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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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* = 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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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: Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, Wax Idols & Dancer at Slim’s

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

Kid Congo Powers has been cranking out the devil’s music since the late 1970s, when he first joined the Gun Club. He has since slung his axe with the Cramps and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, among others. Last week he stopped in San Francisco with the Pink Monkey Birds in support of their new album Haunted Head (In the Red Records). With guitarist Mark Cisneros and drummer Ron Miller, Kid Congo blew through a slew of swampy garage punk tracks from Haunted Head and also treated the crowd to several Gun Club songs, including “She’s like Heroin to Me,” “Jack on Fire,” and “For the Love of Ivy.” Kid Congo’s a seasoned performer and a real treat to finally behold in person.

One audience member, who apparently had come specifically because of Kid Congo’s involvement with the Gun Club, magically appeared at the front of the stage at the start of every Gun Club song. He stayed up front for the duration of the song–pumping his fists, whipping his long blond hair, shaking his beer, attempting to mosh with anyone within reach–before quietly disappearing to the back when the song ended. In hindsight I should’ve taken photos of him but oh well! At least I got photos of Dancer and Wax Idols, who opened the show. I arrived during Dancer’s last song, alas, but caught Wax Idols’ entire Siouxsie & the Bansheesinspired set. Here’s how the night went down.

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Dancer, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Wax Idols, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Wax Idols, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Wax Idols, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Wax Idols, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Wax Idols, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Wax Idols, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds, 11 Feb 14 | Slim’s, San Francisco

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Wish You Were Hear: Giuda in Chicago, 8/23/13

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Giuda, Liar’s Club, Chicago, IL | August 23, 2013

How is it Roctober already??? To celebrate this raucous month, here are some photos from the Giuda show I had the pleasure of attending back in August. C and I were visiting family in Illinois when I learned at the last minute that the Italian glam band (featuring members of Taxi) would be playing in Chicago, roughly two hours from where we were. Knowing that they wouldn’t be in California anytime soon, we cut our trip short and high-tailed it to the Liar’s Club, just in time to catch their sweltering, stomping set. If you missed out on their 2010 debut Racey Roller, it’s been repressed by TKO Records. Even better, their new album Let’s Do It Again comes out on November 16. Don’t stop rockin’!

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Inside a Sick, Sick Dream

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July 4th fireworks, Marin County Fair | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/25, f1.4, ISO 400

You may have noticed that I’ve been obsessing over the Jesus & Mary Chain these past few posts. Hopefully making the following video will get the mania out of my system.

As I mentioned in “Tripping Up with the Jesus & Mary Chain,” I shot video in addition to photos at their recent San Francisco show, but it was a challenge capturing a full song since all I wanted to do was thrash about wildly and bellow at the tops of my lungs. I managed to get their first encore song, “Hardest Walk,” in its entirety, including the bit where Jim Reid first introduced the song as “Never Understand” and then later told John Moore to “shut up for a second” as William fiddled with his chords. At that point the audience was in full swing and I couldn’t contain my own enthusiasm (that’s likely me singing, screaming, and shrieking in the background) so it’s pretty shaky.

Using a long lens amplified each crowd bump and my terrible panning attempts, so I tried to offset their vomit-inducing effects with stills from the show as well as firework and Ferris wheel footage from the Marin County Fair, shot using the same camera/lens combo (Olympus PEN E-P2, 24mm f1.4 CCTV lens). But, to be safe, you might want to skip this if you’re prone to migraines, motion sickness, or epilepsy. I also omitted the fumbling preamble for brevity’s sake.

I can’t promise I won’t blog about the Mary Chain anymore, but I think I’ll be good for a while. Thanks for indulging me!

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July 4th fireworks, Marin County Fair | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/25, f1.4, ISO 400

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Tripping Up with the Jesus & Mary Chain

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Jesus & Mary Chain, Fillmore, San Francisco | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

Last week’s post (“Rancid Reminiscence“) compelled me to rummage through issues of my old zine for the one with the Rancid interview I did in 1993. I couldn’t find it, but came across this tidbit in issue 16 instead: “Monday, June 15, 1998: Saw one of the bands of my youth, the Jesus & Mary Chain, again—and I swear it’s the last time, even though I wasn’t devastated by their awfulness like I feared.”

