Friday, August 01, 2008

Overdue Recap: Rocky Votolato, Owen, Drew Andrews @ Casbah 7.23.08

It's not a secret that Rocky Votolato is my favorite musician, so it shouldn't be surprising that I'd been anticipating this local show for a while. When Drew Andrews was added to the bill, it only made me that much more excited for the night to arrive. I tried to make sure I was there early, but Drew had already started when I arrived. There was a decent sized crowd at the Casbah and it filled up as the night progressed; not quite a sell out by the end of the night, but close. I anticipated the show would be crowded with the Comic-con people decending on the city, but I forgot how disrespectful crowds can be for solo artists. When Drew was singing, it was ok, and his voice filled the room, even over the chatter, but during his instrumental moments is when you could really hear the crowd. He took it in stride and still delivered a great set.

Owen was up next and again had the chatter to deal with. As he was talking at the beginning of the show, there was that annoying sound a cell phone makes when interfering with speakers. He joked about it. Then it happened again and I realized it was my phone. Fucking embarassing. Damn you, Twitter! So anyway, I turned off the phone and all was good, and I was glad it happened before he actually played a song. His performance was great, and he was engaging with his chatter on stage, talking about his wife, his day at the Wild Animal Park, and trying to get feedback from the crowd.

Finally Rocky was up for the night and the chatter of the crowd finally subsided and the room was quiet, riding on his every word. His old label, Second Nature Recordings, has recently reissued some of his older albums and released Suicide Medicine on vinyl for the first time ever, so he while he played stuff from Brag and Cuss and Makers (White Daisy Passing, Makers, Tinfoil Hats, Portland is Leaving), he also went into the archives, playing several songs from Suicide Medicine (Suicide Medicine, Mixtapes/Cellmates among others) and from Burning My Travels Clean. He also played a new song ("Sparkles", see video below) and an old Waxwing song.

A poignant moment in the night was when he explained the story behind "Automatic Rifle", about a young Palestinian suicide bomber who in an effort to avenge the murder of a relative, strapped a bomb to her chest and ended up with one casualty, am Israeli girl who had been raised most of her life in San Francisco, and described how the two girls looked like they could've been sisters. It was pretty heavy listening to the song, as I always thought it was hypothetical and didn't realize it was based on a specific reality.

There were a couple girls up front who were talking, singing, and telling him how much they loved him, and at one point he discreetly leaned into them, presumably to ask them to chill out, but it resulted in them being louder. Kind of a bummer, but he was classy and just played on, even obliging them with their requests. I could listen to Rocky perform all night, and my iTunes playlist definitely sees a lot of usage.

Rocky Votolato, "Sparklers"

As always, it was great to see Rocky and April, his wife, again, and I'll just be counting down until the next time they make it down.


Gio said...

The joys of reading and writing blogs at 3am. :)

It looks like I missed out on a great show with Rocky Votolato. I didn't know what kind of music he played, so I checked him out, and I must say that I like.

The clip in your post doesn't work anymore, but here's one performance of his I really liked:

Rosemary Bystrak said...

I don't know why that one is still processing. I might have to re-upload it later.