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CraveOnline’s Guide to the San Francisco Indie Music Scene

We infiltrate the west coast hipster headquarters

CraveOnline's Guide to the San Francisco Indie Music Scene


By Dave Schilling

 

On a cloudy September day in San Francisco recently, I had the pleasure of making a lap around the hot music spots in the city; Café du Nord, the Independent, Slims, etc.

The City By The Bay boasts a prodigious number of world-class concert venues, and it’s hard to see every show worth seeing.

I had an appointment to score some mushrooms off of an old college professor that evening, but seeing as he had to cancel in order to curate an orgy at his sister’s house, I was given a rare free evening to sample some of the lesser-known bands in the local indie “scene.”  Being a successful journalist, it’s easy for me to get free tickets to shows like this.

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I had my assistant snag me the best seat in the house

I squeezed into my flannel shirt, threw on my Ray Bans, popped the top on a frosty Pabst, shoved a particularly squirmy gerbil up my ass and made my way to a little hole-in-the-wall called Edinburgh Castle.  Edinburgh Castle is a local watering hole frequented by San Frannys (my own little nickname for people out here) who like the finer things in life, such as indie music, a cold beer, stimulating conversations about important topics, f*cking, Bret Easton Ellis novels, and being unable to hold down a job that doesn’t include standing at a register or carrying a mop of some kind.  I was certainly in a pubeless, intellectually stimulating form of heaven. 

At the “Castle” (as drunk local people call it, to prevent themselves from slurring too many syllables), I saw a band that pulsated with the energy previously found only within a classic band like The Pixies, the philosophical teachings of Kant or an aching, throbbing phallus.  They called themselves Endroit.  I don’t speak anything but American, but I was told “Endroit” is French for “White Power.”

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Little known fact about these young lads: their lead singer is Don Johnson’s youngest son.  Can you tell which one is him?

I didn’t hear much of their set, as I was in the bathroom doing blow, but I heard from a guy who doesn’t like the band at all that their set consisted of 5 songs, most of them about a gentleman who operates a neighborhood confectionary automobile.  My favorite of their tracks is called “Don’t Touch Me There, Ice Cream Man.”  Hauntingly beautiful, reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen on acid; with splendiferous use of the bass guitar, Moog synth, and the xylophone.  Another track, “Ice Cream Man, Stay Away,” made me once again appreciate judicious smatterings of accordion in indie power pop.   I admit almost crying during their grand finale, a solo piano tune called “When You Hear Truck, You Must Run.”  I had finally made it out of the bathroom and was touched by what I heard.


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This photo was taken by someone who wasn‘t doing lines with some trannies during the show.

I tried to get an interview with lead singer/son of a former Miami Vice star, Erik Roget, but was promptly asked to leave when I queried him as to why he writes so many songs about molestation.  Apparently, that’s a sensitive spot for him.  How was I supposed to know that?  Talk about being irrationally rude.

You can find all of Endroit’s songs about ice cream and unwanted sexual advances here: myspace.com/endroit

In lieu of what was sure to be an awkward, tear-soaked interview worthy of The Tyra Banks Show, I decided to sample a bit more of the local scene.  I looked across the room to see all the cool outfits people were wearing, just to be sure that I was, in fact, much cooler than everyone else, as I assumed that I was.  I stared ominously into the crowd of sexy youngsters, then back at myself.  Skinny jeans?  Check.  Thrift store shirt?  Check.  Converses?  Check.  Thick beard?  Check. 

I was dressed just like the Coat Check Girl. 

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It was love at first sight.  We compared beards, discussed the lack of money in each other’s bank accounts (our trust fund payments hadn’t been deposited that week), and smoking grass while screwing in the woods.  I’d honestly never met a woman that I had more in common with.  I can see why people flock to San Francisco.  They have the most gorgeous women!  And such conversation skills!  I could have talked to her about ironic t-shirts for HOURS.


Sadly, I had to cut short a debate on the pros and cons of the trucker hat to head over to the next bar.  I arrived at the Hemlock looking for a VIP section, velvet rope or any kind of demarcation of where special people were supposed to go to.  I was told by a bouncer who didn’t look like he weighed more than a Mars Bar and a pocket full of loose change that San Francisco doesn’t have many “VIP sections.”  While trying to understand this bizarre concept, I knocked the guy over, kicked him in the groin and ran for backstage, assuming that being there assured my status as a rock journalist with important connections in the industry.  I made it just in time to catch a band that I guarantee you’ll be seeing name-checked all over your favorite blog (but remember where you heard the name first!).  They’re called Zoo Patrol, and they rocked my socks off.  Neo-garage-metal-folk rap has never been more potent than in the hands of these lads from San Francisco’s seedy Marina District.  

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They played for 45 transcendent minutes, debuting tracks from their forthcoming LP, “The Torment of a Swan With No Direction North.”  I’d link you to their MySpace or Facebook page so that you could enjoy a few of their songs, but drummer Whit Whitman told me point blank that they “don’t believe in the internet.”  As such, I advise you to seethe with jealousy that I was at their show and you weren’t, and pray to God that they tour in your shitty, Podunk town.

