Listings are in the opposite order of appearance: headliner is listed at the top, next is the support band(s), and the last band listed is the opener.
September 22 2013
8:30PM doors -- music at 9:00PM ••• ALL AGES
blues minimalist ~ Lo-fi, no wave, rockabilly
electronic dream rock shoegaze synth
dream goth psychedelic shoegaze
Alex Zhang Hungtai (born September 4, 1980, Taipei), known by his stage name Dirty Beaches, is a Taiwanese-born Canadian musician based in Montreal, Quebec.
Dirty Beaches released a number of EPs and instrumental-focused albums on cassette-only labels, before releasing the full-length Badlands in March 2011. Badlands was subsequently nominated as a long listed nominee for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize. Dirty Beaches has also released singles including "True Blue"/"Sweet 17," "Lord Knows Best" and "Lone Runner," as well as videos, many of them directed by Zhang himself. Zhang has also recorded several original film soundtracks, such as for the documentary Water Park, by Evan Prosofsky.
Dirty Beaches began as a one-man band, sometimes employing sampling, inspired by Zhang's longtime love of hip hop. In addition to his own years moving between countries and on the road touring, films are one of Zhang's influences, particularly those by Wong Kar-wai. Zhang said Wong's movies are "usually about the passage of time, and how in relation it distorts your relationship with everything else in life. The central Dirty Beaches character is a product of those experiences. Of someone traveling long distances in search of something, in exile, misplaced, with no home to return to." Zhang has lived in Taipei, Queens, Etobicoke, Honolulu, San Francisco, Shanghai, Vancouver, Montreal and Berlin, among other cities.
Dirty Beaches has released work on record labels throughout the world since his first album Old Blood came out on Montreal's Fixture Records in 2007. Dirty Beaches has recorded and toured with musicians such as Dum Dum Girls, U.S. Girls, Ela Orleans and Xiu Xiu. In 2011, Zhang was able to leave a kitchen job to play music full time. First touring solo, he then put together a live band with sax player Francesco De Gallo and drummer Jesse Locke. On tour, Dirty Beaches moved away from the sample-based rock n roll of Badlands to embrace a more improvised sound. In 2012, guitarist Shub Roy and electronic musician Bernardino Femminielli joined Dirty Beaches live and in the studio, and they remain members of the band as of 2013.
After the release of Badlands and a number of EPs and collaborations, Dirty Beaches recorded 75 minutes of new material in late 2012 and early 2013. One set of songs, Drifters, was begun at La Brique recording space in Montreal and features Zhang's vocals and songwriting, along with instrumental contributions by Roy and Femminielli and former bandmates De Gallo and Locke. Making use of live instruments- guitar, bass, keyboard, drum machines and saxophones- arranged into original loops, none of the eight songs include any samples of previously existent recordings, a change from Zhang's previous working methods. During the course of recording Drifters, Zhang's relationship of several years ended in Canada and he relocated to the studio of friend Anton Newcombe in Berlin, where he finished the record and also recorded Love is the Devil, an instrumental set of eight songs, in late hours when the studio was not in use.
Drifters/Love Is The Devil was released as a double LP, as well as on a single CD and in digital formats, by the Zoo Music label in May 2013. Dirty Beaches will tour Europe and other regions in spring and summer of 2013. Earlier in the year Dirty Beaches toured the Asia Pacific region for the first time.
fronted by Sandra Vu.
Many may know Sandra Vu as the face behind the kit for L.A.'s Dum Dum Girls, but that's all about to change. Back in 2009, following the dissolution of her band Midnight Movies, Sandra started writing and recording music under the name SISU (pronounced "see-soo") as a means of working through her disappointment and disillusionment. Since then, SISU has grown from a pet project to a bonafide band, with a lineup that includes guitarist Ryan Wood, drummer Nathanael Keefer, bassist Chris Stevens, and keyboardist/vocalist Jules Medeiros (also of Dum Dum Girls). Listeners may be surprised to find that SISU offers a strikingly different sound and mood from Dum DumGirls: sparse electro beats, sinewy basslines, undulating synths, shimmering guitar, gossamer flute, and Vu's voice, floating vulnerable and breathy above it all. It's exquisite, devastating music.
The band recently wrapped up a string of East and West Coast dates opening up for Cat Power. Next week, SISU heads back out on the road with Widowspeak in support of their forthcoming EP Light Eyes, which will be released on vinyl via the newly-formed Mono Prism Records and on cassette by Burger Records on April 23. In June, they unveil Blood Tears, their long-awaited full-length debut for Mono Prism.
Jess Labrador and Shannen Madden
In the depths of the Tenderloin, unnoticeably tucked in between what Google Maps calls the San Francisco Drug User’s Union and Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, lies SF duo Chasms’ unassuming, almost abysmal practice space. It’s a part of the city most would avoid because of its seedy reputation for illicit activities and general insanity. But while some would consider this a dismal locale, others are channeling its darkness and thriving off of it.
Not one to be afraid of the dank, I accepted an invitation to watch the band practice just days before they’d set off for a second round of shows in Los Angeles and San Diego. Adding to the excitement is the fact that this would be for the release of their debut EP, When it Comes, due June 26th.
Guitarist and vocalist Jess Labrador had just finished checking her makeup while Shannon Madden sat cool-like wearing a baggy, white t-shirt with a stretched out collar, clutching her bass. A tangled mess of chords, pedals and equipment sat at both of their feet, not far from the drum machine. With the lights down low, just the way they like it, the private performance began.
They moved through lengthy songs (they don’t cater to short-attention spans and would rather let the songs breathe) provided a lush soundscape, spot on vocal delivery and a vibe every bit as foreboding as the EP’s title suggests. Labrador later explained that it’s a reference to the acceptance of one’s own demise. “Being okay with what you’re doing, being okay with death. Would you be satisfied?” she pondered.
And it’s her haunted howl that can be heard both live and on the cassette (to be released on Dream) where you realize the powerhouse potential of her voice that maybe hasn’t quite yet matured, or is just holding back at times. Perhaps those obscured vocals and sometimes drowned-out lyrics are symbolic of the aforementioned mortality. After all, it isn’t clear what happens or where you go when you die. The shroud could simply be affect.
“I have gotten a lot more comfortable,” Labrador said about being fairly new to the stage. “My knees shake every time we play. It’s a physical anxiety that overtakes my body. It stays with me throughout the set.” But when you see them live you can tell she’s just warming up and when she arrives, you hear the emotion in her voice.
With Madden, her collaborator, the two couldn’t be more perfectly matched. They knew they wanted to work together creatively, even considering a screenplay, but it was about a year and a half ago when things really took off via email in a word association-like approach to writing lyrics. Madden said she carried a packet of text she had written with random words and phrases for her bandmate to interpret. She said at first she couldn’t offer much besides her imagination.
You could put Chasms somewhere along the lines of having heavy industrial or shoegaze influences, but the bottom line is this: The difficulty of categorizing them neatly on a bill is a great testament to their uniqueness. What has emerged is something that is both menacing and beautiful. I like how they put it themselves when they simply said, “We shred.”