Trip Out at These Buzzworthy Bay Area Shows This Week
In our never-ending mission to combat the rise of mind-narrowing music, this week’s column focus on band’s who just want to trip you the eff out and/or blow your mind. Check out these bands and watch the epiphanies roll in.
Portland lo-fi dream pop outfit Grouper — the working moniker of instigator Liz Harris — are coming up in the world, and fast. The band’s latest album, The Man Who Died in His Boat, is earning rave reviews from your neighborhood tastemakers, and its street cred is already spiking. But back to that name. There’s a weird, delicious story: Harris grew up in a “Fouth Way” commune here in Northern California, which was known as “the Group.” Then, well, let’s put it in her own words (courtesy of Portland Mercury):
"The kids called each other and the parents 'Groupers,' sort of as a defiance. It was us making our own identities inside a pretty controlled environment, and sort of lashing back maybe... When I had to think of a name I felt annoyed at nothing sounding right. I wanted something that referenced me without referencing 'Me.' I felt like the music was at its barest just a grouping of sounds, and I was just the grouper."
Tame Impala rewards the patient music fan while teasing the nostalgic senses of classic rock obsessives. Psyched-out jams start out slow and build into sprawling hallucinations. The Beatles and Black Sabbath are the first reference points, but the Aussie youngsters update the sound with a modern sheen. It’s, like, groovy man.
These non-Akron-based gents have earned Animal Collective comparisons over the years thanks to an assortment of psychedelia, charmed chanting, and spaced-out drum circle rhythms (and btw, bandmembers hail from NYC, Portland and Arizona, for the record). The trio played a mind-numbing set at the Fillmore a few months back in a co-headlining but abbreviated set with Two Gallants, and now hardcore fans get to see Akron/Family in the headlining role and a more-expansive set. To which we reply: hallelujah.
Fox Theater Thursday
The xx’s intense narratives beg for deeper understanding. Perhaps it’s something in the timbre of Romy Madley-Croft’s hushed narration. Either way, you’re compelled. “Chained” is the song I keep coming back to, and I inevitably spend hours on RapGenius figuring out what the heck she’s saying and meaning. Highly recommend spending some time with Romy’s diary entries and converting her soft whispers into meaning.
Junip, Saturday, Bimbo’s
Fans of Jose Gonzalez should know about Junip. The celebrated singer-songwriter is usually in solo mode (as well as cover one-man band mode), but now he has teammates. Elias Araya (drums) and Tobias Winterkorn (synth, organ) do much more than just fill in the blanks. Sure, the focus is Gonazalez’s surreally transed-out voice. But the complements give new life to his brilliance.