Budget Rock flexed its lo-fi, cacophonous muscles last night for its eighth annual edition at Bottom of the Hill, featuring Thee Oh Sees, The Fresh and Onlys, Gris Gris, and Dan Melchior and Das Menace. I was ringside, blackberry in hand, bopping my head while tweeting the blow-by-blows. A recap of the insanity (see also twitter.com/TweetBeatSF):
8ish: Long line of eager-faced kids waiting to snatch up the last remaining tickets of a sold-out show. I manage to scrounge one up. 10 bucks to see awesome bands! Bad economy rules sometimes.
9ish: The Fresh and Onlys come out rockin’ like gangbusters. I’m multitasking like a champ, eating my grilled ham and brie sandwich on the side of the stage while tweeting with greasy hands. FAO are much punkier live, with a surf-rock vibe – I wonder where the janglyness I heard on their albums is, until I find it hidden conspicuously in the reverb-soaked surf guitar licks. The singer is a beast of a man – mangy long hair and beard on a big frame, dressed in army fatigues and a hand cast (bear fight?) – who busts out some serious dramatic singing gestures. Did I just see jazz hands?
Nye on 10: FAO finish. I spot the drummer from San Francisco indie buzz-stars “Girls” and now I know this show’s legit. And what’s this? I run into my college pal Mark Ribak from the bands Nobunny and Rock ‘N Roll Adventure Kids. A reunion that was long overdue. This show has juice!
10ish: Dan Melchior and Das Menace from England come on, with whiny British yelping over minimalist fuzz rock. The drummer plays a sparse set standing up, emphasizing minimalistics. Mark says they sound like the band “The Intelligence,” but I wouldn’t know. Now they stretch things out, jamming for several minutes on end, the singer/guitarist winning me over with his dirty noodling. I think they’re channeling “The Fall.” The bassist might be preggers, but if she’s not I’m a dick. I really hope she’s packin’ fetus so I can go on living with myself. Otherwise, she’s still sexy on the bass.
11ish: Thee Oh Sees (aka “OCS”) are getting ready. This is something I’ve never seen before: OCS is setting up IN the crowd…and the crowd is packing the stage?! OCS starts and suddenly I understand: this is not a show – it’s a fucking party. People in the crowd are playing maracas and tamborines, jumping with delight, and are pushed up right against the band. OCS is rocking HARD, playing their songs 3Xs faster than on their album. Frenetic joy. The energy is contagious when within 3 feet. The singer is playing his guitar up by his neck, opposite of Green Day. No bassist – keeps things trebly. And they’re playing out of small ass amps and a tiny shit of a PA for maximum lo-fi twang. OCS is all kindsa jangly. The party ends to a collective sigh. So good!
12ish: The OCS keybardist walks by and I am officially in love with her. Gris Gris opens its set with a lot of noise and some dissonance. The bassist Oscar used to play in Rock ‘N Roll Adventure Kids and must be in like 70% of all SF bands, including Dream Date I think. GG slow things down, and now they’re vibing a slow drone of noise. Isn’t a ‘gris gris’ a type of belay device? These guys don’t look like climbers. Oscar’s wearing camo, and I can feel his bass in every organ of my body. Did I just poop myself? Cuz I can’t tell. The drummer goes into a badass epileptic fit, and I’m starting to worry about all the flash photography. This kid can really hit the cans. Oh snap! Like that the sound morphs into bedroom melodies. I think the singer is singing out of a tiny practice amp, OG natural distortion style. And now back to chaos. This is (unpredictable) music! Oscar plays the same note for 6 minutes straight and I’m shooting him a look that says, “Give me another pair of undies now goddammit.” I think he gets it. Whoa, now the singer plays his guitar with a pint glass. I love this venue.
12:30ish: Budget Rock ends. For some reason, there are four shirtless dudes at the bar taking shots and trying to balance drinks on their heads. Wtfuck? These bros are CRUNK. And I’m pooped.