Noise Pop ’09: Les Savy Fav @ Mezzanine

2 03 2009

Ian Ferguson San Francisco, CA

Let’s Stay Friends, the band Les Savy Fav’s 2007 release, reached 36 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart. Which means that their music is good. However, it wasn’t so much their music onstage Sunday night as the antics of artistic frontman Tim Harrington.

As former students of Rhode Island School of  Design, Les Savy Fav have kept their creative sides. Harrington appeared on stage with toilet paper wrapped mummy style around his face. “A bicycle accident” he claimed while opening a Corona — one of six brought on stage with an armful of fresh fruit. Partway through the first set he doused himself in water, disintegrating the TP to reveal his bald and red-bearded features.

The requisite moshpit for the really energetic and repressed clique of listeners reveled in the spray of beer he regularly whale-breached from his mouth. As amplified and unpredictable as the rock backing him, Harrington moved through the crowd with a long mic cable up to the The Mezzanine’s loft, then tried to slide down the stairs on two footrests before deciding on the handrail; duct taped a cute fan to himself onstage, spun her around, had another fan try to bite through the tape connecting them before borrowing a pocketknife from a third audience member to cut them loose, all while maintaining a stage presence that make it look a lot like a David Blaine trick; entertained a fifteen-minutes-of-fame fucktard fan who climbed on stage multiple times, busied himself with Harrington’s props, and occasionally screamed lyrics into the mic — Harrington called him the best guy there; chewed up a banana and fed it mamabird-style to a fan; did the same with a sock — he took it from a crowdsurfing fan, made a fingerpuppet with ripped holes for eyes, sang with it for awhile, rolled it up and put it in a fan’s mouth; took his shirt off and accepted a behind-the-back clandestine nipple rub from a fan; found a phone that fell out of a pocket of another crowd surfing audience member, called a number, rocked into it, put it most of the way into his mouth and then all of the way into the front of his pants. Crowdsurfing was so popular that at the end of the show, the bass player told people to come onstage to collect everything that was lost, “and please not steal anybody’s shit.”

Noise Pop ’09: Scissors for Lefty Keep it in the Family

27 02 2009

More primed for microbrew than music, Bender’s bar/microvenue hosted local
up-and-coming Scissors for Lefty at an happy-hour hootenanny. After the
show they sat down with us for an indie irreverent interview.

Noise Pop ’09: Thee Oh Sees @ Cafe Du Nord

27 02 2009

In contrast to the high rafter roofs of many venues, Cafe Du Nord’s red-light, low-ceiling basement stage well suited the garage post-punk performances of the night. Headliners The Oh Sees’ sound expanded this closeted space through cosmic vocal reverb into an infinite echo chamber. Their trifecta-plus teams curly haired tambourine playing vocalist Brigid Dawson with nerd tatted guitarist Petey Dammit, stoic drummer Mike Shoun and Marlboro-rough frontman John Dwyer.

The sweetness of Dawson’s voice overrode vocal effect to pair well with Dwyer’s gain distorted delivery, the mic swallowed into his mouth. Such oral fixation hardly ended there: ceaselessly soliciting drinks from the crowd, Dwyer called off the encore after spending the set playing guitar with a beer hanging handless from his mouth. Characteristic of his sharp sociability, Dwyer’s guitar bore the bumpersticker “Thank You” on the bank, simply so he wouldn’t have to say so.

Click the image below to watch our entertaining interview with the band.

Noise Pop: Night 2 at Slim’s

26 02 2009

Ian Ferguson San Francisco, CA
Matt Costa’s show at Slim’s began at 8:00pm, although he didn’t play until 10:15pm. In the two hours preceding his set, three bands took to stage.

photo by Adam Planas

The first band, San Francisco – Sacramento native Two Sheds (yes that’s a Monty Python reference, and no, we weren’t able to interview them about their sheds), harmony hushed through country lullabies. This soothing set seemed somewhat too sedate for a venue like Slim’s, but still kept the high-school kiddies holding spots for Costa’s show with claws out entertained.

