Monologist Mike Daisey took a big risk by giving his salary out to audience members at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. But apparently, the experiment paid off. According to the Berkeley Rep blog, he clocked a $1,169 and a half cent profit for The Last Cargo Cult , which ended its run last week. The whole impetus for the play was to replicate John Frum Day, a ceremonial rejection of western materialism that happens annually on the island of Tanna. Apparently, Daisey didn't entirely cleanse us of avarice — he commented on a Berkeleyside blog post that many theater-goers happily pocketed the money. Still, the extra tips suggest that other people took his message to heart. Or at least they enjoyed the performance.
Ted Leo sans Pharmacists. It’s an interesting prospect. His songwriting, teetering ever intriguingly between anti-establishment punk and romantic, pensive indie-rock — all infused with a certain charming East Coast Irish spitfire — is sufficiently strident to survive on guitar and vocals alone. And, as Leo proved last night during a headlining solo Noise Pop performance at Bottom of the Hill, his personality is strong enough to be in no need of support on an otherwise vacant stage. Yet I couldn’t escape the feeling that something was missing. I suspect I'm not alone in this: Ted Leo without a rhythm section is like Justin Timberlake without glistening pectoral muscles: he may not need it to survive, but he’s not necessarily better off without it.
in the best way possible, that is. Anyone who's seen the trash-DIY electronic artist perform knows that the music itself is almost secondary to the extracurricular activities: Deacon treats his live show less like a passive experience and more like a dance party, presiding over the crowd like something between an avuncular professor type and a benevolent dictator. From the moment Deacon started playing at around 11:15, it was clear that last night's show — the second of two Noise Pop gigs for him this week — was no exception.
The entire ethos of alt-rock icons Cake can perhaps be embodied in one picture, taken as part of a promotional photo shoot for the band. In it, lead singer John McCrea stands apart from his instrumentalists, all of whom lean unassumingly against a wall of dark wood paneling. McCrea is several steps away from them, closer to the camera — so close that the upper half of his face and his eyes, covered by amber sunglasses, hardly make it into the picture —and he's donning brown pants, a beige windbreaker, and a white T-shirt depicting a very serious-looking kitten wearing an American flag bandanna around its neck.
Over 2,000 fans crowded into sold-out Zellerbach Hall on Saturday night for the largest intercollegiate Bollywood dance competition in the U.S. — eight teams dressed in sparkly costumes competing for more than $4,000 in prizes.
People not familiar with Bollywood might be surprised by the turnout. But “Bollywood Berkeley” is just one of many Indian dance competitions now sweeping the United States, from “The South Asian Showdown” in Boston to “Bollywood America” in San Diego.
When Texas band Explosions in the Sky offers to play a one-off benefit concert, you can bet your life that, true to the band's name, a spectacle will follow. On a recent Monday evening, Explosions lived up to expectations with a stunning hour-and-fifteen-minute-long performance to aid Jeff Jacobs, the trumpeter of opening band The Drift. Jacobs is currently fighting both cancer and insurmountable medical bills.
To call the show "explosive" is no small statement, given the band's origins. Post-rock is a genre that is inherently easy to write off as unnecessary to experience live. Almost all bands within the genre are instrumental, and most of them rehearse so thoroughly that their live product sounds almost identical to their recorded sound. Yet for all of Explosions in the Sky's similarities between its live performances and recorded music, the live show remains breathtaking. The three guitar/snare drum onslaught certainly mimicked the harmonies and sounds experienced on the band's albums, but the dynamic shifts and hypnotic melodic precision provided a convincing argument that for this band at least, post rock needs to be heard live.
The Jimmy Lyons era of big-band programming is over at Monterey Jazz Fest. So is all the straight-ahead stuff that went with it. For those who associate the word “jazz” with Paul Chambers laying a cool bass ostinato over Jimmy Cobbs’ brushstrokes, this year’s fest would have been an awakening of sorts. The artists featured on Saturday’s lineup were part of that tradition, but conversant in many others — blues, hip-hop, world music, gospel, even noise. This year’s festival included acts like The Nice Guy Trio, Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch, Billy Childs with the Kronos Quartet, and Brass, Bows & Beats Hip-Hop Symphony. For a 53-year-old institution, it was adventurous.
Twenty-four-year-old Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews was clearly this year’s big, emergent star. The kid can play just about any brass instrument he gets his hands on. During his set at Monterey, he switched from trombone to trumpet, sang, led a seven-piece band, quoted James Brown, Juvenile, Black Eyed Peas, and Sinatra, clapped a second line rhythm, and led rousing versions of the old standbys: “When The Saints Go Marching In” and “Down By The Riverside.” His group, Orleans Avenue, bills itself as a Big Easy-style brass band, but it poaches liberally from other regions — for some songs, the drummer played a West Coast backbeat. Shorty ably made himself a festival sex symbol. In the program guide, he posed in a wifebeater, dark sunglasses, and an expression that translated: “Whatever the proposition is, you know, I can hang.”
A.R. Rahman’s “Jai Ho: The Journey Home World Tour” concert last weekend at the Oracle Arena clearly broadcast Rahman’s mission: to create music that combines his Indian heritage with inspirations from around the world, including rap, reggae, hip-hop, Latin, and even Michael Jackson.
Rahman is epically well-known in the Indian community. He has composed for Bollywood mega-hit after mega-hit, from Lagaan to Rang de Basanti, Taal to Guru. Even mainstream America can probably hum along with Rahman’s music to Slumdog Millionaire, for which he won two Academy Awards, including an Oscar for best song for "Jai Ho." Time Magazine dubbed Rahman the “Mozart of Madras” and listed him in “The Time 100: The World’s Most Influential People” in 2009.
Closing his performance at Yoshi's Oakland on Tuesday night, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire shared one gripe about life as a celebrated wunderkind of the jazz scene with his hometown crowd. "People shouldn't be shocked when I tell them I'm from Oakland."
It was one of several moments throughout the evening that gave the buttoned-up club the intimate feeling of a homecoming. Uncles, teachers, church members, and old Berkeley High friends helped fill every seat for the 28-year-old's first Bay Area show since signing with Blue Note Records in June. They gave an enthusiastic applause when he said it's good to be home, volunteered details on the relationship status of drummer and fellow Berkeley High alumnus Justin Brown (single), and inspired confessions about song titles ("Tear-Stained Suicide Manifesto," for instance? "Let me explain," Akinmusire said. "It's not about me").
Those who worship at the altar of turntables and microphones often argue over the bookends of hip-hop’s “Golden Era.” This is generally seen as some date in the late ’80s to some date in the early ‘90s — but whichever years you highlight, they have to include 1993.
Rock the Bells thundered into Shoreline Amphitheatre this past weekend, and featured, in full, three of 1993’s greatest records: Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders.