Streetside Sessions: Social Club

When we rolled a piano out onto the streets of San Diego with local band Social Club, we weren’t quite expecting what would happen next. These guys (and one gal) graciously offered to be the guinea pigs of Streetside Sessions, a video feature that you’re only going to get here on the Indie SD. At least, you’re mostly only going to get it here. You can always check out Social Club’s website to hear more from the amazingly catchy yet refreshing pop rock band, and try to catch a show or two since they’ve proven that it’s never a dull moment backstage with these guys.

Social Club opted to grace us with an acoustic performance of their song “Debris” and since it hasn’t quite been recorded yet, consider this an inside look into the beauty of the band. With an acoustic piano, bass, drum set, and acoustic guitar all out on the streets of San Diego, we shot this band with the backdrop of  downtown in the distance – complete with the international airport’s aircraft overhead — don’t miss Southwest Airlines’ free promotion – you’re welcome, SW!

Tower XVI: The new trend with San Diego bands

Tower XVI. Photo by Jeff McLean.
Tower XVI. Photo by Jeff McLean.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about San Diego since being here, it’s that the music scene can be a little one sided.

Did I say a little? What I meant was the musicians in San Diego can try their hardest to beat you over the head with one style of music, whether you like it or not. Sometimes this can be a really good thing: (for example, Chicago and its extremely inspiring jazz scene.) But in San Diego’s case, the music scene doesn’t prove to be very inspirational; instead, it proves to be run down by facsimiles of people who label themselves and who either only listen to screaming, or only listen to vegan-inspired obscure folk players who also happened to go to their high school and only plays coffee shops that you have never heard of.

Before you start yelling at me from through the computer screen, begging to prove the opposite of what I’ve just said, let me first say that I get it. I get San Diego’s music scene and no matter how stifling it can be, I wouldn’t change it for a thing. The reason is because there are a new breed of local musicians who are also noticing this limited array of San Diego style, and they’re also willing to prove my point wrong.

This little city by the bay is slowly building up creations of bands that exemplify a smorgasbord of musical influence and talent, and these bands will not be silenced! Local musical chameleons Tower XVI, for instance, have a style that they’ve self-described as having something for everyone. And when I went out to their show to see the guys in their most comfortable habitat I have to admit, they weren’t lying when they said that.

With an impressive energy-driven set list that varies everywhere from pop-punk tunes to reggae-inspired, bass heavy dance jams, this band is on a mission to get the party started while simply doing what they do best. I didn’t know exactly what to expect next when it came to their eclectic set, and this was both refreshing and ingenious. The issue with trying to encompass several styles into one band is probably doing it without sounding like you just couldn’t make up your mind; however, with a band like Tower XVI, they seamlessly deliver music that touches the palates of many types of music lovers, not just one.

Tower XVI. Photo by Jeff McLean
From left: Dustin Jenkins, Mike DiBernardo, Brian Rash, Rob Smith. Photo by Jeff McLean.

And they’re not the only band that seems to be branching out and doing this. I’m seeing a trend in San Diego, and that trend is spurred by musicians who are tired of being overlooked in a sea of cookie-cutter duplicates. Musicians who are tired of doing their darnedest to exactly emulate As I Lay Dying, City & Colour, or blink-182. Not that there is anything wrong with those bands — I love Dallas Green just as much as the next person. But most of the people out here are not those bands.

Tower XVI is its own band, and that alone will allow them to blaze a path of glory as they continue to build their fan base in San Diego. At their live show, it was apparent just how much fun the fans were having, a trend that is sure to continue after they record their next release next year. When you have the energy of drummer Brian, singing along as he puts his all into each hit, it’s easy to have fun. And when you combine the musical prowess of bassist Rob and guitarist Dustin, who seem to be right on line with each other as if they were born playing together, it’s easy to appreciate the talent behind the music. Top it all off with Mike’s brutally honest and sometimes downright uplifting vocals and lyrics (for reference, check out “Dream Big” below), then the mix is eclectic and kind of perfect. San Diego needs more bands like Tower XVI; more bands that are interested in fusing their musical style to not just fit San Diego’s music scene, but also kick it into a brand new gear.

Becoming a Part of the Social Club

Green room full of feather boas, stage lights and sombreros? Check. Oddly placed hanging decorations on the walls? Check. Contraband liquor smuggled in backstage? Check. When you’re hanging with local San Diego band Social Club, it’s never a dull moment.

Watch the Social Club Interview video. Click the HD button to watch in High-Definition.

I honestly never thought I’d see the green room of PB bar Typhoon Saloon (nor did I actually think that they had a green room), but I have to admit I’m impressed. The props that are stored back there make it an interesting place already, and after adding a few lights, me and my camera-savvy friend Thierry corralled all of the members of Social Club together for what proved to be a very interesting interview.

