RESIDUAL ECHOES / WOODEN SHJIPS / NOTHING PEOPLE, live 3/29/07, Hemlock Tavern, San Francisco

First post of mine in a while that doesn’t contain an mp3, sorry about that folks – always throwing curveballs over here. Last Thursday night I attended a pretty good one @ San Francisco’s Hemlock Tavern, my first chance to see a couple of these bands, and a third date for me in as many months with local psych wizards the WOODEN SHJIPS. I learned a few things, too. Like that all that noise the NOTHING PEOPLE make on their 45 comes out of just three people, two of ‘em married if you can believe it! The band were every bit of hot n heavy as I’d imagined they’d be, a full-on take-me-back-to-’75 blend of heavy pre-punk space-out in the mold of Simply Saucer and Debris, featuring long-ish jams built into compact and punkish song structures. They traded instruments like they were fantasy baseball players a week before the season, lining up 3 different ways for only six songs by my count. Fantastic band, easily one of the best going right now.

WOODEN SHJIPS I’m almost getting used to now. They always play four songs, each usually clocking in around 8-10 minutes, three of which have been the same each time I’ve seen them, along with one “wild card”. This time it was “Shrinking Moon For You”, the biker-damaged art/psych monster that introduced the band to the world on last year’s 10”. Having played that thing several hundred dozen times, I guess a live version that didn’t hue to the script in my head would be a little disappointing, and it was, which probably says more about me than them. The bass player is the secret weapon of this band – the guy who looks & moves almost exactly like a pokerfaced Bob Weir, holding down an unchanging rhythm for the entire song while total keyboard & guitar chaos swirls around him. It’s that sort of Teutonic krautrock efficiency, among other things, that distinguishes this band from others who pretend to hold a foot in their camp. I’m counting on more nights out in front of crowd making these guys totally unstoppable a year from now.

I’d only heard a few songs from RESIDUAL ECHOES (pictured here) previously (loud, free, knuckle-dragging wooly mammoth rock), and some folks were muttering about how they’d recently recast the cut of their jib. No kidding! They were an absolute note-perfect knockoff of an SST band, circa 1984-87 or so, and if Greg Ginn had been in the audience and this was twenty years ago there’d have been backstage contracts signed & champagne a-flowin’ after the show. The smoking-fine female bass player even looked & headbanged the part perfectly, like she was Sylvia Juncosa or Kira Roessler reborn. I tried egging her on in encouragement, yelling “KIRA’S GOT THE 10 AND A HALF!” after every song, but getting no response, I slunk to the back of the room. But seriously folks, the RESIDUAL ECHOES’ “new direction” sounded like “Metal Circus”-era HUSKER DU crossed with some weird amalgamation of DAS DAMEN, late-period BLACK FLAG, and SWA. I dug it, if only because I felt like I was back at the Anti-Club in LA in 1987 at an SST barbeque, hoping I wouldn’t get caught with a beer in my hand. Maybe take that away and they were just OK, but I’m interested in hearing where they’ll take this on vinyl.

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