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BACKSTAGE WITH MARIAN
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Story outtakes, celebrity confessions and the latest pop culture news in the Bay Area

About Me
I'm a pop music writer for the San Jose Mercury News. I cover pop, hip hop, punk, rock, dance, and ethnic - well, basically everything you can dance to.

My Articles

MY PICKS
CD: Common:"Be"
Music Video Eminem: featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Trailer: The Year of the Yao
TV: Harvey Birdman
Videogame: Fable

MERCURY REVIEWS
Art: The New Art of India
Bar: Boswell's
Book: Jill Scott
Club: Forum
DVD: Kinsey
Movie: Cinderella Man
Music: Sleater-Kinney
Restaurant: The Melting Pot
Theater:The Mambo Kings

SICK SITE
Earth and Sun Kiss

MY PLAYLIST

1. R. Kelly: "Trapped In The Closet"

2. Weezer: "Hold Me"

3. Bright Eyes: "First Day Of My Life"

4. Ringside: "Miss You" and "Criminal"

ENTERTAINMENT RESOURCES
  • Billboard Charts
  • Encyclopedia
  • iticket.com
  • Moviefone
  • Music Dictionary
  • MTV
  • Pollstar
  • tickets.com
  • Urban Dictionary
  • ticketmaster.com
  • VH1

  • BLOGROLL
  • Adisa Banjoko : San Jose's Bishop of Hip hop
  • Angry Asian Man: Asian American media watchdog
  • Berkeley Blogs
  • Black Electorate : Inside Cultural, Economic and Political industries
  • BLT's Parry
  • Crayone: the trials and tribulations of a graffiti artist
  • Dan Gillmor : Grassroots Journalism
  • Dat Phan : Last Comic Standing season 1 winner
  • East Bay Livin' : Ellen Lee's EB hunt
  • Davey D: Hip Hop Daily News
  • Fortt: black american gen x journalist musician multicultural christian technophile
  • Jeff Chang: fellow Asian hip hop writer
  • Joe Grimm : Ask the Recruiter
  • In Passing : Random Street Conversations
  • Pacific Standard: Bay Area hip-hop
  • Pop And Politics
  • Pop Licks : O-Dub, a cultural critic
  • Scape: San Jose graffiti artist
  • SiliconBeat: News about tech money and innovation
  • Friday, April 29, 2005

    Vegas clubbing tips and Russell Simmons in Hayward tonight

    Okay so more on how to get in free to Las Vegas spots...

    There are many clubs in Vegas, but just as many comps, so here's a brief guide on how to find those comps or how to get comped. (My friend also wrote a guide on this link.)

  • TRAVEL IN A GROUP OF GIRLS: When we were waiting in line, there was a group of guys waiting near the end. While one of us gals pushed through and got in within 15 minutes, the bouncer basically told the guy, sorry, with a group of guys you may not get in tonight at all.

  • GET TO KNOW THE BOUNCER: This works at many clubs everywhere. Be his friend and he may let you in.

  • TALK UP YOUR CABBIE: Many of the cab drivers in Vegas have comps to places. Tell him/her a little about you, how you travel in attractive circles and have no idea what you want to do that night.

  • WALK AROUND THE STRIP: Besides passing out uh unmentional magazines, some peddlers actually pass out comps - for stand-alone clubs - like Ice and Seven.

  • VISIT CLUBBING CLOTHING STORES: For example the ones in Aladdin like Neighborhoodies have loads of comp coupons near their cash register. Believe me, we raided those stores for those passes.

  • IF ALL ELSE FAILS, RAISE YOUR HEAD HIGH AND WALK IN LIKE YOU BELONG THERE: Who knows, if you carry the air of a celebrity, they just might believe you.


  • As for this weekend, ch-check it out:

    FRIDAY

    Meet Russell Simmons and Reverend Run of Phat Farm Clothing
    WHERE: Macy's Southland in Hayward
    WHEN: 5 p.m. tonight 4/29
    TIX: No Cover
    WHY: The two will be giving out autographs plus exclusive prizes with Phat Farm purchases.

    Weezer
    WHERE: Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 4/29
    TIX: $29.50; ticketmaster.com
    WHY: "The Sweater Song" rockers are back!