Ironically, I saw the Jesus & Mary Chain last month at the Fillmore (on June 14, no less, and at the same venue!), the first show of their mini West Coast tour. Defying my earlier vow was no easy task, though. Fourteen years hadn’t clouded my memory of Jim and William Reid’s painful on-stage bickering and cranky, Psychocandy-less performance, so there was much hemming and hawing (and fastidious review of their setlists from their Texas shows in March) before I finally concluded I’d regret not seeing them one last time.

Deciding whether or not to attend a concert isn’t ordinarily such an ordeal, self-imposed or otherwise. But when tickets are $50 and it’s a band you credit for transforming your outlook on life at an early age as well as informing your musical tastes, it can be a really big deal.

I haven’t slept enough this week to try to clarify my lunacy (or have I done a good job already?), but at the very least I can say no tears were shed and that I even enjoyed myself. Occasionally my heart skipped a beat. Other times it got caught in my throat, but that could’ve just been from all my yelling and singing.

With Jim and William joined by Phil King on bass, John Moore on guitar, and Brian Young on drums, the band played for at least an hour. Jim only dropped his mic a handful of times, William only turned his back to the audience to fiddle with his gear or crank up the feedback, and no one stormed off the stage. The setlist leaned heavily on Honey’s Dead and Automatic and included a smattering of my favorite Psychocandy tunes. It also featured their 2008 single “All Things Must Pass,” “Some Candy Talking” (which I own on 12″, 7″, double 7″, and the Modern Girls soundtrack), and the Darklands song that changed my life when I first heard it at the age of 13: “Happy When It Rains.” The wall of sound seemed more contained than usual, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless (gauging by their dirty looks and sideways glances) you were the three gals in front of me.

Other highlights:

  • Jim throwing up his hands in exasperation each time William screwed up the beginning of a song (which was most of them)
  • William, usually so stoic behind his guitar, cracking several smiles throughout their performance (such as when two women slowly crawled across the stage)
  • William working the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” riff into “Reverence”
  • Me pelting Jim in the chest with a wadded-up Ramones shirt on the first try
  • Jim not getting mad or throwing the shirt back in the audience
  • Jim telling John Moore to “shut up for a second” as William tried to figure out how to play “Hardest Walk,” the first song of their encore

C and I didn’t get to the venue in time to score a spot right against the stage, but my Olympus PEN E-P2 didn’t mind. Ever since I discovered its magical capabilities at the Stooges show last December, I love using it at larger concert venues. The Mary Chain aren’t the most exciting live band to photograph, but I’m thrilled to finally have a few decent shots of them (you can see more at jetlagrnr.com).

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“Far Gone and Out” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

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“Blues from a Gun” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

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“Cracking Up” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

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“Halfway to Crazy” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

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“Just Like Honey” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

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“Reverence” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

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“Never Understand” | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/80, f1.4, ISO 1250

I shot some video, too, which was a challenge since I couldn’t stand still long enough to capture full songs. Maybe one day I’ll splice that footage together with the bokehlicious fireworks footage I got from the Marin County Fair. Dreamy… [7/18/12: That video is here.]

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July 4th fireworks, Marin County Fair | Olympus PEN E-P2, 25mm, 1/25, f1.4, ISO 400

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Roctober’s over

Rip Offs, Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco | Canon 5D, 15mm, 1/6 sec, f8, ISO 1000

It’s been so long since my last post that I almost forgot how to insert a photo and put together a sentence. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to expound on the joy that was the Budget Rock showcase since I have some serious packing and eating to do. Whether or not you were able to take part in the sometimes-inhuman festivities, I invite you to visit the Budget Rock galleries I put up. Hopefully the pictures will make up for my lack of words.

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