Quannum MC's and Polysics in SF, plus clubbing this weekend
I checked out the sold out Quannum MC's show last night at the DNA Lounge. It was stellar and worth the traffic-ridden commute.
One act worth checking out from last night was the DJ, Mike Relm. He integrated video into his mix, so that while he scratched the record, the image would remind and fast forward. For example, a skateboarder from Jay-Z's video would bounce back and forth. He also mixed in everything from Peanuts'music to Led Zeppelinwith visuals from Bruce Leeto "Fight Club."
Funk-ology WHERE:Club Six, 60 6th St. (btwn. Market & Mission), San Francisco WHEN: 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. tonight 2/25 TIX: 21+ w/ ID; $10; Click here for guest list (Reply by 4pm Friday): WHY: mix of dancehall, hip hop, electro, breaks, funk and soul
Swerve WHERE:Loft 11, 316 11th St., San Francisco WHEN: 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. tonight 2/25 TIX: 21+; With guest list FREE before 10:30; $10.00 discount after WHY: elite hip-hop party
Spundae WHERE:Ruby Skye, 420 Mason @ Geary, San Francisco WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight 2/25 TIX: $25 advance; WHY: electronic dance music with Sasha
SF vs. EAST BAY .::DECADE::.. THE BEST OF THE 90'S WHERE:Shattuck Down Low Lounge, 2284 Shattuck and Bancroft, Berkeley WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday 2/26 TIX: Email JONATHANMACK@AOL.COM to get in for $5 before 11 p.m. WHY: DJ battle with four turntables - 3 songs vs. 3 songs back to back for 2 hours
Was Ashlee Simpson okay in San Jose and Vegas clubbing
Tuesday night, I didn't get a chance to check out Ashlee Simpson (and wasn't sure I wanted to) but I heard two very opposing reviews. One praised Simpson to the point of forgiving her SNL faux paus and the other saw students burning her poster and leading a booing team. Anybody else want to chime in?
In Vegas, I didn't gamble too much, but I did eat a lot and go clubbing.
Here's a rundown of the clubs I went to - from worst to best:
RISQUE, PARIS ($20) - Very very lame. Basically we should have known from the line outside that they let in just about everybody. The music was also very uneven and the DJ kept straying from hip-hop to '80s pop music.
RUM JUNGLE, MANDALAY BAY($20) - The restaurant converts to a club at 10:30 p.m. We had dinner there and loved the red/black environment and high class. Plus, their bathroom ceiling was lined with lights like Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride. But when we came back for the club, it got very cheesy. They basically tore out the chairs and tables for patrons to dance on the cement floor. And, girls fluorescent body suits danced in cages on swung around on trapezes. The music was disappointingly more house than hip-hop.
LIGHT, BELLAGIO ($30) - This had to be one of the best clubs I've ever been to. The DJ weaved in mainstream hip-hop with old skool. The venue was spacious with leather lined booths and plenty of places to dance on the wood flooring. Plus, the vibe was young but not too high strung. Everyone was stylishly dressed versus the sliminess of Risque. It was a perfect way to end the night.
I went into the concert unsure how they would sound live, but they rocked! Like a true pop band, Mayday changed five times from furry Mongolian robes to golden vests. They pounded on Chinese drums, sang love ballads and sang a duet dueted with Malaysian singer Fish Leong.
One thing Ashin, the lead singer, said really struck me. (He said this in Mandarin and I translated.)
Last Tuesday in a press conference in Santa Clara, he stressed the importance of following your dreams: "When we started this our parents were not for it, because since we were born, our lives were devoted to studying and learning. But we found our interests in music. So when you have a big dream, don't worry about it later not working, because my mom would never have thought I would have a concert here in the U.S. Everybody has dreams, but you must first have faith in your dreams, because one day you will accomplish that dream."
I was in Vegas, and besides seeing old high school friends, I caught a glimpse of Mr. Hova himself, Jay-Z. He was cashing out his chips when we were (except I'm sure he didn't win it from Casino War like we did).
