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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Phantogram – November 2nd @ The Fillmore [Concert Preview]

Artist: Phantogram
Venue: The Fillmore
Doors: 8pm

New York’s indie electro pop band Phantogram made a strong impression on the festival scene this summer. This year, the band played at San Francisco’s Outside Lands and the hugely popular Coachella Valley Music Festival in Indio, officially making a name for itself in the increasingly recognized electro-infused indie rock music genre. I had the pleasure of catching its Outside Lands performance, which drew a huge crowd of excited fans. That set was definitely one of the most memorable performances of the weekend, standing out especially among the afternoon bands. Phantogram dropped some heavy beats and produced an epic stage energy to match, which has resulted in a long list of upcoming shows on its fall cross-country tour.

Phantogram. Photo by Doron Gild.

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The Drums – The Independent 10/14/2011 [Review]

The stage at The Independent last Friday night was marked with the word “Portamento,” spelled out in white light bulbs, separated in half by a large draped flag with “The Drums” emblem on it in the middle. I was standing pinned to the stage with a good friend who attends live music shows less frequently than I do, so I was eager to show her a good time. Having never before seen The Drums perform live myself, I was willing to take full responsibility if the show didn’t live up to her expectations. Luckily, despite our shared frustrations on waiting for over thirty minutes under the hot lamps in a thick and sweaty crowd after io echo’s mood setting opening set, I instead found myself responsible for bringing her to a really excellent live show. The band came out dressed in hipster threads (mostly tight T-shirts and jeans), with synth player Jacob Graham sporting a dapper getup and front man Jonny Pierce in a laid-back, unbuttoned short-sleeve and slacks. The band leapt into some songs off Portamento, their newly released album, and Pierce began to sing and dance in his captivating, awkward sway.

Jonny Pierce of the Drums. Photo by Katie Kopacz.

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HTRK – WORK (work, work) [Album Review]

Australian duo HTRK‘s new album WORK (work, work) is a strange and curious beast. It is a pop record, in that the songs are really songs (some are even hummable), and the themes revolve around the quintessential pop subject matter: feelings. But, the feelings described on this album are far more uncomfortable and complex than those tolerated by most mainstream pop music.

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Bands With Unusual Names #1: Oldfish (South Korea)


To kick off our regular series on bands and artists who perform under less-than-conventional stage names, we’ve chosen a rather obscure electro/indie pop outfit from South Korea called Oldfish. Indeed, there is no shortage of “strange” band names in South Korea, or East Asia in general. With names like Rumblefish, Lovefish, and the one we’re reviewing today, South Korean indie bands seem to have a special affinity with the suffix “-fish,” which may come as a result of the English word’s interesting phonetics (within a Korean-speaking paradigm) and not the word’s more dubious semantics–but in the end, it probably doesn’t matter.

However, with a name like Oldfish, the band seems to be purposefully drawing attention to the word’s semantics. While the idea of “old fish” may lead some to hold their nose in disgust, the name was actually chosen by the band to represent evolution. The band went so far as to rhetorically ask in an interview with, “However, can you call it true evolution when humans give in to their own desires and become cruel? Rather than heading in that direction, could we consider a fish with the mere memory capacity of three seconds who’d given up on that kind of evolution to be a more evolved organism than a human?” Thus, Oldfish represents the evolutionary potential of having only a three-second memory (like a fish)–the ability to live a life driven by progress and the simple act of living as opposed to cruelty and selfish desire.  These are some weighty progressive ideas coming from a small independent band trying to push against the behemoth of South Korea’s unimaginably lucrative culture industry.

On second thought, maybe it’s better not to dwell on a band’s name. Nevertheless, this one did pass our “weird” band name test, and that’s a good thing. Or is it?

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