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Arts and Entertainments 04/2011

Bros, Testosterone and Breakdowns

 

   Getting thrown around a large circle of people isn’t most people’s idea of a fun time. That is unless you are into the hardcore punk scene. Recently, Parkway Drive, a hardcore band from Byron Bay, Australia, came to San Fran- cisco to play to over 800 people at the DNA Lounge. Along with them were Set Your Goals, a pop-punk band from Redwood City; The Ghost Inside, a hard- core band from Los Angeles; The Warriors, a hardcore band also from Los Angeles; and finally Gravemaker, a hardcore band from British Columbia.

 

   Arriving at the venue, it was easy to see that it was go- ing to be a packed house. I ar- rived fifteen minutes after the doors were supposed to open, and the line to get in wrapped around the block. People of all different types came out to see the band: hardcore kids, scene kids, emo kids, even people who looked like they were more likely to attend a hip-hop show than a hardcore show. In the line, people were chattering on about being stoked to see the headliner, how bad the drive was from Sacramento, and other random conversations.

 

   When the doors opened, Gravemaker was already play- ing. Their singer Jon had a very croaky and squeaky voice, one often not heard from a hardcore band. Despite his best attempts, no matter how hard he tried, he wasn’t able to clear his throat and yell clearly. The band chugged on with him, delivering bland riffs that sounded very trite and tired, causing them to sound pretty generic overall. The crowd obviously didn’t care though; they were heavily into the band and showing it by hardcore dancing.

 

   For those unaware, hardcore dancing is when people stand in the middle of the pit and flail their arms and legs wildly to the music as if they were fighting hordes of invisible ninjas. Hard- core dancing allows people to posture and feel incredibly tough without having to actually make physical contact with people. The biggest problem with this is that it takes up about a third of the dance floor in order for only 30 out of 800 people to have fun.

 

 

   After Gravemaker ended, The Warriors hit the stage. The Warriors had a much different sound than the other bands on the bill. Despite being a hardcore band, they were much less focused on delivering breakdowns, which are parts in the song that slow down in order to get heavier, and more focused on having the fastest tempo. The singer called the crowd “sick f-- ks” to hype them up, and yelled about being mad. The crowd had much respect for the band since this was their first tour in a while. They had the crowd getting a lot more active than Gravemaker, causing the pit to get much bigger, while the band was inviting members of the crowd on stage in order to stage dive into the crowd. Even though many were getting pumped and excited, The Warriors cut their set somewhat short.

 

 

   Luckily, The Ghost Inside was up next. Even though it was one was one of the younger bands on the bill, The Ghost Inside has quickly made a name for themselves in the scene due to one key formula in their music: tons of breakdowns. While a bar- rage of breakdowns might not be preferable to some people listen- ing from a CD or iPod, seeing a band play a breakdown live gets the crowd going berserk. As a contrast to the preceding bands, The Ghost Inside’s primary message was about making sure their listeners stick together with their friends, as opposed to hurting everything around them.

 

   Next up was Set Your Goals, the dark horse of the bill. Even though Set Your Goals has heavy parts to their songs, they are much poppier than the other bands playing. Opening with “Gaia Bleeds,” the crowd im- mediately lit up and went crazy. It was evident that the crowd reacted differently to their style of music, as the tough-guy hard- core fans stopped swinging their arms and got out of the way, while the rest of the crowd had fun pushing each other back and forth and moshing tradition- ally. Unlike the other bands, Set Your Goals played a new song, it was called “Start The Reactor.” I couldn’t make out what the words were, though I could swear they were yelling about Warped Tour. The song ended with a break- down, and the crowd seemed generally pleased with the song.

 

   Finally, the headliner on the bill, Parkway Drive started to play. It became immediately obvious that this was the band the crowd came to see, as ev- erybody piled up on each other in order to make it to the front. They opened with “Unrest,” and the entire crowd chanted along with lyrics like “What the f--k, have I become!?” The separa- tion of hardcore dancers and normal moochers was removed causing everyone to push each other up front. Parkway Drive was the most technical band playing, with their guitarists pushing out insanely fast so- los. After ending their set, they played a one song encore with “Carrion”, a favorite of every- one in the crowd, which gave a very satisfying end to the show.

