A Look Back at Next Level

Posted by: on Apr 18, 2016 | Comments (0)

Santa Rosa’s Manzanita Falls show off some new songs at Next Level on Friday, April 15.

This past weekend, April 15-17, some 28 bands and hundreds of fans came together for Sonoma County’s inaugural Next Level Showcase and Conference, with two days of music and a daylong seminar covering the business of creativity all aimed at helping local musicians get the information and assistance they need to take their music to, well, the next level.

Organized by the folks at Creative Sonoma (a program under Sonoma County’s economic development board) as well as the North Bay Hootenanny and Second Octave (both local promoters and event producers), the Friday and Saturday showcase took place at Arlene Francis Center next to Railroad Square, and the Sunday conference commenced down the block at Chop’s Teen Center.

In short, the two-day showcase was a fun-filled inspiration to anyone who’s a fan of North Bay bands, with a variety of genres and styles on display. Friday featured several folk acts alongside indie rockers. The crowd cheered along with harmonious groups like Rainbow Girls and emotionally-resonating rockers like Manzanita Falls.

Sonoma County folk veteran Kevin Russell (second from the right) brought his So-Called Friends with him to perform at Next Level.

Pop band Lungs and Limbs got a dance party going in the classroom stage, one of three performance spaces that featured bands, and the eclectic Oddjob Ensemble closed out Friday with a fantastic performance that included horns and accordions a plenty.

Saturday was a decidedly louder affair, what with experimental noise rock outfit Antiphony blasting the small saloon stage to pieces as the evening’s opening act.

Secret Cat balanced high-energy and tight grooves at Next Level on Saturday night.

Other spirited Sonoma County bands, like the quirky and solid Secret Cat, reminded the crowds that you can be both silly and sensational, and several San Francisco acts showed up as well, like Travis Hayes & the Young Daze, who were joined onstage by Petaluma singer Emily Whitehurst of Tsunami Bomb and Survival Guide fame.

Petaluma’s Emily Whitehurst shares the spotlight with San Francisco alt-rocker Travis Hayes at Next Level.

Jake Ward Pens Open Letter to AFC Vandals

Posted by: on Jan 25, 2016 | Comments (0)

Last night, at the otherwise awesome Ty Segall show in Santa Rosa, someone decided to tag the brick bathroom walls at the Arlene Francis Center with spray paint. It was a destructive and costly act, and one that local promoter and concert booker Jake Ward took offense to. Here, Ward writes and rants on why this vandalism is harmful not only to the venue, but to the Santa Rosa music scene overall. It’s a real and powerful wake-up call, and one that is worth reading in its entirety.

Well this is frustrating. Last night somebody vandalized the restroom of the Arlene Francis Center. I’m not even gonna address what they wrote, but I will say a couple things.

One, this is why we can’t have nice things. We live in a town where people complain about a lack of venues for cool music and art happenings, and yet when one of our few beloved local institutions for hosting events opens its doors to hosting an all ages rock show, someone goes out of their way to disrespect the space. How can we complain about the scene when we have no respect for it?

Two, this is brick. Brick is extremely porous. Spray paint on old brick does not come off easily. The only full time operators at AFC are in their 60s. Are they expected to clean this off? There’s also no surplus funds at this space to buy special cleaning products. This was super rude *and* destructive.

Three, this is not a punk venue, this is a non profit community center. The morning after the show this happened at, the classroom was rented out for a weekly event called Mini Music where parents bring their toddlers to learn to sing. There are all sorts of important political, educational, and arts activities happening at this space. Who really thought this was a place that deserved to be vandalized like this?

Stream Ty Segall’s “Emotional Mugger”

Posted by: on Jan 15, 2016 | Comments (0)

Prolific rock and roller Ty Segall just can’t stop. In addition to playing in excellent garage rock outfits like FUZZ and Sic Alps, Segall’s massive solo output has been a wide array of experimental hard rock.

This month, Segall releases his tenth solo record, Emotional Mugger, on Drag City. It’s a super fuzzed out and darkly glammed collection of awesome weirdness. And you can hear it now, before it’s Jan 22 release date, by clicking on the link below, via NPR.

Ty Segall will be in the North Bay next week as well, blowing the roof off the Arlene Francis Center on Sunday, Jan 24, with his new full band the Muggers. Details on that show, which marks the final concert hosted by Sonoma County’s Pizza Punx,  are here.

Career Suicide Hits Up Santa Rosa This Weekend

Posted by: on Jan 13, 2016 | Comments (0)


Formed in 2001, Toronto hardcore punk rockers Career Suicide have carried a heavy brand of old school ’80s punk ethos to underground acclaim. Yet, the band has been rarely seen in the last five years and guitarist Jonah Falco has gone on to great heights as a member of the experimental punk band F*cked Up.

Last year, F*cked Up went on their own hiatus, and Falco has come back to his rough and rowdy origins with a revamped Career Suicide, including a new album in the works, their first since 2006. Last November, the band released “Cut and Run,” the first single off the so-far-untitled upcoming album. It’s an intense two minutes of razor-sharp riffs and pounding drums that prove the band still has a Hell of an edge.

Career Suicide are also embarking on a world tour that takes them from Bakersfield to Tokyo. And right in the middle of this tour, the band is bringing the amps and axes to Santa Rosa for a concert this Saturday, Jan 16, at the Arlene Francis Center.

Hosted by the saucy kids at the Pizza Punx, this eardrum-buster of a show also features Bay Area punks Culture Abuse, Ruleta Rusa, Ex-Youth and Abusivo. Tickets are ten bucks at the door and is open to all ages.

