MUSIC: Jello Biafra on the 'Dot Com Holocaust' and 'White People and the Damage Done.' Plus, new band Yassou Benedict delivers shoegaze dreampop.
A fast-paced earlier released track (still with that Biafra-esque carnivalian breakdown), "Dot Com Holocaust," recorded at the time of the The Audacity of Hype EP (AT, 2009), touched on problems more local to Biafra and this rag, of gentrification and a new class of tasteless techies coming in to the Bay. Dripping with satire, the song seemed to have touched a nerve when first released, and garnered scores of angry, faceless Internet comments.
"I had this funny feeling we weren't done with the Dot Com Holocaust. Sure enough, now it's more aggressive and obnoxious than ever. Dot Com Monte Carlo — that's kind of what Willie Brown's puppets are trying to turn this city into, yet again," he says. "It has been really sad for me to see so many cool people and artists and service-workers and people of color just bulldozed out of this town to make room for more mini little yuppies who treat San Francisco as a suburb of Silly-clone Valley." Yes, Biafra talks like he sings.
When we discuss newer bands, he notes many acts are fleeing SF for the East Bay, something bands across genre styles and influences have brought up with me during casual conversations and interviews.
"Now you don't see people like me when I was 19, just moving out to San Francisco [from Boulder, Colo.], chasing a dream. There was a time when the vitality of the underground was maintained by entire bands moving here as a unit. Everybody from MDC and the Dicks to DRI and later, Zen Guerilla."
But as an underground label owner (Alternative Tentacles) he knows times are tough for both bands and music fans, with a poisonous combination of the crashed economy and rampant file-sharing affecting all involved. "I wonder how many people save up money from their shitty jobs for years in order to make some really cool piece of music only to find that nobody actually gives anything back," he says. "Maybe the solution for people who want to get their friends into really cool music, don't just send them the whole album, pick some favorites and send them a little teaser package, a little file to inspire them to check out them more."
For the complete Jello Biafra Q&A, see SFBG.com/Noise.
Counterpoint, there are still some bands and artist types heading way out west to San Francisco in these turbulent, high-priced times: Yassou Benedict. This band is not in the slightest akin to Biafra's people, though it is a group of hopeful young dreamers.
The shoegazing dreampop four-piece formed at a small high school in Upstate New York. While most bands from the area would migrate south to New York City, Yassou Benedict made the "fairly random" decision to head to SF. "We all got into a Subaru Forrester with a Great Dane in the back and all our stuff in a trailer and drove across country," says guitarist James Jackson, who traveled with singer-bassist Lilie Bytheway-Hoy, guitarist-keyboardist A.J. Krumholz, and drummer Patrick Aguirre.
Now in the Bay, they work as servers at Outerlands, a cook at Beauty Bagels and Wise Sons, a bartender at the Boxing Room, and a pizza-dealer at Lanesplitter Pizza and Pub.
But more importantly, the group of 20-somethings recently released its debut EP, In Fits in Dreams, a moody, complex, emotionally fraught record that leaves the listener itching for a full-length, and touches on themes of "anxiety, and wanting to be weightless, the desire to run through wide open spaces." The album release party was actually a few weeks back, but you can catch the band this week at Milk Bar with Beautiful Machines, Hotel Eden, and NVO (Fri/26, 8:30pm, $10. Milk Bar, 1840 Haight, SF. www.milksf.com).
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