Arizona psychedelic rockers Destruction Unit are a no-holds-barred head trip through post-rock walls of sound. After two years of relative quiet, the pummeling five-piece outfit is back with the their most experimental brain melter of a record yet, Negative Feedback Resistor, due out Sept 18 on Sacred Bones.
In anticipation of the new album, Destruction Unit has released a few tracks via the world wide web, including this absolute scorcher of a song, “The Upper Hand.” In fact, this thing sound more like a punk rock cherry bomb, set off in the midst of a tornado, eclipsed by a tsunami swell of noise that washes over the whole thing by the end. It’s a monster, and it’s one of the band’s best ever. Listen here, if you dare.
The group is slated to hit European shores the same day the new record drops for a month-long tour, but before they embark, Destruction Unit is playing three dates in California, including a show hosted by the Pizza Punx on Thursday, Sept 3, at the Arlene Francis Center.
Also on the bill are Gag and White Wards, both Olympia, WA, bands that know how to thrash. Southern California weirdo punks the Coltranes and Seattle noisemakers Health Problems open the show.
Destruction Unit headline on Sept 3 at the Arlene Francis Center, 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $10.
The wildest variety show this side of the Golden Gate Bridge, the North Bay Cabaret usually hosts their monthly events at Santa Rosa’s Whiskey Tip, but this month the bands and burlesque dancers are storming another castle of sorts, when North Bay Cabaret comes to the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square for their “Hot August Knights” show tonight.
Organizer and host Jake Ward once again gathers a troupe of belly dancers, artists, spoken word and standup performers as well as live bands and DJs in the lounge. This month’s theme incorporates all the RenFair goodness of medieval days, with just enough Monty Python thrown in for fun.
New this time, besides the location of course, is a lower age limit (18 and over) and high-flying aerial acts performed by Amanda Grace and Katie Nicole. They join Gypsy jazz troublemakers Hot Club Beelzebub and DJs Aspect McCarthy and True Justice along with others, soundtracking a night that also includes local poets like Susanne Dugan, William Lyon and even the AFC’s own Bruce Alan Rhodes.
There’s much more to be had at “Hot August Knights” tonight, so head on down and show Jake Ward, who just had his laptop stolen (boo!), some much needed love. Arlene Francis Center is located at 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $10.
Still not convinced? Check out the awesome trailer that Donald Husman put together.
I just couldn’t get going this morning. Between the cloudy skies and my comfy bed it took all my might to move. So, before I even ground up the coffee, I put on Bucc Nyfe.
The Santa Rosa punk rock trio gets my blood pumping and head rocking with their high energy rock and roll. Tight beats and heavy distortion shake the sleep from my eyes, while the emotionally-driven lyrics and nostalgic themes take me back to the days before I needed coffee to get going in the morning.
If you’re still sleepy, hit the track below and thank me later.
Tonight, Bucc Nyfe headlines an electrified show at 775 After Dark in Sebastopol with the help of rockers Bang! Bang! and Bumblin’ Bones. 7pm. $4.
Santa Rosa’s experimental noise rockers Secret Cat make some of the most head-spinning, mind-altering rock and roll music in the North Bay, taking cues from Zappa, early ‘Discord’ bands and dystopian robot romance novels. The band just wrapped recording their latest batch of garage rock with a twist, Smiling Songs, and released it online last week. Now, the cats are looking to take their tunes on the road with a tour, and they need your help.
The band, which consists of Ian Shoop(vocals, guitar), Melati Citrawireja(bass), Emile Rosewater(drums) and Charlie Davenport(guitar), have a Kickstarter page for the occasion; and though generous donations have already streamed in, there are several special rewards for anyone still looking to donate, from handmade art to photo studio sessions with Citrawireja and more.
For this tour, Secret Cat is also bringing a new visual element to the live show in the form of a live mask and puppet performance developed with the help of Quenby Dolgushkin, and the band is hoping to traverse the Pacific Northwest freaking out unsuspecting audiences along the way. Today is the last day to donate, so head over to their page now and click the button.
You can listen to Smiling Songs right here.
Santa Rosa guitarist and songwriter Francesco Catania is a bit of a musical chameleon, able to rock a melodic soul jam as easily as a post punk anthem. He’s been seen playing alongside local favorites like John Courage, and recently went on the road with Arizona garage rock duo Burning Palms.
