One of the greatest benefits of live music in San Francisco is the opportunity to rock out in classic and historic venues. These glamorous buildings display designs and architecture that suggest we (and the artists we came to see), shouldn’t be allowed in with ripped t-shirts.
The Great American Music Hall building first opened in 1907, and although it has changed hands and venue themes over the century, the essence of a former era is still there. In the past thirty years, artists such as Duke Ellington and Sarah Vaughan have graced the stage, and later artists ranging from The Grateful Dead to Van Morrison have also left their marks. If the presence of those greats alone isn’t enough to make you feel welcome, perhaps the ear-splitting professional sound, 2 full bars, cocktail and dinner service is? As San Francisco’s “oldest and grandest nightclub,” The Great American Music Hall, juxtaposes reverberations of rock-and-roll from “ornate balconies, soaring marble columns and elaborate ceiling frescoes,” (gamh.com).
8:00pm Triumph of Lethargy: I didn’t know punk was back, (or how I lost my hearing). Walking into an ocean of sound off a quiet street is shocking enough… but Triumph of Lethargy comes with a passion for technical feedback, including echos, angry speakers, purposeful dissonance and cacophonous screeching. There is duck tape holding upside down guitars, there is swinging, and grungy yells and whispers; usually monotone and fierce… oh and have I mentioned that these were all powerfully fantastic things to experience as a local-concert goer? Self-described as “experimental” and “garage,” the pure force of Lethargy’s voice and energy soaks into every howl and stumble and desperate movement to exhaust the last breath.
Their performance is so dripping with anarchist power that it’s hard not to feel moved no matter what your music taste. During the final set… lead singer Spencer Moody scratched his beard and jumped offstage with microphone in hand, to move with the crowd now inches away.
9:00 Lia Ices: I bought the ‘Grown Unknown’ LP, and I don’t even have a record player. It’s hard to miss an entrance that involves 3 men in gray jumpsuits and a thin, young front-woman in heels, (and a modified jumpsuit that shows her entire back), caressing a red keyboard bedazzled with fake flowers. With drums that sound like heartbeats, a smooth Nora Jones-esque voice floated across the GAMH, in a very different way than Lia’s preceding act.
There was merchandise on sale in the corner of the Music hall, and between performances patrons would sneak a peak at adequately priced t-shirts, albums, etc. After she finished a beautiful rendition of her hit “Daphne,” Lia Ices posed for photos on the floor, being hugged and swathed by young boys like the Justin Beiber of alternative ladies that she is, and then stood behind the table greeting live music goers and autographing merchandise.
10:30 The Cave Singers: and now there is no space on the oak dance floor. From the ashes of Pretty Girls Make Graves comes the Cave Singers, and this time it’s an all male trio with a rockabilly/bluegrass feel. Like Triumph of Lethargy, these Seattle natives expose a throaty and pure voice, which makes the audience feel like they’re swaying to spicier version of Bob Dylan or Mumford & Sons. With Pete Quirk on vocals/guitar/melodica/harmonica, (I swear each song he pulled out a new instrument),
Derek Fudesco on guitar & bass pedals, (he played these simultaneously), and Marty Lund on drums and guitar (I don’t think he played those simultaneously), the crowd enjoyed over an hour and a half of soulful goodness. The Cave Singer’s played seamlessly and announced it was their first time being honored to play at TGAMH. Their tour continues with Lia Ices, until they split off for Austin, TX with Fleet Foxes on May 10th.
Lia Ices:”Grown Unknown”