Category Archives: TVD San Francisco

TVD Live: The Melvins and Le Butcherettes at The Great American Music Hall, 10/21

The Melvins Photographed by Jason Miller-1

Has it really been 31 years since King Buzzo started the Melvins? Hard to believe that these guys have been sludging up the metal scene for more than three decades, and they still got it. Touring in support of their new record Hold it In, the Melvins played to a sold out, jam-packed Great American Music Hall last week and tore the roof off the place. The latest album showcases the band at one of their finest moments in my opinion, and is the first lineup to feature Buzzo and Crover, with Butthole Surfers members Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus.

King Buzzo certainly lives up to the “King” part of his name. The crowd was full of adoring punks, metalheads, burnouts, and even a sprinkling of hipsters who came to show their loyalty to one of the most eclectic artists in recent memory. (I even saw punk legend Jello Biafra hanging out.) Buzzo stalked across the stage wearing an outfit that looked like he was going to run to the top of a temple and welcome a new alien species to earth immediately after the show.

The Melvins Photographed by Jason Miller-4-2

The live set was nothing short of a spectacle as these three dudes might be the heaviest trio on the planet right now, as far as I’m concerned. The setlist that night was missing a few classic Melvin “hits” if you will, but new songs such as the brilliant “Bride of Crankenstein” made up for any of the expected staples from their classic albums.

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TVD Live Shots: Placebo at The Masonic, 10/23

Placebo band Photographed by Jason Miller-1-2

There are a few bands on this planet that are so unique you can identify their sound almost immediately. One of those bands is certainly Placebo. Formed in London in 1994 by singer-guitarist Brian Molko and guitarist-bassist Stefan Olsdal, they have released seven studio albums, all of which have reached the top 20 in the United Kingdom, and have sold around 11 million records worldwide.

Placebo released their latest album Loud Like Love last year and are currently touring the US for the first time in seven years. These guys do exactly what legendary artists do—they evolve their sound while staying true to the formula that their fans have grown to love. Frontman Brian Molko is a perfect example of an iconic eclectic rock star in every sense. His thought-provoking lyrics are genius and his ability to effortlessly combine elements of post-punk, glam, and electronica seamlessly layering them one on top of another creates incredible songs.

Placebo band Photographed by Jason Miller-1

With the release of Loud Like Love, Placebo have crafted an absolute masterpiece from start to finish. Every song on this album stands on its own. Brian Molko is one of those rare singers with such a unique voice that he needs no harmonies or special effects to enhance, only a massive sonic landscape as a foundation. And the live show is the perfect showcase for such brilliance.

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TVD Live Shots:
Hall & Oates at the Masonic, 10/17

What’s there really left to say about Hall & Oates? They continue to bring their unique brand of Philly rock and soul to adoring fans around the US and they sound better than ever doing so. Returning to Northern California for their annual pilgrimage, the duo delivered a stellar set to the sold out crowd at the recently renovated Masonic in San Francisco. The crowd was a mix of longtime fans and city dwelling hipsters that have likely just begun their celebration of the two 60 something legends.

Hall & Oates have sold more albums than any other duo in music history including thirteen gold and platinum albums. The setlist for the night featured all the hits you know and love: “Sarah Smile,” “Rich Girl,” “Out of Touch,” and an amazing, extended jam of “I Can’t Go For That.” Returning to the stage twice in response to standing ovations, the band came out with the hits a-blazin’, finishing off with “You Make My Dreams Come True,” “Kiss on My List,” and “Private Eyes.” Hall and Oates delivered a flawless performance and proved that they are truly a one of a kind, timeless group.

Hall and Oates Photographed by Jason Miller-1-2

The Masonic provided the perfect environment for the hits-a-palooza that evening. The mid-century auditorium formerly known as Nob Hill Masonic Center has been made over into a concert venue called The Masonic and reopened last month. The multi-million dollar renovation added a new stage, state-of-the-art sound system, bars and concession stands, and an open general admission space below the tiered seating. The venue’s capacity is now 3,300, giving S.F. concert-goers an opportunity to see big name bands in a space that’s less than half the size of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

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TVD Live: Anberlin at the Regency Ballroom, 10/11

Earlier this year it was announced that Anberlin would be disbanding after recording their seventh and final studio album and embarking upon one final tour. Somehow I completely missed this band during their heyday, but I’m glad that I got to see them live before they call it quits. The show last week at the Regency Ballroom was beyond capacity and seemed to be a fitting way to close out an impressive 12 year run with 7 albums selling more than 400,000 records along the way.

