In this recurring feature known as The Bay Abridged, our staff writers will provide short, witty recaps on shows they attended around the Bay Area. A scene check, a heat check, and sometimes more — stop by every Wednesday for the most comprehensive and concise recap of last week’s Bay Area concert scene.
Jessica Pratt, Luke Sweeney at Swedish American Hall (SF) Feb. 6
While downtown was abuzz with Super Bowl City fever, the quiet streets of the Castro remained a stark opposite to the fervor a few blocks down. Up the stairs of the Swedish, the once SF local Jessica Pratt sat with a guitar and a friend/accompanist by her side. From the minute she began her set, she put her heart on display through her angelically velvet voice and light guitar pickings. It was truly a night to get lost in, conjuring a sense of wandering abandon and nostalgia that kept us rapt. —Hailey Simpson
Lianne La Havas at Swedish American Hall (SF) Feb. 8
The Swedish is the most ideal place to have a religious experience — the old architecture, the proximity that the venue’s arrangement puts you with your favorite artists, the whole thing — and I think the sold out crowd can agree when I say that Lianne La Havas put on a show that probably won’t ever be recreated. A warm, intimate and quiet room created the perfect atmosphere for La Havas, a talented vocalist and guitar player, to truly connect with everyone in the room, and to even embrace the imperfections of her playing or the crowd’s inability to keep a beat. From the solo rendition of her hit “Unstoppable” to the debut of a new song titled “Fairytale,” she had the crowd’s attention in a way that I haven’t seen in years. You can quote me on it: this was the show of the year and probably the only time you’ll be able to catch her in a room this small. Also, she performed a version of “L-O-V-E” that made me actually love that song. Yeah, I said it. —Victor Valle
Built to Spill at Slim’s (SF) Feb. 10
Perhaps it was the muted expectations, but I thought that Martsch and company delivered a formidable performance at Slim’s, which was absolutely packed for the gig. Now fronting a lean trio, Martsch was forced to noodle around on an array of foot pedals in an attempt to recreate the band’s signature swirling guitar noise, but he performed admirably, even adding new wrinkles to familiar songs.
Built to Spill are workmanlike in their live performances — Martsch rarely interacts with the crowd, which belies his genuinely sweet demeanor in interviews — so last Wednesday’s show fit squarely in that legacy. It was everything you could expect from a band that has spent more than 20 years with the expectations of being consistently excellent. —Will Reisman
WATERS, GRMLN, Cocktails at Slim’s in San Francisco, Feb. 12
San Francisco’s own rising stars WATERS performs with confidence, charisma, and high energy that’s sure to impress festival crowds this year. Their upbeat, catchy indie pop is nostalgic of youthful shows where kids spontaneously jump and dance, having the time of their lives. You can’t help but try to learn the words so you can sing along at the top of your lungs as the next chorus burst into melodic, anthemic goodness. —Jon Ching
WATERS, GRMLN, Cocktails at Slim’s (SF) Feb. 12
The last time I saw GRMLN, this happened. So when I heard they were playing our monthly showcase, I was eager for a do-over. GRMLN seem to have changed directions a bit musically since we were last in the same room together — they’re a little more staid, a little smoother, and a little more radio-friendly now, and as such I was a little disappointed in their live presence compared to their explosive-sounding earlier records. But hey, no strangers verbally abused me, so all in all a good night. —Jody Amable