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.
Take note, people of unbridled ambition. This is the new career path to fame:
1) Make a series of web videos DIY-style.
2) Make them irresistibly funny.*
3) Post them on YouTube with little regard for future employment.
4) Wait a year or two.
5) Watch them inexplicably go viral.
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.
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!”
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.