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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Show Review: The Fresh & Onlys, Disappears, Tropical Popsicle

The Fresh & Only's
Tropical Popsicle
@ The Casbah in San Diego, CA.

    Like a bear waking up from hibernation, the popular music event calendar is arising from the winter doldrums of the last four months (November through President's Day Weekend.)  As evidence- just look at the next week of shows in San Diego:

2/27 CASBAH - Veronica Falls, Bleached + DJ Mario Orduno Anti Monday League/Art Fag Recordings Presents
2/29 SODA BAR - Cloud Nothings, A Classic Education, Lanterns
3/2  BIRCH NORTH PARK THEATER (CASBAH PRESENTS) - Girls (SF), Unknown Mortal Orchestra
3/2  SODA BAR - Jamuel Saxon
3/3  CASBAH - Zola Jesus, Talk Normal, Spirit Photography
3/4  CASBAH - Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, The Feeling of Love, The Kabbs
3/10 IRENIC - La Sera, Cold Showers, Heavy Hawaii, Beautiful Boys Soda Bar/Art Fag Recordings Presents

  (1) Venue Notes
  (2) Artist Notes

   Last night was an early example of this phenomenon of a local music club scene awakening from slumber based on events occurring far beyond the provincial borders.  In this time and place, it's the annual migration of bands between the Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco this weekend and South by Southwest in the next couple weeks.  (3)

  I arrived at the Casbah in time to see 2/3s of the Tropical Popsicle.  Stand up drummer- band members with KORG stand up keyboards and guitars.  I think the guy at the center of Tropical Popsicle, Tim Hines- who also I believe fronted the Stereotypes- I think he needs to strip away the ornamentation and find really compelling songs that people love.  He needs to have an alter ego.  I kind of see him similar to Tim Lowman who has his solo stuff and then the band- Blackout Party- and what he's dealing with in trying to pick a project and really establish a viable touring act. (4)

  From what I gathered from Tim Cohen of The Fresh & Only's, the tour was booked because Disappears wanted to do club dates around their San Francisco Noise Pop appearance- The Fresh & Only's are also going to play SXSW, and they have a record coming out in September on Mexican Summer.   Considering there was a sold out GRIMES show at the Soda Bar, the turn-out was excellent.   I don't think Tim Mays made a bad decision- he probably could have had both shows in Grimes had put out that record a month earlier.

  Disappears is a four-piece Chicago rock band that happens to feature Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth on drums.   I honestly don't know if that is a blessing or a curse for a band with two lp's and 155k last fm plays- Sonic Youth is probably one of the top five most significant indie bands of all time, corporate embracing recent history aside.  It would be like Bill Clinton running for the house of representatives out of a Congressional District in West LA: Cool that he's doing it, great for the people affected, but certainly a step down from two terms as President of the United States.  Being the drummer in Sonic Youth is like being the President of the United States, in that analogy.

  During Disappears set I realized this was the first all male line up of rock bands I'd seen in a millenia.  It was funny to contemplate, especially since I'd spent the last 24 hours listening to the new Frankie Rose record, Interstellar, the new Grimes record on 4AD and Colleen Green's classic/amazing Milo Goes to Compton LP on Art Fag Recordings.

  I'm not one to weigh in on the gender politics of indie rock, but I did take a seniors/honors level seminar in Women's Political Theory when I was a senior in college, so I'm pretty familiar with the different debates.  The only point I like to add- and it's one I've been making here since at least 2007- is that the boys have had their chance, with their guitars, and their keyboards and their drums.  That has all happened.   Personally, I much more interested in what women have to say, because I haven't heard it a million times before- simply for the novelty of it, not for any deeper political purpose.

  I shamefully admit that my wife and I left during Disappears set. I thought about fabricating a review.  The truth is we'd already been out to a black tie affair earlier in the evening, and I had spent the previous day driving between San Diego and Palm Springs and back.  It was not meant as a slight to any of the bands- or to Tim- who actually put me on the guest list.  Sometimes life gets in the way, I suppose.


(1)  OK I have to admit that this sequence of shows makes me regret utterly abandoning the local music club scene for the last two years plus.   A couple of venue notes:

 IRENIC is a NEW ALL AGES VENUE IN NORTH PARK.  Fingers crossed there no noise complaint issues, because they people up in North Park are straight up bitches about that issue.
BIRCH NORTH PARK THEATER- Is still putting on shows.

(2)Artist  NOTES:

Zola Jesus has  3.2 million last fm plays.

GIRLS has 8.7 million last fm plays.

TY SEGALL released a singles collection in 12" format on GONER records in November of last year.  Ty Segall has less then 2 million last fm plays, but his audience is multiplied by his number of releases. His MELTED LP, released May 25th, 2010 on Goner Records, is still in the top selling releases chart on Revolver/Midheaven for the last month.  The singles collection and Melted  is in the top sellers for the last 3 months, and Melted is the number 4 seller of ALL TIME at Revolver/Midheaven.  Segall actually has 3 different record on the all time top selling list, an impressive achievement.  Part of that success- perhaps much of it- is due to the fact that the audience for garage rock buys records and goes to shows, and audiences for other types of indie rock do not.

(3) There is good evidence that other markets in Texas have well  figured that the week prior to SXSW offers a prime opportunity to stage their own festival.    This year, March 8th-11th the 35 Denton Festival- in the Dallas market statistical area- but also closer to Oklahoma City- is happening, and you've got shows like Dum Dum Girls opening for Jesus and Mary Chain, and Best Coast headlining a show with Atlas Sound.  There's also the very cool BRO FEST- on Sunday March 18th at the end of Bro Fest.  Best Coast even booked a San Antonio Gig. San Antonio!

 Naturally, Southern California is going to see a fair to large amount of those artists who play Noise Pop in SF between 2/23-2/25, Denton 35 3/8-3/11, South by South West 3/15-3/17 and all the bands will traipse back and forth across the country, stopping in humble burgs like our own fair city.

(4)   I think generally speaking I see people like that "stuck" with rather then helped by the band they are with, and would counsel people in that situation generally to break up the band and focus on recording some really fucking compelling songs on your mac and building the band up from there.

 If you've recorded the songs, you have a booking agent, and are getting living wage amount guarantees for your performances, by all means, assemble the band.

  There are so many reasons NOT to have a band- especially before the future is secure.  Someone like Tim Hines- I guarantee you he could knock out a bedroom tapes release in a minute, and I for one think that's a better use of time then the time and energy of assembling a rock band in the current economic environment for live music- in San Diego, everywhere.

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