I could barely get out of bed. South Park had me in the zone. Cartman’s hand was Jennifer Lopez. Then I thought about KUSF (90.3) and how I hadn’t sent them enough money over the years. Now one of my favorite college radio stations is an unending torture of classical music. I thought about Greg Ashley, another local treasure, and how I was late to his last show. I put on my pants.
Outside there was a gigantic full moon as I sped across the Bay Bridge to the Mission. Rachel Fannan was playing when I arrived. She recently parted ways with local psych-rockers Sleepy Sun despite great success (even opening for Arctic Monkeys). According to her Myspace she is just 24 years old, and I suppose too young to settle down. Under the glittery, celestial lamps of the Elbo Room, Ms. Fannan brought out some intriguing new material. She was joined only by a bass player, but the two of them created some big sounds. She did a fair amount of vocal looping during the show a la Juana Molina. During one song she recorded her voice over and over again building a choir of sorts. She sang a few songs of love and even told a dick joke in between. Her voice has an old-world, folk quality and there is some real beauty in her work. She plays at Fivepoints Arthouse on 1/23 and Slim’s on the 25th with the Soft Bombs, Sandwitches and Art Museums.
Outlaw came on next with a heavy rocker called “1985”. I assume it is a tip of the hat to the Stooges classic “1969”. The band certainly embraces some raw power. It was an abrupt change of scene from Rachel Fannan’s sparse, pretty set but it worked. On their Myspace page they cover Townes Van Zandt’s “Waitin’ Around to Die” which makes them okay in my book.
Greg Ashley appeared 3rd, alone with a beat-up acoustic guitar. He did bring up a special guest for his ‘country number’ and she sang some sweet harmonies under the warm yellow floodlight. Greg played a great deal from his 2007 Birdman release, Painted Garden. Although the record always reminds me of the Stone’s Satanic Majesties, when the songs are stripped down this way they actually conjure up the great ballads of Leonard Cohen. I will never listen to “Pretty Belladonna” the same way again. Listening to that record the very next day, I realized how much I’d missed the first dozen times. It’s yet another sign of what a huge talent we have living with us right here in Oaktown. Ashley’s next show will feature a full band and I will do everything I can to be at Bar 355 on 1/29th.
Ending the night was White Manna from Arcata, CA. These guys share quite a bit with Outlaw, including an upcoming show at the Hemlock 3/5 with Carlton Melton and Moccretro. There are lots of psychedelic guitars IN YOUR FACE, unfortunately too many songs featured the self-indulgent extended jam. Maybe at two in the morning with a bong, but it was only 12:30 for chrissakes . . .