The Culture Collide festival made its SF debut this week. FILTER magazine started the fest in LA in 2010 but this year it has branched out to SF and NYC. Of course FILTER has been a regular at SXSW for 10+ years. It is an impressive undertaking. There are panel discussions in the daytime and 4 venues full of music in the evening (Elbo Room, Amnesia, The Chapel and Hipstamatic). It is like a mini-me of SXSW (but with 96% fewer bands). Culture Collide does bring groups from all over the world. This year they claim “75 bands from 25 countries”. Every so often they stumble on something brilliant. This year, that something was none other than Seattle’s TacocaT.

takeoffs and landings
Takeoffs and Landings

I arrived to pick up my wristband, but the gates were locked at 541 Valencia. The wall said to enter in the back. I walked around the corner and found an odd backpack store. They gave me some discount cards for Sidecar (a new Uber type thing), put the band on my wrist, and a sugar cube on my tongue.

At the Elbo Room we found Take Offs and Landings – all the way from Peru! The singer was quite mesmerizing and the songs well written. If they were American, one might complain that they sound a bit ’90s, but as Peruvians, it only added to the charm. I will complain that these songs were mostly in English. Bring the Espanol!

Aj Davila and terror amor
AJ Davila and Terror Amor

We stepped outside for air and a Sidecar car pulled up. Rich was driving a 2009 Pontiac Vibe full of pine air freshener. It was intense, like a chemical forest, even with the windows all the way down. We asked if all foreign bands sing in English and he dropped us off at Slim’s. Turns out Slim’s is not part of the Culture Collide festival and they were not the least bit interested in my glowing grey wristband. We scored some discount tickets from a sweet guy with a melted face. Inside the Caravan of Stars was underway. Seriously! Burger Records just so happened to be at Slim’s the same night we were. On stage AJ Davila and Terror Amor were tearing it up in Spanish. They came from Puerto Rico. I was really paranoid. Why were they here? Why was I here? We grabbed some drinks. Turns out, AJ Davila was in Davila 666 and played for my birthday in 2009 at Thee Parkside. Whoa! AJ had a woman singing along with him and together they really brought it to the next level. I even ran into my brother Mark and MOM…toooo freaky.


Next up were Memories from Portland. The singer had a calming smile on his face, like a super stoned Jonathan Richman. The songs were hysterical. “Dads Not Home” (time to bone), “I’m Not Going to Work Tomorrow” and even the theme from Ghostbusters! I started laughing so hard I couldn’t stop and was thrown out on to the street.

Haunted Summer
Haunted Summer

Fortunately Rich was there with the Pine-Sol express. In minutes we hit Amnesia. We thanked Rich for his incredible insightfulness and ability to travel through time. Inside Haunted Summer were freaking out with some droning synthesizer and beautiful vocals over the top. I had trouble standing but sips of dark Belgian sour seemed to cure this immediately. I made an unreadable note in my iPhone. They said the band was from LA but I wasn’t buying it. This band was too good and not the least pretentious.

tacocat drums
Greatest drummer of all time – TacocaT

We wandered down the street and back to the safety of the Elbo Room. On stage was the most colorful and beautiful band I have ever witnessed. TacocaT brought it all: infectious energy, fabulous outfits, catchy songwriting and great humor. Three crazy cute ladies and a dude playing some sick guitar (somehow he was not in any of the photos). Songs covered everything from cat magazines (“Cat Fancy”) to marijuana (“Volcano”) and taking LSD at age 15 (“Psychedelic Quincianera”). TacocaT is also a palindrome. Dood.

tacocat culture collide

The singer claimed they had been up for 3 days sipping cold medicine. I shudder to think what their show would be like after a good night’s sleep. Speaking of sleep, I slept through the next day of the festival, but whatever, I am driving to LA and then NYC for the rest of the fest. This blogging thing has been great, but from now on I am selling merch for TacocaT.

tacocat bass

tacocat horns
I knew you wouldn’t believe me if I told you about the horns