Small Show Calendar: Tony Molina, Capitalist Casualties, Dancer, and More

Categories: Hidden Agenda

Tony Molina plays the Rickshaw Stop Nov. 17.

[The Bay Area is actively producing and attracting experimentalists, multimedia performance artists, cult punk ritualists, and innovative anti-socials with no capacity for self-promotion. Hidden Agenda is a column that spreads the word about their performances.]

Another dilemma for adventurous concert attendees appears on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Those of us equally excited by power-violence figureheads Capitalist Casualties' performance at Oakland dive Eli's Mile High Club and free jazz saxophonist Peter Brotzmann's rare gig at San Francisco's Center for New Music that same night are probably few. Still, it illustrates the diversity of the Bay Area's tireless music programming, both highbrow and otherwise.

Raging hardcore ensemble Capitalist Casualties wield blast-beats at devastating tempos for dozens of concise screeds. Across the Bay, Brotzmann and percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love eschew the conventions of meter in favor of sporadically recurring motifs throughout long abstract pieces. Each act's output feels visceral and demands intuitive interplay from its performers. Comparisons beyond that risk contrivance, but I'm drawn towards both shows, astounded that the appeal of such dissimilar acts feels strangely alike.

In the early 80's, an East Bay school teacher named J.D. Buhl recorded a spat of infectious power-pop records. In the wake of The Knack's "My Sharona," countless skinny tie new wave groups like J.D. Buhl and the Believers formed with hopes of a similarly massive hit. Most failed to chart, let alone retain a cult profile in hindsight, but Buhl's "Do Ya Blame Me?" is an exception. Buhl devotees in upstart local quartet Dancer included a faithful cover on its new EP. Dancer has the relentless melody of West Coast power pop in mind, but lets the urban stain more akin to Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers distinguish the hooks. As it goes, glaring flaws complement pop song-craft quite well. Maybe the errors make music endure. For tarnished guitar lead romantics, see Dancer and Violent Change on Friday, Nov. 15 at Vacation in San Francisco.

Part Time casts hypnotic drum machine grooves and synth flourishes in a layer of lo-fi warble and 80's tape decay. It's smooth like Wang Chung, but the VHS-wave nostalgia is an ideal vessel for vocalist David Speck's idiosyncratic delivery. He dutifully imports tones of the past to treat with a soft croon or harsh yelp, alternately out to either smooth or alarm listeners. The most recent album, PDA, leans more on guitarist Billy Trujillo's anglo-jangle skill to evoke different 80's textures. The current live incarnation privileges this new direction in a welcomed way, as Part Time's gig Friday, Nov. 15 at Milk Bar is sure to illustrate.

In a single conversation, Tony Molina might declare his all-time favorite band to be Metallica, The Fastbacks and Hatebreed. Such unbridled fanaticism for eclectic favorites makes its way into Molina's songs, with towering riffs, hook-laden leads, and dejected lyrics built on simplified hardcore song structures that honor the half-time breakdown. He distills disparate influences to basic elements and zealously reconstructs the parts into a synthesis of styles that might look insufferable on paper, but makes Molina's solo debut Dissed and Dismissed one of the best local rock albums this year. With rising South Bay rapper Antwon and Canadian punk group White Lung, Molina's bill Sunday, Nov. 17 at the Rickshaw Stop makes a strong case for diverse taste.

-- @Lefebvre_Sam

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