Latest Posts

Broken Social Scene give Oakland a sonic masterpiece

Unlike its name, Broken Social Scene in concert is an experience that leaves you feeling the opposite of broken. You leave feeling whole, and your heart, full.

BSS Final_30

Broken Social Scene perform with a brass quartet.

The Canadian collective played at the Fox Theater in Oakland last Thursday. Their set included a handful of new songs from Hug of Thunder, along with the group’s many hits. Opening with the high-spirited “KC Accidental,” the band took the stage to endless cheers from the crowd. They followed with another classic, “7/4 (Shoreline),” which turns the crazy time signature into a majestic, danceable frenzy. For “Protest Song,” they brought out a local brass quartet, who had to rush off stage after to get to its own gig.

In between tunes, Kevin Drew would converse with the audience about topics from the band’s travels to things they’ve seen around the Bay. On trying to recall if the group has ever played in Oakland, Drew asked “Is the Greek Theater in Berkeley or Oakland?”

“Berkeley!” the crowd unanimously answered. With both venues located in the East Bay, it’s understandably confusing. And fans seemed to get that, applauding the band’s consistent stops in the area.

BSS Final_33

Broken Social Scene in Oakland.

Drew shared another anecdote before jumping into “Sweetest Kill.” During that afternoon, he had gone into a local clothing shop and later mentioned to the employee about the band. “She recognized our name and said this was her favorite song,” Drew said as he led into the tune’s hazy intro. A slow and sentimental serenade, it makes sense that “Sweetest Kill” is such a fan favorite. It felt surreal how much dreamier the track sounds in person.

Other set highlights included “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl,” which featured supporting vocals from openers The Belle Game. Before starting the song, Drew dedicated the landmark track to all the ladies present, setting off lots of cheers. Ariel Engle and The Belle Game’s Andrea Lo and Katrina Jones then proceeded to sing the haunting tune in a three-part harmony.

“Park that car / drop that phone / sleep on the floor / dream about me,” they repeated. Even though most knew where the song was going, it was still as chilling and poignant as ever, with many in the crowd cherishing the performance via soft sing-alongs.

Broken Social Scene closed the night with a bittersweet selection of songs, including “It’s All Going to Break,” dedicated to Gord Downie, “Lover’s Spit,” and “Cause = Time.”

To start off the show, The Belle Game opened with a set of gauzy, dream pop that set a perfect mood for the rest of the night. With heads bobbing, arms swaying and supportive cheers, the crowd showed the Vancouver group lots of love as they played songs off its latest album, Fear/Nothing, as well as its previous releases.

 

Photos and words by Rianna Chloe Catajan.

The Used kicks off fall tour at The Masonic

It’s always a treat to hear new material from artists you grew up listening to. This is just the case for The Used fans.

The Utah-based rockers just put out a new record, The Canyon, their first (of fresh content) since 2014. To celebrate, The Used set off on a fall tour with its first stop at The Masonic in San Francisco last Friday. And while spirits were high from The Canyon’s release, The Used put on a show that not only celebrated its new album, but also its fanbase. The band frequently broke the wall between artist and audience to provide a space where fans could fully immerse themselves in the music.

They opened with “Take It Away,” a fast-paced and erratic screamer that had the crowd instantly rocking out. Following was “The Bird and the Worm,” whose sinister tones were accentuated by crimson lights.

Used_SFM_16

The Used performs at The Masonic, Oct. 27, 2017.

Frontman Bert McCracken showed off some gnarly onstage moves, from high kicks and jumps to taking total command of the floor. Guitarist Justin Shekoski, bassist Jeph Howard, and drummer Dan Whitesides also rocked the stage by playing off each other’s energy and creating a solid, cohesive soundscape. Reciprocating the high intensity, the audience took to its own floor space and started various circle pits and some crowd surfing.

Things got a bit messy when one ambitious concertgoer put up a fight with security after attempting to stage-dive from the barricade, but was quickly escorted out. McCracken later checked in with the crowd to make sure fans were having their fun, but to also caution that the show should be a good time for everyone. To that, the audience cheered in agreement.

The rest of the set went smoothly from there, featuring mostly songs from the group’s earlier catalog, and just a handful off The Canyon. The Bay Area was lucky enough to be graced with live debuts of “Over and Over Again,” “Rise Up the Lights,” and “For You.” While “Rise Up the Lights” features The Used’s classic electrifying sound, the other two explore newer territories. “Over and Over again” is upbeat in melody and “For You” shows the band’s stripped down, sentimental side. The Used then closed the show with “Maybe Memories.”