This is actually one of the last two shows the Pizza Punx are hosting under that name, as the moniker is being laid to rest in the new year. Some of the punx will still be booking shows as Shock City, and some will be taking on a new venue project simply known as Funhouse. Stay tuned for more details on those developments. In the meantime, listen to Career Suicide’s “Cut and Run” below and turn it UP.

Ezra Furman Plays Santa Rosa Last Minute

Posted by: on Dec 3, 2015 | Comments (0)

Garage rock and glam pop songwriter Ezra Furman is a fierce and fearless indie music maker who’s been gathering steam for his irresistible tunes and infectious personality. His most recent release, “Perpetual Motion People” is as groovy as it is restless, as personal as it is catchy. And, Furman has also been making headlines lately for identifying as gender fluid. We last wrote about Furman’s awesome cover of the Replacements song, “Androgynous,” and we’re happy to have another excuse to highlight some amazing music once again.

That’s because, this week Furman is playing a last minute concert on Saturday, December 5, at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa, as part of a west coast tour. With Furman’s star shining brightly and musical momentum perpetually gaining speed, this might be the last time anyone will get to see the songwriter in such an intimate setting as this, and the rest of the lineup is fully stacked with local wonders. Music from the Corner Store Kids, Don Kennemer and Plastic Ghost joins a masked performance art piece by Quenby, comedic antics from Be The Clown, a gallery of works from local artists and Lagunitas beer on tap.

This is one not to miss. The show happens on Dec 5 at Arlene Francis Center, 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa, 8pm, $12 suggested donation.

Love Lake County Hosts Benefit Concert Tomorrow

Posted by: on Nov 6, 2015 | Comments (0)

Girls & Boys

In the wake of the devastating Valley Fire that wreaked havoc on Lake, Napa and even parts of Sonoma County two months ago, community support has remained strong. One such support group is Love Lake County, who have helped organize relief efforts and events since September.

This weekend, Love Lake County hosts their next rocking charity event, with a gaggle of local acts taking the stage at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa to show support and gather funds for victims of the fire.

Santa Rosa rock band Girls & Boys will be bringing their energetic, power-packed music to the show. Currently  finishing their sophomore album, Girls & Boys have been touring California the past year opening for Elvis Costello, Allen Stone, Goo Goo Dolls and Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers. 

The Corner Store Kids will also be on hand, offering their lo-fi funk and jazz jams to get the dance floor grooving. Finally, soul funk outfit Marshall House Project are going to rock the night away with their uplifting sounds.

All proceeds go to Valley Fire victims, so get out and show Lake County some love tomorrow, Nov 7, at Arlene Francis Center. 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa. Doors at 6pm, music at 8pm. $10-$20.

Hammerhead Swims into Santa Rosa Next Week

Posted by: on Sep 28, 2015 | Comments (0)

painting by Jonny Kelson

If you were (or are) a fan of noise rock, you were (or are or should be) a huge fan of Hammerhead. The Minneapolis-based trio formed back in the not-so-halcyon days of 1991 and unleashed a flurry of pummeling rock and post-punk heaviness upon the country for six years before disbanding. Though, like a bad penny, the band turned up once again, regrouping in 2010. Since then, they’ve been expanding and compounding on their throttling experimental sound, and last month Hammerhead released, New Directionz, their first full-length album in almost 20 years.

New Directionz is one of those rare gems of a return album for a reunited band. It both revels in the same rumbling, punishing bass lines and searing, dissonant guitars of the group’s early days, and progresses the sound in new and interesting ways. There’s definitely more nuanced post-punk atmospheres throughout, a darker edge to the fuzzed-out noise, yet there’s still that old familiar thundering rhythm to bang your head along to.

Hammerhead continue to be unapologetic and awesome, and with the new record they are taking the show on the road for a massive tour with another immense figure in noise rock, Qui. The Los Angeles duo of Matt Cronk and Paul Christensen have themselves had a bit of an on-again-off-again tenure, though it looks like their as strong as ever these days. Much more angular, vocally-melodic and playful, Qui nonetheless possess a raw and exciting sound and provide a perfect alternative pairing to Hammerhead.

Next Saturday, Oct 10, Hammerhead and Qui both invade Railroad Square in Santa Rosa to play the Arlene Francis Center. Also joining them on the bill is Hot Victory, an experimental drum duo out of Portland that put on amazing, space-oddity shows and features former Santa Rosa rock star Caitlin Love (Desert City Soundtrack / the Lead Veins). Kicking off the night is Eat My Shit, the electronic solo project from PRIZEHOG’s Vern Acular.

You can get more details of the show here and preview Hammerhead’s new album below.

Listen to Destruction Unit’s Intense New Track, “The Upper Hand”

Posted by: on Sep 2, 2015 | Comments (0)

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.

North Bay Cabaret Gets Medieval at Arlene Francis Center

Posted by: on Aug 28, 2015 | Comments (0)

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 DuganWilliam 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.

Jello Biafra Returns to Arlene Francis Center

Posted by: on Feb 27, 2014 | Comments (1)

We’re pretty stoked that after 3 years away, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine are coming back to Santa Rosa’s Arlene Francis Center, appearing April 4. In the last year, the punk icon/outspoken artist and his band released their second LP, White People and the Damage Done, and the former Dead Kennedys front man has been getting punks into mosh pits around the world, from Coachella Festival appearances to tours in Australia and Europe. Now, Biafra returns with the help of Pins of Light, We Are the Men, and local favorite Jack Attack in reportedly his final performance ever. Absolutely not to be missed, tickets for the April 4 all ages show go on sale March 1. $15.