 

 

   Aside from the dumb hard- core kids who tried to show off their cool karate kicks, this was a very excellent show. Park- way Drive and Set Your Goals were the best, with Parkway Drive being better by a small margin. Overall though, every band aside from Gravemaker brought their all and gave the crowd their money’s worth.

 

 

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

 

by John Hill

A bit of heaven

   San Tung is a local restaurant located on Irving street between 11th and 12th. With the blend of both Chinese and Korean dishes, one of my absolute favorites is the dried fried chicken. Talk about tasty! Combing the blend of flavors from the honey and peppers, it is absolutely delicious! The cook prepares white meat chicken marinated in a sweet crispy layer of sauce that just melts in your mouth. The delight of this yummy dish comes with a possible wait for a table. Usu- ally in the mid afternoon it’s crazy packed. Often I usually pass by and I would see a line outside waiting for a vacant table. I personally wait, usually it isn’t that long of a wait so I say it’s pretty worth it. Prices aren't too extreme so it's pretty affordable. Now, when you go to a restaurant food and flavor is one factor but sanitation and service is another. San tung is definitely clean and filth free. The service isn’t bad, from time to time you don’t always get your glass of water or extra napkins right after you ask for it, but it’s only because the whole restaurant is packed and there are other tables so it’s understandable. Overall I’d say San Tung is great for their exquisite tasting and unique dishes, now that’s two thumbs up in my book!

 

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

by Tiffany Fong

Riding Noah's Whale til the end of time

   Mellow, indie, English — three words that describe Lon- don-based Noah and the Whale, a band that formed in 2006. With their third album, “Last Night on Earth,” released on March 7th, Noah and the Whale have established their fun, smooth and pleasantly generic folk-rock sound and nearly perfected it.

 

   The original band con- sisted of Charlie Fink (lead vo- cals and guitar), Tom Hobden (fiddle), Matt “Urby Whale” Ow- ens (bass), Doug Fink (drums) and Laura Marling (backing vocals and guitar). Charlie and Marling (who were dating at the time of the release of Noah and the Whale’s first album release) have voices that harmonize nearly perfectly in the band’s first single “5 Years Time” off of their debut album “Peace- ful, the World Lays Me Down,” which was released in 2008. Marling’s sweet Zooey Descha- nel-esque, voice both contrasts and compliments Fink’s mel- low and deep folk voice, simi- lar to that of Ben Gibbard’s of Death Cab For Cutie voice.

 

   Noah and the Whale releases their new full-length al- bum without Marling and Doug. On their website they say “Our third album is adventurous like its journey from Bethnal Green synagogue via the Thames riv- erbank across the Atlantic, the United States and all manner of Los Angeles neon-lighted high- ways. But it is unmistakably Noah and the Whale.” Unlike “Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down,” the new album is defi- nitely more upbeat with songs like “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” and “Life is Life,” but it still holds on to that signature mellowness with songs like “Wild Thing.”

   Through cute and quirky lyrics like, “And when will the sound of our boot heels fall into line,” Noah and the Whale is for listeners who enjoy the non-generic words matched with the mellow and fun sounds of ukulele, fiddle and the oc- casional harmonica. This band would also compliment the music tastes of fans who like Death Cab For Cutie, Rilo Kiley, Ingrid Michaelson and Feist.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

by Tiffany Do

Shakespeare in PG

 

   “Gnomeo and Juliet” is an adorable version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The movie starts out re- vealing the long-time feud between two backyards, the blue side and the red side. They are separated by a yellow picket fence and compete in gardening, lawn mower racing and destroying one another’s territory. The red side is run by Lord Redbrick (voiced by Michael Caine), who is the father of Juliet (Emily Blunt). The blue side is run by Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith), the mother of Gnomeo (James McAvoy). Both are single parents and have raised their children to hate each other, but they soon find themselves realizing that it was not the best parenting.

