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.
The last few years have been painfully quiet for AFI fans. The touring cycle for 2013’s Burials was followed by silence and then more silence. But since the band started teasing the prospect of new material late last year, the anticipation has continued to build so that when a new album and a tour were finally announced, fans snapped up tickets quickly. Fast forward to January 21, 2017 … AFI’s brand new self-titled release has been out for a day and the lobby at Oakland’s Fox Theater is abuzz. Three years has clearly been too long for the hometown crowd.
The audience was quiet but thoughtful for openers Souvenirs and The Chain Gang of 1974’s moody pop which may have had a few people wondering if AFI was going to switch things up style-wise. But as their set neared, chants of “through our bleeding, we are one” echoed from the audience and anticipation peaked. Any concern likely was tossed aside.
The band strolled casually onto the stage and frontman Davey Havok perched himself on top of his riser as the intro rolled to “I Hope You Suffer,” an unexpected yet powerful opener that made the room lose their shit, in no small part due to Havok’s vocals which arguably sounded stronger than ever.
The more observant folks in the room may have noticed the super-long mic chord carefully curled up at the edge of the stage. Not half-way through the first song, Davey was perched on top of the general admission pit wailing as people tried to crowd surf their way to him. Back on stage, the band launched right into “Girl’s Not Grey” and the crowd surged even more forward.
Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown are out on the road co-headlining an ambitious tour that found the bands in San Jose, California at the SAP Center on Halloween night along with special guests As Lions and Sixx:A.M.
The evening kicked off early with a 6:30 set by As Lions featuring frontman Austin Dickinson who some may remember as either the vocalist in Rise to Remain which made a run on the Vans Warped Tour a few years ago—or as the son of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. Clearly the apple has not fallen too far from the tree and As Lions delivered an amped set to the unfamiliar crowd.
Next up, Sixx:A.M., Nikki Sixx’s main gig since Mötley Crüe officially called it quits and, from the looks of things, he’s clearly having a good time and not looking back. While Sixx:A.M. has been around for nearly a decade, DJ Ashba (guitar), James Michael (vocals), Dustin Steinke (drums), and the backup vocalists truly gave it their all like any new band fighting to win over new fans.
Timed for the midst of election season, Bad Religion’s aptly named “Vox Populi” (or “voice of the people” if your Latin is rusty) Tour is getting the word out. Halloween eve found the band at San Francisco’s Warfield along with tour mates Against Me! and Dave Hause in front of a packed house.
Given the quality of the touring line-up, people (many in dressed up for the holiday) bee-lined it for the prime viewing spots and, by the time Dave Hause took the stage with his brother, there was already a healthy crowd in attendance. What makes a tour like this special is the potential collaborations, so when Jay Bentley (Bad Religion) and Atom Willard (Against Me!) joined in on bass and drums for “Dirty Fucker” and “We Could Be Kings,” the dynamic in the room quickly shifted from a calm appreciation of the folky tunes to a high-energy rager that served as the perfect tee up for Against Me!’s set.
If you happened by the Against Me! merch table on your way in, you would have noticed a line that far out-stretched those for the other bands’ gear. Such is the enthusiasm that Against Me! gets wherever they go. So when they rolled on stage and launched into “True Trans Soul Rebel,” the floor not surprisingly packed in a little tighter as the fans danced and sang along to a setlist that highlighted the latest material but still went for some deep cuts like “Tonight We’re Gonna Give It 35%.” The only thing that marred the 45 minute set was the distraction by a few idiots fighting in the pit during “Teenage Anarchist.”
PHOTOS: REEVES PEELER | In its tenth and final year on Treasure Island, the Treasure Island Music Festival redefined my understanding of “agoraphobia.” Weather, location, communication and transportation were all stacked against Treasure Island, and I wasn’t the only Sunday festival-goer looking for a marginally convincing reason to stay in my pajamas. Yet somehow, on Sunday night I boarded a packed tour bus—cold, wet and dirty—with a big smile that reflected confidence in my decision to have made the trek.
This year, the festival had to move from one end of the island to the other, eliminating the insane city view that so many festival-goers hope to Instagram (a new location that festival organizers spun as offering “picturesque views of Oakland”). Rain and high winds set the tone for the entire weekend, forcing major festival draws like How to Dress Well and Ice Cube to play much-abbreviated sets, and bands on both days, including Flight Facilities and James Blake, to cancel their sets altogether.
Weekend ticket holders took to social media in droves demanding refunds after Saturday’s weather-induced fiasco (which apparently included a vending machine injury). But Sunday was a slight redemption for Treasure Island, as the crowd adjusted its expectations, adapted to the environment, and hunkered down on a mission to enjoy day two.
Car Seat Headrest was the start to my Sunday on Treasure Island. Admittedly not an objective review, this was my fourth Car Seat show since they played The Independent in January 2016. Each time I’ve seen Will Toledo and his band play, I catch something new that keeps me coming back for the next show. It’s the type of set that forces you to focus on one band member at a time, exposing something real about each musician in the context of a stunningly cohesive set.
After more than a month break, Gwen Stefani’s “This Is What The Truth Feels Like Tour” returned to the road with a Saturday night show at Mountain View, California’s Shoreline Amphitheatre along with opener Eve.
With a crowd that appeared to be about 70% women, the party started well in advance of Eve’s energetic set which had the packed amphitheatre on its feet and dancing along. As the crew set up the stage for Gwen’s set, it was clear that she was pulling out all the stops for this show. Criss-crossing ramps, platforms, giant screens, and oodles of lights set the tone for the balmy fall evening and what amounted to nearly a two-hour set.
Not surprisingly, the setlist drew heavily from her most recent release, but in spite of pulling a whopping 10 songs from her somber “breakup record,” Gwen kept things light. Clearly relishing in the crowd reaction, Gwen didn’t hesitate to get up close and personal with the fans that packed the front of the stage and at one point even invited a member of the audience up so that she could sign a tattoo.