Category Archives: Show Review

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”


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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You passed the test on Saturday / The Trademark Experience

Thanks go out to all the people who came out to the Cozy Galaxies, Grubby Little Hands, and Bridge Underwater show on Saturday night. You all passed with flying colors. More picture proof can be found at‘s Flickr. And check out Rockaphilly’s indie show listing while you’re at it.

My friend from Wisconsin said, 'Damn. People from Philadelphia are hot.' We know.

Cozy Galaxies

Donnie from Grubby Little Hands

Pat from Bridge Underwater

Speaking of passing tests, this video from Philly’s The Trademark Experience, made to encourage Philly kids to do well on the (funding imperative) PSSA exams, touches all the right places on its way to parodying Fabulous’ “You Be Killin’ Em” [via Philebrity]. Aw.

The Trademark Exeprience, “Fill It In”

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Show Review: Wavves/Best Coast @ Starlight Ballroom, Philly 2/1/2011

It’s tempting (to me, at least) think of Wavves in light of the financial crisis. At first glance, the sneering irony, the punk-like-fury without the punk, the air of apathy calls to mind the Gen X indulgences of the last economic cycle. And, given that Nathan Williams formed the band in 2008, wouldn’t it be easy to dismiss his (and Best Coast’s) music, as The Inquirer‘s Sam Adams does, as having “no women or… men … just girls and boys fumbling their way through an adult world”?

But when Adams dismisses Wavves as stumbling “on and off stage quickly enough, that no one was the wiser” to the monotony of their sound, I have to wonder: what show was he at? Ripping through a set that continually dragged people away from the cramped bar of Starlight, Wavves proved themselves something more. While “Idiot” and “I’m So Bored” have always sounded a bit flat to me on record, live and with the ecstatic playing of ex-Jay Reatard backers Stephen Pope and Jacob Cooper they were pulsing and angry but oddly delicate. On Tuesday, it was palpable that Williams’s subject is his own self-aware callowness: “I won’t ever die/ I’ll go surfing in my mind / I’m not supposed to be a kid / But i’m an idiot.” This is the sound of a generation waking up to find that the bright future they took as their birthright will never be inherited. This is the sound of a generation, despite their irony, despite their sneer, despite and because of their aggressive stance, that is deeply scared.

What Best Coast is I’m less sure. The crowd thinned after Wavves set, never a great sign for a headlining act, even if the opener is your boyfriend. And the fuzzy but slick playing of Best Coast’s album never materialized. The somnolence of Ali Koehler at the drums made me dream of Meg White: although Meg may not have the chops, she plays. Leadsinger Bethany Cosentino was still captivating (and fetching), despite a pre-gig trip to the ER for a respiratory infection. And the presence of a cover of Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City” was instructive if not particularly outstanding: with their pop sensibilities with country undertones, Best Coast should take a page from Lynn’s lovelorn, fierce, and perfectly-constructed songbook. As the band exists now, they have moments of pop brilliance (“When I’m With You,” “Girlfriend”) that unfortunately do not hold up well to sustained attention. A few too many songs that sound the same and end up making me wonder that for all their pleasurable packages, what’s inside?

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