Music + Nightlife
The Bay Area turned out en masse to San Francisco's Mezzanine Nov. 13 to see Q-Tip, one of the former members of the sometimes defunct A Tribe Called Quest, take back hip hop with a little help from his friends.
Mezzanine was packed to capacity with hip hop lovers anxious to hear The Renaissance, the much anticipated and critically acclaimed follow up to 1999's Amplified, in the live. L.A.'s Pacific Division, The Knux and The Cool Kids kicked off the evening, the latter being just as cool as their name promises, energizing the crowd with hits like “Delivery Man” and “Black Mags.”
I'm headed down the Grapevine to LA for the Part Time Punks Music Festival to check out San Francisco's Magic Bullets and the brigade of punk bands playing at The Echo and The Echoplex this weekend. What I'm most looking forward to is hearing A Certain Ratio, playing in the U.S for the first time in 25 YEARS. It's gonna be out of control. Check back Monday for my photos from the weekend.
If you were thinking right about now that seemingly every celebrity—and his mother—has caught Project Runway fever, you’d be right. The story usually goes: Celebrity has zero design background. Celebrity is approached by investors to slap his name on a clothing label executed by a team of designers. And said celebrity is dubbed over night a celebrity/designer.
Andre Benjamin is all too familiar with that scenario. Years ago, the entertainer— more widely known as one half of the hip-hop duo OutKast—signed a licensing deal with investors to launch an OutKast clothing line, which made a chunk of change, but admittedly had little to do with Benjamin’s vision. “I learned quickly that unless you’re putting the money up for it, your sign-off doesn’t mean anything because they send you things a day after it’s too late to change anything,” Benjamin recalls. “I knew from that point on, I wanted to make clothes that I could really stand behind and understand.”
A style icon in his own right, Benjamin has since recently launched his namesake menswear line, Benjamin Bixby, a moniker referencing Benjamin’s fashion design alter ego, and a deliberate departure from his identity as a musician. The line is completely self-funded, and the rugged-meets-clean cut pieces, sketched by Benjamin himself, have clear references to 1930s collegiate prep. I sat down with Benjamin last night, just before 7x7’s private party hosted in his honor at Bloomingdale’s, where he put on his designer hat and let us in on some of his fashion insight.
You may recognize the sexy trio backing up blue-eyed indie-cutie Zooey Deschanel in this December's Jim Carrey comedy "Yes Man". It's San Francisco's own, Von Iva making their big screen debut and singing along Ms. Zooey in the fictional band Munchausen by Proxy. Von Iva also wrote the song "Yes Man" specifically for the film (it'll run over the end credits). This isn't the first time the ladies have contributed to a Hollywood production (see Showtime's The L Word or the 2008 Jerry O'Connell/Heather Graham movie Baby on Board), but it is the first time you can see them rocking the big screen. The film comes out December 19th.
A lot's happened since SF pop darlings Loquat dazzled us with their critically acclaimed debut, It's Yours To Keep in 2005. For one, lead singer Kylee Swenson (whose ethereal, lullabye voice is reminiscent of Aime Mann and Feist, only less drone-y) and bassist Anthony Gordon got hitched. But there were also hardships - family deaths, an apartment fire and lost jobs - enough to bring the band to the brink of a break-up. Fortunately for us, Loquat weathered the storm and used all the material for what they call their most inspired album yet, Secrets of the Sea, which was released last week. We caught up with Swenson and Gordon from their East Coast Tour, where they're set to play the CMJ Festival in New York on the 24th. They're returning to the Bay to play a much-anticipated Hometown CD Release Party at Bottom of the Hill on November 8. Here's what they had to say about the new album, their Treasure Island Music Festival performance and the San Francisco music scene.
Playing to a mashup crowd of hipsters, socialites, drag queens and red-white-and-blue clad revelers, Mos Def headlined
Ozomatli, the nine person funk/rock/jazz/hip-hop/Spanish/English band from Los Angeles is headed north to play Slow Food Rocks this Saturday. Get excited to kick off the shoes and enjoy a wild performance on Fort Mason's Great Meadow - cause we’ll say one thing, this band makes you want to dance. We caught Ozomatli’s Raúl “El Bully” Pacheco on his cell, windows down, cruising in his freshly-purchased 1968 Mercedes Sedan up 101. Here’s what he had to say about Slow Food, SF burritos and his band’s dedication to social issues:
But first, in case you’re wondering:
O•zo•mat•li (n.) classical Nahuatl origin. Aztec word for monkey, god of dance and music
San Francisco hits a nostalgic chord for the New Pornographers. The Mission’s Aquarius Records was all about promoting the band in their fledgling days, which led to some of their first sold-out shows at the Great American Music Hall and the Warfield. Now they’re returning to the city where they really took off to play Slow Food Rocks, the music festival component of Slow Food Nation.