REVIEW: Public Access T.V. leads guitar-heavy bill at Bottom of the Hill

Public Access T.V., John Eatherly

Photos: Joaquin Cabello

SAN FRANCISCO — New York garage rockers Public Access T.V. brought their tour to Bottom of the Hill Saturday, fresh off releasing sophomore album Street Safari last month. The quartet’s set was crisp, fun and short enough to leave the small packed room wanting much more. Because of this, the other three rock bands on the lineup benefited from additional stage time and were able to successfully make their own statements.

Public Access T.V.’s frontman, John Eatherly, exuded early aughts (or late ’70s) cool, strutting around in a white T-shirt that was tucked into his jeans. He didn’t spend any time on banter, other than to wish drummer Pete Sustarsic a happy birthday; instead, he led his band right into “Evil Disco,” off 2016’s Never Enough. Sonically, the song recalled both modern garage rock bands like the Strokes and classic rockers like Tom Petty or Bad Company.

Two more fan favorites, “On Location” and “End of an Era,” followed. “They said that kids don’t like rock and roll,” he sang on the tongue-in-cheek tune about the decline, in the U.S., at least, of guitar-based rock. The show, in essence, was the antithesis of that declaration, as all four bands showed what makes guitar rock so great.

The band then transitioned to the new album’s material with “Shell No. 2.” Other new songs included “Lost in the Game,” “Meltdown” and the wildly catchy “Metrotech” and “Rough Boy.” The former was a fun callback to The Cars, while during the latter a small mosh pit opened up, which was surprising for such a danceable tune.

In all, Public Access T.V. songs were fast, three minutes or shorter, power chord-filled dance numbers. But they were different enough from each other to keep momentum going and were consistently good.

The Soft White Sixties

The Soft White Sixties perform at The Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on March 24, 2018.

Based on stage time, Angeleno funk rockers The Soft White Sixties were a co-headliner on Saturday. The former Bay Area band—frontman Octavio Genera, guitarist Aaron Eisenberg, bassist Ryan Noble, drummer Joey Bustos and keyboardist Rob Fidel—electrified the crowd with an in-your-face multi-genre blast. TSWS opened with new track “Teen Wolves,” a pulsating song that blurred the lines between rock and EDM. Genera slinked around the small stage like Mick Jagger, with one hand on his belt buckle.

That was followed by 2016 single “Sorry to Say,” then funky “Follow Me” and disco-infused “The Overpass.” Next came 2017 single “Brick by Brick,” with Genera singing from both the English and Spanish-language versions. “It’s about a wall,” he said. This live version of the track emphasized the wood block, organ and Fidel’s squelchy synths. Another highlight was the stripped-down, bluesy “Tell Me It’s Over,” with Genera slow-strumming a Fender Jaguar.

Future Feats

Future Feats perform at The Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on March 24, 2018.

Following the hard-charging come-on tune “Miss Beverly,” The Soft White Sixties finished with the best song of the night (by any band), “No1 Like U BB,” which was a Prince tribute not only in name but in terms of performance and Genera’s vocal delivery: Falsetto from start to finish atop a funky backbeat and glitchy synths.

Two different types of guitar rock bands opened the show. Future Feats blended Aerosmith-like guitar solos with meat and potatoes post-punk, late ’90s alt rock in the vein of Collective Soul, and the echoed guitar riffs of bands like Angels and Airwaves. The interesting thing is that the live version of this band sounded much different from the tracks it has posted online, which are still plenty good but come across more as synth-pop.

The Pleasure Routine

The Pleasure Routine performs at The Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on March 24, 2018.

They were followed by The Pleasure Routine, a band that combined Doors-esque psych rock with Strokes-loving post-punk. Frontman Kevin Sofsrud could himself lead an Arcade Fire cover band; his large stature, eccentric personality, deep timbre and half bowl-cut hair create a Win Butler-like appearance. Sofsrud’s vocals alternated between warbled growls and screaming yelps. The band also delivered some fun jangly pop.

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