Serf and James, Unlikely Heroes & The Unauthorized Rolling Stones at Great American Music Hall


The lead singer of The Unauthorized Rolling Stones, Rudy Colombini, is my boss. When he asked, “who should open for my next show at Great American Music Hall.” In my mind, the answer was easy, “the last two winners of Music City SF’s Battle of the Bands, Serf and James & Unlikely Heroes.”

Our city is filled with amazing talent. Some bands fold, others leave, but new talent is constantly popping up and will continue to. It’s hard to afford San Francisco, but bands are going to continue to try. That being said, it’s super helpful when established bands, and leaders like Rudy Colombini step up and throw these new bands a bone. If you haven’t heard of Serf and James or Unlikely Heroes, you’re in for an ear full of treats.

Serf and James:

Unlikely Heroes:

The Unauthorized Rolling Stones:

Day Wave & Hot Flash Heat Wave at The Independent

I got a phone call from SF Weekly, “Sorry this is last minute, can you shoot photos of Day Wave tonight?” I thought to myself, “what an awesome call!”

I discovered Day Wave in March while scouring bay area show calendars for bands going to SxSW. I was hoping to find local bands that might want to play Music City SF’s Bay Area showcase. Day Wave was officially booked on my calendar for 45 minutes … then the band realized they wouldn’t arrive in Austin in time for the showcase. I was bummed that I was unable to book them, but vowed to see them as soon as possible.

Thus this was a photo assignment was PERFECT!

Hot Flash Heat Wave opened for Day Wave. I only have one question … how do they make being in a band look so effortlessly cool? Why do some bands have to be taught how to look like a band?

See full Day Wave photo album on SF Weekly:

Day Wave- “So just close your eyes and I’ll close mine Let me close your heart, it just takes time And we’ll be alright” [Review] Feb 25 at the Rickshaw Stop

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SO STOKED that I got to catch the DREAMY Day Wave for their first ever headline show at The Rickshaw Stop last week as part of SF’s NoisePop festival. It was no secret that Day Wave was to be playing NoisePop this year, for the musical mind behind Day Wave – Jackson Philips– was actually featured on the cover of this year’s NoisePop magazine. In fact, it was my friend -the incredibly talented and very much in-demand music photographer, Paige Parsons– that took the awesome photo. Initially trained as a jazz drummer at the prestigious Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) from the age of nine, Phillips eventually found himself trapped in a Whiplash (yes, the movie) kind of world where people were “very competitive” and “not very nice to each other.” During college especially, he realized that he was more interested in making songs than in perfecting his drumming technique, and this epiphany inspired him to learn piano and song production. By the end of junior year, he was already creating his own synth-based songs and releasing these through his first band, Carousel.

Fast forward a few years, and Philips decides to leave Carousel to pursue his own solo project, Day Wave. This pursuit involved him teaching himself guitar (for which he learned all by ear) and moving away from synths. By July 2015, he was ready to release his debut “lo-fi guitar-based indie rock EP”Headcase – that was recorded entirely by himself at his home studio. I can definitely see him as a music hermit (similar to Trevor Powers of Youth Lagoon) that spends ALL DAY in his bedroom crafting different arrangements without leaving the house for hours on end (I learned from Powers that this was indeed the case for him). All of that intense introverted-ness and die-hard devotion eventually paid off for Philips (and Powers too of course), for the five tracks on his Headcase EP prove to be a unique brand of dreamy, lo-fi surf rock that is CATCHY AS HELL. With influences of New Order, Joy Division, and The Beach Boys/ Brian Wilson, Day Wave’s wistful, melancholy lyrics are perfectly matched with happy hooks (guitar) and persistent percussion (you can tell he was a drummer). This EP is MY JAM right now, and a SOLID CHOICE for your summertime playlist!

