DJ Britt Govea of ((folk yeah))
August 12, 2011
Rickshaw Stop / Outside Lands night show
Better than: Freezing your ass off while listening to Phish for three hours in the Outer Sunset. No, seriously.
"This square is, like, a homeless camp," declared the lithe gentleman in white bell-bottom jeans. His statement, made while standing in line to gain entry to the Rickshaw Stop, was not inaccurate, but seemed beside the point. Perhaps he was just informing friends who were less familiar with the Civic Center area?
Homeless presence aside, the triple bill of Extra Classic, tUnE-yArDs, and Vetiver did the Rickshaw proud. In between the swaying reggae beat of the opener and the rocking slow build of the sold-out show's close, Friday night gave fans a chance to do what S.F.'s last call time rarely allows: stay out past 2 a.m.
Extra Classic warmed up the crowd nicely, as evidenced by the wide-stanced reggae sways going on around me. But the action really picked up when Merrill Garbus took the stage -- conservatively clad in black, with a streak of face paint declaring that she meant business. tUnE-yArDs has had quite a year, and for good reason. Garbus's distinctive sound, consisting largely of looped vocals and percussion, is impressive enough on an album. It's freaking awesome on YouTube. Live, it's mind blowing: Garbus creates layer upon layer of beats and yelps onstage, lathering her crowd into a frenzy as the song builds before their eyes.
Not to mention that the band's two albums -- Birdbrain and w h o k i l l -- are full of dance-friendly numbers ideally suited to the intimate, warm setting of the Rickshaw. The crowd took off with a head-bob (lead by the man in front with a serious purple mohawk), only to be lulled into a slow sway as Garbus called out the opening notes of "Powa." A sensual, dirty-sexy track, Garbus smiled slyly as she pulled out the line, "My man likes me from behind," watching the crowd shift from a sway to a pulse. Before she could lose them to their intense desire to take each other home, she had the audience members dancing full force again with "Bizness," the first single off w h o k i l l.
It was a crowd pleaser, yes, but tUnE-yArDs seemed like it'd be an awfully fun band to play in, as well. In addition to getting to wear face paint and (if you're one of the two saxophone players) brightly colored fuzzy pom-poms on your shirt, you get to experiment with all kinds of percussion. If you're the bass player, you get to play with coke bottles. The saxophone player got pot lids. Merrill Garbus seemed to use anything in front of her that wouldn't run when it encountered vicious drumstick beating.
If she wasn't loved by the crowd to start (though the small girl with a distinctly similar haircut and another with a streak of blue paint across her face would suggest otherwise), she endeared herself to everyone by declaring that she was incredibly glad to be home. "Although, San Francisco isn't Oakland," she conceded, smiling at the cheers this invited (I can't believe that many people from Oakland were present Friday night, but no matter). "It's the freaking Bay Area!"