans and converts alike took in a collective gasp as the band appeared to have completed their set. “Way Too Long?” guitarist Ben asked the crowd. “Do you mean the song, or our set was way too long?” With an ominous pounding of tom and snare followed by a simultaneous, gut-wrenching howl from vocals and strings, Bent Knee launched into their final song for the evening: Way Too Long off of Shiny Eyed Babies.

Granted a few more minutes to show them what the Bay Area is made of, the audience climbed and clawed, now tangled in Bent Knee’s marionette strings. It was truly an experience to be tied up with sound, and it will be a different experience altogether when Bent Knee comes back again next year to show us something new.

Towns Like These: Travis Hayes and Other Locals at Great American Music Hall

photo credit: Jared Swanson
photo credit: Jared Swanson

On a warm Saturday night during Pride weekend, the Great American Music Hall bustled with excitement. Not only were three amazing Bay Area bands about to share one of the most beautiful stages in San Francisco, but the Supreme Court had declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states just in time for LGBT Pride 2015.

“Guys. Love wins,” Travis Hayes said with an insistent joy that gave those words– which had for over 24 hours been a bland Twitter hashtag– such weight and meaning that they seemed to be carved across his acoustic guitar.

Opening band Travis Hayes and the Young Days turned the small stage into an arena, with Travis’ gritty folk songs translated into charging rock anthems with the help of his full band. Guitarist Brent Curriden’s stinging lead strums and Drummer Cade’s popping kick and snare made the crowd alternate between swaying headbanging every few bars. Each of Travis’ twanging lines about drinking too much and trying to think a little less were threaded with harmonies by Emily Whitehurst’s backing vocals.

These crisp sounds combined with the group’s warm stage chemistry brought an energy to the room that got everyone out of their chairs; and with a steady strum of Travis’ guitar and the creaking wood of the stage’s floorboards, The Young Daze were joined by the haunting tones of Helen Newby on Cello. With just Travis, Emily, and Helen left on stage, the room filled with an intimate hush. Lilting cello notes wafted through the heavy air, the crowd seeming to gather closer to listen to the somber second half of the set. Just as the sweat from the audience’s bodies was beginning to cool, however, the rest of the band returned to the stage for an unforgettable reimagining of The Smith’s “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.”

photo: Jared Swanson
photo: Jared Swanson

Second to the stage was Bonnie & The Bang Bang, exploding with rabid melodic rock, the bandmates rebounding off each other as they kicked their way to the edge of the stage, to the tops of amplifiers.

The audience shuffled along, yelling back hooks through tangling beards and cups of beer. They alternated between howling words to the rafters and nodding their heads downward as if frantically agreeing with a particular drum beat, “Yes, yes, absolutely, you are correct!”

Lead singer Patrick was the key variable for each song’s equation. With every sung syllable he simultaneously defined and defied musical genres– a held-out honey-smooth jazz note could easily transform into a screamo yelp, all while anthemic chants and psychobilly basslines kept the vocals aloft.

photo: Jared Swanson
photo: Jared Swanson

“We’re nerds. We make music with Gameboys and then this happens,” said the headlining Curious Quail’s frontman Mike Shirley-Donnelly as his bandmate Alan Chen slid a bow across a violin. Silhouetted in the flickering shadow of their backdrop– a charcoal sketch of the Bay Bridge lit with Christmas lights– the band hummed with an electric energy, often punctuated with choreographed jumps mid-song.

Inspired by the finger lights that had been distributed at the door– not to mention the infectious rhythms of San Jose’s best orchestral-chiptune-alternative-pop band– the audience broke into impromptu late-90’sesque rave dances.

Through the catchy melodies and driving beats, Mike’s voice carried a shy sadness to it, the bleeps and bloops from a Gameboy backing track adding an air of wonderment or perhaps a grasp for dwindling innocence.

At the end of their set, Curious Quail invited the other bands to join them on stage for a cover of The Pixies’ “Where is my Mind”. This swaggeringly cathartic song was a perfect way to finish off the night. While the joyful light of marital equality may have been tinged with the knowledge that humanity still has a long way to go, at that moment– with Curious Quail, Bonnie & the Bang Bang, and Travis Hayes and the Young Daze rocking Great American, the city seemed to glow with hope.

