Rickshaws, bags, guts and buttons…

The past week was a busy one. We worked full time plus saw a bunch of cool shows. One three band night at the Rickshaw Stop, Guts and Buttons at Tartine, Ben Sollee and Fossil Fool at another Rickshaw (Bagworks) and some tasty food in the city as well.

This week has been a pretty full one with work and with concerts and fun. We attended the Japonize Elephants show at the Rickshaw Stop back on Wednesday night for Wasabi Tefab’s farewell (for now) from the band. We hadn’t seen Japonize Elephants in concert, but their violin player, Thisisyourbrain On Fiddle looks a lot like that singer Ramon, who looks a lot like the violin player from Kill Bossa, who opened up the night. Another member of Kill Bossa looks a lot like the guitarist from Dina Maccabee Band, which is remarkable because he is the guitarist for Dina Maccabee Band.

The opening set from Kill Bossa, which is one of the many Aaron Novik projects that Dina and her friends are part of, was pretty fun. They played a bunch of Brazilian “funk” songs which I actually enjoyed quite a bit. The middle act, another Aaron Novik project, Zoyres, was a horn-y band. No really, there was a tuba, some clarinet, some saxaphone, some trumpet and a lot of repetition. I was bored through most of their set.

Japonize Elephants (full band name: The Japonize Elephants from Zorlock Land of the Lost) were great! I love how they kind of melded all of the other San Francisco based bands we’ve seen over the years into one big piece of modeling clay and then stepped on it, leaving a cool impression of their left toe as they walked out.

Japonize Elephants include a ton of genres and really do epitomize the San Francisco sound that I’ve come to love over the past eight years of living here. They do a bit of Klezmer punk, in the vein of Charming Hostess. They do some circus type stuff like Eric McFadden or Faun Fables might. They do the low fi off beat as demonstrated by Ramon and Jessica or Karina Denike. But mostly, they put on a great show.

I’m really glad we finally got to see them in concert, but sad that it was their last concert with their accordion player. Wasabi Tefab (Marie Abe) is headed to Massachusetts to teach for a while but seemed to have a lot of fun playing a set of songs she hand picked for the show.

It wasn’t our last show with Marie though as we also went to the Guts and Buttons show at Tartine on Friday night.

Guts and Buttons are a duo featuring Marie Abe on accordion and Dina Maccabee on violin. They look a lot like Wasabi Tefab and Thisisyourbrain On Fiddle from Japonize Elephants. They were joined by Daniel Fabricant on bass for their show on Friday night at Tartine. The Tartine shows were a regular gig for Guts and Buttons and the tips they made at their Friday evening shows there helped them to finance their debut CD. They played a lot of the songs that are featured on that CD and many other songs as well, incorporating international flavor, contemporary pop and classic rock songs into a fun happy hour set. As this was Marie’s last show in the Bay Area for a while, she was presented with a pinata in her likeness and post-show went out and smashed it open while blindfolded. It was a fun experience and I’m glad we could share it with her and her friends.

We also had a really tasty banana tart with shaved chocolate crumbled on top. While Tartine’s tasty treats are a bit on the pricey side and the line is always long, nothing we have gotten there has not been worth the wait and the price.

Ramon and Jessica, featuring Daniel Fabricant on bass, will be playing Tartine as Dina keeps up the tradition on Friday September 17th.

Saturday we went to another Rickshaw, the Rickshaw Bagworks on 22nd, to see Ben Sollee in concert. Ben and his percussionist, Jordan Willis, are currently doing a “Ditch the Van” bike tour where they are playing unique venues and trying to promote the sustainability of bicycling as touring musicians and getting to know the communities they are playing in. Rickshaw Bagworks, who make custom bags on the premises by hand and use up every last piece of fabric in the bags that they make leaving zero waste behind, were one of the sponsors and the host of the San Francisco show.

Before the show, I bought a medium sized Zero messenger bag. I really like it. It holds my HP Mini 311, my Augen The Book ebook reader, my iPod Touch and Skullcrusher headphones and has lots of room to spare. It fits comfortably and looks good and feels really durable. It also has a lifetime guarantee. Can’t go wrong there.

We walked a couple of blocks down 22nd and ate a quick snack at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, an ice cream shop that is fairly new to the area. My wife and I shared a flapjacks ‘n maple ice cream cone and a vanilla caramel candy. The ice cream and candy were very tasty. We weren’t so crazy about the peanut butter malted chocolate balls that we also tried. Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous was much better than Humphrey Slocombe, another ice cream place in the area that we tried a couple of months back.

We went back to Rickshaw Bagworks and noticed a very interesting looking and very tall bicycle-like contraption riding up 22nd. It ended up being Ben Sollee’s opening act for the evening, Fossil Fool, on his quadricycle, which has a pedal-powered amplification system built in.

Fossil Fool did a very San Francisco-centric opening set with Ben Sollee and a girl named Hilary providing the pedaling to power the sound system. There were some speaker problems which Fossil Fool indicated were a circuit issue which prevented Ben and Jordan’s set from being fully pedal powered. It was cool to have a show that was happening as part of a bike tour powered by people pedaling a bike.

Ben and Jordan played a bunch of songs that my wife and I had become familiar with on the Spring 2009 Vienna Teng tour when Ben opened a bunch of the shows we went to. It was a good show and Ben even recognized us afterward. I got a cool bag and a good concert out of a small bag factory in the Dogpatch district. Not something that happens everyday.

We decided to stay in the Dogpatch district after the show and had dinner with a friend at the Hard Knox Cafe. Our friend has been wanting to try a Juicy Lucy, which is a burger with the cheese cooked into the middle of it. I noticed the Hard Knox Cafe had a Juicy Lucy on the menu so we invited her over to give it a try. I had a Pork Loin sandwich. My wife had a fried chicken breast sandwich. Our friend had the Juicy Lucy. We shared some warm corn bread muffins as an appetizer. I liked the pork loin sandwich the best between mine and my wife’s sandwiches. I liked my salad and dressing a lot better than the side of macaroni and cheese that my wife had. I also preferred the sweet tea that I got to my wife’s lemonade.

The service was less than desirable and the noise level was borderline annoying, but the food was worth the minor troubles. I’d give Hard Knox Cafe a 3 1/2 burps out of 5.

For dessert we ate at Mitchell’s Ice Cream on San Jose. It was ice cream. With a long line and a challenge to park. Not anything super amazing.

After dessert, on the way back to drop us off at our car which was still parked by Rickshaw Bagworks, our friend got stopped at the sobriety checkpoint. The officer asked if we had been drinking. We said no. He then asked “Well why not?” After a moment of us having horrified looks on our faces at his question he smiled and said “I was only kidding.” It was a really laugh out loud funny experience. Not something I would have ever expected to happen in that situation.

After we got back to our car and said goodbye it was time to come home for the night. Our adventures continue with Slash, Penny Arcade Expo and Bumbershoot in the next week!

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