The Bay Bridged writers caught a couple of SF Popfest shows last weekend. Check out their reviews below!

Popfest Opening Night at the Rickshaw, by Chris DeMento

Opening night was Popilliscious to say the least. Opener Pelle Carlberg did up a nice cerebral set with some real journeyman professionalism and well-crafted twee. But it was bassist/pedal drummer/harmonicist/backup vocalist/amateur stuntman Henrik who was crushing shit. Electronic kickdrum with the right foot, high hat with the left, bass in hands and blowing harp and singing like, yo, buddy, take ‘er easy out there, guy. Good round sound. Engaging, well-written material and fine musicianship. The song about the critic who panned his album? Spot on. What’s Swedish for spot on?

Second factotum of the night to occupy the right side of the stage was either Greg or his mate Daniel of Oh No! Oh My! (Austin); I was sitting too far away and couldn’t tell which “mulit-instrumentalist” it was playing out on two synths, a guitar, vocals, what else, oh yes, could he ever cut a rug in an obnoxious, not-quite-self-deprecating-enough sort of way but the one where you take cross your arms back and forth across your knees as you knock your knees together, then pull apart, then together, is a nice one, brother.

Not terribly impressed by the whole “let’s swap our bass about the stage” routine in the end, though. I’ve undergone a recent change of heart; for that matter, let’s go ahead and say I’m of a completely different mind about the gratuitous bassswap between band members since the last time I was at Rickshaw, even. It fuxes with continuity like a misconjugate verb.

Third, Still Flyin’, yes a bunch of “ham jams” and you know they have a guy all he does is dance on the stage? There were 12 of them up there.

Suburban Kids With Biblical Names closed the affair. They were introduced by Still Flyin’s frontman and apparent shaman Sean “I was beatboxin wit Lou” Rawls as: “Abraham and Ezekiel from San Mateo.” I don’t know what that means. Inside jokes.

I dig on the tightness of their rhythm section. Always neatly harmonized guitar grooves with minimalist approach to note selection, but the sum of their polyphonic explorations is worth sticking around for, so I did stick around. A Suburban Kids quote from Thursday night is still sticking with me, a sentiment that teases the importance of this fine holiday albeit in a somewhat vague and indirect way, as we move to finish neatly, as a suburban kid:

“Any old chance I get I’m gonna buy you stuff . . . marry me.”

Magic Bullets at the Rickshaw, by Michael Pistorio

This past weekend was for the happy go lucky crowd. Carnaval brought out bikinis, Memorial Day saved us from Monday, and the fifth installment of Popfest brought 30 bands to the city for a four-day dance party.

Saturday night at the Rickshaw Stop was no exception. A five-band lineup brought acts from both coasts and the faraway land of Denmark to the dance friendly club on Fell St.

Magic Bullets, the second act of the night, is a local six-piece led by vocalist Philip Benson, a capable crooner whose range found good company on either end of his two guitarist’s fretboards.

The Bullets can be compared to post-punk groups coming out of England in the 80’s, The Smiths et al. The song, “The Book is Closed,” is a good example, an up-tempo song driven by Marr-esque arpeggios and Benson’s reflective lyrics.

“You’ll go home painfully alone/You’re asking yourself what went wrong/But there’s nothing now that can be done/The Book is closed/ That’s just how some stories go/They’re open before you even know.”

Benson, who was performing while on crutches, was unfortunately contained on stage, though the five other players maintained the crowd’s energy.

The band played a short 25 minute set, but had consistent energy throughout, and ended with a debut performance of an untitled song from an upcoming album.