60’s rock icons The Zombies closed out the Stern Grove Festival summer concert series in San Francisco, with a set that spanned the group’s 50-year history. San Francisco folk-rock band Vetiver warmed up the crowd, which was an interesting mix of aging hippies, young parents and a surprising amount of attendees under 30. Under a clear sky and hot sun, The Zombies played 20 songs, ranging from hits like “Time of the Season,” “Care of Cell 44,” and “A Rose For Emily,” as well as early b-sides and late-career singles.
After a handful of shows mostly east of the Mississippi back in February, Nashville pals Those Darlins and Diarrhea Planet are out on the road together again. This time, they’re heading west, and played the first of two Bay Area shows at Brick & Mortar Music Hall as part of the Outside Lands festival night shows.
Openers Jesus Sons looked and sounded like they were opening for Stillwater, though it’s impressive for an opening band to have multiple members feel the need to go ahead and pop their shirts off during a 30-minute set. Also something usually unseen: dueling harmonica solos.
Though top-billed, Those Darlins took the next slot. It was hard not to wonder if they were just switching up spots as co-headliners for their two Bay Area shows, or if Diarrhea Planet is starting to surpass their fellow Nashvillains in buzz. (Judging by the growing number of tweets that say something along the lines of “There’s a band called Diarrhea Planet LULZ,” there’s no doubt that they’re gaining name recognition.) Or maybe Those Darlins were just warn out and wanted to play early. Regardless, the order of performance didn’t really matter, as both headliners knocked it out of the park. Those Darlins continue their transformation from southern country garage rock to more straight-up, if somewhat sinister, guitar rock. It’s sort of amazing how different this band has become in just a couple years, particularly since founding member Kelley Darlin (née Anderson) left in 2012. Though I do miss some of the twang of their early songs, I’ve seen them five times now, and each time they seem more comfortable and formidable. This was also the first time I’ve seen them that they didn’t play arguably their biggest hit, “Be Your Bro,” which is just another sign that they’re moving forward in a different direction.
It’s Diarrhea Planet’s own fault that you can’t write about them without talking about their name, or at least making a stupid pun or poop joke. So… since the release of their second LP, I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, the six-piece have acted in a very un-diarrhea like fashion: Moving solidly upward. They’re seemingly constantly on tour, and have honed their four-guitar attack to near perfection. It’s hard to imagine a better live band right now. With six guys, there’s a lot going on onstage, and you can basically separate them into sub-regions. Bass and drums in the back, providing the heavy foundation on which to rest four shredding guitars. On the long-haired stage left you have guitarist Brent Toler, and singer-guitarist-ostensible frontman Jordan Smith, who at this show was rocking the black denim jorts more than any self-respecting man should possibly be able to get away with. Then you’ve got the other side of the stage with guitarists/singers Emmett Miller and Evan Bird, who have established their own guitar choreography. Plus, Miller seems to make it a point to climb up to the highest point possible on his side of the stage. Tonight, it was the narrow, not-particularly-stable-looking speaker cabinets piled about 9 feet high off the stage.
It must also be said that the stage diving at this show was among the better stage diving I’ve seen in this generation of stage divers. Actual jumping, and not the slowly-lower-yourself-into-the-crowd bullshit that the kids seem to be into these days. Full mega-gallery: