A Performance Review from 3/25/14 @Bottom.of.the.Hill
Here it is folks! For all you fine people that read I Heart SF Bands/SF Intercom, this is the debut edition of what I, Cadet Edac, am going to be calling "A Performance Review". (I know, what an off the wall title right?)
It is my goal with "A Performance Review" to get out and enjoy the greater San Francisco music scene. I will be giving YOU, the reader, an honest opinion about what it is that I saw on any given evening of live performance here in the Bay area. I will not take into account any word of mouth or bought and paid for PR telling me how great a band is, but rather, my honest opinion of what it is that I experienced (for better or worse) at any given show I've attended.
These opinions are based ONLY on the live performance of a band. NOTHING LESS, NOTHING MORE.
For the debut go-around, it was the EP release show of Sf's Sea Knight with supporting act, Babes from LA and to start the evening another SF band, WAG at the world famous Bottom of the Hill!* *ok, maybe nationally recognized B.o.t.H*
Full disclosure here, I know the gents in WAG. They used to swing by my work often, and we've become friends.
WAG is the reason I initially went to this show. I've seen them twice and knew I should be in for a treat. You know that friends band of yours? The one you go see because they are your friends, and not because you really enjoy the music but you want to show support? Well this isn't why I go to see WAG. WAG refuse to let you have a bad time while they play. The songs are straight forward rock and blues, no off time signatures, and very well crafted. Catchy hooks, infectious beat/bass, and plenty of sing-along opportunities. WAG is young, so what they "lack" in years of experience on this Earth, they make up for with youthful vigor and can do attitude of "just give us a chance to play and we will have fun". Its a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stagnant, lets see who can care less on stage scene that has taken over SF in recent years.
(You will find I'm a sucker for sing-alongs. When I see a show, I want to feel like I'm a part of the show, not just some observer. I paid good money dammit, I want my money's worth!)
Now for the fun part, Cadet Edac's "official" Performance Review Ratings System.
A system I'm making up right now on the spot.
In the Energy category, WAG gets 4 outta 5 lightening bolts. These guys are fun to watch and it rubs off on you. In the prestigious Crowd Involvement category, I award WAG 2 out of 2 Wesley Willis' Musicality wise I give WAG a 7 out of 10 Treble Clefs Kudos to bassist Hayden for a sweet sounding, pounding, rumping, thumping, groovin' and movin' bass tone. Well done!
Overall rating, I've seen WAG before, and I'll see WAG again, its too much fun to pass up.
The Second Act...BABES!
Let me start by saying before the first note was played, I was intrigued. Babes had a well crafted look between all members, kinda mod-rockabilly. (Umm....yeah I'll stick with mod-rockabilly), The scene was set with vivid lighting cutting through a fog so thick that our own fair "fog city" would be jealous of. Already I had awarded Babes 5 out of 5 smoke alarms and not one instrument had been played. Now THATS what I call ENTERTAINMENT folks! (vol.1)
Honestly now, during the first few songs I was a bit confused by Babes. They had great updated 50s style pop/do-whop sounding songs that happened to be on the slower tempo side of things. No harm or foul there, but the band was playing with the energy of a 90s garage band. The songs were good and all the pieces were there, the fog/lights/looks/energy, and I wanted to rock out, but the tempo was holding me back, at first...
...because Babes be damned to let you stand in the back of the room looking uninterested at your smartphone and being a Chatty Cathy, oh no! The singer did a good job calling for the crowd to fill in the apparently feared position of front and center of the audience. Going to depths so far as to include diving down into the crowd and working her magic amongst the paying patrons of the show! This is working for it people, and I have to say by the middle of the set I was confused no longer, as Babes broke me down and made me move, somehow at a 50s tempo but with a 90s energy! Babes sold me with their performance, so, what are the ratings you ask?
In the Ric Flair styling' n' proflin' category, Babes is awarded 8 out of 5 Ric Flair Robes. Yes, that is 8 out of 5 with a light show/fog machine/put together cohesive look for the band, Babes goes beyond the call of duty of style and profile.
Next up is the Musicality category and I'll stick with a 7 out of 10 Treble Clefs. Good songs that were well played. Textbook songwriting
Finally, I will give them an honorable Rodney Dangerfield award for the "no respect" a majority of the audience seemed to give this band. For shame San Francisco, you are at a show put your phones away and wait to chat with your friends until in between sets, or at least go outside to talk, yeesh, RUDE!
The Final Act and proud new EP parents, Sea Knight!
I was feeling tired at this point of the night and told myself I'd stick around to catch 15 mins of the Sea Knight set before going to catch the last 22 bus that'd come for the next 45 minutes. I had an hour long bus ride to make and I'd seen a few bands already, so hey what would I miss? I'M SO FLIPPING GLAD I MISSED THAT BUS
Sea Knight is exactly what I want when I go out to a local show. I haven't heard of them, but I am at a show already so lets roll the dice. Sometimes you come up with snake eyes, but sometimes you hit the jackpot. Sea Knight was a damn powerball multi-millions jackpot. I had no idea what to expect, and even after looking at my notes I can't tell you what type of music Sea Knight plays, because they play a bit of everything. In this four piece everyone killed their respective instruments. Sea Knight pulled a switch in a few songs with the bassist swapping for a violin while the guitarist floated over to take over low end duty.
The highlight of the night, however, was Sea Knights's drummer Cory! Holy shit. Seriously, this man held a fast paced drumroll for a steady, solid, tight 5+minuets, while not looking like it was anything at all. As a person who plays drums, I think he was so casual and made it look so easy that what he was doing technicality-wise was lost on a few people in the crowd. He would play a waltz that was hidden to the ear, and then when he would unhide it, the waltz seemed to come from out of nowhere. It was magic and more then a few times in the middle of a song I had to pick my jaw up off the floor with the only word I could say being "WOW"
Folks I won't give this band some made up award. Not that there is anything wrong with my made up awards, but I'd really like to hammer home the point that this is a must see band. Sea Knight told a story, musically, on stage. They knew how to pace themselves, and kept me guessing as to what style of song could be next the entire time. By the middle of the set I couldn't tell you what they'd play next, because I believed they had the potential to play ANYTHING they wanted to.
This is an edge of your seat band, and will receive my first ever New Britches Award, because after you see Sea Knight, you'll need some new ones as your old ones will have been blown away.
(and you thought I wasn't going to give them an award, pshaw!)
This wraps up the first edition of "A Performance Review". If you have made it this far congratulations for having a longer attention span than most of your peers.