Mad Love for JoJo in San Francisco

There was a moment in the middle of JoJo’s set, on Sunday night in San Francisco, where she held the mic out to the crowd, and it felt like every person in the room yelled the lyrics to “Baby It’s You” back at her. To someone new to Joanna Levesque’s story, they would never have known the song is over a decade old!

JoJo first came on the scene in 2014 as a thirteen-year-old singer with the breakout hit, “Leave (Get Out)”, which made her the youngest ever solo number one musician on the US Billboard charts. It spawned a platinum-selling self-titled album and an army of loyal and dedicated fans. Troubles at her then label Blackground, left the young singer in limbo, not able to release music officially. After years stuck in hiatus, she was able to sign a new contract with Atlantic and work on releasing her third album; her first in ten years.

As the lights went dark, chants of “JoJo. JoJo,” reverberated around the sold out concert venue. These cheers turned into a roar as she appeared on stage. The Foxborough, MA-raised musician matched this energy with a high-octane start. The bright synths of “Clovers” travelled over the crowd and the crowd responded with as much dancing as the tight space in the packed venue would allow.

 JoJo at Regency Ballroom-01

While much has changed for JoJo, she still appears to enjoy her older music. She wasted no time in performing “Leave (Get Out)”, the words finding new meaning from the lips of a twenty-six-year-old woman as opposed to the teenager who initially sang the song.

The set was a mixture of pop-R&B in all its forms; from a racy lap dance for an unexpecting fan, Michael, during “High Heels”, to her performance of “Like This”, which oozed sensuality. “FAB” felt grittier than the recorded version, the guitars swirling around JoJo’s vocals to add even more weight to one of the anthems from her latest album, 2016’s Mad Love.

It was the songs from the missing years between the release of The High Road and Mad Love which helped to draw the set together. Her version of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” helped — “I’ve been up for three days / Adderall and RedBull”, the opening line, was screamed by those who knew and drew smiles among those unfamiliar. “Save My Soul,” added to the setlist by popular demand, she confessed, was warm and inviting. JoJo may not have released an album in ten years; however, it never felt like she went away.


JoJo at Regency Ballroom-07

Mad Love was an opportunity for JoJo to come into her own as a songwriter, which allowed her to delve into more personal stories. The opening track on her album, “Music”, offered a sobering moment as she sung about her relationship with her family. The rendition started with her alone on stage with just a piano accompaniment. The song grew at the same pace as the emotions in the room. Looking around you could sense how this personal tale resonated with so many people.

As the night ended, and people left the venue with only a little voice left after all the singing, I found myself whistling her songs on the way home. JoJo’s performance was engaging and impassioned. And, after being held back for such a long time, it looks like her star is finally going to be allowed to shine brightly.

Photos: The Knocks Continue to Impress and Evolve at Sold Out Fillmore Show



Thursday night NYC-based producing duo The Knocks once again turned a San Francisco venue into an insane dance party. After selling out three nights at The Independent last year and packing the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands this time the two took on the historic Fillmore and got the whole floor moving.

Attendees were treated to new tracks from the just released Testify EP including an amazing new collaboration with MNEK called “WORSHIP.” Check out that new new below: 



Longtime fans were also treated to the disco-inspired jams like “Classic” with the help of Mark Johns and “Comfortable.” The Knocks have been on a steady climb in popularity since 2014 and a recent European tour with Justin Bieber has really given them a boast around the world. If the new tracks are any indication their second album might be a real mainstream breakthrough, only time will tell.

Ben “BRoc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson are currently taking a breather after the west coast leg of their Feel Good Feel Great Tour and hit the east coast in about two weeks. Check out pics below and more on the tour here. Read More

Song of the Day: Phoebe Ryan Wants Your “Dark Side”


LA-based Phoebe Ryan hasn’t been wasting any time so far in 2017, giving us another new single “Dark Side.” The new single combines Ryan’s impassioned, breathy lyrics with synth-infused beats that might be equally at home in a Tropical House set. Tying the song together are moments of calm featuring a simple guitar riff and her entrancing voice.

Ryan has recently been on tour with Swedish pop sensation Tove Lo, which has been the perfect pairing of of badass women. The two apparently met when Phoebe gave Tove a jello shot out of her pocket. Throughout the tour Ryan’s social media has focused on her goal of giving the audience an amazing show while being herself; touting how great it was to perform in her PJ’s when the airline lost her clothes recently. Given this, it’s not hard to understand why “Dark Side” is a song about loving someone for who they even if they aren’t perfect. Check it out:


Phoebe Ryan finishes up her tour with Tove Lo this month on the east coast. More info at her official site here. You can also check out some photos of Phoebe Ryan from her stop here in SF last year here.  


