Small Black - Photo by: Tanner Pikop

Tuesday night’s show at Rickshaw Stop featured Brooklyn dream pop tour buddies Small Black and Heavenly Beat with an opening set from San Francisco/Los Angeles based duo Silver Hands. All three bands were impressed by the turnout and happy to be playing in San Francisco.

It was a relatively early show, with Silver Hands starting their set at 8:45pm. Singer Elizabeth Wright was in rare form, emphasizing the fact that her birthday was at midnight. As one of the most amusingly (or terrifyingly, depending on your perspective) confrontational performers this side of Dan Deacon, Wright engaged the crowd with rousing banter and crowd-pleasing antics that included shaking her booty in an attempt to “make it clap,” pouring beer on herself, and jumping (then falling) onto the floor to mingle with crowd while singing the finale. Meanwhile, Andrew Marcogliese kept the set tight by ferociously playing his full live drum kit against a backing track of glorious synths and various electronic tones. The early set was lots of fun, and drew a slightly larger crowd than the duo’s previous performance at the venue.

Heavenly Beat took the stage next, the dream pop project of dorkishly confident ex-Beach Fossils bass player John Peña. Peña played guitar and was joined by an additional guitar player and bassist, with a backing track laying down the percussion. Heavenly Beat played songs from its 2012 debut Talent, as well as new tracks from upcoming album Prominence, to be released this fall. Peña busted out his harmonica on one of the new ones, and admitted another one was influenced by Silverchair‘s “Ana’s Song” after a “dark couple of months.” He also had a shitty time in Portland and was glad to be in California. During the last song, “Faithless”, Peña swung his guitar over his shoulder yelling “Fuck guitar!”, then he stood on stage and stared at the crowd while the band broke down its setup.

Small Black played an energetic set of danceable synth-and-guitar pop fresh off the release of the quartet’s new album Limits of Desire, proving that live drums and a humble attitude can make a big difference. Save the false start “boner!” toward the beginning, the band played a tight set of mostly new material against glowing LED lights. Ryan Heyner alternated between guitar and keys centered between Josh Hayden Kolenik (keys, vocals), Juan Pieczanski (bass, guitar), and Jeff Curtin (drums, percussion). The band displayed its cleaner and brighter sound found on the new album, and actually rocked harder with the synths than they did with the guitars. Heyner said it was the best show the band has played outside of New York. After wrapping it up with “No Stranger”, Small Black returned for a three-song encore, which included impromptu fan request “Moon Killer” followed by early favorite “Despicable Dogs”.

The lingering crowd sang happy birthday to Elizabeth Wright at midnight.

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