Neon Indian debut new material at SF’s newest venue Social Hall

Neon IndianBy Justin Yee //

Neon Indian //
Social Hall SF – San Francisco
September 23rd, 2015 //

In what was the second show of a two-night run at SF’s newest concert venue Social Hall, electronic four-piece Neon Indian stuck with new material from their forthcoming album VEGA INTL. Night School with a few fan favorites thrown in for good measure. The new record, which is out October 16th via Mom + Pop Music, is Mexico-born frontman Alan Palomo’s first release since Era Extraña came out in 2011.

I was excited to finally see the band live, not to mention check out what the Social Hall had to offer. This “new” venue, which resides on the lower level of The Regency Ballroom — Mac Miller was actually performing upstairs — isn’t actually new to hosting concerts. I caught a STRFKR and Will Call show at this same spot when it was called The Lodge in 2012, so this feels like more of a re-branding than a grand opening.

Neon Indian

Though I can’t speak to how the first sold-out show was the prior night, my expectations for both the band and venue were not met. I was a little salty when I found out that I purchased a $30 ticket off Ticketmaster, only to find out people got in for free through a sponsorship by upstart music app Jukely. I had never heard of this app before, but I would have loved to put that money toward the overpriced drinks I was consuming. The drinks did little to help the muffled sound that was bleeding through the speakers, as I struggled to recognize which songs the band transitioned into without them saying “this song’s called …” before beginning to play. I couldn’t tell if it was the band or the venue’s sound system and its acoustics that were to blame, but I’d give Neon Indian the benefit of the doubt.

The stage setup itself gave off a high school gym vibe that was highlighted by the primarily young, all-ages crowd — the type of crowd that was yelling for the band to play their hit single “Polish Girl” a quarter of the way into their set and was not all that happy I was taking photos with my camera. As expected, the crowd got the rowdiest for “Deadbeat Summer” and “Polish Girl”, which the band played back to back to close out their set and begin their two-song encore. I grabbed a spot near the back left to see the failed crowd-surfing attempts, and a girl dancing on top of a guy’s shoulders. It was easy to maneuver around the venue, which seemed half full, but it was difficult to catch a glimpse of the band due to the low stage.

Neon Indian

It will be interesting to see what Goldenvoice is able to do with Social Hall as it tries to attract shows that are on a slightly lower scale in size than The Regency Ballroom. Due to the venue’s underground feel that you get from its low ceilings, I think a DJ or EDM act would be a good fit, turning the place into a “Rave Cave” of sorts. Social Hall will have to compete with the likes of Mezzanine, which is tough to beat, but it’s always nice to have another option in SF.

Dear Skorpio Magazine
The Glitzy Hive
Terminally Chill
Street Level
61 Cygny Ave
C’est La Vie (Say the Casualties!)
Mind, Drips
Slumlord’s Re-lease
Baby’s Eyes
Deadbeat Summer

Polish Girl
News From the Sun

Neon Indian

Neon Indian

Neon Indian

Neon Indian

San Fermin, Natalie Prass deliver one-two punch in knockout performances at The Independent

San Fermin

San Fermin

By Justin Yee //

San Fermin with Natalie Prass //
The Independent – San Francisco
May 21st, 2015 //

You know that feeling you get when you see a band perform live and it looks like they are having the best time ever that you regret ever slacking off during piano lessons as a kid? Sound familiar?

Oh wait, never mind.

That’s exactly how I felt when I watched San Fermin and opener Natalie Prass nail their sets in front of a sold-out crowd at The Independent last Thursday.

Natalie Prass

Natalie Prass

This show had been marked on my calendar for quite some time after I stumbled across a Natalie Prass performance during South by Southwest and was completely taken aback. To be honest, I didn’t have too much knowledge of San Fermin other than I recognized the name and I was familiar with their lead single “Sonsick” off their 2013 debut album. After some research, I learned that the Brooklyn-based band is the brainchild of composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone, who holds a composition degree from Yale and assisted composer Nico Muhly, who is known for his work with Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear and Björk. That’s quite the résumé, but I was curious to see how his blending of classical music training and indie pop translated to a live setting.

