Phono del Chill


Saturday was the 6th annual Phono del Sol Festival, the fun and easy going festival, which still feels like a little bit of a secret, run by The Bay Bridged. It’s small, it’s relaxed and it turns a small park in Potrero Hill into a place to discover bands new and local. With a bowl of fried chicken courtesy of Kokio Republic I wandered down just as The She’s were firing up a set of dreamy indie-pop.

Like Treasure Island, the sets at Phono del Sol do not overlap, so you can catch each of the carefully selected bands, with this year’s line-up featuring offering a slightly bigger and more diverse selection than previous; indie, pop and a dash of hip-hop and funk were all included in the mix.

As The She’s closed out their set, The Seshen started off and they were a revelation to my ears. I was not familiar with them before Saturday, however I left a fan. R&B-Funk with a twinge of space-aged undertones made for a unique and enticing sound. Lalin St. Juste was captivating on lead vocals and the large band filled all the space the stage could spare. I could have watched them all afternoon.

As the skaters watched, filling between doing tricks and walking into the festival, it made for a community vibe to the afternoon. There was a friendliness in spirit, which Phono seems to foster – you feel compelled to introduce everyone you meet to everyone you know in this musical expression of kinship. A blanket being created for the victims of the Orlando shooting being made was full of multicolored hands by the end of the afternoon.

Adam Vida followed The Seshen introducing hip-hop to the proceedings. His Thurlian mantra, of love and peace, felt even more poignant given the events of the preceding few days. He reflected on these dark times at the start of the set with a moving acapella piece before taking off his jacket to reveal a Giants tee and getting the party started. The small crowd moved and threw their hands in the air on demand. A throwback to the ‘All That’ theme song was a nice surprise and had a few in the crowd feeling nostalgic.

The day kept on building, with Mr. Little Jeans and Born Ruffians putting in solid performances. By the time of Alvvays’ set, the Mission Stage was pretty lively and looking busy. Their set matched the festival, with an irreverent sense of chill. Read More

Photos + Interview: Brooklyn-based Body Language at Bottom of the Hill


On Sunday, July 10, 2016, some people stopped playing Pokémon GO and went to a show at Bottom of the Hill. Luckily for them, Brooklyn-based electro-pop group Body Language was providing the tunes. The crowd that gathered around the tiny stage was treated to a passionate and lively performance.

Lead vocalist Angelica Bess truly personifies the band’s name, performing contagiously energetic movements while her flawless vocals filled the venue. The crowd was singing along in unison with Bess to every song, which she noted was something she only sees in San Francisco. Being a Sunday night, the venue was not packed to capacity. Fans had plenty of room to dance and reciprocate the energy that Bess was giving off.

Body Language played a fantastic set with old and new songs, plus an encore that included a phenomenal cover of Ghost Town DJs’ “My Boo.” The night came to a close with “Really Love,” and as soon as the lights came on, Bess was at the merch table saying hello to fans and friends. Body Language has played to bigger crowds, but they did not let up in the intimate atmosphere of Bottom of the Hill.

Body Language are fresh off their release of AA-single “Just Let It”/ “The Fall”. If you haven’t already, check out those jams ASAP. Here is “Just Let It”

I had the chance to ask Body Language a few questions before their return to San Francisco. Answers below are by band members Grant and Ang.

SF Critic: It’s been 5 years since Body Language was first featured on SFCritic. A lot has happened since then. Can you briefly give our readers some highlights into what you have been up to?
Body Language: We’ve written a lot of music and toured with some amazing bands like Rubblebucket and Vacationer. We’ve built a nice following in San Francisco. It’s amazing to see a fan base grow outside of your home turf. We sold out at Bottom of the Hill on our last visit there, complete with a room full of people singing our music back to us. That was such a special show. Read More

Phono Del Sol this weekend!


Packed into the public / skate park at where Cesar Chavez and Potrero streets come together, Phono del Sol is a super fun local festival put on by our friends at The Bay Bridged. It is as well known for its great line up (Alvvays, The Seshen, The Shees among others) as for its amazing food truck garden (don’t miss Bacon Bacon). Another great feature is the opposite stage set times such that you neither have to miss any great performer nor deal with unpleasant sound bleeding in such a small space. Find a cozy spot on the hill between, and take it all in. (*For those with little people in tow, this is also a super kid friendly event as there is a playground within the festival area from which you can see and hear almost everything. Also, face painting.)


Check out the set times below and get your tickets (from $20/youth – $85/VIP) here. Who are you excited to see?

12:00pm Doors open
1:00 – 1:35pm Dick Stusso (Potrero Stage)
1:35 – 2:10pm Hot Flash Heat Wave (Mission Stage)
2:10 – 2:45pm The She’s (Potrero Stage)
2:45 – 3:20pm The Seshen (Mission Stage)
3:20 – 4:00pm Adam Vida (Potrero Stage)
4:00 – 4:40pm Mr. Little Jeans (Mission Stage)
4:40 – 5:20pm Born Ruffians (Potrero Stage)
5:20 – 6:10pm Alvvays (Mission Stage)
6:10 – 7:00pm Chairlift (Potrero Stage)

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

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