    SATURDAY

    Free lecture on the Appreciation of Peking Opera
    WHERE: 1606 S De Anza Blvd., San Jose
    WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday 4/30
    TIX: Free
    WHY: An opera actress will give a free lecture on opera in Chinese.

    SATURDAY & SUNDAY

    Coachella
    WHERE: Empire Polo Field, 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio
    WHEN: 11 a.m. Sat.-Sun. 4/30-5/1
    TIX: $81; ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Headliners include Coldplay, Weezer, Chemical Brothers, Keane, Snow Patrol, NIN, Bright Eyes and Zion I.

    SUNDAY

    Lyrics Born, Kunfgu Vampire, Nasty Breeze, Z Man
    WHERE: Deep, 87 N. San Pedro, San Jose
    WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday 5/1
    TIX: $12; deepsj.com
    WHY: Stellar line-up! Lyrics Born is the gravelly emcee in the soundtrack of the Diet Coke commerical with Adrian Brody.

    MONDAY

    Snow Patrol with Embrace and Augustana
    WHERE: Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday 5/2
    TIX: $25; ticketmaster.com
    WHY: If you like Coldplay, check this show out.
    Thursday, April 28, 2005

    Meeting Puffy AmiYumi in San Francisco

    Yesterday I met Ami and Yumi of Puffy AmiYumi. And I'm sad to report that I'm shorter than both of them.

    They were a little mellower than I imagined, but still very bouncy. Yumi, in a Madonna-punk like outfit (a maroon crushed velvet top with pearls) kept flopping her permed head around. While, Ami, in a very 80s outfit (an oversize yellow T, shorts, black leggings and boots) jumped at the end of a lot of songs.

    The concert was fun. Many of the fans were elementary school-age girls who dragged their moms. They formed little jitterbug circles on the floor of the Fillmore. And while their dancing slowed down for the Japanese songs, they became hysterical for the American ones like the Scooby Doo 2 song "Friends Forever," the "Teen Titans Theme" and of course the "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Theme."

    My favorite of the night was Puffy AmiYumi's cover of Green Day's Imagine "Basket Case." Green Day on fast-forward with anime girls. I wished they had covered some of Greenday's newer stuff to see how slower more depressing songs like "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" would turn out. I'm guessing they would make it psycho happy.

    I saw the duo after the show. The backstage of the Fillmore is on the second floor balcony past some discreet curtains. After a flurry of changing Ami and Yumi emerged. In person, they are very very cute, and skinny, though very tired.

    I resisted the urge to hug them.

    I'll put up pictures soon.

    Tonight, ch-check it out:

    Frontline
    WHERE: Studio 8, 8 South 1st Street, San Jose
    WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight 4/28
    TIX: 21+; free guest list - Arrive early this may sell out fast!
    WHY: Frontline is on the frontline of the New Bay hip hop movement.

    And...

    The Likwit Junkies Listening Party
    WHERE: The Agenda Lounge, 399 S. 1st St., San Jose
    WHEN: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight 4/28
    TIX: $3 before 11 p.m.
    WHY: Defari has been getting some buzz from The Source, Elemental, and hiphopsite.com
    Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    Wu Bai married, and Puffy AmiYumi plus Augustana tonight in San Francisco

    So the biggest Taiwan pop news lately is that rocker Wu Bai finally admits that he was secretly married in the last year or so to his girlfriend/manager Chen Wen Pei in Fukuoka City, Japan. It was a marriage on the downlow, and only in these last few days has he admitted this to the press there.

    No wonder he and Chen were giggly on the phone with me - alone, indeed!

    Tonight, two great things to ch-check out:

    Puffy AmiYumi
    WHERE: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Street, SF
    WHEN:
    8 p.m. tonight 4/27
    TIX: $25; ticketmaster.com
    WHY: The cartoony cute duo play Japanese pop rock. I'll be meeting them tonight BACKSTAGE and will give a full account tomorrow.

    Augustana
    WHERE: Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell Street, SF
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 4/27
    TIX: currently sold out on virtuous.com, check doors
    WHY: sweet ballady alternative rock. Their single "Boston" reminded me of Hoobastank's sweet single "The Reason."
    Tuesday, April 26, 2005

    Clubbing in Vegas and spotting Sinbad there

    I'm back to the Bay.