Sondre Lerche At The Independent

Sondre_Lerche_by_Stefan_2 article by: David Rabkin, show photos by Stefan – SF Intercom

The live show is alive and well. Everyone loves a great album, a single you can’t get out of your head, a music video that blows your mind over and over. But the concert hall is where you can unite with real, live human beings, where strangers come together for music. Concerts helps make a community out of individual listeners. There you can connect with a performer directly- not through a screen, but face to face.

Sondre Lerche at The Independent- you had to be there.

The Independent is one of the gems of San Francisco music life. There’s a reason bands like The Killers and Death Cab For Cutie play there- the sound is great, the stage is nice, and the vibe is just right.

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Sondre came across as a sincere, pleasant, and good natured young man. (And he dresses well, too). He gave the audience real insight into his life. He talked about what it’s like to be a performer, writing songs for years and hoping they connect with your audience when released. The feeling of relief and excitement when you see so many people connect to the music in the far away place he visits once every few years. He rolled with the punches- like having a sore throat and giving a great performance anyway. He had some gear die while on stage, but played through it … and sounded amazing. Regardless of his slashed up finger from playing guitar the night before, he kept strumming even though it hurt. He sacrificed himself for the audience, and they loved it. They seemed to know every song, happily singing along.

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Sondre is an excellent guitarist. He really gets the blues, gets rhythm guitar and gets lead. Whatever American blues and British rock made it into Norway, Sondre must have listened to all of it. He delivered a personal and honest performance. To perform a full song without any amplification and make it work- that takes courage and vocal power.

Sondre’s drummer is a badass. A propelling force with well timed explosions. The whole band is great- they sound like they’ve played together forever. A favorite moment- when the music was smoothly moving forward, the whole band suddenly ups the tension- changing the time, getting louder, more intense- and then with a seamless transition, back to smooth sailing, like it never even happened. Add in some great stage banter, and now you’ve got a band going.

Brooklyn’s Teen did great work opening up. Really enjoyed the bassists’ fretless playing. Sadly, their gear was stolen. It’s sad they’ll associate San Francisco with that. (If you want more details or want to help, please visit teen’s Facebook page or their PledgeMusic page: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/teen).

Sondre Lerche is keeping live music alive and well. May even more people sing along at his next SF show.

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Show Review: Tremor Low, Old Monk, Not Sure. Not Yet

I saw Not Sure. Not Yet at their Grow EP release show on July 31 at Milk Bar, where they celebrated the record’s music as well as some new tunes. The two opening acts were Tremor Low (SF) and Old Monk (Brooklyn).

First Up: Tremor Low

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Taking a journey through 80’s brooding dance-pop, Tremor Low started the evening off right by getting the audience amped from the other side of the curtain at Milk Bar, even their short soundcheck was on-point. The crowd immediately started moving with the contagious beats of Fabian Paredes, Ariel Utz and Don Bellinger, the new face of the nearly 4 year old outfit. After a recent hiatus to find Utz, Tremor Low lit up the stage with a highly energetic and danceable grooves that got even the wallflowers blooming. The haunted vocals of Don Bellinger give the signature to this band’s sound, and the seasoned frontman provided one of the most entertaining moments of the evening when his keyboard took a stage dive and he finished the song hammering out the keys on his hands and knees. Nice guys to boot, this group is one to watch.

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Go see them if you like: Depeche Mode, New Order, The Cure, making sexy eyes across the room dressed fashionably and/or in all black. https://www.facebook.com/TremorLow

Next Up : Old Monk

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Old Monk took the evening in a more rock-centric turn, with their tight-knit rhythms and syncopation well-complemented by the trifecta of energy that is of Joshua Carrufa on guitar and vocals, Ian Burns on drums and Tsugumi Takashi on Bass. With a sound that describes itself as “loud, proggy, fast, punk, rock n roll,” Old Monk excels at the technical rock that defines bands like Yes & Rush. “We basically make as proggy pop songs as we can,” says Carrufa. The band had just spent a week in the Midwest and were working their way up the West Coast for the third time before returning to their hometown of Brooklyn. No stranger to the stage, Carrufa performed the most challenging guitar riffs of the evening, as well as the fastest string change this side of the Mississippi. The band grooved on, and Caruffa’s lightning-like intensity was back on track in no time. “Yeah, I break a lot of strings,” says Carrufa. Entertaining and idiosyncratic, Old Monk’s music is theatrical without being overdramatic. It is clear that each member is having a great time and loves every minute of performing. IMG_3397

