Tool show us at SAP Center that they’ve only gotten bigger & better with more time

ToolBy Mike Rosati //

Tool with Author & Punisher //
SAP Center – San Jose
January 14th, 2020 //

My first Tool show was at the Trocadero Transfer, a small SF club in the SoMa neighborhood that has been remodeled and renamed as The Grand.

It was 1993, and the band’s debut album Undertow had dropped several months earlier that year. My friend had been following the East Bay Express’ music column, which published a review of Tool’s 1992 EP Opiate. He picked up a cassette and we quickly became enamored, playing the snot out of it on every road trip we took together.

Unfortunately, we mistimed that show at the Trocadero Transfer and missed Failure’s opening set. The room was packed so we had to find a spot at the very back of the venue. And although we couldn’t see through the crowd from where we stood, we noticed that there was a trash can along the back wall. With little time to think, we turned it upside down, climbed atop of it and grabbed onto the fire sprinkler pipe. For us, that seemed to make all the difference, providing an amazing view of the room as the audience moved like an undulating ocean of bodies when Tool finally took the stage. Frontman Maynard James Keenan appeared shirtless and donned a Mohawk ponytail braid while standing at the front of the stage under a spotlight. Since then, I have seen a lot of shows but nothing quite like the moshing that transpired that night.

Tool

Fast forward to Tool’s latest Bay Area stop at San Jose’s SAP Center, and things have changed quite a bit for the prog-metal titans. Compared to that first performance I witnessed almost 27 years ago, Keenan (vocals), Danny Carey (drums), Adam Jones (guitar) and Justin Chancellor (bass) are now selling out arenas all around the world with a massive lighting rig, immersive video backdrop and veil of strings at the front of the stage when they open with the title track on their fifth LP Fear Inoculum.

But unlike the quartet’s previous tours, Keenan was actually illuminated at different points during the show as he strutted across the raised platforms behind Jones and Chancellor in a leather jacket with a Puscifer logo, a pair of red plaid pants and another Mohawk (albeit this one was spiked). Jones, as usual, was an economy of movement but his guitar voluminous in sound while Carey’s drums have only grown more into an incredible shrine of percussion.

Tool have certainly come a long way since that December night at the Trocadero Transfer nearly three decades ago, but looking back now, I’m sure glad we found that trash can.

Setlist:
Fear Inoculum
Ænema
The Pot
Parabol
Parabola
Pneuma
Schism
Jambi
Vicarious
Descending

Encore:
Chocolate Chip Trip
Invincible
Stinkfist

Maribou State feel the love at The Regency Ballroom

Maribou StateBy Karina Kristensen //

Maribou State with Sea Moya //
The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco
October 16th, 2019 //

On a Wednesday evening in SF, a packed crowd at The Regency Ballroom showered English electronic act Maribou State with love. The duo that consists of Chris Davids and Liam Ivory received quite the reception for a mid-week performance.

While Maribou State released their debut album Portraits in 2015, this tour was specifically in support of their sophomore LP Kingdoms in Colour, which dropped more than a year ago now and features long-standing collaborator Holly Walker on the tracks “Nervous Tics” and “Slow Heat” as well as Texas-based three-piece Khruangbin on “Feel Good” (and yes, it does).

Serving as support was Sea Moya, a kraut-beat combo that energized us with their German-styled aesthetic. Their music was the good kind of weird — the different, yet perfect fun for warming up a crowd.

Maribou State

When Sea Moya concluded, the lights illuminated the crowd that had subtly grown to fill the space and continued to show the sea of bodies getting denser toward the front of the stage as Davids and Ivory began.

Joining Maribou State for much of their set was London-born multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Obi Franky, whose vocals sounded nothing short of incredible and fit perfectly with the feelings you get while listening to Davids’ and Ivory’s music. Past the midway point of the show, she returned to perform “Midas” off Portraits on a stage that radiated pink and we couldn’t have been happier to see Franky do her thing again.

When Maribou State walked off stage for their encore break, it was almost as if the crowd immediately expected an encore. But no one left until they came back out and performed “Turnmills” from Kingdoms in Colour in honor of the London club that closed in 2008. We really couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a fall night in The City by the Bay.