The night started with a performance by Glassjaw, a post-hardcore band from New York fronted by Head Automatica’s Daryl Palumbo. Glassjaw set the perfect mood with a selection of gritty, raging songs. Many in the crowd yelled along, including one photographer, whom Palumbo held out his hand to. Glassjaw’s performance featured fan favorites like “Tip Your Bartender” and “Ape Dos Mil.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Words and photos by Rianna Catajan.

Getting ready for Broken Social Scene’s Bay Area return

When Broken Social Scene put out Hug of Thunder, its first album since 2010, every one of my social media news feeds exploded with excitement. The wait was well worth it, as unanimously expressed by fans and outlets from The New York Times to Pitchfork.

Hug of Thunder recalls everything that is loved about Broken Social Scene. The album embodies feelings across every inch of the emotional spectrum, and expresses them all with musical ideas that make you feel on top of the world, while simultaneously tugging at your heartstrings.

Adding to the list of things to gush about: Broken Social Scene is making its Bay Area return for the first time in six years! The Canadian super group will be playing at the Fox Theater in Oakland on October 26. To prepare for the epic performance to come, we’ve gathered some of our favorite tracks from all throughout the collective’s diverse catalog. Listen and find ticketing information below!

1. “Stay Happy,” Hug of Thunder (2017)


Starting with ethereal hums that feel much like a Stars track, “Stay Happy” breaks into a groovy bassline that sets a completely different mood. The song continues with more charismatic twists and turns that are indubitably head nod-inducing all the way through.

2. “Water in Hell,” Forgiveness Rock Record (2010)


With jangly guitar riffs and energetic vocals, this track is pure rock and roll fun. There’s a wild west-esque breakdown in the middle that’s kind of unexpected, but surprisingly works with the energy of the song.

3. “7/4 (Shoreline),” Broken Social Scene (2005)


Kicking off with a gloriously math rocky intro, this song goes on to describe a relationship that’s just as tumultuous. “You can own what you choose / But you want to live a lie / And love what you lose” are words that cut deep, yet Broken Social Scene manage to turn it all into an upbeat listening experience. The song ends on a more grounded, yet still rhythmically complex note with lyrics like “While you’re walking away / I will try to get through.”

4. “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl,” You Forgot It in People (2002)


This was one of the first songs I’d ever heard from Broken Social Scene and it’s probably the one that crosses my mind the most, especially the opening, recurring lines: “Used to be one of the rotten ones and I liked you for that.”  While the song is simple in vocals, backed by just plucks of a banjo and the cries of a violin, it still hits you with a colossal wave of nostalgia that’s both haunting and comforting.

5. “Guilty Cubicles,” Feel Good Lost (2001)


“Guilty Cubicles” captures a melancholy that reminisces the tones of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The purely instrumental song feels like tangled sounds, but somehow, the way they weave together make perfect sense.

Get your tickets to see Broken Social Scene at the Fox Theater here.

Words by Rianna Chloe Catajan. Photo courtesy of Norman Wong. 

City and Colour serenades San Francisco -The Masonic, 9/23

It’s officially fall, and although it’s still sweltering in the Bay Area, City and Colour sure made it feel like autumn in San Francisco. Dallas Green, the creative force behind the alias, brought his renowned folk sound to The Masonic last Saturday, transforming the venue into a cozy night in.

Green took the stage with just a shaker in hand and began “Sensible Heart.” With the band playing hush, a spotlight hit Green as his vocals resonated throughout the venue. Despite his signature serene singing, Green’s voice had a kind of power that held the entire crowd’s undivided attention. He later grabbed his guitar and broke into “Killing Time,” a bluesy track off If I Should Go Before You.

City and Colour covered all parts of his catalog, playing songs from “Runaway” and “Thirst” to “Northern Blues” and “If I Should Go Before You.” Before starting “We Found Each Other in the Dark,” Green introduced the tender track as a song about being nicer to one another. “We’re all human beings, and we’re all fucked up. We’re all just going through [life] together.”

Green then clarified, “I’m not preaching – I’m just Canadian,” which brought the audience to roar with laughter.

The rest of the evening featured cool renditions of older songs, including the heartwarming crowd favorite “The Girl,” which had an upbeat, bluegrass-y twist. Green also snuck in some songs from his other projects – namely, “This Could Be Anywhere in the World” from his screamo, post-hardcore days in Alexisonfire and “No Ordinary Love” by You+Me, which was a duo between Green and Pink.

David Bazan, a Seattle-based indie rocker who many know from Pedro the Lion, kicked off the show with mellow tunes that set the mood perfectly. The bassist-vocalist had a velvety voice that, backed by celestial instrumentals, created a hypnotizing sound. Some of my favorites from his set were “Care,” “Both Hands,” and “Trouble With Boys.”

