(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.
Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Festival at Roaring Camp Railroad (SC) Sept. 17-18.
The third annual SCMS festival went off without a hitch over the weekend of the 17 and 18 of September. Held in Felton, the two-day fest drew national acts like Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, G. Love and Special Sauce, George Linton and Parliament-Funkadelic and Sheila E. as well as hosting a smaller acoustic stage where local grass bands played all afternoon. One of the biggest perks to SCMS, aside from the easy admission process and prices, was the dual-stage setup bookending the meadow. As soon as one act ended, the next stage was ready to go right away. Next year will definitely have its challenges as the promoters attempt to top this year. —Joshua Huver
Tommy Alexander at Bocci’s Cellar (SC) Sept. 20.
On a brief West Coast run up and down the coast, baseball phenom turned singer song-writer Tommy Alexander and his band looked like the epitome of friends travelling for the love of music. They played theyr asses off for two guests, the bartender and the cook and had their full attention for over an hour. As Alexander gets more and more comfortable behind the guitar, the more his wild-nature comes through. I have high hopes for his evolution beyond Johnny Cash-inspired country tunes like the rock and roll displays toward the end of the evening. —Joshua Huver
Die Antwoord, Crystal Castles at Bill Graham (SF) Sept. 21.
There were moments watching the juvenile absurdity of Die Antwoord where I wondered how they could fill a 7,000-seat venue. The rest of the time I was convinced they were some of the most brilliant performers around and could be/should be filling even larger venues. The set was one of the most meticulously crafted and choreographed I’ve ever seen, featuring about a dozen sweatpant changes for Ninja and a hilariously triumphant curtain call. I walked away sweaty and thoroughly impressed. —Russell Jelinek
New Faultlines, Yea Ming and The Rumours at The Night Light (OAK) Sept. 22.
Yea Ming just gets better and better every day. This time she practically saved my life. Hallelujah New Faultlines are back! There is a stellar New line-up and a mess of beautiful, Kinksy, catchy, New songs. They play The Octopus Literary Salon 10/14 with Oilies, Modern Needs & Latitude (Amy from The Aerosols). Mark your calendar. —MBL
The Specials at The Warfield (SF) Sept. 23.
I forgot how much this band changed my life. Just a few records worth of material but DAMN this is some fine material. Nearly 40 years later the songs remain just as relevant and brilliant. The latest incarnation of the group delivered the goods to a sold out audience. —MBL
Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys at The Elbo Room (SF) Sept. 23.
Big Sandy headlined a hootenanny hop with burlesque and more. I managed to get there just as he took the stage. Despite some serious problems with the sound, the band rocked hard and Big Sandy’s voice remains as sweet as ever. —MBL
KINGSBOROUGH, The Redlight District at Amnesia (SF) Sept. 23.
A Friday night in the city brought together two Bay Area bands that know how to rock and roll any venue. The Redlight District from Santa Cruz opened the evening, their high energy and ultra-theatrical show pouring over the tiny stage, washing through the crowd, and out the front door. They set the stage for KINGSBOROUGH to deliver their original brand of dirty, blues-tinted old-soul rock and roll. —Joshua Huver
The World & NOTS at The Salt Lick (OAK) Sept. 24.
The World kicked off their US tour with this insane show. The band is seriously on fire. The Bay Area’s favorite drummer, Alexa Pantalone, adds some wild bongo (and sax) that gives them an early Talking Heads jungle groove that is simply irresistible. NOTS came all the way from Memphis to play Stinky’s Al Fresco earlier in the day. I was crushed to have missed it so when they made a surprise midnight appearance here I felt truly blessed. NOTS are the real deal. Memphis’s answer to The Coathangers. —MBL
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead at The Chapel (SF) Sept. 24.
Hooboy, I had goosebumps when these guys busted into “It Was There That I Saw You,” the first song off their flawless 2002 album, Source Tags and Codes. After opening with that song, Trail of Dead proceeded to blow through the entire album in order, topping it off with an absolutely devastating rendition of their title track. I was a little emotional wreck after that, but thankfully the band stuck around and helped me recover by playing some tunes from their back catalog. Perfect night at The Chapel. —Will Reisman
Heron Oblivion, Dinosaur Jr. at The Independent (SF) Sept. 26.
Opening the nostalgic three-night run of aging punk rock noisemakers Dinosaur Jr. is SF’s own avant-garde chorus of noise known as Heron Oblivion. Consisting half of former Comets on Fire members (guitarist Noel Von Harmonson and bassist Ethan Miller) as well as second guitarist Charlie Saufley and drummer Meg Baird. The band combines elements of haunting medieval choral selections over Explosions In The Sky-esque layers of sound and nuanced fervor all over the metronome of Baird’s bass kick. —Joshua Huver