Black Mountain Commune With Darkness at The Chapel


I go through phases where I don’t necessarily loose my faith in new Rock & Roll, but feel a bit disillusioned with it. I ask myself, “What can you show me that hasn’t been done better by (fill in the name of any heavy 70’s legends here)?” Whenever I get that fatalistic feeling, the most sure fire way to become re-enchanted with the genre is to get out and hear some live music.

The limitations of a home stereo, and neighborly goodwill, often prevent us from hearing this music as it was intended: pants pissingly loud, that is. It is only at decibel levels frowned upon by doctors and mothers everywhere that one can truly commune with the spirit of Rock. After my pilgrimage to The Chapel on Thursday, my faith has been restored. Like so many TV evangelists, Black Mountain and supporting act zZz laid a healing hand on my withered musical spirit.

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Song of the Day: “20 Motherfuckers” by The Wyatt Act @ Piano Fight 3/23


The Wyatt Act released this song, “20 Motherfuckers”, a few months back and if a retail outlet hadn’t already coopted the term, I’d say it was San Franpsycho. They call it Slam Rock. They even have a manifesto:

“SlamRock Manifesto:

Street-corner style poetry meets transgressive rock. SlamRock is a philosophy, a lifestyle, an attitude, a swagger. SlamRock is a reaction to a society of detached, automatic, alienated, civilized play-acts. SlamRock values process over product and interaction over isolation. 3 Principles of SlamRock: Spontaneity, Variety, Put on a fucking show!”

And put on a show they do. The last one that I attended was an all participatory (though not mandatory) strip show while badass bassist and singer Guinevere Q (“No Big Fucking Deal” the people shout upon hearing her name) screamed over the drums and trumpets. 

“20 Motherfuckers” speaks to the heart of being an artist in San Francisco through the last bunch of years, as the streets have increasingly emptied of the beautiful freaks who once defined the arts scene, replaced by people staring at their phones. It’s partly, but never completely angry and outraged. The anger is tempered by its own playfulness. It’s the kind of song that reminds you that smashing the system can be energizing and fun too. 

They’re playing at Piano Fight on Thursday 3/23 with Van Goat and Northern Waste. The show is a fundraiser for the San Francisco Tenants Union, and true to their manifesto it will be a fucking show. Called “House Meeting”, it will include roommate interviews, chore wheels, games, prizes, advice from a Housing Rights Lawyer, and an opportunity to support a great cause. 

Shigeto, on making the 20′ in front of him a better place / @ The Midway 3/18


Zach Saginaw, known by his middle name/moniker Shigeto, let me know right away that he had just returned, “about 20 hours ago”, from playing shows in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and that yesterday was both his birthday and the night of his ongoing residency (with friends) at Motor City Wine bar in Detroit. But over the course of nearly an hour’s conversation, he proved that even sleep deprived and jet lagged, he is an artist devoted to improvisation, experimentation, and growth.

Saginaw is in town on Saturday night as the featured performer at a multi-media, immersive, technological (and likely quite long) experimental performance –  Luminary: Art, Music, Tech – at the Midway. The night will bring together nearly two dozen artists in what Future Fires and The Midway are calling the first in an ongoing series of collaborations aimed at exploring “the visionary work of creators and musicians from around the world using emerging technologies: immersive audio, drones, VR, projection mapping, and more.” It’s an apt setting for Saginaw, whose musical life is rooted in collaborative improvisation via his start as a jazz drummer. 

Those who know Shigeto’s music know it is born out of a vast lineage of influences – jazz, hip-hop, electronic, folk. Every song weaves organic instrumentation – eg drum kit, shakers, hand drums, a bell tree, a mbira – with futuristic sounds from synthesizers, drum machines, and samples of familiar video game bleeps or clinking glasses or drum sticks falling to the floor (for example), that are filtered, played backwards, repeated, echoed. The result is a rich and polyrhythmic exploration of sound and emotion, a sonic map of a moment that somehow stills feels spacious and ambient. Read More

