Show Review: Shellac at The New Parish, Oakland

by Sean Campbell, Ticketfly Senior Accountant/ Financial Analyst (Yes, even the accountant writes show reviews)

Shellac is one of those bands that has a bit of mystery about them. They’ve only released four studio albums in 20 years, rarely tour, and don’t count on Facebook or Twitter to keep their fans interested. Saturday’s show at the New Parish brought home what keeps fans interested: their utterly unique, driving noise/math rock sound, heavy on the sarcasm and the rhythm and light on traditional conventions of live shows. Shellac shows have no encores, intro music, or fashion statements, though they do feature bassist Bob Weston’s audience Q&A, which usually goes like this:

Weston: “Steve is tuning. Questions! You in the front!”

Fan: (inaudible)

Weston: “What? Huh? Turn your cellphone camera off, jerk! Next question!”

It’s that sort of warm and fuzzy band/fan interaction that compelled me to leave a beautiful Santa Cruz beach on Saturday evening and drive up the 17 to Oakland. I’ve never been to the New Parish, and I will be returning. This is definitely my favorite club in the East Bay. Balcony? Check. Outdoor Patio? Check. Liquor? Check. It’s a great sounding, roomy venue that knows what it’s doing. The show was sold out but there was room to move and buy drinks. I look forward to checking out their sister club, Brick and Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco.

Opener Helen Money is a solo cellist that plays through loops and effects, sometimes strumming the cello like a guitar, sometimes playing it as a percussion instrument. She was a very engaging performer.

Shellac came onstage and set up with drummer Todd Trainer in front, crash cymbal 10 feet in the air. They launched into “Canada”, “Squirrel Song”, “Steady as She Goes”, my personal favorite “Watch Song” and other fan favorites. They absolutely rule live. You can really hear the distinctive sound of their Travis Bean instruments (necks made out of aluminum) and custom amps. Bass and drums locked into the groove while singer/guitarist Steve Albini sang about radio, aliens, Satchel Paige, fighting, and ghosts. They played for about 90 minutes, stopping only for question time and to announce a song, “this song is about an a******, **** him and **** all his ****.” They announced their last song and said they’d have t-shirts for sale after the show.

They played no encore or solo acoustic songs. Just one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, without frills. Definitely check them out when (if) they come to your town. They’ll be making their way up to the Northwest in the coming week. And check out the New Parish!

Local photographer Shannon Corr got some great photos of the New Parish show you can check out on his Flickr.

Show Review: Lee “Scratch” Perry at The Independent, San Francisco

by Daniel Martinez, Bi-lingual Customer Support Rep

As I got to The Independent, the first band, CV Dub had already started. CV Dub describes themselves as “cross-fertalization of reggae grooves with jazz melodies.”  I couldnt help swaying to their grooves and be amazed by how many different instruments they were using.  I was impressed to see one of the musicians playing the violin which is a first for me since I have been to a few dub/reggae shows.  The crowd got really into it as they went off into a different world taking the audience with them through amazing tones and a super solid rhythm section.  I would say that it was a very complimentary band for the headliner, Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Lee Perry came out like a king.  Dressed in gold bling, military-style uniform, King Kong action figure for a chain hanging around his neck, and his dyed red beard, he brought nothing but smiles and great vibes to the venue.  He played songs from many different artists that he has produced/written over the years, including Bob Marley, Max Romeo, Mikey Dread and made them his own.  His sense of pride is clearly shown through his lyrics, his presence, and his rants which I really enjoyed.  And although one may think his age might have slowed him down, it hasn’t.  I was honored to witness such a performance, he is a living legend in the reggae and music production world.

And not that we should necessarily be encouraging these shoddy YouTube videos of shows at our client venues…but here is the work of some dude with an iPhone at the Lee show. That outfit is bangin!

And be sure to check out other upcoming shows at The Indy!

Show Review: Vampire Weekend at The Greek, Berkeley 9/25

by David Price, Customer Support Rep

Vampire Weekend

“With one of the most polished live shows of touring bands and some of the best dressed fans, there’s not a whole lot to dislike about Vampire Weekend. Sure you could poke at them for a few things, like their spring/ summer tour basically being the same tour other
than respectively growing from large to very large venues. The same set lists and merch can be annoying, especially when you’re as fashion forward as all the 19 year-old girls flanking you in sleeveless cardigans, Toms shoes and Wayfarers. However, ultimately everyone comes for the music, and if there is any band that I would stake my music nerd internet cred on for being amazing every time you see them, it’d be Vampire Weekend. Sure plenty of people came out to see Ezra Koenig’s eyes twinkle; I’ll even confess to gazing a little bit. But as we all admire Ezra’s dazzle we see and hear his Epiphone Sheraton-II producing that Afro-pop twang that makes Vampire Weekend’s sound so different from everyone else’s. The most genius thing about Vampire Weekend is just that – their sound. It blends so many different types of styles that range from punk, pop, rock, afro beat to even hip-hop, yet all the different types are left tangible for admirers to be able to enjoy and endorse their support. Taking so many different sounds and blending them on a canvas runs the risk of becoming convoluted and messy but they manage to keep it coherent, mostly due to each of the four members sticking to a specific style. This comes across recorded and as Vampire Weekend are one of the best sounding live bands, it comes across live just as well.

