Category Image Live Music in S.F. 


The first weekend in September was a music weekend, the first I've had in a while. On Thursday the 2nd I drove into San Francisco to see Lux Nova play (Patrick's band). They were playing at a tiny loft/art gallery/performance space in the Mission District with a couple of hardcore/noise bands. As I've mentioned before, Lux Nova doesn't play hardcore music but their participation in those kinds of shows is always good. In this case, the two bands that went on before them were actually interesting and did some inventive things with the hardcore/noise form. Lux Nova was awesome as usual, but only played four songs. However, each song is over 10 minutes long so it's their own damn fault. hehe The drive from Stockton to S.F. and back wasn't too bad and I was glad to get out and see some music and hang out with Patrick.

The very next day I again drove out to San Francisco, this time to see a band called Nightwish. They're a Finnish metal band that plays what's called "symphonic power metal." This essentially means non-scary metal with lots of lush symphonic elements thrown in. The lead singer is a classically trained soprano and the combination of music and female voice frequently has a lot in common with musical theatre (not surprisingly Nightwish recorded a version of "The Phantom of the Opera" a few years ago). I'm no musical theatre fan at all, but for some reason Nightwish's style of metal is quite pleasing. The allure of traditional approaches to melody, the use of vaguely tonal harmonic progressions, and the particular emphasis on virtuosity is all something of a guilty pleasure I suppose. I also only owned two of the band's albums at the time of the concert, so it was exciting to see a "new" band again. I bought their first album Oceanborn (1998) only in August and then decided I should get their newest album Once (2004) in order to recognize the songs if they were played at the concert. I certainly did recognize the four or five songs they played from Once, but surprisingly (and disappointingly) the band didn't play a thing from Oceanborn.

Two other things about the concert struck me: Nightwish is amazingly family-friendly for a metal band. Perhaps it's the musical theatre element, the lack of scary transgression, or the presence of a powerful and confident female lead singer, but I saw two families there. The young girls (aged 10 or 11) all had over-large Nightwish T-shirts and the dads were all sweaty from being up front (the room was a furnace as well). The other thing: both Nightwish and the opening act, Lullacry (also from Finland, also with a female lead singer, but more hard rock than theatrical power metal, and not nearly as interesting as Nightwish), did cover songs in their set. Lullacry's cover was a really odd choice: "L.O.V.E. Machine" by the 80s shock metal band W.A.S.P. It's not that a Finnish band could never have heard of W.A.S.P., but I wouldn't expect any band to care enough to cover W.A.S.P. in 2004. On the other hands, the 80s are back in so many ways. Fun performance though. Nightwish did Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction," perhaps that band's most commercially visible song. Interestingly, only the men in Nightwish performed the song while the singer left the stage for a breather. It was an okay performance, but I would have recommended they play one of the instrumental tunes from their own albums. After all, this was their first U.S. tour as headliners.


Posted: Monday - September 13, 2004 at 11:30 AM