Annie Girl and the Flight (photo: Jon Ching)
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 other Wednesday for the most comprehensive and concise recap of last week’s Bay Area concert scene.
Protomartyr at Bottom of the Hill (SF) Mar. 4.
With his rumpled suit, thinning hair, and permanent scowl, Protomartyr lead singer Joe Casey looks more like a disgruntled subway commuter than the lead singer of a post-punk outfit. Still, Casey has an almost-mesmerizing quality about him, and when he took the stage on Friday night — accompanied by an ever-present drink in hand — the sell-out crowd at the Bottom of the Hill roared with approval. Opening with “Cowards Starve,” one of the many excellent, guitar-knifing tunes off the band’s highly-acclaimed new album, Agent Intellect, Casey and the rest of the band efficiently plowed through a set of blistering tunes. The no-frills performance served as a reminder that Protomartyr’s frontman isn’t about the chit-chat; he’s strictly focused on the music (although it wasn’t like anyone was expecting chit-chat.) —Will Reisman
Casiopeia, Sun Valley Gun Club, Elder Brother at The Night Light (OAK) Mar. 11.
I forgot how fun it can be to end up at a show knowing absolutely no one on the bill. The second installment of The Night Light’s free monthly party, Influx,
hosted a fun trio of guitar-heavy bands with some cheap drinks enough to make sure the recurring event is on your radar. Elder Brother, mostly uniformed in beanies and hoodies, conjured up a long list of related acts in my mind, from The Hotelier to You Blew It! and a few in between. Most of the set ran off their 2015 debut Heavy Head with the addition of a trio of never before played songs. —Mike Chouinard
Leon Bridges, Son Little at The Fox Theater (OAK) Mar. 17.
Leon Bridges makes extremely danceable, good-time throwback music, for sure, but there’s an undeniable political undercurrent to his work. He’s made videos that address the Black Lives Matter movement, has ferociously reclaimed a style of music quickly appropriated by white artists in the middle of the 20th century, and, in the face of a real, actual presidential candidates who wants to build a wall to keep brown people out of this country, fearlessly sings about the beautiful brown-skinned girl on the other side of the room.
But — and I know I’m about to “go there” and take on all that comes with doing so — it’s worth pointing out that the crowd was very…um…not diverse. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say it was around 95% not diverse. That wasn’t the problem, though — during Bridges’ dynamic set, the folks around me seemed to spend more of their time gossiping loudly with their friends, Snapchatting, and passing around pipes than paying attention to the performers they came to see — while opener Son Little sang the words “Why do they treat me like I’m not a man?” I was half-distracted by the bro in a blazer and an unbuttoned collar behind me yapping into his date’s ear about his desk job. The whole night shined a harsh light on the current socioeconomic landscape of the Bay, and made me wonder if maybe much of Bridges’ message was falling on deaf ears. —Jody Amable
Greg Brown at the Freight and Salvage (BK) Mar. 19.
It was my first visit to the Freight, where aging folk legends perform to aging wealthy crowds. Greg Brown knows that the way to a Freight and Salvage audience’s heart is commentary on right-wing politicians and old-person jokes. I mean, they loved it. Rather than just playing solo, as folk legends often do, Brown was joined by his opener friends for his set, even though it didn’t seem like they had rehearsed. Still, the room has fantastic sound and Brown’s incredible voice made it worth enduring bad jokes and sloppy accompaniment. —Russell Jelinek
Spit Tips, Tough Customer, Pumpkin, and DJ Smogg Deep at a house show (SF) Mar. 25.
I don’t feel too comfortable sharing the exact location, but let’s just say it was in a crazy loft in the Mission adorned with cassettes, musical instruments, paintings, and one cool indoor cat. Pumpkin (SF) has a huge piece of my heart because they are two Chicanas singing unapologetically about the things they feel most insecure about. Tough Customer (Vancouver) are the type of energetic punk band that can make you want to take over the world and the dance floor. Spit Tips (Oakland) left me in an empowered shock as the guitarist (Izzy) shredded all over the floor. —Erika Delgado
The Queers, Annie Girl and the Flight, The Memphis Murder Men, The Nerv at Bottom of the Hill (SF) Mar. 26.
Colorful mohawks, face tattoos, and tattered black denim meant one thing: The punks were out and moshing up a storm. The Queers ripped open BOTH and treated the punk-rock crowd to a raucous set of high-energy, sweat-spraying, Ramones-esque pop-punk. San Francisco up-and-comers Annie Girl and the Flight delivered a solid backing performance, adding a layer of psychedelic grunge to the rock-and-roll evening. —Jon Ching
Kississippi, Plush, Tough Customer, Unity, and Pumpkin at The Hole (OAK) Mar. 27.
I’m basically Pumpkin’s biggest fan, so of course of could not miss seeing them twice in one weekend, but there was something a lot more perfect about this show. I was an anxious mess, but the lineup was packed from top to bottom with amazing bands who were mostly female. Unity (different project from some of the Meat Market boys) showed off their musical versatility. Tough Customer made a crowded basement sweat with joy. Plush made everyone understand why they have become such a new talk of the town, and Kississippi not only gave me a geography lesson but made all my pent-up anxiety feel like it had evaporated into the crowded humidity. For an Easter Sunday, I spent time with a different kind of faith. Faith that the local DIY and music scene is only growing stronger. —Erika Delgado