The Mother Hips | 09.12.08 | SF

Listen to "Been Lost Once" from this show HERE

Words & Images by: Andrew Quist

The Mother Hips :: 09.12.08 :: Café du Nord :: San Francisco, CA

The Mother Hips :: 09.12 :: SF, CA
This Friday was the prime example of why it is a good time to be a Mother Hips fan. The first word went out on the Mother Hips message board The Grotto months ago. The post was titled "Ultimate Setlist Show." The idea was that fans build their dream setlist and submit it to The Mother Hips. The band would then pick a setlist at random and play it in its entirety. There were few criteria: the list could not be more than 36 songs, it needed to be two sets and the band had to have played all of the songs in the show at least once over its near two decade long history. There was no real publicity, but word spread from The Grotto like the tendrils of a grapevine. Those of us that needed to be at the Café du Nord that night would get there. Fans that spanned the band's full history gathered and discussed the impressive possibilities of this "ultimate" idea. No matter whose list was chosen, it would be an epic show.

Now it has come and gone. My most anticipated show of the summer is done and all I have right now are some beer soaked memories and a ragged setlist scrawled out in the low light of the club. How do I bottle what happened? Let me start with standing in line to pick up my tickets. As we waited outside, a taxi pulled up and slammed to a stop. All in the same motion the door opened and a man leapt out, hauling a suitcase behind him, "In from New York!" he proudly shouted as he presented his ticket and went off in search of awaiting compadres. He was one of many out-of- towners that had come from Arizona, Washington D.C., Oregon, Utah and Colorado, among others.

We came from up and down California, from the Humboldt nation and the beaches of Southern California and east from the gentle Sierra foothills. Together we composed a mildly aging, hip-ass crowd. Now, I'm not old but I tend to wax a little nostalgic these days, and it was easy to see others like me that night. We've grayed a bit but we can still rage to the sounds that got us through college and life, while our equally salt and peppered bards led us through songs we know so well. Once it started it was nothing short of communal. We reveled in the past and rejoiced in, as I heard a friend say, "The future retro." To try and review this thing song-by-song would be a small novel. Rather, kind reader, I beg your indulgence for a handful of standout tunes mixed in with some flashes of relevance.

Tim Bluhm :: 09.12 :: SF, CA
First, this was Craig Wright's setlist. Would I have done it differently? Maybe a couple of songs, but Wright was the hero of our night and his list sparkled. Following his stage top introduction from the band, his name was chanted after each mountaintop jam or burning song selection. I will get back to Craig's skills a bit later. This night it was about the bust outs, and who doesn't love a good bust out? The first real blow-your-mind moment of the night came second song in with the unleashing of "Mountain Time," an as yet unreleased, very yesteryear fan favorite. This was the song that every hipster in that bar came to hear and when it dropped the place came unglued. I never understood the appeal of this song prior to the show but after my first live dose, I get it. It was good! It was a gift to the faithful, the fans who have been on board since the early Chico days. So was the next song, "Showing It All to Bad Marie" from Part-Timer Goes Full. These were songs I knew but had never heard from a stage and I wondered why. This will be the question born of that night. These songs are strong, assertive and lithe when properly dusted off. Some of them simply must come back, pulled up from a musical well almost two decades deep. "Fumbling Parade," for example, found Greg Loiacono and Paul Hoaglin glaring at each other from across the stage, locked in a bass/lead guitar duel that elevated the tune to sweltering levels.

I think the most poignant part of the night came on as Tim Bluhm picked the opening notes of "Pull Us All Together" over the top of Hoaglin's droning bass. The song, from Green Hills of Earth, begins, "One good thing that bad things do is pull us all together." Could it have been more perfectly placed? This night was literally book-ended by the memory of 9/11 and the impending landfall of Hurricane Ike in Galveston. Did anyone else get that? And as though cued, the chants of "Craig, Craig, Craig" following the tune.

Greg Loiacono :: 09.12 :: SF, CA
There was a bluesy, resonating version of "Ball Game," as well as the filthiest, dirtiest one-two combination of "Been Lost Once" and "Pet Foot" from Part-Timer that I have ever heard. The band left the stage clearly a tad tired following the eighteen song first set, but they were not gone long. I had just enough time to grab a beer, hug a friend and set myself up for numero two when the band returned.

Craig's second set was a little more in the present rather than the past, and I liked that. It became a sing-along and at times the crowd's crooning rivaled the P.A. "Shootout" from the album of the same name was perfectly played. "Transit Wind" from the same record loosened Loiacono's guitar prowess in a way that turned the crowd into a writhing, head banging mass of thirty-something's intent on his incendiary stoke.

