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Monday, October 19, 2009

Monsters and Treasures for my eardrum pleasures

Bob and me
Monsters of Folk
Most times, music, especially in the live format, blows me away. I have had a historical week of concerts starting back last Monday at the U2 show in Texas. Having witnessed such an event in such a huge stadium, it was nice to have the neighborhood feel to this past weekend's shows. I had a posse that I had gathered together on Saturday around cocktail hour. I provided the bottle of Maker's and a dozen Anthony's Cookies to get our party started. You know the Toffee Chip, the peanut butter and the semi sweet always pair well with bourbon. I know Dave, who hosted the cocktail hour was psyched about the leftovers, for sure. My girl Lori drove Dave, my buddy Matt and I over to the Fox Theater in Oakland to see Monsters of Folk. This outfit features "my man" M. Ward, Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberest from Bright Eyes and most recently, his Mystic Valley outfit, and musician/producer Mike Mogis. We thought we had some time to kill and assumed there was an opening act and after being denied at the very "art deco" Flora, across the street from the Fox, we stumbled over to Luka's. Which, by the way, is never a bad choice. Good comfort food like excellent hamburgers and fries with 3 kinds of dippings. The Mussels are done several ways as well. But it has a party-like, fun atmosphere and it's open late and can be really good in a pinch. Anyway, on to the show. We were only about a half hour tardy and it seemed like they were just getting things going. On the band's website they call the tour a musical event that features songs from their record but also from their individual catalogues. They did an amazing "Golden" by MMJ. I was so digging "Man Named Truth". I think it might be my favorite track off the record. But I was psyched for how much of M. Ward's catalogue they did. "Sad, Sad Song," "Outta My Head" and "To Save Me" are just some of many selected tracks of which I consider to be some of my favorite all-time songs. It was the evening in general, the way the concert flowed and the amazement of talent on stage. These gentlemen are some of the hardest working music makers out there today. They seem to stand direct in the spotlight, bathing in the beauty of the sweet music they all have created.

I had captured so much on Sunday afternoon when the Bauers Bus dropped us off in Treasure Island. I came right in time for one of my favorite local bands. Vetiver's set had me dancing around, shooting pictures and bumping into all sorts of familiar faces to play with. The sound of their latest record (Tight Knit) totally is the sound track for my 70's look that I have been sporting for the last year and a half. But when they played "El Rio," about "the Best Dive Bar in America," (Playboy Magazine 1998) I was supercharged. El Rio is around the corner from my crib at Precita on Mission Street. I have been going to this bar since before I moved here in '96. I didn't even know it at the time, but, I got to meet the lead singer of the band, whose name is also Andy, in the VIP section right before Flaming Lips finished up the night. Duh! He was really sweet and mellow, just like the sweet and mellow music he brilliantly delivers both in the studio and on stage.

I thought that it couldn't get any better than this first set I was catching upon arrival, but then we ventured to the main stage for Grizzly Bear. They are seriously the Beatles or CSN right now. This latest record, entitled Veckatimest, is in on heavy heavy rotation on all my gadgets around the house or mobile. Opening number "Cheerleader" got us hypnotized and we were all the under the spell for the next 9 numbers.

And it just kept getting better, if you can believe it. Walking back to the 2nd stage to see my good friend Bob Mould reunited with his former band mate David Barbe from Sugar. Hearing songs from Copper Blue reminded me of my senior year in high school. The simplicity of the 3-piece band and the roaring energy of the sound was quite compelling. Especially the set closer, "New Day Rising," a classic Husker Du track, warmed the crowd up on this windy afternoon. Bob who just celebrated a birthday earlier that weekend, officially announced on stage that he was now a San Francisco resident. And I am so excited to have him on this coastline.

I ended up staying through the rest of the line-up and was quite impressed with Beirut and The Decemberists sets. A little disappointed by Yo La Tengo but blazed by the Flaming Lips closing set.

Sadly, I left my camera on the bus ride home. I had shot some great pics and videos of the day. All lost forever. I am truly bumming. I am very glad I got to experience it all though. Those memories will stick with me forever.

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