The Cave Singers: Chicken Soup

Dr. Dog, The Cave Singers and Golden Boots

The Fillmore

San Francisco, CA

April 16, 2009

The Cave Singers: Chicken Soup

This is the third time that I have seen the Cave Singers perform. I can’t think of enough superlatives to describe how much better the Cave Singers are than almost any other band around. There is a depth and honesty to their songs and performances that is singularly impressive. The Cave Singers remind me of the transcendent power of music. The quiet, contemplative songs don’t always work in large venues before crowds of party-goers, but are still entrancing and filled with poetic revelations that are so confident in their expression and stark in their simple beauty that they should be the envy of any songwriter. While bands like Green Day and Franz Ferdinand are fun in a cathartic way, the Cave Singers rejuvenate the soul and make me feel reconnected to myself and give me hope for the future of artistic expression in modern music.

Dr. Dog and Golden Boots: Talking Points

The Golden Boots opened the show at the Fillmore with a country/blues rootsy rock collection of midtempo stoner tunes before being yelled at by a stage hand to get off the stage. They did play 4 “last songs” which got to be a bit annoying- especially when they were cutting into the Cave Singers’ time. The Golden Boots are similar to many other jam-bands like Big Head Todd and the Monsters or SF’s own Tea Leaf Green, mixing elements from 1970s Southern Rock and/or the Grateful Dead but stripped down and more laid-back. Not bad for an opening act, but I think they will likely be relegated to opening act status for the duration and are not likely to graduate any time soon- especially with their ridiculously bad name.

Dr. Dog, in addition to being another horribly named band, were unimpressive as the headliners. There was lots of energetic but pointless jumping around the stage and the hats and sunglasses came off as juvenile and pretentious. I couldn’t figure out if they were detached, cool artists or just neighborhood guys trying to have fun. I’m not sure they could either. The good size crowd was relatively enthusiastic so they were obviously hearing something I wasn’t. I found the songs to be forgettable amalgams of campy psychedelic Frank Zappa-Beatlesesque pop tunes with predictable and uninspired melodies. Maybe fine for the kids, but nothing special. The band has decent musicians but appear lost in whether to sell out with pop ballads, like their current hit “The Breeze,” or aim for a camp cult following a la Primus.

OK, I just re-read this Dr. Dog paragraph and it might be a bit harsh. The band did have the misfortune to follow the Cave Singers who are light-years beyond them. I think part of my problem may be that Dr. Dog appears to be in the musical line stemming from the bad part of 1960s pop psychedelia, like the Beach Boys or Strawberry Alarm Clock, and not the bluesy/jazzy good part, like the Grateful Dead or the Doors. While age has allowed me to appreciate the importance of history, some musical traditions are better left behind on the scrapheap.

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