Here’s a little review of Ian Sweet, Post Life and Horrible/Adorable at Rickshaw Stop last Thursday, April 13. But first, a little detour. Many years ago (~1984) I moved to the Bay Area, and lived in San Francisco from 1984 until 1999. Currently, I live in the Santa Cruz mountains, but my pulse still quickens whenever I visit The City. I love the variety and energy of the people, the scent of ocean in the air, the architecture, the fact that it’s surrounded by water on three sides… The area around the Rickshaw Stop used to be pretty darned sketchy, but now Hayes Valley is bursting at the seams with elegant people, toting yoga mats, going places, laughing, talking, and enjoying gourmet food and drink of every description. My friend Alex and I dined at Patxi’s Pizza, which was a pretty good experience. We ordered a deep dish pizza, since it’s their specialty, but I later realized that Chicago Style pizza is not really my thing – too much like eating a pie crust full of melted cheese and toppings, with some sauce on the top. I mean it was fresh, and tasty, but I think regular pizza is more to my taste. But Patxi’s has a nice atmosphere, and I would go again.
Anyway, we made it to Rickshaw Stop shortly after 8. Jilian from Ian Sweet was there by the merch table right when we walked in. She sweetly introduced herself, and we chatted for a while. I offered that Alex was from Manhattan, so they talked about neighborhoods in Brooklyn for a while. Jilian was wearing a rather homely wide brimmed hat, like you might put on your baby to keep it from getting a sunburn. I should mention that I bought these tickets because I erroneously thought that Cherry Glazerr was going to be on the bill, and I knew nothing about any of the bands, other than looking at a few videos and articles. So despite my disappointment that Cherry Glazerr was not actually on this leg of the tour, I was intrigued enough to go anyway, and had a fun time.
As often happens, the unknown local opening band stole our hearts. Composed of guitarist Kristin “Kiki” Petiford and drummer Candice Kuter, Horrible/Adorable is a perfect lo-fi, cheeky, garage-rock duo from Oakland. Their music is funny, and raw, but also intelligent. And most of all, they kick ass. They sing about Mac n cheese, UFO’s, bowling, and boys among other things. Alex and I both bought their 7 inch debut “Lookin’ Healthy”, and I picked up one of their hand-made shirts for my son.
The second act was Post Life, a four piece band out of Los Angeles. Singer/guitar player Brianna said this was their first tour which was cool. They had great energy, and their music created a vibrating wall of sound, over which Brianna’s vocals soared. The only notes I took were that Brianna’s right hand strummed amazingly fast, and the other guitar play, also excellent, had amazing long masses of light brown hair. Definitely worth checking out.
Sometime around 10pm Ian Sweet took the stage. They are a three piece combo, with Jilian on guitar and vocals, Damien Scalise on bass and Tim Cheney on drums. Jilian still had on her funny sun hat, and Damien and Tim also sported baseball caps. Alex and I decided it was their thing. I will just come out and say I did not connect on an emotional level with Ian Sweet. They are extremely talented musicians, and though the crowd was small, I could tell a number of the attendees were fully committed, enthusiastically jumping and whooping to the music. However, Alex pointed out that a disturbing number of audience members were also talking, or twiddling their smart phones through much of the performance. I think part of the issue is that Ian Sweet’s songs are challenging and complex. Some are catchy, too, but the themes seem to be introspective, searching and somewhat abstract, and the music is shifting, and jazzy, and a little bit more than I could wrap myself around at the end of a long day. But the three of them had a good energy together, and their music is fiery and virtuoso. So if complex, jazzy, introspective rock is your thing, check Ian Sweet out by all means.