Wrapping up their third lengthy tour of 2012, Radio Moscow rolled into San Francisco’s Cafe Du Nord on Sunday night, amped after a very successful run of shows across the States and southern Canada fronted by Memphis proto-punk power trio The Dirty Streets. As they did when they played Slim’s with Graveyard back in January, the band had legendary liquid lights guru Lance Gordon (of Mad Alchemy) in tow, providing an extra shot of psychedelia reminiscent of the 1960s acid rock glory days.
Hometown trio the Coo Coo Birds started off the evening with an energetic, albeit hectic and somewhat sloppy set that belied their 2012 debut Don’t Bring Your Boyfriends. Punctuating their set with the previously unreleased track “Psychedelic Warrior”, the band sent their bevy of local fans and friends into a frenzy, dancing like they were all possessed by the ghosts of Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace at Jack Rabbit Slim’s.
Next up was The Dirty Streets, with their fine-tuned, thunderous mixture of blues and punk calling to mind the likes of Grand Funk Railroad, The MC5, and at times, Cream. Playing a set filled with tracks off their 2011 LP Movements including album opener and first single “Cloud of Strange”, the trio warmed up the room for Radio Moscow in fine fashion. Near the end of their set, singer and guitarist Justin Toland thanked Radio Moscow for bringing them along on tour, calling the headliners “brothers” and clearly affected by his time on the road with Parker Griggs and his bandmates Billy Ellsworth and Lonnie Blanton.
By the time Radio Moscow took the stage around 11pm, the room was primed for the band’s searing brand of psychedelic blues metal. After kicking off with the Black Sabbath-influenced “Broke Down”, the trio mixed tracks off their three albums, including standouts “Don’t Need Nobody” (featuring a wicked solo from Griggs), “Lucky Dutch” (always a crowd favorite), “Hold On Me”, the foot-stompin’ blues number “Deep Blue Sea”, and The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz-opener “Little Eyes”.
The highlight of the set came when Ellsworth put down his bass and brought out his conga drum, slamming it with two maracas while Griggs laid down an anthemic riff on the tripped-out, tribal instrumental track “Densaflorativa”. The band dove head-on into this cathartic track, an all-consuming song that got the crowd doing its best hippie twirls.
After two more songs, the band called it a night, but before they could even lay down their instruments, the crowd began pleading for one more song. Griggs and company happily obliged, ripping through “Mistreating Queen”, a track off their eponymous 2008 debut. When the song finally concluded, audience members climbed onstage to give thanks, hugging it out with a seemingly exhausted, but still exuberant Radio Moscow.
Next up for bandleader Griggs is a trip back to his rural NorCal hideout to collect his personal belongings (his landlord was foreclosed upon while the band was on tour) and then some time in Spain to write new material and spend time with a lady he met while on the road in Europe earlier this year. He plans to return to California—either San Francisco or San Diego—after he gets his fill of Spain. Here’s hoping he makes his home in the Bay Area so that we get our maximum dose of Radio Moscow for years to come.
Check out more pictures and Radio Moscow’s full setlist below.
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Setlist: Radio Moscow at Cafe Du Nord (August 5, 2012)
I Don’t Need Nobody
Hold On Me
Deep Blue Sea
Encore: Mistreating Queen