Once again local music proves why it is the best buy (and music) going these days. $15 for three amazing acts in one night. No traffic hassle, no annoying bag checks, no overpriced drinks, not a bunch of stodgy rich wankers buying up all the front row real estate just to sit with arms folded and very little phone camera use (mainly it was people shooting pictures and video for social media promo).
Also it should be noted that 15$ is underpriced. $40 would have been a steal. And, no, that is NOT me being hyperbolic. If anything that is me being PISSED.
I found the Hot Takes On Bandcamp and played them out before I them saw them do their very first live gig at The Great Northern. This was when Gillian (the synth/keyboard player) had just joined the band, AFTER the first EP release. I reviewed that show. And ever since I have been following them and every so often will catch a show to see how things are developing and to badger the band about when I will get new music.
Well I am ECSTATIC to report that new music is coming (and on vinyl)! But I am even happier to announce they have small legit fanbase. By that I mean people who dress properly in black and pink and and know all the words to the songs and sing-a-long. And equally happy to report all three bands that night had followings than came and sang along to the songs. The local scene is growing again as I knew and hoped it would!
The Hot Takes were the nights opening act and Thee Stork Club was packed with people to see them. So what of my third take?
Well the show has gotten flashier, they now have a pink light up sign with the band name and actual lights that flash during the show. And shirts you can buy! This is great because now I actually have a band tee worth wearing. So production value has been upped.
As to the music and the performance. Well doing consistent shows every week definitely shows. The songs are killer, the band is high energy, and the sound is killer. To call it 80s throwback would be unfair it is, as I have said, as if a band from the 80s fell into a time tunnel and landed in the now. Thinks of sounds like Hooters, Simple Minds, The Outfield, maybe a little Elvis Costello or even The Cars. Some Killers too. Of course I danced but it had been a while since I’d seen them and whether they had just gotten better or were extra amped because the superfan was in the house it was pretty explosive. The new song “Cannonball” is just… just… just find any party worth it’s salt and put it on god dam it! That’s a killer floorfiller!
Even songs I knew well like Out Of The Shadows were groovier and harder hitting than the last time I saw them. This is my favorite local band hands down. There are other local acts doing stuff one might consider deeper and more profound and maybe even complex, that I adore. But The Hot Takes hit the perfect balance of catchy, cathartic, and complex for me.
Now that I have stated they are my favorite local band. We get to the second act of night, The Trims, out of San Jose, who after seeing them live, *oof!* might be hot on the tails of the The Hot Takes as my favorite local band. I dance to anything, this is a well known fact. But if you get me going into one of my dervish spins you have achieved something else. I did some SPINNING. Since I was unfamiliar with their songs I can’t name them here but I can tell you they don’t play nice. It’s serious post-punk vibes like Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen mixed with Muse and Coldplay. I mean… like… I’m stumbling over my words writing this I am still so pumped up.
But can I get witness?! for Tito Linhsamout on guitar… Bro… yeah I said, bro! It was almost as if he was trying to make me forget The Hot Takes were my favorite local band that had just played. AND that I wasn’t already sweating. Or that post-punk ever happened and this was some new genre I was stumbling upon. There was one song, “Turn Out The Lights” that came about midway through the set, where the crowd lit up. And when it launched I was thinking, “OK. So this it how it’s gonna be? You’re gonna just force me to drop dead on the dancefloor. Fine. I’ve had a good run.”
I don’t know how they slipped by me since they have been featured BOTH on SoundwavesTV and SoundwavesFM two shows on the very website you are reading this on or if you are on my personal website… well, thank you and go here for more music fun.
Unfortunately they did not have music for sale at the show. I collect physical copies from lives shows and that is what sits on my shelf so when people come over I have them pick from that collection NOT my vast digital library. It’s more unique that way. I also like to give cash direct to the bands. But I still went home and bought it all up (more local stuff for me to play at clubs and on radio). They are local, and they know me now so I’m sure I’ll get some physical media at some point at some show. But yeah Bro… they were the shit.
The final act of the evening was Extra Extra. Another act new to me. It was almost more a vibe or like a kind of avante-garde performance than a set of banging songs one of the other. At least that’s what it felt like until I realized between the female and male lead singer and the jazzy/smooth synth and keyboards that it was the love child of The B-52’s and Christopher Cross raised by the Scissor Sisters. And I know that sounds like some seventh level music demon hell action. And it was… but when you own you can sell it. The lead singer sounded (Nelda Kerr) very much like Kate Pierson circa 1989 of the aforementioned band and even had some similar vocal quirks. The male lead did not sound like Fred Schneider well… maybe, he sounded like Fred Schneider’s cousin.
I think some in the audience were a little confounded as to what the were seeing and hearing. But hey that’s how I felt hearing songs like “Strobelight” and “Private Idaho” for the first time. It all felt wild and punk and queer. But something just didn’t quite connect for me and I wondered if maybe it was the mix in the room or if I just needed to hear the songs more. I bought the latest CD and I have to say hearing the studio recordings they sound quite polished, and songs like “Sex Appointment” kick ass though I would EVER so slightly push the vocals out front more so they were clearer in the mix.
“Tokyo” is a total synth throb rave up that I could definitely drop when I DJ local clubs. And the drummer Grant Berg was killing it all night. By the end it felt more like show than distinct songs to latch onto and sing along with. And that is likely because I am hearing them for the first time because on record they sound great and quirky and more individual. The more I listen the more I like them. They brought to mind two other stellar local acts, Planet Booty and Thought Beings. Similar funk/synth and fun moods and lyrics.
Just a reminder that all energy and bombast went down on a Saturday at Thee Stork Club in Oakland costing only $15 at the door. So when attend local shows PLEASE pay cash at the door those on-line fees do not go to the venues or the bands.
But that $15 is split between three acts (and the various members) and the venue. That’s definitely underselling. Gillian (of The Hot Takes) told me all their gig money went straight to merch production and recording the next EP. Meaning, they really didn’t make any money off live the shows (i.e. don’t quit the day job).
Next time I’m going to try to remember to leave an extra tip. Because the $ to value ratio here makes this one of the best live shows I’ve seen all year. Plus it had what MAY BE the best crowd energy I’ve witnessed all year.
And seriously The Hot Takes… I said to a member of the band that at some point I will be at one of their shows and somebody with a badge will say to me, “Sorry sir, you can’t go back there”. A cute joke except I wasn’t joking. I know it’s know just a matter of time.
Now it your duty as a community memeber and/or music fan to go buy and follow all the things: