Live Shots

Björk plays the part of stunning mad scientist at the Craneway Pavilion

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With purple lightning bolts of electricity jagging toward one another in a steel cage center-stage, powerful pipes that reverberated through the pavilion and rippled out onto the sea, and a fuzzy Snow Cone wig of every color -- cherry red, orange, lime green -- Björk seemed like the mad scientist of the natural world last night at the relatively intimate Craneway in Richmond, Calif.

She also thanked the audience often, 't-ank you, Bay Area, gggrrrratitude!" (she rolls her Rs beautifully) and offered up a 16-piece coven of sequined and hooded Icelandic choir princesses, so you can assume she's the benevolent type of creator. Read more »

Yo La Tengo plays the hits at the Fillmore, covers Black Flag

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The last time I saw Yo La Tengo, on its fabulously gimmicky Spinning Wheel tour, the trio delivered an abrasive, garage-y opening set under an alter-ego, Dump, and closed with a Jackson Browne cover. This past Friday, the band took the Fillmore stage with a loose, meditative acoustic set, before eventually closing with an incendiary rendition of a Black Flag song. There's no predicting the content, or structure of a Yo La Tengo show; yet, no matter how vigorously it flips from one genre to the next, it sounds unmistakably like Yo La Tengo.

From its yearly run of Hanukkah shows, to its infamously vast archive of cover songs, the Hoboken, NJ trio of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew has cultivated a rich mythology over nearly three decades as a band. It’s also maintained remarkable consistency and prolificacy within its recorded material, which, like Stereolab, has caused many a fan to take its casual greatness for granted. Alternating between insistently bouncy pop songs, blissfully droned-out jams, and cozy ballads to wear your autumn sweater by, Yo La Tengo has assembled a wildly eclectic back-catalogue that continues to pleasantly surprise, and occasionally confound live audiences. Read more »

Live Shots: Marina and the Diamonds at the Warfield

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I like a little grit. Usually I feel that a great show combines unpredictability, recklessness, and some raw, unpolished vulnerability. That’s what makes live music exciting and dynamic. If we wanted flawless vocals and sonically airbrushed instrumentals, we’d just stay at home and listen to the music on iTunes. So I’m trying to figure out why Marina and the Diamonds’ shiny, choreographed, factory-sealed set at the Warfield Sunday night felt so right. Read more »

The Rolling Stones rock hard, bring surprise guests, almost make up for outrageous ticket prices

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It’s one of those things about attending a concert – any concert – at HP Pavilion in San Jose: no matter how you approach the venue, you’re likely to run into those hardline Jesus freaks waving signs and condemning you to hell for whatever music you’re about to enjoy. So, like clockwork, last night as I walked towards the ticket office outside the arena, one of them turned his bullhorn on the bunch of us crossing the intersection and, in full brimstone righteousness, shouted - “what are you gonna tell the lord after you die?” To which, a lone voice from the crowd responded – “I’m gonna tell him I saw the Rolling Stones.” Read more »

Live shots: Baby Dee and Little Annie at Amnesia

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Baby Dee and Little Annie are a match made in camp heaven. The women, nearing their 60s, may have only been playing for 25 people, but boy did they put on a
show Thu/25 at Amnesia.

The two looked like characters out of a B movie or a dirty New York speakeasy. Annie, a diminutive little creature, looked like a gypsy in a headwrap and heavy eyeliner. Dee towered over her in an '80s-esque leopard print sweater and leggings with a pink tulle skirt. When Baby Dee finally appeared an hour after the show was advertised to begin, she sat down at the piano and called into the microphone, "If anyone sees Little Annie, tell her the show has started."

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Bat for Lashes brings an occult celebration to the Regency Ballroom

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There’s an idea in literary theory that co-opts the philosophical notion of the concrete universal. The value of a poem, character, or story, it says, can be determined by the particular balance of how general and specific an entity it represents.

The remarkable thing about the music on the three albums of Bat For Lashes, the moniker of British musician Natasha Khan, is its melding of opposites. The songs simultaneously exist in the realm of the ancient and the new, the weird and the ordinary, and the grand and the intimate. And the even more remarkable thing is that seeing it embodied on the Regency Ballroom stage in front of an audience didn’t compromise these effects; it heightened them. Read more »

Live Shots: Burgerama II outtakes

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Ed. note: Andre Torrez's feature story on Burger Records, tape culture, and Burgerama II will be in next week's issue of the Guardian. Here's photographer Dallis Willard's images and impressions of the Santa Ana festival. Read more »

Delicious beginnings: Chocolate 101 at Dandelion

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Photos by Bowerbird Photography

"Hi. My name is ______, and I'm a chocoholic."

The rest of us took turns, going around the room, introducing ourselves and proclaiming our unabashed love for chocolate. We were all gathered at Dandelion Chocolate the bean-to-bar chocolate company on Valencia Street, for Chocolate 101, an introductory class which included comparison tastings, a tour through their manufacturing area, and a slideshow presentation on farming.

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Live Shots: Keystone XL pipeline protest

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Photos by Bowerbird Photography

SFBG's Rebecca Bowe reported on the anti-pipeline protesters who greeted President Obama yesterday in the cold and fog. SFBG photographers from Bowerbird Photography were there as well. After the jump, Ariel of Bowerbird's take on the scene. 

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Live Shots: Texas is the Reason at Bimbo’s

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Texas is the Reason’s show at Bimbo’s was not sold out, but it sure seemed packed as I struggled to find a good vantage point on Friday night. When I eventually got a clear view, I saw that the stage was hazily lit by dark blue-purple lights. The amplifiers and drum kit on stage were glowing, heavily draped with white Christmas lights. The visual, in its stark simplicity, was stunning.

This perfect, quiet kickoff was the reassurance I needed to prove that this wouldn’t be the gaudy, overwrought reunion that I had feared, but the graceful, tasteful gathering that I had hoped for. Read more »