JMSN jumps to headliner status in one quick year

JMSN_postPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Nikki DeMartini //

JMSN with Rochelle Jordan, Devon Baldwin //
The Independent – San Francisco
March 2nd, 2015 //

Last March, Christian Berishaj (better known by his stage name JMSN) opened for Crosses at The Independent. And now a year later, he has headlined there!

Dressed in Bermuda cutoffs, an over-sized, striped T-shirt, slip-on kicks and a simple gold cross on a long gold chain, JMSN looked every bit indie, complete with a well-kept beard as he breezed on to the stage. A diverse crowd leisurely mingled following supporting act Rochelle Jordan — the show was sold out by the time the headliner started.

With an exhilarated pep in his step, the Albanian-American singer/songwriter/producer from Detroit kicked things off with “Addicted” from his 2014 self-titled (The Blue) album. Greeting the crowd with a charismatic “how y’all doing?” JMSN came off very friendly and genuine, quick to interact with and introduce his bandmates and coolly connect with his fans.

His R&B singing style, paired with indie back-up bass and drums, gave the spirited set a subtle folk feel with a good-vibe glow. The talented frontman gracefully bopped around the stage all night, delivering a lively show, which pleasantly offset the somberness of the songs.

Compared to the likes of How to Dress Well and Bon Iver, JMSN has undoubtedly mastered a unique technique of blending the soul, indie and R&B genres. Appealing to a wide-ranging fan base, JMSN continues to garner high praises and a growing popularity with a wholehearted ease.


Sage Francis spits brutally-honest lyrics with spoken-word flare

Sage FrancisPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Nikki DeMartini //

Sage Francis with Jel //
Mezzanine – San Francisco
January 30th, 2015 //

It was a few minutes before midnight when Sage Francis took the stage following a couple different guest DJ sets Friday night at Mezzanine. Scheduled openers The Metermaids from Brooklyn had to cancel due to a blizzard on the East Coast.

It’s been less than a year since Francis’ last show in SF, and the innovative rapper from Rhode Island gave fans a performance unmatched to any other solo hip-hop artist, bursting with his unique sound, style and grace.

He hit the stage wrapped in a Strange Famous flag (as a tribute to his record label) with nothing more than a microphone and a laptop laden with original instrumental beats to carry him through the set.

Sage Francis

While a majority of Francis’ setlist weighed heavily on tracks from his older albums than more recent releases like last year’s Copper Gone, he wholeheartedly spit his brutally-honest lyrics with a certain attention-grabbing swagger and spoken-word flare. The captivated crowd felt compelled to dance as they cheered him on throughout his lively and humbly-engaging performance.

Francis has a few more shows lined up in March on the East Coast before he returns to California in late May for a night at Corona’s M15 Concert Bar & Grill. Hopefully it’s not another four years before we hear new music from one of SF’s favorite, off-beat rappers so we can jump back on the Sage train soon.

Deap Vally’s hard-rockin’ sound is gritty, raw fun

Deap-Vally_postPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Nikki de Martini //

Band of Skulls with Deap Vally //
The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco
May 22nd, 2014 //

The little ladies of Deap Vally brought big, bluesy rock sounds to The Regency Ballroom when they opened for Band of Skulls last month.

The LA-based duo took the stage in SF looking like “bandaides” straight out of Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous as they rocked a bohemian hodgepodge of ruffles, feathers, leather and lace. Yet their bold music emulated the 1970’s rock ‘n’ roll bands of which the movie is based.

Fans cheered as the hard-rockin’ grunge-sludge heard throughout their debut album, Sistrionix, roared off the stage, engulfing the room with gritty, raw fun.

Ripping massive guitar and pounding-heavy drums hit the crowd, leaving them head-banging and toe-tapping along to every outspoken song.


Shouting hardly ceased as the set rolled on and grew louder when Lindsey told fans how happy they were to be back in SF, showcasing their fun loving wit by adding “it just smells better…if you know what I mean.”

The pairing of Lindsey Troy tearing it up on guitar with her deep, almost raspy, vocal range combined with her redheaded counterpart Julie Edwards killing it on the drum kit is comparable to the likes of The White Stripes. Like The Stripes, Deap Vally are two passionate musicians, playing undisputable garage-blues rock, making a lot of enjoyable noise while being damn good at it.

