Event Calendar

06 December 2008

Oasis (Oracle Arena, 3 December 2008)

My obsession since 1994, Oasis played Oracle Arena last Wednesday and brought me back to those halcyon days of my youth. Now, 14 years later (!!!), I am still as Mad Fer It as I was in 1994. Oasis will always be the BEST band of the world to me.

I arrived at Oracle Arena and ran into friends. Definitely helped since I went to the concert by myself and this is definitely not the type of place where you can easily find people. There was at least 10,000 people there, so it was a small Oasis show by their standards. I got my seats on the floor and was just anxious for the show to get started. With beer in hand, and a shot of J&B to go along with it, the lights dimmed and the familiar sounds of "Fucking in the Bushes" came on. Once those drums blasted through the speakers, everyone on the floor stood up, and I yelled for Oasis as if I was 20 again.

The boys look good. Liam had an amazing bowl cut with his sideburns going all wild. I wish I had hair like that guy. Noel looked good in his black leather jacket. Gem had his familiar Penguin-brand windbreaker on. Andy Bell was Andy Bell. And Chris Sharrock was amazing on the drums throughout the show. Tony McCarroll and Whitey don't even compare.

Oasis started off with "Rock n Roll Star." A song that Oasis typically end their main set with, but it was fitting as the beginning. When those guitars started, I was jumping up and down in my little space and yelling. I assumed my Liam pose and sang every single verse with him. My friend Jason was singing along as well and we sang in tandem when the line "Tonight, I'm a rock n roll star!" came up. While Liam didn't say, "I'm a rock n roll star...in Oakland" like I did, he did say something. I don't know what it was. The crowd was energized and ready for more.

"Lyla" and then "Shock of the Lightning" followed. Oasis' backdrop was three three or four video screens -- a set up that Coldplay and Radiohead have been using in their live sets. I really didn't care for the background visuals, but they were interesting. Especially during "Lyla". But man, these songs were just amazing live. Especially "Shock of the Lightning" with the boys in top form. And Chris at the drums banging away as if his life depended on it. And when Liam wasn't singing, he was standing on stage biting on the tambourine, or just standing there looking all cool.

The crowd yearned for more of the classics, and they got it with "Cigarettes and Alcohol." This is THE song that defines Oasis and their fans. This song never gets old and the lyrics are just brilliant. With beer raised up high, I sang my heart out with this song. Noel remarked after the song that someone was so excited for the song that the person fainted.

Now here comes the new stuff with the short yet sweet "Meaning of Soul," the psychadellic "To Be Where There's Life," and the Noel sung "Waiting for the Rapture." I especially loved "To Be Where There's Life," and Gem was having a fun time playing it (especially since he penned the song).

At this point, Noel is playing his set of songs. "The Masterplan" was a pleasant surprise and it was so brilliantly done. Unlike past tours, Oasis songs live sound very similar to the album versions. Noel's voice was spot on for this song, and I got shivers when he sang the chorus.

Liam comes out after the song, strutting out as if he owned the place. And he did. Although not my favourite song, "Songbird" live was a nice and cheery change to the rockin' songs. That quickly changed when "Slide Away" was played afterwards. Of course I yelled, "What for!!!?" afterwards.

It was then followed by the best live rendition of "Morning Glory" that I have ever heard. I could have died a happy man at that point.

"Ain’t Got Nothin’" and my least favourite Oasis song in the past few years "The Importance of Being Idle" was played. The beautiful, Liam penned "I'm Outta Time" was next. If this was released in the 1990s, this song would have surpassed "Wonderwall." Speaking of which...

"Wonderwall" was next and this drove the crowd bananas. As Liam said in a recent Q interview, he wants to puke after he sings this song. But there were no signs of bitterness here. Probably the best "Wonderwall" I've heard in recent memory.

