Foals & Cage @ The Fox 497

Front-loaded: A Review of Foals & Cage the Elephant @ The Fox Theater


Last Tuesday, I finally got to see UK indie outfit Foals when they stopped by Oakland’s Fox Theater with Kentucky natives Cage the Elephant in tow.

We have a lot of Foals fans at SFCritic, and I fought my staff to cover this show. Their brand of emotional, yet cerebral math rock is both intellectually challenging and rewarding, and I was lucky to witness it live. I knew they’d kill it, and they did. What I didn’t expect, however, was to be blown away by the opening band.

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Win Concert Tickets To See tUnE-yArDs and Sylvan Esso


Bay Area based band, tUnE-yArDs, led by Merrill Garbus, will take the stage at The Fillmore next Friday (June 6th). Known for their “forward movement—whether because of her explosive performance style or the always-surprising way in which her songs unfold,” the band will be joined by Sylvan Esso. The burgeoning stars juxtapose Amelia Meath’s bluesy, folk vocals with infectious dance rhythms to form pop singles fitting for both a Top 50 radio station or a music bloggers’ unveiling of the “next best thing.” Their self-titled debut is out now and is a must grab.

We’re excited to offer a pair of tickets to one lucky winner to catch both one of our favorite local bands and up and coming. Oh, did we mention the show is sold-out? All you have to do is sign up and activate your subscription for our mailing list. (We’ll announce the winner next Thursday at 5pm PST. Make sure to use a valid email, or we won’t be able to contact you!)  Read More

Chet Faker

Photos: Chet Faker “Drops Game” on Sold Out Independent


There is no better way to close out a long weekend than catching a great act in the comfy confines of The Independent. Monday, Australian artist Chet Faker showed me why he is a rising star, combining unique samples and synth beats with an unbelievably soulful voice. The rich sound enveloped the crowd commanding full attention from everyone in attendance. The show had some in the crowd yelling “I love you!” to which he deftly responded “I love you too.”

Faker is touring on his first full-length album Built on Glass. In an interview with Pedestrian TV he described the struggle of putting together the CD — first he tried to please everyone and ended up hating it; later he tried to go too avant-garde and ended up not liking the finished product. Built on Glass is a compromise of sorts and the result is magical. The music is similar to Londoner James Blake in that it’s electronic, but the elements are sometimes more subtle and support the weight of Faker’s powerful lyrics. Faker takes pride in handcrafting his music from lyrics, samples, and arrangements, to the recording and mixing, and credits the power of the Internet for allowing an artist like himself to reach such a wide audience.

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A Second Look at Matisyahu – An Interview with the Reggae Rapper


Matisyahu reflected on his answers and changed his mind.

After sending follow up questions to his original response via email, the American reggae singer provided rewritten answers. Likely concerned with the reception of his initial responses, he replied saying “Being judged and feeling misunderstood has been a recurrent theme in my life.” His image has been a focal point of his career. An Orthodox Jew from White Plains, New York, Matisyahu, born Matthew Paul Miller, captivated the world with his 2006 performance at Stubb’s in Austin. His long beard, payos (sidelocks), and unusual blend of Old Testament storytelling with reggae melodies was a complete anomaly as Americans looked internationally for new styles like Shakira and Sean Paul that took top spots on the Billboard Chart.

At the end of 2011, Matisyahu shared a photo of himself clean shaven, declaring that he was “reclaiming himself” and ready to move forward with his career. But as much as any artist wishes to be creatively pure, no one operates within a vacuum unaware of critics and fans alike. On June 3rd, he will release his fifth studio album, Akeda, which is Hebrew for “binding” and a reference to the story of Isaac, where G-d tests Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his child. The story parallels where the artist stands today: his creative decisions decided, awaiting to see if his fans will follow.