Deap Vally left San Francisco more than ready to keep rockin’ with the headlining act, Band of Skulls.

Next time they hit the road, it should likely be as headliners.



Deap Vally setlist:

1) Baby I Call Hell
2) Gonna Make My Own Money
3) Ain’t Fair
4) Lies
5) Grunge Bond
6) 6 Feet Under
7) Walk of Shame
8) End of the World


Awesöme Orchestra team up with Van Dyke Parks and Matt Montgomery in Oakland

Awesome-Orchestra---Matt-MontgomeryPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Nikki de Martini //

Awesöme Orchestra with Van Dyke Parks & Matt Montgomery //
The Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts – Oakland
January 26th, 2014 //

The Bay Area non-profit Awesöme Orchestra teamed up with music legends Van Dyke Parks and Matt Montgomery for a very special show this past Sunday at The Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts in Oakland.

The “Sunday Funday” show, celebrating the collaborative efforts of Parks and Montgomery off the album Petty Troubles, featured members of Awesöme Orchestra alongside the famous artists/composers/producers. This ensemble of musicians was quite a sight, not to mention inspiring, but the real treat was the sweet music they created on stage, which started just past 4 p.m.


Starting the afternoon off on a positive note, a string quartette and Matt Montgomery effortlessly delivered a beautiful rendition of “On Its Way”.

Melodic, symphonic, orchestral pop songs raised spirits and seemed to place everyone in attendance under a peaceful spell.

While the set-list evenly split up leading vocals, Park awed on the piano, especially the songs that didn’t have him behind the microphone. Likewise, Montgomery’s guitar talent shined bright on the songs that didn’t find him in the singing spotlight. As evening made way to night, the highlight for most had to be when Van Dyke Parks made his way back to the stage and performed The Simpsons theme song with a full Orchestra!

Sunday’s show had more in store for its attendees and even it’s performers than an average performance, because big fishes in the music biz were working with smaller acts. It’s not everyday two legendary, multi-talented musicians share a stage together, let alone with up and comers. Matt Montgomery, Van Dyke Parks and the Awesöme Orchestra completely captivated their audience with pure enjoy and esteem in Oakland.

A show like the one on Sunday was truly humbling and special for all involved.

John Newman’s gospel essence impresses at Rickshaw Stop

John-Newman1Photos by Marc Fong // Written by Nikki de Martini

John Newman
Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco
January 16, 2014

A mature crowd got to the 18 and up weekly club event Popscene early to secure their spot to see 23 year old, multi-talented singer/songwriter/producer John Newman January 16th.

And with good reason.

Every stop of the US tour in support of his debut album Tribute sold-out, including San Francisco. So, needless to say, after waiting over an hour, SF fans were ready for the show to begin.


Focus swiftly shifted to John Newman as he appeared on stage moments after the band and two back up singers preluded the gracious title track, “Tribute”.

A powerful, gospel like essence swelled prominently as respectful cheers from the crowd gave way to an admirable vibe throughout the venue.

Belting out each soulful ballad track with an effervescent, angelic swagger, John Newman undeniably dominated throughout the performance while simultaneously letting his well-orchestrated band shine.
While the set did include the smash single “Love Me Again”, which was introduced on an earlier EP, Newman noted himself it was all about Tribute. The young, talented artist thanked fans for making it happen.

As this leg of the Tribute tour continues on with sold-out shows across the States, John Newman’s popularity rightfully, continuously grows.

Another 13 shows were announced last week: starting March 27th at the 9:30 Club in DC all the way to The Doug Fur Lounge in Portland Oregon on April 18th!

Sound good? Get your tickets for John Newman at the Independent April 14 before they sell out, too.

Geographer finalize tour full circle at Bimbo’s 365 Club

Geographer_postPhotos by Sterling Munksgard // Written by Nikki de Martini //

Geographer with Bad Suns //
Bimbo’s 365 Club – San Francisco
November 23th, 2013 //

The SF-based band that describes its sound as “soulful music from outer space” have been on tour in support of 2012’s Myth pretty much since its release, and Geographer brought their dream-pop rock back home to Bimbo’s 365 Club on Saturday night.

