Best Concert Year Ever.

34. Shonen Knife, Slim’s, SF, 12/11/07.

Shonen Knife set list, Slim's, San Francisco, 12/11/07.

(Snagged by Laurel, since we were standing in front of the monitors.)

There used to be a time, back in those days when Kurt Cobain was still alive and saying things like “When I finally got to see them live, I was transformed into a hysterical nine-year-old girl at a Beatles concert,” Shonen Knife was being derided as part of some Hello Kitty Orientalist Conspiracy, only valued for being petite and cute and not having real musical chops and playing sub-Ramones songs. Well. That’s clearly because they’ve never seen Shonen Knife live.

Funny, too: I was properly introduced to Laurel about three years ago at a Shonen Knife concert, also at Slim’s, and we’ve been carrying halves of a BFF medallion ever since, ha ha. (Just be gentle when you pull out the feeding tube.)

And with that, my concert year comes to an end — 34 shows!!! — with some of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever been to, period. (And since this is an end-of-the-year thing, I’d like to say “thanks” to my 2007 concert buddies too: Laurel, Rinna, Eloise & Son & Weiss, Lan & Juan, Jens, Randall, Karen & Craig, Romeo, Roy, Talaya & Ben, Jeannie, & the other Eloise (who calls the other Eloise “the other Eloise” too). Here’s to 2008.)

Best Concert Year Ever highlights:

4. Midlake, Bottom of the Hill, 3/4/07.

I didn’t write anything down, so here’s Midlake’s setlist, off the top of my head:

1. We Gathered In Spring
2. Roscoe
3. Van Occupanther
4. In This Camp
5. Balloon Maker
6. Some Of Them Were Superstitious
7. Children of the Grounds [at least that’s what the title sounded like]
8. Young Bride
9. Chasing After Deer
10. Bandits
11. Head Home


12. It Covers The Hillside
13. Branches

Exit music: Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne”

And I dug how people were singing along to America’s “Sister Golden Hair” while Midlake was setting up the stage. Needless to say, Midlake was just fantastic.

Other random things:

– The new song rocked harder than most Midlake songs, i.e., big crunching guitar solo in the middle.
– The DVD projecting the films behind them broke down at some point, but I seem to remember something from Eisenstein’s “Ivan the Terrible.”
– I’ve never seen so much gear for a small-club performance before; they were unloading a U-Haul trailer and the equipment basically covered half the passageway in front of the restrooms at the Bottom of the Hill.

5. Gene Loves Jezebel, Red Devil Lounge, SF, 3/8/07.

Michael Aston, the lead singer, called me “a sick motherfucker,” but that’s okay. (I had yelled out for “The Motion of Love.”) Later he elaborated: “No single heterosexual has ever requested ‘The Motion of Love.’ But then we’re in San Francisco.” (The woman next to me said, “I love that song, and I’m straight!” Maybe I should have asked for her number or something.)

Okay — so I’m not the biggest Gene Loves Jezebel fan, and, I swear, I can probably only really recognize three songs in their entire oeuvre. So I was pleasantly surprised at how kickass Aston’s backup band was.

What I remember, kind of:

– “Don’t Fear The Reaper”
– an acoustic version of “Desire”
– a Doors song played on FM radio all the time, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was
– “Suspicion” somewhere in there
– “Exploding Girl” dedicated to “the people of Palestine and their struggle”
– “Gorgeous,” of course
– women climbing up on stage and practically molesting Michael Aston

p.s. To the random drunk/high hot chick who danced with me, drank my beer, rubbed up against me, and gave me a kiss: thank you.

9. LCD Soundsystem, Mezzanine, SF, 4/30/07.

LCD Soundsystem’s setlist, if my beer-fogged mind can remember:

– Us and Them
– Daft Punk Is Playing At My House (speeded up a notch)
– Time to Get Away
– North American Scum (great shout-along for this one)
– All My Friends (probably the highlight of the concert, just a slow-driving accretion of layers)

(note: here’s where the order gets tricky, because it’s late and I’m tired and I had a good amount to drink, so take it with a grain of salt)

– Tribulations (excellent)
– Watch The Tapes (more shout-along for this song)
– Movement (rawk!)
– Yeah (plus Murphy does a series of drum/cowbell solos on this one)


– Someone Great
– (didn’t recognize this one, though it sounded vaguely familiar, like something from the ’80s; rocked harder than usual. A cover maybe? The refrain sounded like “I need it”) [This turned out to be Joy Division’s “No Love Lost”.]
– New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

10. Explosions in the Sky / Eluvium, Slim’s, SF, 5/1/2007.

To see a nice chunk of Temporary Recordings’ roster in concert — including Mono — in a span of five days is absolutely thrilling. So it was with great excitement that I caught this particular sold-out show.