The mega-millionaire was at the Bellagio, jokingly complaining that the cashier was ripping him off. He was wearing his Rocawear clothes lineand a doo-rag. Not many people recognized him that Sunday morning, so he leisurely strolled with a bodyguard, almost three times his size, through the crowd to a black limo parked outside. He probably was on his way to Denver, where his girl, Beyonce, was performing at the NBA All-Star Game-- they had courtside seats.
Yesterday I interviewed the very popular Taiwanese rock boy band Mayday at Santa Clara's Marriott.
The five members were fun to talk to. All of them had feathered hair, and dressed as if they just stepped out of Urban Outfitters. Bassist Matthew Tsai wore cargo pants so big, that he repeatedly tied the belt strings together to make it stay up.
They all poked fun at drummer Ming. He was the member of the band who had been in the states for the longest period of time (in Los Angeles for some months), so they assumed his English was the best.
But, when they stopped for lunch Monday, one of the waiters was carrying a lot and exclaimed, "Heavy!"
The band was like, "That's all you know? You repeat the same word?"
Turned out that's how he survived those months.
Their show this Sunday will be a little more stripped down than their regular shows in Taiwan, and more intimate, says lead singer Ashin.
They do want to have a musical conversation with the audience, says guitarist Stone. When they jump, they want the audience to jump, when they dance, the audience to dance. They don't want anybody sitting.
To encourage this singing and dancing at the concert, there will be no assigned seats, so arrive early, says the band.
So this Sunday ch-check them out. I'll have a concert review in the Mercury either Tuesday or Wednesday.
It was nice to commiserate and rave with him about being members of a minority in the media business.
He talked about breaking K-Ci & Jojo'ssong "All My Life" for the Bay Area.
The funny thing is, he said, is that while working the music business you can't be a groupie yourself. Still everybody has somebody they love. His idol would be Maxwell, and when he met the smooth crooner, Wong told him how much he respected the artist's work. And, Maxwell was surprisingly humble, answering that the comment meant a lot.
For a night of pure hip-hop, ch-check it out:
WHAT:Mos DefConcert After Party WHERE:Club 6, 60 6th St., between Market & Mission, San Francisco WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight 2/16 to 2 a.m. Thursday TIX: $10 presale; $15 at the door; brownpapertickets.com WHY: There will be a meet and greet with Dead Prez
And, why did singers like Ashlee Simpson make it while Kelly Osbourne didn't? They're in the same genre - pop-punk - and use the same promotion machine, reality television.
I talked this over with my editor, who had one conclusion: looks. Also, Kelly isn't someone you would introduce to your parents and invite over for dinner; Ashlee is.
Anyway, for tonight, if you're still in the Valentine's Day spirit, ch-check out Anthony Hamilton. His Ruby Skye show may be sold out, but the after-party isn't!
WHAT: The Official "House of Soul Afterparty" WHERE:Velvet Lounge, 443 Broadway, San Francisco WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight, 2/15 TIX: $10 guest list: arrive by 10:15 p.m. to assure guest list; email@example.com WHY: Check out Grammy nominated Anthony Hamilton
Also tonight, for those who've had enough of Valentine's Day:
WHAT:Bright Eyes WHERE: Berkeley Community Theatre, 1930 Allston Way, Berkeley WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight, 2/15 TIX: $26.50; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com WHY:Bright Eyes makes perfect music for wallowing after the break up
Saturday night, I drove to Sausalito to see a Picasso show at Fingerhut Gallery. There was one painting that struck me - an etching with silver and gold criss-crosses that ran for $15,000. It looked like chicken scratches. It was so expensive because the etching was hand-signed and Picasso hardly signed any of his etchings.
Tonight, for a mellow Valentine's, ch-check it out:
WHAT:Garden State WHERE:The Independent, 628 Divisadero Street, San Francisco WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight, 2/14 TIX: Free, 2 drink minimum WHY: A movie for twenty-somethings
And for a more upbeat Valentine's...
WHAT:Interpol WHERE:Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight, 2/14 TIX: $25; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com WHY: neo-retro rock
Valentine's Day is just around the corner, so for all you lovebirds out there, I decided to make a romantic song list for ya. R&B crooners, like Brian McKnight, top the list.
McKnight was also one of my most memorable interviewees. When I asked him his favorite song, he serenaded me with "Rainbow Connection," Kermit style!