Setlist:
Feel Good
Nervous Tics
Steal
Glasshouses
Wallflower
Kingdom
Beginner’s Luck
Vale
Midas
November Nights
Rituals
The Clown
Kama

Encore:
Turnmills

Empire of the Sun are walking on more than just a dream after selling out three straight shows in SF

Empire of the SunBy Karina Kristensen //

Empire of the Sun //
The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco
June 25th, 2019 //

As they continue to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album Walking on a Dream, Australian synthpop outfit Empire of the Sun hit the West Coast hard during the latter half of June with three-night stands in three different cities, including a trio of sold-out shows in SF at The Regency Ballroom.

We showed up for the second of three Bay Area performances only to find the crowd anxiously awaiting the group’s arrival onstage. When lead vocalist/guitarist Luke Steele finally emerged through all the smoke donning his usual headdress and face paint however, it quickly came to life. Complemented by a pair of backup dancers and plenty of eye-catching on-screen visuals, Empire of the Sun kicked things off appropriately with “Standing on the Shore” and between multiple costume changes and instrument swaps, completely blew us away before uncorking the LP’s title track to close their headlining set.

With fans screaming for more music during a short break, Steele and his cohorts returned to the stage for a two-song encore. Of course, how could they call it a night without performing “Alive” from 2013’s Ice on the Dune?

Naturally, Empire of the Sun couldn’t so they delivered one last taste of Walking on a Dream with “Tiger by My Side” and then sent us home feeling totally “Alive” after only 90 minutes, further proving that they have been walking on more than just a dream for the past decade.

Setlist:
Intro (video segment)
Standing on the Shore
Old Flavours
Half Mast
Breakdown
We Are the People
Way to Go
The World
Chrysalis
High and Low
Delta Bay
(Unknown) (instrumental)
Between Me and You (Brandon Flowers cover)
This Land Is Your Land
Swordfish Hotkiss Night
Without You
Walking on a Dream

Encore:
Tiger by My Side
Alive

The Lil Smokies take on SF & burn down the house

The Lil SmokiesBy Benjamin Wallen //

The Lil Smokies with Michigan Rattlers //
Slim’s – San Francisco
April 19th, 2019 //

With spring in the air, Montana progressive-bluegrass outfit The Lil Smokies rolled into Slim’s on a Friday night and graced the Bay Area with some of their sweet sounds.

The intimate venue allowed for a more personal experience as the crowd fed off the energy of the LA-based Michigan Rattlers, who opened the show with their meticulous playing and sent the audience into a frenzy with their heavy-hearted folk rock.

The Lil Smokies, meanwhile, gave us quite a treat to close their headlining set, performing a cover of The Beatles’ 1966 single “Paperback Writer”, the last new song to be featured on the legendary band’s final tour. Nevertheless, the five-piece crushed as it always does and we’re sure glad we were there to witness it. If you weren’t unfortunately, don’t miss either of these acts the next time they visit your town!

You Me at Six know how to make their fans go wild as they exhibited at Great American Music Hall

You Me at SixBy Karina Kristensen //

You Me at Six with DREAMERS, machineheart //
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco
March 7th, 2019 //

English rockers You Me at Six paid a visit to SF’s Great American Music Hall last Thursday in support of their sixth studio album VI, which they released back in October.

Kicking things off with a five-song set were machineheart, the Los Angeles-based indie-pop group, and another LA act in DREAMERS as they opened with their 2018 single “Screws” all while lead singer Nick Wold warmed up the crowd with other hits like “Painkiller” and their newest song “Die Happy” to get us ready for You Me at Six.

“On three, everybody jumps!” he yelled.

The whole room started to jump and cause the floor to shake. DREAMERS would eventually close, of course, with their biggest hit “Sweet Disaster” on 2016’s This Album Does Not Exist.

DREAMERS


DREAMERS

“This is a song about drinking with people you love,” Wold explained right before we started singing along to the song’s lyrics.

Just as You Me at Six were getting ready to hit the stage, you could tell that the audience was ready to erupt. They began with “Fast Forward” and would perform “Take on the World” off their 2017 LP Night People more than halfway through the show. At one point, frontman Josh Franceshi asked everyone to turn on their phone’s flashlight feature, creating a wave of light throughout the crowd. And before their encore break, “Bite My Tongue” from You Me at Six’s 2011 LP Sinners Never Sleep got even more spectators jumping with their hands in the air.

“You Me at Six!” the crowd constantly screamed, eager for Franceshi and company to return.

The UK five-piece finished with four more songs and left everyone’s ears ringing as we made our way out of the venue — a true sign of a great night for many live music fans.