Go see if you like: Yes, Rush, Weezer, dancing with your head, nerding out on sick melodies, watching someone change a string in less than 60 seconds. https://www.facebook.com/freeoldmonkhttp://www.freeoldmonk.com

 

Headliners: Not Sure. Not Yet

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Not Sure. Not Yet closed out the night with a set that opened strong and gained momentum throughout. With the crowd anticipating a good time, and energized by the two openers, NS.NY’s enthusiasm caught on and got people moving early. As they settled into their rhythm & began to move between instruments, their sound traveled throughout the last few decades, from noticeable The Cure & Pixies influences to more modern sounds ranging from the rock of Yeah Yeah Yeahs to the deeper grooves of Yo La Tengo. An already versatile band, NS. NY mixed it up with guests on guitar and cello to accent the moves between instruments and genres. The friendly audience enjoyed the set and kept the room warm with their dancing and grooving. The night came to its inevitable climax with a soft nod to “Smells like Teen Spirit” merging into a jump-around feel good finale that had the Thursday night crowd thirsty for more.

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Go see if you like: The Cure, The Pixies, Yo La Tengo, bedazzled shorts, bands with versatile line-ups

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I got a chance to catch up with NS.NY in their studio a couple of weeks later and hear first hand how they developed their sound. “We had been a 4 piece on and off for a while, and when our guitar player left, we looked at it like “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” Dr. Suess purposefully limited himself to something like 28 words, let’s just apply that to this situation.” says vocalist & multi-instrumentalist Emily Barry. This playful snippet into conversation relays the energy and enthusiasm of Oakland’s front-running bouge-wave band. “Yeah, we coined the genre, we all have jobs, so, there’s that…” guitarist & vocalist Kenta Tomura jokes. The ambitious trio has allowed their sound to be shaped by what the three of them can do on stage together, including creating the electronic playground of keyboard/synth/drum machine setup. Emily has added bass to her synth & vocals and drummer Brendan Dreaper regularly steps up to the keyboard cockpit to produce electronic beats and effects. “We didn’t really realize the potential of all of these (keyboard & samplers) until we started putting them all together,” says Kenta “We are always looking for new ways to mix it up.” This show, mixing it up meant two guests and trading instruments like they were baseball cards, next time… Not Sure. Not Yet.

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Keep up with their latest on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/notsurenotyet and check out their EP at soundcloud.com/notsurenotyet.

 

RIP Old Coachella **

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By now you have read every possible headline, seen every photo, heard about each and every band, and probably gotten at least one drunk phone call having to do with Coachella. You are probably sick of it. You probably want to drop an atom bomb on Palm Springs and hope that the only things left are a swimming pool and the In-N-Out Burger. Frankly, I cannot say I blame you.

Years ago, Coachella was a destination festival so grand, interesting, educational and fun, I’d have sold my unborn children (who would probably grow up to be human geniuses) to get there. Maybe even cut off a finger? Do I still feel like that today? I’m not sure. I have a hard time differentiating between how I feel about Coachella now, and a feeling I had in my early 20s when the festival was still something to write home about on a level that was incomprehensible.

The biggest problem with my Coachella relationship is almost like that of a raging alcoholic. I’m totally fine with quitting cold turkey and going sober, until the most tempting inkling of music info creeps it’s way into my cranium. For example: this year, I was totally content with NOT going. I didn’t buy a ticket, I didn’t put anything on layaway, and up until about one week before the festival, I had no idea if I actually was going. This did not bother me as much as I thought it would. If in 2009, you asked if I would be comfortable with missing a Coachella, I’d have asked you if you had lost your damn mind, and then gone on to cite 50 bands that were possibilities to play within the next 5 years and why I would be an idiot to miss them. Now it’s 2014, and that 5 year time span is up, and only a handful of those bands have graced the Polo Fields with their presence.

Like I said, no ticket this year. Therefore, in January, when the lineup dropped, I began kicking myself for possibly missing out on the first Outkast reunion in roughly a decade. Also the thoughts of Lana Del Rey, Pharrell, the Replacements, Arcade Fire, Broken Bells and AFI on the Polo Fields were enough to make me Dirk Diggler torqued. Therefore, that classic sense of addiction kicked in. Just a taste was all I needed to spark that flame once more. Eventually, I got a pass (being a photographer has it’s perks), and headed south with my friends for a weekend of debauchery.

