Mid-April, the time of year when the San Francisco Bay Area avails itself of the between-weekend touring by Coachella artists. 2017’s Coachella spill-over brought The xx to San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for not one, not two, but a whopping three nights of shows.
Hailing from London, The xx are running high on their latest release I See You which dropped in January to critical acclaim. So it came as no surprise that the fans packed the front of the 7,000 capacity venue on Easter Sunday as the DJ warmed things up before opener Sampha’s 45 minute set.
The crowd went nuts when The xx finally took the stage at 9:40 and launched into “Say Something Loving” off of I See You. Fresh off playing in front of the massive Coachella crowds, The xx were downright giddy and nearly speechless over the reaction from the San Francisco crowd.
The Kills are on the road supporting their 15th anniversary with a handful of West Coast dates that wrapped up at Oakland’s Fox Theater.
Those who arrived early were treated to an amazing set by Dream Wife. Based in London with an Icelandic vocalist (who spent the first 10 years of her life in the Bay Area and was clearly stoked be back), the band tore through a generous 40 minute set that showed why The Kills have tapped them for this tour. Crunchy, searing guitars juxtaposed with dreamy, charged vocals made for a set that few will forget.
Sufficiently primed for the headliners, the anticipation for The Kills 9:30 set was palpable as the crew transformed the stage, finally revealing a giant Ash & Ice backdrop. Strolling out onto the stage and blasting into “Heart of a Dog,” The Kills quickly demonstrated that they meant business.
Jamie Hince played muse on guitar to Alison Mosshart’s vocals … the stone-faced yin to her wild, hair-flinging yang. Near-perfect opposites that together were a combined force on stage that had the crowd ecstatic and rapt with attention.
With a new album and a new tour, Bon Jovi paid a visit to San Jose’s SAP Center for a Wednesday night of rock and roll.
The lights finally went down in the arena around 8:30 and people scurried to their seats as the band broke into “This House Is Not For Sale” and a scrim dropped across the front of the stage. Immediately on their feet and arms in the air, the capacity crowd was clearly familiar with and no doubt pumped to hear the new material.
After a few moments, the scrim was removed and the arena lit up, revealing the full extent of the production. While the stage was predictably set up at one end of the arena, it was left open on all sides allowing for great views from the seats behind and to the side of the stage. Early on Jon joked that those folks would be forced to look at his rear for the next two and a half hours but shortly thereafter took advantage of catwalks to give those folks some love during “We Got It Goin’ On.”
What was unique about the show’s production was that lighting was hung all the way around the venue pointed at the audience. What that meant for the show was that it felt much more intimate than one would expect for an arena show … like you were watching it with 15,000 of your friends. Bon Jovi took maximum advantage of this, relishing in his interaction with the crowd as the lighting above the stage literally reconfigured itself differently for each song.
Now in its 25th year, San Francisco’s Noise Pop Festival shows no signs of letting up. Its ten days of live music from dozens of bands across numerous Bay Area venues finally culminated at Oakland’s Fox Theater with a headlining set by Ty Segall.
The crowd at the Fox was sparse for the 7pm start of Axis: Sova’s set but the room filled quickly and by the time White Fence took the stage, the floor was packed and the house was clearly ready to party.
With the atmosphere properly teed up, hometown heroes Shannon and the Clams stepped on stage and knocked it out of the park. If you live in the Bay Area you’ve no doubt seen this band play all shapes and sizes of stages, so it was inspirational to see them truly shine on the big stage where their garage-punk doo-wop had the floor noticeably bouncing beneath the capacity crowd.
Alter Bridge is out on the road for their The Last Hero Tour, aptly named after their most recent release on Napalm Records. While the band last passed through the Bay Area in 2016 with Breaking Benjamin, they haven’t done a proper headlining set since 2014, so the San Francisco fans turned out early and in force … even Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach was on hand for the good time.
Nonpoint has been around for the better part of a decade but seeing them Monday night in San Francisco was like seeing them for the first time. Drummer Robb Rivera had his kit up sideways and, along with the rest of the band, radiated energy during the 40 minute set. They kept their crushing set light, however, jokingly introducing themselves as Korn and slipping in a cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” before being joined by Machine Head’s Phil Demmel to close the set with “Bullet With A Name.” No doubt a tough act to follow.
With the Regency Ballroom now packed to the rafters and the front row lined with women, Alter Bridge finally took the stage. One word to sum up their performance … heavy! With The Last Hero out only since late last year, it was clear from the crowd’s reaction that this is an album with a lot of legs. Busting out the new material straight-away with “The Writing on the Wall,” it was clear that the new album had already made its rounds in the Bay Area. No one was standing around waiting for the old stuff … the crowd jumped right in as Tremonti and Kennedy laid down some of the heaviest riffs of the night.
