Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy @ The Fillmore, San Francisco- March 30th, 2009

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy

with Pillars & Tongues

The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA

March 30th, 2009

You know, I have unrealistic expectations of music.

I imagine there’s supposed to be this community built up around albums and musicians; you may have gathered as a reader of this website that this is a community I love very much and I take very seriously (most of the time). I have what you might say is an un-natural attachment to music, this attachment is so important and vital to me that I actually write about it for free. I think it’s because I don’t have a whole lot of passion for many other things; when you find something as authentic as the feeling music creates inside you, then you just gravitate towards that and life works itself out in the meantime.

There’s a strong bond that’s supposed to be formed between artist and listener; probably because when it’s made from the heart there’s a whole set of real emotions attached to creating music and then performing it- which is why I attend concerts in the first place, why I more or less “get off” on it.

Will Oldham is so acutely aware of the bond he’s created with his fans, so in tune with his art and the feeling it gives that there’s no doubt in my mind it’s just as amazing an experience for him to let us into his world as it is for us to let him in to ours. (That’s a pretty awkward sentence but I can’t re-word it to actively convey what it is I’m trying to say; I guess I’m muddling the whole thing with too many words…)

Anyway, Monday night at The Fillmore was one of those moments when the circuit was completed- performer and audience in communion as one. I’ve read that Will Oldham created his Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy character out of the necessity for creating a space where he can step outside his normal world and “be” an actor while on stage, in order to deliver the best performance possible. Says the Bonnie persona in a recent interview:

I think it was just created by the fact that there was “somebody” being interacted with that I started to recognize. There were two things… people treating a person as a person but I didn’t know that there was a person yet.

Part actor, part musician, part comedian; Will (or Bonnie) gave the best performance he could possibly bring- he was bright, funny, serious, sad, mellow, excitable- in short, I got what I paid for. And more, courtesy of the superb supporting cast: Cheyenne Mize on vocals and violin, Josh Abrams on bass, Jim White on drums, Emmett Kelly on guitar and Jon Kempf on mandolin. Also, openers Pillars & Tongues helped out on the encore.

No setlist- I was too much into being a fan and enjoying myself to try to keep an accurate list of songs. Someone probably is going to post it on

I do have pics…















Jose Gonzalez @ The Fillmore

Jose Gonzalez with Mia Doi Todd @ The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA; March 27th, 2008

So I went to see a pair of lovely folk singers last night. Apparently it was sorority / fraternity night at The Fillmore, or better yet; a football crowd showed up for the quiet, acoustic sounds of Mia Doi Todd & Jose Gonzalez. Must’ve been a lot of colleges’ spring break week, because I’ve never seen this type of hootin’ n hollerin’ audience attend this type of concert. It was maybe one of the weirdest concert experiences in recent memory. Let’s talk about the show and I’ll go into detail further about all that…

Last night’s opening act, Mia Doi Todd from L.A.- wow, what a beautiful voice! Think: stripped-down folk, bare bones acoustic neo-soul. In between songs she spoke a little about some things; she has this endearing awkwardness that totally drew me in, I’m magnetized by creative nerdy girls with guitars (Laura Veirs, St. Vincent, etc…).

Here’s Mia doing her thing…

…she was joined by a percussionist, Andres Renteria.

Then onto Jose– he started out solo, working through a few songs before being joined by backing vocalists / percussionists.

I was really impressed with the lights at The Fillmore, they seemed to match the mood of the songs. I’m a huge believer in the concept of sound as color, and I think the marriage of the two played quite well last night…

Deadweight On Velveteen
Slow Moves
Stay In The Shade
In Our Nature
How Low
The Nest
Down The Line
Killing For Love
Cycling Trivialities

Broken Arrows
Time To Send Someone Away

Okay, let me rant a moment about this crowd- when I last saw Jose (last October at The Great American Music Hall) you could hear a freaking pin drop during the songs, there were no woot’s and people yelling out song requests, they just let Mr. Gonzalez do his thing. Here’s my review of that show.

I should’ve figured the crowd would have been packed with jerks last night, during Mia‘s set there was a lot of ruckus from the bar alongside the left side of The Fillmore‘s lower level, as her set went on she had to fight her voice through the inattentive wankers.

I was able to get dead center, about 10 rows back from the stage, where the sound is usually best. But some popped-collar frat boy next to me decided he was going to serenade his ditzy blonde date. Luckily the douchebag only knew like 3 songs, saving himself from even more dirty looks from yours truly.

And to the Amazonian woman next to me, thanks for all the elbows! Seriously, if you’re like 6-foot-2, stand in the back and let us 5-foot-8 people who actually want to be at the show stand up front.

To the screaming drunk girls behind me: you fucking broke my eardrums with your shrill screams and pleas of “I love you Jose!” Yeah, he knows- you forked over $35 bucks to see him, I think he knows that already. We all love him, that’s why we went to his fucking concert.

As the show ended and people turned to the cattle-shoot they call an exit at The Fillmore, my show-mate Alison was like, “what a weird crowd for this type of music…” My sentiments exactly; I can’t figure out what happened between October’s show and last night. Is it because Jose‘s new album (In Our Nature) had a few videos attached to its release and MTVU or whatever brain-dead college kids watch these days picked them up and brought Jose‘s music to all the Dave Matthews-loving, Axe body spray-wearing, Xbox-playing “bros” and their female counterparts, the blonde-headed sorority sisters?

That’s definitely a question I’ll be pondering next time I see Ticketmaster’s concert alerts; I think I’ll sit out Jose‘s next visit to the Bay Area…