Noise Pop ended on Sunday, and the afternoon show at Bottom of the Hill carried with it a nostalgia for attending all ages matinees there when I was under 21. Why aren’t there more matinees these days? Are people not drinking enough at afternoon shows to make them cost-effective? In any event, based on Sunday’s test case, I will vouch for the enjoyability of both afternoon beer and afternoon rock and roll.
I first saw The Fresh & Onlys at Noise Pop two years ago, and it’s been amazing to watch them grow and evolve since then. Last year’s Play It Strange marked a decidedly more hi-fi rock sound than the band’s early warped pop. Regardless of what the original recordings sounded like, though, everything in Sunday’s set was explosive. “Invisible Forces” and “Grey-Eyed Girls” kicked off the set with tenacity, and the band steamrolled through a batch of classics, with some new songs thrown in too. Shayde Sartin was killing it on lead guitar, and Tim Cohen was a confident frontman. When Tim sang, “I won’t disappear anymore,” it was difficult not to read it as a declaration and a promise for the band’s continued ascendancy toward the stratosphere.
I didn’t really know The Growlers before their Sunday set, and now I’m still not entirely sure what to make of them. The band’s reverby beach pop has something of a graveyard shuffle, a slowed-down groove buttressed by spooky organ sounds. Lead singer Brooks Nielsen has a strong voice with a slight croon, paired with some stilted yet endearing dance moves and a look that came off as perpetually groggy. Periodically, in fact, it seemed as if he was regaining consciousness to find himself in the middle of a live performance. But if the band looked a little baked/fried, there was a subtle precision that helped keep things from ever becoming too shambling, and an appreciative audience danced along. The Growlers played well over their allotted time, finishing with a plug for a secret show later that night. Nielsen promised that that performance would be “real loose.” So what was what I saw, then? A day at the office?
The co-headliners were supported by The Pleasure Kills, a power-punk-pop quintet whose album Bring Me a Match came out last year. The band laudably dedicated its song “Smash Up the Radio” to the effort to save KUSF. It’s been heartening to see a number of local bands express similar support over the past week.
SF’s The Wrong Words have written at least one garage pop anthem in “What Went Wrong,” although their Sunday set suggested they’ve got more more than a few great songs on the band’s upcoming first full length. Singer/guitarist Josh Miller powered through an injured thumb, and the trio delivered an endearingly sloppy set to kick things off on Sunday. While we don’t have any photos of them in action, enjoy the video for “What Went Wrong” at the bottom of the post.
The Fresh & Onlys