The event at the Chapel on February 4th, 2023 was one of the most lively and exciting events I’ve attended in a long time. Produced by Lucky Recording Company, and co-sponsored by Prime Time entertainment, GHS Guitar Strings, and Guitar Player. The showcase was a selection of the artists who have recorded at the Grammy nominated studio over this past year by music producers Travis Kasperbauer and Mikel Ross. The concert drew a multi-generational group of people, with attendees ranging from ages 18 to 80. There was a great mix of people in the crowd from all around the San Francisco Bay Area. I think this is one of the reasons the event was so successful. The place was absolutely packed, setting all time records for the most walk up ticket sales at the venue, as well as the biggest attendance ever for a local show! Who said music in San Francisco was dead? It just took a nap for a bit, but it’s alive and well.
They say the Chapel is haunted (there is video proof if one does the research), and the spirts were where high for sure high on this Saturday night in the Mission district. Co-promoter and master of ceremony Trixie Rasputin did a smooth job promoting the event, as well as firing up the crowd in between sets wearing some hip shades and giving some shout outs, relevant information, and respect to each band as they entered and exited the stage. It’s nice to see this aspect at events, and it really tied everything together throughout the evening. It felt very professional and special, so the crowd could give an extra round of applause for all the bands and people involved, where that is not often the case at most local shows.
DJ Sasquatch Borracho had a collection of vinyl 45’s to get the night off to a good start, because everything always sounds better on vinyl. It was refreshing to see people dancing to the DJ’s records in between the sets and after all the bands played. He read the room really well, and that dance party could have gone all evening, even without the four amazing bands to grace the stage. The masterful Kurt Schlegel, head sound engineer and co-owner of Lucky Recording Company, provided the live sound engineering, giving a sonic clarity to the mix with a professional punch. White Light Prism provided the stage video projections, giving each song a unique found footage music video dialed in to each vibe of the band, alongside Kevin, the house lighting director of the Chapel.
Spirit Hustler took the stage first, playing an acoustic set based off their new self-titled album. One of their songs was recently played on the Blue Origin space flight with passenger and Starfleet Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, giving the band a unique Earthly honor. Playing on a warm low lit stage, setting the comfortable vibe for the evening, the stage projections were of solar cosmic California landscapes, Summer of love, and optical art lines being projected over the band in an artsy aesthetic. We got a little taste of some their “Americana on the moon” music style, alongside feedback projections of time lapse footage of starry skies. There were angelic summer, almost gospel moments in the set. Lots of tracks were inspired by the festival scene, giving the feel of Star City and Black Rock City with the High Sierras melting in the background.
Talented musicianship graced the stage with some next-level slide guitar, violin, and mandolin, with different members joining in between songs, making each song sound unique. Lyrically, there were vagabond style themes, evoking feelings of the honey-colored moon rising over the Merced river. There was some commentary on the cost of living in California, drawing an applause after telling the crowd they recently signed a new lease on a home in East Bay. This band is committed to the SF Bay area, even singing words “It’s worth every penny to me” in the closing track, the Coast of California. This was a new song, one not played live before, and one of the standouts in the set where the melody stuck in my head for a few days after. Like all the musical acts, it was nice to hear these songs live, and then go listen to the masterfully produced studio recordings after the show.
Americana and Country artist Ren Geisick took the stage next with a full band and a positive burst of energy for the audience. Based out of San Jose, Geisick and her band got the audience fired up, and kept them fired up for the other acts to follow. While not playing some of her more well known songs, the set was full of new toe tappers and stories about the themes for each song in between jams. Playing most of her new album, which is to be released in 2023, I got a sense of what a prolific songwriter she is. She has a friendly country vocal style delivery, and could probably play a show acoustically without needing a microphone. With lighthearted tongue-in-cheek themes such as making a few cents on her last royalty check, to more serious themes about her grandmother moving from Oklahoma to California, there was wide range of material and styles covered from Motown, to Blues, to Gospel, and even a dash of Outlaw Country. More introspective themes were also covered such as self discovery on, “The place I planned to go” to “Don’t start telling me the truth,” about knowing something is wrong in a relationship, but not wanting to admit so. The set ended with the gospel country banger “I Still Pay,” a song about drinking and having a good time. At this point in the night, the audience was doing just that.
Treasures, One of San Francisco’s newest up-and-coming bands took the stage next. Performing their new album “Gold Rush City,” the band seemed very comfortable on stage with the sold out audience. They have been featured lately on the radio, and even playing live on KRON4. With dueling guitars and lots of head banging hair, the audience went wild, which somehow now seemed full of young women. Singles like “Cinnamon Lover” were met with screams from the audience in approval. The band was even able to improvise a small instrumental song while the bass amp was being fixed during the set, which is always a sign of true music professionalism and stagemanship. Each track packed a punch, and guitar solos were met with screaming fans as they reached out to “absorb the energy” of the lead singer Jack’s guitar. Optical art and dark imagery stage projections were contrasted with bright moments of strobe light and color onstage. There were cheers and calls for encores despite not being the headlining act, and a group of young women rushed the stage at the end of the set, jumping around along side the band as they ended the music. The band put everything they had into keeping the energy high on stage throughout their set. Perhaps this may be California’s next great rock band?
Headlining the now densely packed event was the band Ray & Paul Holmberg. Originally from Marin by way of the Santa Barbara college scene, the band is riding a current wave of success with three sold out shows on their west coast tour before this event. These two local brothers were joined by two other members to add to their musical dynamic and harmonies. Starting off the set with the mellow beach vibe of “Her Eyes,” through songs about being hungover and in love, there were big sing-along melodies in which the crowd seemed to know every word. Like the band Treasures playing before them, there was an unhinged feminine energy in the crowd, with uncontrollable screams and shrieks straight out of The Beatle’s “A Hard Days Night” Not in a long time have I seen so many young women completely freak out about a musical group. Perhaps their fan base can be attributed to Ray and Paul Holmberg having their song “Butterflies” recently featured on HBO’s “The Sex lives of college girls,” or perhaps they are just a carefree band of talented musicians giving the modern college scene what they want. San Francisco responded well to their sound with an excitement not seen that often for a local show. Some young man even attempted to stage dive into the mosh pit full of throngs of jumping teenagers! To call this show “wild” would be an understatement, with empty bottles of everclear being found in the parking lot after the event. The kids came to party and rock out, and this show did not disappoint. The band ended with the crowd pleaser “Favorite Shirt,” however Paul Holmberg, the drummer, ended up not needing one after all, while playing shirtless in true rockstar fashion, buzzed off the insane energy of the Chapel audience. The kinetic energy of the crowd could be felt by each person in the room, recognizing that this was something special and not seen that often. Stage projections of dancing girls and anime added to the crazy artsy vibe of the set. Each track had a distinct bounce to it with hopeful lyrics of love and loss, but lighthearted and fun at the same time. Big things are happening for this band in the future; so make sure you can catch them while you can.
What was once a yearly tradition to showcase new records from Lucky Recording company, the unbelievable success of this event may turn into a quarterly showcase. While known for being a great analog and digital recording studio, they also proved they are excellent concert promoters as well by smashing two different attendance records at the Chapel. An amazing flyer for posterity was being signed by all the musicians after the show, and there was a feeling of community not felt in the SF rock scene for quite a while. The night's concert had magic, and there was no denial of that for those in the audience that evening. I would highly recommend checking out the next showcase event from Lucky Recording Company, as they continue to record and showcase the best new emerging talent on the San Francisco music scene.
Author: Matt Robeson Martin, Pow Magazine