Freaky Awesome SF is alive & well with Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret


For those who fear that the old days of Freaky Awesome San Francisco Delights are over … Kat Robichaud (one time top ten finalist on The Voice) is helping to keep the spirit alive and thriving with her Misfit Cabaret. The ensemble hosts its show Whim Sea next week July 14-16th at The Great Star Theatre. Expect a rowdy, Queen-esque rock n roll experience that will make you blush if you aren’t from around here. As the event declares, it’s “a night of decadence, bawdiness, and damsels (not in) distress.”

Three nights of performances each present a different set of variety and musical acts with special guests, with singer-songwriters Justin Seagrave (Thurs-Fri), Rabbit Quinn (Thurs-Fri-Sat) and Seth Lael (Sat) featured. Of course with Robichaud as the host, you’re guaranteed to be bowled over by powerhouse vocals ripe with the existential power of David Bowie. Expect to see hula hooping, storytelling, a drag mermaid, underwater ballroom dancing, and a special appearance by the Shadow Circus Creature Theatre.

If you’ve arrived to SF in the last three years, I insist that you make time for this show. This kind of heart, talent and imaginative exploration of fantasy and identity is part of what has made San Francisco the arts mecca it is. Decades of creative freedom have harvested a fertile territory for every kind of new discovery. However, amidst so many other displacements of people and culture in the past few years, this is one culture that has been throttled by rising rents and the inability of artists to continue thriving here. Go to this show and let your heart be broken open to the powers of fantasy, imagination and pushing at the utter edges of society’s comfort. Be won over to the importance of keeping these artists here in this city and therefore to rejecting the cycles of greed that aim to push them out.

You can find out more and get tickets here.

Written by Annie Bacon @ anniebacon
Photo by Mike Lloyd Photography

Photos: Birdy warms a Sunday night at The Fillmore


She was writing songs from the age of 8, was spotted online thanks to a cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love at 12, and then signed her first record deal at 14. Now twenty, British singer-songwriter Birdy already feels like a veteran in the music industry. Her latest album, Beautiful Lies, for many serves as a coming of age album – full of the worldly knowledge and a reassured sense of confidence.

On Sunday night, she stopped by the Fillmore for the San Francisco leg of her U.S. tour. It was a diverse crowd inside the historic venue; from old to young, the cool kids to the socially awkward, Birdy seems to bring everyone together.

Settled behind the keys for much of the show it was her voice which captured the audience. It is a gentle yet assured sound which makes you want to listen. Indeed, her rendition of “Beautiful Lies” stunned the audience into silence – quite a feat for a sold-out venue. Other music highlights included an endearing version of “Lost It All.”

Every now and then she freed herself from behind the piano, and these moments added an extra sense of intrigue to the proceedings, with her band able to let loose a little bit more.

Known for singing covers, she closed out the show with perhaps the one she is most famous for; “Skinny Love.” She graced the stage solo for what was an affecting performance. Silence filled the floor once again and all you could hear were Birdy’s haunting vocals. It was a beautiful moment to end a surprisingly diverse show.

As I wandered out of The Fillmore into the chilly San Francisco night, I couldn’t stop thinking about how talented Birdy is at twenty and started to get excited for the next twenty years of music ahead.

Photos: Real Estate Completes Three Day Chapel Residency Tonight!


Monday night I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the first of three sold-out nights with New York-based Real Estate. When I say sold-out, I mean ass-to-crotch all the way to the exit. I hadn’t seen a show this packed at the Chapel since Dave Chappell did a pop-up comedy show a few years back.

Smoldering with body heat, the venue provided the perfect backdrop for some chill music. Dream pop, indie rock veterans Real Estate didn’t disappoint playing tracks from all their albums, and even a couple new songs. The group has done some shuffling in the past few years but they are still anchored at vocals and bass by Martin Courtney and Alex Bleeker respectively. The East Coast rockers even had some surprising local flavor with Alex Bleeker announcing to the crowd he is a newly minted Bay Area resident. I guess the music scene here isn’t as dead as all the think pieces seem to suggest?

Like most artists Real Estate don’t fit easily into any single genre. I heard people around me describing them as “chill wave” or “indie psych rock” but each song really has its own distinct feel. Some of the songs ride guitar harmonies and give you the feeling of listening to Steely Dan slowed down by the effects of some low potency mushrooms. Others like “Out Of Tune” are like listening to a vinyl single of Fleetwood Mac‘s “Gypsy” that has partially melted in the sun. The crowd ate up hits like “Talking Backwards” which itself feels like an unholy marriage of prog-rock and a very chill Paul Simon.

I know the descriptions are weird, but when you put it all together with some really talented musicians it makes for a magical night of music. They didn’t employ any crazy visuals, just a few house lights. These days it can be refreshing to just focus on good sound.