The spot on sound of Vampire Weekend is only taken to new heights by the always impeccable sound of The Greek Theater. The hundred thousand dollar Soundcraft Vi6 mixing desk didn’t hurt either. Vampire Weekend is a band that I am coming to believe will only get better with growth. Up until this summer their growth has been fast-tracked, but they seemed to have steadied out and may have maximized their growth with their sophomore release. However I wouldn’t be surprised to see another fast tracking with the release of their third album most likely in Mid to late 2011. In fact I’d expect to hear a lot of new tracks circulating in the spring/ summer. So keep an ear out for something new from America’s favorite Columbia Alumni because I am pretty sure that their approval rating is higher than Barack Obama’s.”

If you’re in Florida, you can check out Vampire Weekend at Hard Rock Live with The Bery Best and Beach House. UMM…what an amazing line-up!!!

Show Review: Too $hort at Mezzanine 9/11/10

by Amy Miller, Community Relations Coordinator

short

Photo Credit: Troy Holden, via Flickr.

I went into the Too $hort show on Saturday with some tall expectations. As a woman, I realize my undying love for Too $hort might mean I have some self-loathing issues, but I’m prepared to deal with that. My insurance covers therapy so don’t you worry about me. For the make-up of Oakland and the East Bay, we seem to have shockingly few rappers who have really “made it” into the mainstream. Yeah, we gave birth to hyphy and we continue to stay on the map with some SICK dancing, but why isn’t Oakland’s roster of rap stars as long as our rap sheet? Along with E-40, Mac Dre (may he rest in peace), Mistah Fab, and Zion-I (OK, yes, and Hammer), Sir Too $hort has been a staple, and was a collaborator on one of the biggest hits of the 90s. But what sets Too $hort aside from the other rappers on this list is that he hasn’t really changed much, and I mean that in a good way. He’s kept it dirty, straightforward, and Oakland-heavy. I have never minded that most of his songs sound the same. We all got used to this after hearing Get in Where you Fit In a couple hundred times. When you hear his voice, his tone, the speed of his raps, there’s never a question about who you’re hearing. When he pops up on a song, Im sold. I’ve been listening to his latest track with E-40 (Guess what it’s called?) pretty much on repeat. (Which is OK! Because he said on Saturday that this song is NOT anti-women! Thanks for letting us know, $hort.) And his track on Amplive’s re-mixed Radiohead album might be my favorite moment in an incredible collection of re-mixes (better, even, than Radiohead’s original version. Yeah, I said it.).

I’m surprised it took me this long to get around to seeing Too $hort live. Now, anyone who lives in Oakland has seen him around. He’s hard to miss. And by the way- “pimp” is not a metaphor. Rap is still just a side job for him, as he’s been rumored to recruit around Oakland. Despite his age, his reputation hasn’t gone untarnished away from home either. Just last month, at Ticketfly venue The Knitting Factory in Boise, he was arrested for allegedly getting into a scuffle with security over trying to escort some underage girls backstage.

After his recent trouble-making, I really thought I would see the raw version of Too $hort I was hoping for on Saturday. And what I got was, well, a funk jam session. Sure, he did the hits- he brought out Blow the Whistle and Life is…Too $hort pretty early on. Unfortunately they were interspersed with a soul and funk show that I was not expecting. Especially after waiting almost 3 hours for him to come on stage. I had heard about his Town Bizness project, but this wasn’t being billed as a Town Bizness show, which was a little mis-leading. I think my best friend Ben put it best when he said “I blame Blackstar. It’s like rappers started thinking that we wanna hear some electric guitar when we paid to see a hip-hop show. You don’t need a full band. You need a mic.” Come on, Too $hort- degrade me and give me the filthy offensive show I can tell my therapist about on Tuesday. On some tracks, the band was a welcome addition. Hearing the live base and back-up vocals on I’m a Player was rad, but I didn’t need a jam sesh all night.

I saw Dave Chappelle in Oakland recently, and even he pointed out the change. Apparently $hort came to one of his shows and Dave assumed this meant things were gonna “get crazy.” But all he wanted to do after the show was go get chicken and waffles. Dave said- “What the f*ck is happening to Oakland that all Too $hort wants to do is just go grab some food?” Maybe post-Boise, he was trying to lay low. Who knows. But this story seemed consistent with the show we got at Mezzanine. Maybe the show changed a bit further in, but around 1 am, Ben said to me- “You wanna go get some McDonald’s?” And then we left.

One highlight, besides the Too $hort classics, was Kev Choice, an Oakland rapper on keys all night, who did a couple of his own songs and infused some Oakland rap into an otherwise rock-heavy set, even with his jazz and funk-inspired background. Dude can do it all apparently.

Now, the Too $hort transformation isn’t all bad. After a long stint living in Atlanta, he came back to not only work on Town Bizness and put out their album, but to give back to the community that made him famous, working with Youth Uprising and opening up his own studio, which now seems to have been shut down, possibly due to his alleged involvement with a hit and run 10 years earlier. So much for trying to give back. Can a man get a break?

