Saturday night had me grounded at the super small dive of a venue, Bottom of the Hill. Deserted at show time, Letting Up Despite Great Faults took the stage. I’ll agree they had some extremely great faults, but with a dash of Radiohead rhythm and its sure-we’ll-work-with-it L.A. pop rock attitude, they had the straggling crowd nodding along.
Piggybacking pedal steel infused indie rock with bass-heavy techno beats, San Francisco locals Birds & Batteries followed with a rousing set to perk the emerging crowd right up. “Sneaky Times” was a standout with Justice-esque synths and dazed vocals. These guys are going places.
The disappointing follow-up to B&B’s innovative set was Loquat. Although the musicianship was spot-on, I found myself aching for some charisma. Shifting its sound back to the days of female-fronted 90s groups like Garbage, the song structures lacked innovation in favor of catchy hooks and a lifeless A-B-A-B structure. Good time to get another beer and take a breather out on the back patio.
Time for Memory Tapes (Memory Cassette? Weird Tapes? whichever) and the “sold-out” sign was finally upheld. The place was packed and hungry. As Dayve Hawk stepped up, the visualizer switched on and the stage was bathed in swimming neon shapes. “Green Knight” erupted into a ballsy guitar-driven jam with synthetic textures to keep things interesting, while lower-key “Plain Material” shifted gears for a post-punk techno fusion.
And then, right as the set was bubbling over with perfection, Dayve walked off stage and never came back. No encore – just blinking, thwarted Noise Popsters standing around, looking for the after party. Memory Tapes was rad, but a headliner has to bring it. Hopefully Dayve’s next pit stop in San Francisco will have enough tracks to keep the party going on a Saturday night – at least until the bar closes.