Ahhhh, Thelma!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, October 24, 2007 01:19am | Post a Comment

"This Amoeba thing is getting to be very catchy," said Houston from the stage of her SF in-store appearance. (She was referring to her other appearance earlier in the year at the Hollywood store.)

The 61-year-old daughter of a Southern cotton farmer turned disco diva is touring in support of her new CD, A Woman's Touch, which is a mix of covers from people like Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, and Sting. Houston explained to the crowd why all of the songs that she sang were originally done by men, and not women, considering the name of her record: "Once Gladys, Chaka, or Aretha record a song," she said, "you don't need to go there!"

The audience was loaded with old queens (this being SF, after all), all there to pay homage to the woman who sang one of the top ten disco songs of all time, "Don't Leave Me This Way."

But besides being a disco icon, Houston is also an accomplished stage actress, and it showed in her delivery. She came out to the platform dressed like Tina Turner, in a tight tunic and leggings, with a shock of neatly dredded hair in a ponytail cascading around her. She placed a top hat upon her head, which had gigantic feathers dripping off of it. "This is my good luck thing," she joked, "my good voodoo spirit."

Accompanied only by a backing track and a microphone, she lit into her first song, "Wake Up," and then into an Al Green cover, "Love and Happiness." Before she sang it, she told the crowd a story about Al Green, and how she and a certain male friend of hers both had a crush on him in the '70s. "[This was] before the grits," she joked, referring to Green's run in with the law, a hot pot of porridge, and his woman's back.

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Posted by The Bay Area Crew, October 20, 2007 11:32pm | Post a Comment
The growth of the Japanese band Boris' popularity in America is a perfect example of life imitating art. Their songs—droning metal scapes that can last over 45 minutes--  start with the merest hint of sound and then build to high, layered crescendos of noise.

Boris has been around since 1992, but only really gained a foothold in the states after Southern Lord began reissuing their catalog here. A successful appearance at South By Southwest this year also increased their profile in American music press, who adore them. So, like their songs, they have been lurking quietly in the background and have slowly but surely increasing their volume here over 15 years.  

This was apparent at their Amoeba in-store early in October. The place was packed with long hairs, noise geeks, and anyone else who wanted to spend their Saturday afternoon going deaf.  "Akuma no Uta is the best album ever!" yelled someone from the crowd as the band took the stage.

The band's three members, Atsuo, Takeshi, and the only female member, Wata-- a mother and could be seen carrying around her toddler who was wearing airline-grade ear protection—calmly got behind their instruments and began playing what would end up being one drawn-out song for nearly 40 minutes. It started as a slow steady background drone, then began to soar and climb with skittish metallic sounds that could only be described as "bubbly." At times it sounded like a jet beginning take-off, and by the time the drums kicked in and the main crescendo took hold, there was little doubt in the room that this was one of the best bands on earth.

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San Francisco Is Still Doomed (Still)

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 13, 2007 04:47pm | Post a Comment
San Francisco’s legendary early punk band Crime is back and Amoeba is hosting the unveiling of their new LP (vinyl only folks!) Exalted Masters with an in-store performance and signing on Friday, September 21st at 7:00pm. But wait, there’s more! Frontman Johnny Strike will also be signing and his new book A Loud Humming Sound Came From Above, published by Rudos and Rubes.

Crime was formed in 1976 by Johnny Strike, Frankie Fix, Ron "The Ripper" Greco (ex-Chosen Few/Flamin' Groovies), and Ricky James. They ripped post-hippie San Francisco a metaphorical new one when they released their first (and many say Punk’s first) single “Hot Wire My Heart / Baby You're So Repulsive.” There was no mistaking these guys for mere rockers; they mixed a rebellious and sexually-charged image (they were most often seen flaunting their vampiric, just-outta-rehab good looks in tight leather, regulation police uniforms, or old-time gangster duds) with their unique blend of intellectual and furious lo-fi rock and roll. Crime found local refuge at the now legendary Mabuhay Gardens, but became nationally notorious after playing a gig at San Quentin Penitentiary in full police uniforms (of course).

In 1977 Hank Rank joined the ranks, but left in 1979. The band split in 1982 when Strike quit Crime to focus on writing. Frankie Fix attempted a Crime reunion in the early 90’s, but Strike elected not join in. In 1996 Frankie Fix passed away.

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Patti Smith: The Santa Monica Pier

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 18, 2007 07:32pm | Post a Comment
One day it's the 1970's, I'm trapped in the kind of hell a youngster homo freak usually is trapped in, and hey, Patti Smith is the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. (Who in the '70's didn't watch Belushi when you were 9?) Suddenly, you realize you can stop jumping off the roof of any building you can scale the side of, you stop trying to figure out how to knot a noose, and you ... embrace life.

Because you realize if this woman is on TV in America ... that there is hope. And when Gilda Radner did her Patti Smith impression--you loved Gilda even more. Crazy.

Next thing you know, a some 3 decades later, you are standing on the Santa Monica Pier watching Patti Smith from about 3 feet away. Life is so weird and magical.
30 years later, you can barely stand up, you're half deaf, blind in one eye and ... none of that matters a god damned bit. Yeah, you feel all the pain, and you clutch the stage so you don't fall over ... it's just that being there makes it all bearable for a little while, and that is all any of us can ask for. I'm not a unicorn: tons of people are broken into pieces: but these beautiful and generous artists give to us that magic, that roar of love ... that medicine that the HMO and free clinic can't conceive of ... the kind that really does heal you.
And for the first time since Patti played her show at Amoeba Hollywood, I can feel my soul, I can feel your heart and I keep turning around to witness the joy in the people around me.

Yeah, she's a genius. Yeah, Patti Smith is an inspiration ...  She is a force of nature. I think if there are any Gods at all ... they roar truth and power through her voice. But face it, she doesn't save your soul. You gotta do that. She shows up to do a non-profit, save The Santa Monica Pier, and if you want to know without any question at all that the people do have the damn power--you show up, and you feel pretty damn grateful and powerful.

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I'm ready if you are! Tuesday, here we come!

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 23, 2007 04:12pm | Post a Comment

That is some hot stuff, Baby!
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