At this point, I was like, "what's next?" and then I was absolutely floored when "Supersonic" came on. It was fucking amazing! At this point, I had no voice left and I was running up and down the aisles just singing this out loud. Putting my arms around random people and my friends totally feeling supersonic! Best "Supersonic" I've heard.

It was encore time and Noel came out and played a beautiful semi-acoustic version of "Don’t Look Back in Anger." After "Falling Down," Liam came out and sang the BEST live version of "Champagne Supernova" I have ever heard. At this point, my arms are around my mates as we sang the song line-by-line. I then ran two sections over and found my other friends and we all sang "I Am the Walrus" together.

No tambourine tonight. No setlist either. But it was by and large the BEST Oasis show I've seen since Philly. My God, I was just in Oasis heaven. This surge of youthful exuberance possessed me for the entire evening and a grin like Jack Nicholson's Joker was plastered on my face. On BART, I was just all smiles. In the car, I sang the songs over and over again. I'm not over it yet, but I'll come down soon enough.

21 November 2008

Love is All (Bottom of the Hill, 20 November 2008)

I simply loved Love is All when I saw them play Popscene last year. Their sheer energy and poppy songs had me hopping all night. Love is All's second album is a continuation of that sheer pop/noise brilliance its debut album has.

It was a Thursday night, and I had to work early the following morning. So I was a bit tired and just went to the show to see Love is All. I totally missed Vivian Girls, but that was no big deal. I hung out in the back since the front was too full. I would have liked to have danced with the people in front, especially during "Busy Doing Nothing." But the back was good enough.

The new songs were great live. I do wish they played "New Beginnings." Otherwise, I heard all the songs I wanted to hear.

30 September 2008

My Bloody Valentine (The Concourse, 30 September 2008)

I know only a few My Bloody Valentine songs, but nonetheless I went to the show just to see what they are all about. I mean, they are one of those groundbreaking bands that you need to see since they pretty much influenced the whole shoegaze thing.

The Concourse is a horrible venue. Given MBV's sound, it should be okay. And, plus, they are not all that animated on stage so you are just really there to take in the sounds. And did they ever. They played their songs crisply and in sync. You wouldn't even know that they've been apart for so long given the tightness of their set.

I don't know any of the song titles, but they were good. I was a bit sleepy towards the end, but then I woke up when I heard that 20 minutes worth of white noise song. It drove everyone I know at the show crazy. Needless to say, that sheer amount of noise basically had people headed for the exits. Like myself.

So it was memorable. It was worth it. And I think one MBV show is enough for me.

28 August 2008

Radiohead (Cricket Amphiteatre, Chula Vista, 27 August 2008)

It's been months since I last saw a live show. And what better way to end that streak by watching one of the greatest live acts in the world: Radiohead.

Getting to the amphitheatre from the freeway was a nightmare. We did manage to find a short cut that cut our entry time in half. We did miss the Liars though, but that wasn't really a big factor.

I last saw Radiohead in Chula Vista during the Hail to the Thief tour when I won that Capitol Records contest. I got a digital camera and a photo pass for the firs tthree songs of their set. And I saw them in the pit. It was sweet. Yesterday though, I sat in the 205 section, but at least I got to take in all the great lighting effects that accompanied each song.

1. 15 Step

2. Airbag - It was great to hear this song again. Although In Rainbows is a great album, today I longed for anything pre-Kid A. So having Airbag played second got my blood pumping, with the hope that a good chunk of their set will be classics.

3. There There - I wante do jump up and down during this song. It wasn't as fun since I was inhibited by seats and what not. But they sounded great.

4. All I Need - Not a favourite song of mine, but now I appreciate it even more than before.

5. Nude - Beautiful. I still like to call this song "Big Ideas (Don't Get Any)" though.

6. Talk Show Host - Surprise, surprise! The light show was equally spectacular.

7. Where I End and You Begin - Love the bass lines.

8. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi - It was OK.

