Photo: Jessica Lehrman
I thought I was the oldest person at Rickshaw Stop on Monday night until I spotted John Vanderslice in the crowd, reassuring me that I was in the right place. The house was packed as Domino label-mates Porches, Alex G, and Your Friend arrived to perform the San Francisco leg of their U.S. tour.
Your Friend opened the sold out show, with Lawrence, Kansas songwriter Taryn Miller joined on stage by her backing band (Nicholas Stahl, Christopher Luxem, Joel Martin, Kyle Stringer). With Miller catching her breath from running back to the venue after fixing a problem with her guitar, Your Friend succeeded in captivating the crowd with songs from their debut full-length Gumption, plus a couple deep cuts from 2013’s Jekyll/Hyde EP. Miller thanked the crowd for “still going to shows” and noted bassist Kyle Stringer’s perpetual smile. “These four strings are my paintbrush”, Stringer says. Your Friend concluded their mesmerizing set on an experimental note, combining the closing track from the Jekyll/Hyde EP with “Who Will I Be in the Morning?”, the final track from Gumption.
The tone grew increasingly irreverent as co-headliner Alex G took the stage with his backing band. Alex G would face the crowd while singing and occasionally screaming, while turning towards the drummer during guitar shreds and breakdowns. Cycling through selections from his already extensive repertoire, the DIY rocker periodically interjected with choice banter such as “This song’s about when you walk in on your best friend and your girl covered in peanut butter in your bedroom”, and “That’s right! That’s some progressive art for you fuckers.” It was all in good fun, as fans sang along to favorites such as “Mary” from 2012’s TRICK. Alex G invited Porches multi-instrumentalist Maya Laner on stage to lend vocals on “Brite Boy” from last year’s Beach Music.
Porches closed out the evening with the most dance-able set of the night, focusing mostly on rhythmic synth-based cuts from their recent Domino debut Pool, plus a couple older surprises such as “Xanny Bar” from 2013’s Slow Dance in the Cosmos. The five-piece band opened with “Glow”, followed shortly thereafter by songwriter Aaron Maine throwing off his “terrible” hat during “Hour”. Later, the banter only continued to get weirder. “What are you thinking about? Say it. SAY IT!”, Maine asked the crowd multiple times, in addition to various amusingly sarcastic gestures and quips.
There were three big surprises during Porches’ well-received set. The first of which occurred when the band invited a young saxophone player on stage to perform on “Braid”, periodically returning from time to time. After “Underwater”, the band announced that it was “time to tell a bunch of jokes”, prompting the second surprise of the night. Maya Laner literally made her dad come on stage to tell the following joke: “What’s the difference between a brown-noser and shithead? Depth perception.” The surprise came when Maine instructed the crowd to lay down on the floor during the closing song. “Don’t be shy”, he said. The sold out crowd nervously looked around until a few brave souls began to crouch down. Before long, almost everyone was sitting on the floor, myself included.
Overall. the show was incredible, with Domino Records proudly showcasing three of its most-recently acquired talents. The three acts will continue to tour the U.S., with Alex G and Porches alternating between closing set times.