YOU ME AT SIX

Setlist:
Fast Forward
Lived A Lie
Reckless
Loverboy
Back Again
Night People
Fresh Start Fever
Cold Night
Predictable
Give
3AM
Take on the World
IOU
Bite My Tongue

Encore:
Room to Breathe
No One Does It Better
Straight to My Head
Underdog

DREAMERS

Setlist:
Screws
Fake It Til You Make It
All Washed Out
Die Happy
Wolves
Painkiller
Sweet Disaster

MACHINEHEART

Setlist:
Intro
Overgrown
Do You Love
Chained
Peace of Mind
Who Said
Altar

Max Frost brings ‘The Gold Rush Tour’ to Slim’s for a fun-filled night with Mikey Mike

Max Frost


Max Frost

By Karina Kristensen //

Max Frost with Mikey Mike //
Slim’s – San Francisco
March 2nd, 2019 //

After turning heads with such hits as “White Lies” and “Adderall” in 2016, Max Frost stopped through SF to showcase a new bag of songs from his 2018 debut album Gold Rush.

Mikey Mike warmed up the crowd at Slim’s, and I mean he really warmed us up. The alt-pop musician performed songs like “Cooler”, “Strange Times” and “Doin’ Me”, all of which have powerful lyrics. But he also had a wheel onstage and brought a few audience members up to spin it. One landed on a dare and had to drink whiskey out of his boot. Another had to drink whiskey out of his belly button. But after another spin, we all got to see Mikey Mike light his chest hair on fire. What could be a better way to get things going on a Saturday night?

Mikey Mike


Mikey Mike

Frost followed and quickly got his fans singing along. The lights onstage were incredible and full of colors — from green to pink to blue. The talented singer-songwriter is a one-man band and moved between keyboards, guitar and drums as he ran sounds and riffs on loop.

One fan of Frost’s near the front of the stage donned a baseball cap with a GoPro attached to it. Frost didn’t hesitate to take it off his hat, put it on and have the camera face the audience. At one point during his set, he brought his acoustic guitar out to play a few songs, including “Die Young”, which sounded absolutely amazing. He thanked us for a fun night and told us what a great start to “The Gold Rush Tour” it had been before his next West Coast show.

Setlist:
New Confessional
$Dreams
Paranoia
Sometimes
Nice and Slow
Eleven Days
Anxious
A$$hole (No Apologies)
Die Young
Stranger to Me Now
Slow Jamz
Put It on Me
Withdrawal
Money Problems
Adderall
White Lies

Encore:
Let Me Down Easy
Irreplacable (Beyoncé cover)
Good Morning

MØ gets colorful & a bit personal at the Fox Theater Oakland after LPX’s energetic opening set

MØBy Karina Kristensen //

with LPX //
Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland
February 9th, 2019 //

On a Saturday night, the Bay Area had the pleasure of watching Danish singer-songwriter MØ conclude the North American leg of her world tour in support of last year’s Forever Neverland.

When we arrived at the Fox Theater Oakland, the venue was close to empty, but as soon as LPX stepped onstage, a crowd appeared. For seven years Lizzy Plapinger served as the lead vocalist of MS MR before the indie-pop duo announced that it was going on hiatus a couple years ago so she could focus on her solo project under the name LPX.

But after delivering her 2018 EP Bolt in the Blue more than a year ago, her set was incredibly energetic with lots of lights and smoke. Plus, Plapinger’s cow-patterned outfit and outgoing personality onstage was a great way to get things started.

LPX


LPX

MØ’s performance, meanwhile, was even brighter than LPX’s with the colors just completely all over the place and smoke coming from behind her as the lights created larger shadows of the 30-year-old’s body against the back wall. Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted Andersen went on to perform all five singles — “Imaginary Friend”, “Nostalgia”, “Sun in Our Eyes”, “Blur” and “Way Down” — off her sophomore album and even showcased her 2017 collaboration “Don’t Leave” with British electronic duo Snakehips.

Also known for working with EDM juggernauts such as DJ Snake, Diplo and Cashmere Cat, MØ’s interaction with the crowd during her shows is something that not all artists do these days. She spoke to us, asked questions, stepped onto the platforms in front of the stage and held hands with her fans. There was nothing but smiles across the audience as MØ finished with her popular “Final Song” and took us on one last pass through Forever Neverland.

Because whenever MØ takes the stage in your town, be prepared for a wild ride.

