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Photos: Treasure Island Music Festival Day One Featuring Run The Jewels, Big Grams, Deadmaus, FKA Twigs, STS9 and Many More

10/21/2015

For those of you who missed it, another year of the Treasure Island Music Festival started with a bang on Saturday. First off – this festival is probably my favorite place to see music. The lineups are usually pretty stellar (while they’re not 100% my cup of tea, I can certainly appreciate the high-level talent this festival is bringing), and the setting is flawless. Seeing The City from Treasure Island as the sun sets gives you an amazing feeling; wind in your hair, SF looking all 1989-Gotham City-esque, music rising over your head… it just doesn’t get much better than that.

As always, the staples were there; silent disco (I NEVER miss a silent disco, brah), great food, gross Heineken, art installations and bubbles. Oh yeah, and a bunch of awesome music. This year they also added a comedy tent near the entrance of the festival but none of the acts could entice me or my friends from the music.

The big names came to play on Saturday, so we decide to focus on our favorite moments, but make sure to check out the gallery for more stellar acts.

Run The Jewels

Coming out to Queen’s “We are The Champions,” Run the Jewels wasted absolutely no time getting right into the grittiness that we all love them for. I believe Killer Mike’s first words out were, “We’re gonna burn this stage to the mothafuckin’ ground.” And that they did as they jumped right into “Blockbuster Night Part 1.” One great thing about this group is not only their unique, grimy beats, but it translates incredibly well to the stage. With songs like “Sea Legs” and “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)”, the energy was high – and almost everyone in the crowd seemed to know just about every lyric to every song. I remember learning about Killer Mike when I lived back in Atlanta, and it’s amazing to see him come this far and making this kind of music – in your face, yet poetic, with tons of gusto.

If we had to file a complaint, it’s that we didn’t get a taste of any of the tracks off their new remix album Meow The Jewels. Read More

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TICKET GIVEAWAY to Haunted Concert at Rickshaw Stop w/ Abbot Kinney, Travis Hayes and Vanwave 10/28

10/20/2015

The local music scene has had a bolster in the past year and a half from a group called Balanced Breakfast, which has brought people out of their solitary struggle for superstardom into an organized mass of collective talent and community. The success of this music industry meet-up, started right here in SF by Stefan Aronsen (also known as SF Intercom) and Andy Freeman, has been so strong that Balanced Breakfast meet-ups now happen in 10 other cities across the country. In addition to the 8am meetings, the founding SF chapter also hosts shows, including this one next Wednesday October 28th at the Rickshaw Stop, which will feature rockers Abbot Kinney, Travis Hayes and the Young Daze, and Vanwave, as well as a DJ set by Aronsen.

The all-ages show will be creating what they’re calling “an immersive Halloween experience” … check out the teaser video above & be as curious as I am … as well as some great music from local bands. Alt-rock Abbot Kinney will be releasing “Can We Become,” the first track off their upcoming EP The Night, a track currently being featured on KFOG’s Local Scene collection (and streaming below.)  The band moved north from LA (where they sold out the Troubadour) a few years ago and has a polished but still gritty sound that evokes early Radiohead, with lead singer Jared Swanson’s vocals sounding Jeff Buckley smooth.

We’re giving away two tickets for you to get your Halloween on … but don’t worry, if you don’t win them here, you can still get $5 off at the door by showing up in costume. Show’s at the Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street, and starts at 8:00p. You can also get advanced tickets at $5 off the door price hereRead More

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PREMIERE: Folk duo Wolf + Crow release haunting first track off “Folklore”

10/20/2015

We are excited to premiere the track “Nothing” from Bay Area neo-folk duo* Wolf + Crow‘s new album Folklore, due out next Friday October 23rd. This track epitomizes the masterful songwriting, musical chops, and poetry that makes the entire album an instant classic for fans of old folk, new folk, blues, soul, spirituals, and/or just damn fine musicianship.

