TONIGHT: Black Box Comp Release Party 1: Goblin Cock, Japanese Sunday, Vitro, Swim Party, Sirhan Sirhan

I’ve been remiss to not mention this sooner: tonight is night no. 1 of the Black Box Studios Compilation release party. Since MusicMatters doesn’t seem to keen on making web content available, I’ll share a little of what I’ve had  to say about the comp in that magazine:

If you think that the there’s no musical community in San Diego, you haven’t been to a show at Black Box Studios.  On a recent night, members of the Locust, Sirhan Sirhan, Sleeping People, Pinback, Mr. Tube, The Long and Short of It, and a host of others crowded into Black Box Studios to see local newbies Barfer? (Brandon Relf of Sleeping People, Jason Hendrix of The North Atlantic and Mikey McCardle of Business Lady) performing in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Between acts, musicians, fans and friends tossed back beverages and enjoyed each other’s company. It speaks to the faith that co-owners Mario Quintero and Mike Pereira have in the power of local music to build communities–and of local musicians to shape the music-making environment. Moreover, it says volumes about said owners’ hospitality and generosity, turning their investment and pride and joy–which has rehearsal spaces and a full recording studio–into a hub of Golden Hill culture.

According to Quintero, Eric was the first to recognize the potential for a compilation featuring bands that have recorded, rehearsed and/or played at Black Box.  “We thought it would be cool to throw something together with bands that are all involved with each other,” he says. “We all play shows with each other, and talk to each other.”  The lineup would eventually swell to include Transfer, The North Atlantic, Sleeping People featuring Rob Crow, Sirhan Sirhan, Manuok, and Hialeah–Quintero and Pereira’s band with drummer Justin Jay, who also plays in Japanese Sunday–along with relative newcomers like Modern Rifles. “We went the San Diego Music Awards, and there were a bunch of bands we wish we saw nominated up there, like Modern (Rifles)–great bands that didn’t we thought deserved to be recognized.”

Get on down there. Show is 8 bucks and starts at Casbah time.

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Looking good in the neighborhood: Barfer? at the Tower Bar

Their last show, and also their best. They really, really killed it tonight. JR got a pretty good minidisc recording of the show. Sound clips to come. Thanks to Jim Young for the photos.

FYI…

Keeping tabs on an eleven year old is proving more taxing than I had anticipated. Later in the week I’ll have more updates, including posts about TNA’s last San Diego show (will it be the second to last TNA show, period?), Barfer?’s last show, and related hilarity.

Until then, I invite you to enjoy the following. Hum, one of my all-time favorites, rocking their hit “Star” on 120 Minutes. Fashionistas, check the tight-legged jean cutoffs on frontman Matt Talbott. In some ways, the mid-90s were a fantastic time before the terrain for alternative music was really all mapped out. I may sound like a nostalgic old man, but ask yourself the question: how often are bands blowing your mind these days?

Show Review: Barfer?/Git Some/Drunken Boat/Cabron, Zombie Lounge

Due to a magic disappearing/reappearing computer cable, I wasn’t able to get around to posting this until today, even though the show was last Saturday. I’m new to this stuff, alright?

The Zombie Lounge is close to the perfect venue for this kind of show, featuring the kind of gritty punk rock bands that would have been right at home at CBGB’s before it became the pay to play mecca of Long Island post-hardcore bands. The sound isn’t great (vocal mics only), but sound, as far as I’m concerned, is of secondary importance to presence and proximity. The Zombie delivers on both counts, and Another Zeke Productions really does a good job of bringing harder bands to town.

 

Cabron was up first. Though I missed their first two songs, I was treated to yet another serving of SST-style punk rock. They occupy the rehearsal space right next to ours off Mission Gorge, so I’m pretty familiar with their musical offerings. They sounded much better than their last few shows, which took place at the well-intentioned by acoustically-challenged Voz Alta.

 

Cabron

 

Cabron

Next up was Drunken Boat. Hailing from Portland, Drunken Boat play fast, sing-along punk rock in the vein of a lot of No Idea bands and local heroes Vena Cava. Too bad those guys weren’t out at the show, as I think they would have dug it. To be honest, they weren’t all that tight on this occasion. Seeing them the next day, my belief that it might just be an off night for them was confirmed.

Drunken Boat

 

Third was the mighty, mighty Git Some. Git Some is one half of Planes Mistaken for Stars (Neil and Chuck, playing bass and guitar, respectively) fronted by Denver’s own King Midas (everything he does musically is gold) Lucious Armand Fairchild. I’ve seen Git Some on the order of ten times or so; mayhem is usually a given (I’ve seen Luke fall forward–not catching himself at all–and take a steel pipe in the throat, get up, and continue without missing a beat) and brutal, Black-Flag-meets-Motorhead-meets-Jesus-Lizard punk is usually on offer. But with the addition of new drummer Andrew Lindstrom, the band has really moved from being one of my favorite bands of friends to one of my favorite bands, period. For fans of hard music of various stripes, missing these guys was practically criminal. It’s all the good things about hardcore stripped of the agenda, all the great things about metal and hard rock stripped of the unnecessary machismo. I just can’t say enough good things about this band.

