Welcome back to the Boulevard Ear, a regular feature on The Bay Bridged, where our man about town examines a community’s live music offerings. What is it like to be a show-goer whose experiences are dictated entirely by location? Follow Todd as he explores Bay Area music venues by neighborhood, finding a variety of independent music along the way.
We find ourselves of late wandering the small, finger-shaped corner of the Mission around Franklin Square. It is a curiously peaceful hotbed. While it recalls the quiet evenings of the working families who have long occupied its wood-frame single family homes, it is also the center of some lively contemporary developments.
On this evening, the Atlas Cafe is wrapping up their early music slate (Meredith Axlerod and Craig Ventresco Saturdays 4-6), as a block party for Southern Exposure‘s 39th anniversary is ramping up.
Passing up free beer is never easy, but there are more stops on our leisurely roundelay. The rain has yielded perhaps a bit too early (how the camera loves wet pavement!), but the balmy climes still beckon us to meander up Folsom on foot to investigate an item of local interest.
Kelley Stoltz, on the eve of releasing his new album, is hosting his own low-key birthday fete with friends and band mates at the Rite Spot.[nggallery id=289]
We regret that no musical revelry is in the offing – the bartender tells us that too many potential participants are aiding Bone Cootes at Cafe du Nord. Stoltz will however, be playing at his album release party at The Chapel next Saturday September 28.
A few blocks east on Mariposa, The Verdi Club, as befits its corner of the globe, operates outside the purview of many music goers. Tonight, it is playing host to a Punk Rock Homecoming, a two-day reunion of some of the most legendary names from the city’s late 70’s music explosion. This is apparently a repeating event, and has sold out.
Where bands (and fans) from the past are concerned, one can count on a picturesque crowd. The question is always the music: do the players still have something to say, and can they bring it with gusto?
Frightwig was one of the SF punk scene’s most aggressive and eccentric bands. Barely acknowledged in their time, they are now credited with providing the spark for rriot girl and subsequent significant musical currents.
Before they played a note, their words of greeting made clear the the years have not dulled Frightwig’s edge. They bench-pressed their set, punching out their fluid mixture of garage punk, metal and art grunge with a relentless blend of joy, humor and rage.[nggallery id=291]
Like Frightwig, The Mutants were part of the first wave of California punks: older, artier and more eclectic than the hardcore tweens who came along a few years later.
In the case of The Mutants’ Frederic Fox, that would be much older. He seemed like a middle-aged Napoleon in their first flourishing, so up on the stage, still kicking here, he comes off as relatively spry (despite his resemblance to the grandfather in “Up”).[nggallery id=292]
After the explosive triumph of Frightwig (and considering the late hour), The Mutants impact is muted – especially given the absence of Fox’s two female vocal counterparts, Sue White and Sellier Webster.
Still, the collision of old and new fits perfectly with this little corner of concealed cultural construction, from whence we stroll refreshed.