The Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is one of the oldest and most beloved buildings in the city. Since its completion in 1878, it has housed some of the rarest and exotic plants in the world, captivating visitors with its elegant wood and glass architecture. Being a city, state, and national historic landmark, it is no wonder the Conservatory remains one of the most photographed attractions in San Francisco.
Although known mainly for its exceptional botanic collection, the Conservatory of Flowers will extend its regular day hours to offer a night of music on Friday, December 4, with all proceeds benefitting the garden itself. This will be the first time live music will be performed in this historical land-mark, and it is such a great idea that it would leave many of us to wonder why it hasn’t been done in the past.
“The idea had bounced around for a while but I didn't see how it could be done, not until schlepping a bunch of plants around building exhibits and then a booth for Outsidelands, and feeling that we could make our empty events tent/pavilion a suitable destination to see music” said Tim Tyson, event coordinator at the Conservatory of Flowers.
The bands lucky enough to perform at this venue for the first time are renowned local acts Extra Classic and Heron Oblivion. Both sounds of the two groups will provide a catalyst that is sure to make the exhibit come to life through the late hours of the night.
As for exactly where and how the bands will perform on stage, Tim has also stated that it would just take a little ingenuity and finesse to transform the exhibit into more of a music venue, while still retaining what the Conservatory is known for, “I would expect some kind of planted-up stage and to see our tropical atmosphere extended to the concert space.”
Extra Classic is a groovy Jamaican dub, psych-rock experience formed in 2011 by Alex and Adrianne deLanda. The band’s line-up consists of Adrianne deLanda (vocals, keys, percussion), Alex deLanda (bass), Josh Miller (guitar), Aaron Deer (keyboards), and Michael Jirkovsky (drums).
The five-piece released their debut album back in October of 2011 under Manimal Vinyl Your Light Like White Lightning, Your Light Like a Laser Beam. They followed this up with their second LP last year, Showcase which was six tracks each followed immediately by a dub version of that specific track, making a total of 12 songs. Extra Classic has since stated that they are currently in their studio Nopal Records working on a third album.
When asked about their unique genre and ideas of combining Jamaican dub and psych-rock, the band gave a response in which they viewed it simply as one entity.
“We don't make a distinction between psychedelic music and dub. Jamaican Dub is psychedelic music. Where the rhythmic emphasis is placed, either on the 1 & 3 beats or the 2 & 4 beats is just a matter of how we want one of our songs to groove. For example, our song, "Give Me Your Love" has the emphasis on the 1 & 3 beats, whereas "A Little Rain" places the emphasis on the 2 & 4 beats. The distinction usually puts the song in the genre of either "rock" or "reggae" but we only build the rhythm to highlight what the specific song calls for.”
Extra Classic’s influences come from San Francisco’s own KPOO 89.5, which is a music and community commentary station. “KPOO is a beacon of strength and a broadcast of beauty in a city that desperately needs those things right now," Alex and Adrianne told me, citing Grinder’s Grooveyard (50’s & 60’s oldies) and Wake the Town (Jamaican oldies) as their two favorite and most influential radio shows.
Heron Oblivion, a newly formed supergroup based in San Francisco that consists of Meg Baird (Espers), Charles Saufley, Noel Van Harmonson (Comets on Fire), and Ethan Miller (Howlin Rain). The band describes their unique sound as, “a blend of funeral folk, fuzz burn, pastoral pop, field rock, and Albion dirge.” Many of us listeners do not truly know what these genres sound like until we actually witness a Heron Oblivion show.
Formed in 2014, the super group has just signed to Seattle label Sub Pop Records and is planning their debut LP to be released in 2016. The group has recently been touring with Kurt Vile and the Violators, gaining them a well-deserved following.
Working on their own individual projects, it’s easy to see that collaborating on a separate project with a completely different sound poses many challenges. However, Saufley speaks for the entire band when he says that it comes with no difficulties and is actually quite enjoyable.
“If there are any difficulties, they’re infrequent and arise from the breadth of our interests—which is of course one of the fundamental strengths of the band. The band has pretty wide musical vocabulary and set of reference points. And at times—at practice, in conversation, even in performance—I’ve started laughing to myself imagining what is sparking each individual’s enthusiasm and approach in a given moment. On a single evening we could all be in four very different musical mindsets—one person relating to Eddie Gale while another is on a Royal Trux trip and the other two have been digging the Silver Apples and Rotary Connection”
Each member of Heron Oblivion brings an entirely different sound to the Bay Area in which they all share with their bandmates. However, they have also stated that their sound is heavily influenced from a wide variety of music such as 60’s-70’s UK electric bands like Fairport Convention and Swedish psych groups such as Harvester.
Both bands are extremely excited to have the opportunity to perform for the first time at a venue that is truly unique to the people, as well as the city of San Francisco.
“We're very excited," said Extra Classics. "The Conservatory of Flowers is a beautiful building. And who doesn't love exotic flowers and music? It's great to have people doing cool things like this here in SF - this city needs this kind of stuff right now."
Heron Oblivion also share a similar feeling about the opportunity.
“We’re so excited for this, and we really hope we don't break anything! The Conservatory is such an amazing, iconic place and we're doubly excited that this show is a fundraiser for them. It's easy to imagine that they are super solidly funded due to their historic significance, and being part of Golden Gate Park, but I think that they are operating pretty low to the ground and very much labor-of-love style—they really need your support to keep being so awesome!”
Tickets are still available for purchase. The Conservatory has yet to host any real music show so viewers will have the rarest of opportunities to experience some top-notch local acts as well as being able to grab a drink, and explore the greenhouses after hours. With such a plethora of live acts coming in and out of the city, it should be refreshing to experience great local acts performing at a new venue that many of us have never experienced before.
Heron Oblivion, Extra Classic
Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park
December 4, 6:30 p.m.
All Ages $22