OSL Night Show: Don’t Miss Vic Mensa @ SF Social Hall August 5th


Whether you’re a hip-hop head or you just dabble in the genre, you’re not going to want to miss Vic Mensa at Social Hall on Friday night. This is a late show, so even if you’re spending the day at Outside Lands Music Festival, head on over afterward for a night cap.

Being from the Bay Area, I was not too familiar with Chicago native Vic Mensa. It wasn’t until he was featured in Kanye West’s song “Wolves” that dropped in February of this year that he fully caught my attention. His voice, above all else, is what really tied the song together. It’s as if Mensa embodied the soul of the song and became the ‘wolf.’

After hearing “Wolves,” I scoured the Internet for more Mensa and found his 2013 mixtape, INNANETAPE. The mixtape just reassured what I already knew about his talents as well as showcased his depth as an artist. Mensa can not only sing and freestyle bars straight off the top, but he is also a brilliant, gifted writer.

Mensa can carry an entire song just with his voice. This is evident by his song “Down on My Luck,” where not once in the entirety of the song does Mensa switch up the vocals and go into rapping. His freestyles are unreal with the passion he puts into them. He spits with raw emotion, his body in constant motion and appears to be caught in an array of imagery in his own mind.

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The National Showcase Fresh Music at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre


The National’s unreleased seventh studio album is getting closer to release, as evidenced by their July 29th set at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. The band performed six new songs, while also focusing on material from albums High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me, with a few songs from Boxer, and Alligator. The titles of the new material are temporary, as the band remarked that frontman Matt Berninger changes them every day.

The atmosphere of the night was very relaxed. The sold-out crowd consisted of families, college students, and couples young and old. Berninger kept things light with jokes in between songs, poking fun at their inability to settle on song titles. All in attendance enjoyed a mellow evening together and got a preview of what’s coming next for The National.

Most of the new songs were slower songs with ethereal guitars that backed Berninger’s signature baritone vocals. The way Berninger blends talking with singing, the steady and simplistic drumbeat, the breathing guitars were all there in the new tracks. The National didn’t make any drastic leaps in musical progression. It seems they are sticking with what works for them. Slow, passionate songs about love, heartbreak, anxiety, and self-doubt performed in a very accessible way. Fans will find these new tracks to be fresh but familiar, and these familiarities are what draw so many people to the band.

Setlist: Read More

Noise Pop and Pop-Up Magazine Team Up for The Golden State Record 9/30 at Berkeley Greek Theatre


Pop-Up Magazine has consistently put on some of my favorite evenings over the past few years. They blend speakers, video, music and other mediums into one-off events that can only be experienced live. I was excited to see that Pop-Up is going big in a whole new partnership with Noise Pop to put on a show at the beautiful Berkeley Greek Theatre.

Like all Pop-Up events, you never know exactly what you will see before it happens live. In the past, I’ve seen Beck perform music from his book of sheet music and original works created by Thao Nguyen just for Pop-Up. The press release for the event gives us some hints on what to expect:
“Like past Pop-Up Magazine shows, the evening will feature stunning photography, film, radio, animation, and an original musical score, all mixed together and performed live onstage by a big cast of fascinating people. “The Golden State Record,” inspired in part by The Golden Record, which was launched into deep space by NASA and Carl Sagan in 1977, will celebrate and explore ideas and culture of California and the West today through sound and music. The show won’t be recorded; nothing will go online.”

Tickets are on sale now, and this event will sell out. I suggest you jump on it.

Tickets: goldenstaterecord.com

Woodsist Festival Relocates to Point Reyes Due to Soberanes Fire Near Big Sur


The 7th annual Woodsist Festival, set to be held in the Loma Vista Gardens in Big Sur, has announced it will be relocating the festival due to the raging wildfires in Big Sur that began last Friday. Over 300 people have been evacuated from the area so far, and the blaze has left 20 houses and two buildings destroyed in its wake.

The two-day, camping festival includes acts like Woods, Gun Outfit, Alex Bleeker (of Real Estate), and more. Here is a statement that Woodsist and (((folkYEAH!))) recently released:

“Due to the recent wild Soberanes Fire in Big Sur we are moving this year’s WOODSIST FEST to Point Reyes, CA. The State Parks in Big Sur are closing as of today. Sadly, it will simply be unsafe for us to host the fest in Big Sur this year. Much thought went into this decision but ultimately it is the right thing to do as we send our collective prayers to the community of Big Sur at this very difficult time.