“Nothing” – Wolf + Crow

For those of us** who know the stunning, breathlessly beautiful folk songs of Wolf + Crow, the wait for Folklore has been almost unbearably long. After running a successful Kickstarter in 2012, the band took to a hundred year old brick building in downtown SF with Hyde Street Studio’s Scott McDowell and producer Brandon Keeley. Tracking was complete within a year, and then, as it does, life interrupted. Read More

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Ariel Pink & Black Lips Night 2, and the Return of Bimbos 365 Club

10/17/2015

Gypsy punks Black Lips exploded into SF’s hidden gem Bimbos 365 Club creating an unlikely contrast of a spit in your face punk band in a club that would be suited for the rat pack.

Garage punk to their core and looser than geese, the band who are known for their high-energy, unpredictable, anything-goes shows, seemed a bit tame for a group with such a reputation. That was until the crowd filled in and the band played the sought after song “Katrina.” Finally it was the Black Lips again giving the show everyone expects; crowd surfers, shirt losers and guitarist Cole Alexander catching his own spit from the air. Being true to their lyrics the band ended with “Bad Kids” and earned the sea of beer that was chucked at them from the crowd.

San Francisco, CA - October 14, 2015 The Black Lips perform live at Bimbo's 365 Club opening for Ariel Pink. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Thus began the weirdest intermission and largest exodus of the entire crowd of potential smokers, or mere fresh air seekers, exiting out front. Leaving just four souls holding fort in front of the stage. Read More

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Photos: JR JR Debuts New Name, New Album and Homage to Full House

10/13/2015

Friday night fans at The Great American Music Hall were treated to a truly special night of music from JR JR. The band, fronted by Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott, has been busy since they last stopped in town and had a lot to share with the packed room.

Since last performing in SF the band decided to shorten their name, from Dale Earnhardt JR JR to just JR JR. The move coincided with their third album, the self titled JR JR which featured heavily in their setlist. You can read more about the new music here.

Songs like “Gone” and “In The Middle” from the new album really shined live. While there were a couple they didn’t seem totally comfortable playing overall the new music fit right in with fan favorites. Throw in favorites like “If You Didn’t See Me [Then You Weren’t On the Dance Floor]” and their cover of “We Almost Lost Detroit” and you had a set tailor-made to move the crowd. Read More

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IT’S BRUTAL. IT’S HEAVY. IT’S GOOD. Caspian and Circle Takes the Square | Post Punks finest

10/12/2015

Music tends to be a reflection of where a musician lives or where they have been. After Circle Takes The Square at the Rickshaw Stop this past Wednesday night, I get the impression Savannah, Georgia must be the most brutal, passionate and beautiful place on the planet. The three piece, consisting of Drew Speziale (vocals/guitar), Kathleen Stubelek (vocals/bass) and Caleb Collins (vocals/drums) brought an energy from another dimension. They are craft masters, with each song composed dense with flawless musicianship and with every member of the audience attached to each shriek, growl and scream the band spilled from their hearts. With no words decipherable their howls become another instrumentation. Wikipedia names them as the reinvention of Screamo. Unsigned by choice, Circle Takes The Square describes them selves as  “a punk band with reverence for the mystery”, accurate yet so much more and certainly not a mainstreamers cup of tea. By the time the band played their final note I was convinced Caspian didn’t have a chance.

I was wrong.
Battles Win!

BATTLES WIN!

10/12/2015

Packed to the rafters, with barely any room to shake, the Lower East Side experimental art rock group, Battles, hypnotized the earnest crowd. The band staggered on to the stage, first with Dave Konopa setting up 5 guitar loops, next founding member Ian Williams setting up even more loops on guitar and keyboard with fiery spasms, and finally clearly every one’s favorite member and the worlds most passionate drummer John Stanier completing the trio.

