Friday, March 25, 2011

SFPD and CMAC Get Together

Today at noon, the California Music and Culture Association (CMAC) held a luncheon with Commander Greg McEachern of the SFPD and executive director Jocelyn Kane of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission regarding issues of public safety and law enforcement within the entertainment community. For a meeting between parties who have historically been at odds with each other, it was astonishingly amicable and warm-hearted. Commander McEachern explained that he is training his officers to develop strong working relationships with nightclubs and venues in neutral times, so that when trouble does arise, a precedent has already been set for useful dialogue between them. He admitted that, when an officer consistently receives calls to a certain location, he naturally begins to think of that location as problematic, and this can be an obstacle to effective communication - and that sometimes it is, indeed, a shortsightedness on the part of the officer that causes dispute. He encouraged the venues to bring such incidents to his attention, because, he emphasized, a working relationship between the police department and the entertainment community is of paramount importance, both to the parties involved and to San Francisco at large. 

Jocelyn Kane explained the complex dynamics of neighbor relations, and how an equitable compromise is often the best way of settling conflicts over noise and petty crime (public urination being one of the foremost). Even if a compromise is slightly disappointing to all parties, it is better to share this disappointment equally than to ignore completely the demands of one party. Seniority in the neighborhood, she repeated, furnishes no privileges - residents and business owners must cooperate, with the mediation of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission and, if necessary, the SFPD, to settle any dispute that may arise. Both CMAC and the San Francisco Entertainment Commission are concerned with the prevention of the archetypal "guy who likes to fight" from doing just that. 

This meeting seems to mark the beginning of a fruitful relationship between the SFPD, the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, and the venue staff, artists and music fans that comprise the California Music and Arts Association. We have CMAC to thank for protecting the interests of the Bay Area's entertainment community, and allowing venues to keep their doors open and the music pumping.

Revolt Tomorrow Night!

Don't miss out on the Revolt party at Mezzanine tomorrow night - we've got house legend David Harness, who has been described as 'a man who lives, breathes and emanates everything that is beautiful about deep house music and classic garage.' Harness has been active in the Bay Area since the 90s, and is the founder of the ongoing party 'Taboo' in the Mission, which showcases local talent as well as internationally-known DJs. He has established himself as a respected producer and remixer with his company DHJ Productions. Also spinning is the New Jersey-based, Dominican-born DJ Eddie Elias, who has been making his mark on the New York electronic scene, and San Francisco's own DJ Hawthorne, host of the weekly party 'Ghetto Disco.' It's gonna be a great party, get your tickets here!

YACHT Release MP3 of "Dystopia"

Portland-based band YACHT, whose purported modus operandi is to be a "Band, Business, and Belief System," has released an apocalyptic new track "Dystopia." The vocal harmonies sound great, as does the rhythm section. YACHT is situated solidly in the realm of the Biblical Shit, as evidenced by their historical timeline that begins with "The fall of man" and ends with the release of YACHT's new album Shangri-La. One of those might be more important than the other, but I leave it to you to decide which is which.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Album By Rubblebucket

Here's a great new track from Rubblebucket, who are releasing their new album Omega La La on Sin Duda Records on June 7th. This Brooklyn-based band is just fantastic. Colorful, poppy, funky, intelligent, catchy - this track's called "Silly Fathers." Give it a listen here.

Frite Nite!

Frite Nite is coming up this Friday at Mezzanine, headlined by the legendary Ana Sia, queen of the self-invented "global slut psy-hop", and with so many good words in one genre, you can't help but get excited. Hailing from San Francisco, Ana Sia is a pioneer of West Coast electronic music, and her set is not something you want to miss. This evening is going to be classy, so look - and drink - your best. Also spinning is Eprom, whose dub beats sound like they come from the bottom of a lagoon of hyphy, bubbling their way up and killing every hapless fish unable to shake its fin to a beat. Don't be one of them! The rest of the lineup is equally killer: NastyNasty, Salva, B.Bravo, Epcot, and Comma. Put on your tux jacket, short-shorts, and scuba snorkel, grab a cocktail, and get your tickets here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Incurable Bromance of Infantree

Infantree is a band that epitomizes the stunning creativity of youthful bromance. The members of this Southern California quartet are so tuned into each other that just about everything they write is quality - enough to get them signed to Vapor Records, co-owned by their long-time idol Neil Young. Their sound is a rich yet simple multi-layering of acoustic instruments and vocal harmonies - it would be easy to call it folk, but it's more than that. It's a blend of great songwriting, impressive musicianship, and most importantly, bro-love. Songwriter Matt Kronish says of his band, "They are my life and I love them." This is the stuff of legendary music. Ringo Starr once reminisced about the Beatles having the entire top floor of a hotel, with four separate suites, and all ending up in a single bathroom together, just because they loved each other (and probably to share a J). What makes this kind of kinship rare is that it can't be manufactured. What would be the chances of Lennon finding McCartney on Craigslist? Infantree is lucky, because they've got it, and they know they've got it. It would be easy to talk about the irony of how, despite the hundreds of shows they have played, including Outside Lands, CMJ, and SXSW, the members of Infantree still can't (or aren't old enough to) drink, or make a trite comment on how their age belies their great songwriting ability. But isn't it precisely because they're young and nappy-headed that they write such powerful music? Talent is talent, whether or not it can get into the club. And Infantree has it in spades.