The new Fest site at Love Field in Point Reyes will be wonderful and ALL attendees are now able to camp on site as part of their ticket purchase. We are so excited to save the fest and present it to you in this new location. It is a very special spot. Our hearts and prayers remain with the community of Big Sur during this very scary time. We are working on setting up a relief fund at the new Point Reyes site for Big Sur donations.”

Additional donations can be made by phone to (831) 375-9715 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by mailing a check to the foundation at 2354 Garden Road, Monterey, CA 93940, Attention: Soberanes Fire Fund or online here.

Preview: Outside Lands Food and Summer Pairings


Much like San Francisco’s food scene, there are always too many delectable food and drinks options at Outside Lands. (Why must we choose!) Salivating, wide-eyed and hungry, we read through this year’s lineup and needless to say, we were forced to call Sprig to address our growing appetite. From scrumptious BBQ meat and beer pairings to a four-course “Forest Feast” meal, there’s plenty of reasons to come to Outside Lands with an appetite and indulge ’til you bulge. For a tease and instant hunger craving, check out the full Outside Lands Food list.

For those that can’t wait until the festival — because, damn it, you’ve got to eat — Outside Lands Summer Pairing , a series of pop-up food events that preview the festival’s music with delightful food pairings, are under way across the Bay Area. Here are a few of our favorites that you should consider: Read More

Outside Lands Announces Daily Schedules, Induces FOMO Panic Attacks Across the Bay


It’s always bittersweet when Outside Lands finally releases the daily schedule. On one hand, you finally get to start planning your perfect festival experience. On the other, you have to take a good hard look at your life and make some tough choices.

I started checking the schedule this morning and Friday alone is giving me enough “FOMO” to last a lifetime. Discussing with a friend we both agreed that with all the talent on Friday and Saturday, we are all in for some very tough choices.

For example, here are some choices on Friday:

  • Ra Ra Riot or Wet?
  • St Lucia or Poliça or Foals?  (This is a serious WTF for me)
  • Miike Snow or Tokimonsta or Thomas Jack?
  • Duran Duran or Grimes!?!
  • LCD Sound System or Beach House or Hiatus Kaiyote?

Bittersweet. At least you can take some solace in the fact that you were probably going to lose your friends in the first 30 minutes inside the festival and miss half the acts you wanted to see anyway. You are going to have a great time so don’t sweat it too much.

Check out the full schedule here at your own risk.


Peter Gabriel + Sting bring the Hit Parade to SAP Center in San Jose


When 15 or 16,000 middle aged (and up) folks form blocks-long lines on a Thursday night, you know there must be some Serious Nostalgia in play. I couldn’t help but think this, watching the line as I sat on a half wall eating a massive burrito*, the sun slowly dying in San Jose. What got these folks out? My mind swirled to think of how many conjured ghosts of lost lovers and youth would be dancing over our heads when Peter Gabriel and Sting stepped onto the stage together.

“Respect your elders! (That should be the name of this tour.)” said a younger man hawking t-shirts along the line. The woman behind me whispered to her companions, “I feel like I’ve just been demographically profiled.” (She had.)

Inside the stage was set for a massive show. Two drum kits – fit for Neil Pert – along with a third percussion station with djembes and congas and the like create an imposing upper tier. Three keyboards. Nine or ten microphones. All backed by more than a dozen columns suspended in air and displaying projections of light and images. The arena buzzed in anticipation. The two legends, we knew, would be swapping songs for the next few hours in a totally intermingled mega set. Read More

Phono del Chill


Saturday was the 6th annual Phono del Sol Festival, the fun and easy going festival, which still feels like a little bit of a secret, run by The Bay Bridged. It’s small, it’s relaxed and it turns a small park in Potrero Hill into a place to discover bands new and local. With a bowl of fried chicken courtesy of Kokio Republic I wandered down just as The She’s were firing up a set of dreamy indie-pop.

Like Treasure Island, the sets at Phono del Sol do not overlap, so you can catch each of the carefully selected bands, with this year’s line-up featuring offering a slightly bigger and more diverse selection than previous; indie, pop and a dash of hip-hop and funk were all included in the mix.

