Posts by Andi

Live Review: North Mississippi Allstars

The North Mississippi Allstars at The Independent

I can’t start this blog post without talking about the opening band: The London Souls. For those of you who grew up wanting to play the guitar but lost the ambition for whatever reason: go see the London Souls. It will make you go home and dust off the Fender you begged your dad for 20 years ago.

Not only does lead guitarist Tash Neal exude such unconstrained energy (sort of like me during a Fab sale), the red guitar he twiddles his fingers on is so.damn.sexy. After listening to him play for two songs, I could tell he’d been at this guitar thing for a while. I confirmed this when catching up with Tash after the set and he told me he’d been playing since he was eight. Also as I found out later, not even a hit-and-run accident and brain surgery could knock that guitar out of his hands.

The London Souls at the Independent

The London Souls were fantastic. They started off with a focused, steady sound and ended the show in the same way.  My favorite song was their cover of AC/DC’s It’s A Long Way to The Top (If You Wanna Rock N’ Roll). Very fitting seeing as there is no way I will ever play like them.

By the time North Mississippi Allstars came on stage, The Independent was packed. Energy rushed into the room and the blues began to fill the venue. Brothers Luther (guitar and vocals) and Cody (drums and vocals) Dickinson, and Chris Chew (bass and vocals), did not hold anything back. There was a lot going on for the next hour and a half. The guys played musical chairs with their instruments, with Luther and Chris taking turns at the lead mic. The screen behind them displayed their music videos as well as videos of blues legends. The guys moved around the stage, exchanging guitars for banjos, mandolins for cigar-box guitars, and drums for washboards (yes, washboards).

While these guys mix blues and rock and roll and do it well – there’s a reason they’re described as “putting a fresh face to the blues” – there was something missing.  I left wishing I had seen more attitude, more personality, more life to the show. The threesome was very into their music but was not exactly reactive to the crowd; a great concert is one where the band plays both. No need for a Jack Black in the opening scene of School of Rock, but I want to see musicians burn some calories!

By the time The North Mississippi Allstars finished playing, there was only a third of the crowd still there but it didn’t seem like a problem to the trio. Two encores seemed like a bit much but these guys are so talented, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them again.

 

 

 

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Live Review: Capital Cities

Capital Cities

You know when you’re trying to describe something amazing but you’re worried your words won’t do it justice? Not even if THEY’RE IN ALL CAPS?

Alright, that is the dilemma I’m currently facing.

How do I tell you the Capital Cities concert on December 21st at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to?

How do I tell you I didn’t really know what to expect but was completely blown away by the energy, enthusiasm, and effort these guys put into their show?

How do I tell you that Rickshaw Stop was the best setting for an intimate show like this one and that 100% of the crowd was entirely engaged and hanging on every word and note coming from the stage?

How do I tell you the guys won me over with their matching yellow blazers and their choreographed dance moves (see picture above for the Capital Cities electric slide)?

How do I tell you I searched the entire Internet for trumpet lessons for my roommates after watching Spencer Ludwig do his thing onstage?

How do I tell you the live cover of Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares” and Madonna’s “Holiday” were unexpected and incredible?

How do I tell you no one stood still, that I was in my own little world, and that the concert went by too fast?

These guys were awesome. IT WAS THE BEST CONCERT OF 2012.

Let’s see what 2013 has to top this off …

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Live Review: Milo Greene

Milo Green Live in San Francisco

Concerts for me generally involve listening to great music while staring at the back of the person in front of me. I’m 5’2” and at concerts, I can’t see nothin’. But with the help of some balcony tickets and a few people willing to let shorty stand in the front, my experience at The Independent with Milo Greene on Friday, November 16th was significantly improved. No phonebooks needed – and at a sold out show no less!

Milo Greene, a five-member band with roots in North Carolina and continued creative glory in California, is one of those bands you want to listen to when you get home from a long day at work. They’re the band that goes hand-in-hand with a Chimay White or a glass of Pinot. They’re the band to relax to. (You’re probably looking them up right now so friendly reminder to add the “e” at the end of “Green” – tricky).

Back to the show: energy bubbled throughout the packed venue while the light and sound crew fixed up the stage. (Do they do this before every show?? I’ve never been able to see any of this. From here on out it’s balcony or bust.) Milo Greene came on after a few minutes and the crowd began to sway (this is the swaying type of band). Overall these guys have a strong and confident sound. They mentioned they were excited to be back in California (Robbie, guitarist/vocalist, is apparently an SF native) and they maintained a spurt of onstage, we’re-almost-back-home energy throughout the entire night. I was impressed: a band this young was able to captivate their crowd from song one to the very end of their two-part encore.

One thing was obvious from the beginning: each of the band members is extremely talented. In a game of musical chairs (pun!), Marlana would start out playing the keyboards but then would move to guitar and let Andrew, Graham, or Robbie take over for her (Curtis was the only one to stay put on the drums). Their interactions with different instruments and with each other allowed the crowd to get a sense for each of their personalities. They were having a lot of fun both with the crowd and with each other. The instrument-swaps were quick and the change in sound and voice kept the audience engaged but their transitions were not seamless. You could tell that overall, they are a young band. Nevertheless, the fivesome worked it through. Spurts of nervousness were channeled into adrenaline and minor equipment faux pas (like Marlana’s microphone malfunction) turned into a joke carried throughout the show.

