Josh Epstein, Dale Jr Jr

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr & Chad Valley Rock The Fillmore with Harmonies and Bubbles


Saturday night  Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr and Chad Valley got the trampoline-like floor of The Fillmore bouncing to a blend of electronic beats, pulsing percussion and smooth vocal melodies.

Opener Chad Valley, got the eventing started with its brand of synth pop accompanied by haunting lyrics. Many in the U.S. assume that Chad Valley is the singer’s name, but it’s actually a long running brand of toys in the UK, which artist Hugo Manuel has adopted for his act. Manuel closed his set with “Shell Suite” a song that showcases his vocal range and compositional creativity and was perfect segue into the rest of the night.

Josh Epstein, half of the quirky duo Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr, was nice enough to talk with us last week in advance of the show, sharing insights into the band and showing some love for his hometown of Detroit. Saturday night he focused on some San Francisco memories – telling a story about a packed show a few years back in the early days of the band at Milk Bar and rocking a Warriors practice jersey that his mom bought him as a teen. Read More


Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Poolside to Play SF OysterFest May 10th


Some good news this week for anyone looking forward to (not cheap) drinks and delicious oysters at this year’s San Francisco OysterFest. The organizers have announced the first two acts and things are looking pretty good. Indie folk band Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros is headlining and we also know that electronic pop duo Poolside will bring its unique variety of “daytime disco” to the outdoor event in Golden Gate Park.

Last year there were over 10 acts including Bag Raiders, RAC and DEVO- so expect more announcements soon.

The event takes place on Saturday May 10th. Tickets aren’t yet on sale, and it looks like they are still working on the website but it appears the best place to follow them for now is on Twitter where “Stanton the Oyster” is sharing spoilers.

Check out Better Days from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros here:

Listen to Poolside taking on classic Neil Young in its “Daytime Disco” style here:

Image Courtesy of San Francisco OysterFest & Photoshop


Josh Epstein of Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr Talks Detroit, Beck and Burritos


At SFCritic we always love to get some of the story behind the music when a cool act comes to town and we were lucky enough to get Josh Epstein (pictured right) of genre blurring electronic duo Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr to answer a few questions for us before they headline at The Fillmore this Saturday, March 1st. Tickets are still available to see the group with opening act Chad Valley here.

SFCritic: Did you always think you would be a musician? When did you know?

Josh Epstein: I was in a band that toured a bit in high school. But I never thought I’d do it for the long haul. That all changed when I got meningitis in college though.

SFC: Did getting mentioned during the Daytona 500 get you any new fans? But seriously, how often are you asked about the name? I read that you picked it to make sure people didn’t know what to expect when they first heard you; what other names did you consider?

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Take Back the Night: Phantogram @ Amoeba Records


Last Wednesday, following an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and the day before a sold-out show at Oakland’s Fox Theater, rising New York duo Phantogram treated San Francisco to a (free!) four-song set at Amoeba Records, highlighting material from their new record, Voices.

This was their first Bay Area appearance since a dominating performance at last year’s Treasure Island Music Festival, where they shattered expectations with a headline-worthy show, undoubtedly climbing a few spots up the festival lineup ladder. Singer/keyboardist Sarah Barthel and multi-instrumentalist Josh Carter (with the help of two backing musicians) smiled and regularly engaged the mob of fans packed between the aisles of CDs. When Barthel announced just before launching into the first song (Voices standout “Black Out Days”) that “this is our new single,” an excitable dude near the front yelled “I hope you’re still single!,” eliciting laughter from nearly everybody, including Barthel. Read More


We Want It Loud! A Review of Chappo at the Chapel


Last Thursday the Chapel hosted a band I’ve been getting really excited about lately, Chappo. If you do one thing today, go listen to this band. Pour yourself a drink, crank the volume up to 10 (your neighbors will like this, I promise), and get ready to be impressed and probably emotionally effected. Chappo bleeds originality, being the kind of band that not only gives off, but openly promotes and invites a more in-tune and spiritual experience.

The Brooklyn-based band is at the front end of a U.S. tour, with stops in Seattle, Portland, and Denver up next. Led by frontman Alex Chappo, the band — who recently finished a tour with Imagine Dragons — has an absolute monster stage presence that is undeniable. They pull you in, make you dance, and leave you wanting more.

Chappo recently released their new single “I Don’t Need the Sun” off their upcoming album Future Former Self. They came out of the gates hard Thursday night with an “I’m Not Ready” opener that immediately got the crowd (or me at least) dancing. The night was as a solid mix of old and new material, a highlight for me being the next song they played (off their album Moonwater) “Shots Fired.” This song lights a fire under your feet but is one of the eeriest songs I’ve heard, evoking an almost psychedelic feeling — something the band does particularly well and often.
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Haight-Ashbury Street Fair fundraiser Saturday 2/22 at Milk Bar


This Saturday, 2.22, Breakup Records is hosting a show at Milk Bar, the proceeds of which will go toward putting on the 37th annual Haight-Ashbury Street Fair this June.

Playing: Sea Dramas (“rang(ing) from hazy folk with pensive melodies to 60’s-inspired, echo-laden pop that melds genres with swirling, dreamlike qualities”), Dangermaker (“slick, haunting guitar rock that goes perfectly with a shot of whiskey and an absence of light”), Sweetwater Black (“loud rock n roll”) and Margaret The King (“a band that embodies the free expression and energy around them while also delivering a bit more”)

All information and links to the bands’ music is on the Facebook event page:

And the website for the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair:

5 Awesome Shows in the Next 2 Weeks (That Aren’t Yet Sold Out)


This post is trying something a little different. Mostly I post photos and reviews of shows I went to and had a great time at, but today I wanted to help anyone in SF discover some great acts coming to town that you might not know you will love.

