Phono del Sol turns the heat way up in 2017

2017 Phono del Sol Music FestivalPhotos by Emmeline Munson // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Phono del Sol //
Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco
June 17th, 2017 //

You want your Saturday to be served up scorching hot? Well, that’s what the masses at the seventh annual Phono del Sol got, and few in attendance had any issue with the literal and figurative heat that hit Potrero del Sol Park.

This little event has blossomed into one the most anticipated festivals in SF and is a true gem for those who live in the Mission, Potrero Hill and surrounding areas. Attendees this year were treated to one of the more diverse lineups Phono del Sol has assembled in its growing history, as both local and national acts of varied styles and genres joined together under an insanely pristine sky to toast the culture that makes this place what it is.

Early-arriving patrons were treated to some of Northern California’s buzziest up-and-coming acts such as Never Young and Rayana Jay, but it was Oakland’s own Bells Atlas that began to kick things up a notch and got some toes tapping with their soulful, pop-tinged flavor.

Next up was Bay-Area-via-South-Central upstart DUCKWRTH who aptly brought his infectious dance-rap stylings and was backed by a live band rather than simply a DJ. Local legend Sean Hayes held court on the smaller Mission Stage but commanded a considerable crowd as the park’s pulse continued to raise with the headliners in sight.

2017 Phono del Sol Music Festival - Jay Som

Jay Som

Melina Duterte’s band goes by the name Jay Som and hails from Oakland. Do yourself a favor and remember this name: Jay Som. The Polyvinyl-signed songstress bathed the crowd at the Potrero Stage in her dreamy vocals and inanely catchy tunes that appeal to a wide-range of music fan; her songs could feel just as viable in the 90’s college rock area as they do today. Highlights from the set included a vibe-soaked rendition of “Baybee” as well as “The Bus Song”, arguably the artist’s first real “hit.”

Atlanta’s own badass punk bitches, The Coathangers, closed the smaller of the festival’s two stages with a generously ruckus helping of garage punk. The group’s three members, who all donned matching outfits, brought some seriously impressive vocal interplay as they all lent a hand in that department, complete with falsetto and the always-awesome singing drummer. The Coathangers have been doing this whole rock ‘n’ roll thing for more than a decade now, and it’s clearly evident when they deliver songs like “Down Down” with surgical precision. “Make it Right” was another set highlight as heads began to bob and nod, with fans starting to loosen up those muscles for the closing onslaught.

I’m sure many folks can recall the days when you could catch Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer playing a show in the City on a near-weekly basis. Those were exciting times, and though SF has lost one of their most prolific artists to the cheap(ish) rent of Southern California, Dwyer is still welcomed with open arms, as well as the crowd-surfing skate punks in attendance.

The newly minted Oh Sees (the band just changed its name earlier this month) took the fest’s main stage in their usual whirlwind fashion and then proceeded to tell everyone to jump the barriers and join them onstage before they desecrated the generally sleepy park. While fans saw the two-drummer format in action once again, we also saw some fresh faces onstage — and more importantly, we got some new music later in their set that bordered on something akin to amped-up Fugazi. “Contraption / Soul Desert” closed out the nine-song set, and just like that, it was done. Those in attendance took a minute to catch their breath, and we were heaved into the Mission to complete one of those perfect summer days in SF.

Bay Area talent shines at Phono del Sol in 2016

2016 Phono del Sol Music Festival - Born Ruffians

Born Ruffians

By Norm de Veyra //

Phono del Sol Music Festival //
Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco
July 9th, 2016 //

It was all chill vibes and good tunes last Saturday as The Bay Bridged held their sixth annual Phono del Sol Music Festival in SF.

Brooklyn synthpop duo Chairlift headlined the event with an energetic, golden-hour set that produced a synchronized-swaying dance party from the crowd. Equally as impressive were Canadian indie rockers Alvvays, who may have provided far fewer dance moves with their tunes but still delivered an engaging show.

Yet, the real notables from the fest were the more homegrown acts like Dick Stusso, Adam Vida, Hot Flash Heat Wave, The Seshen and The She’s. Highlighting up-and-coming local talent has always been part of the Phono del Sol mission statement from the start, and last weekend proved yet again you don’t have to venture far to find great music in the Bay Area.

Phono del Sol goes bigger and better in 2015

2015 Phono del Sol Music Festival  - King Tuff

King Tuff

Photos by Diana Cordero // Written by Ava Bernard //

Phono del Sol Music Festival //
Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco
July 11th, 2015 //

The Bay Bridged teamed up with John Vanderslice of Tiny Telephone recording studio for their fifth installment of Phono del Sol Music Festival at Potrero del Sol Park last Saturday. This surprisingly affordable festival (advanced tickets were $30 and tickets at the door were $35) brought quite the diverse crowd. Fans and families alike were able to soak up the sun on a hot day while getting a chance to see some pretty epic bands and munch on plenty of tasty gourmet treats from some of SF’s favorite food trucks.