9. The Gloaming - Thom dancing. Enough said.

10. Faust Arp - It was OK.

11. How To Disappear Completely - I get chills everytime Thom says "I'm not here" near the end of the song.

12. Reckoner

13. Optimistic - I'm still trying to figure out if I ever heard this song live before. I'm sure I have, but I don't remember. Sounded good, although Thom's vocals sounded a bit lazy.

14. Jigsaw Falling Into Place - My favourite song from In Rainbows was reinforced by this amazing live rendition.

15. Pyramid Song - Beautiful. Each time, every time.

16. Climbing Up The Walls - I don't like this song live. But it was nice to hear a song from OK Computer nonetheless.

17. Bodysnatchers
18. House of Cards

19. You And Whose Army? - Thom laughed during the beginning of the song because he couldn't contain himself since his face was so close to the camera. He's been doing this for a long time but this one was nice because I saw Thom laughing and enjoying himself.

20. Just - The crowd erupted when we heard this. Yes to Bends.

21. Paranoid Android - Keep it coming! My goodness, I loved this moment and hoped that they never stopped playing.

22. Street Spirit (Fade Out) - Chills. Nothing but chills.

23. Videotape - At this point, I wish the concert would go on forever.

24. Lucky
25. Everything In Its Right Place - A sad way to end, but it was refreshing to see something other than "Forever" flashing on the screen. Instead, it was "Everything."

A magical night. Not the best Radiohead show I've ever seen (Berkeley, night two in 2007 was better), but it was solid from start to finish.

26 May 2008

M83 (GAMH, 21 May 2008)

I missed the Great American. I haven't been there for God knows how long. And it was nice to visit one of my most favourite concert venues in the City again. Memories of that great Arcade Fire and Blur shows always come to mind everytime I see another concert at the GAMH.

M83 is the brainchild of Anthony Gonzalez. No, not the tight end of the Kansas City Chiefs, but a very young French musician who makes ethereal music. M83's new album Saturday = Youth is more 80's than any of his previous albums. Which is not a put down, but rather a good compliment. He was accompanied with three other musicians, one of which was a woman who helped with most of the backing vocals for the new songs.

"Kim and Jessie" is one of my favourite tracks in the new album, and they didn't disappoint when they played it live. It actually sounded better live. Another personal favourite, "Graveyard" was just amazing. The guitars are so infectuous in that song. Some even were prompted to dance. It was the old M83 songs that added some colour to the show, bringing back people to the noise they loved to hear when M83 first started.

There wasn't a dull moment at the show. It wasn't meant to be a raging show by any means. Just a nice show to just enjoy the music. They're fun, in a relaxed way.

El Perro Del Mar / Lykke Li (Bimbo's, 18 May 2008)

Today was the official day where anyone in San Francisco can be drunk in public. Yes, Bay to Breakers, that festive event where everyone from out of town walks around naked or in some funny costume and begin to drink unheard of amounts of alcohol all at 7am. With that in mind, I was surprised to see that Bimbo's was quite packed for tonight's show. Although I did see some weary people in the audience, everyone seemed to be in good spirits and ready for some Swedish pop.

As it has been the custom, we sat in the back with a table. It seems like we only see Swedish acts at Bimbo's now a days, with Jens Lekmanbeing the two previous shows that I saw at this venue. So, with my hunger pangs in full swing, I ordered the crappiest pasta dish and watched the opener, Lykke Li.

Like El Perro Del Mar, Lykke is another Swedish indie pop singer with a fairy like voice. She was definitely more upbeat than El Perro Del Mar, and more enjoyable. I think she stole the show. Her second song, "Dance Dance" was a lot of fun with her whole band going all crazy midway through the song. She exhibited some weird dancing skills and she pounded her tambourine like no tomorrow. Sarah of El Perro joined Lykee during another song. But the definite novelty highlith of Lykee's set was when she covered a rap song, whose name escapes me right now. The song then blended nicely to her encore.