This weekend, Catania dusts off his gold cape and shiny shoes to show a different side of his musical personality when he performs under his solo electronic outfit Frances Wolfe. An ongoing project since 2013, Frances Wolfe allows Catania to go deep into his inner cosmos, producing synth and reverb-soaked atmospheres that blissfully explore ambient sounds and abstract melodies for a down-tempo chill wave head trip.
In anticipation of a new EP this fall, Frances Wolfe has released his latest single, “Portrait.” The tune wanders in and out of a trippy guitar riff as building feedback menacingly encroaches and Catania’s voice floats like an out-of-body experience. Listen to “Portrait” below:
On Sunday, Aug 2, Frances Wolfe performs at the Arlene Francis Center as part of an eclectic showthat also includes face-melting jazz from InOverOut, rock and roll from Sleepwalk Sunday, dreamy punk from Plastic Ghost, groovy pianos from Saffell and more. 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa. 7pm. $5-$10. For more details, click here.
Last Saturday, the idyllic Santa Rosa Junior College neighborhood got a little jolt of of rock and roll with the 6th annual Lion Awake Productions Backyard concert. Taking place at a private residence on Slater St, the concert featured four local favorites performing on the deck and crowds of up to 150 people hanging out on the large lawn.
Kicking off at 4pm, the show opened with young Sonoma County band Parcivillian mixing a fresh blend of rock and blues with a dash of folk thrown in via their fiddle player. Next up was popular local rockers Kingsborough, who impressed with their tight rhythms and free-wheeling attitudes. Powering through their own high-energy original tunes and dedicated covers of classic party songs alike, Kingsborough really got the party going.
Along with the music, the house show featured a delicious taco truck parked on the curb offering up spicy carnitas tacos and sumptuous chicken burritos. After scarfing down on some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had, it was time to enjoy the perfectly-pitched sounds of the T Sisters and the grooving beats of Lazyman.
Hailing from Oakland, the three harmonizing T Sisters, Erika and twins Rachel and Chloe, were joined by mandolin master Andrew Allen Fahlander and standup bassist Steve Height and crowded on to the deck for a sonorous mix of traditional gospel folk tunes. Honestly, they didn’t even need the microphones, their vocal power is so great they could have sung to the whole block without any electronic amplification.
By the time the sun set, headlining act Lazyman was ready to rock. Fronted by Sonoma County songwriter Steve Pile, the band capped off the concert with their eclectic rock that’s singularly dedicated to having a good time. With cooling temperatures and gusty winds, Lazyman kept the crowd lively and laid-back all at the same time.
Today the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa announced two new exciting shows for September, including the first show to utilize the venue’s new flexible theater space. Last year’s $3.3 million renovation allows main floor seats to be removed, creating an open-floor venue that allows for an increased variety of performances. In this configuration, the venue’s capacity increases from 1,681 to 2,023.
Appearing on Saturday, Sept. 20, is Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Colbie Caillat. Then, on Tuesday, Sept. 30, rock band O.A.R. (Of A Revolution) makes their Santa Rosa debut and transforms the theater into the new open-floor design. With an intense and exciting live show, O.A.R. is the perfect act to debut the venue’s new look.
Tickets for Colbie Caillat are $59 and $49 (all seats reserved) and tickets for O.A.R. are $59 in the reserved balcony and $49 for general admission (standing) on the main floor. Tickets for both shows go on sale Friday, July 25 at noon and will be available online at wellsfargocenterarts.org, by calling 707.546.3600, and in person at the box office at 50 Mark West Springs Road in Santa Rosa.
Did your 2014 Coachella Wristband Ticket Box with stop-action video and radio frequency IDs get lost in the mail? Yea, so did mine.
But don’t trip on being broke and stuck at home. The first ever Wish I Was At Coachella party is happening tonight at Christy’s in downtown Santa Rosa, where homegrown boys DJs Sykwidit and E20 are going to spin everything under the hot desert sun, from Outkast and Skrillex to Chvrches and Little Dragon. Come get your dance on and don’t be like these guys. The North Bay’s baddest party DJs are gonna rock all the real bands you are gonna miss because you couldn’t decide what to wear.
Christy’s On The Square, 96 Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa (707) 528-8565, free before 10:30pm.
