(illustration: Cassidy Miller)
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.
Myra Flynn at Hotel Utah (SF) May 26.
Even after seeing 31 bands in 3 days at BottleRock, Myra Flynn’s beautiful voice still echoes in my ears from her intimate set at Hotel Utah. Soulful, heart-soaked ballads filled the tiny club as she belted out her stories as if no one was around, accompanied only by her hands on a piano. It was treat and a refreshment to be a part of such a personal musical experience, especially contrasted with the usual festival and arena shows where you hear more conversation than music. —Jon Ching
FEELS V at American Steel Studios (OAK) May 27.
Every year I look forward to trekking out to West Oakland for Wine & Bowties’ FEELS event. It’s a pilgrimage, of sorts, for the East Bay. A representation of the melting pot Oakland has become — where rap, hip-hop, punk, and electronic music mix together — and a crowd that emulates just that. Fans young and old, creatives and musicians alike come together into one industrial zone to dance, sing and see art. This year featured Berkeley-repping Lil’ B as a performer along with Portland-via-Berkeley based producer, Toro y Moi and many others. A conglomerate of East Bay-based galleries, publications, artists, and art collectives came out to the normally inconspicuous warehouse to create one of the most community centric events I’ve seen in a long, long time. Lil’ B even started his set with the renewed Kevin Durant dis song, “Fuck KD.” Highlight of the event? Moses Sumney: the Los Angeles-and-New York based performer who uses loops and instruments as part of his solo performance. A change of pace like the one he brought would usually stunt a night, but his performance was elegant and amazing in execution. In his words: “I’m high-key here to turn down, Lil’ B is here to help y’all turn up.” —Victor Valle
BottleRock Napa Valley at the Napa Expo (Napa) May 27-29
BottleRock’s tagline is “The first taste of summer,” and never was there a more accurate statement. The 3-day festival up in Napa was HOT!Aand not just with the glorious, sunny days that made huddled-in-shade crowds wallflowers. Standout performances were the high-kicking, blues-rocking Black Pistol Fire, the immaculately dressed Fantastic Negrito, the badass trio of The Joy Formidable, the circus freak show that is Gogol Bordello, the band that makes you say to yourself, “How is it only 2 guitars?!!” — Rodrigo y Gabriela, and the legendary man himself, Mr. Lenny Kravitz. On top of that were the headliners: The ethereal and powerful Florence + the Machine was EVERYTHING, and proved she is a woodland goddess while the Red Hot Chili Peppers carved another notch in the headboard of history, closing out the festival with funk, rock, and handstands by Flea, not to mention some of the coolest video work I’ve ever seen. —Jon Ching
La Luz, Will Sprott, Dead Seagals at Sleeptalk (OAK) June 3.
With all the Hawaiian print, tropical themed costumes (everything from sharks to beach towels), and human-sized volcano decorating the space, it was obvious with one glance that it was going to be a night to remember. Shannon Shaw definitely knows how to throw a party, and I was not immune to it at all, probably dancing with half the crowd. Even as the crowd got a little out of hand during La Luz, you could see the concern on the band’s faces but even after stopping to hold the peace they returned to play and shoot us out like lava. —Erika Delgado
Freak Heat Waves, Crush, Jay Som, Delete at The Hatch (OAK) June 6.
Having missed the last venue Jay Som show before Melina goes on tour last Saturday, hearing about this impromptu DIY show was a blessing. Knowing that everyone loves these shows more, because there’s a bigger connection with the bands, the music, the crowd. Even though I had not planned to go out, I couldn’t miss this, I am so glad I didn’t, because seeing each of these bands in a smaller space allowed me to witness their talent in a more visually shocking way. Both Jay Som and Crush are the real deal and Freak Heat Waves are the Canadian astronauts of music. —Erika Delgado