The crowd was still situating into the shoe-gazey scene enjoying “Verona” off of 2010’s Animal Shapes before the usually modest Michael Deni dropped an F-bomb before the song ended. Explicitly inviting SF fans to “bring it to the mother fucking floor” for the last show of their tour, Deni was obviously and understandably excited. Who wouldn’t be?

In January, Geographer kicked of this leg of the tour at SF’s most culturally historic concert venue, The Fillmore, before hitting the road, playing across the states and then up into Canada. Now, almost a year later, here they were playing a sold-out show at Bimbo’s 365 Club, one of the swankiest places in SF to see a live show.


Following the fan-favorite ditty “Life of Crime” came a more poppy version of “Paris”, and Geographer carried on, alternating between songs from their 2012 and 2010 albums for a good first half of the show. Deni did a good job connecting with the muted crowd without pausing for typical banter. For instance, he didn’t prep fans for his theatrical stage dive during “Kites”, the most well-received song of the night.

Ending their tour in the city they now call home, Geographer’s artistic allure shined at Bimbo’s 365 Club with impeccable lighting and almost unblemished sound. Working on new material while touring, Geographer will surely hit the road yet again upon the arrival of their impending fourth studio album.

Anna Calvi’s vocal range and intense guitar mesmerize in SF

Anna-Calvi_postPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Nikki DeMartini //

Anna Calvi with Sandy’s
The Independent – San Francisco
November 17, 2013

Crimson lipped and humbly fashionable Anna Calvi and her band graced the stage just before 10pm Sunday with the hauntingly alluring “Suzanne and I”. The captivating performance yielded respect from the audience as they quietly watched, letting Calvi shine. Comparable to the likes of pint-sized heavy hitter PJ Harvey, Calvi’s powerful and eclectic vocal range consistently mesmerized, especially during “Eliza” and “Suddenly” from her 2013 record One Breath.

The only element that came close to outshining Calvi’s singing was her own guitar playing. Intense riffs laced just about every song of the set, and “Sing to Me” delivered an aggressive guitar solo reaping an appreciative applause from engaged fans. This type of dominant guitar playing from a woman evoked memories from Exile in Guyville, Liz Phair’s 93′ debut that paved the way for female musicians to rock hard today.


With her rich range of falsettos and baritones, Anna Calvi’s intricate, bluesy vocals and pop undertones are a unique pairing, striking a soulful cord that’ll stick to your bones.


Atlas Genius connect with crowd at The Fillmore

Atlas Genius @ The Fillmore Nov.7th, 2013 #17By Nikki de Martini //

Atlas Genius //
The Fillmore – San Francisco
November 7th, 2013 //

Before the release of their first full-length studio album When It Was Now, the Australian-born-and-bred boys from Atlas Genius built a studio from the ground up where they wrote and recorded music for three years before even considered to tour as a band.  Since then, this (sorta) newbie Aussie Indie band continues gaining popularity in the states with two hit singles, “If So” and “Trojans”, all over the air-waves. Their headlining US tour arrived at The Fillmore on November 7th and sold-out a couple of hours before doors opened.

Inside the atmosphere was brimming with an enthusiastic anticipation, and when Keith, Michael and Darren hit the stage waving to fans, they were met with blissful cheers from the female-dominant crowd.

Atlas Genius @ The Fillmore Nov.7th, 2013 #23

Basking in a flood of indigo lights and aquatic instrumentals, Atlas Genius opened with “On a Day”, subtly building up to the climatic chorus as pockets of fans began to dance. Keith (lead vocals) and Darren (keys/guitar) fed off that energy while rousing more of it. The repeated rhythmic end of the first song flowed into the relaxed yet up tempo beat of the second song, “If So”, igniting the first of many a sing along responses from an adoring crowd.

Singing from behind his mic on stage left, only to make his way over to stage right repeatedly, and even playing guitar from the photo pit on occasion, front man Keith Jeffery made sure to engage with as much of the sold out crowd as possible.

The first real crowd interaction happened right after ending the well harmonized, romantic mood-seducing “Back Seat” when Jeffery expressed the band’s excitement for playing at the historic San Francisco venue: “We have been excited about this particular show for a very long time, so thank you very much for coming down.” The good mood soared as he invited everyone to thank what he called two of the greatest bands ever, openers Family of the Year and Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr.

