Clubs and venues usually see a decrease in attendance during the summer as vacations and festivals vie for us wage slaves’ precious greenbacks. Do not visit your family. Don’t go to Lollapalooza in Chicago. Stick around, save your cash, and blow it on something worth seeing, like the following local musicians.
A No. 1 Billboard 200 chart debut this month and 182,000 units sold can’t be wrong — East Bay gothcore band AFI knows how to entertain. This fifteen-year-old quartet headed by Oakland resident Davey Havok plays every show like it’s the last, winning AFI a rabid fan base called the Despair Faction. Mosh pits, crowd surfing, stage diving, fights — the band runs a tight, high-energy show that moves from radio station hits to fan club favorites with a nary a half-step break. Properly costumed in tattoos, black hair, “guyshadow” (male eyeshadow), and whatnot, the four bandmembers roam the world this summer to support their second DreamWorks album, Decemberunderground. Major stops on the Vans Warped Tour and a quick outing to Japan mean you’re bound to catch them somewhere. AFireInside.net
A dude rapping in front of a turntable can get old by song two. Yet this Oakland-based hip-hop duo regularly pulls whistling, standing ovations and encores after they’ve busted their asses for hours. How? Well, one dude is named Gift of Gab, and he has it. He rhymes on the positive tip about drug addiction and taking care of your family instead of the usual murder, murder/kill, kill, kill. And DJ/producer Chief Xcel lays down crisp simple beats when he’s not cutting the whole thing up with some of the flashiest, complicated handiwork in the Bay Area (he’s DJ Shadow’s homey). Going on year fifteen in the biz, and touring this year to promote 2005 release The Craft, Blackalicious is one of the most reliably entertaining shows in hip-hop. Hopefully you’ll catch Gab rap the whole alphabet from analogue arsonist aimin’ at your artery to overzealous rhyme ZEA-LOTS! Pimmmp.
With two albums and about a hundred thousand miles spent inside their stinky tour van, West Oakland metalheads Domeshots combine the energy of a new band with the experience of jaded rockers. Fronted by short, rugby-player-looking singer Danner Alexander and aural terrorist-guitarist Jim Seichas, Domeshots creates a screeching, pounding wall of sound backed by mean leprechaun bassist Eric Tamo and enthusiastic drummer Dave Criss. What separates them from the metal hordes? Stamina. They’ve played more than 185 shows in a single year and will tour the West Coast throughout the summer and fall. Let’s leave the final word to the band: “Quite simply, we rock your faces off, musically deficate [sic] in the void, then sew it back up with kisses. When it’s all said and done, expect a call from Jail.”
A bushy-black-haired young dude belts out: Do you think about me in your quiet times?/Cast out soft-core demons when I come back home as piano notes cascade, drums pound, and guitar chords wail. The hipsters at Bottom of the Hill are confused. “Isn’t Anticon a rap label?” they say. Well, meet Why?, fronted by former Jew for Jesus and Oaklander Yoni Wolf, who doesn’t consider boundaries as he assembles snippets of inside jokes from a shattered relationship into spoken, sung, and rapped lines over minimal drums and the aforementioned piano and guitar. Rock? Too unplugged. Indie? Too hard. Rap? No DJs. SF Weekly called it rap-rock. Ouch. Maybe we’ll just call it good. Why? will tour Europe this summer while most of us are touring YouTube. Be sure to catch ’em when they return in late July.
Where to start? The terrible and powerful perversion of such an innocent childhood figure? The flamethrowers, motorcycles, and cookie guns? The leather miniskirted cookie girls pelting the audience? Or the wireless mic, which lets the leather-clad Mongoloid join you in the pit for a rousing, beer-soaked freakout? God bless this band. Founded in 2002 by local Devo cover band Mongoloid, these five creatures (plus the cookie girls) play Sesame Speed Metal. Some of their best songs: “Wash Yourself,” “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other,” and “C Is for Cookie.” Now, plenty of people will want to talk about artistic integrity and seriousness and yada yada. They’re douches. Drink nine warm Pabst Blue Ribbons, crush all the cans on your forehead, and possibly have the most fun you still can legally have in this country.
“What’s that slimy white thing he’s penetrating with a vacuum attachment? What in God’s name is going on here?” The answer is Matmos, a freaky fusion of art-school sound stunts, and balls. Namely the balls of Mission District residents MC Schmidt and Drew Daniels. Schmidt is a “Sound as Art” college instructor, while Daniels just finished a Ph.D in literature, which gives the duo’s antics academic grounding and justification. Just ask Björk, who brings them along on tour, or the Whitney Museum of Art in New York, where their work is shown … er, heard. Schmidt says the best way to listen to their new CD The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast is to lie on the floor in a dark room with headphones on. In lieu of such sonic sequestering, take in their first ever North American tour, which returns here in October, and be prepared to be confused, delighted, and a bit scared every now and then. “Is he really playing a cow uterus?” Yes. Yes, he is.