San Fermin

San Fermin

San Fermin performs as an eight-piece band that consists of Allen Tate (vocals), Charlene Kaye (vocals), Rebekah Durham (vocals/violin), John Brandon (trumpet), Stephen Chen (saxophone), Tyler McDiarmid (guitar) and Michael Hanf (drums). Despite being the head of the operation, I thought it was interesting to see Ludwig-Leone have a relatively unassuming stage presence. He was set up stage left on keys introducing songs throughout the night but seemed more interested in allowing each member of the ensemble to shine individually. This might be the recipe that produces such a powerful, high-energy live show, as everyone feeds off one another by displaying their own unique talent that together produces a complex, yet beautiful sound. It kind of reminded me of a dance circle when someone jumps into the middle to flex their “moves” and everyone around is cheering them on, hooting, hollering and giving high fives. Not that has ever happened to me, but this was the case when Brandon jumped into the crowd to deliver a two-minute-long trumpet solo or when Kaye and Tate went back and forth on lead vocals during crowd favorites “Jackrabbit” and “Emily”.

The band will continue its rigorous touring schedule to support its recently released sophomore LP Jackrabbit throughout the summer and fall, opening for big-time acts like alt-j and Lord Huron along with a handful of festival slots coming up at NXNE, Osheaga, Reading Festival, Leeds Festival and Austin City Limits.

The Woods
Ladies Mary
Crueler Kind
The Count
Woman in Red
2 Scenes
Billy Bibbit

Buddy Holly (Weezer cover)

Tennis serve up nostalgic pop and charm The Indy

TennisPhotos by Justin Yee & Marc Fong // Written by Justin Yee //

Tennis with The Shilohs //
The Independent – San Francisco
April 30th, 2015 //

Summer came early in SF!

Well, maybe it doesn’t feel like it today, but it did last Thursday as Denver indie-pop duo Tennis took the stage at The Independent. The band, which is made up of husband and wife Patrick Riley (guitar, keyboards, production) and Alaina Moore (vocals, keyboards), performed as a five-piece band under draped string lights that stretched over the crowd, reminiscent of a sunny backyard BBQ.


Perhaps this was the type of vibe they were going for with their nostalgic pop sounds and vintage inspired hairstyles. Moore jokingly admitted to the sold-out room that she recently got a mom cut, “the same exact haircut my mom had in 1991.” Nevertheless, she pulled it off with style and grace as they jumped into tracks off their latest album Ritual in Repeat, which was released last September on Communion Records. The crowd danced and sang along to new album favorites “Never Work for Free” and “Needle and a Knife,” as the band transitioned rather effortlessly between cuts from its earlier releases Cape Dory, Young & Old and Small Sound (EP).

Tennis provided a fitting soundtrack on a warm San Francisco night and expressed their appreciation to the crowd by stating, “you spoil us every time we play here.” SF was just the third stop on the band’s short 18-show run across North America.

To open the night, Vancouver outfit The Shilohs brought their own style of easy rock. Their catchy hooks and harmony-laced pop has already seen them open for such indie rockers as Real Estate. The quartet is currently on tour in support of their sophomore self-titled album via Light Organ Records.

Interpol turn on the bright lights at The Warfield, further cement their place among indie-rock royalty

InterpolBy Justin Yee //

Interpol with Guy Blakeslee //
The Warfield – San Francisco
April 21st, 2015 //

Fresh off two performances on the main stage at Coachella, post-punk revivalists Interpol captivated a packed house at The Warfield this past Tuesday with support from opener Guy Blakeslee of The Entrance Band.

Interpol, consisting of Paul Banks (lead vocals/guitar), Daniel Kessler (guitar/vocals) and Sam Fogarino (drums) along with tour additions Brandon Curtis (keyboards/vocals) and Brad Truax (bass guitar/vocals), have been on the road for the past year in support of their latest record El Pintor (read our review here), which was released in September.


Interpol lead singer Paul Banks

Dressed in their trademark black suits and set against a backdrop of stunning visuals and lighting, the band mainly alternated between tracks from El Pintor and their heralded debut album Turn on the Bright Lights. New tracks “My Desire” and “All the Rage Back Home” were well-received from the crowd, but it was older tracks like “Evil” and “Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down” that triggered the most excitement and had people wildly bobbing their head to the beat. It’s these type of darkly atmospheric sounds driven by intricate guitar play and probing bass lines that Interpol fans have admired over the years. Re-imagining its established sound in new ways has been part of the group’s recent resurgence on El Pintor.

On this tour, Interpol proved that they are still putting out some of their best work, further cementing their place among indie-rock royalty.

