Last night’s show at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa was a revelation. I thought punk was dead; turns out it’s alive, but it lives in Oakland and Mexico City.
On the hottest day of the year (103 degrees, for fuck’s sake), a bunch of punk bands and fans crowded into the even hotter Arlene Francis Center to “dance” to fast, loud rock and roll music. Dancing, of course, is subjective. Nobody complained about the heat, but shirts were removed (and, at times, pants). Some bands didn’t show up, some unscheduled bands did, almost everyone shared the same drum set all night (which, since I was running sound, I was fully on board with). Turns out most of the bands were from Oakland, and two were from Mexico City. So that’s where all the rock and roll was hiding.
Burger Records’ Pookie and the Poodlez started off in the café, with the underwear-clad front man screeching into a yellow telephone receiver living a second life as a microphone. This is the ‘60s, semi-surf punk craze all the kids are into now, with the grit and simplicity of the Ramones combined with the poppy harmonies of the Monkees. That front man was in four bands of the evening, including Elvis Christ, Cumstain and Primitive Hearts, covering vocals, guitar and drumming duties.
In Cumstain, the singer and drummer donned stockings over their heads, as if they were about to burglarize the crowd. The only thing they stole, however, was the show, as the crowd threw possibly half-full cans of Pabst at the stage in appreciation. Crazy antics and wearing a stocking on your head in 100-degree heat playing fast punk rock under stage lights for half an hour will do that.
And now for something completely different, in every sense of the word. We Are the Men took the stage next. This super-talented group of Bay Area natives played unclassifiable rock, possibly in the vein of Dillinger Escape Plan or Triclops, but with a hearty helping of what-the-fuck-is-this-music on the side. Lots of screaming, lots of dynamic and style changes mid-song, lots of catchy-as-fuck hooks that disappeared as quickly and mysteriously as they appeared. I liked them, I think. Judging by faces in the crowd, it seems like many had a similar opinion. I think.
Elvis Christ was led by a standup comedian in training, who yakked about half the time, and took a Pabst to the nuts for his troubles. All in good fun, because he was actually somewhat amusing, and the doo-wop punk rock was delightful.
Los Headaches, from Mexico City, came on at midnight after waiting the whole day for their 15 minutes, literally, of “fame.” Even at this late hour, there were a few stragglers still watching and dancing. The next band, which featured the same members plus one crazy ass motherfucker of a singer, played for 20 minutes immediately after.
I didn’t catch their name, they weren’t on the official flyer It’s Los Vincent Black Shadows – Thanks Sam). Holy shit. At 12:15am, this band pulled in a larger crowd just two songs into their set. The energy gave the crowd a second wind and stage diving, knocking over of instruments, heavy moshing (not that circle pit bullshit) took place. Their songs were in English (as far as I could tell, at least–he was yelling most of the time, sometimes with a microphone literally in his mouth), but it didn’t matter because punk rock transcends language. During one song, the singer repeatedly bashed his guitar, neck down, into the ground, then threw it across the stage and ran after it, like it had just stolen his wallet, and stomped on it to teach it a lesson. The guitar did not break.
Santa Rosa’s music scene is vastly differently from other parts of the Bay Area, as evidenced by this show comprised of bands from outside the area. Kudos to Jake Ward for organizing the show, which also had a barbecue and awesome looking stage. Here’s to more traveling bands coming to one of the few venues in greater Sonoma County supporting music as more than just a moneymaker.
Les Claypool’s soft spot for fishermen extends beyond his 1991 ballad “John the Fisherman,” an epic tale of oceanic adventure from “Sailing the Seas of Cheese.” The Primus frontman is playing a benefit concert with his Duo de Twang at Lagunitas Mini Amphitheater Tuesday, June 25.
It’s a treat to see Claypool in such a small venue, and Lagunitas is a great place to see a band. Good beer, good food and an inviting atmosphere make for a memorable experience. And this time, it’s for a good cause. On March 1, local fisherman Ted Frank’s 36-foot boat, Yardbird, sank in 60 feet of water just outside Bodega Bay. He had let his insurance lapse because of recent hardships, and was left with a huge salvage bill, a totaled ship and no way to earn a living. It’s hard enough to make money as a commercial fisherman, but setbacks like this make it almost impossible.
