I’ve been to the Rickshaw Stop. Love the place. But SF Popfest – with all my time in the Bay, this was still something new to me so I knew not what to expect. I was more than pleasantly surprised.
My evening kicked off with Cars Can Be Blue. Advertised as “Athens’ own filthy pop duo,” they passed with flying colors at living up to their name. They were 100% unadulterated, vulgar adolescence brought to life with a guitar, a simple drum kit, and lyrics imported straight from whore island yet delivered with deadpan sincerity.
Initially I wasn’t sold on their sound. I mean, I’m an adult right? I’m supposed to be all mature and shit, but they made me shed my metaphorical business suit for my 8th grade gym clothes and transported me to my junior high schoolyard where the most important status symbol was how many times one could swear in a sentence without repeating a cuss word.
If you like your garage pop dosed with some dirty brown weed (hey, we didn’t know any better back then) and some cheap booze, you need do little more than find where Cars Can Be Blue are playing next.
Taking the stage next, en masse with a posse numbering in the double digits, was Still Flyin’. I’d heard of them but had yet to enjoy their particular aural flavors. It was like Polyphonic Spree, but not annoying and not looking like a cult from the early 90’s. After confirming via a democratic group vote that the set list was correct, things started rather appropriately with some group participation hand clapping. No need to be sold on anything when you get me going like that.
If there’s one thing that I took away from Still Flyin’ (I took away more than one, but a guy’s got limits on what he can write about), it’s that their xylophone player has mad chops. It sounded like he had legitimate jazz training the way he was shredding scales. Moral of the tale: just because an instrument sounds like a toy doesn’t mean it can’t be played with a skilled artist’s touch.
To add a cherry on top of all that was their amaziness, Still Flyin’ took it to a low altitude at one point getting a group sing going down on one knee. Good form.
Closing out the bill was All Girl Summer Fun Band. It’s not just a name. They’re all girls and they’re a fun band that I would love to listen in the summer. While they’re labeled twee pop, I found it more to be straight ahead, classic pop punk a la the Ramones. They hadn’t played together live for awhile, but despite a minor hiccup at the very beginning of the set, you never would have known.
The verdict on SF Popfest? You done damn well son and you’ll be seeing me back again.