Stereolab at the Fillmore – October 18, 2019

A 5-piece rock band on stage

Stereolab at the Fillmore in October 2019

Dear Reader: As I noted in my previous post, I am going to endeavor to reboot the Girlbandgeek blog. It is my tribute to the music I love, which has given me so much joy. Despite most of 2020 and all of 2021 having no live music, I have in fact seen almost 20 shows that I have not documented, some at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, and more since live shows started up again in 2022.

As the events I will be describing happened considerably far in the past, I’m going to be fairly casual about it. In some cases I may have jotted down some notes, and in others I may just have to rely on memory, and whatever I captured in my trusty iPhone. If all I have is a picture and a few impressions, I’m just going to post that and move on. But at least there will be a record of the music which nourished my heart and soul in these turbulent years.

The following notes are taken from my journal the day after the show:

I did feel happy just being in SF, even driving, but even more so after I parked the car in the Japantown garage and entered Japan Center. I really love that place. All the Japanese people, the restaurants, and other cool stores like the stationery store, the bookstore, anime/manga store and so on. I found Alex by our favorite Ramen place, Marufuku. We greeted each other and Alex said the wait at Marufuku was 3 hours, so we went to another smaller place which was cute and the food was tasty. I didn’t get the name, but it was on the bridge and it had bunches of manga, and anime playing on multiple screens.

Having finished dinner, we walked a few short blocks to the Fillmore. I unironically love the Fillmore and I always get an emotional feeling just walking into the venue. I love the little touches – top hat girl, the red delicious apples, the free posters. It’s a good size – not too big – and it’s inviting. I couldn’t tell you what color it is – but there’s some molding, chandeliers, and tons of photographs of bands and artists going back to the 60’s – The Grateful Dead, Janice Joplin, the B-52s, Sleater-Kinney and on and on. We got there a little after 8pm. We got some beverages, and I decided to get in the merch line which was already pretty long. I picked up a shirt for myself and one for Vinny (which I gave them at Christmas). Alex was on board with my plan to just get as close as possible and stay there for the whole show.

Opening band was Bronze. I knew nothing about them, and only figured out their name because I looked it up. They were pretty trippy. They were a three piece band with drummer, vocalist and synthesizer dude. Along the edge of the stage were placed 8 or 10 coffee makers, many visibly steaming as if full of fresh coffee. Synthesizer dude played a weird instrument that looked like an oversized game controller – or just a box with some knobs. He produced a heavy and pretty complex sound just by rotating a couple of knobs? Logically he must have had some pre-programmed tracks, and then just kind of modified them with the controller knobs, but I don’t know for sure. The singer was wearing a western style sport coat and a cowboy hat. He had a good voice and a kind of distracted, David Byrne-like quality about him. They are kind of like the house band in a David Lynch film. I thought they were a good warm up for Stereolab. I don’t think Alex was very into them.

[Apparently I ran out of steam and didn’t write much about Stereolab] Really fun show – it was so great to see the songs live. I found myself watching guitar player Tim Gane a lot. He seemed like a musical focal point and really rhythmically driving things. The whole band just sounded really good though.

    Set List

  • Anamorphose
  • Ping Pong
  • Infinity Girl
  • Double Rocker
  • Crest
  • Need to Be
  • Metronomic Underground
  • Suddan Stars
  • Brakhage
  • Miss Modular
  • Percolator
  • French Disko
  • Lo Boob Oscillator
  • Rainbo Conversation
  • Blue Milk
  • Contranatura

I do remember that it was a really big deal to see Stereolab. Having discovered them after their apparent disbandment, and then to watch as their catalog was remastered and re-released so beautifully, and finally to have all the (surviving) original members reform and begin touring was thrilling to me. They really are an amazing band and I remember being quite high from the experience for days after…

Below is a photo of Bronze for posterity, as well as a snippet of video. They really had a unique vibe!

Three musicians perform contemporary music

Bronze at the Fillmore – October 2019

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