Memphis, Tennessee’s very own country-punks Lucero made a return visit to San Francisco’s Fillmore for a Saturday night throw down.
The crowd, which had been chatty during opener Esmé Patterson’s set, grew impatient as Lucero finally took the stage and frontman Ben Nichols set about methodically tuning his acoustic guitar. But once the music kicked in, the heavily flannelled and bearded crowd quickly settled into the deliberate groove. It was going to be a long night at there was certainly no rush from the band’s perspective as Ben took time to chat between tunes and frequently consult with pianist Rick Steff on the setlist.
The drinks flowed liberally as Ben repeatedly promised to break out the electric guitar and kick things up a notch or two. Unfortunately there were a few casualties during the 45 minute acoustic portion of the set with a few dudes being manhandled by friends to the lobby where they ultimately succumbed to the drink. Ah well, more Lucero for the rest of us.
In what has to be one of the most unexpected touring pair-ups so far this year, Reel Big Fish and Anti-Flag have teamed up for a co-headlining tour across North America along with support from Pkew Pkew Pkew and Ballyhoo! So what happens when you combine the good time party vibes of RBF’s ska with the punk political activism of Anti-Flag? Well according to San Francisco, the answer is good times.
Coincidence or not, both Reel Big Fish and Anti-Flag are celebrating the 20th anniversaries of milestone releases—Turn the Radio Off by RBF and Die for the Government by A-F. As such, both bands took the opportunity to recognize their respective milestones including a front-to-back run through by Reel Big Fish.
Anti-Flag delivered one of those crushing hour-long sets for which they are well-known. The front rows were seething with crowd surfers as the rest of the general admission floor left ample room for a large and enthusiastic pit. While likely a little more physical than they’re used to, AF’s infectious performance clearly drew in the RBF fans as Chris#2 and Pat Thetic ended the set on the floor in solidarity with the crowd for “Brandenburg Gate.”
Adam Ant made his triumphant return to San Francisco on a wet Tuesday night at the historic Fillmore in support of the 2015 re-mastered anniversary release of the classic Kings of the Wild Frontier. After extensive touring in Europe, the enthusiasm has clearly followed him across the pond and by the time the doors opened at 7 PM, the line to get in was already down the block and around the corner.
The evening kicked off with an opening set from Southern California’s very own Glam Skanks. Equal parts New York Dolls and The Runaways, it’s hard to know if the “skanks” label applies, but no doubt there was plenty of “glam” to be had. Frontwoman Ali Cat ruled the stage, fringes a-flutter as the band tore through a brief but well-received set.
9 PM rolled around and Adam Ant and his band triumphantly took the stage to his intro music which visibly fueled the already anxious crowd, many who had come in Ant-inspired costumes. But when the dual drum kits finally hit the thundering opening beats to “Dog Eat Dog,” the sold out crowd flat-out went nuts.
For those following the “Kings” theme, the setlist should not have come as a surprise. Adam and the band proceeded to blast through the 1980 Adam and the Ants classic from front to back without missing a beat. Looking lithe and energetic, hitting every note as he commanded the stage, Mr. Ant defied his 62 years of age.
Swedish pop songstress Tove Lo’s October 2016 release of Lady Wood has set the stage for a very busy 2017. Her “Lady Wood Tour” kicked off just this past Monday in Seattle and, after a thorough North American run, will head to Europe and then onto South America before a pair of performances at Coachella.
Wednesday night found the Tove Lo caravan returning to Oakland’s historic Fox Theater. Opener Phoebe Ryan was a clear hit with the gathering crowd, many of whom were quite familiar with her music. But with black curtains strung across the stage behind her band, it was hard to forget that the main act was still to come.
Even as the crew went about setting up the stage between acts, a giant curtain blocked the stage, heightening the anticipation. And when “Fairy Dust” finally rolled as the intro music, shadows projected onto the curtain from the back of the stage revealed hints of what was about to transpire. When the curtain finally did drop, the packed house went wild.
If you happened to be meandering down San Francisco’s Market Street around 6 PM this past Sunday night (1/22), you could not have missed the long line of people winding down the street from 6th and around the corner onto Turk, quietly waiting in the drizzling rain for the doors to open at the Warfield. Bringing everyone together … Japan’s very own ONE OK ROCK.
By the time opener Our Last Night took the stage, there was a tight arc of folks packed in front of the stage. While few in the room seemed familiar with the band, the reaction was universally positive and their cover of Imagine Dragons had the crowd singing along.
With the audience sufficiently primed and the room appropriately packed, it was time for the headliner. Taking the stage to blaring lights, the band launched into “Taking Off” and the crowd went nuts as the pent-up energy in the room was finally released. Frontman Taka Moriushi sprinted between all corners of the stage, pausing early on to encourage a mosh that never fully materialized as the crowd was much too busy singing and dancing along.