Live Shots 

Dispatches from recent performances around town

Dispatches from recent performances around town

Coachwhips induce ecstatic mayhem

George Carlin is fond of saying that life is your ticket to the freak show, and that's precisely what five bucks bought folks last Wednesday night at Springwater. San Francisco spazzcore trio Coachwhips smashed, kicked and barked their way through a 20-minute set of minute-and-a-half-long seizures I believe they call songs. Nothing or no one was safe.

Guitarist and genesis for the group John Dwyer, a kind of punk-rock-looking Crispin Glover, maniacally squirmed and vibrated on a beer-soaked, broken-glass-strewn floor, and then on a series of (sometimes willing) people and objects. By the time the first number was over—a mere minute or so into the set—the mic stand was broken and a table and chair had been overturned. Dwyer quickly fashioned the upturned chair into a makeshift mic stand, and Coachwhips continued to deliver their high-energy, sludgy, abbreviated punk.

Using only guitar, a keyboard and a ramshackle drum kit, the band draw heavily on distorted trash-rock riffs, adding pulsating keys and Dwyer's fuzzy, tent-revival-esque vocals, often sung with the microphone inside his mouth. It got the crowd moving. I half-expected a few of the more fervent fans to begin speaking in tongues or collapsing in a fit of religious ecstasy, but instead, they hurled an overinflated Bud Light four-leaf clover at unsuspecting crowd members until one, clearly fed up, stomped it to a pancake. Dwyer leapt onto a ledge along the right-side wall to finish off the set, swiftly kicking over a cluster of half-full beer bottles and poking his head through the lowered ceiling tiles, baptizing the crowd with dusty particles and stale beer foam. —Tracy Moore

The one-two soul punch of The Holmes Brothers and Joss Stone

3rd & Lindsley was packed and buzzing last Sunday night for a one-time chance to see some old soul masters and the next rising young thing on one bill. Could The Holmes Brothers, a trio unknown till they were in their 40s (and now in their 60s), still snap and punch? Could Joss Stone—British and, at 17, unable to buy a drink here—really grasp songs built on life experiences she barely could have had?

The Holmes Brothers were actually stronger onstage, in presence and sound, than their fine recent recordings let on. Wendell Holmes ripped into his guitar, post-Jimi style, and Popsy Dixon proved as soulful an American slap drummer as you're likely to see. Urgent on the fast ones (the rockabilly-like "Ready, Set, Go"), way laid-back on the slow ones, the trio delivered a well-paced show that comes from years of performing.

Opening the show, Stone leaned in comfortably on the mic stand, broke into a sunburst Janis-size smile in appreciation of the audience's strong response, and massaged song syllables in all the right places. However she manages it, she surely seems to grasp those songs of experience. She hasn't found a unique style yet, but she shares with The Holmes Brothers that key gift for reimagining a song. Suffering with laryngitis, Stone and her substantial traveling band may have done more constrained low- to mid-tempo numbers than usual, but the closer, "Some Kind of Wonderful," still exploded into a stomp.

—Barry Mazor


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