Monday, August 18, 2008

The Octopus Project at Bottom of the Hill, 8-16-08

I'm never sorry when I take a chance on going to the Bottom of the Hill on spec. The sound is so good, unlike certain other small SF venues (Slim's, I am looking at you), that even just decent bands make a good impression.

On Saturday I didn't have to settle for just a decent band -- The Octopus Project was dynamite. So, as a brand new fan, I'm pleased to bring you Distingué Traces' first attempt at a celebrity interview, with Josh Lambert, one of their lead guitarists. It went like this.

Distingué Traces reporter: Is it okay if I photograph you with flash?
Josh Lambert: Go ahead. It makes us feel special.
Distingué Traces reporter: [blushes, runs]

But then later I got my courage up and took lots of pictures of him with flash, so the point of this story is that a charming indie boy from Austin, Texas felt special last night...because of me.

Yeah, I'm lame. Seriously though The Octopus Project makes music that is beautiful. There are sparkly electric noises having a contest with fierce bashing noises, and on the album the sparkly electric mostly wins, but on stage the fierce bashing mostly wins and it is titanic.

More pictures below. Some of them get bigger when you click them.

I did my level best to get a clear shot of Yvonne Lambert playing the theremin by herself, but this blurry awkwardness is the best I could do. I am sorry about this! She actually looked very graceful playing it.

I also have a couple of pictures of the opening bands. The Diagonals are from Austin like the Octopus Project, and they were pretty decent: songs with plain structure but deep plushy textures. I liked 'em.

Then in the middle there were two bands, of which I only photographed the first, Sassy, for obvious reasons. Look at that skirt! Her approach matched her outfit - she kept yelling, "HELLO SAN FRANCISCO!" and the audience of thirty shoegazers standing five feet away from her would shift from foot to foot and clap uncertainly.

And finally, notice how Toto Miranda of the Octopus Project looks all sexy when his white shirt gets sweaty and sticks to the flesh of his torso.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Squirrel Nut Zippers at the Independent, 8-12-08

Since our earliest youth, we here at Distingué Traces have loved the insouciant way the Squirrel Nut Zippers have of telling us we are going to "Hell". So when they played The Independent on Tuesday night, the DTs were there.

We can reveal: Frontwoman Katherine Whalen is delightful. Frontman James "Jimbo" Mathus, on the other hand, is out of his crazy-eyed, sweat-drenched, Faulkner-spouting mind. Good Lord but the man has energy.

Much of the lineup has changed in the band's new incarnation. Fiddler Gabrielle Pelli brings a more European, klezmer-tinged sound to the songs than they had on the albums. And the new baritone saxophonist, who is extremely handsome (although you'll have to take our word for it, as the DTs' hands were trembling too much for us to get a picture that does him justice), would have been in diapers when Jimbo first warned America of its perdition.

For sure, they give you your money's worth. After the encore set the band appeared again, this time marching through the crowd beating drums and tooting on horns and such, and somebody had put a black Chinese-dragon-head on and was bobbing and bouncing all around. They led the crowd out onto the sidewalk, where a sort of melee ensued that the DTs preferred to avoid.

A wonderful night. They are headed next for a few shows in the Northwest, but stodgy Seattle cannot possibly love the news of its damnation as much as wicked San Francisco did.

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