Live music has a reliable way of transforming venues into places they were not necessarily intended to be (see Golden Gate Park, Treasure Island, Cow Palace, etc.). Friday night at the Greek Theatre was one of those frequent but also rare occasions, as Portishead lead singer Beth Gibbons turned the place into a veritable opera house, her delicate contralto voice eerily echoing throughout the hallowed hills. And the assembled mass was as still and entranced as you'd find in any civilized theater space.
The Greek Theatre has a way of reminding bands that they’re doing something right — that, in a sense, they have arrived, and can count themselves among a group of musicians who have put their footprint on the history of pop music. So you’ll have to forgive Justin Vernon, bandleader of the small town act-gone-ubiquitous Bon Iver, for taking a moment Thursday night to reflect on the significance of it all, his indie majesty perched atop these ridiculously hallowed grounds. “…we feel lucky,” he concluded. It was the #humblebrag of the year.
Indeed, the WTF-quotient is high when you consider the project’s story to date. In a nutshell: dude gets heartsick, secludes himself in remote cabin, records touching solo album, meets Kanye West, reaps benefits of Kanye's notoriety, assembles band to record follow-up album, follow-up album rises to No. 2 on Billboard chart, music industry is turned on head.
Rarely does a music venue match a band’s aesthetic as well as it did Saturday night when the alter boy-folk revivalists known as Fleet Foxes played an al fresco show at Berkeley’s Greek Theater. Strawberry Canyon in the Berkeley hills is exactly the type of place that inspired the band’s most recent album, the ridiculously successful Helplessness Blues, where the wonder of wilderness interacts with a generation coming of age (the venue is adjacent to the UC Berkeley campus).
Pavement, a cornerstone of Matador in the 90s—and a band one usually either loves, hates, or hasn't heard of—brings their much-awaited reunion tour to their hometown of Stockton this Thursday and to the Greek Theater in Berkeley on Friday. Scott Kannenberg (aka Spiral Stairs) and Stephen Malkmus formed the band in their later-to-be estranged drummer Gary Young's studio in Stockton in 1989. Rumor has it that Young will make at least an appearance at the Stockton show at the Bob Hope Theater and possibly pop up in Berkeley as well. Neither the Stockton show nor the Berkely show have sold out but plenty of people are trying to get rid of Greek Theater tickets on Craigslist if you're looking for a discount.
Usually we’re eager to boast a top-notch list of artists vying for your hard earned dollars and attention span on any given night of the week. However, while there’s still something to choose from every single night, the real battle begins on Saturday, where you have various two-day events pitted against each other. Here’s the scoop.
Carbon Leaf, The Independent, 6/23: Check out the veteran indie pop stars perform their perfected stage skills on tour for their new album Nothing Rhymes With Woman, the first in almost 2 years.