It's a good thing that my friends keep me honest and off the couch, away from the TV. Paolo stopped by on his way to Indio, California, and convinced me to check out a Coachella-borne double bill.
Go Team/Dungen, Great American Music Hall, April 28, 2006: Thanks to my miscalculation, we missed about half of Dungen's set, and by the time we reached the club, it was already packed. As neither of us were heavily invested in the show, we made do with our decent spots.
Dungen: I think I like psych pop, but truth be told, I'm not sure I could tell you what it was. I know there are guitars and often an organ, but further details escape me. Still, I've revelled in weirder musical exercises, so I can't really talk.
Two words: flute solo--that's probably what I'll remember best about Dungen's set. I mean, they weren't Rush, but the vintage feel of their music was undeniable. I recall one fairly straightforward song, but we also got a couple of jammy, swirling compositions. Ordinarily, I might have problems with the fact that they sang entirely in Swedish, but it barely entered my mind during the show. Paul said he digs the guitar player, and the guy certainly has the chops. We couldn't really see him from our vantage point, but we could definitely hear him bending notes like a mother. Oh, and their bass player looked exactly as you'd expect from a Swedish psych band.
Go Team: Once upon a time, I took it upon myself to see nearly every U.K. band that came through San Francisco on (preferably) their first run through the city. Unfortunately, one too many Gang of Four/Wire/Joy Division knockoffs have fueled my jadedness, and a lot of otherwise worthy bands have slipped through the cracks. Go Team is one such group. I've heard great things about them, and on the album, they remind me a lot of Pizzicato Five, but that wasn't enough to get me out the door.
Signs didn't initially bode well for Go Team. Dungen had played a meandering set, I was on the verge of a gourmet-pizza-induced food coma, a set of obnoxious girls were butting into our space, and the band was a half hour late in setting up. But about 30 seconds into their set, I was bobbing up and down to the beat and grinning like an idiot.
Go Team is known for its dance qualities, but I was struck by the use of harmonica. It was the last thing I expected to hear, but it cut through the rhythm attack and layers of sound on at least a couple of their songs--I guess it made the songs more human. And though I know it's easy to place the mantle of the band on the singer, Ninja was incredibly magnetic everytime she was onstage, whether through her MCing, her dancing, or her general interaction with the audience. Other than that, I also love the nonstop instrument swapping and the seemingly international, equal-opportunity aspect of the band. There's something for everyone!
Even more entertaining was watching the crowd go nuts for them. San Francisco has a reputation for diversity, but I don't always see it at shows. This one, however, was a wonderful encapsulation of how music can bring people together. Toward the front, you got a lot of younger, enthusiastic fans, but only a few rows back, I saw people of different age groups and demographics. The common denominator: they were all enjoying the gig and weren't afraid to show it.