John Legend is a hard working performer. His two-hour concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa last night showed off not only his work ethic, but showcased his velvety voice and storytelling prowess in an intimate setting that was designed to feel like his living room. The only difference being, as the exquisitely dressed singer said during the show, “I don’t normally wear a suit in my living room.”
He really hammed it up at times for the crowd, who ate up his every word—except the gaff toward the end, when he said, “I mean, this is the Napa Valley, right?” This led to applause, briefly (because he was so charming, everything he said resulted in applause), but soon turned to boos. That’s right, Sonomans are so passionate about terrior they booed John Legend for making a minor geographical error. When he corrected his error with an embarrassed smile, “Oh, Sonoma Valley, right?” the applause resumed.
He mostly sat at the Yamaha grand piano, tickling the ivories with a young string quartet on the right of the stage and a guitarist to the left. When he brought the mic downstage and perched on a stool to serenade the crowd, women—and men—started squirming in their seats. Every John Legend song is a recipe for “making little tax breaks,” as he says, and though he doesn’t guarantee anything at the end of the night, “ya know…” he trails off before a knowing shrug, “you know.”
The intimate evening was staged with five loveseats occupied by couples who won tickets through radio promotions, with huge Hollywood movie lights towering above, lighting Legend from the back. Lighting against the back wall changed colors, and was especially useful during “Green Light,” one of his best songs of the night. The sound in the newly renovated space was crisp and loud. It felt like a larger space, but we were so close we could see the lack of sweat on Legend’s face. (Prince also lacks sweat glands, maybe they went to the same voodoo doctor for their musical talent.)
Women did a lot of the hooting and hollering through the night, but the fellas were cheering especially boisterously after a powerful solo piano cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” He told a aw-shucks story about performing it on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at the behest of that show’s musical director, the drummer ?uestlove, but never hearing if the Boss liked it or not. Months later, he says, he received a hand-signed letter asking him to play it at an awards gala. “I guess he liked it,” Legend said with a smile.
He paced the show perfectly, with some segments featuring three or four songs back to back, and some getting breaks between while he told stories. My favorite was when he met President Obama last year. After getting married to supermodel Christine Teigen earlier in the year, he asked Obama for marriage advice. Michelle chimed in, “How long had you been together before you got married?” He said about five years. “What took you so long?” the President asked, which earned Legend a glare from his new wife. Legend turned to the chuckling crowd, deadpan, and said, “Thanks, President Obama.”
The cyclical nature of revolution songs is undeniable. Take a song from 100 years ago and it will be, at least in part, relevant today. Take, for example, the songs of Irish revolutionary James Connolly.
Mat Callahan, who fronted the San Francisco political punk/worldbeat band the Looters in the 80s, has compiled a book of Connolly’s music from original publications long thought lost to history. The book is put together well, with just enough history to give a sense of Connolly’s importance but relying mostly on the man’s own words from his music, all of which was written over 100 years ago. Connolly, a leading Marxist theorist in his day and was executed by the British in 1916.
Callahan and his wife Yvonne Moore, who now call Switzerland home, performed about a dozen songs on acoustic guitar and vocals at the Arlene Francis Center Friday night. The performance was the most punk rock thing I’ve seen all year, and will hold that title for at least a while. The duo sent a frozen shiver down my spine with lines like, “The people’s flag is deepest red, it shrouded oft our martyred dead; and ere their limbs grew stiff and cold, their hearts’ blood dyed its every fold.”
Santa Rosan Robert Ethington opened the show with original songs on acoustic guitar, accompanied by his wife Amy on vocals. They played a handful of powerful songs, suggesting they’d be a treat to see as a headlining act.
The album, “Songs of Freedom,” includes fully orchestrated versions of the songs Callahan and Moore played Friday night. It’s got Callahan’s worldbeat sensibility and arrangement, with guitar, bass, drums, Irish whistles, pipes, vocal harmony, fiddle, accordion and harp. The production is excellent, and the arrangements are updated to modern sensibility without losing their original feeling. Some tunes to Connolly’s songs were lost, so Callahan wrote original music to his lyrics. It serves to note that Connolly’s main purpose of putting these revolutionary words to music was for people to sing them and remember them, so many of the tunes are actually traditional country songs or somewhat hokey, simple melodies. They sound best when sung with 100 of your closest, most fed-up-with-the-system friends.
Get the book and CD here. It’s perfect for fans of history, revolution and Mat Callahan, each of which is equally important.