Morrissey Finally Plays the Bay Area, But Invading Fans End the Show, 5/7/14

Categories: Last Night

Moz in San Jose last night.

City National Civic, San Jose
May 7, 2014

Better than: Morrissey getting mobbed and leaving after just one song, I guess.

The crowd cheered on their fearless, vicarious hero. He'd surmounted the mighty barricade, paddled through the moat of security, scaled the stage, and was now mere feet from his idol. But suddenly, a bouncer's hand grabbed his shirt, ripping it from his pale body. Shirtless, the fan nonetheless continued his trajectory and completed his task: he victoriously hugged Morrissey.

The bouncer held the torn shirt and laughed.

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I Went to the Frozen Sing-Along at the Castro Theatre and (Barely) Lived to Tell The Tale


Frozen singalong
The Castro Theatre
Occasional Sundays

Better than: Going to the Frozen singalong and not living to tell the tale, either from suicide or trampling by small children, both of which very nearly occurred.

I come to you a broken man. A man who, upon his first viewing of the Disney marketing behemoth-cum-pre-tween cultural juggernaut Frozen -- he says, spat out like the obscenity that it is -- kindly declared, "This is the worst pile of shit ever made."

Yet I come to you, also, as a man with a four-year-old daughter. A lovely daughter whom I have attempted in all valiance to shield from the Barbies and the Veggie Tales and the Pink Pretty Princess Industries Inc.™ of this world. A daughter that has broken through that shield time and again. A daughter that, bless her beautiful manipulating little heart, has behooved me to enter on my own volition a McDonalds -- A GODDAMN MCDONALD'S! -- and ask the cashier, "Do you have any Happy Meals with the Rainbow Dash My Little Pony figurine? It's the only one she doesn't have yet."

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Franz Ferdinand Plays to the Faithful at the Fox Oakland, 4/28/14

Categories: Last Night

Franz Ferdinand at the Fox Oakland last night.
Franz Ferdinand
April 28, 2014
Fox Theater, Oakland


Better than: Spending your Monday night eating bad Chinese, drinking whiskey, and stumbling to the Knockout.

An eclectic crowd of fans patiently waited for the Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand to take the stage at the Fox Theater in Oakland. The room was packed with an audience whose ages ranged from teenagers to silver-haired grandparents. Everyone seemed to be as alert as possible at 9:30 on a Monday night in a dimly lit theater.

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tUnE-yArDs Premieres New Nikki Nack Songs Live at the Chapel, 4/21/14

Categories: Last Night

tUnE-yArDs at the Chapel last night.
Monday, April 21, 2014
The Chapel

Better than: Performances with less eye-glitter.

If one measure of an album is the way its songs go over live, we should all be very excited for Nikki Nack, the next full-length from Oakland art-pop project tUnE-yArDs. Last night at the Chapel, the band fed a solid helping of its latest material to a room full of people who mostly hadn't heard it before. It was tUnE-yArDs' first live show in more than a year, with Merrill Garbus, Nate Brenner, and three new band members decked out in festive, colorful, slightly cartoonish outfits. (Garbus herself looked like a split-personality superhero, with a body suit that was part aqua green fabric, part red latex, and mostly gold lamé.) And the show was free, thanks to Converse's Rubber Tracks studio project -- though it didn't need to be.

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Mogwai Achieves Wordless Transcendence at Regency Ballroom, 4/18/14

Mogwai at the Regency Ballroom on Friday.

Friday, April 18, 2014
The Regency Ballroom

Better than: Whatever use you had in mind for those frequencies your hearing just lost.

"For the record, we are not Neo-Nazis"

The thought was far from our minds when one of the most personable, disarming bands in music performed at the Regency Ballroom on Friday. But the accent of Mogwai's lead distortionist and occasional singer Stuart Braithwaite can be just as impenetrable as it is charming. And given his own shiny scalp, what was most likely a very innocent question about understanding local skinhead fashion taught a valuable lesson in what subjects to avoid with a drunken San Francisco audience. (Also, perhaps band that claims to be ideal for listening while wasted should not ask about fascism an hour into the show.) And if you don't believe Braithwaite , feel free to look Mogwai's charitable, local-library supporting, Nazi-free career yourself.