El Perro Del Mar, on the other hand, was a bit more mellower and not as exciting. Which is expected since her new album, From the Valley to the Stars is more a series of really good lullabies than pop songs. She even admitted that when she played one the new songs in the new LP. She tried to make the show exciting, but at this point, I was way too tired and my companions were as well.

Jakob Dylan (Cafe Du Nord, 17 May 2008)

My girlfriend really likes Jakob Dylan so, being the good boyfriend that I am, I bought two tickets for us to see him at Cafe du Nord. Most of us recognize that name as either: (1) that guy from the Wallflowers or (2) Bob Dylan's son. Everyone in attendance, for the most part, was there because of his Wallflowers connection. I didn't realize that there were still many devoted Wallflowers fans out there. But there are, and they were all in the front row of this show.

The junior Dylan was playing in support of his new solo album. I think this is his first show of the tour, but he sounded really good and his band was tight for the most part. He started off with a new song called "Something Good This Way Comes." This sounded like vintage Wallflowers with that twangy guitar and all that. I thought it was an old song, but apparently it was a new one. It wasn't bad at all. He then proceeded with more new songs "All Day and All Night" and "Everybody Pays as They Go."

Throughout the night, I couldn't help but compare father to son. The mannerisms were all there. The slight touch of facial hair was there too. It was quite eerie. Even the swagger and the way Jakob held the guitar reminded me of Bob Dylan when I saw footage of his Newport Jazz Festival highlights.

It was after this third song that things got a bit hairy. There's this crazy tall lady stirring amock in the front of the crowd. She earlier talked to me and asked if the carpets in Japanese concert venues was as bad as du Nords. I've never been in Japan, nor am I Japanese, but because I'm Asian she immediately thought I was Japanese. Whatever. So, she asked Jakob, "Why are you here, Dylan?" To which Jakob responded, "I know why I'm here, why are you here?" More playful, though annoying, exchanges continued and Jakob immediately spotted her eyes. "Oh, you're one of those ... I can see it in your eyes." He immediately ignored her for the rest of the evening, thank goodness.

The fans went crazy when he played his Wallflowers stuff. Like "Beautiful Side of Somewhere." A really devoted fan cried when he played "The Empire in My Mind." It's a hidden track in some album apparently, and he doesn't play it that often. The song is pretty good, and I don't understand why it would be a hidden track rather than a single.

Despite this old guy in a sling wanting to hear "One Headlight," Jakob did not play his big hit. Nor did he play "Sixth Avenue Heartache" or that famous cover of David Bowie's "Heroes." Those are the only songs I knew from Jakob Dylan in his Wallflowers days. He did cover Merle Haggard song called "Branded Man," but nobody in the audience seems to know that song.

Overall, it was a good show and the man does have some great songwriting skills. Don't knock it til you try it.

04 May 2008

I'm From Barcelona (The Independent, 29 April 2008)

Again, I was running late to this show because my bike lock acting up. But, I was able to bike there, bike back home, walk back to the venue and was able to find my friends with no problem.

There were 20 Swedes on stage at the show. Did they really need that many band members? Yes. They are a very happy band. They started off their set with "Treehouse" and there was all sorts of confetti and balloons flying all over the small venue. And one of the members was doing some YMCA like moves as the song was performed. I can do that!

And the lead singer, I think his name is Emanuel, crowd surfed after this song. The band sounded great, and all 20 members contributed in every way. I think the fullness of the sound was definitely because of the large number of members in the band.

My favourite part of the show was when they played "Oversleeping." That's my theme song. Every day of my waking life is described succinctly in that song.

So, as cheezy as the show was, it was a lot of fun. It's not exactly a band that I'd see more than once in a year. Because the antics can get old. But the songs were fun, the band members were fun, and just...fun.

