VIDEO PREMIERE: Van Goat’s surf punk hits the goat farm with “So”


We’re excited to premiere the newest video from Oakland band Van Goat (formerly Bear Lincoln) for their song “So” – a piece of veritable performance art that will have you rubbing your eyes. It’s a unique idea that is beautifully executed as each performer appears to sit on top of (think Photoshop layers) and move between four changing locations: a studio / warehouse, a church, an alley, and a goat farm, complete with interfering goats trying to eat gear and a goat-cheese coincidentally bearing the same name as the band.

Beyond the video lies a truly good song with a strong melody and infectious hook. The band’s surf punk sound finds apt expression in this track, into which we are welcomed by an eerie organ solo from keyboardist Ben Einstein. While they say it’s not a huge divergence from their existing catalogue, the band credits the surf and garage rock sounds emanating from their peers in the East Bay as well as working with other songwriters to craft the song into its best version with the “heavier and more concise” tone of this release and its companions. Read More

Mild High Club Brings Psychedelic Fever Dream to The Chapel for Record Release Show Friday 8/26


The first time you hear Mild High Club you’ll get a sense of both familiarity and discovery. There’s something both uncomfortable and undeniably attractive about pairing 70s lounge-jazz progressions with time-expanding distortion and psychedelic elements. Mild High Club creates the perfect soundscape to escape reality and explore your mind.

Founded and led by Alexander Brettin, the LA-based act is headlining The Chapel Friday night as a release party for its second album Skiptracing. Brettin’s history comically parallels Anchor Man’s Ron Burgundy; a jazz flutist who finds his style and place in southern California. Of course this is an over simplification, but Brettin’s mastery of jazz technique is evident throughout his catalogue of work.

I’ve been listening to Skiptracing for the past few weeks and it showcases both the maturation and prolific potential of Mild High Club. The debut album Timeline was released in 2015 after three years of tinkering, just a year later we already have the follow up. One of the standout tracks from Skiptracing is the second single “Homage” which itself plays homage to the harpsichord, simultaneously the most whimsical and demonic sounding instrument. A steady drum beat and vocal harmonies are a call back to the classic jams of acts like ELO. Check it out for yourself:

Skiptracing is available Friday August 26th from Stones Throw Records. Come check out Brettin and the rest of Mild High Club Friday night at The Chapel. Al Lover and Once and Future Band are opening all for the low, low price of $12. Grab your ticket here.

Photo Credit: Sam Shea

Song of the Day – Nilüfer Yanya “Small Crimes”


Nilüfer Yanya’s “Small Crimes”, released today, is is an affecting, haunting song that has wormed its way under my skin since I first heard it last week.

You can’t always articulate WHY a song gets under your skin, but being an effusive writer, I’ll try: Is it Yanya’s opening riff, a lonely and barely-effected electric guitar hook? Is it the dichotomy – a favorite of mine – between the youthful voice (“I’m not rlly a singer” says her Twitter account, but rlly, yes she definitely is) and the old soul exposed in the lyrics?

“And if I gave it up would I still be a thug? / You don’t choose to play the bad guy / It’s in your bloodline / And I left my heart at the scrap metal yard / You don’t get to be human when you’re a hooligan”

Is it the minimalist arrangement, a relief in this age of overproduction? Or maybe that final swelling bridge just before the closing verse, that gives you an adrenaline rush – just a small one? Am I just a junkie for that bridge?

” Yeah the paper’s nice / but it’s the rush I like / You don’t care about the money / When you’re an adrenaline junkie”

Whatever the reason, the effect is undeniable: this song is definitely a strange loop. It’s also the London-based artist’s first single – an exciting debut.  Let us know what you think and follow her here.

Press photo by Hollie Fernando

Don’t Miss the 20th Street Block Party – This Saturday


Four years running, the 20th Street Block Party is a neighborhood mini music festival that you do not want to miss. Both local and global bands bring music and local eateries bring the culinary delights while attendees roam and dance free of charge. It’s small enough to experience everything, but big enough to pull great acts and pack the streets with energy. I’m most excited for the upbeat electro-pop of Miami Horror, Hazel English’s dreamy pop soundscapes and the ever-danceable La Gente.