After rocking me so hard that I regained my virginity long enough for them to take it right back with authority (and in the butt), I sat down with the gang for an in-depth 1-on-1 interview. 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I was advised by my editor that because there are 4 people in the band, that this doesn’t qualify as a “1-on-1” interview in the strictest sense, but to be quite frank, my editor is a retard who owns numerous Limp Bizkit records unironically.

For ease of reading, the band members are as follows:

Whit Whitman: Drummer, vocals

Katerina Montana: Bass

Leslie Bucket: Lead guitar, vocals

Brick Fister: Lead vocals, tamborine, kazoo, digiridoo, space flute

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: Brick Fister asked to be called “Shaka Zulu” during the duration of our interview.  I obliged.

David Schilling: Thanks for taking the time, guys.

Katerina Montana: I’m a girl, not a “guy.”  Thanks.

DS: Feminist in the house!  Hi-Yo!

Leslie Bucket: That’s not funny.  We deal with sexism in the music industry every day. 

DS:  That’s a good idea for a column: Sex in the music industry.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #3: At this point, I was asked to turn the tape recorder off.  What followed was a stern lecture by someone who said they were  a “publicist” or something.  I wasn’t paying attention.  After that, I turned the tape recorder back on.

Brick Fister/Shaka Zulu: I expect some questions about our music, please.

DS: You are one step ahead of me, Shaka Zulu, my main man.  One step ahead! 

SZ: Speak your question, quickly.  I am quite tired from changing the world with my music and spreading our message to the four corners of the globe.

DS: Of course, I won’t…I won’t keep you from getting some rest.   What’s with the name “Zoo Patrol.”  Pretty kooky stuff.


Whit Whitman: We originally wanted to be called “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” but our manager said it wasn’t snappy enough. 

SZ: Instead, we chose the name of our favorite Saturday morning cartoon growing up.

 DS:  Rad, very rad.  So, tell me about your song, “The Whisperer in the Darkness.”  I loved the vocals in that track.

SZ: It’s an instrumental.

DS: Of course it is.  Next question, where did you fellas meet?

LB: There are girls in this band.  Shit!

DS: Trust me, I’ve noticed you and your friend.  I have definitely noticed.  I noticed when you bent over to pick up that guitar pick earlier.

KM: You’re a f*cking pig, dude.

DS: That’s your interpretation of a complex situation.  OK, again, where did you strapping lads meet?

SZ: At church.

DS: Oh, church, eh?  You boys are religious?

AUTHOR’S NOTE #4: Leslie and Katerina left at this point.

DS: I’d hit that.  Amirite?

AUTHOR’S NOTE #5: The remaining band members did not respond well to my request for a High-5.

DS: What church do you belong to?

SZ: We worship Cthulhu.

DS: Is that a band?

SZ: No.  Cthulhu is one of the Old Ones.  A great and powerful being.  He will smite you if you wrong him.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #6: I asked to see a picture of this Cthulhu guy, was told to turn the tape recorder off again, and was shown the following:

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Made a mental note that this could make a pretty sweet tattoo.  Turned the tape recorder back on.


DS: If you could sum up your work as an artist in a few words, what would they be?

SZ: Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

DS: Deep.  Very deep.  I dig that you dudes are into eastern philosophy.  That’s so rad.  You have a great scene out here in San Francisco.  What do you do for fun when you aren’t playing shows?

SZ: We wait for the return of the Old Ones.  At the time when slumber is over, we will take great Cthulhu from his tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of Earth….Then mankind will have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach us new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy ourselves, and all the earth will flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

DS: F*cking rad!  I voted for Obama too.  You know who you remind me of?  Bono.  You have that same kind of vibe and I dig it.  OK, last question.  Name your Top 5 favorite albums of 2009 so far.  I loved that Grizzly Bear record, just to get the ball rolling.  Also, I’m digging Health and the newest Ladytron.  Thoughts?

SZ: I liked “xx” by The xx.  Cthulhu and Pitchfork commanded me so!  They know all that is occurring in the universe!

 DS: Rock and roll.  You guys want to grab a beer with me?  I know a place out in the Inner Sunset.

SZ: YOUR SOUL WILL BURN ALONG WITH THE REST.

Shaka Zulu handed me a copy of the Necronomicon and guided me to the door.  

San Francisco showed me a great time and I’d go back there in a heartbeat.  Great music, great people, some potentially dangerous cults, and my choice of bearded women with back acne. 

I’d like to leave you with a quote from one of my all-time favorite poets.  It’s a simple little poem, something that reminds me of the great Beat Generation writers who hung around the North Beach area of San Francisco. 

Why.. why she hoein man?
Why’s she hoein, you ain’t knowin? Oh you know why
Why is she prostitutin her body.. BEITCH!

Why she hoein, you ain’t knowin..
.. about all them d**ks she be blowin, bitch where you goin?
Bring yo’ ass back, here right now
Cook my food, and clean my house
Put my d**k, in yo’ mouth
Hell naw beitch you ain’t goin out

You better realize she’s a ho by nature
Takes one to know one fo’sho’ I’m a player
She ain’t really happy ‘less she lickin a
d**k
with a sucker-ass that be trickin an’ shit

You can’t train the p**sy, by lockin it up
Raw
d**kin the p**sy, and knockin it up (nope)
She still gon’ be a ho and a baby by you don’t mean shit
What kind of player are you? Let’s get rich
Run the game with no glitch
Look her in the eye and say BEITCH!