As The She’s closed out their set, The Seshen started off and they were a revelation to my ears. I was not familiar with them before Saturday, however I left a fan. R&B-Funk with a twinge of space-aged undertones made for a unique and enticing sound. Lalin St. Juste was captivating on lead vocals and the large band filled all the space the stage could spare. I could have watched them all afternoon.

As the skaters watched, filling between doing tricks and walking into the festival, it made for a community vibe to the afternoon. There was a friendliness in spirit, which Phono seems to foster – you feel compelled to introduce everyone you meet to everyone you know in this musical expression of kinship. A blanket being created for the victims of the Orlando shooting being made was full of multicolored hands by the end of the afternoon.

Adam Vida followed The Seshen introducing hip-hop to the proceedings. His Thurlian mantra, of love and peace, felt even more poignant given the events of the preceding few days. He reflected on these dark times at the start of the set with a moving acapella piece before taking off his jacket to reveal a Giants tee and getting the party started. The small crowd moved and threw their hands in the air on demand. A throwback to the ‘All That’ theme song was a nice surprise and had a few in the crowd feeling nostalgic.

The day kept on building, with Mr. Little Jeans and Born Ruffians putting in solid performances. By the time of Alvvays’ set, the Mission Stage was pretty lively and looking busy. Their set matched the festival, with an irreverent sense of chill. Read More

Photos + Interview: Brooklyn-based Body Language at Bottom of the Hill


On Sunday, July 10, 2016, some people stopped playing Pokémon GO and went to a show at Bottom of the Hill. Luckily for them, Brooklyn-based electro-pop group Body Language was providing the tunes. The crowd that gathered around the tiny stage was treated to a passionate and lively performance.

Lead vocalist Angelica Bess truly personifies the band’s name, performing contagiously energetic movements while her flawless vocals filled the venue. The crowd was singing along in unison with Bess to every song, which she noted was something she only sees in San Francisco. Being a Sunday night, the venue was not packed to capacity. Fans had plenty of room to dance and reciprocate the energy that Bess was giving off.

Body Language played a fantastic set with old and new songs, plus an encore that included a phenomenal cover of Ghost Town DJs’ “My Boo.” The night came to a close with “Really Love,” and as soon as the lights came on, Bess was at the merch table saying hello to fans and friends. Body Language has played to bigger crowds, but they did not let up in the intimate atmosphere of Bottom of the Hill.

Body Language are fresh off their release of AA-single “Just Let It”/ “The Fall”. If you haven’t already, check out those jams ASAP. Here is “Just Let It”

I had the chance to ask Body Language a few questions before their return to San Francisco. Answers below are by band members Grant and Ang.

SF Critic: It’s been 5 years since Body Language was first featured on SFCritic. A lot has happened since then. Can you briefly give our readers some highlights into what you have been up to?
Body Language: We’ve written a lot of music and toured with some amazing bands like Rubblebucket and Vacationer. We’ve built a nice following in San Francisco. It’s amazing to see a fan base grow outside of your home turf. We sold out at Bottom of the Hill on our last visit there, complete with a room full of people singing our music back to us. That was such a special show. Read More

Phono Del Sol this weekend!


Packed into the public / skate park at where Cesar Chavez and Potrero streets come together, Phono del Sol is a super fun local festival put on by our friends at The Bay Bridged. It is as well known for its great line up (Alvvays, The Seshen, The Shees among others) as for its amazing food truck garden (don’t miss Bacon Bacon). Another great feature is the opposite stage set times such that you neither have to miss any great performer nor deal with unpleasant sound bleeding in such a small space. Find a cozy spot on the hill between, and take it all in. (*For those with little people in tow, this is also a super kid friendly event as there is a playground within the festival area from which you can see and hear almost everything. Also, face painting.)


Check out the set times below and get your tickets (from $20/youth – $85/VIP) here. Who are you excited to see?

12:00pm Doors open
1:00 – 1:35pm Dick Stusso (Potrero Stage)
1:35 – 2:10pm Hot Flash Heat Wave (Mission Stage)
2:10 – 2:45pm The She’s (Potrero Stage)
2:45 – 3:20pm The Seshen (Mission Stage)
3:20 – 4:00pm Adam Vida (Potrero Stage)
4:00 – 4:40pm Mr. Little Jeans (Mission Stage)
4:40 – 5:20pm Born Ruffians (Potrero Stage)
5:20 – 6:10pm Alvvays (Mission Stage)
6:10 – 7:00pm Chairlift (Potrero Stage)

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