The Union Trade / Elephone / One Becomes One Hundred
Bottom of the Hill | San Francisco, CA | August 27, 2008
On an unsuspecting Wednesday night, Bottom of the Hill and Tricycle Records presented an epic show with three amazing San Francisco-based bands: One Becomes One Hundred, Elephone and The Union Trade. It was an especially important night for the former and the latter, as they released new albums to the welcoming public.
One Becomes One Hundred opened the night with their own brand of frenetically driving rock, unleashing tracks from their debut, They do if you know. Lead singer John McCoy sang eyes-closed with an anxious grit and drone in his voice, creating a consistent layer of 16th notes with his SG. Smooth bass slides filled the lower frequencies as steady drums guided them forward. A soaring, reverberated Les Paul saturated their sound and added a grandiose quality to the mix.
The crowd thickened when Elephone, the second band of the night, arrived on the scene. With explosive charisma and casual sex appeal, the five-piece exuded energy with an ease even more established bands would envy. The most notable characteristic of their performance was the impressive vocal interplay between keyboardist Sierra Frost and guitarist Ryan Lambert. Vocal parts jumped between the two, ultimately coming together in pitch-perfect harmony. While Lambert offered a low grit and strength, Frost exhibited lighter characteristics with a hint of punk angst. The chemistry was exceptional as bassist Dan Settle moved about the stage, playing on keys and banging drumsticks on the floor. Their grand finale was filled with controlled chaos, an energetic end to a great set. Said Frost, “If you like it, you should buy the CD. It’s just like that, but better.” It was already pretty damn good.
The night concluded with The Union Trade presenting a headlining set that grew from a four-piece to a six-piece with the inclusion of additional vocals and keyboards. A nice contrast to Elephone’s upbeat rock, The Union Trade successfully recreated the emotive post-rock exhibited on their new Tricycle Records release, Everyday Including. Their heavy-hitting somber sound filled the room as they swayed listlessly in place. A projected light cast colors and images onto the band and its backdrop, giving the performance an ambient glow. Setting scenery exemplified the visuals already established by The Union Trade’s controlled use of feedback, and an E-bow draped a hauntingly sustaining wail over the jagged vocals and pulsating rhythms set by the band’s aggressive drummer and bassist. The conclusion was calmer, featuring a chiming quality illuminated by changing lights lit like fire.
If there’s one thing Tricycle Records is known for, it’s creating a strong show with bands that act less as a convenient collective but more as a family. Each band tonight displayed a genuine graciousness for the venue, the crowd and each other, and the audience reciprocated in kind.
-Review by Keane Li; photo by Anthony Gordon (more…)