Amoeblog

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, March 7, 2008 07:25pm | Post a Comment
When Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks took the stage to legions of hoots and hollering and a very crowded floor, it was clear that we were in for a rare treat. Malkmus is known for a few bands he’s been in such as Pavement, The Silver Jews and The Crust Brothers. Just last month he was the recipient of the Plug Awards’ Impact Award; known among it’s recipients as the “Indie Grammys’ Lifetime Achievement Award.”
The Jicks (a hybrid of “Jerk” and “Dick,” or Mick Jagger’s name backwards ...) are composed of drum maven Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney and Quasi), Bassist Joanna Bolme (Elliott Smith and The Minders), and Mike Clark on guitar and tripped out keyboards. Fresh from a secret show in Portland and a Sonic Boom, Seattle in-store just before that, Amoeba WAS their San Francisco post-record release show (that is, if you missed them in December at the Great American Music Hall) and the legions of fans and curious folks who crowded the aisles for the 45 minute plus performance couldn’t have been witness to more electric and often psychedelic magic.

With a heavy attack of electric guitar (a la Hendrix) the band grooved into the first song on the album "Dragonfly Pie." The band was on from the start, seemingly commanded by Janet Weiss’ super tight style on the house drum kit, “the best borrowed kit I’ve ever used,” she commented.  However, throughout the performance, all eyes looked to Malkmus for cues.

There had been a bit of equipment talk prior to starting – Malkmus pointed out that his guitar was plugged into the amp Jack White of the White Stripes was notorious for using. “Let’s see what we can do!”  He even joked,  “can we pass on the store credit and keep some of this equipment?”

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Amoeba SF Celebrates Mardi Gras 2008

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 9, 2008 04:13pm | Post a Comment
Every year the staff at Amoeba San Francisco looks forward to the Fat Tuesday Celebration, and this year something was added to the mix:  the parade would involve children from the Boys & Girls Club, from around the corner on Page Street, making it an honest-to-goodness community event. The idea of bringing kids in to augment the parade brought some added anticipation and excitement from the staff, as we'd hoped.

With the store decked out in beads, and the traditional colors of purple, green and gold adorning the aisles, the staff was treated to superb and sublime Cajun food catered by Cajun Pacific, as a steady stream of music -- from New Orleans to Brazilian Carnaval --was provided by DJs in the afternoon. Costumes, headgear and decorations had already started to proliferate, and the festivity started to become infectious.

Just before five o'clock, the children arrived, bearing homemade signs and costumes, many of them relishing the opportunity to hide behind colorful masks and brandish noisemakers. They lined up on the ramp, eagerly waiting for the parade to begin. The staff started to gather at the info booth, next to the giant crawfish on the rolling cart, feeding off the energy of the spirited kids. With the invited guests, it really did feel like a celebration.


Finally, Big Ant, adorned with the crown and cape indicating his status as Parade King, led the restless crew down the aisles, once around the store and into the street, joined by other costumed employees and staff. Kathy held up a big MARDI GRAS sign to alert the onlookers, and for the first time the Amoeba Fat Tuesday parade greeted the public and crossed Haight Street. The young krewe snaked around the block to Page, passing the Boys And Girls Club and curved back towards the store.

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Vampire Weekend, Live Show at Amoeba SF

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 3, 2008 08:25pm | Post a Comment
reviewed by Katy St. Clair

It's not often that a band whose first album was only a day old can pack Amoeba to the gills for their in-store, but Vampire Weekend did it.


The store looked like the Fillmore, with a sea of faces all looking towards the four-piece band from New York. "It's a privilege to be here," said the singer, Ezra Koenig, somewhat shyly. The band was wearing the look of most young new "buzz bands" who haven't quite accepted the fact that they have made it yet—a naïve sweetness combined with an out and out thrilled exuberance.

We were seeing them at a choice time, a day after their first record was released, and on the same evening that they would be appearing on the David Letterman Show.

There are a lot of labels put on this band (another thing they are going to have to get used to). One is that they are "preppy," which is probably due to the fact that they all met at an Ivy League school, but, judging from the footwear of Koenig, who was wearing Docksiders, it could also be due to their personal style.


