Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Gig: Gotye and Missy Higgins @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium San Francisco

Quick, take advantage of the grandparent babysitting and go to a concert! It just so happened that a great Aussie act was in town. Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know has exploded all over the world, including the US, after grabbing the #1 spot in the Hottest 100 last year. It must be strange for an artist who is really well-known in their home country to tour other countries where the audiences only know one song. He played a great set, but it felt weird that big hits from his previous album like Hearts a Mess, didn't get much response from the crowd. But hey, I've been to plenty of concerts where I only knew one song, so I won't hold that against anyone. We missed Missy Higgins because we were drinking at Bourbon and Branch, but we've seen her plenty of times before. I did get the feeling that she was only there to fill in for Kimbra for a certain song...

The graphics for the stage were amazing. I wondered if Gotye's sample-heavy music would translate well to a live performance, but the band really reproduced the sound very well live. There was only one song where everyone put down instruments to just play samples. Check out the mass of cameras recording Somebody That I Used to Know. There was also a guy in the front row recording the whole thing on his iPad...

4.5 stars

Please Speak-Easy

Before Gotye, and after a horrendous peak hour drive into the city on the same day as a giants game, we managed to arrive in time for our reservation at Bourbon and Branch. Tough to get into on any day of the week, it's an actual prohibition era speakeasy that is now a super trendy cocktail bar.

We were there on a random wednesday and got a spot in the Wilson and Wilson bar, made out like a Chandler-esque detective agency with an array of alcohol that even Marlowe would be happy with.

Just entering the bar is a bit of an experience. You ring the doorbell outside an unmarked door in a fairly dodgy bit of the tenderloin, and give the woman who answers (in a flapper dress) the password for your reservation. You then walk through a set of hidden doors to reach the bar. The drinks are pricey, but not ridiculous, and each one is a work of art. I'd estimate each one I ordered had about 15 ingredients, almost none of which I had ever heard of, and were added to the drink from bottles, eyedroppers, and sprayed over the top (!?). The flavours were complex, as you can imagine, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. The house rules include 'no phones, no cameras' so I've borrowed pictures from


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Mt. Diablo

Lets drive up a big mountain. 1,100-ish metres vertical in the car, which is the easy way - there were a ton of people struggling up on bikes and getting cheered in by their friends at the top. A cyclist friend of mine says Diablo is shorter but steeper, and with a killer steep bit at the top, compared to it's neighbour Mt. Hamilton. You can also walk on a trail the whole way up, that would be fun to come back and do one day.

On the way up we stopped at Rock City and climbed around on the soft sandstone. So many people have done this that there is a indented ladder of holds all over the rock. We got some great views from the top, and on the way down we did a short hike from Curry point.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Air-accordion meets space taco

Gourmet food trucks, and lots of em, dished up their stuff in $2 tacos at the San Jose Taco Festival Of Innovation. Apparently all events in silicon valley need some sort of nerd clarion call - this one had a taco being launched into space, which supposedly justified the 'of innovation' title. The only evidence I saw of that was a half deflated weather balloon and this picture of something covered in cable ties. meh.
I think the drunk air-accordion championships were about the right level of class for the event. Chairman Bao wins coolest name and truck design by my reckoning. And I'd definitely get there early next time - gourmet might be tasty but it's slow, the lines were enormous.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

San Francisco Weekend

Friends visiting from Baltimore, an excuse to spend a weekend in the city. We had brunch at the Ferry building farmer's market.

Then took a long walk along the shoreline from Chrissy field to fort point with great views of the Golden Gate;

through the Presidio, the San Francisco National Cemetary, past the Yoda statue at Lucasfilm, and the impressive palace of fine arts.