First off, RIP 12Gs, if I may. In all fairness, I do love me a radio symphony, but cooler, bro, than the unfortunate Outside Lands heave-ho, was the Parkerpalooza show at 12 Galaxies. Believe it. Outstanding indoor performances by Spiral Stairs (Scott Kannberg); Si, Claro; The Muslims (from San Diego, beached-out, retro rock & gruel, pretty cool stuff but no muezzin!?); Hank IV; The Blank Stares. Who’d I miss? Anyway, it was a lot of good and sweaty rockmeat on Saturday night–highlights were the Drums (ezee Tiger and John Dwyer) and, no surprise, Sir Kelley Stoltz. The evening was sponsored by Gibbsmo, see

The City knows Kelley’s music well enough, but to him and his I’d call myself a relative newcomer, nervous transplant that I am. First-name basis might be a bit of a stretch, but let’s go with it, shall we? His imagination is ever rich: the first time I saw him I think it was the 12Gs, actually, and then the Rickshaw after that, where he went off on some crazyhorsed tear of a guitar solo and freaked out the keyboardist, whom he later cajoled with a tambourine (or maraca, i forget which), helping the poor guy relocate a groove that’d been lost to terror’s transference of sheer awe; Saturday the 23rd saw Kelley introduce a song for a full two minutes, mostly at a mumble. Barely decipherable, entirely captivating, this introduction. I’ll do the best I can. In medias res, it was headed about this direction:

. . . on a ride along the shady side of Mt. Shasta, the shady side, we’d been eating lots of brown rice and drinking lots of green tea and we wrote this song together, you and me, which was 41 years ago and now you’re thinking, “That’s impossible, 41 years ago” because we’re not that old but then you remember that I don’t believe in time at all, that time isn’t even really. . . .

Or something to that effect. I’ve butchered it, certainly, but there’s at least the gist– his are strange, prosodic, and underread words. He played an old Link Wray cover, and this is why I’ve come to appreciate Kelley as a performer: whether sitting in at the keyboard with his friends, or flying off into the infinitesimal reaches of a two-tone guitar solo to beat the Bends, he shares with his audience a vision as faithfully encyclopedic as it is autumnally psychedelic. I’m sure I’m not the first to laud his efforts in this way, but anyway, he’s the genuine article. I think he drives a minivan, I’ve definitely seen him in a scarf. But isn’t it comforting to know that a guy who wears scarves maybe drives a minivan can pull off a successful European summer tour?

Yup, so jump from the SF standby to the new garde, Thee Ohsees‘ own John Dwyer, guitarist/vocalist who drums like a fiend, apparently?

Dwyer and ezee Tiger (someone must know ezee Tiger’s real name) blew my mind. The Drums, they’re calling themselves, or is it Big Drums? I think it’s just The Drums. At any rate, they sat face to face, close enough to touch sticks, each with his own very basic kit–bass, snare, a couple toms, maybe two cymbals per, and a big crash or something in the middle for sharing–and they proceeded to slay shit, the two playing the same lines in duplicate as Dwyer layered once cartoonish, then searching, ghost-laced antimelodies over bombast redoubled, sounding a dialectic, reverberating boom.

It wasn’t the tightest set I’ve ever seen (and in fact I missed the first one they played, but caught the second one of the evening

[popular demand], which they threw together at the last minute in the fuggy upstairs hall back by the fusbol table and the busted Popeye arcade machine), but it was indeed the most moving 20 minutes of live music I’ve encountered here or anywhere else, no exaggeration, no bullshit. At one point Dwyer bit the mic off its stand and was gripping it between his teeth, while playing drums and singing into it, or better, while butterflying a kickdrum at about 140 beats per minute and reprising some lost Bachan [sic] fuge.

I ran into John outside the Ohsees’ rehearsal space in SOMA some days later and he told me he was still recovering from that night, was still tasting that metallic aftertaste.

Smacks of mettle, for sure, of the sort produced when the tinnitus of the real and the rattle of the actual coalesce inside one’s musical orifice, of the sort that defies time as readily as it honors rhythm (with blatant disregard for notions of market viability). It tastes like the smell of the inside of Kelley Stoltz’s minivan, that is, if he actually has one. Neither would I really suggest scarf-sniffing as a pastime; it’s a figurative suggestion, getting to know what someone’s about by outing what’s about somebody.

But such cyclic, local, trifling business (as should interest you more than the Feshtival Shmestival) will never see 12Gs again, we’re afraid. It’s still plenty of bungling engineers corps, boobs, and bogus becks-and-call-me-worst-of-alls about; trust that this here libertine would have freely skipped the Saturday swansong at the Galaxies, had I scored press passes to the otherwise taxing, vulgar [read “too popular”] affair at Golden Gate Park.