True to the nature of a show sponsored by the Columbus of uncharted music exploration, Gorilla vs. Bear’s Noise Pop show took bands steaming with potential and gave them pure opportunity to shine. Du Nord’s buzzing crowd last night was certainly lucky to see these bands in their SF festival debuts, and be able to say we all watched them grow. This applies to both local bands The Sandwitches and Young Prisms, whose introverted stage presence was very endearing.
Though to a thinner crowd than the venue’s sold out capacity predicted, Young Prisms put on a smooth delivery to their dedicated fans and friends, who never see it stylish to be fashionably late. Just reaching a year now of playing together, the band’s growing confidence with new material helped establish the front row’s ebullience. The songs since their Mexican Summer EP are less distraught with reverb, and rather more a dreamstate, some of which hopefully will be available for a second listen on Daytrotter soon (they recorded their session earlier that afternoon).
An adjective I heard in passing could no better describe the overall quality of The Sandwitches: sultry. Their performance was sensual but lacking something, perhaps a little estrogen — where’d this (gasp) male drummer come from? Maybe the reason that their hoppity numbers were skipped over in this set, such as “Relax at the Beach” and “Marry Me,” but overall the tempo seemed a half step too slow for this crowd.
Most of my personal anticipation was set toward seeing Best Coast. This is the thing about the blogosphere these days: you hear about a band so much that they become less real to you, and more a virtual phenomenon. I was near expecting a hologram of a 20-something cat lady, with the state of California tattooed on her arm and a pair of Ray Bans. But for having such a sour day — the van broke down and had to be towed somewhere along the way up here — Bethany sure showed a lotta ‘umph.
All that Bethany has said in interviews about feeling Phil Spector in the recording of Best Coast’s new album rang true, the songs aside from the hits “When I’m With You” and “The Sun Was High” were gritty, simple, but admirable. The band itself felt like an odd bunch — a stringy-haired guitar player shredding on surf licks, who you’d imagine would be more into Bodom?
And at last headlining, Austin’s prime-time leader of fun right now, Harlem. For all the testimonials of “making a venue feel like a living room” and putting on a wild and wacky live performance, the end result for San Francisco may be attributed to Harlem being pulled out of their element. Do we not have what it takes, to get this party started? The three-piece did play some of the best jams from their self-titled release, and the mid-album kicker “Beautiful and Smart” was a high point. But for a band who boasts their live show so willingly, not much put them apart from other energetic, 3-chord regurgitation bands I’ve seen in my day. And sadly, I was hoping they’d conclude with their Q Lazzarus cover again; should I have said something?