The Bay Abridged Heading

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.

OVVN, Toner, OCD, Software at Sgraffito (Oak) Jan. 8
Caught an awesome bill of all local bands last friday at a rad new gallery space in Oakland. OCD play a poppy, modern mix of punk and indie and are all new to Oakland. I thought their set was a refreshing dose of new sounds to Oakland's growing music scene. Toner were excellent as usual with their sparkly brand of downer pop, and Santa Rosa/Oakland hybrid band OVVN impressed with their unique brand of noisy, dense jams. Really feeling the music scene in the East Bay right now. —Nik Soelter

Eskimeaux at Bottom of the Hill (SF) Dec. 19

Even without her band by her side, Gabrielle Smith delivered a triumphant set of tunes from Eskimeaux’s buoyantly brilliant O.K., a record for which I have on numerous occasions professed my love for on this site. As has now become expected from her concerts, I felt detached from my body — as if I was removed from my warm, damp, and cramped surroundings and instead existed solely as vibrations in the intervals between her melodies. That may sound like tawdry hyperbole, and perhaps you would have thought nothing more of the show than a talented twenty-something with pleasant songs, but those forty-five minutes meant everything to those who have found a grasp on previously intangible emotions through Smith’s words. —Pranav Trewn

Andrew Levin, Cure For Gravity, The Human Assembly at Awaken Cafe (Oak) Dec. 18

There’s something special about Awaken Cafe. It’s located in the heart of downtown Oakland, nestled in between a weird crevice where Broadway and Telegraph meet, and it’s a fun room for unlikely events. In that spirit, seeing Andrew Levin bring a great mix of rock n’ roll, soul and blues (which featured an electric guitar-centric cover of Disclosure’s “Latch”), Cure For Gravity bring a memorable live-show featuring one of the best drummers I’ve seen in years, and The Human Assembly’s (aka The HA) energetic frontman Brooks was a great compliment to a rainy, Oakland night. —Victor Valle

Mike Blankenship at Yoshi’s (Oak) Jan. 7
Okay, it’s no secret at this point. Mike Blankenship had one of my favorite releases in 2015 and I had been looking forward to this show since he announced it in November. But the extra special thing about this show, other than the fact that it was a sit-down night where everyone got a chance to listen to Blankenship play all of his release live, was seeing the featured artists that showed up. The like of D Sharp and Kev Choice, all who are widely known in the Bay Area hip hop scene, came out to support and perform on tracks they were featured on. Being in that room was like being in a meeting of Bay Area hip hop and rap royalty. —Victor Valle

X, Mike Watt at The Independent (SF) Dec. 16

The excitement for X's first show of their sold-out two night run at the Independent teemed in spurts as the crowd readied for two legendary California punk acts. First, Mike Watt, of the acclaimed Minutemen, took the stage with a new lineup of players. Through their set of throwback numbers and a few newer songs, Watt's emphatic bass-playing and friendly small-talk elevated the eager crowd to total excitement. During the lull between bands, my friend and I were approached by two women who were trying to find the youngest people in the room, which apparently I won! The encounter led to a conversation about how I found out about X, and the bonds of intergenerational fandom were delightfully strengthened. X finally graced the stage in all their glory and in sound and demeanor alone showed little signs of aging. It was fantastic to see singer Exene Cervenka, who was diagnosed with MS, and guitarist Billy Zoom, who had cancer, remain fully confident and powerful throughout the show, which pleased the fans with crowd-favorite like "Los Angeles" while peppering in moodier ballads. X is a band that unites generation after generation and generation to generation, and I hope they live forever. Their performance this night demonstrated that they probably could. —Hailey Simpson

Alvarius B., Neung Phak & Porest at The Salt Lick (Oak) Dec. 18

Holy shit! Fans of Sublime Frequencies and Sun City Girls got their x-mas presents early. Alvarius B (Alan Bishop) played in a cage, looking like Dr. Strangelove, swearing at the crowd and singing a beautifully twisted version of "Queen Jane Approximately". Porest came off like a jihadist version of Ween with trippy pipe organ and songs rhyming bulimia with emphysema. Neung Phak delivered their edgy take on SE Asian psychedelia making Dengue Fever seem like a band at The Holiday Inn bar. —MBL

Patti Smith at The Fillmore (SF) Dec. 30

It sure felt like New Years Eve as we celebrated Patti's 69th birthday. She delivered a stunning performance that included her seminal record Horses in its entirety in honor of it's 40th anniversary. Michael Stipe showed up as the surprise opening act, supported by Patti's daughter on keyboard. They played a bizarre set of covers including "People are Strange", "Old Man" and "All the Young Dudes". Exciting to think it's only 3 more years until Patti's ultimate, Easter, turns 40! —MBL

Hook, Line & Sinker at The Octopus Literary Salon (Oak) Jan. 6
This super cool songwriter/storyteller series made its triumphant return (after its untimely death at the sadly defunct Disco Volante). Iron Henry stood out as an audience favorite but all the acts were exceptional. Meghan Adkins played guitar as her blushing mom read Meghan's sordid travel memoir. Nicole Thomas spoke on her childhood discovery of punk that changed her life forever. Mark your calendar for the 2nd installment on March 9th! —MBL

Tags: , , , , ,