With the festivals grounds covered with an abundance of flamingo decorations, Lagunitas beer gardens and the backdrop of skateboarders set the mood for the event. Between sets from some noteworthy local and East Coast bands, festival attendees were able to enjoy tunes from LIVE 105 DJ Aaron Axelson in the beer garden all day.

2015 Phono del Sol Music Festival - Tiaras


The festival included 11 bands on the bill and kicking off the day was Scary Little Friends, whose psychedelic guitar riffs were showcased during favorite cuts like “We Are Young”. Opening the Potrero Stage, the garage-pop supergroup Tiaras have succeeded in becoming a Bay Area favorite, drawing in the early-afternoon crowd with their harmonious, dreamy mirage sound thanks to the vocals of lead singer/guitarist/keyboardist Ryan Grubbs. The afternoon continued with an array of different bands, such as Oakland-based psychedelic rock outfit Everyone Is Dirty, which brought a packed crowd and captured the hearts and ears of nearby passersby.

As the day went on and the sun started going down, the bands continued to keep everyone entertained. A majority of them, including Vérité, Tanlines and Generationals, shifted the music heavily toward electropop. One band on the rise is HEARTWATCH (fka The Tropics), which will also be performing at Outside Lands this year. The five-piece brought fans to their feet as people of all ages danced to Claire Georges’ sweet, happy-go-lucky vocals.

2015 Phono del Sol Music Festival - Tanlines


To round out the night, King Tuff and Tanlines closed both stages. Tanlines, the electropop duo out of Brooklyn, is a fun group that will make you literally “just wanna dance.” With their upbeat tracks, they proved to be an afternoon delight for everyone at the park.

Meanwhile, over on the Potrero Stage, King Tuff’s heavy garage rock was a favorite of the day, with Kyle Thomas’ nasal vocal stylings almost comparable to that of T. Rex and other bands like SF’s Thee Oh Sees. Both fun and memorable, King Tuff’s unadulterated rock had those at the front of the crowd in the middle of a mosh pit, and even some skaters hopped the fence in hopes of crowd surfing. Thomas definitely immerses a crowd with his music and succeeds in making you feel like you’re experiencing some real rock ‘n’ roll. It’s just another reason why Phono del Sol once again was a major success this year.

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!

Phono del Sol gets rowdy with Thee Oh Sees & YACHT

Thee-Oh-SeesPhotos by Nikki de Martini & Mike Frash // Written by Mike Frash //

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

Phono del Sol Music and Food Festival got a bit rowdy this year, but it’s not a huge surprise with local juggernauts Thee Oh Sees topping the music bill for the fest’s third incarnation. The first two years of Phono del Sol, which also took place at Potrero del Sol Park in the Mission District of SF, offered decisively mellow indie fare.

But this year, Phono del Sol curators The Bay Bridged and John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone took things up another notch, adding a second stage and party-starting acts YACHT, Bleached, K. Flay, Marnie Stern and Painted Palms. For the first time at Phono del Sol, people raged.


The main stage’s built-in band shell was packed tightly by the time Thee Oh Sees were ready to begin. As K. Flay continued on with her set at the Mission Stage, Dwyer grew impatient once Thee Oh Sees were ready to go. The powerless stage manager did his best to hold Dwyer off from initiating the performance, but after one false start, Dwyer said, “Fuck it” and launched the first song. Indie moshing, crowd surfing and stage diving would frame the headliners for the entire show, just as frontman John Dwyer always inspires.

Dwyer is one of the most interesting characters in music today, and his manic stage presence and antics are just as entertaining as Thee Oh Sees’ excellent post-punk sound. Dwyer spits, pounds beers, sticks his tongue out and plays his guitar near his neck, which has quickly become his iconic go-to move. And it’s obvious how he’s a local hero, drawing scores of dedicated fans that mimic Dwyer’s moves at every show The Oh Sees play.


Most of the tunes performed Saturday were from Thee Oh Sees’ relentless 2013 LP Floating Coffin, but the most entertaining highlight of the late-afternoon performance happened when Dwyer invited everyone on stage for the final two songs.

The energy transferred to the final act of the festival, YACHT. Props to the festival organizers for placing YACHT last after the headliners — there’s no better way to end a day of music then to dance your ass off. Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans have honed their electopop jams into a tight show. Songs segued seamlessly, feigning a DJ set, as Evens commands you to pay attention and shake your booty at the same time. The set ended with “Le Goudron” and “Second Summer”, a super-fun way to bring Phono Del Sol to a close.