Something out of a ’70s daydream: Tennis stripped down live at the Chapel [review + lots of lovely photos]

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By Valerie Luu / Photos by Ruchita Lalmalani

I knew nothing about Tennis before going to their show on a Tuesday night at The Chapel.

All I had was this memory: listening to “Young and Old,” their sophomore album released in 2012, which was on heavy rotation at Reveille Coffee in North Beach, where I would go for a pot of tea and to chat with my cafe crushes.

Their song “It All Feels the Same” reminds me of continuing that soundtrack as I put on headphones after leaving the cafe. I’d skate down Montgomery Street while the fog lifted and the sun filtered through skyscrapers and commuters emerged from BART with freshly ironed clothes and washed hair.

When I hear that song, I think about what a luxury it was to have all that time to banter with baristas, to push up Howard Street to the Mission and to witness the morning sunrise. Where have those days gone?

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I was curious what memories Tennis holds for other people, so I went into the show with this question: “Is there a Tennis song or album that reminds you of certain time in your life?”

Liz O’ Neal, 30, was the first person I spoke to. She was holding down a spot in front of the stage with her friend Hanna Steinberg, 29.

“How would you describe their music?” I asked, realizing that I hadn’t thought about how to classify their sound up until that point. “It’s dreamy, sexy rock,” she said. “It makes you want to go to the beach.”

Beaches and boats are a big part of the band’s mythology. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, the husband-and-wife duo of Tennis, met in a philosophy class at the University of Colorado, Denver. After graduation, they took sail for half a year along the Atlantic Coast. “Cape Dory,” their debut album, was written on their trip and is a diary of the places they visited — Maryland, South Carolina and Florida.

For O’ Neal, “Marathon” brings back memories of her sailing trip in Greece. “We hired this old sea captain, who looked like a sexy dad from ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ He took us to all these tiny Greek islands for a week,” she said. “It reminds me of being happy and carefree.”

I had recently come back from island hopping in the Cyclades, the group of Greek islands known for their whitewashed and blue domed buildings, so I was able to imagine how “Cape Dory” could be a perfect soundtrack to hanging out on a boat, grilling fish on the secluded beaches and feeling your cares dissolve away in the saltwater and Mediterranean sun.

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For others, the songs are less about actual memories and more about a image.

For Serratia Krank, 22, “Baby Don’t Believe,” from Tennis’ most recent album, is a love song from a “wingman’s perspective.”

“When I hear the song, I see a guy with flowers at a woman’s window,” she said. “Or a guy in the back of a crowd watching his woman playing on stage. The crowd is going wild for her, but he doesn’t mind. He’s there for her.”

To Krank, an inspiring filmmaker, the song is about someone rooting on the sidelines — even if it’s yourself. Sometimes she’ll listen to the song while she looks at herself in the mirror. “I’m your biggest fan,” she says to herself, becoming the person in the crowd.

Her friend Jamie Banks, 24, said “10 Minutes 10 Years” resonates with him. “I think about their relationship,” he said of the married musicians. “If I ever wanted a relationship I would want to be like theirs.”

With that, the show started. Moore came out in a silver sequined dress and sat at a piano across from Riley, who was on guitar. Without speaking, they opened with “10 Minutes 10 Years,” blue lights illuminating her blonde afro.

Their current acoustic tour was inspired by an experience they had opening for Father John Misty. At one of his shows, he spontaneously went onstage without his band and played an unplugged set. “I was shocked that it was my favorite [part of the tour],” Moore said.

That inspired Tennis to strip embark on their “Solo in Stereo” tour with just the two of them — which required the couple to do things outside their comfort zones — for Moore it was playing the guitar and Riley, the drums.

The aim was a more raw, stripped down version that sounds closer to their demos. “It’s the most minimal, just like how we wrote it,” she said. “It’s four chords and the truth.”

In trying to be minimalist, Moore realized her true nature. “Five minutes later, I found myself with five pianos and 20 drum machines,” she laughed. “Turns out I’m a maximalist — I tried to bring it down to zero and ended up with an afro and a 100 percent sequined dress.”

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In addition to the acoustic set, the stage design also made me feel like we were in their home recording studio. On stage at The Chapel was an upholstered green bench, vanilla shag rug and a side table with a velvet rose tablecloth which sat unused until “Island Music,” the last song on “Yours Conditionally” and the closing song of the night. Moore took a seat on the table and pressed a button, which turned it into a rotating pedestal.

