Category Archives: TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: Justin Timberlake at the Oracle Arena, 3/15

It’s been over a year since Justin Timberlake dropped Man of the Woods and he finally brought the show to Oakland, California after having to reschedule from last fall due to bruised vocal chords. The delay certainly did not seem to impact the enthusiasm of the crowd which was clearly in the mood to party.

Upon entering the venue it became immediately clear why there were twenty or so semis parked out front. Timberlake’s stage took the concept of the “in the round” concert to a new level with a main stage on one end with a catwalk snaking through the crowd to a smaller stage on the other end. In the middle, the “Stage Bar” in the VIP “Party Pit” kept the drinks flowing.

Not surprisingly, the crowd was mostly women (many of whom seem to be dating Justin look-alikes) and when Timberlake finally emerged onto the stage back-lit by blazing white light, they collectively lost their shit. Well-choreographed and perfectly executed, Timberlake sprinted and danced across the arena floor along with his dance troupe, “The Tennessee Kids.”

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TVD Live Shots: Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, and Meyhem Lauren at the Fox Theater, 3/11

In support of his new album White Bronco, rapper Action Bronson has taken to the road along with partners in rhyme Meyhem Lauren and Roc Marciano. The Monday after Daylight Saving Time’s “spring forward” BS found the trio at Oakland’s Fox Theater. Not surprising, the fans slowly trickled into the venue. But you can usually gauge the ticket sales at any Fox show by the number of bars that are open and, with all but one bar running, the attendance quickly swelled to a fair-sized crowd.

For those not contributing to the haze of weed smoke that hung over the crowd, the contact high was inescapable. And with only two turntables and a microphone on stage, the change-overs were speedy. Together, this made for an evening that would prove to be chill by any measure. In fact, none of the acts even brought a single piece of merch to sell, leaving the venue opting to hawk Fox Theater shirts and hoodies.

Meyhem Lauren kicked things off and immediately had the crowd in his pocket. There was no doubt that the Oakland crowd loves this guy and, even when he stepped on stage later that night during both Roc’s and Action’s sets, he was met with huge cheers. In comparison, Roc Marciano seemed to have a tougher time keeping up the momentum. It wasn’t a bad set but he just never seemed to click with the crowd in the way that Meyhem was able to.

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TVD Live Shots: Muse and Walk the Moon at Oracle Arena, 3/9

It’s been a year and a half since Muse last passed through the San Francisco Bay Area but with a new album (Simulation Theory), there was good reason for a return visit, this time to a sold out Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Upon entering, fans were greeted with a massive stage setup which only hinted at the marvel that was set to unfold. Even during Walk the Moon’s 45 minute opening set, the stage was kept dimly lit to avoid letting slip any spoilers.

Doubling down on the space rock theme, the set kicked off with the band seeming to be “beamed” down to the stage while a squad of space trombonists marched their way to the end of the catwalk where frontman Matt Bellamy rose through the floor with mic in hand.

The arena, on its feet from the floor to the rafters, went nuts with what was only the start of a two-hour epic set that was full of surprises. Matt made frequent use of the catwalk before sprinting back to his main mic was fixed stage right. And while his range may have been sometimes limited, the insane visuals punctuated by a giant alien robot rising from behind the stage, more than made up for it.

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TVD Live Shots: Bob Mould and Film School
at the Fillmore, 3/2

The legendary Bob Mould took the stage at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium as part of the city’s annual Noise Pop Music and Arts Festival. Fans seemed to trickle in slowly as openers Film School kicked things off but by the time Bob’s set time rolled closer, it venue was near-capacity.

Clearly not a man for easing into things, Mould speed-walked onto stage without a hint of foreplay where his tech met him half way to the mic stand with his Strat at which point the show was officially on. Pushing his late 50s, Bob was as energetic as someone a fraction of his age as he spun his way around the stage while shredding on “The War,” all without missing a note.

With nothing on stage besides three guys and their instruments, the starkness of the production highlighted the sonic blast filling the room. It was loud and raw and simply mind-blowing. There’s an easy path for a guy like Mould … pick up an acoustic guitar and slow it all down. That is certainly not something that he seemed to have been considered for this tour. In fact, anyone who has given his excellent 2019 release Sunshine Rock a spin would have had a pretty good idea of what would be in store for the evening.

