Live Shots

Hot Chip, Converse, and why Google Glass could save our show-going sanity

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I fully expected the Hot Chip show last night to be a giant advertisement for Converse. In the last few weeks I’d been noticing the ads around town, with that new slogan* and figured there was something else behind the big marketing push. So when a series of free “Represent SF” concerts was announced at Slim’s, in conjunction with a store opening, it made sense. But what I didn’t expect the event to be, was an advertisement for Google Glass.

As someone who covers live music, a “free” show doesn’t in itself mean much, since entry is most often comped in exchange for publicity, whether good or bad. That deal was basically given to everyone at Slim’s last night, since they received a wristband with an RFID tag upon entry. Different stations throughout the club were “interactive,” and would give you the opportunity to win prizes, swag, and (I assume) shoes. All you have to do is register the RFID to your Twitter and Facebook account, in which case Converse would also make automated posts on your behalf through the night. Read more »

Live Shots: Chvrches at Mezzanine

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The night started with shrieks. Well, back up. It actually started sedate. Opener Still Corners had cancelled at the last minute, due to visa issues*,” so we knew it would be a bit of a wait before headliner Chvrches came to the stage at Mezzanine. In the meantime, we stood around commenting how nice it was that there was no one under 21.

The show had originally been scheduled at the Rickshaw Stop, but when it sold out quickly, it was moved to Mezzanine, and anyone under drinking age was issued a refund. This meant there wasn’t the early crush of teenagers permanently camped out at the front of the stage.** I know, I know, it’s not nice to gloat over someone else’s exclusion. Maybe I forget about being that age and not understanding how I wouldn’t get to see my newest musical obsession live, just because the venue was 21+. I remember now, though, because twenty minutes before start time the other side of the spectrum arrived: the banshees.*** Read more »

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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