Photos and words by Rianna Chloe Catajan.

Deerhoof at Great American Music Hall, 9/21

From flowers, to basketball, to the very specific trumpet musical notation “con sordino,” Deerhoof can make a song about anything and have it sound out-of-this-world good. The San Francisco experimental rock group played a hometown show at Great American Music Hall last Thursday, and it was high energy all-around.

This was my first time catching Deerhoof live, but I know that they mix up their setlist every tour, now having 14 studio albums to choose from (their latest album Mountain Moves released just earlier this month). They kicked the night off with the banging two-minute track, “Flower,” which features call-and-response successions between spunky bassist-vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki and grungy breakdowns by guitarists John Dietrich and Ed Rodriguez and drummer Greg Saunier. They then broke into “I Will Spite Survive,” which starts with a new wave-esque guitar lick.

Deerhoof’s upbeat, craftily chaotic sound transcends powerfully live, even with just one amp on stage. Their fans have no problem keeping up with the energy either, as depicted by permanent smiles and head nods that didn’t miss a beat.

Throughout the show, Saunier would leave his drumset for the center mic stand to provide the night’s stage banter while the band tunes their instruments. The rest of the evening featured a plethora of songs from all over Deerhoof’s catalog. “Polly Bee,” “Paradise Girls,” “Plastic Thrills,” and “Bad Kids to the Front” are just a fraction of the selection; we’ll leave the entire setlist below.

As the show reached the end, Matsuzaki introduced the final song as a song about the Bay Area’s favorite sport: basketball. And just as “Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back” walks you through the happenings of the game, Matsuzaki led the crowd through dance moves to accompany the verse, “Rebound rebound / Rebound rebound ready okay!”

Supporting Deerhoof were dreamy folk pop group Christina Schneider’s Genius Grant and Mayya and the Revolutionary Hell Yeah, who were jam-packed with rock ‘n roll spirit. Both bands shared similar elements to Deerhoof and opened the night perfectly.

Deerhoof Setlist Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA, USA 2017

Words and photos by Rianna Chloe Catajan.

Manchester Orchestra at The Regency, SF, 9/16

Manchester Orchestra sold out The Regency Ballroom last Saturday as they continued their A Black Mile to the Surface tour. You could feel the immense presence of the crowd, not just from everyone’s body heat insulated by the venue, but also from each fan’s audible excitement. Despite Manchester Orchestra’s current run to celebrate their fifth studio album, the Atlanta-based indie rockers performed tracks from all parts of their catalog, keeping the audience head over heels.

Manchester Orchestra opened up with three tracks off ABMTTS: “ The Maze,” “The Gold,” and “The Moth.” Mellow and folk-inspired, the stage glowed with orange and yellow lighting that really set a nostalgic mood. They followed with some older favorites like “Shake it Out,” “Pensacola,” “I’ve Got Friends,” and “Simple Math,” which instantly transformed the venue into a full-blown rock show. Occasionally, Ben Walsh from opening band Tigers Jaw would take the stage, sometimes on guitar, sometimes on shakers.

For the encore, Manchester Orchestra capped off the night with “I Can Feel a Hot One” and “The Silence.”

Supporting Manchester Orchestra were Foxing and Tigers Jaw, two bands well-loved in the current pop punk scene. Both groups brought great energy to warm up the crowd, playing notable favorites like Foxing’s “Rory” and Tigers Jaw’s “Chemicals” and “Plane vs. Tank vs. Submarine.”

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Words and photos by Rianna Chloe Catajan.

(Sandy) Alex G at The Warfield, SF, 9/11

I first heard (Sandy) Alex G when I saw him play at a guitar shop in San Jose. He opened for Elvis Depressedly and my friend’s band, Leer. Compared to the mix of shoegaze and screamo, Alex G had a muted sound that made itself memorable with its nostalgia for Elliott Smith melancholia and fuzzy 90s alternative riffs.

Three years later and now I’m seeing Alex G open up The Warfield for Brand New, one of the most prolific bands of emo. He started the night with “Judge,” an appropriately heavyhearted track off his latest release Rocket.

“That day meant nothing to me / A hiccup in my memory”

Much of his set featured songs from the 2017 full-length, which dons a fuller sound and takes a scenic route through primarily rustic themes. But he covered all parts of his catalog, playing “Bug,” “Kicker,” “Serpent is Lord,” and crowd favorite “Mary.”

To close his set, Alex took to the keyboard and played bluesy tracks “County,” and “Guilty.”

(Sandy) Alex G will be touring with Fleet Foxes, and then Hovvdy, this fall. For more information, you can follow him on Facebook.

 

Words and photos by Rianna Chloe Catajan.