These guys should have been on my radar though, as guitarist Christian McAlhaney was previously in the Columbia Records band Acceptance and released the brilliant but terribly under-celebrated masterpiece Phantoms back in 2005. Acceptance was another one of those bands that was “supposed to be a breakout,” but the major label system destroyed any chance of that happening, so I am thrilled to see McAlhaney found a home with Anberlin. After this final tour I would expect him to eventually do something equally as brilliant.

Even though I didn’t recognize many of the songs that night, the fans were going absolutely crazy over these guys. This band has some incredibly dedicated fans and the entire crowd was hanging on every last note as Anberlin played their swan song for the Bay Area.

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TVD Live: Kasabian at the Fox Theater, 10/6

Photographed by Jason Miller-10-2

Why is it that the UK appreciates rock ‘n’ roll more than we do here in the states? Kasabian are hailed as one of the best British Bands of the 21st century overseas and in 2010 they won the coveted Q Award for “Best Act in the World Today.” So why are they not selling out arenas on this side of the pond? I have no idea, but they sure as hell own the stage and put on a concert for the ages wherever they bring their brilliant live show.

I’ve seen these guys numerous times over the years and I have celebrated the band’s catalog since the beginning. When I worked at Sony Music years ago I remember the folks from RCA records claiming that they had just signed the “next big thing.” I used to hear this all the time, but 9 times out of 10 the “next big thing” would be forgotten as we move on to the next priority. But Kasabian was different. Here’s a band that takes the mind-bending groves of the Stone Roses and combines them with the attitude of Primal Scream and poetic lyricism of Oasis, and then takes it to a whole new level. (And I’m sure they are sick and tired of this comparison, but it too damn perfect of a description.)

Photographed by Jason Miller-7-2

If I had to describe the band in one world it would be bombastic. The core of the band lies in two of its original members; vocalist Tom Meighan and guitarist and vocalist Sergio Pizzorno. These guys are nothing short of magical live as they feed off of one another, queuing up song after song without skipping a beat.

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TVD Live: Tears for Fears at the Fox Theater Oakland, 9/24

Photographed by Jason Miller-5

If you don’t celebrate Tears for Fears‘ entire catalog of genius and the fact that they pretty much led the second British Invasion of the ’80s, they you clearly don’t appreciate extremely well crafted pop music. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith founded Tears for Fears back in 1981 and last week the duo graced the Bay Area with a fantastic night of classic hits, and brilliant musicianship, all served up with a huge helping of nostalgic fun. The capacity crowd at the Fox Theater was a mix of aging hipsters and Silicon Valley elitists alongside a whole new generation of fans, and they were all treated to a show for the ages.

Their six studio albums have sold over 30 million copies worldwide and produced some of the most recognized songs from the New Wave movement. Tears for Fears’ phenomenal 10-million-selling second album Songs from the Big Chair marked a transition in the band’s sound and catapulted them to international superstardom. The setlist that night would prove that this album is truly a timeless classic that sounds just as amazing as it did when the world first heard it back in 1985. (Jesus, has it been that long? Yes it has.)

Photographed by Jason Miller-2-2

There are rumors swirling about that Orzabal and Smith aren’t getting along as well as they used to, but if that’s the case then they certainly fooled me. They were perfectly in sync on the stage together and I caught them smiling away at one another several times as they genuinely seemed to be enjoying playing together and the crowd ate it up.

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TVD Live: Karen O at the Great American Music Hall, 9/22

Of course you know Karen O as the eclectic frontwoman of the critically acclaimed Yeah Yeah Yeahs and as a fashion idol among the masses of hipster girls, but there’s a side to her that many of us have probably been missing. Last week Karen stopped by San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall for one of the few intimate shows in support of her newly released solo album, Crush Songs.

The show sold out in minutes and the venue would provide the perfect backdrop for her stripped down solo debut. Recorded in 2006 and 2007, Crush Songs is an intimate collection of lo-fi, bedroom recordings in the vein of Karen’s Oscar-nominated “The Moon Song” from the Spike Jonze movie Her. Perfect timing for Karen after performing the song live to a record 43 million viewers, the largest audience for the show in 14 years.