Setlist:
Purple Like the Summer Rain
Imaginary Friend
I Want You
Kamikaze
Pilgrim
Get It Right
Red Wine
Trying to Be Good
Nostalgia
Nights With You
Sun in Our Eyes
Turn My Heart to Stone
Beautiful Wreck
Blur
Mercy
If It’s Over
Way Down
Lean On (Major Lazer cover)
West Hollywood
Don’t Leave (Snakehips & MØ cover)
Final Song

Mother Mother are watching their dreams come true right in front of their very eyes

Mother MotherBy Karina Kristensen //

Mother Mother with Winnetka Bowling League //
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco
January 19th, 2018 //

Vancouver indie-rock band Mother Mother played the sixth show of their current “Dance and Cry Tour” at Great American Music Hall last Saturday. Before they were ever officially Mother Mother in the mid-2000’s though, lead singer/guitarist Ryan Guldemond and his sister Molly Guldemond (keyboards, vocals) used to attend rock concerts together.

“Never in a million years did we think we’d be doing this,” Ryan told those of us in the crowd.

The other members of the quintet are Jasmin Parkin (keyboards, vocals), Ali Siadat (drums) and Mike Young (bass), who replaced Jeremy Page after he left the outfit in 2016. Originally, Mother Mother used to only do acoustic sets, so Ryan brought out his acoustic guitar at one point to “honor that moment” with a tune. They even covered Radiohead’s 1992 hit “Creep” after finishing “Body of Years” from their 2008 sophomore album O My Heart.

Los Angeles-based group Winnetka Bowling League kicked things off and set the tone for the night with some great energetic vibes.

MOTHER MOTHER

Setlist:
I Must Cry Out Loud
Dance and Cry
O My Heart
Let’s Fall in Love
Monkey Tree
Get Out the Way
Bottom Is a Rock
It’s Alright
Body of Years/Creep (Radiohead cover)
Good at Loving You
The Drugs
Family
Dirty Town
So Down
Get Up
Hayloft
Bit by Bit

Encore:
Biting on a Rose
Ghosting
The Stand

WINNETKA BOWLING LEAGUE

Setlist:
Daydreamer
Sixteen
Feeling California
Diane
Something in the Air
Kombucha
Slow Dances
are you okay?
On the 5

KONGOS kick off their ‘1929 Tour’ in SF & show us why they’ve been together for more than a decade

KONGOSBy Karina Kristensen //

KONGOS with FITNESS //
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco
January 9th, 2018 //

For the first stop on their “1929 Tour” last Wednesday, KONGOS gave their Bay Area fans an unforgettable performance at Great American Music Hall. The South African alt-rock group now based in Phoenix has been together for 16 years, and the connection it has established onstage in that time frame is quite evident as fans got the opportunity to hear material from its fourth studio album 1929 (Part One), which will be released this week with Part Two and Part Three expected to follow.

The four brothers — Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Danny — who comprise the band have music in their family and in their blood. Those who were there danced, screamed and sang along to all of their songs, and I wouldn’t expect anything less at KONGOS’ upcoming shows over the next month, including ones in Los Angeles and San Diego down the homestretch.

LA synthpop duo FITNESS got things started, setting the mood for the night with plenty of energy and lots of sweat, as they performed several tracks off their debut LP Karate for the first time.

Setlist:
I Am Not Me
The World Would Run Better
Take It From Me
When You’re Here
Take Me Back
Keep Your Head
Underground
Hey I Don’t Know
Stand Up
Everything Must Go
Real Life
I Don’t Mind
Come With Me Now
I Want to Know
Something New
Birds Do It
Pay for the Weekend

Encore:
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles cover)
I’m Only Joking

The Mother Hips celebrate a Merry ‘Hipmas’ with their hometown fans at Great American Music Hall

The Mother HipsBy Benjamin Wallen //

The Mother Hips with Paula Frazer and Tarnation //
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco
December 14th, 2018 //

SF rockers The Mother Hips were back at the Great American Music Hall last Friday for their annual holiday shows, commonly dubbed “Hipmas” by the three-piece band. Quite fittingly, the venue was decked out in Christmas decorations and the stage was lit by Hunter Pipes.

Paula Frazer and Tarnation got things started, easing us into the night before The Hips took the stage. The SF-based singer-songwriter and her backing band played music that was both deep and soothing, serving as a perfect warm-up to the rock ‘n’ roll that soon awaited.