13 and God
Here’s a crazy idea. Combine some famous German electronica dudes (the Notwist) and some white Oakland rappers (Themselves) into a pan-continental übergroup that does neither electronica nor rap. Welcome to 13 & God, a fancy melange of vocals, keyboards, samples, and about fifteen other instruments that become impossible to track. That’s Adam “doseone” Drucker up front in a sport coat that’s sprouted angel wings and glitter. It waves back and forth, and he chants, Without a universal law there’d be no gravity/Without no gravity there’d be no atmosphere/Without an atmosphere there’d be no chance of life/and I don’t exist. Umm, I’ll take his word for it, largely because the sextet is making some of the weirdest, most moving ditties in town.
Flamenco and metal — two great spectacles have joined forces for good and evil. This seven-headed hybrid is fronted by authentic flamenco guitarist Benjamin Woods and Uriah Duffy, a world-renowned bassist who has worked with Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, the Family Stone, and Lyrics Born. Add Brian T. Spaulding on electric guitar and Thomas Perry on drums. Then bring in a second bassist and two dancers, a bunch of goth makeup, skulls, and candles, and we have a show. Expect violent shredded metal vocals and crazy, precise rhythms. Still don’t get the connection? Let Flametal do the talking: “Flamenco relies on duende, or a deep existential sadness, for much of its emotional impact, while metal is all angst. Why not bring these two tortured forms together and see what dark creature might be born?” Why not, indeed?
Sila and the Afrofunk Experience
This eleven-person funky fusion of African rhythm, funk, soukous, Afrobeat, and reggae stars Kenya native and Bay Area resident Sila. Expect shaking asses when they take over the stage at SF’s Independent for late July’s Afrofunk Festival. The live shows to support the band’s new album, The Funkiest Man in Africa, feature Swahili-and-English-speaking Sila alongside guitarist Ken House and drummer Tai Kenning, with Wendell Rand on bass, David Boyce on sax, plus David James on guitar. And don’t forget Mohammed Kouyate and Samba Guisse on djembe, Mike Pitre on trumpet, and African DJ Jeremiah Kpoh, plus Andre Webb on trombone and the two Afrofunk sisters Malisa and Tamik. Jesus! Easily one of the longest and most intense bills in the region; see ’em July 1 at the Fillmore Jazz Festival as well.
Summer fun with the has-beens.
By David Downs
June 30, Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord
Every rose has its thorn, and Poison has hundreds. Formed in Pennsylvania, transplanted to Los Angeles, signed in ’86, and rehabbed by 2005, this cock-rock glam band has sold more than 25 million albums. Damn. You can bet this show will be packed with big-haired soccer moms reliving high school. You’ll hear all Poison’s hits, major and minor, including that old soccer-dad anthem “I Hate Every Bone in Your Body But Mine.”
August 26, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View
Formed in the UK in 1977, and among the top selling rock bands of the ’80s, Def Leppard is one of the few to go up against Michael Jackson’s Thriller and hold its own. The band did it with a big-haired, big-sounding pop metal that set the template for Journey (see below) and other imitators. Drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in a car crash, learned to play a custom kit, and went on to release “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” And power ballad “Love Bites” was a No. 1 hit. Too bad that was fifteen years ago.
July 8, Pier 30, San Francisco
Does she still love rock ‘n’ roll? It’s a fickle lover, after all. Joan’s late-’70s all-girl rock band the Runaways did the hit “Cherry Bomb,” which led to industry typecasting that drove her indie. Screw ’em, she said, and rightly so. “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” went to No. 1, even though it was a cover. Actually, most of Jett’s biggest songs are covers. But this year she breaks a twelve-year album-free streak with Sinner.
Bell Biv Devoe
July 14, Paramount Theatre, Oakland
This East Coast rap act came off the New Edition crew, responsible for Another Bad Creation and the famed Boyz II Men. Presumably BBD was the first in a long line of bad creations.
July 25, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View
These ’70s jazzheads named for a steam-powered dildo in a William S. Burroughs novel played avant-pop music, scored huge hits like “Reelin’ in the Years,” got addicted to drugs, and sued for wrongful death and plagiarism and all manner of nonsense. Now they’re back. They’re supposed to be amazing live. The drunk, white, fifty-year-old crowd will be less amazing.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
July 25, Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord
Woodstock. Altamont. “Ohio.” Hippies. CSNY is an official museum piece that happens to play one of the better live shows around. Some fans come for Stills’ guitar work, others to see if Young will throw a fit about George W. Many just want to hear songs from each member’s insane back catalogue, which includes Buffalo Springfield songs and Young’s encyclopedic solo output. They may look like grandpas in flannel, but they’ll still dance circles around your granddad.
August 26, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View
The band is playing with Def Leppard. ‘Nuff said.