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.
Trying to file The Books under a single style or genre would be an exercise in futility. Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong started working on their first album in 2000 and continue to stitch together potentially incompatible styles—including folk, electronica, and spoken word—to build what reviewers and fans consider a sonic collage. Even "experimental" is an insufficient description because they don't so much experiment with sound as explore and reimagine it. They'll be performing two shows this weekend as part of the Noe Valley Music Series, so if you're not heading out of town for the holiday weekend, it's a great opportunity to see them in the kind of intimate setting where they belong.
When Sonic Youth announced last Monday they'd be playing a show at the Independent last night, tickets sold out in about 30 seconds. It wasn't their only show in the Bay Area this tour—they played the Fox Theater Sunday night—but it was a rare opportunity to see them play somewhere as small as the Indy. The intimacy of the packed venue felt like we were seeing the band at a New York club in the 80s, except it's San Francisco, 2009 and the fans are all grown up.
Citay began as Ezra Feinberg's songwriting project and, with the help of Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), turned into a recording project. Now, two albums in, Citay has evolved into a fantastic full-fledged band and a favorite on the (((folkYEAH))) circuit. They'll play Tempest on Saturday (8pm) with fellow locals The Dry Spells and experimental group tUnE-YaRdS.