At times Battles’ set seemed to be completely falling apart until it was made clear it was part of the plan all along, as the band would burst into songs such as “Ice Cream and Futura” reminding the crowd how powerful their instrumental tracks are. Battles’ work ethic on stage is unmatched, with every member busier than the last and completely focused on staying in perfect time with the latest loop. At one point drummer John Stanier stood up to give a wave to the crowd and subsequently show off his appearance of having jumped into a pool fully clothed. Read More

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Photos: London’s Rudimental at The Regency Ballroom

10/12/2015

I remember many (many) years ago I was at Notting Hill Carnival. I was there with my mum and my two sisters. At one point we were lost somewhere down Ladbroke Grove between the floats, the people dancing and smell of food. I was standing there, overwhelmed by the costumes and the colors when my eldest sister tugged my arm to get my attention. We turned and in the distance M-Beat were performing live drum ‘n’ bass. My sister, six years my senior, wondered off to go and experience the sounds up-close, me being very young had to stay back with my mum watching the floats go by as she went to rave in the mid-afternoon sunshine.

Rudimental, hailing from East London, reminded me of that moment last night as their high tempo show had The Regency Ballroom bouncing from wall to wall.

Friday night, San Francisco, was the last stop on Rudimental’s current US Tour supporting the release of, We The Generation, their sophomore album. Number one in the UK, We The Generation feels like a collection of anthems about the realities of life, young love and youthful uncertainty. Read More

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Interview: Oakland’s Lila Rose on darkness, collaboration and waking up

10/12/2015

Alternately invoking “Goth-R&B,” electronic singer-songwriter types like Bjork, and an edgy dark rock, the music Lila Rose makes on her most recent album WE.ANIMALS. will stop you in your tracks.

Rose relocated to Oakland from Toronto only a few years ago and has found lots of success here in the Bay Area, being named the 2014 East Bay Express Artist of the Year after the release of her album Heart Machines. She’s got a new album now and released a video for her song “This Could Be Ha” last week. It it is dark, intense and wrought with the kind of struggle humans must face both individually and collectively. We caught up with her about the video, the process of making WE.ANIMALS, the importance of empathy, and connecting music to universal imperatives.

“This Could Be Ha” – Lila Rose

SFCRITIC: Seems like coming to California (from Toronto) was a big move for you. What inspired the move, and did you come first to the Bay Area or have you moved around in-state? Read More

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The Mynabirds: stupendously good at the Swedish American Music Hall

10/09/2015

David Byrne gave a TED talk five years ago exploring the relationship between the changing architecture of venues and the evolution of music — watch it; he’s brilliant — and asking the question, “Does the venue make the music?” Byrne’s answer is an unequivocal yes. Last night at the Swedish American Music Hall, indie-pop band The Mynabirds (Saddle Creek), touring their new album Lover’s Know, could have been a case study for this inquiry; the two distinct styles of songs played fared so differently in the Hall’s grand ballroom. All of them were good, but the ones that fit the venue were stupendously good, and I finally understood the use of the word “bird” in their name, as singer Laura Burhenn’s vocals spread albatross-wide and lifted me a’flight.

The grand ballroom, built in 1907 as a meeting place for the Swedish Society of San Francisco, features dark oak wainscoting 7′ high on every wall, intricate woodwork on its balcony, and is flanked by imposing thrones of a similarly dark oak. The stage is small. The walls are bare. There isn’t much to break up sound, which creates a problem not so much for fast songs, as for fast changing songs, songs with lots of lyrics, or quick turn arounds. Of the Mynabirds 14 songs, about half fit this category. They were good songs, mixing in with their pop sound some classic rock, and bringing to mind Grace Slick, early Rolling Stones, Three Dog Night, and Pink Floyd. There were politics, an ode to California, and there was a little bit of Motown on my favorite of these tunes, “Numbers Don’t Lie.” But, these songs needed a bigger stage and less alive acoustics to let their superpowers out. Read More

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