Overall these guys were great – I would definitely recommend seeing them should you get a chance. If they come back through SF, in the words of 1957 my favorite track of theirs: I’ll go I’ll go I’ll go I.

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Milo Greene Live in San Francisco November 16

Milo Greene

On David Letterman. At NPR. In Esquire magazine. Milo Greene – an emerging awesome LA indie band – is blowing up. Now’s the chance to see them before they get so big you’ll have to spend half of your significant-other’s birthday present on tickets.

Lucky for you San Franciscans, the 5-member band will be making an appearance at The Independent on Friday, November 16th to show off their self-titled recently debuted album.

Get a little taste of their music below.

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Live Review: Two Door Cinema Club

Two Door Cinema Club live at the Fox Theater Oakland - Andi Pimentel

There are three things you need to know about me:

  1. I registered to vote at Outside Lands music festival
  2. For my birthday my boyfriend bought me a Jambox instead of jewelry
  3. I am obsessed with Spotify

Spotify does so many things and it does them well. Spotify allows me to have the same playlist on 700 devices including my Ring Pop and IKEA clock, it gives me an excuse to bully my friends into following my Good Life playlist (yeah, you click that), and it introduced me to Two Door Cinema Club.

I went from hearing them once on Spotify Radio to becoming a loyal fan in a matter of 21 hours. In my opinion, Two Door is hipster music for everyone. I like it. My friends like it. My parents like it. My little sister likes it. My boss likes it. I’d be surprised if you didn’t like it.

I was stoked to see them play at Fox Theater in Oakland on October 23rd. So much so that I begged my boyfriend to celebrate our 3-year anniversary with tickets to the show and proceeded to invite all of our friends. It was one big anniversary party (registry is at Williams Sonoma, in case you wanted to send something).

The show kicked off with an incredible light show that maintained throughout. Someone evidently spent days blueprinting ways for the stage to come alive and whoever you are: luminescent job buddy. Nicely done. I usually don’t notice stuff like that but I was mesmerized by the exploding spots of green, rays of silver, and blue meteor shower.

I had heard some of Two Door’s live recordings (thank you Spotify) and was already aware that their live performances aren’t quite as crisp as their studio recordings can be. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away; I just wanted a good time (that’s what he said). I was right. They didn’t bring the same sort of clean sound on stage, but their lyrics, energy, and lightshow (again, awesome) more than made up for it. There were definitely aspects that would have enhanced the experience (more interaction with the crowd and maybe a shout out for me to come on stage) but quite frankly, the crowd didn’t mind. No one cared they couldn’t hear what Alex Trimble was saying to his fans (we already know we’re awesome and you couldn’t have done this without us, thank you, thank you). No one cared the sound was not as well-groomed as they were used to. From the moment Two Door opened with Sleep Alone – my personal fav – to the moment they closed with What You Know, 95% of the crowd was dancing with the intention of pulling a butt muscle. The other 5% was venue staff.

Which brings me to the last thing you need to know about me:
4. I’m going to be Sam Halliday for Halloween.

 

[Review written by Sunset Guest Writer Andi Pimentel]

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Stars Live at The Fillmore, 10/20 (Live Review)

Stars Perform at The Fillmore in San Francisco

It might be that my friends don’t get around, but 98% of the reactions to my Saturday night plans were something along the lines of, “Who is Stars?”

Alright. Who is Stars?

  • Stars is a four member Canadian band that kicked off its career in Montreal in 2000.
  • They just released a new album, The North, in September 2012.
  • Two Stars albums (Hearts and Set Yourself on Fire) have been nominated in the Juno Awards for Alternative Album of the Year.
  • Jimmy Fallon is a fan of these guys.
  • They can put on a pretty decent show.

Stars owned the stage at The Fillmore (awesome venue + great acoustics + room for dancing = POINTS). They’ve clearly done this before – they know how to work the crowd and they are experts at channeling energy. Their sound carried well, focused and clear. Taking a bathroom break didn’t prevent anyone from singing the chorus. Your ticket was worth every penny, people!

Everyone seemed to love the new songs but it was the old stuff – the classics, if you will – that really ignited the crowd. Even John O’Regan was dancing in the back. The fact that this guy could still move after leading the Diamond Rings in a let’s-run-around-the-stage-for-30-minutes opening performance was a testament to the energy in the room.

Somewhere between “The Night Starts Here” and “Take Me To the Riot,” I started to realize I really have been missing out. All these years wasted on Chumbawamba when I could have been listening to THEM? Dah!

When it comes down to it, the thing that sets Stars apart is Amy Millan. She freaking rocks. As any loyal fan could tell you (yes, I am now including myself in this category), Stars is fueled by a fantastic lady voice. However, like Obama in the first debate, she just wasn’t there. I was ready to see her Martina Sorbara her way around the stage but instead, she was hidden in the music. If Stars were to listen to my humble opinion, they’d turn her mic up a couple notches. Amy is their secret sauce. She needs to be celebrated.

Overall: great venue, great songs, great crowd, great concert, great band. That’s Stars.

MP3: “The Theory of Relativity” – Stars

[Review written by Sunset Guest Writer Andi Pimentel]

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