Atlas Genius @ The Fillmore Nov.7th, 2013 #7

Playing a set consisting of songs off of their only album to date, it was pleasing that Atlas Genius were able to make the most out of the limited amount of material. For example, Darren and Michael stepped off the stage to leave Keith to preform an intimate solo performance of “Symptoms”, morphing the otherwise plugged-in, some what experimental rock song into a heartfelt, acoustic ballad. Then there was when “Electric” was teased with a guitar heavy intro and an extended, garage band-esque ending. As a loud applause arose after “Electric”, it took a minute for fans to realize that it was now time to react and encourage an encore. Atlas Genius reappeared to jump right into “Centered on You”, a track reminiscent of another Aussie Indie act, The Temper Trap.

Not surprisingly, Atlas Genius saved their hit single “Trojans” for last, and this placement genuinely suited the show well. It’s bubbly melody and overall contradicting disposition rounded out the whole performance, which balanced high and low tempos so well through out the night.  Moreover, it felt that fans hadn’t been waiting to hear the hit but rather they were elated to hear it live.

Atlas Genius @ The Fillmore Nov.7th, 2013 #21

Half way through, as fans began to clap along, Atlas Genius asked everyone to raise their hands, capturing a Kodak moment of their own, connecting with SF fans once more before the show was over.

Though I do dig listening to When It Was Now, when I left The Fillmore that night, Atlas Genius had totally won me over. Their hour long set was upbeat, light-hearted, fun, genuine and the setting was a great match for their laid back vibe. Atlas Genius is an essential band to see this year, and the show November 7th confirmed this sentiment.


Atlas Genius @ The Fillmore Nov.7th, 2013 #1

The Polyphonic Spree attempt to transcend technology at The Chapel

Polyphonic-SpreePhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Nikki de Martini

The size of the audience swelled after opening acts Harper Simon and Seryn Monday evening (August 19) at The Chapel, as show-goers eagerly waited to absorb The Polyphonic Spree in all of it’s glory.
Are they gypsies?
Are they hippies?
What will they be wearing?!
“There are 12 of them, yeah?” my friend asked, “No.” I replied. “I think there are more.”
Excitement was in the air, most notably from the two guys I found myself sandwiched between — one sported a foot-high mohawk and hugged the stage, guarding a poster tube while the other, a 50 something-year old construction worker lookin’ type firmly stood his ground. This eclectic variety of fans alone drummed up more anticipation and exemplified the headlining collective’s wide range of supporters.

Polyphonic-SpreeUnobtrusively they entered. The band wore matching citrus colored paisley choir robes, the 5 piece female back-up singers were adorned in matching white lace dresses and front man Tim DeLaughter rocked a citrus colored paisley man tunic. 

There were 18 members of the Spree in total, all of them squeezed into the frame of The Chapel’s alter-less stage when a warm, fuzzy feeling transcended throughout the picturesque venue. Tucked behind the wide array of instruments and musicians, the ladies’ angelic voices and happy faces stood out.  All eyes were transfixed on the 5 piece back-up singers for show opener “Section 12 (Hold Me Now)”, but quickly the ensemble projected exuberant optimism as a cohesive unit. The whole thing is a sight to be seen.  

Polyphonic-SpreeWhile teetering on top of a speaker joyously singing “Younger Yesterday”, DeLaughter fleetingly told an audience member to “put that (camera phone) away.” The Polyphonic Spree frontman didn’t harp on the issue as the group started “Popular by Design” amidst multi-colored swirling disco lights that turned the venue into one big happy kaleidoscope — but even more camera phones popped up as a consequence. In a year where Savages & Yeah Yeah Yeahs have scorned camera phones in favor of ‘being in the moment’, this artist trend seems to be on the rise.

The choral-symphonic-pop-rock-gospel band played cuts from their entire collection, including their fourth live performance of “Carefully Try”. DeLaughter thanked everyone for making it out the show, expressing his cheerful excitement that this performance at The Chapel was the group’s first sold out show in San Francisco. The announcement was met with an equally enthusiastic reaction.