That’s where Claypool comes in. He’ll be slappin’ da bass (a dobro bass, at that) at 5:45pm, with dinner beginning at 4:20pm. Bad Catahoula is also playing, as well as other musical guests. Tickets are $50 for the concert or $75 for dinner and concert. Lagunitas is located at 1280 N. McDowell Blvd, Petaluma.
This video is great. First of all… Larry Lalonde has purple hair. Secondly, dig that Mike Patton haircut on Les (or did Mike have a Les Claypool haircut?). And can you spot Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett?
After several times trying to connect with Santa Cruz reggae rockers, Thrive, I had all but given up on our scheduled interview. It was Day 2 of Cali Roots and text messages aside, I figured there wasn’t much hope linking up with all the activity going on. Until that is, I ran into lead singer Aaron Borowitz hanging out backstage covered in a bunch of ladies.
Thrive has performed at every California Roots Music & Arts Festival since it’s inception. They have been representing their adopted Santa Cruz and now managed by festival co-producer Dan Sheehan, the band is touring non-stop. Thrive just dropped their new album Relentless, so I wanted to find out what its been like on the road.
Bohemian: Tell me about Cali Roots, are you enjoying yourself?
A.B.: Everyone has been really nice and everywhere I go people are smiling back at me.
How did you feel about your show?
Oh man, it was so awesome. That was one of the funnest shows I’ve ever played, personally. Not necessarily the musicality of it, but the vibe in the crowd.
Did you see a difference within the crowd? There are a lot of people up here from So Cal.
Yea, I see a difference in the people, but I see a connection in the message. It’s positive and everyone just wants to chill, no bad vibes, no fighting. (more…)
San Diego reggae band Tribal Seeds are rising stars in the landscape of California roots music. They have sharp, inspiring verses, solid stage presence, and vocals that melt. Both lead singers, Steven Jacobo and newly added E.N. Young, have that hypnotic, echoing vocal style similar to Harrison Stafford of Groundation.
With so many one-dimensional skank rhythms tying up the airwaves, it’s refreshing to hear a band that embraces melodic bass lines and off-the-wall keys. E.N. Young’s melodica performances practically steal the show. As was the case at California Roots Music & Arts Festival along with bringing up Rebelution’s lead singer, Eric Rachmany, Adam Taylor from Iration, and Kyle McDonald, singer/guitarist for Slightly Stoopid to sing “Vampire”, all while smokin’ a giant spliff.
Tribal Seeds are touring nationally with Slightly Stoopid and Atmosphere this summer. They play the Greek Theater in Berkeley July 19th.
Ever heard of Bulldog Media from Windsor? You have now – and you’ll most likely hear a lot more of them in the coming year. With 15 Bulldog Media crew members at Cali Roots Fest 2013, they were by far the most influential media presence on the ground. Check this Day 2 compilation video from five different “Bulldog” angles during Tribal Seeds’ “Vampire”.
It’s not that Justin Bieber isn’t contributing anything to the music world–there are many people getting paid as a result of his celebrity. Bodyguards, Ferrari salesmen, social media story spinners, hair mousse manufacturers, paparazzi–some good paychecks result from this guy. But it might have run its course. Maybe Branson can hire Biebs’ ex-cronies to help him cross dress when he loses another bet.
Sonic Bloom members, lyricist Spends Quality (nee Spencer Williams) and saxophonist-turned-vocalist J. Kendall dropped new three albums on Williams’ independent label CFO Recordings in April, and they are hosting an official SoCo album release party at Hopmonk Sebastopol this Friday night. You can read about it this week’s Bohemian.
There are three more music videos in the works, but check this brand new vid from Time Piece‘s title track. Filmed under the Redwoods and out along the coast, you can’t get much truer to Sonoma County than this. Represent.
CFO Recordings triple album release party is this Friday, June 7, at Hopmonk Tavern. 230 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol. 9pm. $10–$15. 707.829.7300
How the music scene saved Las Vegas casinos from certain doom
Vegas casinos may remain to be the epitome of grandeur and lavish lifestyles, but many people are unaware of the fact that most of the city’s gaming establishments had already closed down several years ago.