It’s so easy to relax and have fun around Thea and the three J’s (John, James, and Jeff — and yes I mixed up their names at some point that night.) And dubbed one of the “prettiest” bands on their label, they’re not too bad to look at, either. On stage or off, all of the band members have a unique energy: John with his searing emotions in each lyric and each point he makes about the band; Thea with her gentle mysteriousness; James and the famous faces he flashes on stage – when he’s not smiling brightly from ear to ear behind the scenes; and lastly Jeff, the energetic adventurer of the group who probably doesn’t need that double shot of espresso in the morning: he’s just naturally that energetic.

Yes, you’ll see the typical questions but one thing is evident; this band is full of unique and diverse personalities that show in their music as much as it shows in their personal experiences. Their sound is a huge catchall of everything good that just somehow makes so much sense. So basically, if Dr. Frankenstein had created musical life by adding a bit of punk rock, a bit of mellow singer-songwriter, some modern age hip hop influences here and there and sprinkled it all with a pinch of classical background, the creation would have been Social Club — only way more interesting and much more beautiful. Maybe they haven’t been compared to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein before. I swear that comparison made sense in my mind.

Don’t leave it up to me to describe their sound. Listen for yourself!

The very first Streetside Session

“PLEASE do this more often!”

That was only one of the many things that were yelled out at pop-rockers Social Club, as we filmed for the very first installment of Streetside Sessions. If you don’t know what a Streetside Session is (or you can’t guess from the extremely obvious title), then hang tight, because a video will be around here soon. And when it does get here, you’re welcome to swoon and ahh at the brilliance that is performing on the streets of San Diego. To say this shoot was fun would be an understatement. The day was spent in Bankers Hill and included balcony-spectators, rolling compliments, and even a five dollar bill from the window of one woman’s car. Drive-by donations, anyone? The video isn’t here quite yet, but in the meantime, enjoy some behind the scenes shots of the shoot.

I know, I know, we are such a tease.
Click photos to launch full-screen.

On Tour: Jimmy Lightly Snack on World!

I’ve never had so much fun with a Twitter Trending Topic as #lessexcitingbandnames. Which might sound a little bit like the name of a porno if you look at it too quickly and the first word you see is “sex”. Not that I’m saying that’s the first word I saw…

Here’s the genius answers that I came up with, and bonus points if you can guess the band.

Jimmy Lightly Snack on World

Foster Home the People

Death Cab for She Has a Great Personality

Head Manual

Princes of Leon

haha

Very Low Class Rut

Minus the Teddy Bear

Peanut Butter and Pearl Jam

The Stationary Stones

Walk-DMC

Everytime I Leave This World to Enter the Next

Safety-Scissor Sisters

Snowflake Patrol

Asthmatic

The Slightly-Darker-Than-Gray Keys

and

Black Eyed Legumes

What were some of your favorites? Rolling Stone Magazine Online indulged in a few of their favorites as well.

Immovable Objects definitely moving your ears

There are three things you should know about this show. 1) This was my first time using my 35mm camera, so sue me if the images are unsatisfactory. 2) Immovable Objects is more amazing than most. 3) I would have gotten in for free if it weren’t for those meddling kids!…or the meddling bartender.

Ah Bar Eleven. Well aren’t you too cool for school? And too cool for free covers, but I’ll let it pass because your cover is nothing in comparison to how much fun your dark, alluring venue is. Bar Eleven is awesome because you walk in and instantly feel home — and not in an Alcoholics Anonymous sort of way. More importantly, Immovable Objects was playing a show with two highly attractive instrumental geniuses, pretty much making this the instrumental rock show of San Diego. If you weren’t there, you probably missed all the good stuff that San Diego has to offer in this genre. And with all three of these bands heading into the studio soon, you’ll have to scrounge up some of the demigods of instrumental rock in these parts, if you want a good show in the next couple of months. Good luck with that, let me know how it goes.

If you were of the lucky chosen crowd, you were there to appreciate the near perfect acoustics of Bar

Immovable Objects at Bar Eleven
This guy is either enjoying the show, or eyeing the girl with her boobs hanging out across the bar. Or...both.

Eleven. It was loud, but in that amazingly awesome way. It was right on the edge of the perfect supersonic sound barrier. That alone was impressive. If you’re impressed with the sound check, you have to know the show itself will be amazing.

As one can expect from Immovable Objects, guitarist Matt Gagin and his crew of instrumental geniuses belted out dynamic after dynamic, taking you on a rollercoaster ride that few bands can offer in modern music, all under the backdrop of thought-provoking, silently beautiful movie that painted across the band, sometimes seeming to pull each band member into the frames of the film.

