Live Shots

Live Shots: LGBT Community Center celebrates 11 colorful years

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Photos by Bowerbird Photography

Last Saturday, the disco ball sparkled from above, while below on the dance floor, party-goers glittered in gold. There was much to celebrate, with the SF LGBT Community Center's annual gala "Soiree" celebrating 11 years of sercing the community -- and even more to drink, with bottomless bottles of champagne. There were also plenty of sights to drink in, including a few bottomless pairs of pants!Read more »

Bad kids get slimed with the Black Lips at Great American Music Hall

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The Great American Music Hall was a soupy, sweaty mess of swamp-like proportions before the Black Lips had even taken the stage Monday night. The crowd, buzzing with the combined excitement of intoxication and anticipation, erupted into howls and screeches as the band took the stage in a puff of fog-machine smoke. From behind the mist, one of the Black Lips yelled into the mic, “If you wanna be smart, read a goddamn book. If you wanna have fun, you’re in the right goddamn place!” And so it began. Read more »

Live Shots: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, fornicating turtles, and one Dixie Chick at SXSW, Day 2

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Photos and words by Bowerbird Photography

Immersing oneself in the SXSW 2013 musical experience feels akin to getting deep fried in a small tub of hot oil, crammed with sundry other dancing meats. The sizzle we hear are our eardrums giving their last scream from last night's who-knows-where-we-are dance party. Austin is hot with things to do and people to do it with. Read more »

Live Shots: The Hush Sound at Great American Music Hall

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I was introduced to the Hush Sound in high school, when a girlfriend burned "Like Vines” onto a mix CD for me. It was love at first listen. The awkward, adorably fumbling song structures and whimsical lyrics of the Like Vines album were the perfect mirror to my gawky teenage soul. Goodbye Blues, the last album the band released before going on hiatus, showed more advanced songwriting technique and much better production. It was a tragedy. Growing up had made the Hush Sound lose its charm. I kept burning old Hush Sound songs onto mix CDs for a couple of years, and then slowly forgot about it.

You can imagine my surprise when, walking into the Great American last Friday night for a Hush Sound reunion show, I found myself in a nearly sold-out venue. As it turns out, other people had also restlessly waited through the five-year hiatus for this opportunity to relive their youth. Read more »

Live Shots: K-Pop's Night Out, Ashley Monroe, and more at SXSW, Day 1

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Photos and words by Bowerbird Photography

Fans made scrawling lines all through Austin, Texas, waiting to gain access to countless shows, as the SXSW 2013 music festival kicked off on Tuesday night.

Some eager devotees sat cross-legged, tolerating the intense Texas sun since 9am according to a chatty security guard, for the K-Pop Night Out showcase. In the SXSW hierarchy, badges trump wristbands, leaving hardcore fans without tags to load up on patience, scour listings for shows with free access, and pray capacity doesn't max. Read more »

Live Shots: The Robert Glasper Experiment at New Parish

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It really wasn't a question whether the Robert Glasper Experiment would be any good at the New Parish on Friday night  – but how it would go about replicating the success of Black Radio, which recently won the Grammy for R&B album of the year.

That’s an album that features notable collaborators on each track – Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Mos Def/Yasiin Bey, etc. – which could leave pianist Glasper a lot to make up for live. Going into the show I had a few theories: maybe the group would use pre-recorded vocal tracks in places, maybe up-and-coming vocalists would be pulled on stage from Oakland’s music scene, or maybe some surprise guest would be introduced. (Singer José James was nearby at the San Jose Jazz Winter Fest. Maybe he’d finish in a timely manner over there and stop by?) Read more »

Live Shots: Passion Pit, Icona Pop, Matt and Kim at the Bill Graham

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Swedish duo Icona Pop made the typical announcement about being really happy to finish up its tour in San Francisco, last Thursday at the Passion Pit/Icona Pop/Matt and Kim show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

Things likely have changed for Icona Pop, which specializes in bouncy, dubstep-inflected pop about “heartbreak,” particularly since the song “I Love It”* was appropriately included in the episode of HBO’s Girls where TV’s most self-centered character** goes on a coke binge. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: The Thermals and Dirty Ghosts at Rickshaw Stop, Bender's happy hour

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I first learned of the Thermals in 2005 from the DVD series, Burn to Shine, in which bands play a house that's set to be demolished. In an unlucky Portland, Oreg. home, the pop punk trio – by then together for just under three years – bounding with energy, played exclusive single "Welcome to the Planet.” That particular Burn to Shine installment also featured live, untouched performances by Sleater-Kinney, Mirah, the Decemberists, and the Gossip. A basic slice of life in Portland that year, all under one soon-to-be-gone roof.

Friday's Noise Pop show at the Rickshaw Stop celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Thermals' very first album, More Parts Per Million (2003, Sub Pop). And while it's now all these years later, and the band has since released a decade's worth of records building to 2013's Desperate Ground, the Thermals have maintained a joyful, power-pop exuberance and nasally shine. The Rickshaw crowd pogo'd off its feet to every song, nearly in unison, matching the excitement of the band on stage, even causing a brief kerfuffle near the end. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: R. Stevie Moore is cool, plays Bottom of the Hill

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R. Stevie Moore is cool. When was the last time you saw a 60-odd-year-old* man standing on stage shouting "where my bitches at" and repeated calls of "swag"? That kind of thing never happens.** (Though it did last night at the Noise Pop show at Bottom of the Hill with Moore, Fresh and Onlys, Plateaus, and Burnt Ones). Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: Cruel Summer, Lake, and the Blank Tapes at Hemlock

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It's a low-key kind of Noise Pop year compared to the past three or four, without the huge, attention-grabbing headliners of yore  (looking at you, Flaming Lips at Bimbo's), but Wednesday's show at the Hemlock Tavern could have been nuzzled in nicely in any very early NP lineups, which is what made it feel authentically true to the inherent spirit of the festival.

No pomp or glitz, no big names or sold-out, packed-to-the-gills chaos. I initially went to see Olympia, Wash.'s Lake, a twee, lo-fi indie pop quartet with great hooks, but found much enjoyment out of the two bands that sandwiched that act (Cruel Summer and Blank Tapes), perhaps even more so? Read more »