Jonathan Pirro

A passionate, spellbinding set at the final leg of the duo’s North American tour

Brian King of Japandroids

Brian King of Japandroids

If you can believe it, five long years have passed since the last time that Japandroids came to San Francisco and took over The Fillmore, and it’s been far too long of a wait. Their 2012 work Celebration Rock marked a pivotal shift from their laden-with-chaos-and-noise debut tunes to the triumphant, thundering anthems that their singles are now gleaming with, and 2017’s Near To The Wild Heart Of Life continues in this fashion, offering up a slab of pieces full of vitality and potency — this time with the extra sheen of studio magic. Lest you be concerned that the slick sounds of overdubs have marred the energy level that the Vancouver duo are famous for possessing, worry not: if anything, their chemistry has reached an all-time high, their precise delivery pairing magnificently with the massive walls of sound they can tirelessly deliver. If Japandroids were tired at the end of the tour, there was no sign of such weariness at this performance.

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Exciting evening of noise and rhythm in a new addition to Oakland’s vibrant live music scene

Daveed Diggs of Clipping.

Daveed Diggs of clipping.

It’s hard to find a more jarring juxtaposition of talents and roles than those that Oakland-born hip-hop star Daveed Diggs has possessed as of late. After half a decade building a steady underground following as the MC of noise trio clipping., he became a household name after taking on the role of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in the original production (and first Broadway run) of the massive hit musical Hamilton. Finishing his theatrical run in mid-2016, Diggs hurtled right back into his work with the experimental outfit, knocking out two releases in the latter half of the year and continuing a heavy schedule of touring. The group’s Noise Pop gig at Oakland’s young-but-blossoming Starline Social Club was one of the first in the festival to sell out, and even with three openers on the bill and a long, rainy night to greet them at the end of it, rabid fans of the three-piece packed the walls of the bright ballroom and celebrated the return of their heroes, in the hometown of the man at their helm.

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Energetic, potent set slightly marred by confusing opener pairing

Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings

Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings

It’s been a few years since we’ve crossed paths with Dylan Baldi and his chaotic music assemblage, Cloud Nothings, but their recorded output has confirmed that they have been taking some excellent time to polish and tighten up their sound. While absent of gigantic, sprawling bruisers like “Wasted Days” (the 8-minute magnum opus from Attack On Memory), their new record Life Without Sound continues to sport excellent 90s grunge/alternative staples along with a modern sense of punkish attitudes and new-school production, and the resultant collection of songs is delightful to listen to. Their Noise Pop show was one of the more popular gigs — badge-toting friends of mine claimed they couldn’t make it into the sold-out show even before the openers had finished — but while the Cleveland foursome brought the noise and the bouncy response to the show, it was at the end of a strange rollercoaster of genres that, if nothing else, made the audience even more hungry for the headliners to appear.

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A brand new sonic explosion from the Texas quintet

At The Drive-In in 2016 (photo by Jonathan Pirro)

At The Drive-In in 2016 (photo by Jonathan Pirro)

It was never predicted to happen again, but it has: after nearly two decades, the El Paso post-hardcore masterminds of At The Drive-In have not only continued to stay united AND tour, but now there is finally new studio material in recorded form available! Now on Rise Records, the group has released their first single, “Governed By Contagions”, on YouTube and their official website. Read on for the lyric video!

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Never before has spontaneous comedy seemed so effortless — and brilliant — in a musical performance

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie of Flight Of The Conchords

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie of Flight Of The Conchords

Comedy and music have always seemed to be slightly at odds with one another; there’s always this slightly underlying sense of novelty in humor-driven bands, a thought that without certain “gimmicks”, their work wouldn’t be nearly as funny, or that their jokes only appeal to a certain subset of popular culture. Artists like Reggie Watts manage to defy this expectation with deft aptitude; he is both a hilarious improvisational comedian and a brilliant musician in his own right, and the minimal nature of his performance adds emphasis to the stories he tells. The ability to shoot off jokes with rapid-fire delivery is, therefore, crucial in a concert setting; it reminds the audience of the brilliant wit and skill of the performers, rather than their ability to practice rehearsed jokes night after night. Nearly seven years after the release of their last album I Told You I Was Freaky, Flight Of The Conchords are still able to demonstrate these skills with flawless, side-splitting ease, and their live show is marvelous to watch — for both casual fans and hardcore ones alike.

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John Carpenter

John Carpenter

Music in film is an often-celebrated phenomenon, but it seems to exist primarily in the medium it’s made for. Occasionally, composers and songwriters will offer up their works for public or private performance, though they themselves may not be in attendance, and in general the world of film music feels very separate from that of “traditional rock music”, i.e. the bands that release albums and promote them with live tours. The phenomenon of a live tour by acclaimed horror director John Carpenter, therefore, is even more impressive; his musical works not only require an actual band to perform (with synthesizers and guitars driving the melodies, rather than orchestras and choirs), but the tunes are steady, driving, and in small enough bits that they are easy to digest — this isn’t a random night at the symphony, folks! In addition, Carpenter himself wrote the scores to a good chunk of his films, so the live performance of compositions and overtures from his classic works could now be experienced with an ever more present vitality.

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Show Review: At The Drive-In with Le Butcherettes at The Warfield, 6/3/2016

June 7, 2016

It took 15 years to happen, and it was worth every moment. Ten were spent wondering, with all involved working on new projects, exploring music and art in numerous forms. Two passed, with excited fervor and mild confusion, as they returned to the fold, thrust into the spotlight on unsteady feet and with only a […]

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Show Review: Baroness with Youth Code at the Regency Ballroom, 6/2/2016

June 6, 2016

Near-death experiences have often been labeled as the reason behind sudden shifts in artistic mindsets, philosophy, spiritual beliefs, and overall lifestyle changes. For the men of sludge-psych heroes Baroness, who experienced their own brush with the beyond in a horrific bus crash in Bath in 2012, it almost spelled out the end of the band, […]

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Show Review: Refused with The Coathangers and Plague Vendor at the Fillmore, 5/26/2016

June 2, 2016

Four years later, it’s no longer a reunion — Refused are reborn as something new It’s really hard to find a concert that was better, and more well-attended, than the 2012 show at the Warfield that marked the triumphant return of the Swedish hardcore giants known as Refused. Alumni and newcomers from all scenes of loud, […]

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Fauxchella Review: Savages at the Fillmore, 4/19/2016

April 22, 2016

A thunderstruck, brilliant display of chaotic camaraderie, with a stunning surprise for the end of the performance Every year during Fauxchella, there is always The One Show To Rule Them All. Often times, it’s a wildly infamous, recently-reformed act playing a tiny venue; other times, it’s a great swath of bands all playing one massive […]

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