Category Archives: music

JetLag RocknRoll: The Video Travel Guide Series

I’ve been so wrapped up in multiple projects that I forgot to update this blog with JetLag RocknRoll’s latest incarnation! Years ago I attempted to produce online travel guides with wanderlustful rocknroll aficionados in mind but writing each listing was incredibly time consuming and a bit too ambitious for just one person. Last year, C suggested we make it a video form instead and ask local bands about their favorite spots in the places they call home. Well, the first episode is now live! It spotlights the San Francisco East Bay and features Shannon & the Clams, Tina Lucchesi of the Trashwomen, and Jesse Townley of Blatz. You can watch the video above and get more details about the businesses, places, and bands covered here.

Other destinations in the works include San Francisco, Tokyo, and Chicago. Check back here or jetlagrnr.com for new episodes!

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Wish You Were Hear: Uncool Fest 2016, Day 2

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SWMRS at Uncool Fest, Day 2 | 924 Gilman Street

In the early ’90s, when I was between the ages of 17 and 21, you could find me most weekends at 924 Gilman Street, an all-ages, non-profit, volunteer-run club in Berkeley that’s perhaps best known as the stomping ground of bands such as Green Day, Rancid, and AFI. It didn’t really matter who was playing—there was always at least one band on the five-band bill that turned out to be worth seeing. Sometimes a show even garnered national attention (e.g., the Insaints’ X-rated antics, the time Jello Biafra was assaulted by crusty punks).

My trips to Gilman grew increasingly infrequent with each passing year, even after Pyramid Brewery opened across the street and offered an alternative to Gilman’s functional but dank restrooms, sugar-laden snacks, questionable couches, and floor seating. (Pyramid closed last year.)  I can’t remember the last time I watched all the bands…until last weekend’s two-day Uncool Fest.

So C and I are making a rock ‘n’ roll travel video series, the first of which focuses on the East Bay, and needed Gilman footage for it. Since I pretty much don’t know any of the local bands playing there these days, I was pleased to recognize a couple playing the second day: headliners SWMRS and opener Jakob Danger. Mind-bogglingly, both bands have the distinction of featuring the sons of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. How crazy is that?

Even crazier was the number of parents pressed up against the walls at the back of the room, no doubt wishing there was somewhere to sit or get a snack. Or maybe I’m just projecting.

But I digress. I arrived shortly before (who I thought would be) Jakob Danger kicked off the show and joined the gaggle of girls parked at the front of the stage. They were dedicated SWMRS fans, judging by their branded shirts and phone cases. Was this similar to what it feels like to attend a Justin Bieber concert? I’m sure I’ll never know.

In any case, the first band turned out to be Berkeley’s Mom Jeans. Jakob Danger had been moved to a middle slot, which is how I ended up staying for all six bands. Although, honestly, what would I have done between the first and last bandsshop for groceries at Whole Foods down the block?

All the bands, including San Francisco’s Dinosaurs and SoCal’s Melted and No Parents, were awesome and compelled sweaty, fervent pit action. The No Stagediving sign went unheeded. A giant dinosaur balloon bounced around the room during Dinosaurs’ set.

Throughout the night, the heaving crush of adolescent energy around the stage transported me back to my first few years at Gilman. In addition, I was headbutted in the face at one point and kicked in the head by a wayward foot at another, adding a corporeal element to my nostalgia. No wonder I didn’t take many photos back then! I was too busy thrashing around and surviving flying bodies and limbs to fiddle with a film camera. Oh well. I’ve since learned how to multitask a little better. Here’s a glimpse of the action, as well as my KALX playlist from 20 years ago.

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Mom Jeans

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No Parents

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* = feature play
$ = request

2/16/96: FRIDAY 12:30-3pm

* PUBLIC DISTURBANCE – S&M
* THE HUMPERS – Apocalypse Girl
ZERO BOYS – Johnny Better Get
THE CONTROLLERS – Do the Uganda
* BIORITMO – Asia Minor

* THE VANDALS – Wannabe Manor
*$ VOODOO GLOWSKULLS – Thrift Shop Junkie
* THE CADAVERS – Bad Kid
S.H.A.K.E. – Invasion of the Gamma Men
* GAMMA MEN – Police Car

NANCY SINATRA – Sugar Town
* FIFI & THE MACH III – Heaven Only Knows
THE SAINTS – Lipstick on Your Collar
STAN GETZ – Girl from Ipanema
THE POMPOMS – Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

COMMANDER CODY & HIS LOST PLANET AIRMEN – Hot Rod Lincoln
* CIGAR STORE INDIANS – Hot Rod Concerto
BILLY THE KID EMERSON – Move Baby Move
$ ELVIN BISHOP – Beer Drinking Woman
SCREAMIN’ JAY HAWKINS – I Am the Cool

