State Targeting Legendary SF All Ages Music Venues

Bottom of the Hill - One of SF's all ages music venues in question

Bottom of the Hill - One of SF's all ages music venues under scrutiny by the ABC.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a disturbing story this weekend on legally questionable new regulations the state of California’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) is trying to impose on some of San Francisco’s legendary all ages music venues.  If enforced some of the City’s best music clubs – Bottom of the Hill, Great American Music Hall, Slim’s and Cafe du Nord – may be forced to close.

All of these businesses are able to operate as all ages venues because they serve food, as required by the ABC.  Recently, however, the agency has decreed that at least half of the clubs’ revenue must come from food sales. The problem is that most of their income comes from alcohol and ticket sales. While the code makes no mention of a minimum sales requirement, some clubs are having conditions set on their license by the ABC contingent upon these new requirements – such as food sales exceeding alcohol sales.

Luckily the jurisdiction of the ABC is being questioned by elected officials, including San Francisco Supervisor Sophie Maxwell and state Sen. Mark Leno.  Still, it can’t hurt for the community to get involved in the fight to preserve our best music venues – and a right of passage.  

(Thanks Al for forwarding this story!)

White Denim @ Bottom of the Hill


I had the pleasure to see one of my favorite bands, White Denim, at Bottom of the Hill last week.  And as usual, they did not disappoint.  They are a great live band and rocked the entire show relentlessly.  Throughout the performance my friends kept yelling anecdotes in my ear like “Led Zepplin 1971!” or “baby Led Zepplin!”.  Yes, it’s true!  When they launched into a rendition of “All You Really Have to Do/Mess Up Your Hair/Shake Shake Shake”, I thought my head was going to explode.  While I can’t recreate that masterpiece for your here, you can get a taste of it from this smoking set recorded on From the Basement in the UK.  Check it out.

Chad VanGaalen @ Bottom of the Hill

Chad VanGaalen and Women (a Flemish Eye Records double bill) played last night at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill.  It was my second time seeing Women and I really like their album but find their discordant, atonal sound gets a little lost in translation performed live. For me, at least. Their sound is definitely for the musically evolved.   

Members of Women supported headliner, Chad VanGaalen and he did not disappoint. With three great albums to mine, the only complaint I have is that he didn’t play long enough.  For someone who squirrels himself away in a basement for months on end writing songs about death and destruction, he was much more jovial and charismatic than I had ever anticipated.  I don’t know what I expected to see, but it certainly wasn’t the comedian that he was.  A pleasant surprise to say the least.  

Here’s some live footage of the show last night….

Say Hi @ Bottom of the Hill


Listen to: “Oh oh oh oh oh oh”:
I’m in full on training mode for SXSW.  Last night’s Say Hi show was my third this week and I’ve got two more to go. And that’s still not going to hold a candle to what’s in store for me in Austin.  But it’s definitely getting me in the right frame of mind.

As I mentioned last week, I’m in love with Say Hi’s latest effort Oohs & Aahs.  Eric Elbogen is basically the band, so it was interesting to see how his laptop rock concoctions would translate live.  And it sounded great!  They kicked off their tour last night in San Francisco and played the new album in it’s entirety before launching into the old stuff.  A truly enjoyable singalong show.  If you’re going to SXSW, I highly recommend catching them at one of their following scheduled performances:

March 19, 1PM: Room 710 (SXSW Day Party Show)
March 20, 6PM: Home Slice Pizza (SXSW Day Party Show)
March 21, 1PM: SXSW Daystage
March 22, 8PM: The Parish (Barsuk & Merge SXSW Showcase)

Leopold and His Fiction



Artist: Leopold and His Fiction
AlbumAin’t No Surprise
File Under: Vintage Rock
Recommended if You Like: The Doors, The Black Keys, White Stripes
Featured Track: “Broke

I could sit you down right now, play this entire album and tell you it was a long lost 70s re-issue from some obscure San Francisco rock band and I bet you wouldn’t bat an eye.  The San Francisco trio’s sophomore release, Ain’t No Surprise, takes their love of classic rock and all things vintage and spins it into a thoroughly enjoyable album from start to finish.  An amalgamation of 70s rock influences, the band concocts a stripped down, bluesy, southern-fried psych rock sound reminiscent of some of the great bands of that era – from The Doors to the Allman Brothers and Bob Dylan. 

Listening to the album, it’s hard not to compare lead singer Daniel James’ gritty vocals to Jim Morrison.  I swear he’s channeling Mr. Mojo Risin’ himself on “Hawk Eyes”.  And with the carnival-like organ swirling through“Broke” it’s hard not to draw a comparison to The Doors.  While the influences are everywhere, the band never imitates.  Their sound is definitely that of  a bygone era.  But in this day and age of 80s synth pop revival, it’s a refreshing one.

Don’t miss Leopold and His Fiction play Bottom of the Hill March 10!  To get a taste of what’s to come, check out this video of their recent performance at Sundance this year.

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Fruit Bats @ Bottom of the Hill


Ah, what a great night of music with the Fruit Bats and Sera Cahoone last week at Bottom of the Hill.  It was a pedal guitar extravaganza, which is quite alright by me as it’s one of my favorite instruments.  It’s been more than 3 years since the Fruit Bats have played but you would never had known.  Eric D. Johnson is touring with a new band to try out some fresh material and it sounded lovely.  He’s a talented singer/songwriter with such sweet songs of love and nature it’s hard not to be smitten. They were good about mixing in the old with the new to keep the crowd happy too.  After countless requests for ‘The Little Acorn’, Eric finally obliged but had to do so solo because the band hadn’t learned that tune, which did surprise me.  How could you not include that song in your repertoire?  One of my favorites.

Listen to ‘The Little Acorn‘:

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Why I Pay $3.50 for Coffee


Now that’s service with a smile! Meet my  soy latte macchiato I drink every morning from Peet’s Coffee. It’s the only coffee I’ll drink.  This and Blue Bottle. A latte macchiato is a secret menu item you can order at pretty much any Peet’s Coffee in San Francisco. Outside of Peet’s and our snobby food town this drink doesn’t fly so well. I tried to get the guy at Blue Bottle to make this for me and we practically got into a fist fight.  

Sacrilege or not, they key to this drink is less milk, more foam and a shorter shot of espresso poured on top. The perfect balance of flavors and the soy milk makes it a little sweet and nutty so you don’t need to add any sugar. Try it!

Listen to Fruit Bats A Little Acorn’.  After a long hiatus, they are back and playing San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill this Friday, 1/30 with Sera Cahoone.  A show that I’m very much looking forward to. For the rest of the world, they will be performing live as part of KEXP’s Broadcast from the Bay tomorrow at 1PM PST.

Women @ Bottom of the Hill


Thanks to Ken and Jon, I was able to squeeze into the sold out show Monday night at Bottom of the Hill to catch one of my favorite bands this year, Women. I hadn’t seen Bottom of the Hill quite that packed before and there were clearly two distinct crowds – those who came to see Women and those who came to see Swedish psyche rockers, Dungen.  It was clearly a case of the hipsters vs. the hippies.  In in my opinion, hipster band Women clearly won.  Their lo-fi sound did not disappoint.  My only complaint is that they weren’t opening for label mate, Chad VanGaalen. Now that would have been a stellar line up.  

While I’ve never been able to wrap my head around Dungen, I did stick around to see if they could change my mind.   They didn’t.  Every time I hear their music I think I’m listening to Thai karaoke and immediately want to turn it off.  It’s not fair, I know. I’ve just spent too much time in seedy Bangkok bars and San Francisco’s Thai karaoke hot spot, Ozone, I suppose.  Musically, Dungen is talented.  There’s just something about Swedish in song that doesn’t translate for me.  At all.

Listen to Women’s ‘Black Rice‘:

Get this album free via eMusic’s 50 Free MP3 Promo

buy it at insound!

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