The Verve (The Warfield, 23 April 2008)

The last time I saw the Verve was nearly 10 years ago at the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles. Can you believe that? I saw Richard Ashcroft perform solo during his first solo LP back in New York at the Bowery Ballroom, but that's a whole different show. A decade ago, Ashcroft was God-like and that L.A. show was just out of this world unbelieveable.

Now, 10 years later, I get to see them again! I missed the first two songs, much to my dismay, but I did catch the rest of the set from the far corner of the floor. It was AMAZING! Ashcroft was still God-like and the lighting just added more to his aura. The band were tight, the sound was LOUD, and Ashcroft sang with so much vigor and passion. And he looks healthy too.

They only sang two new songs, both of which were fantastic. Definitely sounded very Verve-like. Which may sound non-sensical but some bands reunite only to sound something completely different. Their classics were just nostaligic. "Lucky Man" choked me up. I sang "On Your Own" with Ashcroft from start to finish. I was amped up for "Rolling People." And his rendition of "Drugs Don't Work" will make any junkie turn their life around.

They played two songs for their encore. Although "History" wasn't one of them, unlike the lucky New Yorkers, they did play "Bittersweet Symphony." Ashcroft dedicated the song to all the black musicians who didn't get properly compensated in their contributions to rock music. This song drove the crowd wild, of course.

But song, after song, after song. It was just a great show from start to finish. And Ashcroft and the Verve were in top form. I can't wait to see them again.

Here are some photos from a fan at the show.

Jens Lekman (Bimbo's, 22 March 2008)

My 31st birthday was the day before this show, so it was nice to have Jens play during my birthday weekend. His show in November was better, but that doesn't mean that this one was bad. It was so much fun! How can anyone not enjoy themselves at a Jens show?

Jens backing band was as huge as before. In fact, the girls in his band are not even from Sweden, unlike last time, but were mostly from....Detroit? Where does he find these girls?

Like November, we were seated in our table at the very rear of the venue. And, like last time, being seated far didn't affect how great this show was. I think the set list was similar to last November's show, but he added some songs in there. Of course, his best songs live are still "Your Arms Around Me," "Shirin," "Black Cab," and "Postcard to Nina."

The Magnetic Fields (The Herbst Theatre, 29 February 2008)

It was Noise Pop! weekend and I was very excited to *finally* see the Magnetic Fields. I'm not exactly a huge fan, but some of my favourite songs are Magnetic Fields songs. Their new album, Distortion, is not that great. But, then again, can you really improve upon 69 Love Songs?

The Herbst Theatre is a beautiful venue. I think it serves as a opera and symphony space as well. It's a very fitting one for the Magnetic Fields. We had seats on the first few rows of the lobby, so our view was perfect.

Stephin Merritt was wearing a hat, and wasn't that talkative throughout the show. But when he spoke his one-liners, it was smart enough that people laughed. Many stories were shared. Some about their experiences in San Francisco in the past. Some great, some not so great, but all funny.

We all got a good chuckle when they sang "I Hate California Girls." Other than that, I forgot what they played. Wait, they played "Kiss Me Like You Mean It." That's partly because I drank way too much wine beforehand, and dozed off during bits and parts of the show.

But I really liked the show! Here's som
e pictures taken by a fan. It truly captures the moment.

Travis (The Fillmore, 20 December 2007)

OK. This is six months late, but I've been busy. And I was planning my trip to Paris during this time, so making an effort to put a concert entry back then was unimaginable. And don't get me started with how busy work was...

So, here I am. In May, trying to remember what happened at the Travis show back in December. I do remember this. They came in not through the stage, but through the crowd. They were in the back and that theme song to every single boxing match came on. And here come Travis, with their boxing robes on ready to knock the crowd out with their songs. Sorry, that's as cheezy as I get.

A lot of people didn't pay much attention to Travis' new album, The Boy With No Name. It is definitely one of my top five from 2007. It's not that it was so original or "knock your socks off," it's the nostalgia that's tied with it. It's the best album they're released since The Man Who, just because The Boy With No Name is the album that closely resembles The Man Who.