Say Hello to the Angels
My Blue Supreme
Leif Erikson
My Desire
Rest My Chemistry
Everything Is Wrong
The New
Take You on a Cruise
Not Even Jail
Pioneer to the Falls
Slow Hands

All the Rage Back Home
Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down

Milky Chance prove at The Regency Ballroom they’ve come a long way in a short amount of time

Milky ChanceBy Justin Yee //

Milky Chance with Mighty Oaks //
The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco
April 15th, 2015 //

It’s amazing what a half year of touring on the road can do for a new band just breaking onto the scene. Since we first caught Milky Chance at their SF debut opening up for Chris Malinchak in October, they’ve added a third member to their live act and have become accustomed to selling out venues five times that size. For their first North America headlining tour, the Bay Area was treated to two sold-out shows at The Regency Ballroom in between their two scheduled Coachella performances.

Apparently battling a sore throat that caused the band’s Coachella set to be cut short, vocalist/guitarist Clemens Rehbein could be seen sipping honey in between songs, though the illness didn’t actually seem to affect his performance. Still, Rehbein was getting all the vocal help he needed from the crowd, which was vibing to the beat and singing along to tracks from the band’s debut album Sadnecessary. The crowd-pleasers included “Flashed Junk Mind” and hit single “Stolen Dance”, which has now racked up over 130 million views on YouTube and plenty of radio play in the U.S.

Milky Chance’s newest touring member Antonio Greger quietly stole the show with his blistering harmonica solos and guitar work. He definitely is a great addition who hopefully continues to tour with the band. Luckily we’ll be seeing the German trio again very soon at Outside Lands, so if you missed it at any of these SF shows, be sure to add them to your list of must-see acts.

Flash Junk Mind
Sweet Sun
Stolen Dance

Down by the River

Kindness makes world restart at Mezzanine

KindnessBy Justin Yee //

Kindness with Pell //
Mezzanine – San Francisco
February 28th, 2015 //

Kindness, a one-man, indie disco-funk-R&B band led by Adam Bainbridge, graced the Mezzanine stage this past Saturday as part of Noise Pop 2015. His sound at times features upbeat funk riffs or mellow, soulful vocal drones, even sometimes meshing the two to create a more addictive pop sound that is deep with emotion.

The British singer/producer is currently at the start of his world tour in support of his sophomore studio album Otherness, which was released in October via Female Energy/Mom+Pop Records.

Bainbridge grabbed one audience member’s cell phone out of its hands and filmed himself as well as the crowd with it at one point, elevating the crowd-interaction a notch. He sang from on top of the bar at stage left, walked into the crowd with his mic and made a huge lap while singing to individuals in the audience to end the night.


Unsurprisingly, Kindness covered their friends and collaborators Blood Orange and Solange with “Champagne Coast” and “Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work.”

It may not have been a sold-out show, but Bainbridge mentioned that this was the ideal crowd the band was hoping for the first time it played the Bay Area, exceeding its expectations.

Pell, a New Orleans-based hip-hop artist who released his newest album Floating While Dreaming in May via PellYeah, was the opening act on this night.

St. Paul and The Broken Bones energize The Fillmore for V-Day

St. Paul & the Broken BonesBy Justin Yee //

St. Paul and The Broken Bones with Sean Rowe //
The Fillmore – San Francisco
February 14th, 2015 //

Amid St. Paul and The Broken Bones’ first of back-to-back shows at The Fillmore, lead singer Paul Janeway climbed atop of the stacked floor speakers, causing the crowd to hold their collective breath that he wouldn’t topple over. Drenched in sweat, Janeway’s stage presence and charisma shined as he gave it everything he had throughout the night. Shimmying around and dropping to his knees, he backs up his amazing voice with showmanship that you wouldn’t think looks the part. Perhaps that’s a big part of the group’s ascending success.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, SF was treated to an extended set that lasted almost two hours. When this was announced early on, the crowd approved with a roaring round of applause and utterances of excitement as the band transitioned into “Simple Song,” which starts off slow and explodes with Janeway’s preacher-like vocals.

Covering David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” exemplified that SP&TBB can take on an unlikely piece of material and re-work it to something all their own. Along with Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” it’s clear that the group have a deep knowledge and respect for the artists that influenced them and can honor their classics with distinction.

Folks arrived early to catch Sean Rowe, who impressed with the full sound he was able to produce using just his guitar and voice as he tackled his songs solo acoustic.

