Julie Snyder, KZSC’s former news director (1990s) and the co-creator of the world’s most popular podcast, Serial, is the cover star of Feb 17th’s Good Times weekly! Don’t miss the Q&A with Good Times Editor-in-Chief Steve Palopoli, where she talks about being a Senior Producer at This American Life and how that led to the birth and explosive growth of Serial–a Peabody-award winning true crime podcast series. And see if you can make it out to see Julie Snyder and Serial co-creator Sarah Koenig talk at The Sunset Center‘s ‘Binge-Worthy Journalism: Backstage With the Creators of Serial’ on Wednesday, March 9th.
There’s not really any sort of cohesive way to discuss a band like Godspeed You! Black Emperor that doesn’t begin to sound either extremely pretentious or like an academic paper. As I sat on the base of a pillar in Oakland’s massive Fox Theater, I could only boggle at how on earth I was to describe any of what I was seeing. Logically, the best place is probably the beginning.
The show started inauspiciously enough. My back was turned as I ordered from the bar, and I did not see the two men who took the stage. They were grey and beardy, dressed as if they were about to perform a sonata, and almost no fanfare accompanied their settling behind their instruments. The two men, as I would later learn from the t-shirts in the lobby, were none other than Xylouris White, composed of lute master George Xylouris of Crete and Jim White, drum maniac of underground rock. What ensued can only be explained by years of classical training and dedication, as White kept switching stick styles mid-song (sticks and timpani) and Xylouris did things I didn’t even know people could do with lutes (shred them).
It was about halfway through their set that DJ BrandX finally had to accept that his press pass couldn’t over-ride GY!BE’s no camera policy.
(Note from BrandX. People were able to get in with their camera, there were just some miscommunication between the press agent and tour manager. It was resolved later in the night around 10 PM, but by that time I was already in the venue and my phone was on silent so I didn’t get the memo in time.)
The squad I’d arrived with was again whole, us being me, Salamanders, Geckos, Catface Meowmers, and now BrandX. We took the time in between sets to discuss what genre Godspeed is. Post-Rock? Experimental Ambient? Audible Anarchy? Is this what a group of (insert genre) fans look like? And lo, the crowd we found ourselves easily made out to be the most diverse I’ve probably ever seen.
Anarchos and crusties? Check. Black metallers? Check. Neatly dressed jazz dudes? Check. Leftists that are just into the bands’ politics? You betcha (quote of the evening: “…vegans have higher IQs, but vegetarians actually have the lowest IQs…”). I even spotted a metalcore kid! Fancy that.
And then, the show just sort of happened. Members began wandering out onto the darkened stage, coming on only as necessary. A lone violin soon joined by a double bass. And then an electric bass. And then the textured thump of drums. Piece by piece, all eight members of the current line-up poured out, and flash photography began to fill the massive screen. Without a degree in film, I frankly feel underqualified to comment on the visuals.
(Brand X here to confirm the visuals were amazing and bring new meaning to the term “Music for Films”)
Suffice to say that they consisted of intense loops of something, say a trestle or some film strips or a skyscraper, which would then be overlayed and blended with other loops. So I can’t really say how or when the word HOPE scratched directly onto the film became a deer became a cell tower. It just did.
There wasn’t really anything that could be called a definite stop until about forty minutes in. Fans would clap at slowdowns or dynamic downshifts, but really they could have been applauding at random as far as the entire experience was concerned. More than anything throughout the night, I found myself impressed by Godspeed’s endurance. I think a lot of people misconstrue droning, atmospheric music as easy. Just hit a note and run it through a pedal and you’re the next big hipster thing. This is not so. The timbres and textures I saw being created required a constant and concentrated playing style, thick with tremolo strums, beats that sounded more like endless drum fills than anything, and the lightning-fast whining of bow on violin. It created not just a listening but an entire body experience, which paired with the images on the screen left me truly speechless.
