Tag Archives: San Francisco

Turkeys, Hamm’s, and Pepperoni Eyes: Personal & The Pizzas at the Knockout

Between 2/26 and March 7, two Narcs were out vacationing working on a piece on Portland’s and San Francisco’s music scene. This second of three parts finds our young adventurers in search of San Francisco’s best New Jersey-style pizza.

Knockout flyerIt’s always a nice surprise: You go to a show to see one band, but another band on the bill gives such a killer performance that the other sets pale in comparison, and you wonder why you weren’t there to see that band all along.

During Noise Narcs’s visit to San Fran back in early March, we hopped on a bus on a Wednesday night and headed down to Bernal Heights to hit up a show at the Knockout. It’s a no-frills dive bar & venue, with the bar and the stage/dancefloor separated by a cut-out wall. A tight grid of album covers adorns the top section of the bar side of that middle wall, and below that, “LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL” is painted right-to-left in backward letters, which become legible when you look into the big mirror above the bar.

Hamm'sThe bar had an okay selection of draft beers, but the most popular beverage choices seemed to be Tecate tallboys and 12-oz cans of Hamm’s, which was a new one for me in the pantheon of cheap, hipster-certified brews. Wikipedia says it’s a Minnesota beer but that it had plants in San Francisco:

The Hamm’s brewery in San Francisco opened in 1954 at 1550 Bryant Street, close to the Seals baseball stadium. The brewery closed in 1972. In the early 1980’s, the beer vats were rented out to punk rock bands, and it was a used as music studios until the building was renovated and turned into offices.

Also, you must check out this old Hamm’s commercial.

When we first walked in, we caught the tail end of Tim Cohen’s Magic Trick. The little we heard was gentle, pleasant rock; it would turn out to be quite a contrast for what was up next.

As the second band was setting up, a few things diminished our expectations for their set: (1) The drummer took his sweet time to tune his snare, and played a loud flam after each turn of the drum key; (2) The guitarist’s strap was made of chain — like, regular chain.

Personal & The Pizzas

Rocking Wayfarers, the lead singer/guitarist, greeted the crowd with, “Alright, you turkeys. We got some music for ya,” and launched into some straight-ahead rock’n’roll, a I – IV – V tune called “Pepperoni Eyes,” as in, “Pepperoni eyes / She’s got those pepperoni eyes.”

Personal & The Pizzas, “Pepperoni Eyes”

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The band was called Personal & The Pizzas, as in, “I’m Personal, and this here’s my band, The Pizzas.” The jokey name, dumb lyrics, and strict adherence to the Stooges/Ramones formula of no-frills, two-and-a-half minute songs could have gotten old fast, had it not been for the band leader’s compelling stage presence and the gusto with which he served up his Jersey greaseball shtick.

When an audience member rudely called out the bassist — a tall, lanky, balding, gum-chewing dude in a leather jacket — for sporting a slightly uneven handlebar mustache, the singer turned to his bandmate and said, “You just stand there and look pretty and blow some bubbles for me.” It might not be that funny on the page, but when delivered with an exaggerated Jersey accent from another era (cf. intro to “Brass Knuckles”), it killed.

The band has an album, Raw Pie, out on Oakland’s 1-2-3-4 Go! Records. It’s a slice of what they’re about. But for the full meal, this is a band best experienced live.

Personal & The Pizzas, “Brass Knuckles”

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Coast Narcs: Noise Narcs Checks out Portland and San Fran’s Music Scene. Plus: New Sonny and the Sunsets

Phew. Blogging’s hard work. Typing. While sitting. With headphones on. Sure makes one’s bones tired. So to relieve the strain, two of the Narcs (Billy L and myself) will be taking off for the West Coast tomorrow. But because blogging is already a vacation, we’ll be “working”: checking out two of Philly’s musical sister cities, Portland and San Francisco. Our other contributors will do sporadic regular posting, and we’ll occasionally throw up a post form the road. Expect a full report the week of March 7.

To launch the feature, tomorrow on Monday we’ll be posting a long-form interview with Jeremy Barnes from A Hawk and a Hacksaw (and formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel). Jeremy’s from Alberquerque, but he’ll be playing in San Francisco on March 3rd at Cafe du Nord [Buy Tickets].

But, since San Francisco’s Sonny and the Sunsets just announced a new album and released a track, we’ll have to pre-launch the feature now. Hard to believe that their sophomore is already here given the number of side projects that frontman Sonny Smith has been working on. But this is welcome news, and a tasty tease of San Francisco’s wonderful garage scene. Hit After Hit will sees a April 12 release from Fat Possum.

Sonny and the Sunsets, “I Wanna Do It”

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Nuevo Cali: Girls, Dum Dum Girls @ Voyeur (Making Time), Philly, 4/2

Girls + Dum Dum Girls
Making Time, 4/2, Voyeur,
Philadelphia, PA

What to drink:
Sparks & PBR

Now that surf rock has migrated to Egypt and Croatia and that every indie band in the East Coast seems to be California dreamin’ (see: Real Estate, Beach House), the California sound was bound for a reinvention. The first wave had No Age and the whole LA/The Smell noise post-punk scene, but California has had a resurgence of a sound somewhere between ’70s classic rock and folk.

Since Girls broke onto the scene in 2008 with “Hellhole Ratrace,” they’ve gathered critical force and 2009’s Album gained the indie music double crown of a ten spot on Pitchfork’s year-end album list and a #6 on our own. For me, it peaked with “Hellhole Ratrace,” but that song is strong enough for me to be glad to see them on Friday at Philly’s legendary Making Time party.

Girls, “Hellhole Ratrace”

Also appearing are LA’s Dum Dum Girls, whom Pitchfork loves a lot more than I do. But their I Will Be has enough strong tracks to raise an eyebrow. And their Ronettes meets noise sound shouldn’t be affected much by a poor sound system. Not to mention that a little bird (well, R5‘s newsletter) tells me that Major Lazer will probably be doing a “secret” set w/ Diplo at Making Time after they’re done with their sold out show across town. A lot to like at this show.

Dum Dum Girls, “I Will Be”

Not appearing, but part of the San Fran scene, are Sonny and the Sunsets. I’m loving their dramatic freshman album, and their lead single, “Too Young to Burn,” is fast burning up the list of my favorite “Too Young” songs (cf. Phoenix, Nat King Cole,
The Big Pink, The Specials).

Sonny and the Sunsets, “Too Young To Burn”

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