Amoeblog

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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Tired of the bombast, bling, boasting & the big productions?

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 19, 2007 10:24am | Post a Comment
WARNING:  This video will teach your children to curse like a sailor, so I sure hope you Moms and Dads are being responsible and spending time with your kids so you can help them make important decisions that will educate them now and have a massive impact on the rest of their lives. If you are a Gentle Reader as introduced to me by Katy St. Clair - or a Christian or a Mormon, please, look away. We'll talk again some other day.

Today is a quick homage to .... A Regular Everyday Normal Guy (Motherfucker)



You know who I think is great? The everyday, normal guy. (MF) -The Insomniac

MAGIC

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 18, 2007 01:56pm | Post a Comment
There have been very, very few times in my life that I have heard a new song on the radio--  commercial radio-- that makes me stop, pull over, and turn it up. And yes, I am forced to listen to commercial radio in my car because I dont have anything but a cassette player and an AM/FM band. I'm that ghetto. But anyway, the other evening I was driving home, and I happened upon the middle of song that blew my mind. I couldn't quite place the vocals, they were male, and the arrangement was decidedly un-KFOG, the channel it was on.

Now, I'm no musical encyclopedia, but I am good at guessing who's who on the radio, especially when its the same 12 songs that they play over, and over, and over. But this time, hmmm... No. I couldn't quite place it. The refrain was magical: "The girls in their summer clothes, in the cool of the evening sky; the girls in their summer clothes, pass me by." I'll get to the melody soon, but those lyrics really got me. I love songs that can be read two ways. For example, if you listen to Cat Stevens' "Wild World" closely, he's actually not sending off his love with, er, love. No, he is being extremely passive aggressive. "The girls in their summer clothes" could also be read two ways.


  First, he is enjoying watching pretty girls walk by. And second, he is enjoying watching pretty girls walk by who are completely ignoring him because he's a loser. I love it. I listened a bit closer. Could it be? Nah... but maybe. It sort of sounded like an overproduced... Bruce Springsteen? His single from his latest album underwhelmed me, to say the least, so it couldn't be him.

Plus he never has songs that sound like that; a Phil Spector take on Big Star, in my best estimation. No, this had to be some cool indie band that was getting all Americana. I kept listening. The song told a story about a guy who gets up, puts on his jacket and heads out the door. OK, totally Springsteen.

Chuck Prophet? We're keeping him.

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 5, 2007 11:24am | Post a Comment

With a last name like "Prophet," you have but a few paths in life you could take. First there's the obvious, the path of the evangelist.  Then there's the option of being a medium, or mind-reader, or soothsayer. Or, as in the case of Chuck Prophet, you could combine both trajectories, and become a musician.


Local hero Chuck Prophet chose the latter, and he just released his eighth solo work, Soap And Water. He played six songs from the record for an amalgamation of friends, family, and fans on a balmy Saturday afternoon in our San Francisco store.


If "American Music" can be defined as having its roots in jazz, blues and the Old West, then Chuck Prophet is definitely a uniquely  "American" artist. He could easily be a staple in any House of Blues signature band, or back his van into any roadhouse in the country and put on a jumpin' show.


Amoeba has a certain road-house quality, let's face it, and we were more than glad to let him back his van up to our doors. Prophet plays with great intensity, holding his guitar like it's a limbo stick that
he is going to duck under, or a wily snake that he is trying to straighten out. "A woman's voice'll drug you," he drones in his Lou Reed-like tone, the swampy guitar backing him up with its own plodding, trance-like quality. "You'll get lucky for the chance."


Prophet's music engenders a certain intimacy; it's the perfect kind of relationship between the artist and his audience, all of which is just the sort of show for a setting like an in-store. To wit: during his between-song banter, Prophet looked out over the whole shop and quipped about all the "competition" that was out there staring back at him in the form of other CDs for sale. Immediately a rather strange
guy in a Sublime hoodie, a black fedora, and a Soul Asylum T-shirt ran up to the front of the stage waving a record. "Hm," said Prophet, holding it up to read 'the competition.' "The Sidekicks, Butt Candy,"
he read, deadpan. Everyone erupted in laughter.

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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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