Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

The Energys: hot-wired Japanese punk explodes in S.F. 

Wednesday, Sep 26 2007

Morrissey has turned from a gangly egghead into a debonair crooner without losing his self-deprecating wit: At his birthday show in May, the suit-clad singer gestured to himself and dryly said, "Let this be a warning — this is what 48 looks like." Yet during the set opener (a raucous rendition of the Smiths' "The Queen Is Dead"), the Mancunian treated the microphone as if he were wielding a red cape in front of a bull, cutting back and forth in time to the descending chords of the song. His slick 2006 album Ringleader of the Tormentors isn't quite as ragged as his current live show, although its bright pop produces small pleasures. Morrissey performs on Wednesday, Sept. 26, and Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Fillmore at 8 p.m. Admission is $65; call 346-6000 or visit for more info. —Annie Zaleski

Circle's name is an apt one. The Finnish act's compositions frequently cycle a single riff for minutes at a time while the drums tick along, adapting the mechanical motorik rhythm pioneered by '70s krautrock bands like Neu! But the music isn't just about inducing trance; Circle frequently combines that hypnotic repetition with manic energy. The band's newest release, Katapult, is a weird record, even by Circle standards. The primitive analog synth lines suggest the influence of early '80s electronic music, specifically Tangerine Dream's soundtracks to movies like Risky Business. The album's best track, "Four Points of the Compass," is a total droner that makes you feel as if you're in a Michael Mann movie — unshaven, stoic, and driving a Ferrari down a rain-slicked highway at midnight. Hear for yourself when Circle comes to town on Thursday, Sept. 27, at Bottom of the Hill at 9 p.m. Admission is $10-12; call 626-4455 or visit for more info. —Phil Freeman

Too hot-wired to worry about picky little details like tuning, The Energys slap their guitars silly while their amps screech with distortion. In fact, there's much in this Kobe City quartet's song "Teenage Flustration" [sic] that recalls fellow Japanese noiseniks Guitar Wolf. The Energys drop chunks of '50s rock into the Ramones' bottled-up punk fizz, catalyzing a reaction somewhat akin to nitro meeting glycerin. Catch a faceful of feedback on Thursday, Sept. 27 (when the Energys join the chicken-squawkin' Rock 'n' Roll Adventure Kids), at 9 p.m., or on Saturday, Sept. 29 (when they headline the all-day, all-ages Boomfest), at 3 p.m. Both events are at Thee Parkside. Thursday's admission is $5 and Saturday's fest is free; call 252-1330 or visit for more info. —John Graham

As the legend goes, the three founding members of Israel Vibration — Cecil "Skelly" Spence, Lacelle "Wiss" Bulgin, and Albert "Apple" Craig — met in a polio ward. Their battered bodies belied their angelic vocals, however, and they went on to become one of the greatest roots harmony trios of the classic era of '70s reggae. Over the past 32 years, their socially conscious "sufferer's" anthems, celebrations of Jah love, and inspirational songs of upliftment have earned the group a devoted following. Now a duo (Apple left the band a few years back), Israel Vibration continues to release studio albums — the most recent being 2007's Stamina — and spread positive messages of peace, love, and unity to audiences worldwide. Israel Vibration performs on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Independent at 9 p.m. Admission is 22-$25; call 771-1421 or visit for more info. —Eric K. Arnold

Brooklyn transplants who make up the National have been quietly refining their melancholic indie rock for the past eight years, culminating with their most recent release, Boxer. While the band's discs are remarkably varied in sound — displaying alt-country influences as well as My Bloody Valentine–esque experimentation — Boxer pairs frontman Matt Berninger's distinctive baritone with expansive arrangements. From the orchestral opener "Fake Empires" to the climactic "Start a War" and the foreboding piano-fueled closer "Gospel," Boxer is a fully realized vision, something that today's single-driven music world needs more now than ever. The National performs Sunday, Sept. 29, at the Grand at 8 p.m. Admission is $22.50; call 864-0815 or visit for more info. —Jonah Bayer

Olympia, Wash.–based band Wolves in the Throne Room has risen to become one of America's most respected proponents of extreme music. The group crafts a unique brand of experimental black metal as vast and foreboding as the great Pacific Northwest woods that inspired its sound. With a "back to nature" philosophy drawn from black metal's pagan roots and a gift for balancing oppressive guitar squall with flashes of pastoral beauty, the band further refines its dark science on its latest album, Two Hunters. Oakland's equally dynamic black-metal existentialists Ludicra and Arizona sludgecore merchants Graves At Sea add to the mayhem when this unholy trio of bands unleashes hell on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Slim's at 8 p.m. Admission is $12; call 255-0333 or visit for more info. —Dave Pehling


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"