An article posted on The Kong List revealed that many casinos in Vegas have already experienced a slump, with annual revenue losses climbing from 5% in 2007 to 20% by the end of 2010. These figures had also been set to increase, if casino operators hadn’t decided to bring something new to the table. Thankfully, two casinos – the Encore and the Wynn – have taken the risk of reinventing their facilities, and serving as examples to other casinos in Sin City who were struggling to get back on their feet.
A report by The Press of Atlantic City revealed that a growing crowd of younger guests had been seen coming to the casinos not to play per se, but instead, to party. Gone are the days when senior citizens dominated casinos, as hordes of young and energetic guests have begun flocking to the gaming establishments’ nightclubs. With EDM being one of the most popular genres for younger people, Encore and Wynn have decided to play the music in their nightclubs, and lure even more young guests through their doors.
Bringing in the younger demographic is a tactic that many gaming operators are currently adhering to. Recognizing the sudden appeal that zombies have had on young adults, even InterCasino, the longest running online casino website, has released a zombie-themed slot game called Zombie Rush. Online casinos, having the option to alter their games as they see fit, have built a presented a noticeable challenge to land-based casinos, with the industry becoming worth more than $21 billion in 2008. This has prompted casinos to begin looking at other avenues to lure in more patrons, and music seems to be doing a great job of keeping them entertained.
Both the Encore and Wynn casinos seem to have become quite successful from their venture, with their inclusion of EDM allowing the two casinos to garner around $200 million in revenue from their nightclubs. With the success of EDM nightclubs, operators seem optimistic about the future of their casinos. And with the rising popularity of many international EDM DJs, casinos will be able to capitalize more on this venture in the coming years.
Like most up-and-coming writers, our day jobs often get in the way of multi-day festivals. We write all week to get in free, drowning at our crappy jobs to pay the way once we get there. We spend the entire weekend running between bands, posting iPhone photos to social media, and trying to finagle free meals. We do it for the love of live music. We do it because we wouldn’t have lives if we stayed home all weekend. So it was nothing new that a crisis at the office resulted in missing most of Friday. But rolling into Monterey County just after 9pm, I was able to park and get to will call before headliners, Rebelution, even took the stage. At least I’d made it for that.
Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law always lays it down in the most critical of situations. The girl in the ticket booth had no idea who I was, much less who the media organizers were. So there I was, with a line of pre-party-drunk VIP ticket holders waiting behind me while I frantically searched my emails for phone numbers. Thankfully, and one of many reasons why Moore Media shined all weekend, the head organizer returned my text to confirm we’d meet at the artist gate in five minutes. Sort of running along Fairgrounds Blvd., and without wanting to show up sweaty and out of breath, I paused for a few seconds to pull myself together. Luckily I had my two trusted travel partners, Jameson and his lady Ginger, who proved once again essential allies as I journeyed clear across the 20 acre property.
By the time I arrived at the gate, Rebelution was already on stage. Looking out on the crowd, there was no way I was gonna mash through nearly 10,000 fans already up against the railings. It was literally a sea of bouncing heads and puffs of smoke. Fortunately, for those who can afford it, music festivals have turned to offering VIP ticket holders access to backstage areas. For an extra $100, you can hang out with artists and media and stand in side-stage balcony boxes high over the crowds. It can be an awesome opportunity to enjoy the bands while keeping a drink in your hand, but nothing beats being smashed up against railings watching your favorite singer drip sweat down the mic cord. [Read more after the break]
We’re already knee-deep in music festivals, so why not mention another one? San Francisco’s Treasure Island Festival announced its 2013 lineup today, and it features a couple big names and a whole bunch of small ones.
Thom Yorke’s “side project,” Atoms For Peace, is the main draw, with the illustrious and versatile Beck as the co-headliner. Also featured are: Animal Collective, Major Lazer, James Blake, Little Dragon, Sleigh Bells, STRFKR, Tricky and a host of others. This two-day fest takes place this year on Oct. 19 and 20. Traditionally, one day is devoted mostly to electronic acts and the other to indie rock.
Two-day tickets are on sale Friday, May 31, with one-day tickets probably becoming available soon thereafter. For both days, one ticket is $130, and it goes up to $150 as the festival nears.