The street fest is put on by Noise Pop, who have taken a much larger role in the San Francisco music scene in the last few years – they also co-produce the Treasure Island Music Festival, curate shows as the talent-buyer at the Swedish American Music Hall, and of course continue their almost 25 year old namesake festival.

Sounds like they’ll be partnering with Mutiny Radio this year (which is nestled right in the nook of the festival) in bringing more music, comedy and an “anything goes” open mic. There’s also a “Headliner Experience” where you get VIP treatment including food, drink and special seating areas for a price. Oh! And an “Instrument Petting Zoo” which is likely exactly what it sounds like, sponsored by the nonprofit Community Music Center.

You don’t need tickets, but if you want to know more and see the full line up check out their website. Otherwise get yourself out of bed before 4p on Saturday (it happens from 12-6p) and get over to the 20th and Bryant. See you there!



Photo by Paige K. Parsons

Old enough for fairytales – Kat Robichaud’s Kickstarter


Several weeks ago we gushed in advance about Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret, how it was helping keep the spirit of strange alive and thriving in SF. Tucked into the Great Star Theatre at the mingling of Chinatown and North Beach, where neon lights invite you through the misting fog to lean into mystery, the Cabaret delivered above and beyond expectations.

The nautically themed show began with Robichaud – a top ten finalist on season 5 of The Voice – costumed as half a person in the process of being swallowed by a shark as she and her Darling Misfits (including notably the excellent pianist and entertainer Brendan Getzell who also hosts The Hotel Utah’s open mic) swept through a pop music medley sampling well over a dozen songs. Beginning with the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”, and meandering beautifully, the medley ended with David Bowie‘s “Life on Mars” … “Sailors fighting in the dance hall / Oh man! / Look at those cavemen go / It’s the freakiest show.” Then Robichaud ripped off the shark to reveal an emerald mermaid in shimmering sequins. The next popcorn-and-champagne-infused three hours were a delight of drag, burlesque, adult puppetry and original music.

With five cabaret weekends under her belt since September of 2015, Robichaud, who writes two original songs for each show, now has an album’s worth of original songs. She’s running a Kickstarter campaign to record ten of them. We caught up with her to find out more about how the show came together and how she came to steer this ship.

SFCRITIC: Where did the idea for the Misfit Cabaret come from?
Read More

Vic Mensa, Roc Nation’s Prodigy, Rocks the Bay


The Social Hall in SF is a small and quaint joint but on Friday night there was nothing quaint about it. Joey Purp and headliner, Vic Mensa, shook the building in front of highly energetic and enthusiastic fans.

Mensa’s tour mate, Joey Purp, a Chicago native himself, opened the night and set the stage for what was about to come. Purp revealed that it was his first time in San Francisco that night, which was surprising considering many fans were already singing back his songs. He definitely left an impact on the fans that night as he performed songs off of his mixtape iiiDrops. His performance got the crowd in the right mood for the fast paced performance of Mensa that was foreshadowed.

As soon as Mensa hit the stage the crowd was hungry ready for Mensa to feed them whatever he had. He started off with “16 Shots” off his EP There’s Alot Going On, the main emphasis of the night. The song focuses around the epidemic of police brutality in America. The lyrics give you a vivid description of what it’s like to grow up in the streets of Chicago as a young black male dealing with the issue of police harassment. The heavy bass line made for a great opening song and had the entire crowd singing and jumping. Read More

5 Amazing Veggie Eats at Outside Lands 2016


This weekend marked another successful Outside Lands complete with its veritable buffet of entertainment, food, and drink options. With so many great vegetarian foods to choose from, this year I challenged myself to find selections I could “ veganize” too. The task turned out to be less of an undertaking than I assumed, which should come as no surprise given San Francisco’s reputation as one of the most veggie-friendly foodie cities around. The real question was whether my finds would be as indulgent and satisfying as any of the other fried, cheesy, or sugary vegetarian goodies that Outside Lands’ food vendors offer—especially after throwing back a few beers. Here aremy top 5 veggie-friendly (and sometimes vegan) eats that didn’t disappoint:

