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

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

Better Oblivion Community Center, a folksy pair

The collaboration between Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, Better Oblivion Community Center (BOOC), came to rock the sold-out crowd at August Hall on a Friday night. Backed by a full band, the duo ripped through an exciting set of music from their eponymous debut record as well as some deep cuts from Oberst’s and Bridgers’ back catalogues. … Continue reading Better Oblivion Community Center, a folksy pair

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

Immigrant punks Gogol Bordello coax crowd into the chaos at The Fillmore

All photos by Raymond Ahner. Nobody puts on a show like Gogol Bordello. The gypsy punk band radiates an anarchist energy — they’re rebellious and revolutionary by nature. After dropping their latest record, Seekers & Finders late last year, the band hit the road, playing the first of two sold-out gigs at The Fillmore in San Francisco on Feb. … Continue reading Immigrant punks Gogol Bordello coax crowd into the chaos at The Fillmore

An honest truth: The evolution of Conor Oberst

Conor Oberst is a beautiful storyteller. I was 16 when I first saw him play at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill. He was the frontman of Desaparecidos, a punk/hardcore-tinged band that I worshiped. I listened to Read Music/Speak Spanish until my favorite tracks were too scratched to play on my Discman. I remember how excited I … Continue reading An honest truth: The evolution of Conor Oberst

Bohemian folkers, one tight-knit family

Home is where the heart is. What started as a sibling ensemble, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, quickly morphed into a five-person show, equipped with a tap-dancing drummer, a stand-up bassist and a slide guitarist. Lauren Brown, a self-taught drummer, began tapping for the band in 2010, a few short years after brother-sister duo … Continue reading Bohemian folkers, one tight-knit family

Mumford & Sons play before a sea of spectators at the Greek

Standing atop the peak of Berkeley’s Greek Theater, a sea of golden-lit limbs swayed beneath me. Couples cuddled, friends danced and I watched, enjoying the striking union of sight and sound. It’s no surprise that Mumford & Sons sold out three nights at the Greek in less than 30 seconds. The English folk-rock foursome have … Continue reading Mumford & Sons play before a sea of spectators at the Greek