Nine Pound Shadow’s new EP is an antidote to troubling times


At the present moment, most of my closest friends are on a spectrum between dismay, despair, and depression. These are exactly the moments when we realize that music isn’t something that merely entertains us. It is something that heals us and reminds us why it’s worth fighting for existence. Berkeley natives (and brothers) Brendain and Christopher Langlois, known as Nine Pound Shadow, have just released an EP that is truly an antidote to these troubling times. They’ll be at the Independent on February 21st. 

My own introduction to this band was only a few weeks ago at a Sofar Sounds concerts. The brothers – and their keyboard – converted me and I’ve turned to the two already-released tracks of this eponymous EP – “Bridges” and “Melody” – over and over and over. I’m joyed to have three more tracks over which to obsess.

The EP is a collection of 5 songs released on producer Danger Mouse‘s recently launched (2015) 30th Century Records label. The songs are dreamy and retro, a quintessential California sound that the band is calling “60’s psych haze”. The jangly guitars and echoey drums give a spacious feel. The brothers’ tight harmonies bring to mind the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 60’s, and there’s an almost-blasé approach to phrasing and articulation reminiscent of Nico, the model-turned-sometimes-singer with Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground. It’s also easy to hear more contemporary connections – their label-mate Waterstrider for example, and Sugar Candy Mountain (formerly of the Bay Area). Read More

Jorja Smith, a new British star in the making?


While many were asleep, and some were tucking into burritos, a small army was packed inside Rickshaw Stop to welcome Jorja Smith on her San Francisco debut. Aaron Axelsen’s Popscene is known for bringing exceptional talent to the Bay Area, and nineteen-year-old Jorja Smith, who placed fourth on the BBC’s sound of 2017 list is no exception. Rickshaw Stop felt full to the brim, and for good reason.

After a bit of jostling and 2-stepping between people dancing, I find a tiny space just big enough to fit me at least until the show starts. The woman to my right grabs her bag a little closer, the one to my left dances around to the music, her bangs glistening each time a stage light or the glitter ball catches her hair. A guy to my front nervously tries to avoid the fact he’s one of the tallest people in the room, it was a cross-section of music lovers on display. Around 11 pm, the band went on stage under the veil of darkness, shortly followed by the woman of the moment.

The British singer-songwriter, originally from Walsall and now residing in London, has an unassuming presence on stage. As she sung her voice seemed to weave its way through the music, feeling complementary to the sounds around her, like the way ice melts into whiskey to sweeten and accentuate the flavors. The band filled the space which often exists in her recorded music to provide a fuller and more impassioned listen. Her fusion of subtle R&B with soul and songwriter undertones felt grander. Songs like “Where Did I Go” had an extra funk to them as she performed.

Read More

Premiere: Seth Lael’s San Francisco filled video for “On the Road”


San Francisco songwriter Seth Lael has created a beautiful folk song in “On the Road” – a thoughtful, nostalgic record-keeping of the journey to “get where you need to go.” The video – shot using handmade pinhole lenses – features original footage captured from Treasure Island to Pacifica. Whether riding the trolley, lurking at a protest at City Hall, row-boating on the Bay, or riding the PCH on a scooter, Lael comes across as something of a Bay Area cowboy (a troubadour/transient) with a rich lilt to his voice. 

You can tell this video was made by someone who loves San Francisco but also sees her scars. Director Jason Jossefer — a native of the city — created the special pinhole lens (pictured below) mounted on an RED Epic camera. Read More

Song of the Day: Sofi Tukker is Back with New Single “Johny”


Sofi Tukker was one of my favorite new acts in 2016 with their deceivingly simple beats and Brazilian folk influences. Sometimes you just want to throw caution to the wind and dance, and they are all about facilitating a good time live. It seems like I wasn’t alone in my admiration as the NYC act also got a nomination for Best Dance Recording from the 59th annual Grammys for their breakout single “Drinkee.”

2017 is looking to be even bigger for the duo as they are already slated to play some of the biggest festivals and are returning to San Francisco February 10th to headline a sold out show at The Independent. They are also doing a DJ set after their show with The Knocks and XXYYXX at 1015 Folsom and tickets are still available here.

“Johny” features an infectious guitar rift and Sophie Hawley-Weld’s sultry voice. Tucker Halpern keeps the beat going and I am sure he is all over their unique “Book Tree” in the live show.

Check out “Johny” below: 

Read More

Ticket Giveaway: Win a Pair of Tickets to The Knocks @ The Fillmore February 9th


The Knocks are hitting the ground running in 2017, kicking off a North American tour and releasing new EP, Testify, February 3rd. This is the first headlining tour for the NYC-based duo since finishing up a European tour supporting Justin Bieber, and it seems to have really given them a bump in audience. Their newest release “Trouble (feat. Absofacto)” racked up over 250K plays on Spotify alone in the first day. They also sold out The Fillmore which many artists both local and across the world will tell you is a huge badge of honor.