So, here is my happy Valentine's list:
"I Swear," All-4-One
"Back At One," Brian McKnight
"Someone to Love," Jon B and Babyface
"Right Here Waiting," Richard Marx
"Hero," Enrique Iglesias
"True," Ryan Cabrera
And here's a list for the heartbroken:
"Nobody Knows," Tony Rich
"U Got It Bad," Usher
"Water Runs Dry," Boyz II Men
"Over and Over," Nelly
"When Can I See You Again," Babyface
And this weekend, ch-check it out:
WHAT:Amoeba Music Customer Appreciation Jam WHERE: Club 6, 60 6th St., between Market & MissionSan Francisco WHEN: 9 p.m. - 4 a.m. tonight, 2/11 TIX: $5; wear Amoeba clothing and get in for free WHY: all kinds of bands - rock, indie, new wave, punk '80s, hip-hop, breaks, beats, funk, house and soul
WHAT:Lea Salonga WHERE: Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California St., San Francisco WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday 2/12 TIX: $35-$200; tickets.com WHY: The woman behind the voice that made Mulan a convincing warrior and Jasmine a believable princess is stepping out on her first US-tour. She's quite funny actually, and said that, "The show is, like, 2 1/2 hours, and half of that is me talking."
I interviewed Ashlee Simpson this morning and she was very sweet and straightforward. Let's just say she answered all my questions (like the ones about SNL and the Orange Bowl) with grace, just like her big sis, Jessica. More to come next week - the article prints on Feb. 19th.
On Jessica, when I interviewed her last July, she was not the dumb blonde portrayed on MTV, but savvy enough to play up this stereotype. She did it in the past to get guys, she said, and now it's working for her career. She basically thinks out loud, she said.
In person, Jessica, like Ashlee on the phone, was very personable. She looked like a living Barbie and was shorter than I thought - in heels she was just a little taller than me. (I'm barely 5'1''.)
He was great to talk to, and one of the few artists I've spoken to that was savvy about both the artistic and the business side of making music. He told me that he loves Thai food and he was heading to London for a trip, so I recommended a great chain (Patara) that has a restaurant there.
By, the way, I'm planning to interview Ashlee Simpsontomorrow - so does anyone have questions you want me to ask her?
And, last night I was among those invited to celebrate Jeff Chang's book release at a party in San Francisco. His track record is very impressive:
Jeff was smart to partner up with a local SF designer, Michael Stern, who sold some cleverly designed shirts based on the book. For example one has the letters of "hip hop" drawn using fists and handcuffs. Here's his site, ch-check it out: 0rigin.com/
To top it off, Jeff decided to thank his wife for helping support him this far. What a way to head into Valentine's weekend.
For those who want to ch-check his book out, he has a reading tomorrow in San Jose's MACLA. So, if you're not too busy grubbin' on Chinese food, ch-check it out!
San Jose Graffiti artist Scape Martinez's art on display in city hall
If you get the chance to visit San Jose's City Hall, graffiti artist Scape Martinez has a number of paintings hanging in vice-mayor Cindy Chavez's office (801 N. 1st street on the 6th floor suite 600).
They will be there through February.
When he emailed to tell me, he joked, "Not bad for a tired graff guy huh?" Here's his web site as well - http://liquidscape.com - his work is sick!
"The Chinese Rap Master" in San Jose and Kodo in Berkeley
I had a percussion filled weekend, so luckily my ears aren't still ringing.
Saturday afternoon in San Jose, I went to see the "Chinese Rap Master" - with that kind of moniker, I had to check him out. This "master," otherwise known as Wen Bin Lin, was not the traditional kind of emcee. Basically, his version of beat boxing was to clap bamboo together and his rhymes were stories from dynasty times in Chinese.
He calls himself a "rapper" to re-introduce Chinese history in a format relevant to kids. So all last week he visited some South Bay schools to showcase his art, in order to make his "old school" cool again.
Then, Sunday, I watched the world renowned taiko group Kodo in Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. I love how taiko rumbles from the stage to your stomach.
