Popular San Francisco music venue Annie's Social Club is set to close on New Year's Eve, according to the SF Weekly. A post on the paper's All Shook Down music blog yesterday afternoon said that the announcement had been made via an email newsletter for the Yahoo group sf_indie. Throughout its four years in business, Annie's Social Club has been a linchpin of the local metal scene and home to regular events like Punk Rock & Schlock Karaoke and Open-Mic Comedy. The announcement contained no indication of the reason for the closure, nor did it answer the question of why rock clubs can't seem to get a decent foothold at 917 Folsom St., which was previously home to both the Cherry Bar and the Covered Wagon Saloon.
Benevolent note to young bands: unless you play punk, don't put sixteen songs on your debut album. Even if you think they're all good. That's Hey Young Believer's main mistake, as most of the pure, peppy pop-rock songs are solid on their own - lead singer Lily Wolfson's classical training makes sure of it. Unfortunately, en masse their impact is blunted.
At Hotel Utah (400 4th St., San Francisco) on November 19. 9 p.m., $6
So says France's Kap Bambino:
Earlier this year, we reported that according to Nielsen SoundScan, vinyl album sales in 2008 reached an all-time high of 1.88 million (that is, since Nielsen started keeping track in 1990). 2008's mark was nearly double 2007's of 990,000, proving that the medium is rapidly bucking the industry's greater trend toward digital. But according to a just-released news brief from Nielsen, 2009's figures are on pace to smash 2008's -- sales to date just broke the 2 million mark, compared to 1.5 million at the same time last year. That means if the trend continues, which it almost certainly will, we'll be looking at well over 2.5 million units sold by the end of the year. It's still just a drop in the bucket compared to digital (Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, BEP, and Taylor Swift have already sold over 10 million digital tracks each). But kudos to the bands, labels, and manufacturers (like San Francisco's Pirates Press) who have helped stage this unlikeliest, and most ear-pleasing of comebacks. The only question: When does the vinyl bubble pop?
Last night on PBS, the Independent Lens premiered the film, D-Tour. It's a documentary about Pat Spurgeon, drummer of Oakland's indie rock band Rogue Wave, as his body slowly breaks down from a failing kidney. It follows his life with dialysis, seeking a donor, trying to find money for treatment and medical expenses, making music, and some soul searching, all while on tour just as the band starts to take off.
The film features live performances from Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Nada Surf, John Vanderslice, the Moore Brothers, and Rogue Wave.
The film will be airing online until November 17th.
Or check your local listings for the next broadcast.
This 23-track retrospective spans nearly thirty years of mostly unreleased material from Kensington musician Sean O'Brien through his work with the Meantime, True West, Denim TV, Cottonmouth, and the Mariettas. His songwriting and production improved markedly over the years, but rarely strayed from a distinctive blend of new wave and American underground.
At Milk Bar (1840 Haight St., San Francisco) on November 15. 3 p.m., free
Pixies live at Oakland's Fox Theater on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009. Photos by Hali McGrath.
Legendary alternative rock band Pixies howled the ferocious language of Doolittle to thousands of rabid, animalistic fans at a rare, sold-out engagement in Oakland's Fox Theater Sunday night.
Only the band's second US tour date in four years, the appearance featured lead singer Black Francis, bassist Kim Deal, drummer David Lovering, and guitarist Joey Santiago performing a dream-come-true set list including the entirety of Doolittle ("Monkey Gone to Heaven," "Here Comes Your Man," "Hey," "Tame," and "Debaser"), with two encores including "Gigantic," "Caribou," and Fight Club anthem "Where Is My Mind?"
Twenty years into the release of the influential record, Doolittle has become the Rosetta Stone to alternative music - everyone important, from Nirvana to Modest Mouse and Built to Spill can be decoded through it. And, on Sunday night, the band proved that three chords and two minutes of its time was often enough to encompass the entire artistic career of other bands. The now-fortysomething icons executed Doolittle commendably, if not flawlessly, changing up some choruses and attacks, like Black Francis' slow, whispering, Gollum-esque version of "Wave of Mutilation."
Dressed in black, the rotund juggernaut Francis kept the rock talk near zero, leaving the banter to the adorably ebullient Kim Deal. "Thanks for inviting us to this beautiful fucking place," Deal gushed. She occasionally narrated the set list and joked with the crowd, "Anybody coming tomorrow? We're playing the same songs," referring to their three-night run at the Fox.
Santiago and Lovering focused on the music amid a riveting production that used copious amounts of fog, a video projector of gigantic proportions, and a dynamic, 3-D, lighted sculpture that danced above Pixies' heads.
The band seemed to embrace the sing-along aspect of a reunion tour to perform Doolittle, feeding the crowd lyrics on the video screen and further amplifying that strange feeling when you're at a show and everyone is singing every word of every song. It was a rapturous, teenage fantasy occasion for most in the crowd, darkly underlined by the brooding, anxious themes in the music.
The show opened with a weird, dark surreal piece of film - the 1929 silent short Un chien andalou - that ends with a couple sinking into the sand, which reminds you that the initial title for Doolittle was Whore. The end of the Eighties featured the withdrawal of Soviet Forces from Afghanistan after a disastrous nine-year campaign, the Pan Am bombings, the massacre at Tiananmen Square, and Reagan followed by George H.W. Bush. Doolittle is more than just a primer for the Nineties; it was a harbinger, conveying the overweening sense of dread and comedy that would mark the century's turn, skid, and ultimate slide off the highway - tree branches whipping the windshield as we rolled off into the abyss. It was all there on vinyl in 1989, if you knew how to listen.
"I can't believe this album came out twenty years ago" quipped TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone, who opened with solo act Rain Machine. "Pixies saved me in high school."
1. Dancing The Manta Ray
2. Weird at My School
3. Bailey's Walk
4. Manta Ray
7. Wave of Mutilation
8. I Bleed
9. Here Comes Your Man
11. Monkey Gone to Heaven
12. Mr. Grieves
13. Crackity Jones
14. La La Love You
15. No. 13 Baby
16. There Goes My Gun
19. Gouge Away
20. Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
21. Into the White
22. Where Is My Mind?
Pixies perform at the Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave Oakland) on November 9 (sold out) and 10. 8 p.m., $64.50, $49.50.
The Pixies have a free EP of live music they are giving away on the Internet here, and are currently selling deluxe and limited editions of box set Minotaur. The deluxe is $150. The limited edition is $500, weighs 25 pounds, and is limited to 3,000, individually numbered units, hand-signed by every member of Pixies and Vaughan Oliver. Visit here to buy.
Bare-bones blues from Berkeley: Deborah Crooks on vocals, Alex Walsh on electric guitar. Five songs. Thirteen minutes. The back-to-basics style leaves little room for personal touches in the vocals (Well it's raining but I don't care/Yeah it's raining but I don't care/I came home last night and you weren't there) or in the frugal, gritty guitar work.
Debora Crooks performs at Cafe du Nord (2170 Market St., San Francisco) on November 17. 8 p.m., $12
Johnny Del Mar, the mastermind behind Model Americans, is not one to suffer fools. Ouch! is a collection of punked-up Americana, blues, and rock tunes as irreverent as they are competent. Del Mar's perverse sense of humor shines through no more clearly than on the opening revision of INXS's "Suicide Blonde" as "Suicide Bomb," though really he's just getting started.