TROTSKY ICEPICK/VENA CAVA – I’m Stranded
* BOUNCING SOULS – All of This & Nothing
* AFI –  Advance in Modern Technology
* THE MOTARDS – Johnny Tremaine
* THE SWINGIN’ UTTERS – The Dirty Sea

THE BUSINESS – Get Out While You Can
THE LURKERS – Wolf at the Door
$ X-RAY SPEX – Oh Bondage Up Yours!
$ LINK WRAY & THE RAY MEN – Rumble
* JOHNNY LYON – Bark Like a Dog

THE TAMMYS – Egyptian Shumba
DAVID SEVILLE – Witchdoctor
THE NAILS – 88 Lines about 44 Women
THE ANGELS – My Boyfriend’s Back
$ SANDIE SHAW – How Can You Tell

THE ADVERTS – Safety in Numbers
THE CLASH – Jail Guitar Doors
SHAM 69 – Tell Us the Truth

$ NAKED RAYGUN – Gear
* VAST MAJORITY – I Wanna Be a Number
* JACK O’ FIRE – Run Run Run
$ THE MAKERS – Dos & Don’ts of Lying

* LOUIS ARMSTRONG – Black & Blue
BILLIE HOLIDAY – Travelin’ Light
* THE TIKITONES – Rusty Nail
* THE BOMBORAS – Slinky

DAVID BOWIE – Heroes

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First Time with The Boys

nipsOn Friday, May 16, first-wave U.K. punkmeisters The Boys will be headlining day two of HoZac Records‘ three-day Blackout festival in Chicago. Crazily, this will mark their fourth U.S. performance since the 1977 release of their glorious first single “I Don’t Care,” and I’m slightly devastated I won’t be there. Sure, I’ve seen them beforetwice, even, thanks to the Holidays in the Sun festivals (now the Rebellion Festivals)—but that was over a decade ago, both times in echoey, cavernous venues, quite unlike the intimate Empty Bottle in which they’ll be playing in the next 60 hours.

Had I continued to make my zine, perhaps I would possess better recollections than I do now. As it stands, I remember my first time with The Boys a bit more clearly than the second. It was in 2000 at the three-day Holidays in the Sun fest in Bergara, a Spanish Basque town numbering 11,000 or so citizens that, amazingly, had a dedicated rock venue called Sala Jam. (Coincidentally, it was festooned with posters promoting a show with NYC legends The Dictators, who are also playing this year’s Blackout.) I loved the historic quarter and the friendly locals, who got a kick out of a red-haired Asian girl chirping Basque phrases at them. They were pretty chill with all the punks and skinheads that mobbed their otherwise sleepy streets, too. Judging by the broken toilet tank covers after the first day, I’m sure little sleep was had by festgoers that weekend. The Boys’ performance itself was a singalong pogo party.

Perhaps my memories from that encounter are sharper since my senses were heightened after a would-be mugging incident in Bilbao a day earlier (luckily, the purple grip marks on my arm that I received while fending off my traveling companion’s attacker faded a week later). It helps that I have terrible photos (some taken with my tetraptych-producing Nickelodeon PhotoBlaster) and a fuzzy recording of a brief interview I nabbed with Matt Dangerfield and Honest John Plain. Among the hard-hitting topics tackled: their first time, and the accompanying soundtrack (if any).

Matt: “It was done in complete silence, I think. Well, not complete silence, but there was no music playing. For me it was a drunken fumble.”
Honest John: “Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan.”
Matt: “What? You were listening to three albums when you were doing it for the first time?”
Honest John: “Well, I took a long time….No, I think my mum! My mother downstairs saying, ‘What are you doing up there, John? Whaddya want from the fish shop?’ I’m afraid that was it. I didn’t have music on at the time.”

It pains me that I won’t be seeing them again, so I hope you go and report back!

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The Boys, Bergara, Spanish Basque Country | September 2000

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The Boys, Bergara, Spanish Basque Country | September 2000

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Bergara bathroom wall (note giant spider and web) | September 2000

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Bergara, taken with Nickelodeon PhotoBlaster | September 2000

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Wish You Were Hear: Toy Dolls in San Francisco

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Toy Dolls, 14 April 14 | Regency Ballroom, San Francisco

The first time I saw the Toy Dolls was in May 1997, when they blazed through San Francisco on their One More Mega-Tour. They returned in 1998 so, up until last night’s show at the Regency Ballroom, their last San Francisco show was 16 ago!

Olga and the Toy Dolls may have been playing since 1979, but their performance is as energetic and electrifying as ever. Olga hasn’t slowed down one whit on guitar and missed nary a note as he bounded and skipped across the stage with bassist Tommy Goober. With the entire room pogoing and singing along in appreciation, Olga, Tommy, and the Amazing Duncan cranked out classics like “Spiders in the Dressing Room,” “Olga…I Cannot,” “Nellie the Elephant,” “Glenda and the Test Tube Baby,” Bach’s “Toccata in D Minor,” “Dig That Groove Baby,” and “Idle Gossip.” At one point, Olga brought out an enormous bottle of Lambrusco, which he aimed at the audience and showered with confetti (cue “The Lambrusco Kid”).

