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Chris Trenchard

Photos & Review: Architecture in Helsinki at The Fillmore

To put it in terms Architecture in Helsinki fans can appreciate, music consumers can generally be divided into two camps: those frustratingly picky prudes, and the weak-kneed whores. Prudes prefer their music to put in some work, and themselves to be wooed in novel ways; in other words, they like to play hard to get, and that’s why they listen to all that obscure ‘60s Brazilian Tropicalia b-sides that are literally hard to get. Then, god, the whores — they give up their affection at the first hint of pop melodicism and major chord synth sounds, preferring their lyrics of the bubblegum variety and their song structures predictable, swooning over anything that moves.

Photos & Review: Last Night's Phantogram Show at The Fillmore

Fans who snuck a peak of Phantogram last year at Treasure Island Music Festival likely came away with a variation of the following thought: love 'em, but there’s something incompatible with them and the daylight.

Brent Weinbach Creeps Out Punchline in All the Right Ways

It’s hard to say exactly how Brent Weinbach — one of the Bay Area’s comic talents truly deserving of wider recognition — is funny. His shtick is inconceivably awkward, his delivery of punchlines uber-droll, his voice that of an unbearably uncharismatic statistics professor, with all the stage presence of a To Catch a Predator star.

The War On Drugs Fight the Good Fight at the Independent

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.

Portishead Carries On at the Greek

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.

Norm MacDonald Plays with Persona at Cobb's

A good way to tell if Norm MacDonald is killing a standup set is to just watch how much he’s giggling to himself. For whatever reason, when the cameras aren’t rolling, the comic icon lets his guard down and drops the trademark deadpan just a bit, but only when he knows he’s really hit on some new bizarre thought — the kind of thought that only he and his cultish, devoted following could find laughable.

EMA Occupies the Subconscious at the Independent

Erika M. Anderson seems like the type of friend who will sit you down, look you in the eye, slap you in the face, buy you a shot of whiskey and tell you to stop being such a freaking coward. At least that’s the sense we get after seeing the Oakland-based artist’s latest project EMA, an alternately raw and complex band, much like her adopted city. Her musical ethos is, in a word, confrontational. 

Smashing Pumpkins Deafen at the Fox Theater

Billy Corgan has for some time walked the fine line between rock god and willful artist, juggling The Smashing Pumpkins’ demands of scale with his own steadfast creative ambitions. And critics and fans both have had their phases of obsession with the alt-rock champions of the '90s, and yet Corgan and company have rarely pandered to anything but their own vision.

Not-So-Innocent Comic Amy Schumer Kills at Punchline

It’s been a surreal two weeks for Amy Schumer, the cunning girl-next-door comic who will, for the foreseeable future, be known as the standup who told Steve-O she would have preferred he die, rather than fellow Jackass star Ryan Dunn, at the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen. Her infamous joke has caught the attention of both angry Jackass fans and also the national media, and now the 30-year-old New Yorker is riding the crest of a wave of notoriety. It’s a double-edged sword, of course: she’s now selling out shows, but she also reported to be on the receiving end of death threats from the unamused.

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