For years now, Oakland darlings Rays have produced artful rock that fascinates and provides solace to the weirdo-rock enthusiasts of the Bay. It’s jangly and fun, and builds from lush grooves, bright lo-fi vocals, drums, and guitars. On Rays’ 2018 album You Can Get There From Here, released by Trouble In Mind Records, they’ve polished their sound a bit, but remain tied to the enchanting melodies and deeply poetic lyricism.
They’re taking up a residency at the SF Eagle for the month of February, focusing their attention on a series of live performances that include the friends and family that have grown alongside musically. We caught up with band members Alexa Pantalone and Eva Hannan to talk about last year, the residency and premiere their new video for “To The Fire,” directed by Jeffrey Harland.
The Bay Bridged: Tell me about how the residency at the SF Eagle came to be. How did you choose the bands for each night? Why that venue?
Alexa Pantalone: We asked a bunch of friends from all over to see if anyone wanted to come visit and be a part of it. We were also excited to play with some new bands who we haven’t played with before. I’m really excited to play with the Umbrellas, they are one of my new favorite SF bands and have only played a few shows. Everyone should look out for the new demos they have been putting out. Also Troy’s other band Modern Dance, another one of my favorite new bands. Private Joan is my friend Amanda doing one of her first solo shows. Basically just happy to get a ton of friends involved!
Eva Hannan: The residency is happening at the Eagle because I have been one of the bookers there for about a year now. The Eagle has been home to tons of great SF shows over the years so I was stoked when Doug asked me to take on some of the responsibility for booking there. We were looking at the calendar and realized there were no shows booked for February, so we joked about playing them all and then, when we asked the Eagle about the possibility, they were into the idea and it became reality. We are so stoked Kelley will be playing with us — he recorded both of our LPs. Lithics are our buddies from Portland, and Bronze is a band we are always excited to play with, since they are one of the all-time greatest in SF music. We wanted to create an environment that was more like a happening with a complete environmental experience including DJs and light shows; video projections.
TBB: Tell me about the new video. Why did the band choose to make a video for this song? How does the video represent the music?
AP: Our friend Jeffrey Harland offered to make us something and I thought that song would work with the ideas he was shooting our way, also it was just one of my favorite songs from the album. He used to live here and made a couple really good videos for his old band Legs so I was excited to see what he came up with. We shot some of the footage ourself and he mixed that with some experimental 16mm footage that he shot.
TBB: What were some high points for the band last year? Anything that you’re looking forward to this year?
EH: Next year I’m looking forward to damning new scientific evidence that climate change is already in motion in a way that should destroy 70 percent of human civilization’s infrastructure in the coming decade. I’m looking forward to Trump being impeached, and I’m looking forward to the tours that we are planning!
AP: We put out a new album! This year we are trying to focus on putting out a couple singles and we just recorded something with Sonny Smith that might end up on a compilation. We are touring Europe for the first time and playing a lot of local shows in the mean time.
TBB: Anything upcoming for Rays? Recording, tours, big shows, etc.
EH: Rays has some very exciting shows; besides the residency we play another show in LA with Lithics on March 1, and a very cool show we can’t announce yet in March.
AP: Yeah, there is a big one in March that should be announced soon! We are also playing Sunday, January 27 at Cafe Du Nord with Juan Wauters.
Rays, Kelley Stoltz, Swiftumz, the Gonks
February 21, 2019
9pm, $10 (21+)
Rays, Lithics, Bronze, Modern Dance
February 28, 2019
9pm, $10 (21+)