In this recurring feature known as The Bay Abridged, our staff writers 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 the Bay Area concert scene.
Hot Buttered Rum, Front Country, Quiles & Cloud at The Fillmore (SF) May 13.
Over the last six months, the Bay Area’s bluegrass favorite Hot Buttered Rum have released a series of six-song EPs recorded around a specific theme. Celebrating old influences, new collaborations and late night spirits, guitarist Nat Keefe and Co. “smushed” The Kite & the Key parts 1–3 into a single full length record that was released during a special Friday the 13th Black and Red Ball. Including several new tunes from the record, the band also paid tribute to the loss of musical visionaries David Bowie, Merle Haggard and Prince in a “Let’s Dance” > “Mama Tried” > “Kiss” medley. —Joshua Huver
Urban Theory, The Redlight District at UCSC (SC) May 14.
The 8th annual “Rock and Roll on The Knoll” went down on Saturday, May 14 on the University of California at Santa Cruz’s campus near the Stevenson Residential College. Smaller and less immersive than the previous year, which had beat poetry and interactive speeches between acts, the 2016 incarnation of the event also only featured a handful of bands. The Redlight District played a moniker-appropriate sunset show, with lead singer Stephan Sams and guitarist Ravi Lamb on full energetic display, climbing speaker stacks and defying security personnel in the process. Fellow Santa Cruz alt-rock band Urban Theory headlined and closed the evening with a chilled, yet comfortably groovy night set. —Joshua Huver
Blondi’s Salvation at The Octopus Literary Salon (OAK) May 14.
French psychedelia should play in every cafe/bookstore. The room was a swirling wall of sound from instruments no one had ever seen before. The crowd was captivated. —MBL
Cate Le Bon at The Chapel (SF) May 16.
“Are You With Me Now?” is such a good song and Cate has a psycho killer band. There is a slight tendency towards over-indulgent repetition and some of the band facial expressions and synchronized rock postures felt contrived. She will be playing amphitheaters soon or melt into the abyss. —MBL
Cumstain, Fire Retarded at The Octopus Literary Salon (OAK) May 17.
When sex education got you down, praise be Cumstain. Cocaine and severed heads du jour. They return to Octopus June 3rd with Portland’s Ladywolf & Slick! Fire Retarded came from Madison, Wisconsin with the first ever guitar piggy back ride at ye’ ol’ Octopus. —MBL
NoBunny, Fire Retarded, BT’s at The Eagle (SF) May 19.
There was more tension in the air than expected at The Eagle. The mosh pit didn’t get out of control. The crowdsurfers were fairly well-behaved. Yet the Eagle staff acted as if the apocalypse were coming. Nope, just NoBunny who showed up with 3/4ths of a band. Fortunately, the Fire Retarded guitarist jumped in and nailed the entire catalog. —MBL
Dead Souls at The Night Light (OAK) May 21.
One might tire of Dead Souls if they played every week, but it sure is hard to wait for their all-too-rare appearances. Surely there can be no finer Joy Division cover band and Joy Division is exactly what we need right now. —MBL
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard at New Parish (OAK) May 23.
What a fucking disappointment! With all the incredible music coming from Australia it seemed a band with this name could not fail. Let it be said: Rock flute is a horrible, horrible mistake. —MBL
Jonathan Richman at the Make-Out Room (SF) May 24.
Richman plays the Make-Out with his drummer Tommy Larkin for three nights almost every summer (approximately). While you’ll hear the occasional story repeated if you go every year, I don’t think it’s possible for Richman to even perform a song even close to the same way every night any more. It’s always wonderful and had me smiling for a solid hour or so. Seeing Richman and Larkin at the Make-Out is just something every fan of music in the Bay Area should do every year. Luckily, there’s another show tonight! Do it. —Russell Jelinek