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TVD Live Shots: KISS at the Golden 1 Center, 2/9

A rainy Saturday night in Sacramento, a middle-aged gentleman sat at the bar across the street from the Golden 1 Center wearing a KISS Farewell Tour t-shirt from the year 2000. Nineteen years later, KISS is still playing to packed arenas and still talking about retiring. In fact after 45 years, their “End of the Road Tour” promises to be their last. And they mean it this time. Really.

Performance painter and the evening’s hype man David Garibaldi warmed up the crowd with some brushes and a couple of buckets of paint, transforming three huge black canvasses into rock and roll art as the music blasted. The arena was packed to the rafters when the curtain finally dropped, as Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, and Tommy Thayer were lowered to the stage to “Detroit Rock City” as both the pyro and the crowd went off.

The KISS purists are quick to point out their disappointment that neither original guitarist Ace Frehley nor original drummer Peter Criss are part of the band’s final tour. In fact, just seeing Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer wearing their iconic “Catman” and “Spaceman” makeup is sure to trigger the apoplectic rage of many a KISS Army die-hard.

KISS concerts have always been over the top and this night’s show was no different. Gene spat fire and blood during “God of Thunder,” Paul whizzed over the crowd to perform a couple of songs from a second stage that lowered from the rafters, and there was enough fire and pyro to singe hair in the nosebleed seats. Paul Stanley, still with that swoosh in his swagger, constantly peppered the crowd with picks and commanded the audience like a man far younger than his years. Gene stomped around in his platform boots, tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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TVD Live Shots: Metallica at the Golden
1 Center, 12/7

The hot ticket in town this past Friday was Metallica at the Golden 1 Center which should not come has a surprise since this is the first time in nine years that the band has played this city. Riding high on the 2016 release of Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, the band delivered a scorching set to the capacity crowd.

The evening kicked off with comedian Jim Breuer and his trusty sidekick Joe Sib warming up the crowd with games, tunes, and (of course) comedy, making the wait bearable as the clock ticked past 9 PM. When the lights finally dropped and the “The Ecstasy of Gold” started blaring through the PA, the entire arena stood at attention waiting for the band to emerge.

Having performed in the round for well-over two decades, Metallica has truly mastered this format for live shows and the Hardwired set was truly epic. Dozens of cube-shaped LED screens dropped from the ceiling keeping the attention of the crowd even as the band roamed every inch of the stage. Add the occasional pyro and flames from which you could feel the heat from almost anywhere in the venue, and you’ve got yourself a true spectacle. And if that’s not enough, during “Moth Into Flame,” drones emerged from trap doors in the stage and buzzed around the band members’ heads.

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TVD Live Shots:
Jake Shears at the Fillmore, 11/14

It’s been exactly one year since I saw Jake Shears live in London. It was one of two shows where he would showcase new music a few weeks before the official release of his debut record. That was November 14, 2017, and it just so happens that I would be in San Francisco to see the show again on November 14, 2018. I know, what are the odds?

Then again, what are the odds that anyone would put so much time and effort into crafting a remarkable album in the era of the single? A time when albums as a whole are under attack by seemingly shorter attention spans and the current viral flavor of the week? Enter Jake Shears and his eponymous debut record which he’s quoted as saying “This is a fucking expensive record…but I made something that’s exactly the way that I want it to sound. It’s become a lot harder to make music the way I just did it.” Amen to that Mr. Shears.

But it’s not just the investment from a cost point of view that goes into this record, and you can tell there’s not only a tremendous amount of passion here but also a healthy dose of pain. The song titles read like the chapters from a life’s narrative—someone who’s figured out a way to take virtually every element of emotion and inject it seamlessly through a storyline.

It’s like a soundtrack without a motion picture that relies more on storytelling, knockout hooks, soaring harmonies, and enormous production values that take the listener on a journey where they conjure up their own visuals along the way. It’s one of those records you can throw on the turntable, sit back in a bean bag chair with a pair of over the ear headphones and get lost for an hour reading along with the liner notes. When is the last time any music lover did this?

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TVD Live Shots: Daughters at Bottom of the Hill, 11/10 and 11/11

Very rarely will a band live up to the industry hype that’s swirling around it during that ever so important album release and subsequent tour, but this is one of those times where it does. Having signed to Mike Patton’s Ipecac records, the Rhode Island band Daughters return with their first album in 8 years, You Won’t Get What You Want. Critics and fans alike are hailing this record as the perfect evolution of the band. The songs, the lyrics, the musicianship; but most importantly the live show have all come together as the stars have finally aligned for these post-punk underdogs.