Chicken Pox/Simple Song
Don’t Mean a Thing
Sugar Dyed
Dixie Rothko
I’m Torn Up
Shake (Sam Cooke cover)
Half the City
99 1/2
Fake Plastic Trees (Radiohead cover)
Let It Be So
Down in the Valley
It’s Midnight
I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
Mighty River
Grass Is Greener
Make It Rain

That Glow
Moonage Daydream (David Bowie cover)
Call Me
Try a Little Tenderness (Otis Redding Cover)

Milky Chance packs Rickshaw Stop for SF debut

Milky ChanceBy Justin Yee //

Milky Chance //
Rickshaw Stop – San Francisco
October 23rd, 2014

Milky Chance made their SF debut this past Thursday to a sold-out crowd at the Rickshaw Stop. Though the German duo was booked as an opener to Chris Malinchak for POPSCENE’s weekly club night, it seemed apparent that the majority of people in attendance were not there for the headliner. In fact, as soon as Milky Chance hit the stage, they were welcomed with such a loud roar and applause that one would be convinced they were the main event.

Vocalist/guitarist Clemens Rehbein and DJ/drummer Philipp Dausch make up the band. Playing their mix of folk-, reggae- and electronica-influenced pop music, or “folktronica” as I’ve heard some people call it, they had the crowd bouncing to their beats and singing along to tracks from their recently released debut album Sadnecessary. In between songs, the two did not say much, as it seems like they are still learning English. However, based on their expressions and body language, the two looked surprised by how many fans were there and knew their songs.

Milky Chance

They closed with hit single “Stolen Dance”, which had the crowd going nuts — so much so, that they came out for an encore, something I’ve never seen an opening band do before. They finished off a top-notch set with “Down By the River” and walked around the stage giving high fives as they soaked in the cheers from the crowd.

The duo will be returning to SF on April 14th-15th to play The Regency Ballroom on their own headlining tour. So, if you missed them this time around, get your tickets now because those are sure to sell out.

Milky Chance

Milky Chance

Milky Chance

Milky Chance

Milky Chance

Milky Chance

Milky Chance

ODESZA take live show to next level on ‘In Return’ tour

ODESZABy Justin Yee //

Mezzanine – San Francisco
September 18th, 2014 //

Back in April, ODESZA played a sold-out show at The Independent, which had fellow Showbams writer Kory Thibeault claiming that they were “poised to explode into electronic stratosphere.” Fast forward five months to the present, and it’s safe to say that they’ve not only met those expectations, but also have hit the big time.

This was never more evident than this past Thursday, as the Seattle production duo of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight kicked off their “In Return” tour at Mezzanine in support of their recently released sophomore LP. After selling out the show months in advance, a second SF date was added just to meet popular demand.

As someone who is new to their music, it wasn’t until I heard the first single off In Return, “Memories That You Call” featuring Monsoonsiren, that I really got hooked and realized I had been sleeping on them for two years. Their take on the modern electronic sound blends catchy beats with infectious, ambient melodies and pop-infused hooks that emotionally captivates listeners in ways that other artists can’t.


ODESZA’s set at Mezzanine was explosive — a combination of hypnotizing visuals and sound that had the crowd in sensory overload. It’s apparent that they have been hard at work perfecting their live performance. Their use of live drums adds a human element, which allows them to create remixes on the fly as they feed off the energy from the crowd.

This tour marked the next chapter of the group’s rising success and maybe the last time you’ll be able to see them in venues of less than a 1,000-person capacity. Don’t sleep on ODESZA. I’ve already learned my lesson!

Curtis Harding’s ‘slop n’ soul’ fusion is a recipe for success


By Justin Yee //

Curtis Harding (Opening for Jack White) //
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
August 22nd, 2014 //

Curtis Harding kicked off the first of 2 shows at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium this past Friday as the opener on Jack White’s headlining tour. Based out of Atlanta, one could describe his sound as a fusion of soul, blues, gospel and rock. However, when asked to describe his own music, he uses the term, slop n’ soul. Slop, being a southern term for leftovers, and how he incorporates the ‘leftovers’ of different musical influences into his songs.

Harding’s early career included work as back-up vocalist for Cee Lo Green on the road, adding vocal tracks to the albums Cee Lo Green & His Perfect Imperfections and The Lady Killer, and co writing material with Green.

He is also one half of a collaborative project, Night Sun, with Black Lips guitarist, Cole Alexander, which blends the sounds of garage rock with R&B.

On this night, it was all about Harding’s solo efforts and he definitely held his own in front of a growing and eager crowd. Standout songs included “Next Time” and “Keep On Shining” from his debut album, Soul Power, which released earlier this Spring. Be sure to keep an eye on him because he seems poised to do big things.

1) Soul Power
2) Drive My Car
3) Next Time
4) Heaven’s On The Other Side
5) Castaway
6) Beautiful People
7) The Drive
8) Keep On Shining