We all know that Broken Bells and Lorde are going to be great – that’s why they sell out in minutes. Below are some great shows coming up soon that you might like (or hate). The best part is that, at least at the time of publishing, they aren’t sold out, so you won’t have to trade one of your kidneys on Craigslist to get in.

If you end up catching any of the shows let us know what you think.

Bag Raiders
February 16th at Audio (Dance Club)

The Bag Raiders are a DJ Duo out of Australia who also make some great music of their own. I saw them last year in Golden Gate Park and their mix of synthpop and EDM gets the crowd moving. The price is a little steep and its a Sunday night, but I know some of you have Monday off right?

The Knocks
February 21st at Audio (Dance Club)

These guys showed up on my radar for the awesome song they did with St Lucia called Modern Hearts. When I dug deeper I found out there was a ton of good music coming out of this NY based duo. JPatt and B-Roc make electronic music that is just great to listen to in and out of a club, with a big bass line, rhythm and solid lyrical contributions.

Papercuts, Vetiver, The Donkeys, EDJ
February 26th The Chapel

The Americana indie folk songs of The Papercuts and Vetiver make their way on to a few of my more mellow playlists, though I will admit I have never seen them live. I am going to hijack this one a little bit just to talk about how great some of The Donkeys instrumental songs are. I can’t help but tap my feet when I hear one.

Dr. Dog (with Saint Rich, Moses Sumney)
March 1st The Warfield

Dr. Dog is always great live. Sometimes they are as smooth as a 60s soul song then follow it up with some gritty, blues-inspired jams. If you are looking for something a bit more mellow rock than some of my electronic selections, this for you.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. with Chad Valley
March 1st at The Filmore

If you like a good mixture of synth, moody lyrics and pop beats this might be for you. And how great is the name?

Bonus the opener is Chad Valley you may also know as Hugo Manuel of Jonquil. Back solo again as Chad Valley he brings an airy electropop sound that will definitely set the stage for a great night.

St Lucia at the Independent

St Lucia Elevates Sold Out Crowd at The Independent with Help from Conway


Thursday night, St Lucia and Conway took to the stage for the second of two sold out shows at The Independent, and gave two of the most high energy performances I’ve seen at the Independent. St Lucia, who I have described to friends as “Imagine if Lionel Richie and Peter Gabriel had an electronic baby,” put on an incredible act both in terms of sound and showmanship.

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French Cassettes

Watch: French Cassettes Play “Too Young” on the Streets of Chinatown


Last week San Francisco rockers French Cassettes rang in the Year of the Horse by playing their uber-catchy “Too Young” in Chinatown. Stroll with them down Grant Street as they dodge firecrackers, make some new fans and hit enough angelic harmonies to make Dick Cheney swoon.

“Too Young” via Oaktown Indie Mayhem

It Smells Like Colorado In Here: Review of The Wood Brothers at The Fillmore


photo 3 (1) (1)
The Wood Brothers played the Fillmore here in San Francisco last Saturday night, and exceeded every expectation I came in with and shattered any previous judgement I had. I knew they were good, but I didn’t know they were this good. With a little help from some industry icons like Amy Helm and Amos Lee, The Wood Brothers laid down some of the most harmonious bluegrass I’ve ever heard.

The night began with an opening set from Amy Helm, daughter of legendary musician and The Band drummer Levon Helm. Amy’s set was fantastic — warm, dialed in, and straight from the heart. With a voice you instantly fell in love with (regardless of gender).

Now, having never actually experienced either of these bands live before, I wasn’t quite ready for what I was about to experience. Comprised of brothers Chris (upright bass) and Oliver (guitar) Wood with drummer Jano Rix, The Wood Brothers have been at it as a unit since 2006 and currently call Nashville, TN home. The group came on and wasted no time, opening up with a few of their more popular songs like “The Muse” and “Keep Me Around” — but where some fans might scoff or begrudgingly wait for more “deep cut” tracks, the crowd was immediately swept away in the music, dancing, singing along, hootin’ and hollerin’. And not only are these men great lyricists, but they weave in and out of songs with copious bass solos and improvisational jams.

As the night carried on they played hits like “Who The Devil,” “Try Try Again,” and closed out the night with “Get Out My Life Woman.” You can check out the (almost) complete setlist here.

While there were several highlights (notable sit-ins from both Amy Helm AND surprise guest Amos Lee during “Luckiest Man”), it was the incredibly intricate, almost devilish, jams towards the end of “Wastin’ My Mind” that floored me. This is one thing they do incredibly well — going from a harmonious duet, to solos (both guitar and bass), to gut wrenching jams — and shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given the musicianship of the members (for example, Chris Wood was a founding member of Medeski, Martin, & Wood. If you don’t know who this is, educate yourself).

All in all, I was blown away. At one point noting that “it smell(ed) like Colorado in (t)here,” the band was not only talented, but wildly entertaining. I will most certainly be catching The Wood Brothers next time they’re here in town, and would highly recommend them to anyone who loves bluegrass, rock and roll, or just damn talented musicians.

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