Only 26 years old, Philips has a COLOSSAL career ahead of him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins “best breakout band” (or something along those lines) at this year’s The Great Escape Festival​ in Brighton, UK (just outside of London). I went to this festival both years that I lived in London, for it reminds me of Europe’s mini SXSW and is a SERIOUS stomping ground of international music talent (3 days = 400+ bands/artists from 30 different countries). I’m still shocked by all of the budding bands I was lucky enough to see there before they BLEW UP (including two recent Brit award winners, Catfish and the Bottlemen​, Jack Garratt​, James Bay​ and a Australian Recording Industry Association winner, Courtney Barnett). I’ve already given a heads up to my music pals in the UK to make sure they check out Day Wave– they are a MUST SEE!

Although Dave Wave hadn’t sold out their show at the Rickshaw (would have been pretty impressive for their first headliner), they were surely greeted by a roomful of dedicated fans hailing from Oakland and the surrounding Bay Area. The guy standing next to me was just one of many, and he kept raving on about how Day Wave’s Headcase EP was his favorite album right now.

Kicking off full force, Day Wave started the set with Nothing at All, one of my favorites from the EP and arguably the CATCHIEST of their collection. Nothing at All was the first song Philips wrote for Day Wave, and the first time he put himself out there with such open, honest lyrics:

“What am I good for?
Somebody tell me
Cause I don’t know anymore
What am I good for?
Somebody tell me
Cause I don’t know anymore.”   SO GOOD.

Next up was Total Zombie, the track that I must admit to having the strongest connection with the first time I heard it. Like a “total zombie,” I fell numb to this dreamy ditty and was instantly lured into joining the catchy chorus: “So just close your eyes and I’ll close mine.. Let me close your heart, it just takes time… And we’ll be alright, we’ll be alright.” Apparently, this song was recorded all instrumental before the lyrics came. Whatever the process… it worked well!

Then came Drag, a sweet gloom-pop melody that was apparently a drag to finish (Philips’ “most tedious song to write”) but we are sure glad he didn’t give up on it: “I’m stuck in my head.. I don’t wanna let you in.”

Soon after was a song called I’ll Be Fine (I think?), another gloomy ditty that just WORKS and is undeniably addictive: “I’ll be fine on my own, as long as I’m waiting
I’ll be fine alone, so leave me alone.”

Similar to that was Wasting all my time (I think?), one that again lures you in to a certain gloomy-but-gleeful state: “I’m wasting all my time… I push it all away.”

… as well as another track for which I don’t know the name:

Nearing the end, Day Wave plays Gone, an unreleased track that has already gained a lot of popularity on SoundCloud: “I feel this way alone and i feel this way… I feel this way alone and you’re gone, you’re gone..”

It’s no surprise that Philips saved Headcase for last, as he once noted in an interview that this track was his “favorite of the bunch” and his “favorite to play live.” He described it as “summing up the whole theme of EP” (hence the title track). Cheers to the ‘headcase’ in all of us: “Cause I don’t feel right anymore… so bury me alive… this time.” EPIC ENCORE.

I definitely left the Rickshaw on “cloud nine” that night, and thanks to the EP,  have been keeping my headcase self “in the clouds” ever since. 🙂

Bands they’ve played with: Rogue Wave, Blonde Redhead

Other version on my personal music blog:

Julia Holter- Her distinct drift towards pop reels us all in [Review] – January 31 at the Chapel



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Julia Holter surely had many waiting with anticipation that night at the Chapel (SOLD OUT show) as she walked out on stage a few minutes late. She addressed the audience with a tangible upbeat energy that closely matched the upbeat tone of her newest album, Have You in my Wilderness (Domino records). This album is her most successful chart release to date, most likely resulting from a distinct drift towards pop and less deep, dark undercurrents of her former albums: Tragedy, Ekstasis, and Loud City Song. The charming melodies of songs like ‘Silhouette’ and ‘Betsy on the Roof’ are likely to win any new listeners over, and the gorgeous encore of ‘Sea Calls Me Home’ will anchor most of us down as faithful future fans. ‘Feel You’ was as much a standout for me as it was for the rest, for the crowd cheered with extra vigor as soon as they heard the intro.