Check out new track “Trouble”

If you made the mistake of sleeping on The Knocks stop at the Fillmore January 9th, we are here to help you out with a pair of tickets. Just let us add you to our mailing list, and/or follow us on Twitter. Winner will be picked at random and announced Feb 7th.   
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The Knocks always bring the energy and this will be one of the best dance parties of 2017. Check out our previous coverage here and here for photos and reviews.

Conor Oberst shares new video “Uncanny” + announces new album


Perhaps the best emo-folk-rock musician (and particularly lyricist) of his time, Conor Oberst will be releasing his eighth studio album in March. Salutations is a full-band rendering of the songs from last year’s solo Ruminations plus a few additional songs. Apparently, the latter was originally intended as a demo to attract collaborators, but the collaborators were so moved by the solo renditions of the ten songs, that Oberst was inspired to release them in the stripped down format. 

Later in 2016, Oberst enlisted New York folk/rock band The Felice Brothers as his backing band, and put seventeen songs in the hands of the legendary Malibu studio Shangri-La. The list of guest contributions on the album – including Jim James, Blake Mills, Maria Taylor, M Ward, Gillian Welch, Gus Seyffert, Pearl Charles, Nathaniel Walcott, and Jonathan Wilson – has me itching to hear this album.

Oberst will hit The Fox in Oakland come May, and I’m sure we’ll have some news on that down the road. Meantime, here is the second release (after December’s “Tachycardia”) off the album, “Uncanny”, the video for which features Oberst played by multiple actors at various stages of life, and the ghost of Sylvia Plath among other delights. Any relation to actual autobiographical – past or future – events has not been verified. 

Pre-orders of the album – which you can do here – include immediate downloads of both “Uncanny” and “Tachycardia”. 

Press photo by Tony Bonacci

Noise Pop shows some major local love


The beloved local festival Noise Pop just made its 4th announcement of acts it will be hosting February 17-27th — including 50+ Bay Area bands.  Known for bringing both huge names in indie music and highlighting great local bands, this year – the festival’s 25th happening all across the city – is going to be one for the books. 

The full line up (so far) is here, but first … of the 50+ here are ten local bands we think you shouldn’t miss at this year’s festival:

Hazel EnglishTuesday 2/21 @ Rickshaw Stop — Dreamy does not begin to describe this indie band, whose releases this year built beautifully upon the gems of the past such as “Never Going Home” 

“Never Going Home” – Hazel English

Shannon & The ClamsMonday 2/27 @ the Fox — Never a dull moment with this staple local scene band, who sits somewhere between Wanda Jackson and a raucous early Rolling Stones

“Rip Van Winkle” – Shannon & the Clams

The Y AxesFriday 2/24 @ Great American Music Hall — Putting out a new album in 2016, The Y Axes established themselves as a futuristic pop band to be reckoned with.

“Meteorite” – The Y Axes

DONCATWednesday 2/22 @ Swedish American Music Hall — An ethereal singer-songwriter – in the vein of Mark Kozalek / Sun Kil Moon – gets full band treatment with a gorgeous result that leans both to late 60’s folk and contemporary indie rock

“Close Hand” – DONCAT

Cave CloveWednesday 2/22 @ Bottom of the Hill — We recently wrote about this band’s excellent new release which sees them honing their sound towards psychedelic folk with a touch of soul. 

“Bid for Power” – Cave Clove

Rogue WaveFriday 2/24 @ Rickshaw Stop — After several years dormant, this well-established band returned in 2016 with Delusions of Grand Fur  which Pop Matters said “manages to balance clear folk influences with gawking explorations of electronica”

“California Bride” – Rogue Wave

Before the BraveFriday 2/24 @ Bottom of the Hill — This band* is a fantastic voice in the folk rock scene and not to be missed, with well-developed songs and gorgeous harmonies

“Free” – Before the Brave

Madeline Kenney – Wednesday 2/22 @ Swedish American Music Hall — New to me, this songwriter has an incredible ability to weave vulnerability and musicality. Her dreamy pop EP Signals is well worth your listen

“Signals” – Madeline Kenney

Two ShedsSunday 2/26 @ Bottom of the Hill — Another that isn’t actually from the Bay (they apparently moved to LA in 2012) – but they formed here so we’ll give them a pass. Two Sheds hasn’t put any new music out in a couple years but front woman Caitlin’s voice is undeniably beautiful and emotive – her songs like poems that emanate from a sunny California afternoon that carries its own kind of melancholy

“Come Home” – Two Sheds

Hot Flash Heat WaveThursday 2/23 @ Bottom of the Hill — No festival in the Bay Area would be complete without some surf rock and few do it better round here than Hot Flash Heat Wave

“Gutter Girl” – Hot Flash Heat Wave


*An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Before the Brave was from Sacramento. The band hails from multiple parts of the Bay Area, and is solidly a Bay Area band. 

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