    Las Vegas was decadent. With the exception of a roulette spin, we didn't gamble. Actually we didn't even splurge on buffets. We left the money to spas and clubs.

    Here's a breakdown of what we did:(Here's a link to a review of my last Vegas trip. Last time we saw Jay-Z, this time we took a picture with Sinbad.)

    PALMS, Skin
  • We hung out poolside and had lunch. The pool wasn't different than any other hotel pool, but it was an area to see and be seen. We caught a lot of body enhancement that day.

  • We also took a peek during the day into the infamous Rain. It was actually a pretty large club, bigger than Luxor's Ra or Paris' Risque. It had a black, maroon color scheme with several stages.


  • LUXOR, Ra

  • This was only a notch above Paris' Risque.

  • The music was bad - the newest thing they played was Maroon 5 and that was only a couple of minutes. The DJ also mismatched the beats when transitioning, creating a train wreck of notes.

  • I don't know if it was the timing (we got there before 10 p.m.), but the crowd was mostly seniors (as in over 65!).

  • I didn't know whether to be impressed that at that age they could still get low, or to run to a hipper crowd.


  • HARD ROCK, Rock Spa
  • A masseuse said Motley Crue had just passed through for an in-room massage.

  • Compared to Paris' spa (we went there last time), it was significantly smaller, but had a clean minimalist look. The prices are also a little better - a one-hour massage there cost $105 versus other areas where they cost around $120.

  • Their pool, on the other hand, looked really dingy. The water, they assured us was chlorinated, but it was a pukey shade of green.


  • BELLAGIO, Light
  • Again, this club was the winner.

  • The crowd was more typical of what you'd expect at a hot Vegas nightclub -- hip and beautiful.

  • The DJ also spun seamlessly from hip-hop to rock.


  • MANDALAY BAY

    Rum Jungle
  • We tried this spot again. The food is good and prices are not too bad (appetizers run around $15, main courses $20-$40), but for that price, their service was not so good.

  • We wanted to get a stamp to come back for the clubbing later that night, but they were rude and only after confronting a manager did they put our name on the list. They usually wait until 10:30 p.m. for such stamping services.

  • Forty Deuce
  • This is the set of the new Bravo show about burlesque dancers.

  • It's a $40 cover, but as an all-girl group, we got in free.


  • Later this week, I'll go over some tricks of how we got in. You see - the highest cover we paid was $5. We mostly got in free - and as regular patrons, not reporters.
    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Tori Amos sold out in San Francisco, and free shows in San Jose

    Ch-check out my story today on Tori Amos! (Click here for the story.) She's a fiery spirit, but as a mom, she makes sure to discuss the tour with her 4 1/2-year-old daughter.

    "I don't think that you can just drag a kid halfway across the globe without her having any say in it," the 41-year-old singer songwriter says.

    This weekend, my friends and I are going to Vegas and will try to hit the Rain, the Palms' night club and infamous spot from MTV's Real World.

    Meanwhile, for all of you staying in the Bay Area, ch-check it out:

    FRIDAY (some nice freebies)

    Iceland Airwaves Festival
    WHERE: Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market St., SF
    WHEN: 6:30 p.m. tonight 4/22
    TIX: Free show!
    WHY: psychedelic Icelandic rock

    Lyrical Discipline
    WHERE: Cafecito, 330 S. Third St., San Jose
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 4/22
    TIX: Free show!
    WHY: There will be a discussion and an open mike. The panel includes Adisa (the bishop of hip-hop), Abe Menor (urban artist and photographer) and Ready Red (original DJ for the Geto Boys).

    SATURDAY

    Zulu Breakthru
    WHERE: MACLA, 510 S. First St., San Jose
    WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday 4/23
    TIX: $10 at the door
    WHY: Los Angeles crew Deux Process and Bay Area artist Shamako and members of the Jimi Handtrix Experience will be performing. This will also be a meeting of Universal Zulu Nation from the Bay Area, L.A., Seattle and Sacramento

    Lewis Black with John Bowman
    WHERE: Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday 4/23
    TIX: $35.50-$45.50; (408) 998-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Check out Lewis Black, aka "America's foremost commentato on everything." He's the cynical loudmouth "reporter" from the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

    The Team
    WHERE: Club Deep, 87 N. San Pedro, San Jose
    WHEN: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday 4/23
    TIX: $15 at the door; no sports apparel; free admission before 10:30 p.m. with this voucher
    WHY: local gritty hip-hop

    MONDAY

    Rooney
    WHERE: Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market St., SF
    WHEN: 9 p.m. Monday 4/25
    TIX: $10 at the door
    WHY: classic rock

    System of a Down
    WHERE: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday 4/25
    TIX: tickets only available at the door starting 4/24; two tix limit; no line-ups before 7 a.m.
    WHY: I love how the lead singer, Serj Tankian, has this voice that just vibrates inside of you.
    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    DJ Spooky and his magazine 21C, plus Ruckus Magazine

    There are two interesting magazines to ch-check out.

