In this recurring feature known as The Bay Abridged, our staff writers will provide short, witty recaps on shows they attended around the Bay Area. A scene check, a heat check, and sometimes more — stop by every Wednesday for the most comprehensive and concise recap of last week's Bay Area concert scene.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.32.44 AMPhoto by @psbergman

Lil Dowager, Leucrota, Sloths, I Wanna Die, undo at One Fam (Oak) Sept. 23
Had a chance to catch one of my favorite Oakland bands, Lil Dowager along with Santa Cruz's Leucrota after Wednesday night band practice. I got there in time for Leucrotas's perfectly executed, exorcismic set of evil, crusty hardcore - their thin, gangly drummer holding blast beats for inhuman amounts of time while their frontman's shoulders arched back in pained contortion. Lil Dowager closed out the night with their brand of Three One G indebted speed rock. All three members twisting and straining to execute complex arrangements. Lil Dowager are absolutely one of the East Bay's best, and their infectious sound is converting more to the cult. —Nikolas Soelter

Neon Indian at Social Hall (SF) Sept. 23
It's a little disconcerting when you realize that Neon Indian have been making music for seven years — since the dawn of chillwave, really — and yet they still look like a very young band. Unfortunately, all those years of practice don't seem to have added much to Neon Indian's repertoire. The live songs all sounded like warped carbon-copies of the previous track. The bass heavy sound system wasn't doing the band any favors either, and the set went down with a resounding shrug from at least half the audience. —Zack Frederick

The Lighthouse & The Whaler, Born Cages at Rickshaw Stop (SF) Sept. 23
It was hard to tell who had the bigger draw between NYC’s Born Cages and Cleveland’s The Lighthouse & the Whaler. Both have just released their first and third records overloaded with dancey indie rock. Born Cages opener could have been a B-Side off Arctic Monkey’s AM. Their set as a whole, however, become more reminiscent to Sam’s Town era The Killers, complete with a front man made for spotlights and shimmering synths. Members of TL&TW appeared to be able to play every instrument in their arsenal whether switching from keys to guitar and vocals or violin to bass. A highlight came in the surprise of a Whitney Houston cover. Who knew “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” would translate so well through such a scruffy reserved rocker. —Mike Chouinard

Inaniel Swims at The Octopus Literary Salon (Oak) Sept. 24
A couple weeks ago, we told you about the French 4-piece who made a somewhat improbable journey to The Bay to tour and record an EP. I was unfortunately out of town for their debut show in the US, but luckily the fine folks at The Octopus Literary Salon invited them back for a second engagement. Inaniel is uttery charming, singing all his songs in English with an incredibly thick French accent, while his rhythm section is subtly inventive and backs him perfectly. The cozy Octopus made Inaniels whispers seem whispery-er and his shouts seen shouty-er, and the extended psych-lounge jams left the crowd genuinely wanting more after the hour set. Inaniel Swims spent the next two days after the show recording an EP with Greg Ashley before returning to France. Hopefully they'll be back soon. —Russell Jelinek

Kermit Ruffins at The New Parish (Oak) Sept. 24
The New Orleans legend returned with a string of shows across the Bay (Mill Valley, Oakland, SF). Kermit has matured into the Louis Armstrong of our times. His voice and trumpet sounds reflect the years of non-stop touring with a mastery that makes it all look so easy. The bass player shares this magic, barely moving a muscle and never missing a hook. And the piano! The piano playing was amongst the finest I have ever heard. For several songs Kermit was joined by the sultry singing of Nayo Jones (including a gorgeous version of "At Last"). Local heroes, MJ's Brass Boppers joined in for an inspiring grand finale. —MBL

Future Islands at Fox Theater (Oak) Sept. 25
With expectations at peak levels for manic, frenzied performances from their now-famous frontman, it can be easy to overlook a workmanlike live performance from Future Islands. The synth-rock trio, led by vocalist Samuel Herring, ran through most of the material on their latest album, Singles, as well as hitting on classic tracks like "Tin Man" and "Balance" from previous LPs. As expected, the crowd went bananas for "Seasons (Waiting on You)," the band's most well-known track, but Herring—animated as ever—perhaps sought to subvert expectations a little by closing the 20-song set with "Little Dreamer," a ruminative, quiet number of the band's 2008 album Wave Like Home. It may have been a solid, if not spectacular showing from the band, but it was still a performance that few of their peers can match. —Will Reisman