Set List
1: Section 12 (Hold Me Now)
2: Younger Yesterday
3: Popular by Design
4: Light to Follow
5: 2000 Places
6: Carefully Try
7: I’m Calling
8: You Don’t Know Me
9: Hold Yourself Up
10: Soldier Girl
11: The Best Part
12: We Sound Amazed
13: Lithium
14: My Umbrella
15: Light and Day

Smallpools bring summer anthems to Popscene, their first California show

Smallpools-Popscene-August-8Nikki de Martini // Sweet Sound Bites

SF music fans were in for a treat at the Smallpools Popscene show August 8, as the Jersey foursome made their debut California performance. That could explain why Smallpools’ singer, Sean Scanlan, seemed a little nervous at the start of the show — and maybe it was the fact that the show was sold out and the group just started touring in July.
After a short-lived technical hiccup as they situated on stage in front of an eager, young and (always) trendy packed house at Rickshaw Stop, the band dove right into the set with “Mason Jar”, the second track off of their self titled EP.  Any nerves Smallpools may have had went away as the band’s laid-back coolness took over. The buoyant audience was already in the groove, dancing and having fun as Sean, Mike (guitar) and Joe (bass) continually connecting with SF fans.

Laughing about being stuck in Costa Rica when they created the “islandy” track “Over & Over”, the guys have a way of making you feel like you’ve been friends since way back when. Their bountiful, insightful banter about needing to get to work on their much needed (not to mention highly anticipated) LP resonated well with the excited crowd.  
Since the four tracks off their debut EP are their only released material, it made sense for Smallpools to cover a song or two to beef up their set list. The cheerful riff to the New Radicals’ hit “Get What You Give” was a great fit for the LA 4-piece indie-band’s mellow vibes. The song also served as the best build up for the song everyone was waiting to see live — this summer’s anthem, “Dreaming”.

Popscene burst with enthusiastic applause, breaking out into a full fledge dance party as Smallpools played their smash hit single — they definitely ended the night on a high note!


Fitz And The Tantrums give intense energy & crowd engagement to SF

Fitz-and-TantrumsPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Nikki de Martini {Sweet Sound Bites}

People were still filing into the Fitz and The Tantrums show at The Warfield Sunday night as leading man Michael Fitzpatrick and leading lady Noelle Scaggs followed the rest of the band on stage. Under the glow of the same neon heart that graces the group’s new album, More Than Just a Dream, the show started with the brand new track “Keepin’ Our Eyes Out”. They carried an essence of unplanned-glam with a touch of platinum in their outfits. But Scaggs’ look triumphed, and how could it not with the cover-art heart embroidered on the back of her leather jacket!

The female firecracker vocalist burst out “San Francisco! How you feelin’ tonight?! You came to party right?!” in the middle of “Don’t Gotta Work It Out”, jolting a roaring response from fans. After that, all bets were off as Fitz himself tried spreading the band’s amped energy by vigorously starting an audience clap-along at the tail end of the song. And all this happened within the the second song! Their drive to fully engage the crowd and emerge everyone into their electrically emotional set was highly admirable.


Fitz and the Tantrums built momentum with exuberant banter, fervid fist pumping with fans in the front row, some mean tambourine, and a sexually charged chemistry only exes can conjure up, and it all flowed naturally — though it did seem as if they were trying to prove themselves.

Covering the Eurythmics dark hit “Sweet Dreams” later on in the set made sense, seeing as Fitzpatrick’s voice definitely has a “Sweet Dreams” quality, if you will. Situated seamlessly into the overall sound and vibe of the night, Fitzpatrick and Scaggs shared the spotlight during the neo-indie version, yet they played it safe by not straying too far from the crowd-pleasing original.

James King broke out the saxophone for “Winds of Change” as Fitzpatrick’s deep Depeche Mode-esque voice blended effortlessly with Scaggs’ velvety falsetto, creating an underlying jazzy vibe.


A good hour or so into the show, Fitzpatrick said, “You may have heard this next one, and that’s because San Francisco has been a huge supporter from the very beginning!” Sure enough, as the crowd roared in appreciation of his expressed appreciation, the cheers grew louder with the first notes of their summer smash single, “Out of My League”.

For me and every other 20-30 something present, the coolest part of the song’s introduction was how Fitzpatrick whispered Popscene into the microphone right before he began singing.