Git Some

Git Some

Git Some

 

Last but not least was Barfer? At this point, I’m not going to address the rumors running around about these guys, except to say that the focus should be squarely on the music. I’ve seen all of Barfer’s shows save two, and this was definitely their tightest as a musical ensemble. Given the particular musical vision to which they adhere, that’s saying something. Mikey, like a man on shrooms, seems to find something on which to fixate each time. This time it was poor Ziggy’s baseball cap, which Mikey donned to marvelous effect on several occasions. Otherwise, there were lots of odd time signatures, lots of screaming in people’s faces, and lots of exposed skin and hair. You know: the usual.

 

I lied. Barfer? wasn’t last. The honor went to Tiltwheel, who I missed while on a beer run. Oh, the humanity. I’m sure I’ll have ample opportunity to see them again.

Friday night in the city…

So, after spending the week with my family in Connecticut, I got to spend last evening with some good friends in New York City. Oddly enough, a band called Ra Ra Riot was playing at the South Street Seaport. TNA played with Ra Ra Riot in Nashville last year, and their sound check was so shockingly good that I immediately called our label, publicist and booking agent to tell them about them. Ra Ra Riot are from Syracuse, on their way up (in a big, big way–with no management and no label, they nevertheless got a booking deal with the Agency Group), and just experienced one of the most awful things a band can experience. While on tour, their drummer, John Pike, was found dead on June 4. The band are quite young, as well, and enduring something that I, as a musician, found almost to be too much to take. I got to offer my condolensces to a couple of them and wish them well. They certainly deserve it.

Watching them last night, I noticed that the majors were out in force. Apparently Universal is trying to sign them, and I saw A&R from a couple other labels passing out afterparty wristbands for the wine-and-dine portion of the evening. But why, I’m asking myself, would an indie pop band like Ra Ra Riot sign with a major? What can the major do for them that a smaller label can’t do these days, and won’t the major ask for more (look out for the term “360 deal,” music industry wags)?

My thoughts on the subject were somewhat confirmed later at the bar. An acquaintance of mine is a product manager for a major label, and his view of the current situation is even more pessimistic than mine. To say that the majors are unsure as to how to proceed would imply that they had several courses of action in hand and were simply trying to choose between them. There’s nothing on the dry erase board. They are dead reckoning.

Going to see Barfer?, Cabron, and Git Some tonight at the Zombie Lounge. You should, too.

Inagural post: Barfer? Appreciation Day

For my inagural post, I figured I would direct my attention to Barfer? for a couple of reasons. The first is that for whatever reason, most of the other music blogs cover the garage/indie rock scene pretty well, while leaving hardcore, punk and artier stuff out in the cold. The Muslims are fine, and Grand Ole Party are nice folks, and the Prayers do a real good impression of the Shins two records ago.

I’m more interested in covering punk and hardcore, with the odd metal/indie/whatever band/show thrown in for good measure. It’s underserved from a reader standpoint and underhyped with respect to how good most of the bands really are. Ask most people outside of San Diego what we’re known for, and you’ll hear names like Swing Kids, the Locust, Drive like Jehu, Hot Snakes, Three Mile Pilot, Thingy and Heavy Vegetable (if someone mentions Tanner or Fishwife, extra points). None of these bands–or, more accurately, the bands working in this particular idiom–are served by the San Diego blog community. That’s a shame, since they’re pulling a lot of the weight in terms of making music that differentiates us from a host of other cities and scenes.

Anyway, back to Barfer? Barfer? is Mikey McCardle, formerly of Business Lady, Jason Hendrix of The North Atlantic (and my little brother, FYI), and Brandon Relf of Sleeping People. Their music sounds closer in spirit to the spazcore of the Locust, infused a bit with moments of more blissful prettiness courtesy of Hendrix’s guitar-like take on bass. Then there’s McCardle, who plays keys but mostly engages in something occupying the space between singing, performance art, and court jestering. They aren’t terribly easy on the ears, but get points for at least challenging the competing frameworks of art rock and hardcore–frameworks that, perhaps paradoxically, both exhibit a tendency toward the formulaic. You can’t dance to it, so I don’t know that they’ll be the hot new shit on the dance party scene. You can, however, be awed. Isn’t that still in style?

So far they have no recorded music, though they do have a Myspace page.