Photographed by Jason Miller-5-2

Joined on stage by the ultra-stripped down duo of Moses Sumney and Holly Miranda, Karen O was stunning in her gold dust woman styled, long sparkly dress. She seemed to be in sort of trance as she sang each of the songs, barely opening her eyes at all to see the capacity crowd. The lighting was at a bare minimum that evening while the trio performed under a neon lit sign that appropriately read “Crush Palace.”

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TVD Live: Sam Smith
at the House of Blues Boston, 9/15

Photographed by Jason Miller-1-2

While Sam Smith might not sing and write the type of music I usually cover here at TVD, I am making an exception for an exceptional talent. I was fortunate enough to catch Smith during a recent trip to Boston where he kicked off his US tour. This UK crooner is quite close to being the hottest ticket on the planet as he has quickly gone from buzzworthy crossover artist to full-on global superstar.

For those who somehow don’t know this phenomenon, Sam Smith is a soul singer/songwriter who rose to fame two years ago when he was featured on Disclosure’s breakthrough single “Latch.” Earlier this year his debut album, In the Lonely Hour was released and has so far moved over two million units. That is unheard of in this day and age of streaming and single downloads.

Photographed by Jason Miller-2

Smith wears his influences on his sleeve often recalling Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse, but I would say he’s much closer to a male version of Adele with a touch of classic, hipster soul. Smith took to the stage at the sold out House of Blues in Boston walking into an array of brilliant white lights. The look on his face was a mix of confidence and appreciation—confident that he was truly coming into his own and appreciative for the crowd who would hang on every single note from that point forward.

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Rich Robinson,
The TVD Interview

Best known as the guitarist, songwriter, and founder of the Black Crowes, Rich Robinson is touring in support of his third solo record, The Ceaseless Sight. 

I sat down with the man himself backstage at The Chapel during a recent show here in San Francisco to discuss the past, present, and all sorts of things rock ‘n’ roll.

My first question for you, back when you guys first hit the scene on Headbangers Ball, the Crowes were really nothing like any of the other bands they played and I wouldn’t call you a hair band per se. Was it part of the plan to debut your music there?

When we came out, that’s all there was—heavy metal—I mean, one of our first tours was with Metallica, AC/DC, and Queensryche.

You toured with Queensryche?

We were the first band on the stadium tour. It was us, Queensryche which—the techs for AC/DC called the Queens-wrong—so it was us, Queens-wrong, Motley Crue, Metallica, and AC/DC.

Did you like any of those bands?

I loved AC/DC.

When Nirvana came out did you foresee the demise of the genre?

Well, we really brought that down, I mean we weren’t solely responsible, but if you look at the context, that shit was dying. When our record came out, Shake Your Money Maker, it was so different from all that stuff, and it was the most played video on MTV that year. It was one of the biggest records of that year and it went on to sell over seven million copies.

Nirvana didn’t really come out until the beginning of—I want to say the beginning of when Southern Harmony came out, when that first video showed up. And I remember thinking like, “Wow this is really cool.” If you really think about it, it’s roots music. Nirvana was way into The Police and The Replacements and punk-pop music which was The Replacements all day, even lyrically. I thought it was a little heavier than The Replacements, but it was cool.

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TVD Live: Little Dragon at the Fox Theater, 8/22

Little Dragon Live at the Fox Theater Oakland-8-2

Gothenburg-based underground superstars Little Dragon might be the most difficult band to describe in words. I just read three different reviews of their brilliant new record on three elite hipster blogs, and after referencing the urban dictionary several times, none of them made any sense. It drives me crazy when a critic reviews a record and tries so damn hard that they end up confusing the hell out of the reader who just wants to know whether or not they should check out the band.

So, before I turn into the very critic that I am critiquing above, let me tell you how great Little Dragon is live. They deliver the entire package here folks—it’s not just a show but more of an experience. The music falls somewhere between Massive Attack, Portishead, and Motown’s Greatest Hits, while the performance is sort of like Pink Floyd hosting a rave in outer space with a charismatic MC leading the charge in the form of sultry, Swedish-Japanese vocalist Yukimi Nagano.

Little Dragon Live at the Fox Theater Oakland-6

Nagano recently told Rolling Stone that during the recording process, she wandered around the band’s longtime hometown of Gothenberg in winter while listening to Janet Jackson. If that’s what it takes to make an epic record of this magnitude, then I would suggest that Ms. Jackson should make a comeback any day now. Maybe Thom Yorke and Chris Martin should take note as they could really use a unique angle on their new records.

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