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Queens of the Stone Age Joyfully Brutalize Bill Graham Civic, 4/17/14

Categories: Last Night

Richard Haick
Queens of the Stone Age at Bill Graham Civic last night.
Queens of the Stone Age
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

Better than: Sanity, sobriety, composure, or decency.






This shit is peaking. We're eighteen songs into Queens of the Stone Age, have howled and head-banged and moshed through 80 minutes of pummeling from a rock band that sounds evil in the way only something sexy can be truly evil, and now the strobes are flashing and three guitars are chugging and some eight thousand people are shouting along to Josh Homme's list of preferred pharmaceuticals and it is The Moment of Total Release, right now. There's a pause and then the room erupts again: "CO-CAINE!"

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The Knife Brings a Viking Bacchanal to the Fox Oakland, 4/15/14

Categories: Last Night


The Knife
DJ Rapid Fire
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
The Fox Theater, Oakland

Better than: Whatever you call dubstep.

"Music can be so meaningless," muses Knife frontwoman Karin Dreijer Andersson, when discussing the inspiration for the band's new album, Shaking the Habitual. "We had to find lust." Lust indeed. Dreijer Anderson's remarks, though enigmatic, seem a fitting account for the ethos of the group, and their meaning is apparent to all who saw the band perform at the Fox Theater last night. For those in attendance -- let us call them "the initiated" -- it was clear that the Knife is about much more than music: it is, if I may put it this way, the invocation of a peculiar vitality, a lust which both inspires and transfixes. If you thought that all of the dark intrigue of Viking culture was trapped in a compressed sawdust box in some unmarked IKEA warehouse, there is good news: it is back; we call it the Knife.

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Kronos Quartet Evokes the Fury of WWI in "Beyond Zero: 1914-1918"

Jay Blakesberg

Kronos Quartet: "Beyond Zero: 1914-1918"
Score by Aleksandra Vrebalov and film by Bill Morrison
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley

Better than: Actually living through WWI. Or, the hope-it-never-happens sound of WWIII, take your pick.

If your idea of "string quartet" is four geriatric guys rocking Rachmaninoff on three fiddles and a cello, think again. On Sunday night, the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet ripped open the envelope of expectations with "Beyond Zero: 1914-1918," the world premiere of a work commissioned from Serbian-born composer Aleksandra Vrebalov and filmmaker Bill Morrison.

Yes, it's true that founder David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), and Hank Dutt (viola) are three white dudes who've collectively played their instruments for over 100 years. But there's also Sunny Yang, a gut-clenchingly brilliant female cellist new to the group as of 2013. And yeah, an excerpt from Serge Rachmaninoff's "All-Night Vigil" sneaked in, but during its 40-year history, Kronos has added over 800 original, genre-bending works to the string quartet library.

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SF Weekly Panel Finds Local Music Not Totally Doomed

Categories: Last Night

Audrey Fukuman
Okay, yeah. That headline is a joke. We never thought local music was totally doomed. But it was great to see a couple hundred people turn out at the Chapel last night for our panel on what can be done to help the music scene thrive. Look for our full report on this subject -- how you can help the S.F. music scene -- in next week's issue. In the meantime, if you feel like it, go send a letter of support for SB 1439, which would make it harder for landlords to evict tenants under the Ellis Act, and give musicians and other creative types a better chance of staying in S.F.

Oh, and go see a show.

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Lorde Rules Over the Fox Theater, 3/26/13

Categories: Last Night

Lo Fang
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Fox Theater, Oakland

Better than: A lot of other recent radio-dominating hits.

Ella Yelich-O'Connor is a small figure in a bright red pantsuit and black stilt boots, crouching onstage in Oakland before a sold-out crowd. The music pauses, and in a moment of lightweight quiet she shakes her fist in the air quickly, agitatedly, anticipating the return of the bass, still crouching. You've seen other people shake their arms like this to louder, faster, busier music, but Lorde does it in near-silence, and when the throb finally returns, sending shivers through the theater, she stands up and sings in that smoothened growl she uses so often, having shown you, with those furious shakes of her arm, her intensity, her frustration, and the way the bass stands in for it. Lorde is 17 years old and crazy famous, but Lorde is still as angsty as fuck: as angsty as a girl who wore black lipstick and a Cramps T-shirt to be on the cover of Rolling Stone.

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