Keola Beamer, composer, singer songwriter and accomplished slack key guitar master will be at the Rio Theatre Thursday February 4th, along with Henry Kapono. Moanalani Beamer will grace the stage with hula. Henry Kapono is part of the Hawaiian Rennaissance as an award winning singer songwriter, actor and rocker. These two gentlemen of music will each perform a set and then come together onstage to perform some of their many original songs that have formed the identity of Hawaiian music since the 1970s. There is something magical about being in an audience full of concertgoers that love and honor the music. Bathe in the musical rays coming your way when Keola Beamer, Moanalani Beamer and Henry Kapono take the stage of the Rio Theatre, Thursday, February 4th, showtime 7:30
Nothing really says DIY like a good ol’ house show, and nothing says underground like bands that have forged their own distinct sound. Last night, standing in a crowded living room in Silicon Valley, I gazed and gawked. Fingers flashed and blurred. Feet flew over massive and elaborate pedalboards. Surely, math has never before been this rock.
Or rock been this math. You know, whichever.
A solid line-up of friends and associates, the show opened with Equator, a jam band with D-Boonesque guitar, poppin’ bass, and a baritone sax. The thick and tasty jams, about a half hour in, started to seem directionless, but was still quite enjoyable. Then again, I think that’s most jam bands. The sober people applauded and the stoned people applauded harder.
Next on deck, straight from the OC came Hollow Ran. Suffice to say that after seeing that performance, I have a new pedal on my want-list. Although there were nearly a dozen pedals being masterfully worked by busy feet, the Super Shifter caught my eye, as it made the entire room go into slow-mo every time he hit it. In fact, the guitarist for Hollow Ran seemed to spend the entire set on one foot, his other craftily adjusting knobs, setting levels, and warping the sick sounds of his already unreasonable tap’n’shred.
Finally came Floral, the band I’d come to see. I’d known the guitarist since his punk rock days back when our bands were equally pissed off and equally terrible in that beautiful way that only punk is, and what a few semesters at Berklee had done to him was simply mindblowing. With only a compressor to cut out feedback and static, his high treble tapping brought the room to a mathy frenzy, a mathy frenzy meaning that people were bouncing around in place.
I thought it was odd that Floral wasn’t headlining their own house show, but once Sumdeus took the stage I saw why. The first tip off that this would be interesting was when the guy in the audience with the Napalm Death hoodie unzipped to reveal a Grateful Dead bear, popped on some John Lennon sunglasses, and picked up a Flying V. What happened next was a half hour of one long hostile jam. While a solid rhythm section kept some semblance of togetherness, this terrifying grind-hippie spewed out an epic, bending solo that had no beginning and no end.
Although the influences are apparent, none of these bands came off as knockoffs or posers. Everyone had their own thing to do, and they did the ever-lovin’ sweet hell out of it. You can find their tasty musical treats below, and you can catch Floral at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on January 7th.
Paula has a truly exquisite voice and she uses her talents to be a cultural ambassador for her Hawaiian home and people. Powerful positive social change is her mission, she sings it exactly as she means it.
The doors open at 8:00 pm Wednesday, Paula begins at 8:30, don’t miss a note.
These singers are here, help welcome them to the West Coast, Wednesday night. Get your Island sway going on, groove to the music and the rare treat of having these two talents together on the mainland.
Treat yourself to a holiday boost, get the music and the spirit of Aloha
Coming to the Catalyst in downtown Santa Cruz Saturday, December 12th, with the Wheeland Brothers opening the show up at 9:00 pm, is Nahko and Medicine for the People.
With the power of Real Talk Music, Nahko gathers a tribe of truth seekers to each concert and event. Nahko is of Apache, Puerto Rican and Filipino cultures and adopted into the family of music. Help make the movement move Saturday night. Doors open at 8:00 pm, the Wheeland brothers of Orange County start the festivities with their beach rock reggae. The show is 16 and up, get ready to dance, heal and sing.
Come let’s build a bridge!
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