Photos by Lauren Espina
This week’s Noise Pop 2013 festivities continued at Bottom of the Hill on Wednesday night with toe-tapping performances from San Francisco garage rockers Burnt Ones and The Fresh & Onlys, plus San Diego’s Plateaus and D.I.Y. legend R. Stevie Moore. Each of the four bands is a quartet, providing for a well-rounded rock show.
Burnt Ones warmed up the stage with an impressive rock ‘n’ roll set. Frontman Mark Tester relied on feedback from his amp to provide the set with gritty distorted guitar sound as he belted out his vocals to the crowd. Amy Crouch kept time on the band’s two-piece drum kit, communicating with her band members through glances and smirks. Adam Finkin of Blasted Canyons joined Tester as the second guitar player for the show, with Brian Allen on bass. The band offered a taste of their forthcoming LP You’ll Never Walk Alone, ripping through their latest singles “Strawberry Tombs” and “Fountain of Youth.” Tester even attempted to shred his guitar behind his head for all of two-and-half seconds, setting the tone for the evening.
San Diego pop-rockers Plateaus hit the stage next, incorporating elements of punk and surf-rock into their danceable rock set. The quartet play a no-frills set of bouncy anthems recalling summer days on the beach.
Twenty minutes after Plateaus packed up, R. Stevie Moore’s backing band hopped on stage, consisting of guitarist J.R. Thomason plus a drummer and an additional guitar/keyboard player. They were closely followed by a man with a cotton candy blue Santa Claus beard protruding from his black hoodie, who proved to be none other than American lo-fi legend R. Stevie Moore. Moore, now 61, is a pioneer of D.I.Y. music, with over 400 home and studio recorded releases to his name. The casual showman was armed with a bass guitar, which had a baby doll head covering one of the tuning knobs.
The band opened with what I think may have been a rendition of “Mason Jar”, followed by “Carolyn Will You Come”. Moore then plopped down in a chair positioned a couple feet behind his microphone, caught his breath, and blew the audience a kiss. He quickly stood back up and said, I kid you not – “Where my bitches at? Swag, swag, swag, swag, swag…” – successfully getting a rise out of the young crowd. Thomason, out of breath, asked for more vocals in his monitor. Moore and his band continued to serve up pop-rock jams from his extensive back catalog. Recognizable numbers included “Play Myself Some Music” (after which Moore ad-libbed “she blinded me with silence…silence”) a former collaboration with Ariel Pink called “Irony”, and “I Like to Stay Home”, one of his earliest hits.
The band took a brief intermission, then returned on stage for a few more songs. “Hella love y’all,” Moore said to the enamored audience, explaining that the band was touring from Vancouver to San Diego, or, “to hell and back… hella.” Moore threw off his hoodie and clipped dark lenses onto his glasses, finishing his memorable set with more stage antics such as lying down and playing on the floor.
SF garage rock favorites The Fresh & Onlys closed with a set spanning fourteen cuts from the quartet’s catalog. The band opened with “Wash Over Us” and focused mostly on material from last year’s Long Slow Dance. Sneaking in a pair of tracks from each of their previous full-lengths, The Fresh & Onlys ended with “Diamond in the Dark”, followed by an encore of “Endless Love” and “Feelings in my Heart” from their self-titled debut.
To say that frontman Tim Cohen was in rare form would be an overstatement, but his inebriated banter was nonetheless entertaining. Rather than babies or hallucinogens, his chosen topic for the night was Fireball Whiskey, which the bar did not carry. “Fireball is what keeps the positive sweat coming through the pores,” Cohen said, after he already claimed to be seeing double. Before “Fire Alarm”, he announced, “This is our fifth song,” and then instructed the audience to hug it out during “Loving Kindness”. No flubs in the performance, though. The seasoned rockers sounded as fantastic as usual. Cohen dedicated “Fog Machine” to San Francisco, admitting that he misses the City since moving to Arizona. He did, however, make a concerted effort to shut himself up and finish the set, not that anyone minded his jokes.
Overall the night was a lot of fun, and although fans seemed to be conserving their energy for the rest of the festival, a rocking good time was had for all.