CSS kicking off their tour at San Francisco’s Mezzanine on Friday night, two days prior to playing an abbreviated set in an over-crowded tent in front of a bunch of hipsters watching themselves watching a band that they secretly hope Lindsay Lohan is watching so they can watch her watch the band that they are not watching because they are tapping on their iPhone a “Tweet” about how Lindsay Lohan is watching the same band that they are not-watching and isn’t this, “TENT AND BAND GOING OFF!” This must be its own ring in Dante’s infernal inferno.
The thing about being a music writer is that there is an overwhelming pressure to be everywhere at once. This anxiety to be at all the “right shows” and cover every band that gets mentioned to you, however casually, seems to heighten when festival season kicks off in full swing. This past weekend the Coachella Music & Arts Festival was being held in the desert outside LA and it was the first time in the last three years that I did not attend. I have my reasons for this - most far too snarky and petty to mention in a blog that prides itself on its sanctimony - still, I still found myself suffering from a bloggers inferiority complex. I mean, “Tweet” after FUCKING “Tweet” of attendees and colleagues bestowing such keen observations as; “Arcade Fire is KILLIN IT!” or “Mojave Tent is GOING OFF! RT NOW!”, paired with camera phone PROOF! This left me feeling like there might be a crucial, "Critical" void in coverage not being met. The reality is that I have known for some time that one need not attend Coachella in order to sample some of the best live shows during this weekend. By simply staying put and going to some of the finest venues anywhere in the country, to see the same acts making their way to desert, I might be able to give you a bit more information to chew than, “My gnarly, unwashed, long-natch curly camping hair is more epic than Arcade Fire's performance last night.”
|CSS on stage at Mezzanine, a view to a kill...photo by RLC|
I first want to note how local promoters Popscene consistently and continually bring the Bay Area some of the best bills assembled anywhere in the country, pairing local talent with some of the most unique and compelling national/international artists. Their weekly events are always worth attending and DJ’s Omar along with LIVE 105’s Aaron Axelsen (the man behind Popscene) throw a great party! This was most definitely the case on Friday as Sao Paulo, Brazil’s CSS were teamed with Oakland, CA’s HOTTUB for a night of music that was, I guarantee, on par with anything happening in the desert at that same time.
|Too hot in the HOTTUB...photo by RLC|
|Lovefoxxx from CSS takes out the trash...photo by RLC|
for the release of their debut Cansei de Ser Sexy and had a song featured in an Apple commercial – the latter usually precludes me from buying in. But, courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library, I rediscovered CSS through their 2008 release Donkey and was now fully converted to their contact sport approach to dance-pop. From the moment they took the stage singer Lovefoxxx let everyone in attendance know how this show was going to go down. We were going to dance, get sweaty, love our neighbor, and she was going to lead a relentless attack of music that vacillates between electronic, reggae, kuduro, pop, and “new rave”. The mostly female contingent delivers this hybrid dance music using a straightforward rock band setup of guitars, bass and drums (in addition to synths ). Their energy and stage presence rival that of the best punk bands, with Lovefoxxx spending plenty of time crowd surfing or singing from the middle of the audience. The 90-minute set was a nonstop, energy-fueled, joyride in a car without breaks! I imagine their set at Coachella a day later was hotter than anything the desert sun could produce. This band is in it to win it live and took no prisoners Friday. Singer Lovefoxxx proudly wore a shirt inscribed with the word “Trash” across her chest, but there was nothing trashy about the execution of their music. This is a very tight and well-tuned band that is sure to continue blowing minds as they join Sleigh Bells for the rest of their stateside tour.
|These girls are not from Ipanema...photo by RLC|