I Don’t Like Oakland’s Fox Theater

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Animal Collective at The Fox Theater in Oakland

I do believe I just saw my last show at Oakland’s new Fox Theater last night at the Animal Collective show.  It was my second visit to the beautifully refurbished venue and, god dang it, I just don’t like the place as a music venue. It’s way too big, the sound is awful and I feel completely disconnected from the artists.  Mostly because I can’t see anything, and I’m really tall!

The space is one of the most stunning venues I’ve ever seen, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to belittle the monumental renovation project that took place to bring this classy lady back to life.  It’s truly beautiful and likely one of the most well thought out venues in terms of comfort and amenities – easy bar access on all levels, ample restrooms and in floor A/C vents that pump out a refreshing rose water infused elixir that has to be one of the most ingenious inventions EVER!

My first time at The Fox was for The Black Keys a month ago where I had a terribly unfulfilling experience.  I was tempted to rant then but decided to give it one more shot just to make sure.  And last night’s Animal Collective show left me once again unsatisfied.   The biggest complaint on the venue is the sound – it’s awful, echoey and muffled it sounds like your listening to the music through the ears of an 80 year old.  And then there’s the size of the venue.  On both visits, I moved around looking for that sweet spot – trying various locations on the floor and even the VIP area – but never found contentment.  I just wanted to get closer, pull the artist too me and get lost in their performance. That never happened. Instead I found myself getting lost in the scenery, staring into the glowing eyes of Buddha, as opposed to the musicians on stage.

While there’s definitely a need for a venue like The Fox, and it will do well and prosper, you can count me out.  Call me a music snob who’s been spoiled by too many intimate shows, but I’ll gladly sacrifice the posh interior and rose water scented air of The Fox for the graffitied bathrooms, beer soaked floors and the l’eau de fart aroma of Bottom of the Hill any day.

Happy Earth Day – A Message from Bill Clinton

“The science is clear. Virtually all climate experts agree that we must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. If we fail, the worst consequences of climate change threaten to increase the severity of health epidemics, disrupt harvest patterns, deplete water resources, and intensify poverty rates in the poorest regions of the world.

On this Earth Day we cannot let the current global economic recession slow us in the race against climate change.”  Bill Clinton on Earth Day 2009.

The new track from Black Moth Super Rainbow, “Born on a Day the Sun Didn’t Rise”, seemed apocalyptically appropriate for this post today.  It’s off their forthcoming album Eating Us due May 26. They’ll be playing Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on May 28.

Born on a Day the Sun Didn’t Rise”:

Airport Surroundings

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An empty Chicago O'Hare airport around midnight, waiting for luggage.

Listen to Loney, Dear, “Airport Surroundings”:  

The Swedish indie pop group is on tour supporting their new album, Dear John, and will be performing at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill on May 15.

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

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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….