This upcoming Friday Matisyahu will perform at Bottlerock Music Festival in Napa. In a series of emails, SFCritic spoke with Matisyahu about his upcoming album, his image and religious outlook. Read More


Sean Lennon’s ‘The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger’ (GOASTT) @GAMH


I met Sean Lennon in Dublin, Ireland eight years ago. He was humble, a bit shy and somehow apologetic, playing to a seated crowd of about 50 in the upstairs of a pub called Whelans. There were no sorry’s at the Great American Music Hall Tuesday night as GOASST. Lennon’s project with model babe bass-player girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, seems to gives him permission to shine on. Sean is a bad ass, vibing and technical, guitar player. Still, I can’t help to say his spirit still feels like a musical giant bent over and cramped into a glass house. He has so much potential.

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Photos by Victoria Smith

Strange Talk Put on Insane Show at Rickshaw Stop’s Padded Room


Friday as I was standing with our talented photographer Victoria Smith near the bar waiting for local opener The Hundred Days to finish their rocking set, I noticed a couple of guys trying to pay for drinks and a bartender that looked throughly unimpressed with their Australian chip-based cards. On closer inspection it was lead vocalist Stephen Docker and guitarist Gillan Gregory from headliner Strange Talk. If you have ever traveled overseas, you know what a cluster fuck it is to use a U.S. card over there or a pin and chip card here. I felt compelled to help them out, and bought their round so they could hurry back stage and get ready for their set. Read More

Photo by Tuomas Kopijaakko

Listen: Amen Dunes Releases New Album Love Tomorrow


It’s Monday. All of us at one point or another hit that Monday slump where you just can’t accept the new work week. Luckily, there’s always new music to help us decompress and get us thinking like productive members of society again.

This past week I’ve been checking out a preview of Amen Dunes’ upcoming album Love. I find the music a perfect match for Monday’s with its mix of melancholy lyrics, haunting tones and folk inspired riffs, all delivered in a fuzzy Lo-Fi, calming package. Read More


RODRIGO Y GABRIELA :: Boil Down to Fresh Water


Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero have come along way from busking on the streets of Dublin via Mexico City. A testament was Friday night’s sold out show at the Fox. It’s been a long time since a duo of guitars and nothing more –not even a voice — commanded such a rally. I don’t really know how long it’s been but they are like sweet fresh water in these times of Skrillex, cleansing from today’s electronic overloadA welcomed refreshment of basics with shredding.

Rodrigo y Gabriela‘s fused style of metal flamenco with primal earthly undertones is a genre of music you may not be able to put a perfect finger on, but is perfectly executed.  A fury of fingers plucking every note right with hands that click and knock enough to satisfy a desire for a back line of drumming and melodic tones that strings everything together. R y G are synchronized gold medalists of sure footed rhythms. Oh and the visuals? The visuals were awesome, massive, scaling, moving, transforming art and I’ll leave it at that because you should go and see. Read More

© 2014 Dace Hines

The Voice is an Instrument: A Review of Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band & Tara Jane O’Neil @ The Independent


Last Wednesday, The Independent served up a modern musical cocktail, concocted of three distinct elements that (like any good drink) combined formed an experience greater than the sum of its parts. Tunde Adebimpe (from TV on the Radio fame) rolled through town with his new project, and brought a couple interesting opening acts along for the ride.

Local jazz-rockers Black Cobra Vipers (previous coverage here) opened the show to a fairly thin crowd, breezing comfortably through all the songs on their excellent EP (appropriately titled EP). Because it was Wednesday in San Francisco, the audience did their best to act cool and careless, however they couldn’t help but tap their feet and bob their heads to the Vipers’ infectious groovin’. Nice job, boys.

Next up was Portland songwriter and visual artist Tara Jane O’Neil, who slipped onto stage silently like a sniper. Feathers of hair poked sheepishly from under her crooked baseball cap as she twiddled a few knobs on a floor-mounted pedalboard, bathed in a backdrop of deep blue stage lights. With such an unassuming presence, you’d be forgiven for thinking she was a guitar tech setting up… Read More

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