After three encores and just as many wardrobe changes, the Toy Dolls ended the night with “She Goes to Finos” (or so I think! My short-term memory is on the fritz. Please correct me if I’m wrong!). So much fun! Here are some of my favorite moments, captured with two cameras: a Canon 5D Mark III and an Olympus PEN E-P2.

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Wish You Were Hear: Bad Sports in Oakland

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Bad Sports, 2 April 14 | Eli’s, Oakland, CA

When I was doing my zine My Letter to the World in the ’90s, I had a penpal/zine contributor named Tim who lived in Fort Worth, TX. He frequently bemoaned the lack of a punk scene there, which shaped my perception that Texas (Austin aside) was a musical wasteland. A few years later, the Reds emerged from Denton, a 40-minute drive from Fort Worth. (A few of the Reds would later form the Marked Men.) Since then, it seems like Denton has been cultivating a bounty of energetic punk bands.

Bad Sports are a Denton trio who’ve been around since 2007. Despite having seen the members’ other bands (Wax Museums, OBN III’s, Video) over the years, I hadn’t witnessed them live until last week, during their current West Coast tour supporting their latest release Bras on Dirtnap Records. They played in both San Francisco (the Knockout) and Oakland (Eli’s), and after seeing their snappy set in Oakland, I really regret not going to their Knockout show, too. At least I have some photos with which to remember that night!

Check them out if they hit a town near you. They’re in Denver tonight at Lion’s Lair and have a few more dates this week:
Thurs 4/10 Tulsa – Yeti
Fri 4/11 Oklahoma City – VDZ’s
Sat 4/12 Dallas – Double Wide

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Bad Sports, 2 April 14 | Eli’s, Oakland, CA

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Bad Sports, 2 April 14 | Eli’s, Oakland, CA

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Bad Sports, 2 April 14 | Eli’s, Oakland, CA

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Bad Sports, 2 April 14 | Eli’s, Oakland, CA

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Bad Sports, 2 April 14 | Eli’s, Oakland, CA

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Bad Sports, 2 April 14 | Eli’s, Oakland, CA

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How Jawbreaker Spent a Week with Nirvana & Lost All Their Punk Rock Credibility

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My Letter to the World #8, with Blake Schwarzenbach’s floppy disk

In February 1993, Lookout Record darlings Green Day caused an uproar among punk circles when they confirmed that they’d be signing to a major label. For some, the 1994 release of Dookie on Reprise Records meant the beginning of the end of punk rock, and likely helped groups like the Offspring and Rancid find mainstream success despite their indie status at the time.

The same year that Green Day contended with accusations of selling out, San Francisco band Jawbreaker agreed to join Nirvana for six shows during their In Utero tour. Twenty years later, it seems like no big deal, but this embittered a huge clutch of their fans. As I mentioned in a post I wrote last year, I asked singer/guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach to keep a tour diary and let me publish it in my zine My Letter to the World. He handed it over to me on a floppy disk (remember those?) a few weeks after Jawbreaker returned and that issue came out on December 16, 1993. Less than four months later, Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home.

My world was microscopic in the 1990s so I actually remember where I was when Kurt’s death (and Joey Ramone’s on April 15, 2001, for that matter) was officially announced in the media: at KALX. I had finished up the 9:30am-12pm slot (playlist below) and was putting away my records when a listener called in with the news. (This was before the ubiquity of the World Wide Web, and still a time when breaking news was attained only via TV or radio.) DJ Mickey took the call and informed the KALX listeners.

It’s always sad when someone passes away, especially when it’s believed to be by his own hand. However, I can’t say I was devastated by his death, even though both Bleach and Nevermind were integral parts of my mid-to-late teenhood. Hearing songs from either album still reminds me of the bleakest, most miserable points of my life to date (which I realize is absolutely fitting and the reason to this day I can’t bear to listen to Nirvana), so perhaps I appreciate the relief he achieved through death.

Getting back to Jawbreaker, Blake stated in his piece, “It has been my official platform since last year (when major labels began expressing an interest in usoh, those foolish magnates!) to never sign to a major label. I stand firmer in this belief today than ever….” As it turns out, they’d sign to DGC Records in 1995 and release Dear You before breaking up in 1996. Here’s the tour diary in its entirety (click images for a larger view) as well as my playlist from that fateful day in April.