How good is the live show? So fucking good that I went two nights in a row and brought my camera to document the experience at the nightmarishly dark and small (but super cool) Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. Daughters would headline for two sold-out nights with rumors that Mr. Patton himself would be in attendance for night two. The calm before the storm took place just after 10PM—then the fury would hit fast and hard.

Frontman Lex Marshall and guitarist Nicholas Andrew Sadler lead the five-piece live band which quickly becomes an orchestrated assault on all senses. It falls somewhere between a Mack truck crashing through a brick wall at 100 miles per hour and a massive wall of noise that teeters in and out of Melvins-style drudge and punk fury. The remarkable thing here, and what makes it so unique, is the underlying melody that brings an element of light to the overwhelming darkness and anger that ignites the crowd. There was a full-blown mosh pit that would rival anything I’ve seen at a Slayer or Lamb of God show.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Struts, The Wrecks, and Thunderpussy at
the Fillmore, 11/9

With their second album, Young & Dangerous, fresh out of the hopper, The Struts have the perfect reason to return to the states for a proper headlining tour. “The Body Talks Tour” hit The Fillmore in San Francisco on a Friday night for a sold-out evening of music.

The high-octane evening kicked off with opening sets from Thunderpussy and The Wrecks. Both bands clearly brought a good number of their own fans and proceeded to deliver incredibly energetic sets for the packed house. Whoever curated the tour lineup knocked it out of the park.

The Struts took the stage at 10PM and launched into “Primadonna Like Me,” the new album’s first single. Even though the record has been out only a few days, the San Francisco crowd clearly came prepared, ready to sing and dance along with front man Luke Spiller whose antics served to rile the already boisterous crowd.

Guitarist Adam Slack, it would later be revealed, was operating on minimal sleep after the previous evening’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show … clearly moving a little slowly as he sipped Lite Beer from a can, but his fingers flew across those frets when the moment demanded it. Bassist Jed Elliott and drummer Gethin Davies seemed to have fared much better from the previous night’s festivities and appeared to relish in Slack’s discomfort.

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TVD Live Shots:
Arctic Monkeys and
Mini Mansions at the
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 10/20

Apparently one night of Arctic Monkeys was not enough for San Francisco who brought their Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino Tour to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for two sold out nights.

Saturday night (night #1) found the fans outside on Grove Street clamoring to get through security in time to catch Mini Mansions 40 minute opening set. By the time Arctic Monkeys finally took the stage around 9:20 PM, the venue was literally packed to the rafters.

The band strolled nonchalantly onto stage and frontman Alex Turner, sporting a pale yellow suit, took the spotlight in front of his mic stand as the band launched into “Four Out of Five.” The band’s hiatus leading up to the release in May of this year of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino seems to have had no impact on the fans’ enthusiasm. In fact, it only seems to have fueled the fervor.

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TVD Live Shots: MC50, Starcrawler, and Locus Pocus at the Regency Ballroom, 10/4

The legendary Wayne Kramer is on the road celebrating the 50th anniversary of the MC5 classic, Kick Out The Jams including a stop at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom. The evening kicked off with Locus Pocus … think Cage the Elephant meets the Doors … an odd combo that for some reason works. Well.

Next up, Starcrawler from Los Angeles. For those that have never seen Starcrawler, they were no doubt in awe. Much like watching a music horror movie unfurl before your eyes, waif-thin front woman Arrow de Wilde wailed through their short but powerful set during which she spat on the crowd and accosted the front row while the band blasted through the tunes. Raw, powerful, and downright good but also sometimes painful to watch. Go see them.

MC5

MC5 hit the stage a smidge before 10 pm following an intro in the form of political rant by local punk rock luminary Jello Biafra. Kramer kicked off the set on vocals for “Ramblin’ Rose” and the crowd (still a bit shell-shocked by Starcrawler) came out of its daze. Backed by Billy Gould (Faith No More) on bass, Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) on guitar, Brendan Canty (Fugazi) on drums, along with vocalist Marcus Durant (Zen Guerrilla), this show could not be anything but memorable.

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TVD Live Shots: Rise Against, AFI, and
Anti-Flag at the Concord Pavilion, 9/28

Rise Against’s two month “Mourning in Amerika Tour” spent two months spreading the word across the United States before wrapping up this past week. The Vinyl District caught up with the tour at the Concord Pavilion on a cool and breezy Fall Friday night for what proved to be a high-energy evening of music.

