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.
Slumberland Records, the less-under-the-radar-now label straight outta Oakland, is making some predictably sage deals in its 20th year repping some of indie world’s quieter success stories. A few recent notable signings include Brooklyn bygone-era-exercisers Pains of Being Pure at Heart and fellow Brooklynites/noise-pop makers Crytsal Stilts, both of which are netting key critical kudos and growing followings by the day. Then there’s SF’s own Brilliant Colors, which falls both in between and on the periphery of PBPH and Crystal Stilts stylistically, as heard on its second proper release Again and Again.
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).
“Look at all you people. What are you doing here?” Taylor Guarisco asked the crowd when he and his fellow bandmates from GIVERS hopped onstage Wednesday night at the sold-out Rickshaw Stop, as if he thought his band was the butt of some flashmob public stunt joke. Of course, there was a time when that would have been a reasonable question, before word got out about this magical pop quintet from Lafayette, Louisiana.
Call it the Yoko Ono effect, but the husband/wife rock ‘n’ roll tag team has long been an endangered species, as if to be married in life and song were a surefire way to career and personal carnage. But boldly and perhaps blinded by the love, a few musical couples march forth without regard for the sometimes-toxic business/pleasure tonic. And a few do it with such astounding vigor and energy that it reinstills a bit of faith in the quasi-Faustian bargain.
It was So You Think You Can Dance in an Indie Band? night at the Great American Music Hall on Monday, brought to us by brooding synth pop trio Cold Cave and atmospheric New Age revivalists Austra.
Let’s meet the competitors.
A quick piece of advice for the IAMSOUND Sessions promoters who booked the phenom indie pop band Cults last night at the Clift Hotel: it might be wise to schedule what’s called an “opening act” next time your headliner doesn’t come on until 10:30 p.m., even if the show is free. Asking hundreds of fans to wait idly with $10 drinks and thumb their cell phones for 90 minutes on a Sunday night doesn’t do much to engender support for the spotlight band. By the time Cults came on, the crowd was impatient, angsty, still chatty and generally indifferent to what was happening onstage. (#hipsterproblems)
Can chillwave really be all that “chill” in the live setting? With apologies to the kids too baked to move, live instrumentation has a way of turning blissful ambiance into head-thrusting, dance-pop affairs. We saw it a few weeks ago with Washed Out at GAMH, which turned trippy pop experimentation into an orgiastic dance affair. And last night at Slim’s, The Memory Tapes inspired something similar, winning dancing hearts and head-bobbing minds with a sound more rooted in tradition pop ideas than any new genre-of-the-moment branding would suggest.