Archive for the 'San Francisco' Category

Fire in the Mission

Monday, March 17th, 2008

My apartment is right by the fire station, so I’m used to hearing sirens all the time. So, the first few I heard didn’t catch my attention. By the time the fourth went by, I could hear yelling and glass being broken. Then I heard an unfamiliar sound from the back of the house. I went to investigate, only to discover that one of the buildings across the back alley was on fire. My only response was to twitter, “Holy shit, a house down the alley is ON FIRE!“.

I quickly grabbed shoes, a jacket and my laptop (duh, I’m a nerd) and went outside.

Long story short, at least 2 buildings burned and our apartment smells smokey. No reports of injuries other than one fire fighter being treated for smoke inhalation.

Photos:

by me: http://flickr.com/photos/ryansking/tags/missionfire
by cameron: http://flickr.com/photos/ymbiont/tags/missionfire

new and video:

New Music, Lately

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Some notes about recent musical experiences. I’ve been building up a bunch of draft posts, this is me dumping them all out at once.

Mew

I saw Mew open for Bloc Party (along with Broken Social Scene and Two Gallants) and really enjoyed them. Then, in early October, I got an email offering some free tickets to see them again at Popscene. I couldn’t pass it up.

Their music is ethereal, romantic and passionate. Their records are mixed so that the songs all flow together. This effect works surprising well both on the album and on stage. It works so well, that my favorite song from the two appearances turn out to be two different songs. Apparently they always play them together.

They’re a Danish group that’s been around for awhile (10 years, I think), but have had a recent surge in popularity.

Juana Molina

Juana Molina, is an Argentinean singer-songwriter who blends folk acoustic guitar sounds with technology to create beautiful, rich sounds.

I recently saw her perform at the Great American Music Hall. She performs alone, but you wouldn’t know it unless you saw her. She uses guitar loop pedals, keyboards and synths to create layers of music, all on the fly. She harmonizes with her own voice and guitar playing. The effect is amazing.

This artificial restraint (not touring with a band) creates interesting music. If she toured with a band, they could start straight into a song with no build up. On her own, however, she’s forced to create songs that build on themselves and evolve in subtle ways. Seeing the live performance gave me a huge respect for her as an artist.

The Hold Steady

I’ve been a fan of The Hold Steady, a Brooklyn-by-way-of-Minneapolis band, who’re often described as a “bar band for people who don’t like bar bands”. I like bar bands, especially these guys.

Until a few weeks ago, I’d never seen them play live. Their live show had so much energy and enthusiasm that I think it may be the best show I’ve seen this year (and I’ve seen a lot of shows).

Until last week, I hadn’t heard their latest album. There’s been plenty of hype in the blahgosphere about this already, but I really think it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. You may not like it, but I love it. Their new material manages to combine fat riffs, interesting storying telling and catchy tunes. The result is addictive, as I’m sure my last.fm profile will soon demonstrate.

Stars of Track and Field

I saw Stars of Track and Field open for The Twilight Singers (also at GAMH). I’ve been listening to them quite a bit since then. They combine some minimal electronic, driving guitars and catchy lyrics. I like it. Ali didn’t like their neckware. You’ll have to ask her about that– unlike some people, I don’t let a band’s choice in neckware influence whether I like their music.

Birdmonster, Division Day and Two Seconds

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

I went and saw Birdmonster play at Slim’s last night.

Opening were Division Day and Two Seconds. (I’ve seen Divsion Day before before, but I don’t remember exactly where and sonicliving isn’t helping, since it won’t let me search past shows.)

Anyway, they play some relaxed but complex sounding rock with some pop appeal. Check them out on myspace.

Two Seconds are Sierra Frost and Lily Faden, two young girls from San Rafael who have a lot of potential. It’s obvious that they have talent and drive, but they seem to lack the confidence needed to take risks with their music. While the drumming was consitently solid, the songwriting and guitar playing tended toward cliché and bland. Nevertheless, check them out on myspace.

Now to the headliner, Birdmonster. I’ve seen Birdmonster a number of times and my friends Ali and Willo are friends with the guys in the band. I’ve always liked them both live and on their record, but I have to say that they’ve stepped their game up a notch. As a band they’re tighter and more confident, which leads to a certain amount of relaxation on stage, which leads to even better music. They’re playing well and will only get better. Expect big things from them.

SSPU

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Don’t worry, before March I didn’t know what SSPU stood for either. But now I do.

If you haven’t heard of them, the Silversun Pickups are an indie rock band from LA that has been making waves in the indiekid scene this year.

I saw them for the first time at a Filter Magazine party at SxSW this year. I just went for the free food, but came away loving this band (then I got some free shoes at the Saucony-sponsored party next door!).

I’ve seen them play a few times since then, including last night at the Rickshaw stop. They rock more each time.

Also, their drummer’s cymbal stand seems to get taller each time.* See it float above the crowd.

Some random highlights from the show:

  • Nikki broke a string on her bass. She rocks.
  • They played, I think, a four song encore, all requests. Ali got a request in.
  • One of the opening bands,Viva Voce was amazingly good. The title of their current album is Get Yr Blood Sucked Out and Anita Robinson is an awesome guitarist.

* An interesting anecdote. After I made a comment along the lines of “that cymbal stand keeps getting taller every time I see them, and I’ve seen them four times”, the girl in front me turned around and said “I think I’ve seen them six times”. To you that may sound like she was being a snob and you’d be right. But she was being the same kind of snob as me, which made it perhaps the hottest thing I’ve heard in awhile.

Cycling in SF

Monday, September 4th, 2006

Now that the hosting move is over, back to the regular intermittent blogging.

Today’s topic: riding a bike in San Francisco.

As part of my ongoing hipsterization, I’ve recently started riding my bike around SF. I’ve had the bike as long as I’ve lived here, but only recently taken to riding it often. I used to cycle quite a bit (for exercise, not transportation) before moving to SF. Now I ride my bike to get places.

There are some nice benefits to riding– I get to work quicker in the morning (the buses are slow!), I get more exercise, and I have a very natural way of waking up in the morning.

There is one big negative– all those cars on the road. I think every SF cyclist has a story of “almost dying”. I was sure that I’d eventually get one, too. I just didn’t realize it’d be this soon.

That’s right, I “almost died” on Friday.

Here’s how it happened…

I was cycling down market past the Castro, past Octavia and further down the hill, hitting several green lights in a row. For those not familiar with this part of SF, Market street here is a major thoroughfare with lots of traffic, but there are bike lanes going each way.

So, because I hit all of these green lights, I was cruising pretty fast, faster than the car traffic. I as aided by the fact that the right lane was blocked off by construction barrels. Because there was no actual construction work going on, I chose to ride through the barrels to take a shortcut.

At the end of the construction zone was an intersection. Of course, someone wanted to turn right (from the left lane), of course they didn’t look back up the closed lane and of course they didn’t even drive all the way through the lane, they stopped right in my way.

And, of course I couldn’t stop in time. So, I hit the car with my bike, right in the passenger door.

Now, I didn’t it the car very hard, because I was almost able to stop, but I did manage to bug a huge scratch all the way down the side of the car. My bike is absolutely fine. The front wheel is still true and everything.

Ok, so I didn’t really “almost die”, but it could have been worse. Oh, and here’s a diagram explaining what happened…

diagram of my wreck

The lady driving the car pulled over to check and make sure everything was ok. At least she didn’t take off.