Beck opens for himself to launch The Masonic in SF


By Mike Frash

Beck //
The Masonic – San Francisco
September 19th, 2014 //

A new music venue premiered in San Francisco on Friday night in a historic space with Beck breaking the champaign bottle on The Masonic, formerly known as the Nob Hill Masonic Center.

It was an early-evening event, as Beck Hansen took to the stage at 8:37 and was finished by 10:20, which is likely a harbinger for events to come at the venue promoted by Live Nation.

Located atop Nob Hill, a district rich in history (and hoity-toity residents), opening night of The Masonic has been a long time coming. Live Nation began this refurbishment process in 2008, but Nob Hill neighborhood groups did everything in their power to thwart The Masonic’s development.

After appeals to Superior Court and a lengthy environmental review, the parties settled at a cap of 79 events per year, fewer bars available to control alcohol consumption and an early starting (and ending times) for events.

The lines to purchase food and drinks were indeed very long, with only four places to queue up for a capacity 3,300 crowd. And when tickets range from $75.00-$99.50 plus fees, access to a quick beer pre-show shouldn’t be a hassle, but it is what it is. Live Nation sent out an email on Friday that had warned of the early start time, which had a large majority of patrons arriving at the same time around 8pm.

Expensive tickets also translated into typical SF laissez-faire security treatment, both at the doors and in not policing open marijuana smoking. Also, posters to commemorate the evening were handed out upon leaving The Masonic, something Live Nation has made a wonderful habit of doing for every sold out show at The Fillmore.

The venue is extremely intimate for its size, with all seats and General Admission areas close to the stage, which speaks to the architectural choice of a spherical space. This also helps the overall sound as well compared to other venues, allowing audio waves to envelop the audience.

So maybe it was due to time constraints, or that Beck is a festival headliner and he doesn’t need the support, but there was no opening act on the bill. So Beck opened for himself, and he said as much upon taking the stage.

The opening nine-song segment honed on Beck’s more mellow offerings, taking on most of this year’s Morning Phase, a couple cuts from 2002’s Sea Change and “Asshole” by fan-request for only the fourth time since 2009.

The mix was a bit rough at first, with vocals and guitar too high, but after a few songs, instruments blended much better. Beck and band briefly left the stage to signify a changeover to the radio hits, but “Devil’s Haircut” was a train wreck to ignite the rock section of the show. It sounded as if the drum and bass were being played in a different time signature than the rest of the group. Everything tightened up by the time “Loser” had begun.


The Quiet Storm stretched out crime scene caution tape at the end of the main set, only to cut said tape during the always entertaining “Debra” during the encore.

Despite the small hiccups, Beck put on a thoroughly enjoyable evening, particularly by leading with the Morning Phase-driven segment.

Old Crow Medicine Show, Train and Modest Mouse will be performing at The Masonic this week if you want to check out SF’s newest music venue.

The Golden Age
Blackbird Chain
Blue Moon
Say Goodbye
Heart Is a Drum
Country Down
Lost Cause
Waking Light

Devil’s Haircut
Black Tambourine
Hell Yes
Think I’m in Love / I Feel Love
(Donna Summer cover)
Soul of a Man

Where It’s At

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