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How Jawbreaker Spent a Week with Nirvana & Lost All Their Punk Rock Credibility (part 1 of 3) | My Letter to the World #8

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How Jawbreaker Spent a Week with Nirvana & Lost All Their Punk Rock Credibility (part 2 of 3) | My Letter to the World #8

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How Jawbreaker Spent a Week with Nirvana & Lost All Their Punk Rock Credibility (part 3 of 3) | My Letter to the World #8

* = feature play
$ = request

4/8/94: FRIDAY 9:30am-noon

THE WHO – Pictures of Lily
* LUNA – Tiger Lily
JOHNNY COPELAND – Rock ‘n’ Roll Lily
*$ WANKIN’ TEENS – Salt Lake City Airport
ANGRY SAMOANS – Inside My Brain
EX – Jake’s Cake

*$ TOTAL CHAOS – Systems Downfall
COCKPIT – I Wanna a Man in a Skirt
3-D INVISIBLES – Wolfman on Your Tail
* GOLDENTONES – Miserlou

MEAT WHIPLASH – Losing Your Grip
JESUS & MARY CHAIN – Boyfriend’s Dead
* NILS – Scratches & Needles
ABRASIVE WHEELS – Danger Danger
TELEVISION PERSONALITIES – Brian’s Magic Car

* THE JAM – Heatwave
THE DICKS – Rich Daddy
ZANTEES – Please Give Me Something
TATTOOED CORPSES – Jack Zombie
* YOUTH BRIGADE – Punk Rock Mom

ORDER OF DECAY – Confused
SHANGRI-LAS – Leader of the Pack
TOY DOLLS – I’ll Get Even with Steven
* THE TRASHWOMEN – Space Needle

ANNISTEEN ALLEN – Fujiyama Mama
NAKED RAYGUN – Backlash Jack
THE HELLBILLYS – Bucket of Blood
BILLY NAYER SHOW – Bouncy Bouncy
D.I. – Richard Hung Himself

THE LUNACHICKS – Jan Brady
ADAM & THE ANTS – Jolly Roger
RUTH BROWN – This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’
THE REVILLOS – Do the Mutilation
LAVERNE BAKER – Hey Memphis

* CHARLES BROWN SUPERSTAR – Slut Rock
THE CRESTONES – She’s a Bad Motorcycle
THE FASTBACKS – You Can’t Be Happy
TOMMY MARTIN & THE XLs – Hoochie Coochie
* WEDDING PRESENT – Happy Birthday

THE RAMONES – Danny Says
BLITZ – Nation on Fire
INFA RIOT – Riot Riot
THE BUSINESS – Suburban Rebels

DEAD MILKMEN – Watching Scotty Die
THE 4-SKINS – Sorry
AFI – High School Football Hero
* JOHNNY PEEBUCKS & THE SWINGIN’ UTTERS – Here We Are Nowhere
MAD SOCIETY – Napalm

* AGRESSION – Rat Race
RIOT SQUAD – Friday Night Hero

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Wish You Were Hear: Crowdsurfing with the Black Lips & Coathangers

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

Last week the Black Lips returned to San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall with fellow Atlantans the Coathangers to promote Underneath the Rainbow, their latest release on Vice Records. (Incidentally, the Coathangers have their own new album out as well. It’s called Suck My Shirt on Suicide Squeeze.) It’s been three years since their last full-length Arabia Mountain came out and a few years since I’ve seen them live, so it was nice to see what garage punk’s bad boys have been up to.

The Black Lips are known for boisterous shows often splattered with booze, saliva, phlegm, urine, and blood. Having shot them at least half a dozen times in the past eight years (a couple of them at this very venue) and enduring countless kicks to the head, punches to the face, and haphazard crushing of my internal organs, I felt no special urgency to make my way to the front of the stage this time to witness their antics up close and personal. In fact, I didn’t plan to take any photos at all but, once they jumped on stage, I couldn’t not whip out my camera. The Black Lips are as dynamic and photogenic as ever, and I was pleased to see that Cole has perfected his ability to release and catch his own loogies from a variety of positions, without missing a note. They also added Zumi to saxophone and other assorted instruments to round out their sound.

From the side of the stage, it was fascinating to watch the seemingly endless procession of stagedivers and the reactions of those poor souls caught unawares by dirty Converses to the face. Were there always this many at a Black Lips show? And how does their jangly rock ‘n’ roll compel someone to jump headfirst into a crowd of strangers? But then I remembered: I did my share of stagediving and crowdsurfing when I first started going to shows as a teenager, regardless of the kind of music being played. In addition to being a rush, it was a way to physically connect with the music. On some occasions, it was the only escape out of the center of the pit in a very large arena.

For the encore, both Jared and Cole took turns surfing the crowd, and I’m sure the folks who were underneath and near them will remember those moments for the rest of their lives. On the off-chance they got a concussion and have very vague recollections of the night, they can turn to the following photos for proof.

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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The Coathangers, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

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Black Lips, 24 Mar 14 | Great American Music Hall, San Francisco

 

 

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