Future Islands at Fox Theater (Oak) Sept. 25
My view during the opening number from Future Islands was completely hidden by a giant that could have been politely kneeling and seeing just fine. I could only watch William Cashion’s stoic plucking on bass and feared I would have to sum up the show with a simple “They sounded great”. Then, the giant wavered, and the evangelical Sam Herring came into view complete with his signature dance routine that could have only been choreographed by a combination of Bon Scott and Jack Black. The sweat from one set of Herring’s dancing should at least put a respectable dent in our drought. The hype surrounding the band’s live show is well deserved. —Mike Chouinard

The Dear Hunter at Slim's (SF) Sept. 26
Six musicians, five beards, and four-part harmonies comprise the basic math of The Dear Hunter’s latest appearance in San Francisco. Playing heavily off their three week old Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise which, if all goes according to plan, will be the 4th of a planned six part series of albums. New or old, the opening notes of every song tossed out by the prog-rockers was met by a concentrated "this is my favorite song" yell. Following the encore, all I could imagine is seeing their next performance on a larger stage but glad I was able to witness them confined to Slim’s. —Mike Chouinard

Bonnie "Prince" Billy at Fernwood (Big Sur) Sept. 25-26
There may be nothing finer than a weekend of camping in Big Sur with Bonnie "Prince" Billy. As usual the Prince has a completely new band and a completely new sound. Billy was joined by Oakland's Dawn McCarthy (Faun Fables) on several numbers including a stunner from 2013's Everly Brothers tribute "What the Brothers Sang". The Friday and Saturday shows were distinct even though a few songs were repeated. His masterwerk, "I See a Darkness" sounded very different each night. Under the almost full n' bloody moon, both renditions were spectacular. There were several other bands and some serious DJ moments, but it was San Diego's Mattson 2 that harnessed the full energy of the festival and closed the weekend with a wild and powerful late night set. —MBL

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Fountainsun at Gundlach Bundschu Winery (Sonoma) Sept. 27
I never thought I'd be able to say I saw a show at a secluded barn deep in the heart of wine country on the night of a supermoon eclipse, but stranger things have happened! Bay Area concert curators/presenters Folk Yeah! have always had a knack for finding otherwise remote locations for shows and they hit a gold mine with this intimate barn in Sonoma. It was the perfect venue to host the eccentric folkster Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, who embraced a more upbeat and rootsy side of his ever-evolving folk persona to put on a foot-stomping good time to the throng of wine-drunk patrons. His set even included a bluegrass version of his moody hit "I See A Darkness." It made the sadster in me shed tears of happy. —Hailey Simpson

Pujol at Pygmalion Music Festival - Mike 'n Molly's (Champaign, Illinois) Sept. 27
For the last week I've been at the Pygmalion Festival in Champaign, Illinois, discovering the nuances of the Midwest music scene. Mostly, I've come to realize that everything in that town is within pointing distance, people (my boss included) bring their babies to bars, and bands are allowed to be ear drum shatteringly loud while playing outside downtown at midnight. Pujol, a Nashville 4-piece signed to Saddle Creek filled with smirky charm, did just that, urging the crowd to step towards the stage in Mike 'n Molly's outside patio and then blasting us backwards with hook-laden force in the form of Southern punk-pop. Maybe it was the two hour snooze-fest set from Ride that I had just endured but the Pujol dudes definitely keep you intrigued. —Valerie Veteto

Z-Trip at Bay Area Vibez (Oak) Sept. 27
Bay Area Vibez is first year festival that took place at West Oakland’s Middle Harbor Park with views only second to Treasure Island. Made up heavily of reggae, hip hop, and EDM acts, the lineup included a high percentage of hometown performers from Oakland’s Forrest Day and The Grouch to Santa Cruz-made Bassnectar. A standout from Day Two was Z-Trip, who could not have catered his set better to this West Coast crowd. He spun everything from E-40 to N.W.A. while reminding us what it's like to hear a pro scratch records. —Mike Chouinard

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