Fundraiser for Bay Area Women & Children’s Center @ Great American Thurs 3/16


Kendra McKinley, Vanwave, and the Rainbow Girls co-headline an amazing night of music at the Great American Music Hall this Thursday night in support of the Bay Area Women and Children’s Center (BAWCC). BAWCC provides services to some of the most vulnerable San Franciscans, providing clothing, health services and more to women and children in precarious financial situations. It’s places like BAWCC that make San Francisco great. So get yourself together and head out to GAMH to support this great cause and hear these badass psych-folk indie rock n rollers do their thing. More information and tickets can be found here

Kendra McKinley “Canyon Canon”

Vanwave “Ghost”

Rainbow Girls “She-Bop Nation”

Tonight @ the Independent: Sinkane gets you moving


Words by Abel Habtegeorgis

Growing up, Sinkane didn’t know a lot of people like him. Born Ahmed Gallab in London England, the younger version of Sinkane moved around quite a bit and lived all over the world, including in Utah where he developed a love of Mondays.

“Best day of the week,” he says enthusiastically during a phone interview with SF Critic. “See in Utah, everything was closed on Sundays so I never got why people called it the first of day of a new week and to me isn’t the right time to start anew anyway”.

Unlike a lot of normal people, Sinkane loves his Mondays and uses the day to recharge and reboot. Makes sense for someone who maintains a grueling tour schedule that has seen him and his band play all over the world at a mind numbing pace. Read More

Round Up: What Tech Blogs Think of Lorde’s New Single “Green Light”


Instead of sharing our thoughts on the Lorde’s highly anticipated new single “Green Light” we thought we would see what some of the top publications in the tech world have to say. This is the first new music from Lorde in about three years and the first off her upcoming album Melodrama.

First up we have The Verge. Like many, the authors are excited for new Lorde after the ground-breaking album Heroine but the reception is timid at best. “The song, “Green Light,” is fine, but this whole thing is kind of like that friend who keeps promising to take you to a great new restaurant, and then when she does — almost four years later — it turns out to be a Chop’t.”

Senior Verge Oreo reviewer Dan Seifert also had this to say:

Business Insider takes a different approach to their review, instead focusing on more of the technical aspects of the new song. We learn that this is Lorde’s first album written and produced with Jack Antonoff of Fun. and Bleachers. There is also a solid breakdown of the songs cadence: ‘The song starts with piano and Lorde’s singing before exploding into a skittering drum beat and a soaring chorus that goes, “I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it.”‘

In Forbes, we hear more about Lorde’s stylistic evolution, a move from “gloom” to “a more upbeat feeling.” As this writer puts it this all points to a promising if not somewhat overly aggressive future for the star. “She may have changed lanes, but it has now become clear she is driving on her own road, one where there is no room for other pop stars.”

The overall reviews seemed a bit mixed, but it’s clear that the tech world is hungry for more disruption from this 20 year old prodigy from New Zealand.

Editors Note: We will update this post when the coverage from TechCrunch comes in.

Black Marble & Uniform Join Forces for Noise Pop’s Weirdest Lineup @ Starline Social Club


Wednesday night, a few bands with seemingly little in common rolled through Oakland’s Starline Social Club as part of Noise Pop’s 25th anniversary festival. I’m not sure how to describe this lineup except like when you walk into the kitchen super hungry at 1am (probably for the 3rd time) and all you can find is Ritz crackers, marshmallows, and a bottle of Sriracha. All good stuff, but who would be crazy enough to combine them? 1am you, in a moment of either starved desperation or unhinged creative liberty, that’s who. But somehow, it just… works. Sorta. Once you get used to the taste.

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INTERVIEW: SF native Hanni El Khatib comes home to the Chapel tomorrow night


San Francisco born Hanni El Khatib is a vintage blues rocker in the vein of The Black Keys, but with a little dab of punk and funk.  He’s garnered more than 8 million spins on Spotify with his four releases, the most recent of which, Savage Times, is a collection of 5 EPs released throughout 2016 plus four new songs. Bursting with raw energy, his songs hit you hard and leave a mark. 