For The Mother Hips, this performance was specifically dubbed as an “Ultimate Setlist” show where fans could submit their dream setlist and they would choose one to play. Although the contest’s winner, Dave Berman, is actually currently living in Thailand, the group’s Bay Area fans still got to enjoy his amazing song selections.

The Mother Hips

Having been at it for more than 25 years now, the Hips are showing no signs of slowing down, and at GAMH, they really brought the heat and tore it up for two full sets, plus an encore.

One year, I hope to make it to one of their “Hipnic” getaways in Big Sur. As a fan at the show told me, “It’s the best band in one of the most amazing places on Earth.”

After a very Merry “Hipmas” in SF, we’ll take their word for it.


Set 1: Can’t Sleep > Sleep Eyes > At All, Two > Whiskey River > Blues, Are You Free? > Freed From a Prison, Old Man From the Mountain > Mountain Time > Time-Sick > Seaward Son > Of a Grizzly Bear, Honeydew > Do It on the Strings

Set 2: Emotional Gold > Gold Plated, Stoned Up the > Potrero Road, The Cosmo > Not So Independent, Best > Friend of the Devil > In Town, Precious O > Put Us All Together, Third Floor > Stories We Could Tell

Encore: Mona Lisa and the Last > Superwinner

Neko Case brings some stomp-foot vigor & sway-sweet happy to the Fox Theater Oakland

Neko CaseBy Ria Burman //

Neko Case with Destroyer //
Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland
December 3rd, 2018 //

Well-known as a member of the two-decade-old indie-rock outfit The New Pornographers, Neko Case delivered a fun and lively performance Monday at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

Singing songs both new and old, Case’s distinctive vocals and guitar playing brought stomp-foot vigor and sway-sweet happy to the crowd, which whooped and cheered throughout the evening. Her stage setup was anchored by a backdrop of hornet nests above the seven-piece that added a simple, yet interesting visual aspect to what ended up being a stellar show.

Destroyer


Destroyer

The distinguishing voice and strums of Case’s creations intertwined beautifully with her backing band, which also featured pedal steel guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, as the setlist on this night ranged from country-tinged tunes to more rocking, folk-driven feels.

Destroyer, which fellow Canadian and frontman Dan Bejar formed back in 1995, opened with Bejar performing a solo acoustic set that included SiriusXMU favorite “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” from the group’s 2017 album ken and even a new song that has yet to be named.

NEKO CASE

Setlist:
Pitch or Honey
Last Lion of Albion
Deep Red Bells
Winnie
Maybe Sparrow
Margaret vs. Pauline
Calling Cards
Bad Luck
Curse of the I‐5 Corridor
Gumball Blue
Oracle of the Maritimes
Hex
Look for Me (I’ll Be Around)
Halls of Sarah
Dirty Diamond
Hold On, Hold On
Man

Encore:
Hell‐On
The Pharaohs
Loretta
Ragtime
This Tornado Loves You

DESTROYER

Setlist:
(Unknown)
Times Square
Tinseltown Swimming in Blood
Goddess of Drought
A Light Travels Down the Catwalk
Helena
(Unknown) (new song)
Chinatown
Foam Hands

Deap Vally unleash a full-on assault at The Chapel

Deap VallyBy Mike Rosati //

Deap Vally with Shana Falana //
The Chapel – San Francisco
November 12th, 2018 //

LA indie-rock duo Deap Vally assaulted Bay Area fans at The Chapel with their grungy riffs and garage-heavy sound last Monday.

Lindsey Troy (guitar, vocals) and Julie Edwards (drums, vocals) played songs from both of their albums — 2013’s Sistrionix and 2006’s Femejism — as well as two new ones that they released this year. Toward the end of the set, someone dressed as a dinosaur joined them onstage for “Bring It On”, their latest track to get the music video treatment, with friends, family and military veterans filling the room.

Serving as support were New York-based shoegaze band Shana Falana. The two-piece have two studio LPs to their name, both on the indie label Team Love co-founded by Bright Eyes leader Conor Oberst, and are currently touring the U.S. through early December.

Setlist:
Baby I Call Hell
Bad for My Body
Little Baby Beauty Queen
Get Gone
Smile More
Heart Is an Animal
Walk of Shame
Teenage Queen
Gonna Make
Critic
Bring It On
End of the World

Encore:
Grunge Bond
Royal Jelly