Smallpools hook SF fans with plenty of pop

SmallpoolsBy Steve Carlson //

Smallpools with Grizfolk, Hunter Hunted //
The Independent – San Francisco
May 25th, 2015 //

Los Angeles-based pop quartet Smallpools brought their high-energy “LOVETAP!” tour to a sold-out Independent on Monday, demonstrating that their hook-laden debut album of the same name was an accurate reflection of what this band is capable of doing live.

Lead vocalist and keyboardist Sean Scanlon led the group through most of the tracks off their debut, many of which sound as though they are destined for heavy radio play, as well as an eerily accurate tease of the New Radical’s mega-hit “You Get What You Give” where Scanlon’s voice could have easily been confused for the New Radicals’ Gregg Alexander. Highlights of the evening included set-closer “Killer Whales” and the one-two punch of “Karaoke” and “Dreaming” during the encore, which were preceded by the oddly low-key choice of the instrumental album-closer “Submarine”.

Hunter Hunted

Hunter Hunted

Opening the show was Hunter Hunted, who originated in the Bay Area but now call LA home. Their impressive six-song set included their first single “Blindside”, which was well-received by an audience that seemed largely unaware of their music going in. They return to the Bay Area on July 15th at Slim’s in a double-headlining show with Young Rising Sons and are expected to release their debut LP sometime in the near future.

Next up was no stranger to Bay Area music fans in indie-rock quintet Grizfolk. The band rollicked through their set of crowd-pleasing tracks from the 2014 EP From the Spark, including highlights Vagabonds and The Struggle, as well as two cover songs. Grizfolk returns to play BottleRock on May 30th.

Over & Over
Street Fight
No Story Time
What’s That a Picture Of?
A Real Hero (College cover)
Drum Solo
American Love
Mason Jar
9 to 5
Admission to Your Party
Killer Whales

PHOTOS: X Ambassadors at The Independent 11/19

X-Ambassadors_postBy Scott Martin //

X Ambassadors with Grizfolk, DOE EYE //
The Independent – San Francisco
November 19th, 2014 //

On this night at The Independent, the weather outside was wet and cold. But inside, it was hot thanks to the X Ambassadors, a four-piece band from Ithaca, N.Y. Frontman Sam Harris told the crowd how excited he was to be playing in SF, and it showed throughout the night.

Down With Me
Free & Lonely
Love Songs Drug Songs
The Business
Jungle (Jamie N Commons cover)










ZZ Ward begins Coachella week on a high at The Independent

ZZ-WardPhotos by Tom Dellinger // Written by Mark E. Ortega //

ZZ Ward with Grizfolk, The O’My’s //
The Independent — San Francisco
Sunday April 6th, 2014 //

Sunday night, in front of a sold-out crowd at The Independent, emerging R&B artist ZZ Ward proved that the old adage “pressure busts pipes” doesn’t always ring true. Ward brought her “A” game as she showcased her pipes both vocally and while breaking things down on the harmonica as she is winding down her tour before heading to Coachella this weekend.

Through the first few songs of her set, it was a bit murky as to where the show was headed. The Los Angeles-based Oregon transplant played a version of her hit “Til The Casket Drops” that was a tad understated, perhaps saving her voice for more difficult vocal endeavors later on in the evening.


Right from jump, Ward brought an infectious energy, both in the course of her set and in her between song banter. Early in the set, Ward asked if SF was ready to party. “I know it’s Sunday, but I don’t give a fuck,” said Ward to the laughter and applause of the crowd.

By the time Ward kicked into “365 Days”, one of her other gems, she had things in full swing. She went from one side of the stage to the other, posing and serenading each section for moments at a time.

Midway through, Ward played a bluesy sounding cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” before breaking hearts with her ballad “Last Love Song” (of which a music video shot in SF would be coming out soon according to Ward). That song didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the upbeat set, but lyrically it might be her best work and she brought back the energy right away.

Before “Cryin’ Wolf”, Ward asked the crowd about a time in their life where they met someone under tipsy circumstances, to which few in the crowd volunteered the information.

“You were completely sober and it was magical and I’m happy for you,” said Ward, which got the crowd laughing again.


Ward’s touring guitarist Erick Walls was absolutely incredible, as he wailed on the guitar all night. His contributions helped bring a more bluesy sound than what is heard on Ward’s studio work. In fact, many of Ward’s songs Sunday night sounded better live than on her studio album, a mark of a great live musician. That she’s been able to adapt her sound to the stage with ease speaks well to her future success.

Ward closed her 16-song set by coming out and performing “Blue Eyes Blind”, which had the crowd jumping up and down and waving their hands back and forth. Ward did a great job of building things up to a crescendo over the final 20 minutes, leaving fans wanting more.

Though it is still early, it is going to be hard to top her performance, which is the best I’ve seen so far in 2014. Anyone who has seen her on tour and is attending Coachella will have her marked down as must-see, and for good reason.