Before the show started, I overheard Jamie Banks making a bet with Serratia Krank: “For every song you don’t dance to, you owe me a dollar,” he said. After Tennis finished “Island Music” and the house lights turned on, I turned to the two friends and asked if they had danced to every song.

“I did,” said Krank. As for Banks, he was coming out of a haze. “I didn’t dance to the last song,” he said. “I was so stunned by her beauty.”

As was I. “Island Music” now holds that image of Moore spinning onstage looking and sounding ethereal as she sang the lyrics “through the living and breathing and dreaming / like a daze” with tropical guitar sounds looping in the background. It was a magical ending, something out of a ’70s daydream.

Thanks to The Chapel, Allan Hough, and Tennis for the lovely, memorable show.

Valerie Luu chases grandmas for Chinatown Pretty and hustles at Rice Paper Scissors. She’s probably listened to “10 Minutes 10 Years” a hundred times.

Ruchita Lalmalani is a portrait and concert photographer. She’s available for prints, press and shoots at electric.spaceinvader@gmail.com.

[Editor’s note: The Sadies are playing at the Chapel on Sunday afternoon and they are the BEST! Thanks Val!!!]

Clamped Down/Pumped Up, a ’70s-’80s punk and new wave night with cover band Space Force ’77!

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Here’s the deal:

CLAMPED DOWN/PUMPED UP
A Night of ’70s & ’80s Punk + New Wave

• SPACE FORCE ’77 live debut!
• DJ Nick Pal (Pal Family Records, BFF.fm, KALX)
• DJ Nutzeffekt (Hard-Boiled Babes, American Tripps, KDVS)

$3 before 8pm
$5 after 8pm

RSVP and invite your friends!

Music legend Lee “Scratch” Perry performs this Thursday in the Mission!

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It’s at the Chapel and here’s the deal:

Celebrating the 45th anniversary of Grammy winning dub & reggae pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry’s landmark 1973 album “Blackboard Jungle Dub”, the world’s first dub album, Scratch, now 82 years young, will embark on a tour across North America performing his studio masterpiece live in its entirety for the first time, aided by the technology of NYC’s Subatomic Sound System, his hybrid band of new school electronics and veteran Jamaican musicians from the Black Ark era recordings.

RSVP and invite your friends here. Get tickets and more info here.

Treasure Island Music Festival is this weekend! Not on Treasure Island! Heaps of Aussies mate!

This year’s Treasure Island Music Festival takes place across the bay at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, amongst the Port of Oakland’s iconic bigass cranes. Here’s what the view will be like probably:

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The lineup is stacked with a mess of our favorite Australians: Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett, and Alex Cameron (who we first discovered in the Mission opening for Thee Oh Sees a few years back). Here’s the whole thing, organized by day:

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Transportation works thusly: take BART to West Oakland and hop on a special free shuttle.

Lots more info here. Pick up your tickets at the gate, or online here.

[Photo by Julean]

“No Roots” singer Alice Merton performs Thursday at August Hall

The first time I heard that was on the radio in a rental car in traffic in Atlanta, and everybody in the car was like WHAAAAAAT IS THIS?????

Well it’s Alice Merton! Here’s the deal:

Platinum-selling English born, German-based singer-songwriter Alice Merton releases her most commercial and exciting single to date with ‘Why So Serious’, along with intriguing official video taken from her upcoming and much-anticipated debut album ‘Mint’ out in Jan. 2019 via Mom + Pop Music (Pre-Orders 21st Sept.).

After rising to fame two years ago in 2016 with her explosive debut single ‘No Roots’ (Mom + Pop), written about her constant moving homes as a child becoming such as huge debut, it’s safe to say it’s been a whirlwind for Alice Merton with 124 Million YouTube hits to date. With an early mission statement to perform and write music she has a passion for, to be an artist she’s proud of and to keep an Independent way of thinking, she took things into her own hands and started Paper Plane Records Int. with her best friend and manager Paul and together formed some huge plans.

Can’t wait. Show is 8pm this Thursday at August Hall. More info and tickets here.

Here’s the new single:

Aussie legends the Scientists and the Church play the Chapel this Sunday and Monday respectively

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First up it’s the Scientists — on their first ever US tour! From the tour announcement:

With a sound that was swampy, primal and modern-urban all at once – as much in the tradition of rock and roll and punk rock as it was a rejection of those things, the Scientists’ formula was as universal as it was specific to their own experience. They were about what it was like to be young and living in modern times in an Australian urban/suburban environment. The themes of getting wasted on alcohol and drugs, driving round in hotted up cars, being trapped in crap jobs and paranoia were their subject matter.

