Battles surprise indy crowd with Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus

Watching John Stanier smash his five-piece Tama Artstar II drum kit is pretty unbelievable. Sweat poured off his forehead as his thick greying hair flung back and forth to the rhythm of his hands. Half-glancing at his super-high crash, it’s as if Stanier was warning the high-rise cymbal right before smashing the brass so hard … Continue reading Battles surprise indy crowd with Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus

Peter Hook & The Light ignite post-punk frenzy

A mop of messy hair flung back and forth across the dance floor. A bouncing man threw his arms up—you’d swear giant mattress springs were glued to his feet. Unapologetic and excited, the one-man whirlpool continued on among a sea of dancey diehards. Peter Hook and the Light at The Fillmore SF A sold-out crowd … Continue reading Peter Hook & The Light ignite post-punk frenzy

Jónsi and Alex celebrate 10th anniversary of Riceboy Sleeps

The audience sat in absolute silence. Gold light haloed the Wordless Music Orchestra and Choir. A giant ethereal harp shone through the darkness. Musicians straddled cellos, bowed violins, and fingered pianos, as an army of vocalists beautifully harmonized. Composer Robert Ames faced the orchestra and arched his back as his flexed arms gracefully danced to … Continue reading Jónsi and Alex celebrate 10th anniversary of Riceboy Sleeps

Brandi Carlile mesmerizes devoted Berkeley crowd

Elegant stage drapes backed Berkeley’s Greek Theatre—bright light morphed the color from blue to purple to red. There wasn’t a spec of grass at the top of the outdoor stone coliseum and chairs filled the floor. Looking back, a sea of eager faces glistened. It wasn’t long before curious eyes filled with excitement as Brandi … Continue reading Brandi Carlile mesmerizes devoted Berkeley crowd

Here to stay—Korn and Alice in Chains thrill lifelong fans

Devoted is an understatement—nearly 20,000 cheering fans packed Shoreline Amphitheatre for a lineup straight out of 1999. Nu metal icons Korn paired perfectly with grunge legends Alice in Chains, even if you couldn’t picture the pair touring together in their heyday. Scuzzy opening chords of “Here to Stay” (Untouchables, 2002) crept across the crowd. Within … Continue reading Here to stay—Korn and Alice in Chains thrill lifelong fans

Burger Boogaloo celebrates 10 years in Oakland

All hail The Pope of Trash. Burger Boogaloo may be the only festival where fans are just as excited to see its host—cult director and author John Waters—as any band on the bill. The counterculture icon’s slender frame stood behind a podium on stage, his pencil-thin mustache outlined a grin as he welcomed each artist … Continue reading Burger Boogaloo celebrates 10 years in Oakland

Helms Alee march to the beat of their own drum

Watching Helms Alee drummer Hozoji Matheson-Margullis do her thing is hypnotizing. Sitting behind a late-‘60s black Rogers kit—the same one her dad bought her when she was 15 years old—Matheson-Margullis covered lead and backing locals while playing over rapidly shifting arrangements. Positioned center-stage at Great American Music Hall, an awestruck crowd stared as she ruthlessly … Continue reading Helms Alee march to the beat of their own drum

Hip Hop Legends Cypress Hill go old school at UC Theatre

Clouds of thick smoke filled Berkeley’s UC Theatre. Lighters clicked, blazing the tips of blunts and spliffs everywhere. A giant psychedelic elephant lit up the stage — its colors slowly morphed from purple to green. And then, darkness. Opaque blue light shone upon superstar guest DJ Mix Master Mike. Standing in for Cypress Hill’s own … Continue reading Hip Hop Legends Cypress Hill go old school at UC Theatre

Eels Electrify the Regency

“Life is hard, and so am I. You better give me something, so I don’t die.” It’s been 23 years since “Novocaine for the Soul” plunged its way into Eels fans’ hearts. The song’s opening lines still relate, and their live rendition gave the classic tune a much darker twist. If you asked the hundreds … Continue reading Eels Electrify the Regency

Gang of Four awaken anarchist spirit at The Chapel

“Gang of Four” projected just atop the red arch that mounts The Chapel’s stage in San Francisco. It was the only light illuminating the small room just before the band drenched the crowd in radiating guitar noise. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, fans jerked their knees as the drums crept in to renowned opening track, “Anthrax.” “And I … Continue reading Gang of Four awaken anarchist spirit at The Chapel