1. The Chairman – Baked or steamed tofu bao


The food highlight of my weekend came packaged in these delicious tofu-filled buns, which come baked or steam. Naturally I tried both. The Chairman food truck isn’t new to the Outside Lands scene and I’ve spotted it at other events around the Bay Area, but I’ve always been deterred by the long lines. In a moment of festival clarity, I finally decided to make it my first food stop on Sunday and was blown away by how flavorful these buns were. The miso cured tofu came with a crispy coating and was complemented by a tofu mayo and baby choy-sum. The smaller, steamed tofu bao is a great handheld snack and perfect if you are craving a pillowy, slightly sweet bun. The bigger, baked tofu bao offers a crispier texture thanks to its toasted buns and holds up as a meal on its own. Next time I won’t be hesitating to get in line.

2. The Little Chihuahua Fried Plantain and Black Bean Burrito

I have to confess that I’ve tried this burrito once before when I lived closer to The Little Chihuahua’s location in the Lower Haight and I wasn’t its biggest fan. This time I opted for the vegan version and was pleasantly surprised by how much more I enjoyed it in comparison to its vegetarian brother. In addition to the fried plantains and black beans, this vegan burrito came with roasted red bell peppers, Mexican rice, smoky chile salsa, pico de gallo, and fresh onion and cilantro. This was the ideal food to fortify me before settling in for a long stint at the Twin Peaks stage. It was filling without feeling too heavy and I think I’ll be sticking with the vegan option in the future.

3. Itani Ramen


New to Outside Lands this year was Oakland-based Itani Ramen. I’m not usually one to pick soups or liquids other than beer or wine at music festivals, but Saturday’s weather was so cold I had to warm up. A hot cup of house made ramen noodles in a not-too-salty miso veggie broth did the trick. Itani Ramen’s vegetarian option also included yu choi spinach, corn, green onion, nori, bean sprouts, and fennel oil. My only regret is that I neglected to grab a spoon so my limited chopstick skills made it more challenging to enjoy the ramen’s toppings in a graceful way. However, quickly gulping down the broth proved to be a useful strategy in consuming my ramen while it was still hot. Never underestimate the chilly temperature that Karl the Fog brings with him to the festival!

4. Monk’s Kettle Veggie Sausage


Positioned just outside of Beer Lands, I was delighted to find that Monk’s Kettle offered a veggie sausage to go along with my craft IPA. Sausage and beer is a match made in heaven, even in the vegetarian and vegan worlds. The potato-based veggie sausage from Monk’s Kettle is a delicious vegan option on its own, but the non-vegan, soft torpedo roll it comes in is pretty tough to resist. In the end I ate the combo as is with heaps of tangy sauerkraut and grainy, spicy mustard—a glob of ketchup was my festival companion’s bewildering addition—but you can always forego the roll and save your carb points for another craft beer.

5. Azalina’s Malaysian Peanut Sauce Tofu Braised Nachos


It’s not quite a festival without some form of nachos so when I discovered Azalina’s offered a vegan option I was curious to see how they’d stand up to the cheesy variety. The Malaysian tofu nachos offered an unexpectedly satisfying and interesting twist that didn’t leave me wanting for cheese. The star of these nachos was of course the tofu, braised in Azalina’s classic peanut sauce, but the pickled vegetables were an excellent crunchy addition. Other great finds from this year’s food search included the smoked pulled jackfruit sandwich and coleslaw from Southpaw BBQ & Southern Cooking, the vegetarian kamikaze fries from Koja Kitchen, and the vegan empanada from Sabores del Sur. Cheers to another year of delicious veggie-friendly eats!

