Catching Up with Reptar [Interview]

Back in October, I wrote a review for indie, dance-rock band Reptar‘s second consecutive show at the Fillmore with Foster the People. After that show, I had the chance to chat with a few of the members outside the venue, and they were kind enough to offer me contact information so that we could set up an interview at a later date. It just so happened that Reptar was coming back to the Fillmore only a few weeks later to play a show with the electronic-indie duo Phantogram, on November 2nd, so I jumped at the chance to get an interview with the up-and-coming band.

Originally, I was scheduled to do a phone interview with Reptar the day of the show, but after a game of phone tag–a succession of failed call attempts on both sides–Reptar keyboardist William Kennedy invited me to come down to the venue for the show. I couldn’t believe my luck!

After meeting up with Kennedy outside of the venue, he rounded up drummer Andrew McFarland, lead singer Graham Ulicny and their behind-the-scenes man/ videographer Ross Brubeck, and we entered the dressing room of the Fillmore for a quick interview. I have to admit: when I first entered the room I had an internal nerd moment and tried to wrap my head around how many rock and roll legends stood in the same spot I was in. That mental relapse aside, my conversation with the guys was like talking to old friends. Like myself, they are all very obvious products of the 1990s.

How is San Francisco treating you so far?

Soo Good. It’s amazing.

Have you had time to see the city?

Yeah the beach! There was a surf competition. We saw Slater kill it! Slater went AWOL. (laughs)

Reptar. Photo courtesy of Tell All Your Friends PR.

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Foster the People w/ Reptar – The Fillmore 10/14/2011 [Review]

The Fillmore is one of my favorite venues in San Francisco–the chandeliers, dim lighting, and red walls plastered with rock and roll memorabilia make the two-story building feel like an intimate celebration of San Francisco and its musical history. I showed up ready to see the reigning indie pop/rock band of the summer, Foster the People, and the young, energetic Reptar. As if those two dance party starting acts weren’t enough, I picked up a show schedule to find that Noise Pop group, Cults, was slotted right in between them. The music gods were obviously on my side that night.

Reptar. Photo courtesy of Tell All Your Friends PR.

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Bon Iver w/ Other Lives at the Greek Theatre 9/22/2011 [Review]

I had the bar set high for the this show–so high that on my way to the venue, I began worrying that all the hype I created would be the downfall of it all. Sometimes, I’m really happy when I’m wrong.

The scene was set when Other Lives took the stage. The sun had just disappeared, leaving an orange and pink glow around the stage that would eventually fade into the dark backdrop of the sky. I was ready for the band’s meditative sounds to slowly transition my day into night, but Other Lives had other plans. The band set the night on fire with a steady flow of instrumental music that was much more intense live than it was in recordings. Its layered sound was magnified by the performance of the drummer and percussionist, who gave their drums and cymbals a thorough beating throughout the show. Front-man Jesse Tabish had his guitar slung around his back as he bounced back and forth between his keyboard and cymbal, nearly breaking his drumstick in the process. Of course, driven by textured harmonies, the songs always took on pensive overtones that still kept the ambiance of the Greek Theatre contemplative. The life that Tabish and his band pumped into their music was a pleasant surprise.

Bon Iver at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. Photo by Joey Pangilinan.

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Other Lives-Bon Iver at the Greek Theatre [Preview]

For most of the world, summer is cooling down and making way for the crisp air of autumn. After a poor excuse for a summer, San Francisco and I are finally saying hello to sunshine and I couldn’t think of a better way to welcome the Indian summer than with a show simmering with harmonies.

Across the bay this Thursday, September 22Other Lives is playing a show with Bon Iver at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. For me, Bon Iver’s founder and mastermind Justin Vernon has already solidified a spot for himself in indie-rock history. He needs no introduction as his signature falsetto voice speaks for itself. Opening up for Bon Iver will be Other Lives, a folk-inspired rock band of the same flavor with all the potential to become a premier act in the current indie-rock scene.

Other Lives. Photo by Jeremy Charles.

From Sillwater, Oklahoma, Other Lives is defined by its mellow, but resonating music. The band can be traced back to a musical project called Kunek, which disintegrated in 2008, leaving only a single underexposed and under appreciated album behind. Other Lives rose later that year, fronted again by singer/songwriter and guitarist Jesse Tabish, who joined his Kunek band mates, cellist Jenny Hsu and drummer Colby Owens, for another go at making music together. The band’s 2009 self-titled debut album received some widespread attention with a feature on the popular television show Grey’s Anatomy, though nothing outshines its 2011 effort, Tamer Animals. This album is a stunning display of minimalism that will be the perfect soundtrack to the open air of the Greek Theatre.

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FYF Fest 2011 [Review]

I’m usually not a fan of one-day festivals – maybe because the first day of festivals are generally appetizers, a little taste of action before the main events of days two, three, or four. I usually reserve day one to feel out the vibe of the weekend to come, but FYF 2011, packed full of punk rock goodness, proved to be worth the six-hour drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

A few friends and I were staying only a few blocks from the venue, but our short walk was enough to remind me that I was indeed in Los Angeles. Every person walking in our direction was dressed appropriately for the 80-something degree weather: high-waisted short shorts, crop tops, mini dresses and the like revealing tanned skin for days. We walked right into the front entrance, and my initial impressions of LA Historic State Park were that of dust, dry heat, and beautiful people.

We walked in at 2pm and went straight for Leonardo’s Stage to see The Head and the Heart. From what I’ve taken from the band’s music, it leans on the indie-folk side of the music spectrum, so I was pleasantly surprised by the poppy-punk guitar. The band’s harder hitting performance, fused with its usual uplifting harmonies, felt more fitting for an outdoor day time show.

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The Head and the Heart. Photo by Lauren Espina.

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