On Tuesday night, I made my way to the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco to catch a bill that I have been looking forward to for nearly a month. The lineup was topped with Montreal based trippy art rock band BRAIDS. The psych folky pop sounds of LA’s Pepper Rabbit and the dreamy synth pop of SF’s own Painted Palms opened up the night.
Not to my surprise, my night started out with the ever so common MUNI (SF Bus) no show. I was hoping not to miss even one song from Painted Palms after recently seeing them open up with a sick set before Memory Tapes at Slims. After spending a few too many dollars on a cab, I found myself at Bottom of the Hill to join an already packed house just before Painted Palms took the stage.
Painted Palms opened up their hometown show with their smooth song “Big Balloon”. After being joined by a drummer, the band dove into their soft bubbly song “Falling Asleep”. The entire set was solid; the crowd was anxiously anticipating every song. Their sounds are nearly impossible to listen to without wearing a smile on your face while thoughts of sunshine bounce around in your head. They closed out their set with one of their most powerful tracks from their Canopy EP “All of Us”.
Next up in the solid night of music we had Pepper Rabbit taking over the stage. They opened up their set with the opening song from their recent release Red Velvet Snow Ball (8/9) - “Lake House”. This was a fun way to start the set, this song features feel good lyrics along with their piano sound they have become known for while their vocals looped throughout the song. Fresh off of the release, they played a lot of material from this album including “Allison”, “Rose Mary Stretch” and “Family Planning”. My favorite song from the set was the super poppy song “Murder Room”, a song that features a much darker story than the whimsical musical that accompanies the lyrics.
Being much more familiar with Painted Palms and Pepper Rabbit, I went into the BRAIDS set with open expectations. With a voice vastly different from that used when she’s singing, the soft-spoken Raphaelle Standell-Preston (Lead Vocals and Guitar) greeted us with a thank you. From the very first song I was blown away, the trippy-layered sounds created by this band paired with the incredible acoustics of the venue were a perfect match. BRAIDS are everything that an experimental band should be with each track building unexpectedly and including moments where the listener is left with no explanation other than a reaction of bliss.
Only halfway through their tour the entire band was incredibly tight. On each track, I was eagerly waiting for Standell-Preston’s vocals to cut through the air. Whether yelling or singing her voice is incredibly interesting and powerful. They seamlessly made their way through their tracks from Native Speaker to provide us with a perfectly strange trip. Following every song the large (Likely Sellout) crowd erupted in clapping. Following this show, I will definitely be listening to more of BRAIDS and look forward to catching them the next time they come to town.
Stay connected with BRAIDS on Facebook and follow them on Twitter - @braidsmusic
You can also find Pepper Rabbit and Painted Palms on Facebook and Twitter.
Be sure to catch them at one of their upcoming shows:
Sep 29 Echo Los Angeles, CA
Sep 30 Sail Inn Tempe, AZ
Oct 01 Corazon Santa Fe, NM
Oct 02 Lowbrow Palace El Paso, TX
Oct 04 Mohawk Austin, TX
Oct 05 Club Dada Dallas, TX
Oct 06 The Firebird St Louis, MO
Oct 07 The Bishop Bloomington, IN
Oct 08 Beachland Tavern Cleveland, OH
Oct 09 Magic Stick Detroit, MI
Oct 10 Call the Office London, Canada
Oct 14 Legendary Horseshoe Tavern Toronto, Canada
Oct 15 Babylon Ottawa, Canada
Oct 16 Le Cercle Quebec, Canada
Oct 17 The Capital Complex Fredericton, Canada
Oct 19 Space Portland, ME
Oct 20 Great Scott Boston, MA
Nov 06 Rotown Rotterdam, Netherlands
Nov 09 XOYO London, United Kingdom
Nov 10 HMV Institute Birmingham Birmingham, United Kingdom
Nov 11 O2 Academy 2 Oxford Oxford, United Kingdom
Nov 23 O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire London, United Kingdom
All photos (c) Dan Cordie