Once you get past the fact that what you're hearing–a massively commanding, operatic voice throbbing with a soul as big as the entirety of the Independent–is booming forth from a person smaller than the plague known as Snooki from Jersey Shore, you can start to experience Zola Jesus' primal goth-industrial pop music for what it essentially is in a live setting: a riveting sonic spectacle akin to a religious service conducted by a precocious girl from rural Wisconsin, dressed all in white.
Philadelphia rock missionaries The War on Drugs are all about dichotomies: pretty vs ugly, new vs old, subtlety rubbed up against grandeur, the home or the freeway, man vs The Man. It's an infinite-sum game they play, as they showed last night to a curious crowd at the Independent, jamming their way to abstract conclusions and somehow turning a Sunday night into a Friday night.
Band press releases get dumped in my email inbox every morning, afternoon and evening. Sadly most of them can either be categorized as thoroughly obnoxious (like those of Wavves), or straight up forgettable. Not the ones having anything to do with legendary sludge metallers Weedeater. Don't confuse them with the nation's preeminent brand of mowers, blowers and trimmers; these stoned Southern gents periodically light up my days with semi-annual reports of insane on-tour injuries, like when vocalist-bassist "Dixie" Dave Collins literally shot himself in the foot earlier this year with his favorite shotgun by accident.
Feeling down? Lonely? Spiritually absent? Undersexed? Or — god forbid — oversexed? Feeling like you need a change? Charles Bradley has some advice for you.
The one-man answer to cynicism put on a resounding and thought-provoking soul/funk/R&B revivalist show Tuesday night at The Independent that doubled as a self-help sermon. The 62-year-old phenom has lived quite the life, and his wisdom came across matter-of-factly–sometimes in his lyrics, other times in his impromptu evangelistic addresses, imploring the audience to stop being such bastards to each other (my words). “Love each other,” he said a few times. “Let’s change the world!”
There’s something vaguely Cobainian about San Francisco’s latest prodigal punk son gone national, Ty Segall. Perhaps it’s all on the surface — the stringy blond hair covering his face, his nihilistic, alyrical groan, his haphazard yet taut soloing. But there’s a certain grunginess to his band’s aesthetic, also a nuts ‘n’ bolts alignment of guitar, bass and drums. All of it begged a certain question: were we watching something special on Saturday night at The Independent? Was this what it was like to see Bleach-era Nirvana in a Seattle club in the mid-‘90s, when all that mattered was the channeling of angst?
For those who show their stoke by wailing on an air instrument, the 2011 Air Guitar SF Regional Championships is where it's at this weekend. Head out to The Independent to cheer on local competitors as they vie for a spot at the Air Guitar National Finals in Chicago next month. The winner of the Nationals goes to Finland in August for a sort of Olympics of air guitarsmanship.
Kelly Malone, the undisputed DIY queen of San Francisco and head maven of Workshop and Indie Mart, is one of the most headstrong ladies in town and a friend to many. She was recently re-diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer (she was first hit with it a few years back) and sent out a call to the community to help her kick it in the butt once and for all–with rock n' roll, of course!
Royal Baths (hands down one of our favorite SF bands), Social Studies, Art Museums, Sandwitches, and Carletta Sue Kay are coming together at the Independent next Tuesday, June 7th in a fundraiser to help Malone pay for hospital bills. When she started Workshop two years ago, she sacrificed her salary and medical benefits to keep the awesome DIY classes affordable to everyone. Now, she's asking us to return the favor.
A further sign that SF just can't stop owning the national music scene: Weekend. For a band that's only been around for a blink of an eye (two years), they've already chiseled out a sound (a roaring, wistful barrage of hooks, ravenous basslines and ferociously forboding shoegaze blasts of noise) and taken it around the world on a tour for their debut album Sports (Slumberland), which dropped last year.
The world is long overdue for a new iPod-dominating album from behemoth TV on the Radio, and luckily for our starved ears, the day is finally here. Their latest, the gorgeous Nine Types of Light (Interscope), drops April 12, but is now streaming in its entirety on Rhapsody. Get in on that here.
For months, the only way to hear Adam Haworth Stephens’ solo material was to go to a Two Gallants show and see it happen by chance. Finally, the San Francisco native has a full-length album of his own. The recently released We Live on Cliffs achieves an intimacy to which Two Gallants—Stephens’ well-established indie-rock project with Tyson Vogel—cannot comfortably venture. With an unwavering lyrical center and vocals that assume a rare magic under strain—all neatly hemmed by seasoned producer Joe Chiccarelli, who has worked with indie giants like The Shins and The White Stripes—We Live on Cliffs generates a number of electric moments that clearly demonstrate what all the buzz is about.