Photos by Jon Ching
Inhibitions were at an all time low at Rickshaw Stop on Thursday night for Tony Molina‘s Noise Pop showcase at Rickshaw Stop. Patrons were greeted with Molina asking for the sound guy to add reverb to make his vocals “sound hella tight.” He requested more booze to be delivered to the stage. He gave Bay Area shout outs between almost every song. He played his own brand of chunky pop-rock (heavily influenced by Weezer, whether or not that’s the intention) without ever looking like he cared what anyone thought. And then at the end of the show, after all his band members walked off the stage, he grabbed the mic and told us about his family and Latinos in the Mission and Carlos Santana. And then he told all the white people in the Mission to “step the fuck down.” The shell-shocked (mostly white) crowd reacted as you might expect — a mix of cheers, gasps, and jeers.
At worst, it was funny to tell a room full of people who came to see your band to fuck off (it’s not like it hasn’t been done before — perhaps this was slightly more dagger-to-the-heart but still not totally unexpected). At best, it was a punk-rock moment that most will understand — fuck the changes in the Mission, he said in so many words. Gentrification is no joke for a whole group of people in San Francisco. So I’ve got no problem with a local artist of color expressing his frustration.
Back to the music: Tony Molina sounded great as always. Thursday’s three guitar attack lent his short-and-sweet songs an irresistible headbanging metal crunch. The band also dove into a few covers including a song by Molina’s previous band Ovens. Most of the set I recognized came from 2013’s Dissed and Dismissed, his best work to date. Like his songs, the set went down short and easy — ten second guitar solos everywhere — underscored by a bit of heavy, emotional realness. I left the show dissed, dismissed, and very pleased with his performance.