The Star-Crossed Sounds of HÆLOS


“It’s past everyone’s bedtime, yeah?” Arthur Delaney’s question was probably only a half joke, as it wasn’t until 11:30 that HÆLOS took the stage at Rickshaw Stop on the eve of their Outside Lands appearance. There was a smattering of hoots and cheers when Arthur’s vocal counterpoint Lotti Bernardout asked if anyone had been at the festival earlier in the day. You have to admire the endurance of those individuals who after a full day of braving the elements in Golden Gate Park found the motivation to head to a late set. That said, the late hour, the fog machine atmosphere, and the moody yet danceable vibes provided the perfect backdrop for a comedown after the days festivities.

HÆLOS have that comedown in their DNA. Their music calls to mind a host of stylistic predecessors and contemporaries (Portishead, Massive Attack, and the xx to name a few), yet their individual identity cuts through, and protects them from being labeled as derivative. The genre they have dubbed “Dark Euphoria” simultaneously produces an agonizing tenderness and irresistible rhythm. The interwoven somber moods and euphoric beats result in a cinematic quality. Images of unrequited love, or an embrace between star-crossed lovers destined for tragedy permeate the air around HÆLOS.

HÆLOS live performance was introduced by same spoken word sample that appears on the bands full-length debut Full Circle. The sample features audio of philosopher Alan Watts speaking about the “Spectrum of love” in which he states, “We know that from time to time there arise among human beings people who seem to exude love as naturally as the sun gives out heat. We would like to be like that…” The quote serves as a type of aesthetic manifesto for Dark Euphoria, as it states intent while pointing to a perceived deficiency. With the scene set by this introduction the band eased into a showcase of tracks from their first major release.

To reproduce the mood and layered quality found on Full Circle the core trio of HÆLOS (Delaney, Bernardout and Dom Goldsmith) brought two drummers and a guitarist on the road. The set was polished, and the band’s ability to replicate the rich textures and harmonies from the record was uncanny. The additional decibel levels provided at the concert downplayed the subdued nature of the tracks and emphasized the club rhythms which reside at their core. This effect was most apparent in the set’s closing one-two punch of “Earth Not Above” and “Oracle” which had the crowd ready for more.

Read More

5 Things to Know About Cocktail Magic, Outside Land’s Newest Way to Catch a Buzz


Every year Ranger Dave and the Outside Lands folk add something unique to the festival. In the past, for example, we have seen the addition of mainstays like Choco Lands and the GastroMagic Stage. This year we get the gift of classy booze in the form of Cocktail Magic, an imaginative way to showcase some of the best cocktails in the Bay.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 11.08.49 AMCocktail Magic will be located opposite of Choco Lands on the north side of the festival in the trees.

There is so much happening at every moment during Outside Lands, so why should you make time for Cocktail Magic? We put together five points to help you make your decision:

  1. There will be actual magic at Cocktail Magic. While the emphasis is obviously on the cocktails, visitors will also be treated to some sleight of hand and boozy illusions. I’m not sure exactly what to expect, but we know that magician/illusionists Jon Armstrong, Simon Coronel and Karl Koppertop will have some tricks up their sleeves.
  2. Some of the Bay Area’s best cocktail bars will be on hand showing off their creations. The participants are 15 ROMOLO, ELIXIR, FORGERY, PRIZEFIGHTER and TRICK DOG, with each serving two of their favorite cocktails. With temperatures only expected to reach the 60s, lets hope a couple of the bars choose to make some delicious hot toddys.
  3. These are the best drinks money can’t buy. For some reason you can’t pay for drinks at Cocktail Land unless you register your wristband and put “bison bucks” on your wrist. So if you haven’t put any money on your wristband, this might be a great time to do so. While this is a bit of a pain, at least you won’t have to worry about losing your cash. More info here.
  4. Apparently the bars and stage setup were designed by David Korins Design, who also designed the set for the musical Hamilton. I am going to go ahead and confirm an exclusive performance of Hamilton at the Cocktail Magic stage this year.
  5. The centerpiece of Cocktail Magic is the mysterious “Cocktail King.” This nine foot tall art installation comes equipped with glowing neon and a cocktail shaker. I predict this edifice will have his own creepy cult following by Sunday.

Check out Cocktail Magic this weekend and let us know what you think.

Newer Posts
Older Posts