Tuesday, September 18, 2007

6 Sept 2007: Stereo Total

6 Sept 2007
Stereo Total
Bimbo's 365 Club
1025 Columbus Ave (btwn Francisco & Chestnut) [Map]
Drinks Consumed: Believe it or not, zero. Zip. Nil. Nada. None.
Review at the Owl Mag

The Berlin-based duo Stereo Total, consisting of French singer/drummer Françoise Cactus and German guitarist/synth madman Brezel Göring, is what you would end up with if you crossed France Gall with Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori and the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret with Ian MacKaye. While that sounds like the worst act in history, the duo is actually great to watch—a little witty and a lot absurd. And absurdity is what makes a Stereo Total show a completely unpretentious evening of fun. Alternating between lo-fi electronica and punk-infused indie rock, the duo, formed in the early 1990s, has earned a loyal following—hip and unhip alike—who know every word to every song whether the lyrics are in English, French, German, or jibberish.

The duo burst onto the Bimbo's stage with energy that lasted through an hour-long set and two encores, even when they forgot the words and rhythms to songs ("It goes boom boom!" said Françoise as she tried to remember the drum part to an old track). The duo is all about catchy pop tracks, most of them somehow related to dancing, music, or kinky sex. And almost all of them are so cheerful-sounding that they'd fit seamlessly into a soundtrack for Katamari rolling. On top of the punky electro pop, Stereo Total's songs consist of ridiculous lyrics like "Let's go to the Holiday Inn / and I will show you something" ("Holiday Innn"); "I don't like the pretty folk / can't stand the DJ / don't like the records that he plays, no!" ("Everybody in the Discotheque (I Hate)"); and "J'aime l'amour à trois" which, loosely translated, means, "I dig threesomes." They are simultaneously sophisticated in their mocking of the world and incredibly geeky.

Their bizarre repertoire of covers ranges from Otis Rush's "Violent Love" to The Plastics' "I love you, Oh no!" (changed to "I Love You, ONO" in honor of the one and only Yoko) to Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It." Genre and language be damned: no song is safe from the Stereo Total treatment. And a Stereo Total cover isn't your average cover—between Françoise's adorable voice, simple drums, and thick French accent, and Brezel's spastic electronic beats and chords on a DIY-looking rectangular guitar, their covers are more like reinventions.

The genius of their live performance is that of these songs come complete with some silly schtick. For "L'amour à 3" they brought an audience member on stage to sing and dance with them. (After all, how can you sing about the joy of the threeway with only two people on stage?) Brezel used an ironing board as a percussion instrument early on in the show and, later, successfully dove into the crowd and surfed his way back to the stage unscathed. The air-humping, hip-thrusting dance to "Push It" would have only been better if they'd slipped into black spandex bodysuits, red boots, and the Salt-N-Pepa equivalent to NASCAR team jackets worn in the 1986 "Push It" video. The audience got as into the performance as the band was, screaming out song requests (the Germans behind me were particularly vocal about hearing "Wir Tanzen Im 4-Eck"). It's impossible to pick a highlight, but the crowd exploded when they played "Musique Automatique" and ran on stage to unleash their dorkiest dances for "Everybody in the Discotheque (I Hate)." There was a near incident when an earnest fan busted out a breakdance handstand and almost kicked over Brezel's guitar, but fortunately everyone made it off stage without injury.

The only warning to be given is this: if you take yourself and the shows you go to seriously, these guys are not for you. But if you are okay with bouncing shamelessly in public, love infectious punky pop music and funky electronic beats, and like to go to shows to have fun and not just be seen, Stereo Total is definitely a band to check out. If they had played two nights, I would've gone back.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

13 Sept 2007: Foreigner

13 Sept 2007
Mountain Winery
14831 Pierce Road, Saratoga, CA [Map]
Drinks consumed: Not sure, our guest reviewers didn't give a count.

We didn't go to this one ourselves, but three of our friends went and they came back with a full report on the MILFtastic experience. Here's the review I got as an email from the one who calls himself Faceword:
It was amazing.

Mountain Winery is a smallish venue—less than a 1000 people, if I had to guess. We were on the right of the stage, but probably 20 feet from the rock gods of Foreigner.

The current drummer for Foreigner is Jason Bonham, son of vomit choker and Led Zep drummer John Bonham, and also the scheduled drummer for the Led Zeppelin reunion show in London.

Before the show started, an MC went on stage and did a two minute charity auction for 2 tickets to the Led Zep reunion show donated by Jason Bonham. He started the bidding at $5,000 and the hammer went down at $10,000. Absolutely nuts—it doesn't include airfare or hotel or anything; just 2 tickets.

Jason Bonham is a pretty awesome drummer, by the way. Apart from Mick Jones (the only original member of Foreigner to perform and who is about 100 years old), Bonham was easily the best musician on the stage. The new lead singer was actually pretty good, and an excellent impersonator of the original lead singer.

Foreigner did impromptu covers of Led Zep standards "Misty Mountain Hop" and "Whole Lotta Love," and the rest of the set was Foreigner's Greatest Hits. Fucking awesome. And I mean in a completely un-ironic way. I sung along the whole time, and I bought a "Dirty White Boy" wifebeater on the way out.

The audience age range was weird—30 somethings to fifty somethings, and some kids dragged in there by their parents. Most people were really fat white people, including some who had to get golf carts to take them from their seats to their cars because they were too fat to walk.

There were some awesome comments by the lead singer about how hot the women in the audience were despite the fact that almost all of them were 20 years past their prime. Dennis & Alan & I made lots of cracks at that line in the "Hot Blooded" that goes "Are you old enough?" I think Dennis yelled out "Too old!"

Anyway, it was really, really great. And I'm glad I went.

Dennis recorded the setlist:
Double Vision
Head Games
Cold as Ice
Blue Morning, Blue Day
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Dirty White Boy
Say You Will (w/ keyboard and acousitc guitar only)
Star Rider
Band Introductions
Feel Like the First Time
Keyboard and Drum Solo
Juke Box Hero
Whole Lotta Love
Juke Box Hero

Misty Mountain Hop
I Want to Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded

Next time we'll ask them to get pictures. Thanks guys!