Fitz and The Tantrums played at Popscene (SF’s premiere Indie-Night Club) in 2010 when they were still finding their place in the music world, and the respect paid to the City and it’s fans who helped them get to the status the band has attained was super cool in my book.

Fitz and The Tantrums curated a setlist that balanced old and new all night — they sandwiched the funky eclectic new song, “The Walker” into two older tracks “Moneygrabber” and “News 4 You” to end the night. They raised their own bar pretty high with intense energy and a signature retro performance full of gusto from the get-go at The Warfield.

SF locals Cool Ghouls add horn section at Phono del Sol

Cool-Ghouls By Nikki DeMartini //

Phono del Sol Music Festival //
Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco
July 13th, 2013 //

This past Saturday was a picture-perfect day to catch some rays, see local bands and grub on fare from food trucks at the third annual Phono del Sol Music and Food Festival. The festivities started at noon, and by the time Bay Area natives Cool Ghouls hit The Potrero Stage at 12:50 p.m. a small, yet-good sized crowd had gathered to catch their act. Though most people who went to watch Cool Ghouls enjoyed the set from afar atop one of the grassy knolls in Phono del Sol Park, a handful of fans got right up front where the sound quality was way better.

Coll Ghouls’ usual four-piece ensemble had an additional three-piece horn section, and after all the guys got situated, bassist Pat Thomas, lead guitarist Ryan Wong and Pat McDonald each said hello to the crowd before opening with the track most likely to be found on a summertime playlist, “Natural Life”.

The guys of Cool Ghouls are young and they look it, which is sort of surprising since their sound in is undeniably retro with a modern surf-rock twist. Within the first three songs of their set, Thomas, McDonald and Wong each took over lead vocals while their sweet harmonies highlighted every song.

Cool Ghouls filled the afternoon air with seven cool tracks off their self-titled debut EP, including “Grace” and “Queen Sophie”, in their own youthful retro fashion. Their performance paired perfectly with the unseasonably warm SF weather while their laid-back, inviting vibe created that sought-after feel festivalgoers appreciate at the beginning of a long day of music. Well played, Cool Ghouls.


Nikki de Martini spoke with Pat Thomas, bassist and singer for Cool Ghouls before their Phono del Sol set.

Showbams: I understand that the name Cool Ghouls is derived from George Clinton’s funky banter. Can you elaborate on why you chose the name Cool Ghouls and what the name means to you collectively as a band?

Thomas: Well, Pat McDonald came up with the idea. I dunno. We thought it had a nice ring to it. It rhymes. It’s ghastly. I like ghosts. I wrote a song called “Ghost Song”.

Showbams: Do you consider yourselves ghouls? Do you consider yourselves cool?

Thomas: Yes and yes.

Showbams: Are you fans of George Clinton? His music? Fashion sense? What he stands for?

Thomas: I don’t have a lot of George Clinton knowledge really. I like the whole far-out vibe that Parliament had/has. Maggot Brain is a killer album. On every road trip “Can You Get to That” gets bumped at least once.


Showbams: Congratulations on releasing your self-titled debut EP this past April. Some reviews that I’ve come across consider your sound as rather retro circa a 60’s psychedelic sound. I personally picked up on a throwback to old-school surf-rock with a modern twist. How would you say you perceive the sound of Cool Ghouls and why?

Thomas: Well, it’s pretty much impossible to imagine what other people’s ears are gonna hear when your music hits them. We just play the kind of music we’ve always played. When I’m writing or playing a Cool Ghouls song, I’m not thinking within a framework like “garage” or “60’s.” I’m just trying to channel the sounds and vibes in my brain. Certainly 60’s-type shit finds its way into what I do because all that shit is somewhere in there, in my brain. Especially with bass, Motown subconsciously finds its way into my fingers.

Showbams: I dig the cover artwork on the LP — it looks part hand-drawn/painted with a some photography up in there…who’s the artist who did the work?

Thomas: Thanks! I did the cover art myself! Yeah, it’s a canvas that I painted with watercolors. Then I taped all the other images on top. They’re all found pieces, except the rooster, which I painted. Oh, and the picture of us up in the clouds was taken by my friend Matt at one of our shows.