After a short encore break they played a new song that had me eager for a new album, Atlas is a tough act to follow. Hopefully they will give us all a taste very soon. They ended with “It’s Real” to the delight of everyone in the audience that likes to sing “ohh” and “ahh,” which let’s face it is anyone still out at 11:30 on a Monday.

There is still time to catch them for one last set tonight, if you can find a ticket. I know Monday night they only had 10 tickets at the door. More info here.



Burger Boogaloo 2016: Rock & Roll Resurrection


The least shocking thing about Burger Boogaloo: Summer of Filth was that the gates opened late, and attendees lined up around the block to enter. After all, punk is not an abbreviation for punctual, and if the two-day price tag of $59, with headlining acts like The Mummies didn’t tip you off, this is not Coachella. Psycotic Pineapple tapped into something that spoke to the spirit of the event when they sang “Rock and Roll is dead, and we don’t care,” early on day one of this freak-fest. Because if Rock and Roll is indeed dead, its reanimated corpse sure put on one hell-of-a show as Burger Records resurrected a lineup of some of the strangest garage acts ever to pervert the genre.

Tony Clifton

We all know that the freaks prefer to come out at night, but like flies drawn to a stink, they were lured out of their crypts by the too-bad-to-be-true lineup and endured two days of relentless sunshine and a balmy breeze to worship at the alter of sleaze. As you might expect audience members adorned a plethora of pins and patches representing their punk rock sensibilities. Heaven forbid, (or maybe rather hell forbid) somebody misinterpret the crowds’ loyalties. Besides these banal expressions of counterculture there were also more daring fashion exhibitions; among them pentagram nipple pasties, and body modifications that defy description. The beauty of this gathering was that regardless of your predispositions, in the sea of weirdos, there were no outsiders.

If we follow the undead Rock metaphor, John Waters was the perfect necromancer to summon an assortment of trashy acts to the stage. He introduced himself as the “Bob Hope from hell,” and gave introductions for punk pioneers like the Young and Fresh Fellows, The Angry Samoans, and The Dwarves that might sound like insults in other circles, but were worn here like badges of honor. All three of those bands played on the “Dirty Mouth” amphitheater stage, which was made up to resemble a (you guessed it) gaping mouth, complete with a tongue shaped drum riser. The amphitheater also featured a fire pit turned mosh pit. This pit was an endless source of sooty dust which was kicked up, and clung the sweaty bodies in the throng of concertgoers. However, like the performers wore Waters’ defamations, the fans wore their grime with pride. Read More

Foxtails Brigade give us yet another amazingly haunted release


Check out the latest video from a local favorite – Foxtails Brigade. “We Are Not Ourselves” – off their eponymous album released in April – is a song haunting in its own right. Paired with a downright delightfully creepy story and great art direction, the resulting video will give you the chills.

Check them out at The Nighlight in Oakland on June 30th.

Don’t Miss Burger Boogaloo 2016, Coming June 25th-26th


This year’s Burger Boogaloo should be an event worth sweating through your polyester for. John Waters will return as host for a lineup stacked with the strange, anachronistic, outsider rock we have come to expect from Burger Records.

The two-day festival in Oakland’s Mosswood Park features acts from the Bay Area and beyond ranging from the legendary Flamin’ Groovies and the infamous Mummies, to contemporary garage rockers like Thee Oh Sees and King Khan & the Shrines. Attendees can also expect appearances from film star Traci Lords, cult icon Tony Clifton, and a DJ set from Jello Biafra.

The festivities will take place on Saturuday, June 25th and Sunday the 26th.   The full lineup is here, and tickets can be found here.

Gringa defends their hyphens victoriously – @ Elbo Room 6/7


In today’s music world, and especially in the Bay Area, there’s no shortage of musical fusion projects. From indie-pop, to folk-punk to afro-carribean-folk-jazz, pretty soon there won’t be any hyphens left for the rest of us.

A lot of these genres fuse wonderfully, like coffee and cream. But some fuse more like coffee and fish tacos. Independently, both very delicious. But if you try to dunk your fish taco in my coffee, I will karate chop you in the neck.

Thus I approached Gringa with some trepidation. An all-female San Francisco based band, fronted by a Canadian, that claims to blend Brazilian, Latin, funk and rock music. My karate chop was quivering with anticipation.

But within about 12 seconds of putting on their sassy new single, “I’ma Build a House”, my fears (and karate chop) were put to rest. This is not some incoherent hyphen orgy, this is real, honest, and to my surprise, authentic sounding, musical project. Blistering sax solos, tight female vocal harmonies, and all manner of percussion from the Southern Hemisphere are nestled into an irresistible Brazilian groove. The results of which are as refreshing as a sweet iced Yerba Mate on a hot Rio de Janeiro day.