Anti-Flag kicked off the evening with an electric 40 minute set that got the crowd moving (and hopefully thinking). This is a band that consistently delivers highly energetic and thought-provoking sets and, even though in the opening slot, showed no indication or interest in phoning it in.

Next up, AFI Hailing from Northern California, these guys are considered a local band and their diehard fans crammed the rail for their set. Let’s face it, A.F.I. doesn’t play here (or anywhere else for that matter) frequently so the anticipation was high and A.F.I. did not disappoint. It didn’t matter how long A.F.I. was going to play, it was never going to be enough but the hour-long set sounded top-notch and was full of energy from every member of the band and the fans lost their shit for every note of it, especially “Sacrifice Theory,” apparently a special song request by Joe Principe of Rise Against.

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TVD Live Shots: Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, and Jake Burns at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 9/27

Dropkick Murphys

It’s been a long time coming … the obvious touring matchup between Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. The day finally came to San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the streets outside the venue still littered with the evidence from Metallica’s crushing performance only the night before. Chances are, the folks attending this Thursday night show didn’t even notice between dodging the derelicts that were no longer shut out of their streets.

The evening kicked off early with a 30 minute acoustic set by Stiff Little Fingers’ frontman, Jake Burns. Seated in a chair with only his guitar, Jake riffed and ripped through SLF tunes storyteller style with tales from the writing and recording of SLF classics which included a recounting of how he hung up on The Who’s Pete Townshend. No doubt Jake was one of the highlights of what would turn out to be a great evening of music.

Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly took the stage in true Flogging Molly fashion, toasting the crowd with cans of Guinness beer before ripping into “Paddy’s Lament.” Notably absent from this evening’s line-up was banjo player Bob Schmidt but that didn’t seem to stop the San Francisco crowd from impressing frontman Dave King with plenty of dancing. No doubt, Flogging Molly quickly ramped the party at the Bill Graham into full tilt mode as the pounded through the classics as well as a few “new” (ish) tunes and occasionally “ribbing” on NOFX’s Fat Mike who was enjoying the show from side stage.

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TVD Live Shots: Metallica at
Dreamforce, 9/26

Metallica

Every year about this time, tech giant Salesforce takes over San Francisco for its annual Dreamforce conference. And with Dreamforce comes the annual Concert For Kids benefit which features a seemingly endless supply of food, drink, and of course music.

This year’s Concert For Kids took over San Francisco’s Civic Center including City Hall and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for the festivities which featured local heavy metal titans, Metallica, performing on a stage constructed in the middle of Larkin Street.

Metallica

For those less metal-inclined, Janet Jackson offered a safer alternative with a performance inside the Bill Graham Civic but it’s hard to imagine that it was very crowded by the looks of the sea of techies packing Civic Center Plaza as “The Ecstasy of Gold” rolled over the PA signaling the start of a 90 minute set that peppered a few new tunes in with the classics that were likely to resonate with a crowd that generally did not appear to be full of Metallica diehards. That said, it was a party and the attendees were more-than-content to rock out with a free beer in one band and a cell phone in the other.

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TVD Live Shots: Greta Van Fleet and Dorothy
at the City National Civic, 9/18

Greta Van Fleet

To describe the rise of Greta Van Fleet as dramatic would be a vast understatement; from the release of a pair of lauded EPs in 2017 to a major headlining tour including three San Francisco Bay Area shows (all in venues well over 2,000 capacity) BEFORE their first full length album has even dropped is nothing short of baffling. The three Kiszka brothers (Josh/vocals, Jake/guitar, Sam/bass/organ) and drummer Danny Wagner have pulled off something simply unheard of in music today.

One listen to GVF and you’ll get a sense for why. Retro, blues-based rock and roll (the Plant/Zeppelin comparisons can’t be avoided) performed by a bunch of youngsters (the average age of the band members hasn’t quite hit the legal drinking age in the US) strikes a nerve and bridges generations. This is quite apparent after one look at the San Jose crowd.

Dorothy

San Jose is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to turning out for live music but, even being flanked by shows in Oakland and San Francisco, San Jose turned out in force. 90% of those who were outside when the doors opened bee-lined it to either the front of the stage or the barricade. The remaining 10% grabbed primo seats to watch the show.

Close to the end of opener Dorothy’s set, an older gentleman spied my media credentials and leaned over to ask, “Do you think rock and roll is back?” The short answer was, “I guess we will see,” but one look around would suggest a simpler answer … “yes.”

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