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It’s not exactly news to me that Coachella is a new breed at this point in time. I can remember going in 2010 and seeing double the people there than my first time in 2007. The festival had sold out, and roughly 20k people had snuck in. It happens, and it was a sign of things changing. Now though, it was different. Before I was even out of San Francisco, I was reading news articles about people like Aaron Paul demanding 15k for attending, and two passes. Designers were paying various other celebrities to wear their clothes while walking around 100 degree heat to see a band called MGMT, and this year, the festival wreaked of celebrity/tabloid bullshit. At one point, I saw a grizzly Jared Leto exit a tent, only to immediately be attacked by several “normals” who wanted their chance to get a selfie with a guy known for playing drug addicts in various feature films. Was Jared Leto there to enjoy himself? Or was he some sort of meta-art installation? I still cannot be sure.

The celebrity status at the festival was almost overwhelming this year. Tyler, the Creator was just about everywhere, along with the rest of his Wolf Gang. Skate photographer Atiba Jefferson was there on assignment, except his assignment was simply to shoot a photo diary alongside Sean White (why? I have no idea, who cares what Sean White sees at Coachella?), meanwhile I was also on assignment, but had to shoot 10-15 bands a day on opposite sides of this monstrosity of a field. Blake Anderson was also there, moshing to Ty Segall in the middle of the day. It’s almost like Coachella was no longer a music festival, and now like some sort of social media experience. It seemed like a form of art so bizarre and complex, I could hardly process how to take it in.

However, that is the key word in terms of what Coachella used to be: MUSIC. I hate saying things like “back in my day” because it makes me sound like a jaded old bastard, and I am (unfortunately) broke, unexperienced and only 25. But…BACK IN MY DAY, Coachella was not a tweet, or a status update, or a check-in, or something I even recall caring about in the media sense. I can remember being on a flight home from LA in 2009, and there was Paul McCartney on the cover of the NY Times. This blew my mind. It never crossed my mind that people who didn’t attend would care about something like this.

That idea has become the basis of Coachella since roughly 2011. Coachella is no longer a festival about the music anymore, as much as it is about headlines. BACK IN MY DAY, people would attend to see a very particular set of bands, whether it be Rage Against the Machine, or some random European DJ who came to the states once every 5 years. That’s how it was. My first Coachella was solely so I could see Rage Against the Machine when I was 18, and it was an experience like no other. It was smallER, and the crowd was my type of people; nerds. Fast forward today, and being at Coachella is like going to the Olympics. It was a weird feeling during Outkast’s set knowing that the entire western world was paying attention to my current situation, even though it wasn’t mine PERSONALLY.

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Not to repeat myself, but this is a festival more about headlines.  People want to push to see that “person with that one song”, or “that hip band with the album/music video that will remain cool for five minutes”. This was not more obvious than Sunday night, as I walked over to see Motorhead for just a few moments. My philosophy was, “At least I will photograph and see a legend of rock history in the flesh.” But nobody else seemed to think this way, or cared. The entire festival seemed to be clamoring for Disclosure, a band who played the previous year in a tent to roughly 100 people. I found myself totally bummed out. Sure, Lemmy Kilmeister is not my hero, but he is a rock and roll icon, and people would rather hear bleeps and bloops like a scene out of Spaceballs as opposed to witness a legend.

I don’t hate Coachella for going this way. I honestly find it inevitable. Everything great eventually catches on, and begins to make companies some sort of profit. It’s called business. But do I long for a simpler time, when Coachella was about quality as opposed to quantity? You bet I do, and I know there is no going back as every other festival begins to follow suit. It’s sort of like watching your favorite public park get turned into a strip mall. You long for how it used to be, but you can’t help but be drawn to the glowing lights. I will miss Coachella, and that nagging addiction will always be in the back of my mind. Until next year…

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“A Performance Review” for Coldair and Bear Lincoln 3/27/14@Hotel Utah

Round 2, coming for you, the reader/avid music fan you are! Folks thanks to the “smashing success” of the first “a.P.r.” we are going to keep the proverbial ball rolling…

Bear Lincoln

This review takes us to the wonderful and classic setting of The Hotel Utah. There certainly is something special about this place, and if you’ve never been because its “way out there, man” YOU, my friend, are missing out. Hotel Utah is an old place. So old they have a nice balcony that hangs practically over the stage and lets you feel like you’ve been taken back to a time where exceptional performance was the norm. It’s a perfect setting for ANY night of music so when I found out that my fellow Balanced Breakfast cohort Ben, from Bear Lincoln, was throwing it down, down-town, at the ol’ HU (peeps are still abbreviating everything these days right?) I had to be there.