Gringa will be playing at the Elbo Room June 7 at 9pm as support for Bay Area world fusion band Camino.

Gringa “I’ma Build A Home”

Write up by Joey Coe
Press photo by Sarah Ritterscamp

Photos: Big Wild Ends Tour With a Bang at The Independent


Those lucky enough to score tickets to Big Wild’s sold-out set were treated to a high-energy dance party, that frankly had no business going down on a Sunday. Either no one else had work on Monday, or they plain just didn’t care. Either way, they were dancing their asses off, and the crowd barely thinned, even as it approached the early hours of Monday morning.

For his part Jackson Stell, AKA Big Wild, was there to party with us. He was celebrating a successful headlining tour which saw him sell out the whole weekend at The Independent. Jackson alternated between his electronic drum pads where he hammered out beats, and a wonderfully low tech cajón that would make any drum circle proud. All the while, his curly mop of hair bounced to the beat and basically completely obscured his face for the whole show.

Last week we had a chance to ask Jackson a few questions about his style and live instrumentation. He told us how well mid-2000s hip hop worked with his almost tropical beats, and didn’t disappoint with live mashups of his compositions and raps by Rich Boy and Ludacris. He ended with an extended play of his hit single “Aftergold” including new verses from Swedish singer Tove Styrke. Check out our interview to hear the song and learn more about what make Big Wild tick here.

See the wildness for yourself in our photos below and don’t miss Big Wild on his next tour of the Bay.

The Mynabirds flutter back to SF @ The Chapel Tuesday June 7th


The last time we covered The Mynabirds, we longed to hear this band in a less acoustic venue than Swedish American Music Hall. Tuesday June 7th, we get our wish as the band headlines The Chapel in the Mission. Anthemic, powerful, sincere and ridiculously gorgeous music comes from this band – led by Laura Burhenn who, among other things, has toured as a member of Bright Eyes. After stumbling upon the band covering a Thao Nguyen Noisepop show a few years back, I have become a disciple. In fact, it is difficult to write a static review that will just sit on this blog page. If I could, I would reach through your screen and stare intensely (but kindly) into your eyes until you agree to clear your schedule and get down to this show.

The Omaha, Nebraska based band – on Saddle Creek Records – covers a lot of musical territory in the course of a set. Indie-pop at its core, The Mynabirds quote from folk, classic rock, electronic and mainstream pop style with ease. You will think of Jenny Lewis, My Bloody Valentine, Jefferson Airplane, Kate Bush, early Rolling Stones, Patty Griffin. And you will likely be drawn in by Burhenn’s immense talent and a generous and warm performance.

The show is presented by (((folkYEAH!))) & the Huichica Festival, where the band will play a few days later in Sonoma, after a 6/8 show at the Henry Miller Library.  As if this band alone were not enough awesome, local greats Foxtails Brigade open the night. Tickets are here.

Below is the most recent album Lovers Know, released in 2015. If you make it to the show, let us know what you think.

Preview by Annie Bacon / @anniebacon
Press photo

Interview: Big Wild Talks New Music, Stage Show and Working With Odesza Ahead of Two Sold-Out Nights at The Independent


It’s been a busy year for Venice-based Big Wild so far and things are only picking up. A beatmaker by trade, Jackson Stell AKA Big Wild has been touring like a madman while perfecting his stage show. In May alone he has three big upcoming Bay Area dates, Friday the 13th with Odesza at San Jose State and then back to back sold out nights at The Independent May 21st and 22nd.

Big Wild creates fun, almost whimsical dance beats. I would call some of his songs tropical house, but there is so much baggage associated with that label now and I find his brand of music far more creative. For a taste check out Big Wild’s latest rework of “Aftergold” with Tove Stryke:

I had the chance to ask Jackson a few questions before his return to the Bay check it out below and start checking the secondary market for some tickets to his upcoming shows:

SFCritic: I have to admit before I saw you for the first time I felt a little bad for you. It was an opening act for Bonobo and Odesza, two bands known for incredible live shows. But I was blown away by your energy and activity on stage (drumming etc). Was the stage act something you’ve always had or is it something you developed over the past couple years?
Big Wild: My live show is something I’ve been creating for the last year and a half. It’s been a good amount of experimentation with ideas and seeing what sticks haha. I bring a lot of energy to shows to channel it to the crowd. It builds a really cool environment for people to have a good time and feel something.

SFC: How long have you been producing as Big Wild? What do you think helped define the music you are making now?
BW: I’ve been producing as Big Wild for about three years. My first trip to California and the idea of really starting a career as an artist spurred a lot of my ideas for my more recent music. I wanted to have a sound that adventures into different styles and genres while being rooted in the music I grew up loving. Read More

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