 They also get pegged with an African-Indie rock association, due to the intentional fact that their guitar is tuned to a key used in a lot of African music, something that Paul Simon and David Byrne have both used to great effect. (The music is actually nod to Congolese soukous music.) The band consider themselves "Upper West Side Soweto."


The band first launched into "Mansard Roof," the first track from their album. The song is jumpy and alive, and If there was one word that came to mind, well two words, really, they would be "tippie-toe."
The singer stood on his while he sang and played, bob-bobbing up and down, but lightly as if he didn't want to break the eggshells underneath. It took awhile for the crowd to loosen up, and even Koenig
noted that only one person was jumping up and down in the audience. Guess they aren't use to SF's famously stoic audiences.

His inquiry seemed to grease some wheels, however, and eventually the audience was verifiably raucous, singing and dancing along.

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Amoeba Music's Second Annual Art Show

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 30, 2008 03:28pm | Post a Comment

Friday, January 25th brought San Francisco a rain storm of biblical proportion. The incessant downpour superseded “dogs and cats” within the first few hours of daylight and went straight for much larger mammals – blue whales and pre-historic beavers? Believe me, it was bad.

Given that Californians aren’t known for their hardiness in torrential rains, it was a pleasant surprise – perhaps even an artistic triumph over nature – to find San Francisco’s sleek and urban Space Gallery packed that night with art connoisseurs, Amoeba employees, and friends for the Amoeba Music's Second Annual Art Show’s reception.

It’s apparent to anyone who has perused the stacks at any of Amoeba Music’s three locations that it’s much more than just a record shop. A friend of mine actually admitted that he refers to Amoeba as the “Wish Store” because he always finds whatever rarity it is that he’s been obsessing over. There is a magical aura of sonic wish fulfillment radiating from Amoeba, and the employees (from cashiers to managers and owners) are responsible for creating this musical wonderland on a daily basis.

It can be of no surprise that these same employees possess multiple talents beyond mastery of arcane musical knowledge. The 112 works on display at the Space Gallery from January 22nd through 26th proved that the staff is a formidably gifted team. The selection offered a wide range of formats, emotions, and influences, as well as levels of experience -- a variety befitting a cross section of the Amoeba crew.

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Brandi Shearer's show, last night: a rainy Sunday in SF

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, January 28, 2008 01:08pm | Post a Comment

Well, holy shit. I got to go out to a show last night. Did Hell freeze over?

I mean, "It was a dark and stormy night ..."

As some of you know, I don't get out much. Too very chronically sick, too very tired, too very many things that make it impossible to travel across town - much less across the bay. I mean, damn, maybe if we had something more like the Paris Metro instead of the wallet-breaking Bart (see bart.gov, out of towners, see the pathetic the bit of land it covers, down Market Street or Mission Street as if the rest of the city doesn't exist - and see the prices one pays for such paltry service.)

I could make my way around, with decent public transportation if it existed. Erm, most days.

But even the beloved and precious to me Paris Metro couldn't do a thing about the fact that I feel constantly as if I'm first day out of the hospital after a long stay for serious pneumonia. I'm quick to exhaust, wobbly baby deer legs, you name it. But I have a big brother who loves music.

My big brothers Kevin and Brian were instrumental in where I ended up today. Yes, I spent my childhood with a transistor radio glued to my ear, running it up the AM and FM in search of anything, which back then meant pure magic like Gladys Knight & The Pips. But it was my brothers' voluminous collection of vinyl records that brought me above what was easily found on the radios. Lest I forget, I am eternally grateful to my beautiful sister Jill who introduced me to the B-52's when I was 11, and my brother Scott who brought to me gems like Madman Across the Water, and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy from Elton John. I eventually graduated to a clock radio which was heavier to hold against my head but did sound better, and a bit later on had my own turntable and a generous donation of vinyl spanning big band jazz LPs, Tom Jones 45s on the Parrot label ... to Jesus Christ Superstar from my beloved Godmother, Aunt Helen.

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