Travis played everything I wanted to hear. Everything that I loved on The Man Who was played, including my personal favourite, "Turn." They were playful throughout the set, and were tight all around. Their age showed though, as Fran was turning a bit grey, Andy was unable to climb the speakers and jump as high compared to years past. Then there's Dougie, who seems like never aged one bit. He still has that big grin on his face as he strums the three or four notes of his bass. Then the pelvic thrusts he loves to do when he plays.

Although it wasn't as enjoyable as when I saw them in Coachella earlier in summer 2007, they still brought me back to my early 20's where everything was fresh and new. Cheers, Travis!

02 December 2007

Sondre Lerche (Swedish American Music Hall, 11 November 2007)

My second helping of Scandinavian crooners came on Sunday night when I saw Sondre Lerche perform a solo show at the Swedish American Music Hall. As expected, the Norwegian Lerche asked several questions about playing in a Swedish music hall. "Are there any Norwegian music halls in San Francisco?" asked Lerche. "That's okay, we're using Swedish electricity!" And the list goes on and on. Apparently, there is this competitive spirit among the Swedes and the Nordes, but that's beyond me.

Sondre didn't play everything acoustically. He used, on occassion, his electric guitar. He played a lot of newish songs, even some from the Duper Sessions and songs that he wrote for the move Dan in Real Life. But his biggest applause came when he played songs from Faces Down or Two Way Monologue. In fact, Sondre received not one, but two standing ovations during his nearly 90 minute set. He even mingled with the crowd in the lobby after the show.

I never saw Sondre before, and I wish I did see him with a full band rather than him alone. But he was still very good. His voice was top notch during the whole event, and he talked a lot. Telling stories and just smart comments. Acknowledging some of the crowd requests as well, even some of the hecklers (who heckled with good intentions).

He ended his set with "Sleep on Needles," but I wish he played more. The crowd made many requests, but some of them he doesn't remember. I wished he played "Single Hand Affairs," but oh well.

Jens Lekman (Bimbo's, 9 November 2007)

Nearly a month after I saw this show, I still can't believe how great Jens Lekman was live. He was fantastic from start to finish, crooning his way to the hearts of every person in attendance at Bimbo's that evening. He sang everything that I wanted to hear, and sang new songs that I haven't heard before. He hasn't been to S.F. in a while, and this was my first time seeing him. With all those factors in mind, I was very excited to see him.

Jens' new album is definitely in my top 5 releases for 2007. So, seeing those songs performed live will trigger an additional sense when I hear that album play through my headphones.

My friends and I stood in the back at first, but found a prime table in the back. Near the bar, away from the hustle and bustle, but still good enough to see Jens and his band that consisted of really cute Swedish women (so I think they are Swedish). Think Robert Palmer's video "Simply Irreststable" to get a minds eye view of what I'm talking about.

Jens was talkative and quirky throughout the show, even throwing in there a story about him rollerblading in the North Bay. I don't know if that story is mere fiction, but picturing Jens Lekman rollerblading just doesn't make sense to me.

One of the stories he told was about his hairdresser in Sweden. It was an amusing story that nicely transitioned into him playing "Shirin." The highlight for me was "Your Arms Around Me," which sounded so fantastic. Jens and his band even did a little interpretive dance, with the whole band pretending to be airplanes. Jens' voice was so good during this song, and his band captured that very Smiths like quality to the song -- a portion of which sounds like "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side."

Oh, and of course, "Black Cab." It was surreal.

He played two encores. One song he played was "Tram #7 to Heaven," which he played by himself, acoustically. "Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo" was a bit of a disappointment because of the rather weak horns that accompanied it. But, "A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill" was a lot of fun with all that "bomp" noises they made.

I think this could be one of the top 5 shows of the year. He'll return, I hope, but he'll be playing the Fillmore by then. Regardless, I'll be one of the first persons to buy a ticket.