There is a growing energy emerging in the San Francisco music scene. It has been quietly gaining momentum for a number of years now, and recently has reared its beautiful head to unleash a powerful force on our foggy town by the bay.
With increasing frequency, young artists from all over the area have been banding together to create mind-blowing music with a fierce passion and a desire to spread positive energy. Perhaps in a manner not seen for at least a generation, up-and-coming musicians are uniting to jam at events intended, as one promoter of late-night events promises on its website, to "rejuvenate your soul with the strength that it will take to spread a more hopeful vision of what this world can be."
The recent Saturday night, March 29th blistering-hot performance by Tea Leaf Green, first at a sold-out Great American Music Hall and then at a surprise after-party, provided a major dose of such positive energy. Representing our resident starlets of "local band makes good," Tea Leaf Green has been traversing the nation on and off for many years, and recently has taken more to the road as its career presses on. Always returning back to its SF roots, the band is never one to miss an opportunity to throw it down for the kids who have supported the band since its early days.
As it turns out, the big homecoming gig coming off their recent tour was an opening slot at the Great American Music Hall for the Rebirth Brass Band. Not a shabby situation at all. While the band took the stage to a handful of onlookers just past 9pm, by the time they hit full stride, the room was bursting with full-on raging goodness. As they raised their intensity through "Baseball Jam," "Got No Friends in Arizona," "Kali-Yuga" > "Warmup," it was clear that something had happened since they’d last graced this famous of famous San Francisco stages: they’d taken their level up a step, and maybe missed one on the way. Showcasing some of its more triumphant anthems, the band chose to segue many of its more familiar songs while treating the friendly audience to such rarities as "The Garden (Part I)" > "Earth & Sky1" > "Reservoir" > "The Garden (Part II)" > "Rattlin'."
The highlight of the long set came next, as Tea Leaf Green paid homage to a sure fire influence by blasting off into a huge version of Guns N’ Roses "Mr. Brownstone" which came as a wonderful surprise to all those in attendance. Concluding their marathon slot (stopping no more than three times during the entire hour-and-a-half set) was the crowd favorite "Sex in the '70s," a stony "Planet of Green Love," and a body-shakin’ "Tequila," which really proved to everyone what this young group of musicians is all about...
But the evening hardly came to a close at that point, since the band wanted to play a free late-night party to give something back to the core group of supporters who have helped to propel its accelerating rise. Folks who couldn’t bear the over $20 ticket price to get into the Great American were thrilled to learn, even if not until the middle of their Saturday nights, about this secret gig to take place late into the evening.
By 2am, late-night music lovers were streaming into "Studio 352," where they found an atmosphere of openness: sparks were flying, friendships were forming, band and audience alike feeding off of each other in a dimly-lit mass of grooving, sweaty magic.
To the backdrop of mesmerizing kaleidoscope projections of Jay Archibald and Alan Pettibone, the band opened with a dark but heated "Wet Spot," leading into a peaking "Ride Together," and the lamenting ballad "Hard Travelin’" before finishing "Ride Together" and then playing a beautiful version of the melodic "Zoom Zoom," a story of psychedelic adventure in a redwood forest "filled with mystery, from underneath the ground to the top of the canopy." Keyboardist Jordan Feinstein of The Ritual, who had been running the sound, joined in for "Ride Together" and "Zoom Zoom," shades of Brent Mydland shining through his peaking organ solos. The set concluded with the festive "Hot Dog," a swankily funky "The Invasion," and a fist-pumping version of their signature song, "Freedom."
The second set, which didn’t get started until nearly 4am, opened with brand new "Earth and Sky," leading into the extended and ripping jams of "Can You Guess It?" and "Panspermic De-Evolution," before concluding with "Been So Long," a blues anthem that featured a blistering-hot guitar solo.
While the band rocked to a hopping, packed crowd, a cool-down walk among the multiple rooms and roof deck of the apartment revealed musicians, promoters, and fans sitting side by side, sharing stories, sipping beverages, and just taking the time to re-create.
This was the second such event in a matter of months, and Tea Leaf Green continued to set the tone at a time when live music is once again helping us to deal with distressing emotions during a difficult time in American history. Only two months ago, at the "Fantasyland Party," the band’s guitarist Josh Clark, and keyboard player, Trevor Garrod joined an outstanding group of artists, including Jason Concepcion and Dave Menez of netwerk: electric, Dan Lebowitz and Steve Adams of ALO, Jordan Feinstein, Samantha Stollenwerck, DJ Motion Potion, and members of boomshanka, Bizar Bazaar, SFUNK, Funky Beulah, Stolen Bibles, Ron Jeremy Explosion, and the Cara Crocker Trio in a raucously psychedelic, funky, and soulful set of jams that lasted from midnight to nearly 7am without a single set break. It was the first time that many of these folks had played together, but certainly not the last. It is also still regarded as many who attended as one of the "Best Parties Ever!"
Even when Tea Leaf Green completed its second set of the late-night party and third set of the night, the music was far from over. Feeding off of the Fantasyland vibe, members of The Ritual, ALO, and boomshanka, and Samantha Stollenwerck kept the jams coming until well after 7am. Onlookers, including some old-school members of the Bay Area music scene, speculated that this uniting group of musicians is providing some of the best live music to come out of San Francisco’s young bands since a certain other group of bands from a certain other decade.
Once the sun rose and spring songbirds began to chime in with music of their own, the party gradually dissipated and revelers staggered home to sleep off another epic, fist-pumping night of live music provided by Tea Leaf Green and a growing group of young, talented musicians, promoters, visual artists, recorders, and fans who are uniting to counter some of the feeling of negativity and fear that has come to pervade life in America in current times.
Once again, the music came to our rescue to soothe souls and provide the beacon of positive energy that we need to help us make sense of this divisive period of war and debate concerning the current and future direction of our country. We can’t help but feel that something special is abrewin’ in San Francisco, and that we are witnessing the beginning of a rising musical movement.
“We Win! We Win!”
Jon Gelbard and Andy Gadiel
Images by Susan J. Weiand
JamBase | Bay Area
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