My favorite parts were:
when they did the wave with drum beating
when a kid behind us "broke wind" just as the group was at a dramatic crescendo
when they rolled out a gigantic drum (they could of fit three of me inside there) on a float and two artists pounded it
the encore, when everyone had a different drum and one was so big, the artist didn't bother with two drumsticks, he just had one
Finally, it was nice to see females in their group drumming - I heard it's been a recent phenomenon.
Channel 104.9's birthday party last Friday was a blast. Even though some performance artists accompanying the Dresden Dolls band were dressed up like ghouls and pushing people about, I really enjoyed the party. The best band was Collective Soul. Keep that band on your radars; their alternative crooning was so sweet, it spoke to your soul. It was the kind of music you instinctively close your eyes to.
Also, I caught a preview of Will Smith's new movie last night, "Hitch." Although the previews do give a lot away, and the endings to chick flicks are always obvious, I enjoyed it. Let me put this way, my friend (who is a cop) loved it enough to want to buy the DVD when it come out.
This weekend, ch-check it out:
WHAT: Hair and Fashion Show
WHERE: Simone's, 380 Embarcadero (next to Mingles), Oakland
WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight, 2/4
TIX: $20; firstname.lastname@example.org WHY: Hip-hop, R&B, reggae, dancehall and old school grooves
WHAT: Swerve Friday's
WHERE:Zebra Lounge, 447 Broadway, San Francisco
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. tonight, 2/3
TIX: 21+; upscale clothing required; guest list free before 10:30 p.m.; discount afterwards; email@example.com WHY: Celebrating Mardi Gras with R&B and hip-hop
WHAT:Damon Wayans WHERE: San Jose Improv, 62 S 2nd St, San Jose
WHEN: 7 p.m. & 9 p.m. Sat.; 7 p.m. & 9 p.m. Sun.
TIX: $33-37;www.improv.com WHY: See the funny guy behind "Homey the Clown," "My Wife and Kids," and "In Living Color."
WHAT: Super Bowl Party
WHERE: 330 Ritch, San Francisco (between 3rd and 4th St. off Townsend)
WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday, 2/6
WHY: Get ready for Valentine's with a discussion on the difficulties of dating in the South Bay.
Tell me if you think this it's an odd way of reaching out to Asian-Americans: "We're Asian and Pacific Islander Americans and our diverse cultures and our everyday American lifestyle are becoming one. We're hanging on to our great traditions while we move to the beat of the times. We honor our heritage and we love being Americans. From high fashion to high tech, from Asian Pacific American hip hop to haute cuisine, we're weaving the threads of our culture into the fabric of everyday American life. Whether we're celebrating one of our cultural holidays or enjoying a Big Mac sandwich, we're helping make the magic mix called America become even richer."
Tonight, ch-check it out:
WHAT: Man Jose: Dating Challenges in the South Bay
WHERE: Yu-Ai Kai, 588 North 4th Street, San Jose Japantown
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. tonight, 2/3
TIX: Recommended donation w/dinner: $10, $15 or $20Recommended donation for program and refreshments only: $5
WHY: Get ready for Valentine's with a discussion on the difficulties of dating in the South Bay.
I find that many DJ's I interview have a difficult time expressing themselves verbally -- as if they need their turntables to express themselves. But the Automator was almost automatic.
He had some simple advice for me about balancing a large workload. He said to do what was needed in the time you have -- and things you don’t need to do, well, don't do them. He was all about efficiency.
For tonight, be like Dan the Automator, and try out your deejaying skills at:
WHERE:Sublounge Bar, 628 20th st. @ 3rd st. FRISCO
WHEN: 9 p.m. - 2 a.m. tonight, 2/2
TIX: NO COVER!
WHY: Bring your beats and sign up!
Many of the panels concentrated on how to make good music, but the panelists emphasized that this "it" quality came from inside - it wasn't a formula.
It's like this graphic novel I recently read, "Blankets," which is about finding and losing your first love. It has to be one of the best books I've read this year.
The emotions in the novel are so raw, that the author, Craig Thompson, feels like a close friend that has called you after a fit of tears. It's real and relevant, like the graphic equivalent of The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. You can tell Thompson was writing for himself and not for anyone else. It wasn't a formula.