Veruca Salt @ The Independent, San Francisco 06.26.14

Veruca Salt

Reunited 90s alt-rockers Veruca Salt are out  on tour together for the first time in about 17 years, and played San Francisco on June 26th. If that sentence excites you, hey, happy 38th birthday!

But seriously, I’ve seen a lot of reunion shows of bands in the last year or two, including Soundgarden, the Breeders, Dinosaur Jr., and That Dog, and I can honestly say that Veruca Salt might’ve been the best of them all. Though some incarnation of Veruca Salt had been active until 2012, VS co-leaders Nina Gordon and Louise Post acrimoniously split in about 1998, and the band has had a revolving door of members since, save for Post. But with hatchets apparently buried, Gordon and Post got the original lineup back together, with Gordon’s brother Jim Shapiro returning on drums and Steve Lack (Post: “His dad told us where he’d be holed up for the last 10 years) on bass.

The band sounded tight, energized, and excited to be out there, and the crowd was borderline fanatical. Which makes sense. Given the relatively short lifespan of the original lineup (1993-1997), there was a high probability that most people in the crowd hadn’t seen the group before. So they sang along with the hits (“Seether,” “All Hail Me,” “Volcano Girls”) the deep cuts, and even the b-sides. Prior to the first of two encorse, Post and Gordon emerged with a ton of roses (Post: “God bless the Independent. When you ask for roses, they actually get you roses… and they de-thorn them for you!”) and tossed them to the crowd.

Brooklyn band the Echo Friendly opened, and played music.




Dean Wareham / HOTT MT at the Chapel, San Francisco, 06.20.14


Having spent the last 25 years in a trio, a quartet, and a duo, Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500/Luna/Dean and Britta) finally released his first solo album earlier this year. The self-titled record doesn’t veer too far from the sound of later Luna records, though it’s a bit more on the rock side than the Dean and Britta records. At this point in his career, I can’t imagine many attendees of a Dean Wareham show are looking for many surprises, and that’s just fine. As a recent New York-to-California transplant myself (Wareham and wife/bassist Britta Phillips recently relocated from Manhattan to LA) and having been to at least half a dozen Luna/Dean and Britta shows in New York, hearing Wareham’s warbly voice and warm guitar sounds went a long way to making me feel a little more at home/homesick.

After a fun set of jagged rock from LA outift HOTT MT, Wareham, flanked by a band including Phillips, ran through a 16-song set of songs from the solo record, as well as a healthy serving of songs from the catalogues of Luna (“Tiger Lily,” “Moon Palace,” “Lost in Space,” and Luna’s cover of Beat Happening’s “Indian Summer) and Galaxie 500 (“When Will You Come Home,” “Tugboat,” “4th of July”).

And whatever incarnation Wareham presents his music in, I’ll probably never get tired of watching him play “Indian Summer.”

The Both @ Great American Music Hall, 06.12.14


Aimee Mann and Ted Leo brought their new collaboration project The Both back to San Francisco, where they’d played their first shows as a band last year, on June 12. Mann and Leo clearly have a pretty solid friendship and working relationship, as evidenced by the breadth and frequency of their stage banter, which took up more time than the actual songs. They played about 4 songs in the first 40 minutes of the show, between stories about backstage graffiti, talking out hypotheticals of Gallagher-brotheresque meltdowns, and Mann’s uncomfortableness at Charmin’s new marketing slogan, “Enjoy the Go.”

As far as the songs, the collaboration seems to be working quite well, and was mostly evident when The Both played Aimee Mann and Ted Leo songs. Leo provided decidedly un-Ted Leo-esque backing harmonies and solos to Mann’s “Save Me,” while Mann’s presence took some of the rougher edges off of Leo’s “Bottled in Cork.”

Nick Diamonds of Islands opened up the show, to a fairly enthusiastic and filled-out crowd.


Guided By Voices w/ Bobby Bare, Jr. @ The Regency Ballroom, 06.11.14


The indestructible Guided By Voices hit San Francisco on June 11th, in support of Cool Planet, the sixth GBV album since the “classic lineup” reformed in 2010, and the 432nd Robert Pollard-related record (give or take). A small mid-week crowd didn’t seem to faze Pollard and Co., who live like they’re on a perpetual weekend anyway. Guitarist Mitch Mitchell had perhaps the most impressive display of the evening, managing to chain smoke hands free for the entire 2-hour set. Pollard displayed his usual mix of jumps, kicks, and beer swigging , claiming “We get better, drunker, and younger as we go along.” No one in the crowd raised any arguments.