The second day of San Francisco Popfest, much like most of the 4-day series of concerts throughout the city, was a ’90s indie pop enthusiast’s wet dream. As a person who lived out their first two years of college on a steady diet of sad ’90s college rock, shoegaze and twee, I (like many others) was thrilled to hear that The Softies, Boyracer, and Rocketship would be joining The Mantles to play a Slumberland Records dominated show at the Rickshaw Stop.
The Softies, frazzled from traveling woes, graced the stage first. Only 15 minutes earlier did I see Softies guitarist Rose Melberg (Go Sailor alum and twee pop genius) dive out of a car and run into the venue. But despite the obstacles put ahead of them, the duo, comprised of Melberg and Jen Sbragia put on an exceptional performance.
The band started off with “I Love You More” off their first LP, It’s Love. Just like their music, entirely earnest and vulnerable in nature, their stage rapport was the same. From talking about Sbragia playing the show because she found the perfect Softies dress (and it was) to the downfalls of being in a band with it’s members living in different cities, Melberg and Sbragia covered it all.
Next was Boyracer. The band was sure to kick it up a notch from the twee stylings of the Softies. Playing fast paced, ’90s indie pop with power pop leanings the band blasted through their (supposedly) last set ever. A handful of people came to the stage to do guest spots on songs sporadically throughout the show. The band performed a cover of “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones and was sure to play a few tunes off Boyfuckingracer such as “He Gets Me So Hard”.
Then Rocketship set up soon after. Around this time, age divisions between crowd goers became steadily apparent. There were two camps of fans: 30-somethings who were aware of the band at the height of their fame for their seminal album A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness and people within the 18-24 age range who found out about the band from Now That’s What I Call Gushy ’90s Indie Pop (or something). Seeing as I was just learning to spell my name in ’96 when the album was released, I fell into the decidedly more youthful camp.
But this why Rocketship playing was so exciting. It served as a chance for people to see a band they never thought they would see again. Armed to the gills with synths and demure vocal stylings, the band played hits of yesteryear such as “I Love You Like The Way I Used To”.
Here it should be mentioned that the Rickshaw Stop was playing to a full, completely packed house for the first three bands. But when The Mantles went on it was decidedly, well, less packed. And it’s understandable to a certain extent – people came to show in the hope that they would see bands that were ‘huge’ (by independent music standards) in Slumberland Records’ infancy.
But undeterred by that, The Mantles prevailed being sure to play a slew of songs from their newest Long Enough To Leave and beyond.