San Francisco

Alt-folk singer Michelle Shocked goes on homophobic rant, Yoshi's says she won't be back

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UPDATE: now with audio of the incident. 

What is going on with Michelle Shocked? The Texas alt-folk singer-songwriter, formerly known as a leftist-feminist relic of the late 1980s/early '90s, apparently went on a homophobic rant at one of her two Yoshi's shows this past Sunday in San Francisco.

As the Bay Area Reporter notes, Shocked, who seems to have found religion in the past decade, told the Yoshi's crowd: “When they stop Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization and Jesus will come back.” 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 »

Poverty among plenty -- and it's getting worse

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Check out the news this week:

The Associate Press reports that there are increasing numbers of homeless and poor people in Silicon Valley. The piece almost sounds like something I would write:Read more »

VOWS' Luke Sweeney on marinating songs, foot prayers, and the gospel of Al Green

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San Francisco’s VOWS has come a long way from its beginning in 2007. As with many creative enterprises, the band -- which plays the Rickshaw Stop Wed/13 -- formed out of the ashes of some good old-fashioned turmoil.

Guitarist Luke Sweeney and drummer Scott Tomio Noda, pals since high school, had just broken up with their band, and bassist Jitsun Sandoval, a friend with whom they sometimes played music, had just split with his wife. The three formed a band whose name signaled the start of restored commitment. Read more »

Heads Up: 7 must-see concerts this week

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If you're avoiding the hype and heat of Austin for that annual indie, not indie music-and-film massacre that is South By Southwest (er, SXSW, nerds), fear not – there are still plenty of acts to catch live in our town this week. That list includes Martha Wainwright, PANTyRAID, Autre Ne Veut, the Dodos, an annual St. Patty's Day punk blowout, and plenty more.

Here are your must-see Bay Area concerts this week/end: Read more »

The lost Postal Service audition tape

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See video

So this is pretty much perfect. It's been 10 years since the Postal Service released its mega indie hit album, Give Up. Go way back to the band's original "auditions" in this new clip. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: YACHT, Shock, and Future Twin at Slim's

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When I went to see YACHT, a couple years ago during the Treasure Island Music Festival, it was playing outdoors in the afternoon, and it seemed like the wrong time and place. Last year at the Fox, the conceptual electropop band seemed stifled by the combination of the large venue and sparse crowd, and also mired by the same lackluster audio conditions that made headliner Hot Chip sound like it was playing underwater. But Saturday at Slim's, on my last night of Noise Pop, it seemed just...

Fuck, I've wandered into the Goldilocks cliché. Read more »

Shannon and the Clams awaken 'Rip Van Winkle'

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Our beloved kings and queen of trash rock and doo-wop hybrid Shannon and the Clams released “Rip Van Winkle,” the first single off their upcoming Hardly Art release, Dreams in Rat House (coming May 21).

The song, which features back-up by Magic Trick's Noelle Cahill, is again the perfect blend of garage pop and beachy surf punk a la the Trashwomen, and has that cool hiccuping guitar effect kicking off the hip-shaking, foot-stomping, hand-clappy new track. As expected, chainsaw vocalist-bassist Shannon Shaw's distinctive pipes stand out above all else. This all just serves to further excite us for the release of Dreams in Rat House. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: Califone, 'Scene Unseen,' and DIIV

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Will 2013 be the year that Noise Pop began downsizing? Or, is the festival simply adjusting its focus towards smaller, rising acts? Either way, this year's lineup was surprising from the get-go, eschewing the name-brand, Flaming Lips-y headliners in favor of rising, blog-friendly outfits like Toro Y Moi and DIIV. Sadly, I couldn't occupy nine venues at a time, so here's a rundown of the Noise Pop shows I did see this past weekend.

CALIFONE
Having listened to Califone's records for over a decade, yet never seen it live, I was curious about the band's strategy in translating its studio material to the stage. From its introductory statement, Roomsound (2001), to the extended freakout-jams of Heron King Blues (2004), to last year's Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People, Califone's sound has always been production-oriented, augmenting the rustic twang of blues and roots music with an equally faded, rusted, precarious palette of electronic sound. No one merges the old and the new quite like Califone in the studio; the band's records are visionary, but sadly, its live show didn't quite measure up. Read more »

Noise Pop 2013: The Crystal Ark at the Mezzanine

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"Dude, a satchel? That's the gayest shit I've ever seen."
"What?" I asked.
"Your purse," he said, pointing to my camera bag, as his apparent girlfriend giggled and tried to cover his mouth. "That's so fucking gay. Are you from America?"
"Thank you," I said, as I finished putting in my ear plugs, mostly disinterested but half curious what he made of the two guys making out 10 feet across the dance floor.

Given that the last time I was in this situation, at Mezzanine to see NYC's disco band the Crystal Ark supported by "San Francisco's coveted queer DJ collective" Honey Soundsystem, was during Pride weekend, this was an odd encounter. But I'd already expected the crowd to be a little off, given that it was seemingly a late addition to the Noise Pop Festival and had to compete with packed, sold-out events in the vicinity. Read more »