Holter announced early on, “I’m not going to talk anymore,” manning the keyboard with power and purpose and ensuring that her vocals also had a chance to take center stage. The request for “more vocals in my monitor” became a consistent trend, enticing one avid fan (male) to cheekily call out, “You can have more vocals in MY MONITOR…” Julia acted all coy and playfully responded, “you don’t have a monitor,” (wink wink) before laughing to herself and moving on to the next gem — the captivating cover of Dionne Warwick’s ‘Don’t Make Me Over.’ She also slayed us with ‘Marienbad,’ the notable standout from Ekstasis, and her arresting accompaniment of drums, upright bass and viola left most of us stunned. With this, she made sure to point out that her talented accompanying artists were Bay Area locals, having grown up in the San Francisco area and having played in local SF venues like Amnesia, right down the street.

Distilling influences from wide-ranging genres like French classical to jazz-infused post-rock to avant garde to experimental pop, this eclectic composer would have you believing she’s experienced many eras of music spanning many different countries. You’d then be incredulous to learn that Julia is just a 31-year old Los Angles Cali girl with simply a seasoned songwriting style. Her compositions are defined by shape-shifting complexities and idiosyncrasies (reminiscent of the legends like Bjork and Joanna Newsom), and we look forward seeing what next wave of new genre she’ll catch and bring on board.


Samantha Crain- “When you come back, can you bring my heart” [review] Amnesia in SF (Jan 19, 2016)

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She may be a kid at face (check out her 2013 album, Kid Face) and kid at heart (loved her anecdotes and cute giggles), but surely is a goddess of soul-tinged folk. Samantha Crain‘s (Ramseur Record)  performance last night at Amnesia was simply stunning and was definitely the BEST TUESDAY NIGHT I’ve had in a long time. It had been nearly two years since I last saw her perform in London at the Servant’s Jazz Quarters, and forgot how much I swoon for her songwriting. She gave us a healthy serving of new tracks (Elk City, Kathleen, Outside the Pale, When You Come Back, If I Had a Dollar) from her most recent album, Under Branch & Thorn & Tree, as well as some oldie but goodies (For the Miner, Churchill, Lions, The Dam song, Santa Fe, Kid Song), and even a fresh new gem (The Lonliest Handsome Man) that she hasn’t yet released. She also surprised us with a Woodie Guthrie tune and an EPIC ENCORE cover of Radiohead‘s ‘Creep.’ I’m so glad to hear that she is recording her next album in Oakland and that she’ll be back soon! We’ll certainly make sure to have more cover song requests lined up to to keep tradition with those epic encores. ???

(See below for more details and videos from the show)


She may have a “kid face,” but she’s got a seasoned soul. Love the lyrics in this one.

“Brave it all to you can’t find no way I found, I found the way
saving all you feel through your kid face
I found, I found the way.”

Samantha introduced this song as one she wrote while en route on a move out to Santa Fe. She has us all laughing out loud when proceeding to explain that she needed to get out of her small town in Oklahoma — Wichita — after she spotted a newspaper headline about a “man dying of an atomic wedgie.” That was the last draw. Haha.

“And I don’t live my time like I should
But they’re killin’ off my childhood
Taking all my heroes babe
One by one
Everyone famous is gone (slayed)
So I’m headin’ back to Santa
I look back then I look away.”

Samantha had us laughing once again when she mentioned that one of her songs “for some strange reason” did “really well on the charts in Manitoba, Canada (very small farm town) — the cows must have loved it,” and that she felt she needed to give a shout-out to Manitoba one of her songs. We all proceeded to rally behind her when she called out “Manitoba” in this one — I’m a huge fan and can definitely relate to the nomad-themed chorus of “everyone wants to go somewhere, everyone wants to go all the time.” We also all “moooooo”-ed (like a cow) in favor of this one:
She then introduced this song as one inspired by a woman who proceeded to tell Samantha “her whole life story” at a bar, “complaining that she could not get out of Elk City because of a guy she fell in love with after he fixed her washing machine.” Haha. Even though the initial connection via the washing machine (“if you know what I mean”) was kind of funny, Samantha felt for this woman and wrote this beautiful song from her perspective.


Then came one of the awesome gems from her newest album.