Robert  Francis appeared next. With a fur traders cap on, he looked the backwoods American that lap steel and lonely-sparse lyrics proved his music to be.

photo by Adam Planas

The final opener, Brisbane, Australia’s An Horse, held the audience’s hearing as if they, not Costa, were the headliners. A two-piece drum-guitar outfit with confident chemistry and perfect communication, guitarist Kate Copper and drummer Damon Cox play a rollicking style of indie-rock. Through the use of felt-tipped drum heads on an open tom, a tambourine attached to the drum’s high-hat, and anthemic verse repetition, the two sound a much fuller band than they in fact are. Despite that the band’s album Rearrange Beds is only available abroad (March 17th is the U.S. release date), a number of audience members lipped along to the lyrics.

Damon (An Horse), Adam Planas, Ian Ferguson, Kate (An Horse

We had the opportunity to interview An Horse before the show, (and get our picture snapped with the duo) and their humor on camera translated well onstage. The saying goes that you can lead An Horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. However, with Australia in drought, as the two sipped water between songs they joked that it was what they were being paid in.

Noise Pop ’09: Matt Costa Headlines Slim’s

26 02 2009

Ian Ferguson San Francisco, CA
Matt Costa and his band play a few instruments well, and a number of instruments sort of well. Well enough, at least, to make music. Slim’s on Wednesday staged this generous music, where a trumpet’s slippery blare or a vocal’s wavering run sound less mistakes than creative additions, allusions to loose-lipped dixieland or the fine slides through microtonalities of High Catskill folk.

photo by Adam Planas

With itinerant additions of trumpet, mandolin, harmonica, and lap steel guitar along with standard issue guitar, bass, drums, and keys, the instrumentation imparts an alienness which incorporates these performance ‘accidents’ into the larger arrangement. That Costa’s music draws its inspiration from a variety of musical styles further locates the listener simultaneously in allusion and alienation as genres collides.

Costa began his set with the finger-picked guitar and minor harmonies of a stripped-down country sound, then morphed through zydeco and Africa-via-Paul-Simon influences before ending the set with the downbeat rock density of his new album, Unfamiliar Faces. For the encore, he appeared onstage with an acoustic guitar to  accompany a new, appalachia affected song. The full band returned for the southern rock final number.

Noise Pop ’09: Deerhunter Open Fest

25 02 2009

Deerhunter packed the Mezannine for a free concert at the opening night party of Noisepop on Tuesday. A depressing performance by opening act Lilofee, who’s sound strangely marries Depeche Mode’s snyth sounds with the reverb loops and electric rhythms of experimental rock, led the crowd to booze and mingle in anticipation of the marquee act. As fans jockied for position before the show, a video graphics display of epileptically distorted clips from tiger attacks, explosions viewed in rewind, and the films Logan’s Run and The Warriors entertained the crowd.

photo by Adam Planas

The Deerhunter set began as their songs often do: quietly, with an atmospheric undulation of timbre, the shadow of reverb looped before gradually ascending towards the heights of experimental intensity. The gaunt, pale figure of lead singer Bradford Cox embodies this aesthetic. His arms spindly and skeletal, his eyes sunk, his cheekbones pronouced, he looks as if his body will soon pass into ether. Cox grounds this tenuously connected whisper of self with a maudlin mouth and frenetic sense of stage humor. As the end of the show approached, the band amplified the equalizer’s high to earsplitting effect, the looped reverb now a concussive ringing. This sound underlay the entire 15 minute encore, a tantric tinnitus ringing in audience ears long after the band’s final exit.

John Darnielle In Conversation And Song – Hosted By Tobias Wolf

25 02 2009

Two of our time’s greatest storytellers met on stage at Hearst Theatre last night when author Tobias Wolf interviewed singer-songwriter John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. From a mutual appreciation of each other’s work bordering on fandom, the two explored the authenticity of each other’s narratives, the affection each holds for his characters, and the process of translating experience into art.

Wolf presented most of the questions, which Darnielle fielded with an almost brutal honesty, pausing at times to swallow back the emotional turmoil of his fractured past. From heroin addiction to work as a psychiatric nurse, the empathy Darnielle evoked led Wolf to return in kind, fielding questions directed at him with equal honesty.

The hour long discussion preceded an acoustic set from Darnielle in which his verbose song introductions only added depth to his interview account.