Show Reviews

“Rock this bitch!” Ben Folds had just finished his second song in the set after the intermission, when an audience member screamed out from the balcony, “Already?  We just started!” Ben Folds turned around to face his backing band for the evening, the venerable San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and said, “I should probably explain this.” In Chicago, years ago, at a live show, a fan screamed this out and Ben Folds wrote a song on the spot. Now, “Rock This Bitch” is a Folds tradition. He plunked out a concept, muttering something about jazz to himself, and then gave each section of the orchestra a different assigned part. With about three minutes of preparation, Folds had a melody composed, and assigned parts to sections of the orchestra. The cellos, violas, violins, bassoons, and percussionists all had their own parts to play, over which Folds improvised a jazz melody and lyrics that were part pontifications about rocking this bitch, part lyrics to the Beverly Hillbillies theme song, all backed by a world class orchestra.

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Photo by Breanne Bowland

I used to go to a lot of shows. I spent most of my twenties in Chicago, which, oh man, the music scene. Ten bucks could get you a Huber Bock and what felt like constant access to [The] Gossip. Gingerman, Elbo Room, Delilah’s, the Metro, Empty Bottle, the Vic, and countless little dank bars.

I’m older and more tired now, but that isn’t why I almost never go to shows. On about a 1:1 ratio, for every show I attended in Chicago, there was one I called off at the last minute, one I spent huddled in a corner, one I missed most of because I “stepped out for air” and never went back in. A couple years ago, I stopped fighting the fact that I rarely, if ever, feel safe at shows. I had to start saying it in words when I started dating my husband, who goes to an average of two shows a week, and who can predict with almost 100% accuracy which bands I will like. I’d watch him bop easily around a room hugging friends, and realize we’d never have a relationship if I kept trying to go to shows and standing stiffly in the least crowded part of the space with my arms locked around my chest until enough time had passed that I felt justified shouting “I’M READY TO GO NOW” in his ear. [read the whole post]

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Papa Emeritus of Ghost

Papa Emeritus of Ghost

Swedish band Ghost has returned to the US and is currently on a 7 week tour as the sole support act for the mighty Iron Maiden!  In addition to those 26 shows, Ghost booked 14 headliner theater shows, including The Warfield in San Francisco.

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“No one can take away our memory!”

Discharge Kids

If Day One was about old school and hardcore and Day Two was about politics, then Day Three was about unadulterated partying and England. Admittedly, I am not much of an “oi/streetpunk” fan. It’s not that I am opposed to it, mind you, it’s just that very few of the bands in the genre have impressed their importance onto me. So it was with some trepidation that I embarked to the site of the final day of the festival, with every intention of keeping my mind open and enjoying some hearty music from across the pond.

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“Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!”

Choking Victim-8

Despite, or maybe in spite, of the heat I woke up for day two feeling refreshed and ready to go. The usual first day kinks had been worked out and entrance into the venue was faster, although I heard some rumor about ISIS threatening to bomb Las Vegas was flying around, which may have accounted for the somewhat increased security at the venue. Punks don’t take too well to the authoritarian attitude of aggressive security guards, so you can probably imagine a lot of grumbling and arguments were to be heard from the lines. Regardless I made it inside with plenty of time to grab a water bottle and head to the stage for the opening act of the day.

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The Foo Fighters intended to play until they could play no more (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

Where had the time gone? Somehow it was already Sunday, and Day 1 and Day 2 were already behind us!

Sunday promised to have the best weather of all, as well as some acts I’d been really looking forward to. Because I’d missed The Helmets last year – but heard them from my house and was impressed enough to text a friend who was already there, asking who they were I knew in advance that I had to make it there early this year to see them in action. [read the whole post]

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BottleRock Napa Valley 2017 Festival Journal, Day 2

June 4, 2017
www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWB0AHhtjUE”>Sweet

This year’s Saturday at BottleRock Napa Valley promised to be a beautiful warm and breezy 75 degrees, the perfect weather for a festival full of good music, great food and all the beer, wine, and cocktails you can handle! Once again, there were more acts scheduled than was possible to see all at once, so […]

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BottleRock Napa Valley 2017 Festival Journal, Day 1

June 4, 2017
www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdRiYMBckVE”>Hurt

Last weekend marked the return of my hometown’s beloved music, food and drink festival, BottleRock Napa Valley, which turned five this Memorial Day weekend. In addition to boasting phenomenal music lineups year after year, BRNV offers a wine garden, a “beer bend,” a silent disco, a beer and bourbon garden, displays of art throughout the […]

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Show Review: The Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir at the Fox Oakland, 4/30-5/1/2017

May 5, 2017

Two nights of intimacy and storytelling with the man who plays a hundred instruments The Magnetic Fields are an extremely strange phenomenon: a group that is wildly talented, successful, and fiercely loved by their fans, despite staying relatively far from the radio-friendly limelight. The songwriting of creative leader Stephin Merritt evokes memories of both Sondheim-esque theatrical compositions […]

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Show Review: deadmau5 w/Feed Me at the Fox Oakland, 4/25/2017

May 4, 2017
vimeo.com/20383464

In a now-relatively-infamous Tumblr post, Canadian electronic wunderkind deadmau5 (aka Joel Zimmerman) called out the DJ world for the lack of ingenuity and overall simplicity of their live shows. Ever since, he’s worked to keep pushing the envelope of his own performances, adding layer after layer of lights and screens that are all triggered by his own available […]

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