Ian Sweet, Post Life and Horrible/Adorable at the Rickshaw Stop

Ian Sweet
Ian Sweet at the Rickshaw Stop

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.

Horrible/Adorable at the Rickshaw Stop

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.

Post Life
Post Life at the Rickshaw Stop

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.

The Muffs Part 1

Less than a year ago, fun-loving 90’s band the Muffs came on my radar. I don’t know why I was unaware all this time, but it happens. I put the first Muffs album on my Christmas list (and my family dutifully bought it for me), and I’ve been listening to it a bunch since then. A couple of weeks ago it clicked that I really liked the album, and I’m currently in the ‘I play this album every day’ phase of the relationship.

The band in its current form is fronted by Kim Shattuck (formerly of the the Pandoras) on guitar and vocals, with Ron Barnett on bass guitar and Roy McDonald on drums.

I’m just going to talk about The Muffs self-titled first album, since that’s the only one I know at this time. However, I intend to buy the second and third Muffs albums, Blonder and Blonder, and Happy Birthday to Me at a minimum, since they seem equally well-loved, and there are many newer ones to discover as well.

I don’t think I can get all music critic poetic in this moment, but there’s something about this album that just feels like coming home – like settling in to 16 satisfying cuts of succinct, pure and satisfying rock and roll. It is Ramones-like in the sense that nothing is wasted, and every note contributes to the effect.

Shattuck’s voice kind of has one raspy, loud timbre that rarely varies, yet every lyric is delivered with clarity and a brassy smile. She sings like she’s enjoying herself. And I guess there’s a forthright, happiness about this Muffs album that makes me feel good.

And can they write hooks? Standouts on this album include “Everywhere I Go”, “Baby Go Round” and “All for Nothing”, but really there are so many great songs on this album that I could practically list them all.

So if you haven’t been exposed to The Muffs yet, and could use a dose of pure, happy tunes, you could do worse than to pick up The Muffs first album and give it a spin. And they are still performing, so by all means if you get the chance, go to a show. I plan to next chance I get.

Muffs website https://www.facebook.com/TheMuffsMusic/