As mentioned earlier, I almost got into the show for free. I occasionally play with Immovable Objects on the harmonium, so maybe I can attempt to be snooty and say I’m with the band. Eck, that was horrible just reading that. All jokes aside, I almost got into Bar Eleven for free because their doorman was probably a certified crack head who wasn’t even at the door when me and my friend showed up. We walked right in, and if it wasn’t for that meddling bartender, we would have gotten away with it too! But he was mixing us drinks, so I forgive him. Plus, supporting your local bands is always a great deal. Did you know that every

Please don't sue me, NBC.

year, local bands have to kill thousands of drummers because their band shelters are overrun with them, and that for every person who pays to attend a local show, you could save a drummer? The more you know.

It’s also apparently a proven fact that bartenders in dive bars know EVERY PERSON who walks in that door. “Hey, you weren’t here twenty minutes ago.” totally works in a venue that probably holds around…60. But once again, I’m not bitter because the drinks were good, the music was amazing, and the venue itself looks like the kind of place that is legendary and yet no one knows it. Did you have

Bar Eleven in San Diego
Bar Eleven has been hip since before hipsters existed. I'm pretty sure the original Mona Lisa threw up on these very floors. Legendary.

any idea where you were standing? Do you have any idea who’s walked these beer-stained floors? Kids these days.

When the second in line band, Kata, began to take the stage, my music geek heart filled up with joy to see not one, but two cellists setting up right in the front of the stage. Two cellists, a keyboardist, bass, drummer, and a handful of guitars. I think all of the numerous members of Kata comprised half of the bar, but maybe more musicians meant they sounded even more amazing? I would have waited to see, but I’m pretty sure they were trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records’ “longest time it takes to get set up for a gig.” But with so many instrumentalists, I don’t really blame them for taking their time.

The best part? Looking like the ultimate hipster with my 35mm Nikon that I bought off some failing former photography major a week ago. I really don’t recommend looking like a hipster to anyone. But for a person who hasn’t touched film since she before she hit puberty, I think I did fairly well.

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There goes my hero…He’s kind of a rock god.

It’s been a long time coming…

Concert
The Viejas was nearly sold out for The Foo Fighters. 10/17/11

But this Foo Fighters fan has finally attended one of their shows. Last night the Foo Fighters rocked the Viejas Arena, and pretty much dissolved any doubt that rock ‘n roll is ‘dead’. Dead? Rock ‘n roll is alive and it’s kicking ass and taking names. It’s stealing hearts and kissing your girlfriends (but then apologizing about it later because it really is a nice guy.) All of the highlights of last night’s show can be expressed in a long string of play-by-play that lead up to the ultimate grand finale.

The best part of this entire performance was “Monkey Wrench” and here’s why. If the mini pit that broke out on the floor wasn’t enough to get your hearts kicking – elbow in the face anyone? That’s what a rock show is all about, for some –  or if it wasn’t the always impressive showmanship of Taylor Hawkins’ drum solos, then maybe this would have done the trick: Like previous Foo fashion, the band dimmed the lights in the entire arena and spoke sweet nothings to the audience as rockers all over the floors and seats whipped out their lighters. Not iPhones or Blackberries, lighters. I couldn’t have been more proud of San Diego. I think I might have cried. (But I didn’t).

I almost want to call “Monkey Wrench” the climax of the night, but that was not the case. Dave Grohl was just getting started. Everything before then was a dinner and maybe a movie, because the Foo Fighters are kind of polite like that. When he dimmed those lights and started yelling the lines “One last thing before I quit”, he had us locked in. From then on out, their set was a vigorous exhibition of foreplay, getting us completely riled up and in the mood, ready for the real climax, the real ending. The entire stage painted a red backdrop and “All My Life” began roaring out of the speakers at an intensity and energy that you just can’t get from a recording, and Dave and his naughty band mates had had their way with us. By this point we were legs spread eagle, ready to be rocked for a finale that already asked for an encore before it even ended.

I have to love the cockiness of Dave Grohl, because when the music went quiet and the people yelled, nay begged for an encore, Dave wasn’t simply content with that. He definitely wanted to make us scream their names one last time, and we did. With a  venue like Viejas, nestled on a college campus, they tend to have curfews for the events that are held there. Dave knew that this would be an all-nighter, and the curfew was lifted for the performance, probably for the lengthy encore that the band had in mind for their fans. Even during the encore, which was a four song set, the band still had surprises up its sleeve, and you have to really thank a band that isn’t simply content on walking out and saying “alright one more”, playing a song, and leaving. Yeah, maybe that’s how the regular guys do it, but with the Foo, they still needed the electronically raised stage. They still needed the stage lights that made the entire set look like a scene from Guitar Hero. They still needed the screens displaying every sweat drop that fell from their hair. They still had to rock you out of your seats.

“Times Like These” performed during the encore set.

And sometime during all of that, he found a moment to raise the house lights and speak to the audience. We already felt like we really knew the Foo Fighters up to that point. But now, by the end of the show, you felt like you were a part of the family.

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