Infantree's new album, Would Work, came out in September of last year, but they've also generously provided a bunch of free tunes available for download.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prom Night 1986, Redux

Alright, so you know you fucked up the first time. You showed up one drink short of belligerent, wearing a lime-green blazer with tulip in your lapel, a tulip you picked from the neighbor's front yard, and okay, you said some things you shouldn't have said, at least not to your date, so you slinked back to the poundcake with Jed and took that final, fatal hit of Jim Beam, and thereby insured your virginity against any of the marvels prom night is meant to bestow. The rest is history - so say the historians. But history is ever and still in the making, and if Mr. Schwarzenegger can live down his ludicrous quotations to become Governor of California, there is a chance that you can finally redeem yourself. The fact is, gentlemen and -women, prom night 1986 has come again. This Saturday at Mezzanine, Drink:Eat:Play presents an 80's Prom Night, featuring two 80s cover bands and plenty of classics by Bon Jovi, Prince, Madonna, Journey, and many others. It's going to be a night full of taffeta dresses and ruffled shirts and all the other things you're too embarrassed to wear. Dust 'em off and put 'em on. And if you're feeling ballsy, drop a line to that long-lost date, that would be prom king or queen, that failed first, and invite them. But this time, get a rose, and stick to beer.

Get your tickets here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus Tonight @ Mezz!

When Peter Murphy first joined Bauhaus in 1978, in Northampton, England, at the behest of guitarist Daniel Ash, he had never written a single song. It was impossible to tell that Bauhaus would be the gut-busting, genre-defying phenomenon it turned out to be - that is, for about six weeks, which is how long it took Bauhaus to get noticed and shoved into the studio at Beck Studios in Wellingborough. Within a couple of years they were hugely successful in the UK, and scored their second-biggest hit with a distorted, up-tempo cover of Ziggy Stardust. Bauhaus is largely considered to be the first gothic rock group, which makes Peter Murphy the first goth singer - in fact, he has been dubbed "The Godfather of Goth."

Five years and four albums later, the group split up, but Peter Murphy kept on making music, often with a penchant for metaphysical or religious lyricism, which went over the heads of many of his fans in the UK - but his video for "All Night Long" became a hit on MTV, and his career in the US began to escalate. When he released his album Deep in 1990, his popularity in the United States was at its peak. After converting to Islam in the 1990s and moving to Turkey with his wife, Murphy's music began to take on Middle-Eastern influences. He was particularly inspired by Sufi mysticism, which fed into his already-established taste for philosophical lyricism.

Murphy continued to make albums throughout the 2000s, including Dust, Unshattered, and his latest release, Ninth (2010). He has toured extensively around the globe, won over millions of fans, and contributed permanently to music history; it is no small honor to have this living legend play for us tonight at Mezzanine, and one that you wouldn't want to miss for anything.
Get your tickets here.

Review: DeVotchKa

Nick Urata of DeVotchKa once said of performing his music, “When you are standing naked up there, in the clutches of an attention-challenged audience, you find out immediately what works.” The knowledge of what works onstage and what doesn't is by no means an exact science. If DeVotchka's music contains healthy servings of Balkan revelry, should they prance about maniacally like their dark cousins in Gogol Bordello? Or should they focus on their impeccable musicianship, like the clarinet and kanun virtuosos of the Near East? Or should they focus on the lyrics, and embody the language of each individual song?

At their show on Monday, March 3rd at the Great American Music Hall, they seemed to do all of the above. Certainly, Nick comes off as more of a lovelorn poet than a gypsy-crazed rockstar. He is not a man of theatrics, but it would be a mistake to assume that he is not a great performer. His voice is clear, high, and otherworldly, รก la Thom Yorke; his guitar playing is impressive yet relaxed, and he prefers the acoustic axe to his black magic Les Paul (which he is not afraid to crank up when the moment is right); he is a master of the underappreciated but astonishingly beautiful Greek instrument bouzouki; and most of all, he seems to mean every word he sings. Urata is a frontman with a powerful aura, who, without any fuss or pantomime, and seemingly without effort, had everyone enthralled.

Of course, the band's dynamics were in-fucking-credible. Tom Hagerman played the accordion, keyboard, and violin like he was born playing all three at once; Jeanie Shroder hefted her christmas-lighted sousaphone and slow-danced with her double bass unfalteringly, and Shawn King played the trumpet in one hand while drumming with the other. With a band like that, it's kind of hard to suck. And with a frontman like Nick Urata, it's kind of hard to not have to do 2 encores - which they did, with great flair. And even as Nick finished his champagne, a double whisky, and a half-bottle of wine onstage, the feeling of intimacy never left the room, and when he raised the bottle and toasted "the city of his dreams", the cacophonous applause was as genuine as the performance.

DeVotchKa's new album, 100 Lovers, was released on March 1st.

New Wave City, April 9th!

New Wave City is a monthly dance party thrown by DJs Skip and Shindog to celebrate the wonderfully liminal New Wave era of the late '70s - early '80s. Each event features a tribute to one of the seminal acts of the period, such as Depeche Mode, The Smiths, The Cure, New Order, Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc. You'll hear songs from the featured artist throughout the evening as well as the rest of the best of New Wave. Next month's party will be a tribute to New Order, to be hosted at Mezzanine on April 9th. The party has "Blue Monday" theme, which means you dress in blue, drink blue drinks, ogle blue dancers, and feel great. In the upstairs room will be guest DJ's Donimo (Shadowplay) & Danny White (Indie Slash). New Wave City is, as the slogan says, "The First and Foremost 80's Dance Party" -- "first", as in, first on your list, and "foremost", as in, the 80's couldn't have done it better. Check out the promo video:

See you there!