(Well that AND the fact that if I tell a band ima see their show and  wind up not going, I HAVE to go see the next one regardless of other previous obligations. Oh…ANNNNNNNDDDDDDD…since I’m already using this “voice” lets get to the full disclosure for this article {in case the beginning didn’t spell it out clearly} I know a member of Bear Lincoln and that’s why I initially went to the show…still with me??? GOOD, let us continue!)

The thing I enjoy most about the Balanced Breakfast crew is the smorgasbord of musicians. It’s a Thursday morning where all are welcomed (if you can wake up and be ready to shoot the shit @8am) With an “all you can eat buffet”, as it were, of musical styles/genres. Everyone that puts in the effort to get out of bed on Thursday mornings to meet at 8am are genuinely pleasant, which makes it A LOT easier to persuade myself to go out on a limb and try a “new cup of musical tea”.

(Yep, I’m  on a food pun…ROLL get it???? Hahaha thank you comedy rule of 3, you…RULE!)  (This guy over here, “hamming” it up, what a DB……..”but”, in the words of OG Kevin Gill, “I digress”. This review calls for less sizzle and more steak, lets do it to it!)

Opening Act…Coldair

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When I’m going to a show of a band I’ve never heard before (or heard of) I don’t bother checking out the recorded stuff. Shure, (SM57) you can check out music online and hear how great something was produced. You can watch a wacky video that “really shows just how vibrant an artist is”.  Though the way I see it, it is the PERFORMANCE of music live that lets me know without a shadow-of-a-doubt weather or not an act is worth their weight in press release hyperbole and accolades.

These days literally A N Y B O D Y can cheat with software to make A N Y T H I N G sound good. Live, you can’t cheat…much ;

All that being said, I had NO idea what I was getting into with this show.

Coldair is a one-man-band and from right there I was on his side. It takes some serious grapefruits to get on a stage SOLO, BY YOURSELF, ALONE, and open yourself up to the world through your art. I have much admiration for those who can do it. As comfortable as I may be on stage I’m scared straight without someone else on stage with me. This isn’t to say that everyone who plays solo can pull it off. We’ve all seen people who’s hearts are into what they are performing, but nails on a chalkboard would be more welcomed.  The bottom line here is this…

…Coldair can pull off a one person show

With a keyboard, a computer that took care of drum duty, and a guitar, Coldair (who I hear is originally from Warsaw) makes some sexy flippin’ music. I can’t say I usually listen to that kind of jam either, but sweet jesus jones Coldair made it work. He reminded me of a  mixture of James Blake ambiance, Elliot Smith earnesty, and I’m racking my brian thinking of a voice I can compare his to, but then, theres really no use in comparing his voice to anyone. That is Coldair’s secret weapon. Yes, he multitasked wonderfully. Between timing drum loops/keyboard samples/guitar playing you can see the musical talent (his charming demeanor on stage didn’t hurt anything), but THAT VOICE, dear lord, IS BUTTER.

Ladies, Gentlemen and those InBetweeners, coming from someone who loves shrieking yelling and broken vocals, I can tell you even plants would turn away from the sun to  find out where this source of light is coming from; and it is most certainly is coming from Coldair.

 And now for the Performance Review rating system! in which I don’t even know the categories until I write them

First we have the Let’s go to Bed (do doo-doo do, duh doo-doo do) rating. I’ll give Coldair 4 Fresh Sets of Sheets because if you had this playing in the bedroom, you’d need at least that many new sets.