CHeckit:

More info and tickets here. (Ty Segall is one of the opening acts btw.)

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Next up is the Church. It’s on a Monday night, sure, but here’s all you need to know:

And guess what: they’re on tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the album that legendary song is on, what more do you need to know?

More info and tickets here. Big thanks to the Chapel for hosting all these great shows!

P.S. The Aussie onslaught continues at the Treasure Island Music Festival in a couple weeks! More on that soon!

Eleanor Friedburger brings her “warped version of ’80s goth disco” to the Chapel this Wednesday night

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Eleanor spent the summer in Greece a couple years back and came away with some good ideas:

After a month in Athens I asked my friend, the Greek musician Σtella, “What’s one thing I have to do before I leave?” After some long and careful consideration she smiled and said, “you have to go to Rebound. It’s a time warp; kind of an 80s goth disco where everyone does the chicken dance; you’ll love it… but it’s only open on Saturdays after 3:00 AM.” Rebound proved to be a revelation in terms of finding the sound and energy for my fourth album. The club was very dark and despite the no smoking signs, like everywhere in Athens, it was very smoky. The “chicken dance” Stella mentioned was a solitary one. I copied the slouchy strut, moving back and forth in line, swinging my arms in time to the music that at first sounded like Joy Division or maybe The Cure, but never revealed itself– one could only assume it to be knock-off by an unknown Baltic band. It was alienating and exhilarating. “In Between Stars” is an attempt at a song you could hear at Rebound. It’s a dark and disorienting; my warped version of 80s goth disco.

Have a listen:

The opener Pill sounds pretty good too. Show is this Wednesday night at the Chapel, 8pm; get tix and more info here.

[Photo via Eleanor on Instagram]

Jonathan Richman is playing in the Mission and it’s NOT at the Make-Out Room for once

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Nothing against Make-Out Room at all, but I figured it’s worth noting that he’s played Make-Out Room multiple times a year for at least the last 15 years I can remember — but very very rarely anywhere else in the neighborhood. Thursday night he plays the Chapel, with Tommy Larkins on drums of course.

Get tickets and more info here.

Here’s a recording of Talking Heads covering “Pablo Picasso” a long time ago:

[Original photo by Night Fog Reader (RIP)]

Rock ‘n’ roll show tonight at Elbo Room

Starring the legendary B. Hamilton from Oakland! Here’s their latest, a TRIPPY cover of Phil Collins’s greatest song ever, “I Can’t Dance” by Genesis:

Also there’s Bread & Butter from Seattle, who seem pretty good too:

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Plus Autogramm from Canada and/or maybe the ’80s!

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And finally, Sob Stories, also from Oakland, whose debut video we gushed about late last year:

Quite a lineup! RSVP and invite your friends!

Christopher Owens (formerly of Girls) and Curls (Christopher Owens’ new band) perform next week at the Chapel

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Just announced, next Wednesday night at the good ol Chapel: It’s not just local hero Christopher Owens and it’s not just his new band Curls — it’s local hero Christopher Owens AND his new band Curls, so expect a little (or a lot) of both.

Now let’s enjoy a Christopher Owens oldie:

…and a new Curls hit:

Also, we’re told the openers are gonna be awesome, so keep an eye on the Facebook invite.

Get tickets here!

The Total Bettys

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We are so excited that LOUD & LOCAL is bringing The Total Bettys Inflatable water slide for sale Canada to Pops Bar this Week!  On the first Thursday of every month LOUD & Local presents a night to benefit BFF.fm, featuring awesome live bands and guest DJs at Pops Bar.  This Thursday, San Francisco’s Pop Punk band The Total Bettys join DJ Ash & DJ Bailey for a night of BFF trifecta fun.

The Total Bettys recently talked to Vents Magazine on the role San Francisco plays in their music: “There are so many ways that San Francisco influences our music. First of all the musicians in the scene here are extremely influential to our songwriting and our growth: bands like Jay Som, Hazel English, Try the Pie, SOAR… having so many talented people working in the Bay Area influences our music a lot.  But also, we tend to make a lot of San Francisco references. Like, about how it’s freezing cold at the beach, but extremely hot in October. We reference shopping at this classic record store called Amoeba on Haight Street, things like that. It’s a special city that I feel really privileged to call home.”

21+ / 9pm – close / FREE (donations for BFF.fm collected at the door)

Come out to Pops and support local music!

