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

Thom Yorke closes intoxicating set with Radiohead classic

Spastically swirling across the stage, Thom Yorke’s lime green socks peaked out from white Velcro shoes. Like a tiny cyclone, his feet impulsively tapped as his arms swam through the air. Mouth wide and eyes closed, his hands curved and reached for the crowd. It’s no secret that Yorke loves playing in Berkeley. The last … Continue reading Thom Yorke closes intoxicating set with Radiohead classic

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

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

Thom Yorke summons euphoric storm at Bill Graham Civic

A sold-out crowd stood still, and thousands of wide eyes watched musical prodigy Thom Yorke grace Bill Graham Civic Auditorium’s stage. Standing behind an electric piano, his fingers slowly slid across the keys. Leaning into the mic, his haunting voice gripped you from the start. Opening with “Interference” (Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, 2014), he softly sang, “I don’t … Continue reading Thom Yorke summons euphoric storm at Bill Graham Civic

Doomgaze masters This Will Destroy You capture beauty buried in pain

Glowing faces hovered over the second-story ledge of the Great American Music Hall. People peered down upon the stage and narrow floor — a cross-legged man sat near a pillar, his red headlamp illuminated his hands as he gracefully juggled five glass balls. A mostly male crowd stood quietly, waiting for doomgaze masters This Will … Continue reading Doomgaze masters This Will Destroy You capture beauty buried in pain

Jim James’ solo acoustic set embraces rainbow power

The Fox’s stage is nestled between two giant golden Buddhas. They glistened in the dimly-lit room as ushers guided fans to their seats. Instruments sat center stage, chairs filled the orchestra pit and mezzanine floor, and black drapes blocked the doorways. Everyone inside Oakland’s iconic theatre was ready for a spiritual experience. A barefoot Jim … Continue reading Jim James’ solo acoustic set embraces rainbow power

Art in Motion: Arcade Fire performs Funeral in its entirety for the first time

It started to snow just before Arcade Fire greeted an electrified, sold-out crowd at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. Small, white, paper flecks fell from above, artwork from their first album, Funeral, swirled on the backdrop — the red hues mirrored off all seven dangling disco balls. There wasn’t an inch of floor-space between the stage and … Continue reading Art in Motion: Arcade Fire performs Funeral in its entirety for the first time

Sigur Rós’ massive soundscapes propel cathartic set

Heavy drumbeats slowly build — one on top of the other. The metrical pounds sync with the rhythm of my heart. Thump, thump, thump. The melodies pull back and forth, on a puppet string. The drum beats harder; louder. My wrists pulsate as my blood’s current rapidly streams. Thump, thump, thump. My eyes involuntarily follow … Continue reading Sigur Rós’ massive soundscapes propel cathartic set

Sigur Rós steals the show at Outside Lands

Gold sparks swelled, popped and fell like rain on the backdrop behind Icelandic band Sigur Rós Aug. 11. Singer Jón Þór Birgisson bowed his guitar amidst a beautifully lit forest, blanketed in fog. Trees nearly barricaded the crowd, and as the music’s ambient beauty halted the audience to a near silence, red and orange fire … Continue reading Sigur Rós steals the show at Outside Lands