Amoebapalooza SF done Decked them Halls at Cafe du Nord!

Posted by Kells, December 8, 2011 10:42pm | Post a Comment
Right about now some of us here at Amoeba Music are probably experiencing disconcerting flash-backs of last Sunday nights' Amoebapalooza 2011 extravaganza - our annual variety show / collaborative fete wherein we Amoebites take all of our informed musical tastes and influences and toss them in in a blender with extra heaping helping of dysfunctional family sentiments and exhibitionist zeal often resulting in a veritable battle-of-the-bands whodunnit of epic proportions. For those who couldn't make it, and for those who can't remember exactly what happened, I'm here to commit all of my impressions and observations to the interwebs via personal recollection rendered threadbare by copious rum consumption. [photos by Kaitlin Layher]

First up, right on schedule, we had the elusive "powered by crystals" act Liquid Karma. Now, I know what you're probably thinking - "Liquid Karma? The all-natural plant growth stimulant?" No, silly! I'm talking about the signed-up-by-his-no-good-co-worker, one-man, guru-level experimental drone-core laptop wizard that opened Amoebapalooza 2011 - guess you had to be there, man. The only way he could've improved his performance is with the addition of a fog-machine. I really liked his senior shades.

Following Liquid Karma's wall of WTF we had the good fortune to enjoy fifteen delicious minutes of SCHNITZELKLIT - a newlywed duo performing songs like "Blue Moon" and a heart-swelling rendition of David Lynch's and Angelo Badalamenti's Fire Walk With Me slow jam "Sycamore Trees," complete with an on-hand portable tape recorder playing the sax solo to lend a true Twin Peaks air to the affair. Lovely indeed!

After that we had our very own self-styled "Jesus with a bun" Gabi Back strumming out a solid set of poignant acoustic covers what closed with an especially emotional rendition of Radiohead's "Lucky" proving that, within the span of just three brief acts, the spectrum of musical tastes and talents of our Amoeba brethren is as enthusiastic as it is expansive.

The next act in the line up took their love of George Harrison to new heights as Darkhorse: the one man/three women tribute act that featured our resident Jazz-man/Metal dude/Kate Bush enthusiast (every record store should have one) on guitar, steaming up the inside of his GH mask as he shredded his through the acoustic set accompanied by a Kaitlin, our lady of the Darkhorse tattoo on drums and vocals, with further vocal accompanyment provided by Amoeba ladies both dear and fair of voice. Everyone of them in some way sporting a likeness of Mr. Harrison. I know that sounds like kooky fun, and it totally was, but there are unfortunately no pictures the act to make true said observation. [sigh] I hope the images above, them kooky masks and Kait's Darkhorse tat, make up for it even if it's just a little bit.

What came next was a blast of
rhythmic, Hella-reminiscent sonic chaos called Shark Taint. These guys could blast the antlers off an antilope with their meditative approach to cacophonous cadence, you know, the sort of music-making that requires one to stretch out with one's feelings to accomplish. That's right, I'm referring to Jedi jams. Shark Taint are Jedi jams. Again: you had to be there.

Following Shark Taint came the always, ALWAYS, unpredictable, barely-explainable, inexcusable use of phrase and fecundity, the illusive Aqua Buddha. Clearly he missed the cosmic bus and took his act on the road for a long strange trip that I'm sure he'll never be returning from if his macaroni macrame sweater-vest and orange bermuda shorts emblazoned with pot leaf motifs are any indication. I'm pretty sure his arsenal of harmonicas and high-octane strobe light were employed as talismans to either aid or mask his true intentions: hypnosis of the entire audience. The barometer of success can prove tricky to read when it seems everyone's drinking the kool-aid.

The next act, Vanishing Breed, pretty much made my night; booze-fueled, hard n' heavy roadhouse rock, revved up and sweaty, just the way it should be. It should be noted here that the timing of the line-up had begun to run ahead of schedule allowing for Vanishing Breed to pound out another riff-heavy, proto-metal punch of American hard-rock; think Mountain meets, well, Black Mountain on account of the dual male/female vocal assult. A band that I'm definitely stoked to catch again!

Now, I find myself in a bit of a pickle when it comes to this next act, the Tree Skirts, as it is both near and dear to my heart in more ways than one: it's Christmas-y, and of course Christmas is the best, but it's also a collaboration between one of my very best friends and myself so I risk a breach of decorum when I say that while we may not be the greatest Christmas-twisted-karaoke act out there on this great green earth, we definitely don't suck. I mean, you don't have to be a genius to re-write stupid seasonal lyrics over Lady GaGa's already vapid verses in order to transform her mega-hit "Judas" into our holiday mix. The Mary Jane Girls aren't safe either; depending how you look at it "All Night Long" is basically about offering oneself to meet Santa up on the rooftop in place of milk and cookies. Our sexy holiday take on that jam basically wrote itself and that is precisely what makes us so good, er, not suck - we find a good thing and make it better i.e. so Christmas-y it leaves a stain baby!

And now, a welcome return back to our regular programming with a look back at the Soda Jerks, a hip trio lead by rock-floor dude Matthew possessing of a jangly sensibility compounded by nerdy good looks, quirky pop-rocking hooks and tricky time signatures. Another band worth checking out if you see their name in the billings! It was around this time that I remember marveling yet again at the scope of artful genius that keeps the big wheel turning back at our music mill while, at the same time, beginning to feel a little like the bar was beginning to eat me.

Just like it was meant to be, the Soda Jerks were followed by a band of similar tastes but differing flavors lead by "DVD-room" floor man Aaron under the name Windham Flat. Similarly peopled by dashing young men, Windham Flat's sound is melodic indie-rock fresh outta the garage. Yet another band I'm excited to hear play again, especially as the tight schedule allowed for only a sampling of their tunes.

Now, the last band was billed as
James Taylor Marked For Death, but they'd been rechristened The Foggs by the time they hit the stage last Sunday night - a name that rang more true to their rousing, raw tribute to the Troggs. I know they played more than a few songs but the party hit powerhouse status during their set and despite their readiness with an encore it seemed that the party was over all to early by the time the Foggs had dispersed. Then again, their dissipation only signaled that inevitable setting-in of another kind of fogginess; lets just say that it wasn't me that tried to climb into an adjacent Christmas tree lot to lay down with the evergreens because their seasonal scent was blissfully inebriating, no. I didn't rip my dress on that chain-link fence either. Nevertheless, Happy Holidays from Amoeba Music and cheers to another lively, successful Amoebapalooza everyone!

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Cafe Du Nord (6), San Francisco (368), Music (15), Amoeba (49), 2011 (4), Amoebapalooza (32)