Showbams: Did all three of you grow up in San Francisco? If so what area of SF, and how did you meet each other?

Thomas: Well, there are four of us. None of us grew up in SF. Both Pats and Ryan grew up in Benicia, which is in the East Bay, about 40 minutes outside the city. Alex is from Sacramento. We met Alex through SF State. The other Pat, Ryan and Alex all went to SF State.

Showbams: Were your parents hippies?

Thomas: Definitely not! My parents were born about 15 years too late to be a part of the proper baby-boomer hippy generation. They went to college in the 80’s and were into Reagan. Suburban family folk. I don’t think any of our parents were what you’d call hippies. Pat McDonald’s dad probably comes the closest. He fought in Vietnam. But I don’t think he was a long-hair or anything. He had and has a passion for rock ‘n’ roll, though.

Showbams: Do you consider yourself hippies?

Thomas: I don’t think so. Although I could imagine someone might look at us and call us hippies. I like the Grateful Dead. But no, I wouldn’t call myself a hippie. I don’t really use the word “hippie” at all actually.


Showbams: What is your favorite album of 2013 so far?

Thomas: Finding the Meaning in Deference by The Mallard!

Showbams: How stoked, on a scale from 1 -10, are you guys to be on a bill with the likes of YACHT, Thee Oh Sees, K-Flay and a bunch of other independent local acts at the 3rd Annual Phono del Sol Music Festival this Saturday? Is this the first music festival Cool Ghouls has played?

Thomas: 10! Just to play a festival of this caliber … is definitely a first for us. Totally stoked. We will have a lot of family and friends there.

Showbams: If you could play with one band/artist who would it be?

Thomas: Can I choose four? Wyatt Blair, Meat Market, Corners and Froth. And if I could play with them at Brick & Mortar Music Hall, it would be a dream come true!

The Limousines get hot and sweaty at their “Hush” album release party

Writing and photos by Nikki de Martini

Last weekend was hot, but it got even hotter in downtown San Jose at The Limousines’ album release party for their new LP HUSH June 28 at The Blank Club.

Local buzz band, Anya & The Get Down presented amped reggae funkiness for a healthy 45 minute opening act. Lead singer Anya Kvitka commanded the venue, showcasing her soulful singing style and abrasive stage presence. Under a gold-plated, stud drenched baseball cap she dropped F-bombs between songs, challenged hecklers and threatened to have people kicked out of the club, while maintaining an upbeat vibe. Regardless of her attitude, the crowd got down with Anya and The Get Down and whom did a great job warming the stage up for The Limousines!

It was just about midnight when the The Limousines hit the stage kicking things off with “Love is A Dog From Hell”, which is the first track off of their second studio album, HUSH. By the second song of their set, “Stranger”, it was apparent the club was filled with Limousines fanatics because everyone knew all of the words to every new song!

Dressed in black from head to toe, singer/songwriter Eric Victorino worked up a sweat while owning the minuscule stage and I’m guessing that he wished that the artificial fog that started pouring out around him was real (I know I did!). He looked literally hot and exhausted, but it didn’t affect his performance. Engaging minimally with fans in an attempt to save his energy, Eric did end up acknowledging the general hotness a couple different times last, stating: “We had a CD release show in San Francisco, HUSH came out on June 6th, but a lot of our San Jose fans couldn’t make it! What the Fuck?! I think this is the hottest fucking room…so…thanks for sticking with us!” and “I swear to god, if I didn’t love this band and I was in this crowd I’d be the FUCK out of here.”

Half way through the set fans started chanting requests for older material like “Wishing Well” and “Very Busy People”, but the band continued on playing tracks off the new album. They seemed to be slowing down little by little on stage as the crowd conversely got rowdy, shovey and even more sweaty. After playing the heart aching ballad, “The Last Dance”, Eric explained that The Limousines were playing HUSH all the way through.

Staying true to his word, title track “Hush” was the last song of the night and Eric invited fans to stick around after the show and drink with them as they were not going to be doing an encore. The Bay Area indie-tronica boys beat the heat, delivering a good hometown show at a club that apparently doesn’t have air conditioning. Friday night’s show was the last Bay Area gig The Limousines have lined up in a while so hopefully you were fortunate enough to get youre sweat on at the Blank Club!