Café Du Nord
As the gloom lifts, so do such intriguing musical projects as Monks of Doom. You can practically sense them perking up, blinking, and crawling toward the light, ready to stretch your ears, your minds once more. The Bay Area psychedelic-prog/art rock band began life in the ‘90s as a loose but oh-so-creative side project to Camper Van Beethoven – the initial lineup included CBV guitarists Greg Lisher and Chris Molla, bassist Victor Krummenacher and drummer Chris Pedersen – and later added David Immerglück of the Ophelias and Counting Crows. After breaking up in 1998, the band re-formed in the same spirit it began -- with a 2003 album of cover songs.
Stop the War on Fun! which started as a Facebook group and now has nearly 3000 members has emerged as a full-fledged website. The guerilla-style movement, spearheaded by local musicians, artists, club owners, club goers, and entertainment industry workers, is a direct rebuttal to the ABC's (California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) mysterious harassment on local all-ages venues, namely Cafe Du Nord, Slim's, Bottom of the Hill (watch our video). The question at hand: What constitutes a restaurant?
There is a scene I love in the movie “Baby Mama” where Steve Martin, as a pony-tailed vegan guru, rewards Tina Fey for a job well done with “five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact.” It’s just as hilarious and uncomfortable as it sounds, hence it was the first thing to come to mind while seeing Jamie Stewart sans Xiu Xiu at Café Du Nord last Friday. The now solo artist didn’t let a lack of accompaniment get in his way…which was extremely weird.
California's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), who make the rules when it comes venues and alcohol in the city, are now targeting the city's all-ages clubs and threatening to shut them down. Bottom of the Hill, Slim's, Cafe Du Nord, Great American Music Hall and even the Fillmore are under fire from ABC for non-compliance with rules that club lawyers say are outside of the scope of written law, what club licenses say, and have nothing to do with safety or alcohol. For example, ABC recently declared that all-ages clubs must sell as much food as they do alcohol. Right, because we've been going to Great American for the food all these years.
We walked in a few minutes late to the much-anticipated stringed line-up last night at Café du Nord not really expecting much. We were greeted with the romantic, whimsical melodies from The Cello Man aka Matthew Schoening. Alright, we ponder, this should be a pretty chill evening. But man, were we wrong.
And that’s an understatement. Easily the best performance of Noise Pop 2009, Portugal. The Man delivered nearly a 2-hour set cruising through almost the entirety of Censored Colors and even a few previews from their upcoming album.
Lead singer John Gourley and bassist Zachary Carothers played a good portion of the show with their backs to the crowd (we can’t help but wonder if John’s slight stage fright had something to do with this). Nonetheless, the performance was somewhat reminiscent of Jim Morrison in his early days - no talking, no frills, no direct connection with the crowd, but somehow one of the most solid and touching sets that we’ve ever seen.
Recording an album a year clearly isn’t enough for these Portland-based fellas. After recording and writing all 15 songs on Censored Colors (their September 2008 release) in 15 days, Portugal. The Man just finished another 3-week stint recording their latest album in Boston (still unnamed and without a release date). Those loveable boys originally from Wasilla, Alaska have been on tour for nearly three years straight (nearly 300 shows a year) and recording albums on their few weeks off a year, but after Alternative Press named lead singer John Gourley the “Best Vocalist of 2008,” they began blowing up in the press and we can’t say they don’t deserve it. With people like Paul Q.
This week’s Noise Pop festival has proven that San Francisco is burgeoning with emerging musical talent and we feel pretty safe calling the locally based Thee Oh Sees one of the best underground indie pop bands in the Bay Area. Active on the scene since the late ‘90s, front man John Dwyer’s experimental home recordings morphed into a full-blown band over the course of seven albums and the group has found their calling in catchy garage band tunes for avid alt music followers.
Romantic oddity Department of Eagles played sold-out back to back shows (two hours apart) last night at Café du Nord, proving that they've graduated from a budding hipster obsession to a full-blown sensation. Playing from last year's lauded album, In Ear Park, their performance was delightfully delicate and compellingly haunting. Daniel Rossen's vocals scatter but simultaneously remain immediate, sweet and eerie - the perfect compliment to a blustery San Francisco weekend.