Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Los Campesinos! at the Great American Music Hall

Los Campesinos! will be performing tonight at the Great American Music Hall. This is their first show in San Francisco, and their first set of three tour dates in the United States. The seven-piece band hails from Cardiff, England and only picked up instruments to form the band in early 2006.
Los Campesinos! (meaning "the peasants" in Spanish) sounds like a fresh mix of indie pop vocals and instrumentals. Don't write them off as just another pretentious twee band, even if members have taken Campesino! as their surname pseudonyms. No, this band's got wit and indie cred. The opening lyrics to "You! Me! Dancing!" (an abundant use of exclamation points is only fitting for them) go, "it's sad that you think that we're all just scenesters, even if we were it's not the scene you're thinking of." Many of their songs provide commentary on the music scene of the UK. "...And We Exhale and Roll Our Eyes In Unison" talks about the misogyny of music journalists when writing about female musicians.
My favorite lyric comes from the song "We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives": It's your party, but I'll die if I want to.
They have released an EP, Sticking Fingers Into Sockets, via record label Arts and Crafts, and plan to release a full length album in February 2008.

Here is their song You! Me! Dancing!:
Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Music & Videos From the Dump at Herbst Theatre

The first performance of "Junkestra" at the SF dump

Last Friday, the 16th of November, I attended a presentation at Herbst Theatre made by the Norcal Waste Systems. Surprising, no? A dump putting together a lovely little evening in the artistic district of San Francisco...the evening was one of amazingly wonderful paradoxes and interesting perspectives, artworks, and music.

Unknown to many people, the San Francisco dump has an artists in residence program that supports artists who wish to come to the dump and create art using whatever material they may find there. Fridays performance was an evening to showcase some of this art that has been created through the program. The theme of the evening: recycle, reuse, and do not waste!

The first half of the night, movies by different visual artists were shown. The films were relatively short and very interesting, at times funny, sometimes more there to show us something, to convey a fact, than anything else. Works were shown by Reddy Lieb, Banker White, Robin Lasser, Don Ross, Nomi Talisman, and Philip Bonner. All of these artists went through the artists in residence program at the dump, and all their films conveyed some aspect about the waste site. Each one touched on something different, which worked out nicely and effectively.

After intermission, the second half was devoted to a very interesting piece of music. Composer Nathaniel Stookey (funny story: his mother, Martha, taught me theater for two years of high school) decided to apply to be an artist in residence using music. He went to the dump, found a bunch of items, and contrsucted musical instruments. He then composed a 15 minute piece (in three movements) on these instruments made out of trash that he called "Junkestra". It was first performed at the SF Dump in May this year, and this one at Herbst Theatre Friday night was only the second performance. It is a piece performed by members of the San Francisco Youth Orchestra and conducted by Benjamin Schwartz.

The piece is, and I do not take this word lightly, brilliant. It sounds amazing and is fun to listen to and, most importantly, to observe. I was in awe at how many sounds he made with what he had. I was shocked when Nat Stookey told the audience that he had not cut or modified any piece of trash he picked up. He made these sounds with how he found the items originally.

The piece was an enormous success and the audience demanded it be played again, to which one witty audience member yelled "Recycle!"
An amazing piece that everyone should hear.

Which is lucky! You can listen to the piece at the main page for Nat Stookey's residence:


SF Dump site:
Artist in Residence program:
Photos of the Junkestra:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

of Montreal at The Great American Music Hall

Wednesday night, of Montreal wrapped up a successful three nights here in San Francisco. I heard nothing but good things about the other two nights, but I only went Wednesday; therefore I can only speak for what I saw. Although judging from what I saw, I can't see of Montreal could ever doing a bad job at entertaining an adoring crowd.

The two opening bands were fun, jumpy...a good warm up. They definitley got the crowd hyped up very nicely. MGMT have stolen a part of my heart. They're fun, talented, danceable...what more do you need these days? The second opening band, Grand Buffet, proved to have great showmanship. A two person group, they not only performed very well but also had the crowd laughing left and right. I sincerely hope they got their uppers.

The wait for of Montreal was hot, sweaty, sticky, and filled with anticipation, but when they did get onstage around 10:15, no one complained about it being a little on the late side.

The show was an incredible experience. While two members were elevated high up on pedastols that flashed different colored lights, the remaining three members stayed down on the stage and intimate with the audience. As always, flamboyant outfits, makeup and stage show were the norms. The whole crowd was erupted into one big dance party of sweaty goodness.

of Montreal played a good mixture of "older" songs, like "I Was Never Young", "So Begins Our Alabee", and "Rapture Rapes the Muses". There was also a very good amount off of their new (fabulous) album, like "She's a Rejector" and "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider". (Thank you for playng She's a Rejector. Thank you)

They covered three Prince songs, opening with "I Would Die For You" and "Baby I'm A Star" and closing with "Purple Rain" right before coming back on to play three encores of their music: "Wraith Pinned to the Mist And Other Games", "The Party's Crashing Us" and "The Repudiated Mortals".

An amazing show and experience.
No one is lying or trying to sound experienced when they tell you "You have to see of Montreal before you die!" (several people told me this before I had seen them at Coachella). They really really mean it. So go people, go!

MGMT- The Youth
Grand Buffet - Dark Autumn
of Montreal - I Was Never Young
of Montreal - She's A Rejector


Friday, November 2, 2007

The Decemberists cancel rest of tour

Yep, you heard right. You read it on Pitchfork. You saw it on your lastfm events. Or maybe you got that depressing email notification. In any case, it's true. The Decemberists have decided to sit out the rest of their tour after only two dates into it.

A message for their fans from them:
"One of our band members has been ill for a while but we thought all would be well in time for these tour dates. After a couple shows, though, it has become clear that the illness is much worse than we had initially realized. We need to return home so our friend can mend.

It saddens us to disappoint our fans. We hope everybody understands it is only because of an extreme situation that we had to cancel a tour we've all been excited about doing since the idea was originally hatched.

Our deepest apologies but at this time no plans are being made to reschedule the dates. Ticket holders should seek refunds at poin of purchase."

No plans? Oh you're killing me.
Still, at this point, I'm hoping this sickness isn't serious and the member can make a full and satisfying recovery. Our thoughts go out to you, my friend.

So yes, Bay Area: the four scheduled dates at the Fillmore have been cancelled:

-Friday, 11/23/07 Long of it
-Saturday, 11/24/07 Short of it
-Sunday, 11/25/07 Long of it
-Monday, 11/26/07 Short of it

I planned on going Sunday. Argh.

Refunds anyone? Those tickets were not cheap.
Venue number to inquire for refunds: 415-346-6000
Venue location:
1805 Geary St, San Francisco Ca. 94115.

Here's hoping for a full recovery, perhaps another tour, and smooth refunds.