 

   The first thing I can say about the movie was that it was incredibly cute! The de- signs of the characters were fun and diverse ranging from plastic reindeers to tiny mushrooms. Each character had their own key personalities too. Nanette, Juliet’s best friend, is a help- less romantic that narrates Juliet’s love complications to her using exaggerated details to make the story more dramatic.

 

 

   The comedy in the movie is hilarious and original. One of my favorite parts in the movie is when Gnomeo runs away and ends up in a local public park. There he meets the statue of William Shakespeare. Gnomeo explains his dilemma to Shakespeare, and Shakespeare explains in amazement how simi- lar his love life is to his tragic tale of “Romeo and Juliet.” As he reveals the ending of the story, Gnomeo calls him crazy for hav- ing a devastating end to a love story and doesn’t believe it to be his and Juliet’s ending as well.

 

   The director, Kelly Asbury, tried to fit a lot of hu- morous parts in the movie, but it made it hard to relate to the characters’ emotions. I didn’t feel the sadness or the romance much throughout the movie. When Gnomeo and Juliet meet for the first time they flirted and played childish games with each other, but it was almost the same as two friends fooling around having a good laugh rather than two strangers falling in love.

 

   The movie overall was hilarious and exciting. It’s perfect for kids, but teenagers and adults might not take the movie seriously enough because the plot was hard to follow. There were so many unexpected twist and turns that it’s hard to keep up with, but the idea was to get in as many laughs as possible and not to bore the children. I do recommend this movie, especially if you want to take a younger sister or brother to see it.

 

 

3 out of 5 stars

 

by Crystal Lee

Return to the mountain

 

   Few artists have as much drama as Dance Gavin Dance’s singer Jonny Craig. From scamming fans out of money to fuel his drug addiction, to kicking out the former singer of the band, he’s done a lot of things to make people hate him. Drama aside, Craig can still sing angelically. Dance Gavin Dance’s new album, “Downtown Battle Mountain II” picks up right where the first album left off. Dance Gavin Dance is differ- ent from other screamo bands in that they don’t rely on overly distorted riffs to entertain the listener. Instead, their reliance is on intertwining riffs that will entrance the listener. The back and forth vocals of Craig and screamer Jon Mess will create a schizophrenic masterpiece sure to entrance any listener new to the band. The biggest flaw is the interspersed rapping performed by guitarist Zachary Garren that doesn’t fit. Aside from that, this is an album that any fan of screa- mo can get into as well as any- one looking to get into the genre.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

by John Hill

Johnny's last call

 

   John Dies At The End is a science fiction/horror novel written by David Wong. It’s a story about John and Dave, two good friends. The story begins late one night, when John calls a sleeping Dave. Much to Dave’s annoyance, John starts speaking of weird ominous things. Dave, not happy about being woken up so late, thinks John is complete- ly out of it. Dave ignores John’s insane ranting, shrugging it off as John just having a bad hang over. The reader find out that the night before the call, John tried a strange new organic drug called Soy Sauce, which causes him to start hallucinat- ing and die. Dave now being a prime suspect of John’s death, accidentally uses Soy Sauce is soon interrogated by the Police. After this John suddenly rises back from the dead and becomes sentient once more. Both he and Dave encounter strange phe- nomena and learn that their goal is to prevent a life or death invasion from the dark side.

 

   John Dies At The End is an amazing story that pres- ents two average twenty-some- thing-year old-slackers who get introduced to a new drug, that can changes their perspective on life forever. The protagonist Dave gives off an amazing simi- larity to Holden Caulfield from Catcher In The Rye as they both have their own spin on humor in a first person point of view story. The story includes many memorable moments, as the book time travels around and goes from a regular story of two slackers working in a video store to becoming fake Jamaicans, encountering a possessed Irish Setter, dealing with an evil an- gry deity and stopping demons. All this adds up to a hilarious adventure with some dark cryp- tic humor. Even though the title itself is a spoiler it does not ruin the story, due to the amazing plot twists the book contains.

 

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

by Helen Moy