Eluvium started the concert. Not sure how to describe the live experience, since it’s just Matthew Cooper with a guitar, hunched over laptop and keyboards for the most part, plus projected loops of film in the background, featuring birds flying in circles around a smokestack. Interestingly, he didn’t play any of the solo piano pieces, or even the Philip Glass-like compositions, but the long, droning melodies slowly being overtaken by cascading sheets of noise. Beautiful stuff, but loud — members of the audience were pressing hard on their earplugs.

The setlist, I think (as usual, not sure of the titles):

– Ostinato
– Under The Water It Glowed
– Taken
– Zerthis Was A Shivering Human Image [if not, it sure was harsh and metallic like this track]

And then finally, Explosions in the Sky. Damn, they’re great to watch live; like Mono, the audience was treated to the sight of the band swaying in unison (though a couple of the guitarists would disappear from (my) sight, presumably fiddling with the pedals on the floor). Fantastic show, with a respectful audience that stayed dead silent during the quiet passages.

I’m even worse with EitS titles, so I can write for a fact that “The Only Moment We Were Alone” was the last song, and the absolutely glorious “First Breath after Coma” was the first one, and “Catastrophe and the Cure” was the penultimate song, but everything else is a blur.

13. Up Dharma Down / The Dawn, saGuijo, Makati, 6/7/07.

Up Dharma Down @ saGuijo, 6/7/2007.

Concert write-up here.

15. Battles, Slim’s, 07/02/07.

Saw them twice this year, but the first time was the best: total eekamony-eekamony madness.

16. SUNN O))) / Earth, The Independent, SF, 7/4/07.

Concert write-up here.

18. The Polyphonic Spree, The Great American Music Hall, SF, 7/17/07.

Concert write-up here.

19. Sonic Youth, Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, 07/19/07.

It’s odd when you know exactly what the setlist will be — in this case, Daydream Nation in its entirety — which returns the concert-record experience to its original historical state, i.e., having the shellac / vinyl / 8-track / tape / minidisc / CD / mp3s be the musical record of the concert. Not the best venue for rocking out, but a stellar show all the same. And thanks to Eloise for the tickets!

20. Slint, Bimbo’s, SF, 07/22/07.

Spiderland in its entirety; enough said.

21. The Smashing Pumpkins, The Fillmore, SF, 07/31/07.

This was actually a rather disappointing concert (write-up here), but made memorable for the way the tickets were purchased. Thanks again to Eloise for the tickets!

22. Mandy Moore, The Fillmore, SF, 08/22/07.

Concert write-up here.

24. The Treasure Island Music Festival, SF, 09/16/07.

Treasure Island, San Francisco.

No concert write-up, but I mention it in one of those monthly mix posts.

25. The National, The Grand, SF, 09/29/07.

Maybe not the greatest band live, but when they’re playing music from my favorite album (Boxer) released in 2007, it’s still quite an experience.

26. Charlie Louvin, Amoeba Records, SF, 10/06/07.

Charlie Louvin's Latest CD.

In the presence of a legend: Charlie Louvin, his voice, his band, and about 25 other people on a Saturday afternoon.

27. Boris / Damon & Naomi, The Independent, SF, 10/14/07.

Concert write-up here.

29. Mono, The Independent, SF, 10/28/07.

Second time to see them this year, and this was the best of all. No concert write-up, but you can get a sense of their live show in my DVD review.

31. M.I.A. / Cool Kids, The Fillmore, 11/7/07.

Just unbelievable: I’ve never been to a concert with a crowd this excited before. Maya Arulpragasam is a goddess. I think I’ve written that before.

32. Dengue Fever, The Independent, 11/9/07.

Third time to see the Coolest Band in America in 2007, and maybe the sixth or seventh overall? Concert write-up here. Chhom Nimol is a goddess. I think I’ve written that before too.

33. PUFFY, Slim’s, 11/15/07.

Puffy Setlist, Slim's, San Francisco, 11/15/07.

Once again, snagged by Laurel, since we were standing in front of the monitors. (We did wait for two hours in the cold so we could be right up front.) The last time PUFFY came through SF, I stupidly blew them off for a terrible Claire Denis film, for which I had already bought tickets. Note to self: You never, ever do that for one of your favorite bands ever. And this Slim’s gig was just about perfect.

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