Check out this week’s full entertainment line up at Pops Bar:

Continue reading “The Total Bettys”

Giving Tuesday

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Our favorite neighborhood radio station BFF.fm needs your support! #GivingTuesday kicks off BFF.fm‘s end of year fundraising drive. BFF.fm hopes to raise $10,000 to continue their mission of bringing the Bay Area music scene to the world through the magic of Internet radio.  There are many ways to give back from a one time donation, monthly donations and shopping with Amazon smile.

Learn more here.

This week’s entertainment line up at Pops Bar:

Continue reading “Giving Tuesday”

11/11 11:11 Make a Wish!

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This Saturday 11/11 at Pops Bar is your monthly installation of SADDERDAY: the emo/pop punk/electro dance party. Get ready to relive the days of white belts, myspace, and bangs. Expect DJs Kevin Kannibal and Ashley Suicide to spin music from all your faves like Alkaline Trio, Thrice, The Faint, Get Up Kids, Boys Night Out, Taking Back Sunday, Moving Units, and many many more! Get ready to feel all the feels…

Check out this week’s full entertainment line up at Pops Bar:

Continue reading “11/11 11:11 Make a Wish!”

If you’re going to the sold-out Cults show at the Chapel tonight, be sure to arrive early enough to see both openers

Right at 9pm, it’s the Willowz! You might remember them from their contribution to the Eternal Sunshine soundtrack:

That’s why I went to see them headline the Make-Out Room in 2004 for like $3…. which is where I discovered that they are actually an awesome, pretty hard-hitting rock ‘n’ roll band. And then I saw them again at Slim’s in 2009, touring behind their masterpiece LP Everyone. Here’s the title track:

They have a new one out now, after a really long hiatus, and it’s pretty good. Can’t wait to see the live show!

AND THEN, Curls, the new band from Christopher Owens of Girls! Need i say more?? You can listen to a song here.

And then Cults of course.

Again, it’s sold out, but the Chapel has all the additional show info you might need right here.

In San Francisco, we wait…

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And then we wait some more. We wait for ice cream, for bbq, for coffee, for any decent restaurant, for any decent experience at all really, it’s almost become a social experiment: the lines of San Francisco. One of the longest running San Francisco waiting experiences is maybe the harshest, the wait for BRUNCH! You’re starving and you’re so close to your favorite hang over meal you can taste it but you put your name in for an excruciating hour long wait. Well mission dwellers, if your wait happens to be at the classic St. Francis Fountain, the struggle is over. Enter The Brunch Mob at Pops Bar! Every Saturday from 10am to 3pm, leave your name at the Fountain and hop over to Pops Bar. There you’ll find our amazing Bartender Deb ready to serve you up a delicious Bacon Bloody Mary while DJs Milton Badley and Snelly Davis Jr. spin soothing classics to ease you into your morning. So grab a little hair of the dog or a nice morning buzz to amuse you on the way to your great San Francisco wait. At Pops Bar, we’re waiting for YOU!

Check out this week’s full entertainment line up at Pops Bar:

Continue reading “In San Francisco, we wait…”

Soulful Vinyl Culture

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When the vinyl revival and the soul revival meet, magic happens. Down To Funk is a new party at Pop’s Bar this Wednesday from 9pm-2am featuring funky grooves and soulful rhythms. Resident DJ’s Mooselini the Soul Fascist (Mustapha Popal), Ohhellnoel (Noel Dunlap) and D.Hop (Dave Hopkins) will be providing the soundtrack for the night. Who doesn’t love a funky mid week party in the mission? Guaranteed to make your booty shake and your head nod.

Check out this week’s full entertainment line up at Pops Bar:

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Extra Cheese

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Welcome the Mac & Cheese Collective to the Pops Bar family! Mac & Cheese bring artists together, throw dope parties, and bump certified bangers (in no particular order). This Saturday at Pops, MAC & CHEESE is going BIG with TRAP / FUTURE BEATS / HOUSE / FUNK / DISCO / PSYCHEDELIC / TECHNO / MUSIC YOU CAN GET DOWN TO. They’ve brought together some of the best local collectives, producers, DJ’s, and tastemakers to curate an all night dance party spanning ~all the genres~. And of course, free mac & cheese all night long if you RSVP now. Won’t you come and join us 🧀

RSVP for guaranteed entry, free food, and drink specials!

FEATURING:

Check out this week’s full entertainment line up at Pops Bar:

Continue reading “Extra Cheese”