    One is DJ Spooky's brainchild, 21C Magazine. He was an intriguing interview, a DJ who dissects songs and resurrects them together with a PhD-like mind. My favorite album of his is Optometry, a thoughtful mix of jazz artists like well-respected avant-garde jazz pianist Matthew Shipp. Its one I would definitely recommend. It was a mainstay in my car until my ravenous seat swallowed it up one day.

    His latest work is "Rebirth of a Nation," a multimedia redefinition of the controversial Civil War film "The Birth of a Nation." The silent film by D.W. Griffith was released in 1915 and caused quite a stir - It was adapted from a novel called "The Clansman."

    21C Magazine (21cmagazine.com) is the kind of endeavor that college over-achievers dream up.

    In their words: "Imagine a 'hip' Harpers with amazing photography or a youthful New Yorker with stunning graphics and a modem ... A stunningly designed showcase for idea-driven writing about visionary thinkers, trendsetters and new, new things - the people, trends and ideas at the cultural cutting edge."

    The other one to ch-check out is Ruckus Magazine, (ruckusmag.com) a free bi-monthly Bay Area rap culture magazines. Soon you can find it at Tower, Rasputin's, and other indie and college stores. The first one comes out May 2nd.

    As for tonight, ch-check it out:

    LTJ Bukem & MC Conrad
    WHERE: Ruby Skye, 420 Mason St (at Geary St) San Francisco0
    WHEN: 9 p.m. to 3a.m. tonight 4/21
    TIX: $15 door, $10 presale; ticketweb.com
    WHY: drum and base

    Ch-check back tomorrow - I'll give a breakdown of what to do locally this weekend. As for me, I'll be in Vegas and will give an account Tuesday.
    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Puffy AmiYumi in San Francisco

    Check out my story today on Puffy AmiYumi. (Click here for the story.)

    I interviewed the hyper Japanese pop duo over the phone. They were in Tokyo preparing for a photo shoot for Entertainment Weekly.

    Right in the middle of interviewing them (with translator Archie Meguro from Sony Music, Japan) Ami exclaims, "I dropped my chips!"

    The two are fanatic about food. Yumi loves ice cream and donuts. They really enjoy going to Japanese supermarkets, and make sure they visit Ralphs and Taco Bell when they're in the states.

    When I asked them their age (Yumi is 30 and Ami is 31), they obliged, but Ami says "shh, it's really unofficial."

    So I ask Meguro if it'll be okay to print their ages, he laughs and says, "It's okay, they're just playing."

    Ch-check it out tonight:

    Rock and Roll Circus
    WHERE: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., SF
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 4/20
    TIX: $5; rickshawstop.com
    WHY: There will be circus acts

    Ch-check back tomorrow - I'll write about a hip-hop magazine in the works.


    Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    Scape Martinez and Jurassic 5

    The other day I had lunch with San Jose graffiti artist Scape Martinez.

    Besides having a sweet blog (keepmykhakiscreased.blogspot.com) he had a very interesting analogy about the music industry. Martinez compared the industry to a bank where instead of cultivating talent, it invests in things that would garner the fastest and highest return. For example, Martinez says, they would put in more effort in gangsta rapper 50 Cent to become multi-platinum rather than try to grow a new artist to sell a bit.

    This relates to a conversation I had with Akil, a member of the socially conscious hip-hop group Jurassic 5). I asked why in the past MasterCard offered an internship with the group. It wasn't the group's idea - they had no choice, he said, adding that they need to work it whatever way they can.

    "You don't have to work a 50 Cent album, but you do have to work a Jurassic 5 one," he said.

    Tonight, ch-check it out...

    Velvet Revolver, Hoobastank
    WHERE: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 4/19
    TIX: $39.50; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Hoobastank's single "The Reason" is already sweet on the radio, now catch it live.

    And...

    The Killers
    WHERE: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco
    WHEN: 7 p.m. & 11 p.m. tonight 4/19
    TIX: $20; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Their hit "Somebody Told Me" ingrained in fans' minds, with silly lyrics like "Well somebody told me, You had a boyfriend, Who looks like a girlfriend, That I had in February of last year." And, theoretically, with their later show, you can catch both the and Velvet Revolver and The Killers in one night!
    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Tori Amos in San Francisco

    This morning I interviewed Tori Amos. Like her music, the 41-year-old singer was intense.

    She became critical when I asked her about the reason behind her moving away from singing about herself to taking on other characters (like when she becomes the voice of the murdered wife on her cover of Eminem's "Bonnie and Clyde '97" and where she sings as "Mother Earth" on her latest album "The Beekeeper"). She asked, in a fiery tone, how I even know that the other music was about her?

    "How do you know that I haven't gone inside? Do you know me? Do you know my life?," she fired back.

    Yeah, I don't know her and that's why I ask the questions.

    Amos didn't let me reveal the audio of the interview online, saying that it's "just between you and me in case I burp."

    Anyways, ch-check out her spirited Q&A in this Friday's EYE.
    Friday, April 15, 2005

    Rob Thomas in San Francisco and wisdom from Sammy Hagar

    Rob Thomas plays tonight. Ch-check out my story here.

    It includes video and audio clips.

    He taught me a great lesson this week about the need to balance being able to say no. He passes up on a lot of promotions to have more time for himself, and he still has a career right?

    When I interviewed Sammy Hagar, he had something deep to say too: "Happiness comes from within."

    Keep those things in mind this busy weekend.

    Ch-check it out:

    FRIDAY

    Rob Thomas
    WHERE: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight 4/15
    TIX: $35; (408) 998-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Check out his solo act.

    Ladies' Swerve
    WHERE: Zebra Lounge, 447 Broadway, SF
    WHEN: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight 4/15
    TIX: ladies free before 10:30; discount before 11 p.m.
    WHY: They're giving away free spa gift certificates.

    SATURDAY

    The Bomb Veinte
    WHERE: HP Pavilion
    WHEN: Wednesday, May 25th
    TIX: $20; it goes on sale 10 a.m. Saturday! (4/16)
    WHY: The A-list line-up includes: The Game, Snoop, Baby Bash, Frankie J, Bone Brothers, and Natalie.

    Asian American IDOL 2005
    WHERE:
    DNA Lounge, 375 11th street @ Harrison, SF
    WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday 4/16
    TIX: $10 with guestlist
    WHY: Check out who may be next famous.

    SUNDAY

    Bay Area Rap Summit
    WHERE: 177 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
    WHEN: 12-7 p.m. Sunday 4/17
    TIX: $35-$100; bayarearapsummit.com
    WHY: Network and listen to the Bay's up-and-coming rappers.
    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    un-scary Marilyn Manson on the phone

    Lately, I've been speaking on a lot of campuses about what I do. Common questions students have are: How was it speaking to Marilyn Manson? And how can you keep your own morals values intact as a journalist? (She was referring to tabloid journalism.)

    I was freaked out about interviewing Marilyn Manson, because his persona seemed so evil, but he really wasn't so scary over the phone.

    If you've seen the documentary "Bowling for Columbine" - which I didn't see until way later --you'll find an intellectual man in Manson. He's smart and one of those rock critics (many of us are closet rock star wannabes) who figured out how to be a rock star.

    He was also sick that day and so stuffed up his public relations didn't let me to record the interview (I think because he didn't sound menacing at all and that messed with his persona).

    At the end of the interview I said I hoped he would feel better, and he said, thanks for taking pity on him. Imagine that? I took pity on Marilyn Manson.

    And on the second question: It's more about balancing your values with getting the job done as journalist. It may seem like journalists are morally empty, if you base it on popular tabloid journalism. But I hope that mainstream journalists keep strong values in everything they do. I find that the more human you are, the better you can relate better to the people you are interviewing. It may be one story and one assignment to a journalist, but it usually means a lot more to the interviewee. They often open themselves up to me, so I try to honor that.

    Tonight, ch-check it out:

    Old School Thursdays
    WHERE: Enter through Back Bar, 418 S. Market St., downtown San Jose
    WHEN: tonight 4/14
    TIX:no cover
    WHY: It'll be the grand opening of Rock Tavern nights.

    And...

    The Crystal Method
    WHERE: Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St. (@ Mint), SF
    WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight 4/14
    TIX: 21+; $20 (glow sticks are not allowed); groovetickets.com (They will be giving a free show at Virgin Megastore, 2 Stockton St., San Francisco, at 7 p.m.)
    WHY:One of the greatest dance duos
    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Gomez in San Jose and Deborah Gibson in San Francisco

    Yesterday I spoke with Tom Gray of the British band Gomez.

    He was a pleasure to talk to, and even if he weren't in music I would want to be his friend.

    Gray, the vocalist/keyboardist/bassist/guitarist, describes Gomez as "eclectic" music. It's kind of bluesy rock. And what's nice is that they make a point not to compromise themselves as artists.

    The band got together as friends looking for fun, and they haven't changed that.

    "If you can't have fun, what's the point? God help us if even the people in rock n' roll are miserable, the world might as well destroy itself right now," he said, over the phone from Atlanta by Emory University.

    He went on this long spiel about how the music industry has become way too conservative, how instead of artists freely expressing themselves now, the managers locate audiences with certain tastes and cater to them. Gray would rather make music good enough to find an audience.

    "You know we approach music, piece by piece," says Gray, 28. "The most interesting thing about our record, is almost everybody likes three different songs."

    Actually their name plays into it their eclecticism.

    "Gomez keeps us grounded," says Gray. "Why would an English band have a Spanish name? It skews people's view of us. It's helpful. It never lets people pin us down."

    Gomez was actually a friend of the band's, an Indian-Portuguese guy Gray describes as having a "streak of white hair" that would "fall asleep at all times of the day."

    One of their earlier gigs was in a residential area, and Gomez (the guy) "wasn't particularly great at finding places, so we wrote his name with big letters on the venue, so he'd know where to go."

    Other people coming to hear them naturally thought the band's name was Gomez, so it stuck.

    More on them later, but for info on their concert in San Jose, click here.

    As for today, ch-check it out:

    The Art of Win Ng
    WHERE: Chinese Historical Society of America, 965 Clay Street, San
    Francisco
    WHEN: Opening reception tonight 4/13 @ 6:30 p.m.; exhibit runs through July 24th
    TIX: free; www.chsa.org
    WHY: After WWII, Win Ng was one of the artists that created a new tradition of American pottery.

    And...

    Deborah Gibson
    WHERE: Tower Records 119 Market St., 2280 Market St., San Francisco
    WHEN: 5 p.m. tonight 4/13
    TIX: Free; (415) 621-0588
    WHY: 80s Pop queen Deborah Gibson (formerly known as Debbie) has just released an album called "Naked." She'll be at Tower signing autographs.

    Later tonight, she'll be performing
    WHERE: Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market St., SF
    WHEN: 9:30 p.m. tonight 4/13
    TIX: 21+; $30; cafedunord.com
    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Rob Thomas, of Matchbox Twenty, in San Francisco

    The other day I interviewed Rob Thomas, lead singer of Matchbox Twenty. (Click here for my story.)

    He performing solo for now, but plans to go back to the band and continue to write for other artists (most recently a collaboration with Big Boi of OutKast). In short, he's a very busy man.

    On balancing all this music and his marriage to model Marisol Maldonado, he says:

    "We stay together as much as we can," says Thomas, 33. "We realize that this is real time and that's what's important."

    "Sometimes you get really (expletive) great business opportunities, but if it doesn't vibe with your personal time, you don't have enough time ... You say no to something, and be okay. I mean I still have a career."

    Ch-check out my interview with him in Thursday's Mercury News. I wanted to do a straight Q&A, but he sprinkled in quite a few expletives, so it'll be a story.

    Tonight, ch-check it out:

    Slipknot, Lamb of God, Shadows Fall
    WHERE: HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose
    WHEN: 7 p.m. tonight 4/12
    TIX: $37; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: if metal is your thang




    Monday, April 11, 2005

    A review of U2's San Jose HP Pavilion concert

    When bassist Adam Clayton described U2's music as an expression of "spiritual ecstasy," he wasn't kidding.


    U2 must be the only rock band that can :

  • sing about "Yahweh,"

  • recount meeting the Pope

  • exclaim Martin Luther King Jr.'s words

  • and broadcast the Universal Declaration of Human Rights


  • Bono even hung a cross necklace, he received as a gift from the Pope, on his microphone stand while he sang.

    Bono said that while many rock stars have a "Pope complex," John Paul II was the only Pope to have a rock star one.

    And while Bono said that he may not agree with everything the Pope stood for, at least he stood for something. And on the same note, it was refreshing to watch a rock star who stood for something.

    Overall, the concert was magnificent.

    Unlike the Anaheim show where my friend said U2 played mostly recent material, the show Saturday night in HP Pavilion had a lot of old hits, like 1985's "Pride," 1992's "One," and 2000's "Beautiful Day." Here's a link to the set list.

    The lighting was also beautiful. There were LCD lights that hung like curtains down from the ceiling, showing images of the band, flags, and even a fighter plane. During the encore, there were also chandeliers that came down from the ceiling.

    My only disappointment was that I expected a wider age range of fans to come, but the majority were in there 30s and 40s and few brought their kids. I also wished U2 picked a better opener. Kings of Leon weren't that great.

    For more U2 info:

  • my interview with bassist Adam Clayton

  • a U2 IQ test

  • another U2 quiz

  • Kava's U2 review
  • Friday, April 08, 2005

    U2 in San Jose

    The other day I had the opportunity to talk to Adam Clayton, bassist for U2. Check out my story at this link.

    He gave me a ring while he was on the way to sound check at Los Angeles' Staple Center.

    He called as scheduled with a lovely lilt in his voice, the Irish accent. Clayton was sweet, unassuming and very humble.

    He said they planned to keep U2 together as long as it goes somewhere. I told him it's more than going somewhere right now.

    Clayton laughed.

    I asked him why the others in the band had nicknames and why he didn't. He said, "it just never came up"

    And, he took the time to have a conversation with me, instead of me just outright drilling him with questions. He was a gentleman about it and made me like U2 even more.

    Ch-check out my Q&A with him on Saturday, along with a huge package of U2 trivia.

    This weekend, ch-check it out:

    FRIDAY

    Swerve's Spring Solstice
    WHERE: Circolo, 500 Florida St., SF
    WHEN:
    10 p.m. tonight 4/8
    TIX: Free before 10:30 p.m.; discount before 11 pm.

    WHY:
    new swanky venue

    And...

    SATURDAY

    Battlefest Live 2005
    WHERE: San Jose State University Student Union Ballroom
    WHEN: 7 p.m. Sat. 4/9
    TIX: $12 advanced; $15 at the door
    WHY: Hip Hop Dance competition expecting anywhere from 800 to 1200 people

    80's New Wave
    WHERE: Tom Tom Club in Agenda's Cellar, 399 South First St., San Jose
    WHEN: Saturday night 4/9
    TIX: Free with a U2 ticket
    WHY: Continue the ‘80s love all night long.

    Spectra Ball
    WHERE: San Francisco's Old Mint, 88 5th St., SF
    WHEN: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sat. night 4/9
    TIX: $40 advance; $50 at the door
    WHY: Everything from trapeze artists to hip-hop.

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    Starbucks and Steamers

    Today, check out my stories on Starbucks' dealing in music and these two hip-hop dancers who break at both bar mitzvahs and baseballs games.

    This past week, I went to a fantastic little jazz cafe in downtown Fullerton, called Steamers. It reminded me of the times I used to play flute in a jazz band way back.

    Monday is big band night, and the cover band, the John Peace Super Band, sang a wonderful rendition of Frank Sinatra. And, last weekend, they had Grammy award winning Poncho Sanchez play.

    What I liked the most is it had the North Beach kind of atmosphere in a more relaxed environment. The music was good, plus the food good and cheap ($6-8 for main dishes). Check them out, steamerscafe.com, next time you're in the area.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    Wu Bai in the World Journal, and Springsteen coming to Oakland

    Hope everyone is having a good week - I'm back from LA now, well actually I spent most of my time in sunny OC. I mainly did a lot of shopping along Rodeo, Brea, Fullerton and Sunset. I also checked out a very cool live jazz restaurant - more on that later this week.

    So, in yesterday's World Journal (a national newspaper written in Chinese) Taiwanese rocker Wu Bai was photographed with my Mercury News profile of him. In their paper, he says that after a "one-foot" length article in the Mercury News, he has truly made it in America.

    In the picture, he holds the story upside down, which is symbolic. During the Chinese New Year, you can spot the character for "spring-time" on signs upside down - because the Chinese character for "upside down," "dao," sounds like the word for "coming." So, Wu Bai was essentially saying Wu Bai has "come" to the states.

    As for today, Bruce Springsteen announced his tour dates. He comes to Oakland, May 5th.

    And for tonight, ch-check it out:

    SKRATCHPAD
    WHERE: Sublounge Bar, 628 20th St. @ 3rd St., SF
    WHEN: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. tonight 4/6
    TIX: 21+; no cover
    WHY: a session of blunts, beats and cuts
    Sunday, April 03, 2005

    Wu Bai at the House of Blues in Los Angeles

    I'm in Los Angeles this weekend and caught Wu Bai on Sunset Blvd. (Check this link for my interview in Monday's paper.)

    He really is like a Taiwanese version of Bon Jovi or Aerosmith. Imagine Mandarin and Taiwanese 80's classic rock.

    It was truly a proud moment to have an Asian artist fill the 1100-person space at HOB on a Friday and Saturday night!

    But except for the blatant House of Blues sign, Wu Bai made you forget you were in the states. Almost everybody was from Taiwan and much of his set was in either Taiwanese or Mandarin.

    He also displayed some cockiness when he exclaimed first in Chinese that a lot of stars must have played in the venue. Then he said in English, "Well, I don't give a (expletive)." The crowd loved his moxy.

    For those of you coming to tonight's autograph session in San Jose and tomorrow's concert in San Francisco, here's some things to keep in mind.

  • Wu Bai was reportedly disappointed at the low turnout at LA's autograph session and threatened to pull out of San Jose's if the number of people that showed was as dismal.

  • The concert in LA was on Asian time. It was set to start at 7 p.m. It started at 8:30 p.m. - they wanted to get much of the crowd in before starting. And it was packed! (The HOB Sunset holds around 1100)

  • They wouldn't let you bring in cameras, but many sneaked in camera phones, and they didn't stop you from taking pictures from those.

  • Wu Bai performed a 2 hour set with a 20 minute intermission. If you're bringing friends that don't understand Chinese or Taiwanese, be prepared to translate a LOT. He didn't speak much English, except to greet the audience.

  • Bring earplugs! He will bring the roof the down.
  • Friday, April 01, 2005

    Phantom Planet in San Jose, Wu Bai and Goapele in San Francisco

    I'll be in la-la land starting tonight, so you won't catch me until next Wednesday.

    An interesting thought channel 104.9 had on air was that bands are much better at sprints than marathons. They tend to come and go with hits.

    And, Phantom Planet echoed that idea. Their earlier claim to fame, actor and drummer Jason Schwartzman has left, leaving them to change their line-up.

    So bassist Sam Farrar, has this to say about bands: "It's delicate, you know, bands are like marriages except without the sex."

    Check out my full story here.

    And tonight:

    Phantom Planet opens for Sting
    Where: San Jose State Event Center, 209 S. 7th Street, San Jose
    When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1
    Tickets: $33.75-$50.75; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or www.ticketmaster.com

    And early next week, ch-check out my story on Wu Bai on Monday. His concert comes Tuesday.

    Wu Bai & China Blue concert
    WHERE: DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 4/5
    TIX: 21+; $50 ($60 at the door); 877-CMPG-388 (877-2674-388)
    WHY: Wu Bai usually plays at 20-50 thousand big concerts in Asia, so this is a chance to see him up close and personal.

    Finally, on Monday:

    Goapele, Mos Def, Crown City Rockers, ?uestlove and Michael Franti
    WHERE: Club Mighty, 119 Utah St., San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Monday 4/4
    TIX: 21+; $12 presales; $15 before midnight
    WHY: This is a crazy sick line-up.
     
    Photo of Marian Liu by Stephanie Grace Lim, Mercury News
    You can e-mail me at mliu@mercurynews.com.