Blackstone Heist in San Francisco

When even the band thanks you for enduring the torrential rains and whipping winds to make the show, one can’t help but feel virtuous standing in the glowing red lights, squeezed between hordes of thank-god-we’re inside-and-it’s-friday/guitar-music-quesadilla enthusiasts.

9:30 Whiskey Pills Fiasco emerges from the crowd and leaps onto the stage like a flash mob, (with a few bottles of Budweiser each).

Whiskey Pills Fiasco’s lead front man wears a dauntingly black cowboy hat and has his fingers taped because he slaps the bass so hard they’d be seriously trashed otherwise. Most of Whiskey’s music makes you feel like you’re in a scene from True Blood, (in a good way), as the polished-homey-honey style guitar and bass produce a haunting tone while encouraging fast-paced foot stomping, jiving, and I swear I saw some moves from Dirty Dancing produced.  Their steady cover of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” was a personal favorite of mine, with a sensible range of Rockabilly, Surf, Country, and Americana, all mixed into one. They make you wish it was a balmy Southern night at an outdoor BBQ with lots more room to swing.

10:30 Blackstone Heist begins, and the surrounding patrons gradually creep to the stage’s edge.

Despite the startling announcement that this would be the last show as “Blackstone Heist” as we know it, (two members would be leaving), the energy of the crowd and the impact of the music slowly spreads joy through the room as the complex sounds of guitar, keys, bass, drums and vox pounded through the speakers. If you haven’t heard, this is a group formed in 2008; with a biography that is quite simply: “two guys from south of Boston, one from Chicago, and one from southern California.” Their self-proclaimed influences include: Radiohead, The Black Keys, The Grateful Dead, Arcade Fire, and Bloc Party and it comes across through complicated compositions and lyrics.

It’s hard to imagine a better way to end three years of great music making than with all the members pouring their heart into each note, stomping across the stage, tossing their heads around like dashboard dolls. These guys played it out and the cattle-packed crowd nodded and bounced from each beat with reverence.

Later that evening Blackstone Heist updated their facebook status, saying: “It won’t be our last [show]. But we will miss Dan and Wes… The amazing turn out made what could have been a melancholy show into a very happy, memorable night for us.”

Notes on a Concert:
The stage: Crimson and gold lit stage of Cafe du Nord; packed with beer bottles and musicians. Out there: antique barstools and tables, wood floors, 1940’s Movie Theater + Saloon-feel.
The crowd’s style: Tattooed, vodka-drinking, emotionally invested. The swaying never ceased.

Questions asked:Do Cherries really belong in Red Bulls?