I’m glad I went to the show. I’m not gonna hate on somebody for trying to break out of a box- I just wish I had gotten a warning. He still brought a lot of  what we were looking for. And the crowd was certainly good-looking and nicely mixed. I respect the musical direction he’s going- it’s just not for me. I’ve never been a huge fan of live funk. But $hort, the next time you have a show, I’m gonna give it another shot. Because…

I remember how it all began. You used to sing dirty raps to your East Side fans…

And for those of you in LA, you can catch him at The Key Club on 11/6. Be sure to let me know how it goes. I’m curious to see if he’ll take that whole crew with him down to LA.

Show Review: Billy Idol at The Fillmore, 8/17/10

by Dakin Hardwick, Customer Support Shift Supervisor

Billy Idol

Billy Idol is one of those rare icons that manages to be embraced by many different generations and scenes. He came out of the UK punk scene, including putting together two of the most influential bands of the 70s: Siouxsie & The Banshees and Generation X. He later become one of the few artists to embrace both hair metal and new wave, and he still manages to sell out venues across the country 20 years after his last major hit, such as The Fillmore in San Francisco, where I recently had the pleasure of catching him.

As he walked on stage on front of the adoring crowd, we could see that age has treated him well. His audience is still primarily women. I’d say the ratio was about 5 to 1 at this show, and he definitely feeds off it. He opened up with the swagger-heavy “Ready Steady Go” and ran that straight into “Dancing With Myself.” His voice sounded perfect, with his Elvis meets Johnny Rotten tenor still sounding as crisp as it ever has. Longtime sideman Steve Stevens was also along for the ride, and manages to impress as well. Although he is the lead guitarist, he seems to prefer playing acoustically, and it brought an interesting dynamic to a lot of Idol’s more soulful work, such as “Flesh For Fantasy” and “Eyes Without A Face.” Midway through the set, Stevens even managed to pop out an impressive bit of flamenco guitar improv for about five minutes that managed to impress some of the most world music-phobic people in the crowd.

The main set closed with a brutal, extended take on “Rebel Yell” that encouraged plenty of the required fist pumping, and then they encored with a reading of the classic “White Wedding” that should be studied by anyone considering a career in showbiz. The song began as an acoustic number, just Stevens and Idol. At the end of the 2nd chorus, Idol held a scream at the lip of the stage that lasted a full 45 seconds, all while the entire stage was dark with the exception of the single spotlight on Idol. Then, BAM! Like lightning the band reappeared to finish the song in full electric glory! It was a mind blowing way to cap off a killer show.

Billy Idol will be playing as part of the HFStival at Merriweather Post Pavilion on September 18th.

You can check out more of Dakin’s reviews, as well as his music nerdtastic Podcast at The Spinning Platters.

Show Review- Lazer Sword, Rainbow Arabia, Religious Girls, Sister Crayon

Hi Music Nerds!

We’re gonna start running regular show reviews on our blog. We figured, hey, we have so many show-going music fanatics working for Ticketfly, why not put them to work?! (Well. On TOP of the fantastic work they’re already doing!)

Here is the first in that series:

Lazer Sword, Rainbow Arabia, Religious Girls, Sister Crayon

The Rickshaw Stop, SF

August 26, 2010

by Adam Beck, Senior Customer Support Rep

LS

Rushing in to the Rickshaw, I was pleased to see such a large crowd for a Thursday night event. I arrived slightly later than intended, causing me to miss all but the last second of Sister Crayon’s set. I had really hoped to catch this Sacramento quartet. Their EP, Enter Into Holy (Or)ders has been making the rounds on my iPod for the last couple months.
Religious Girls played shortly after, sporting a new line up. After seeing this band multiple times in warehouse settings with little or no PA, it was exciting to see them play in a club with such a good sound system. The drums were loud and upfront in the mix, which really heightened the danceable elements of their new material.

Rainbow Arabia was next, and highlighted a common trend of world beats meeting 80’s Madonna-style pop. I found their best songs were a middle of the road balance between retro and non-western polyrhythms, when they ventured too far in either direction, they came off as too insincere and generic.

Finally, Lazer Sword took the stage. I was thoroughly impressed with the timbre of their music, the electronic sounds and thick bass sounded amazing in a club setting, clear and full in a way that live music can’t really match. I was initially worried that a laptop based duo might be boring to watch, but the combination of the Rickshaw’s light show and Low Limit’s stage antics kept me mesmerized. They also exploited the world beats meets retro 80’s trend, but in a new, exciting way, which seemed far more cutting edge and less like trend hopping then the previous act.

In the end, I was impressed by Pretty Blue Presents’ ability to book a bill which drew parallels between four otherwise disparate groups.

Band info:

Lazer Sword Website @Lazer Sword

Rainbow Arabia @RainbowArabia

Sister Crayon @SisterCrayon

Religious Girls

You can also check out Adam’s band Chambers, who rocked the face off of The Rickshaw Stop last night!