“If the ones who hate me don’t kill me first /
the ones that love me gonna harm me worse”
~ Hanni El Khatib in “Gonna Die Alone”

In advance of his sold out Noise Pop set at The Chapel tomorrow (Friday) night, El Khatib took a few minutes to answer some of SF Critic’s pressing questions about where he went to school in town, how the current political climate is affecting his music, and, most importantly, his favorite local burrito spot. 

SF CRITIC (SFC): You’re an SF native! Rad. What schools did you go to? 

SFC: The influences in your music are too many to name. What are the influences that we might not hear -musicians or other artists who impacted your art but aren’t referenced necessarily in the sound?

HEK: I dunno. I like all the rhythmic stuff that goes on in a lot of Nigerian music. I also love the vocal production on the Travis Scott and Young Thug stuff. Read More

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Noise Pop 25: Diet Cig Pack Brick & Mortar Music Hall


Noise Pop 25 continued to impress last night at Brick and Mortar with a stellar lineup of female-fronted rock acts. The bill showcased local acts Joyride! and Plush, and they didn’t disappoint the sell out crowd. Joyride! with their fast-paced punk riffs was the perfect appetizer. Plush, which features some familiar faces from The She’s, kept the energy flowing with their brand of rock that seems to borrow from a plethora of genres including shoegaze, psych and maybe even some 90s grunge. The combination of the openers’ playing styles, set the table perfectly for Diet Cig.

The first thing that strikes you about the New York, punk-pop duo is an incredible energy. Vocalist/guitarist Alex Luciano couldn’t wait to get the crowd going, leading a pre-show jumping session to warm everyone up. Things didn’t calm down once the music started as she jumped on and off drummer Noah Bowman‘s kit, her amp and pretty much anything she could throughout the performance. In “Scene Sick” she sings “I just wanna to dance” and everyone at the show can now confirm.

 The other other striking characteristic of Diet Cig is a real sense of honestly. The simplicity of the pop guitar chords, is balanced with lyrics that shift from both deep to superficial, but always seem objectively true. Songs hit topics like hooking up in the back of a car at 16, an ode to Luciano’s dad, and of course heartbreak.The duo’s newest release “Tummy Ache” is a great example of the in-your-face honestly of their songwriting. Read More

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Thao’s electrified new video “Meticulous Bird”


Thao Nguyen – Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – have just released a video for “Meticulous Bird” off 2016’s A Man Alive,  and it is electrifying. The track is visceral – a body experience as much as something to listen to – and the video (created by Johnny Look) plays that element up perfectly with glitchy visuals and Nguyen dancing through the aisles of an empty grocery store. It feels angry, dark, powerful, emerging, busting out. The eyes of a dead fish twitch. There’s a powerful defiance in this video, premiered by NPR Music today.

(Might I thank whatever forces brought Nguyen and Merrill Garbus (the producer of the track/album) to collaborate? A match made in musical heaven.) 

Nguyen’s statement only reinforces the clearly expressed sentiment of this video:

“The heart of this song is in the reclamation of the body. I wrote it for survivors of sexual violence in particular, and those who resist the abuse of power in general … Director Jonny Look gave me the opportunity to present the song in all its facets: the darkness, the dark humor, the unfettered anger and the complexities of moving on from violation and how the memory of trespass rises to the fore and then recedes into the every day.
My ongoing hope for ‘Meticulous Bird’ is that a survivor of any kind would hear it and want to use it: to celebrate their sovereignty, to remind themselves of their power, to warn those who would exploit the vulnerabilities of others that such trespasses against the humanity of one or many will never go unanswered. My updated and amended hope for ‘Meticulous Bird’ is that it is just one contribution of an endless many in the efforts to resist and to notify whoever needs notifying: you have no idea how ferocious we can and will be.” ~ Thao Nguyen

There is an accompanying t-shirt, designed by Thao, available for just three days here. It says “Oh my Oh my God / You didn’t know we get ferocious” – the perfect protest shirt for the present climate. All proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood. Thao will be at The Chapel on March 15th. Tickets here.

Press photo.

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