One of my favorite things about moving is going to first shows in new cities. My only experience with San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill came from watching and re-watching and re-watching Green Day's Live at the Ten Spot MTV special freshman year of high school. The club looks a bit different than I remember from that VHS tape.
The Bottom of the Hill is surrounded by sparse industrial looking buildings and is, well, at the bottom of a couple hills. I walked in right as Oakland's Make Me were starting up, a four-piece that, live, sounds significantly more aggressive than their keyboard-laden indie rock posted on their MySpace. At times their music reminded me of early parts of the Faint, although the four-piece seemed halfway between bored and intimidated on stage. I will say that their drummer was pretty great, but due to some mic problems the dual male and female vocals never came through that well.
After a nice short wait, Disastroid took the stage and for three white guys with short hair and T-shirts, they introduced themselves with a doom-sounding instrumental that would make unclean dudes with long beards and flannel shirts bounce their head up and down. The band spent the rest of the set meandering through a string of straightforward rock songs, sometimes wandering back into these heavy metal style riffs, but never being a typical pop-rock act.
At one point during their set, the guitarist announced it would be his last show and he was getting married on Saturday, at which point the band played a song about going to jail (it didn't seem this was planned, as they joked about it afterward). While it was a solid act, there was something about the vocals that never quite meshed with the music, but it was entertaining nonetheless.
I was originally introduced to Future of the Left when my old roommate played the bridge of "Manchasm" for me when I moved to Austin a few years ago (with the refrain "Colin is a pussy / a very pretty pussycat"). Since then I'd paid little attention to them until they released what I'm sure will be one of the year's best in Travels with Myself and Another. And if you like this band's material -- if you think it's good-old kick-you-in-the-balls rock and roll -- well, you haven't really heard it until you hear it live.
The band started off with the anthem "Arming Eritrea" and only got more aggressive from there. There was no fear of vocal cord damage as lyrics were screamed into the microphone as if they were battle commands in a war zone. The guys stormed through a good five songs before taking a breather, and whenever they did stop for a guitar change, only hilarity ensued.
Not the hilarity that is pre-planned, like some kitsch dick joke comedy á la blink-182, but conversations with the audience (that generally included insults) and genuine banter. And as quickly as it came, it went again into a barrage of unrelenting sound that to simply call 'aggressive' would be insulting. "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You" felt like a tear in the space time continuum with its blasting finish of "But does it fuck like a man?!" and "Adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood" is a song I never understood until now, and how absolutely crushing it is.
The only bad part about the set was how quickly it was over; each opening act played for roughly 40 minutes and it seemed like that FOTL played for maybe five or ten more. There was easily enough time for another song or two (I would have liked to hear "The Lord Hates a Coward" or "I Am Civil Service"), but the last song ended in the bassist jumping off the stage, giving his bass to someone in the crowd, and doing push-ups while feedback kept coming through the guitar amp, the drum set was taken apart on stage while still being played and the whole thing was a myriad of confusion and awesomeness.
I like first shows in new cities as a way of setting up a year or however long I last in a given place. The crowd was great and responsive to all the acts (this could be due to the 21+ restriction from the venue, though), and didn't hold the obnoxious nature of Massachusetts crowds or the "I'm too good to be here but I'm here anyway" pretension of Portland. It was just a great show, which is always a good way to be introduced to a new city. This band is highly recommended for anyone who just wants to see some straight up rock.
- Arming Eritrea
- Chin Music
- Wrigley Scott
- Small Bones Small Bodies
- Fingers Become Thumbs
- Land of My Formers
- You Need Satan More Than He Needs You
- Stand By / Your Manatee
- My Gymnastic Past