Soon after, Samantha introduced this next song by first asking the audience if anyone ever had their heart broken, and then quickly followed with some witty banter when only one woman initially raised her hand. She then proceeded to tell us the story about the man who once broke her heart and then followed with this gorgeous, heart-wrenching gem. MY HEART was surely broken when hearing her belt out, “when you come back, could you bring my heart.”  <3

We were lucky to then hear a beautiful new song that she hasn’t yet played before. She def hammers on our heartstrings with this one.

Samantha said that this next song was inspired by a message that she once got in a fortune cookie : “teaspoon in the morning, tablespoon at night.” Haha. The way she cleverly weaves this into such a lyrically-lavish song is very impressive. I love the line, “so blame me for what I cannot whole life I thought I was an opportunist, but I’m noooooot.” SOOOOOOOOOO good.

Samantha introduced Kathleen as a song about “friends that don’t bail on you…non-shitty friends.” Her friend Kathleen is one of them.

One of my favorites from her earlier album, You.

Gem from her earlier album, Kid Face.

Someone then called out a request for this one and Samantha said she was unsure if she’d be able to remember it (very old song). Even though I gave her a lil’ “go got this” shout-out, she surely didn’t need it!

Another request that we are glad she played!

Before sending us home happy and fulfilled her her awesome, non-skimpy set, Samantha asks, “Can I just play this one song for you before ya’ll go home?” (as if we would have said no!) … “I was rocking out to this one as I was driving across the bridge from Oakland, and I thought we could all sing it together.” I love her lil’ grin as began playing the intro to the song and says, “oh yeah, we know THAT chord change right?” from the crowd’s initial ‘aaaaaah’ reaction. We certainly all DID know the song, and certainly did not hesitate to BELT ALONG with her to close out this epic encore.  🙂

Phono Del Sol 2015


Potrero del Sol Park
July 11, 2015 • 12-7pm

The is nothing better than sitting in the park listening to your favorite bands play your favorite songs. This years Phono Del Sol was no exception. The Sun was out, the bands were hot, and everybody brought their A game. Needless to say … I had a blast!!!

I snagged photos of HeartwatchEveryone Is DirtyTiarasScary Little Friends. However … the whole day was worth photographing, I just don’t have that much energy. Were you there? Did you enjoy the sets from: Tanlines, King Tuff, Generationals, VéRité, Sonny & The Sunsets, Marriages, Mas Ysa?

If you missed it … go next year!

In a word: EPIC. Check out the amazing full photo coverage of the 2015 Phono del Sol Music and Food Festival, courtesy of Jon Ching and Paige K. Parsons!

Posted by Phono del Sol Music Festival on Tuesday, July 14, 2015


HEARTWATCH (fka The Tropics) Headline Their Coming Out Party at Rickshaw Stop




Words by: Chris Ryan Mannix // Photos by: Kristina Bakrevski

The Tropics claimed the headlining act at the Rickshaw Stop Thursday evening.  This was a big night for The Tropics’, showcasing songs off the highly anticipated EP due later this year.  It was also their last club performance before diving into 2015’s festival season.

As we watched The Tropics fan out across the stage to square up with their overwhelming welcome committee, San Francisco was eager for their hometown heroes to light up the stage and burn off the gloomy fog that has dampened the city’s energy level this past week.

Claire George leapt onto the stage with indigo blue pants that rocked ruffles at the waist and were riddled with red-puckered lips.  But this was not the loudest statement of the night.  After commanding the dance through their first two songs, “The New King of California” and “Bored At Best” the SF five piece dropped a bomb, announcing a name change and blowing minds.  The artists formerly known as The Tropics are entering this summer’s festival circuit as HEARTWATCH.



HEARTWATCH, as the Tropics, opened for The Cathedrals during the Noise Pop wave this past February at The Independent, stealing much attention and giving their home town a brief preview of what they were to let loose.

After dropping the big news, with the house visibly shocked and throwing around various side-mouthed opinions of the rebranding, HEARTWATCH returned to the music with “Faultline.”  It was evident that the mob at the Rickshaw was caught well off guard, dancing on near autopilot through the next couple songs.  But by the time they brought us to the fan-favorite, “Sons & Daughters,” Claire and HEARTWATCH had successfully proven that they were still the same beloved band, blasting warm beach vibes that never let you stand still.  And for the rest of the show, Heartwatch kept the Rickshaw Stop dancing freely.