Next up is the  Musicality category. Coldair initially earned 6 out of 10 treble clefs because of my personal bias towards music… HOWEVER , adjusting on a curve to compensate for my bias,  the official rating is an 8 out of 10

 finally, I give Coldair an honorary Linda Richmond Coffee Talk Award, because seriously”Oh myGAWD that voice is BUTTAH)

Act II…Bear Lincoln

(the band that freed the black bears)

Bear Lincoln

During the course of Bear Lincoln‘s set I took over 2 pages of notes. All details jotted down were to help describe the frenzy that is the Bear Lincoln performance. I wanted to say the funky/jazzy/dancy/cabaret-ness of the music was really helped out by  each musician having their own style of personal flair. It was almost like a 3 ring circus in so much as you never knew where to look because you knew you were missing out on something else…. and in the end it doesn’t even matter…               (Yep, you got LinkinParked, boosh!)

…because If you were looking at the keyboardist dancing like a smooth operator PLAYING A F’N FURNACE VENT LIKE A WASHBOARD, you would be missing out on the drummer playing his snare drum without a stick but with his hand whilst holding an egg shaker. And if you were watching that,  you were missing the guitarist playing the oboe in a fez, or the bassist  grooving and moving and shaking a tambourine.

and remember, this all goes back to NONE of this mattered. That while EVERY member of the band had much, much more then purely music to offer, and that you had a helluva Fun, ENTERTAINING performance to watch, that the MUSIC made it difficult to watch any of it. This isn’t bad at all by the by, this is fantastic!

Because folks of San Francisco I swear, as the mermaid that sits atop the stage of Hotel Utah as my witness, that the MUSIC MADE PEOPLE DANCE! Yep, even in SF, Bear Lincoln’s music got the audience dancing so much that I don’t know they (the attendees) realized all the antics that were going on between the members. You know how good Bear Lincoln is? So good that despite having a live show that you shouldn’t miss SEEING, that the music is so good you dance too hard to notice half of the act. #THISISENTERTAINMENT…

…SO, now let us move to rating section of the performance.

Starting things off  we have the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies category. Bear Lincoln is awarded 10 out of 10 popped cherrys

Next we have the sometimes controversial LadyGagaGetsPukedOnWeCallitArt category. Bear Lincoln gets 19.6 out of 10.3 Air Sickness Bags

Finally I give Bear Lincoln the first ever Cadet Edac “official” Worth Every Penny Award. Not that it necessarily holds much swayt to it (yet) but I can fully assure you (sparing an off night) that any time you go to a Bear Lincoln show with even only a mediocre Positive Mental Attitude, you will have a blast and it will indeed be worth every penny you have to spend to see them.

In Closing I’d like to say…that while this project is still new, and I’m just getting out and about discovering more about this “dead” music scene, that there is SO much great music out there if YOU decide to open yourself up to it. Really at the end of the day, you are just as important of part of a show as the band you choose to spend hard-earned money to see. If you let go of the idea “I’m this way, I like this type of thing and anything else sucks”, you really can take full advantage of this wonderful place we’re fortunate enough to live in as there are wonderful bands who are working to make it even better. Thank you Bear Lincoln, thank you Coldair, and thank YOU for reading this.

 

Ivan & Alyosha, The Record Company, and Branches at The Independent, 08.14.13

A last minute addition to the bill, San Francisco’s Branches started off the show with a living room-style set on the Independent’s big stage. They were impressive performing as a three-piece, but also made me wish to hear them full-band one of these days. I may not have much to say, but rest assured it’s because some things need to be experienced more than they need to be described.

Back in April, I photographed Tumbleweed Wanderers’ and Guy Fox’s show at the Independent, and a band from LA called The Record Company opened that show. They played again tonight, but it didn’t feel like a repeat performance of the previous show. Frontman Chris Vos and co played a soulful, rockin’ set and engaged the rather shy audience in some crowd participation.

Headliners of the evening were Seattle’s Ivan & Alyosha. A while back I downloaded a free acoustic EP of theirs from Noise Trade, largely because I knew what their band name references (two of the Brothers Karamazov from the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky). I liked what I heard but it wasn’t a very thorough introduction. I was pleasantly surprised that Ivan & Alyosha were not the stereotypical indie band – dudes who just kind of stand there and play their instruments. No! They ran around and interacted with each other on stage. After the show I spoke briefly with frontman Tim Wilson, and mentioned this to him. He said that way back when they first began playing music, they made a conscious decision to just let go and be themselves on stage – and it certainly works. Wednesday’s show will probably be one of my top 10 of 2013.