There was a place for all of us in Craig's setlist - the old college buddy of the band that has been on the scene since '92 got down alongside the guy only recently turned on by the latest album, Kiss The Crystal Flake. The music was equally contagious and grooving to both camps. It was a band and its fans mutually thankful for the past and that special brand of "future retro" set against a night of music that rivaled any show played at anytime. The stars were lined up and the moon was fat for this predetermined barnburner. From the searing heat of "Rich Little Girl" to the beautiful notes of "Sleepy Eyes," it fulfilled expectations in spades. This night at Café du Nord was one man's "Greatest Hips," but we were all immersed in California Soul, perhaps hoping that some day it will be our turn to call the tunes. My list is saved and itching to be taped to a stage next to some effects pedals anytime they're ready.

09.12.08 :: Café du Nord :: San Francisco, CA
Set One: Two River Blues, Mountain Time, Showing It All to Bad Marie, Esmerelda, Don't Go So Fast, Fumbling Parade, Poison Oak, Pull Us All Together, Cosmonaut, Bent Carousel, Do It on the Strings, Ball Game, Hey Emilie, Are You Breathing, Spotless As You, Been Lost Once, Pet Foot, Song in a Can
Set Two: Stoned Up the Road, Later Days, $100 Blues, Transit Wind, Shootout, Singing Seems to Ease Me, Hamburger Nancy, Stephanie's for LA, Barefoot Sea Chanteys, Sarah Bellum, Third Floor Story, Desert Song, Rich Little Girl
Encore: Sleepy Eyes, Lady Be Cool, Superwinner

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[Published on: 9/16/08]

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dreadyknowsbest starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/16/2008 01:43PM
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Mothers TITS!!!!!!!!

walthers starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/16/2008 02:45PM
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Best touring band around, period. The Hips put on one hell of a show and "Craig's List" was a superwinner for sure! Not many bands around would take the time and energy to put together a show like this. If you get a chance, check them out.

walthers starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/16/2008 02:51PM
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Great article too Andrew!

iwantstogetfunkedup starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/16/2008 03:25PM
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Great idea for a show! The Motherhips rock and have rocked my ass since their first record came out in Chico. Tim and Greg are amazing underrated songwriters. Glad to see them getting more notoriety these days. They deserve it. Lots of love for these Cali boys.

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/16/2008 03:58PM
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God Bless the Mother Hips!

chicoavenue Tue 9/16/2008 09:00PM
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sounds like an awesome night! Reading your article & catching the news on the grotto- ahh...i chose to see them at outside lands on sun, mostly b/c of wsp, but this obviously was the show to catch. the mhs have it going on (shit, almost 20 yrs to fine tune!)- in the mean time i'm scratching my itch for the hips by catching live videos on youtube. Go see this band live!! You'll get more than your $ worth.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/17/2008 04:25AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

NO grizzly bear???? WTF!!!

I love this band :)

Drbeaker Wed 9/17/2008 10:50AM
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Not sure what their relation to the Mother Hips is, but Grizzly Bear are the single worst band I have ever seen in my entire life including punk rock shows in people's basements. I saw them as part of Paul Simon's "American Tunes" show at Brooklyn Academy of Music and their shameless butchering of beautiful songs like "mother-child reunion" made me want to run onstage and throw up all over their excessive effects pedals. I wouldn't see them again if it was free with an open bar.

cassiebob starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/17/2008 11:33AM
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Awesome review Andrew, really caught the vibe of the night. It was great finally meeting you at the show(Lady B. Cool). I don't remember anybody slipping me anything funny(unfortunately)but for some strange reason, I pecked into my phone both an October and a Honeydew in between Hamburger and LA. Craig did not even mention them when he posted his list on the Grotto. Am I trippin'? I guess only the tapes will tell.

phishr82 starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/17/2008 12:33PM
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Grizzly Bear is a Mother Hips song. And a good one at that!

jimmy row Wed 9/17/2008 12:51PM
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I've heard these guys before and dug them, but I just don't know why I never got into them...where's a good place to start?

phishr82 Wed 9/17/2008 01:40PM
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Jimmyrow420...i just got into them a few months ago myself. i went to and downloaded the most popular shows...i found that to be a good starting point

iwantstogetfunkedup Wed 9/17/2008 02:08PM
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Jimmyrow420- As far as studio releases go I love Shootout and Part Timer Goes Full the best.

andrewq Wed 9/17/2008 03:49PM
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Cassiebob: You're not trippin'. The Hamburger Nancy is in my list but somehow I overlooked the Oct. Teen. Don't know how I did that. Anybody wanting a good intro to this band should go check out either the Solana Beach shows from 3/10 and 3/11/06 or the High Sierra Late Night 7/3/08 is excellent. My favorite studio album right now is . . . well . . . I don't really have one. You can't really go wrong.

andrewq Wed 9/17/2008 03:50PM
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oops the above shows are on (in case you haven't heard of it)

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/18/2008 05:37AM
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Time Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear is a Mother Hips song. And a good one at that! thats why I cannot believe fans did not pick it!!!

RatDogFan starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/24/2008 07:02PM
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I'd recommend Later Days, Kiss the Crystal Flake, and Back to the Grotto.