HEARTWATCH, formerly The Tropics, is set to perform Outside Lands on Saturday Aug 8th.  Stay tuned for stage and time.

(Favorite tracks seen live: Bored at Best, Sons & Daughters, Fireproof, New King of California)

THIS WEEK: The Tropics at Rickshaw Stop!

The Tropics
The Tropics


Coming off of an exciting and successful 2014, the band recently played a sold out show at The Independent in San Francisco as part of Noise Pop 2015, and just returned from recording their second EP in Portland, Oregon at Jackpot Studios which will be released later this year. Rickshaw Stop on May 28th kicks off an exciting string of Bay Area summer performances for The Tropics which include both Phono Del Sol and Outside Lands. The band is excited to showcase songs from their new EP at the Rickshaw Stop on May 28th where they will be taking the stage with NRVS LVRS and Kokomo Hum (featuring members of Mwahaha, Battlehooch, Maus Haus, and White Cloud).

Kendra McKinley’s New Single- Fine as a Vine

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Kendra McKinley is known to many for her mellow bossa nova inspired songs. Her debut album, Chestnut Street, features solo acoustic guitar and voice, sometimes trading guitar for vocal loops. It is an album for sitting at the window sill on a rainy day with a steaming cup of Earl Grey.

With her newest single, Fine as a Vine, the rain has dissipated and the sun has come out. You can trade that cup of Earl Grey for substances with a little more color. That lone acoustic guitar is joined by its fuzzy electric brother (performed by McKinley’s real life fuzzy brother, AJ McKinley) along with swirling organs, and a pounding rhythm section. The delicate vocal harmonies are now a powerhouse of tight and dizzying layers of voices.

The song kicks off with nothing to hide, a crash cymbal and a thumping melody from the bass. If the listener isn’t moving their hips from the get go, they never will. Also, they are dead. The groove is infectious and the energy is kinetic, this is psychedelic rock that demands a movin’ booty.

While no space has been left for the song to grow in energy, interjections and flourishes from ethereal voices and guitars keep the tune from growing stale. Yet the most successful moments of the song come through deprivation; the band drops for the bridge, a single low melody from the acoustic guitar is all that is left to accompany McKinley’s voice. As the single line of the bridge repeats, band members join back in, slowly building up the anticipation for the moment when the band thunderously returns in full force for a final gratifying verse.

Recorded at Coast Recorders in San Francisco, Fine as a Vine, will be featured on Kendra’s sophomore record which will be released later in 2015. The track was engineered by Andy Freeman along with assistant engineer Nigel Brown. The track was co-produced by Andy Freeman, Kendra McKinley, and AJ McKinley and was mastered by Piper Payne.

The band features a bay area all star lineup:
Kendra McKinley: vocals, acoustic guitar, song, arrangement
Peter Granquist (Guy Fox): drums, vocals
Jesse Toews (Sun Hop Fat): bass
A.J McKinley (Battlehooch): electric guitar, piano, melotron, trumpet
Alison Kane (Van Wave): vocals
Sharon Litzky: vocals

You can catch Kendra McKinley live at The Chapel on May 19th

Stream or download Fine as a Vine at:



My favorite part of Noise Pop are the Happy Hour Events. They’re free, open to everybody, and a great place to discover new bands. Not to be biased … but I am … and I must erge you not to miss Thursday’s happy hour, hosted by my project Balanced Breakfast and featuring some of my amazing friends band’s: The Damn Fanatics, Friends w/o Benefits & Bear Lincoln. The Happy Hours are hosted by such groups as San Franpsycho, Do415, Different Fur and The Bay Bridged,  and you will see me at all of them. So before you head out to an official Noise Pop show, come join us at Bender’s.

Check out the full schedule HERE»

do415 TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2015

5:00PM–8:00PM / Free / 21+
differentfur WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2015
5:00PM–8:00PM / Free / 21+
balancedbreakfast THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2015

5:00PM–8:00PM / Free / 21+
thebaybridged FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2015
5:00PM–8:00PM / Free / 21+
benders SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2015
5:00PM–8:00PM / Free / 21+