By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Now in it’s seventh year, the annual one-day Phono Del Sol music festival gathers a diverse line-up of acts including garage-psych greats Oh Sees, catchy Atlanta-based punks the Coathangers, SF rapper DUCKWRTH to go along with a host of food trucks at Potrero Del Sol Park Saturday.
The intimate celebration of indie music co-founded by SF music blog/nonprofit the Bay Bridged and musician John Vanderslice’s nearby Tiny Telephone recording studio, Potrero Del Sol fills the sunny outer Mission District park located between Highway 101 and Potrero Avenue with hundreds of revelers looking to take in local bands and food culture in a fun, family friendly setting. Besides a full slate of music performed on two stages — the Potrero Stage held at the park’s bandshell and the Mission Stage on an opposite field — there will be an array of local food trucks including such established SF favorites as the Korean gourmet Bobcha truck, Curry Up Now, Kabob Trolly, the mobile pizzeria Mozzeria, Japanese from Linda’s Catering, Jamaican cuisine with Scotch Bonnet to name a few.
This year’s festival will feature the return of one of the most influential bands to emerge from San Francisco since the turn of the millennium. The brainchild of SF underground rock fixture John Dwyer (Pink and Brown, Coachwhips), Thee Oh Sees were initially known as the OCS or Orange County Sounds as the musician explored lo-fi home recordings with a decidedly more laid-back sound than his earlier garage-punk outfits. The project would gradually expand to feature percussionist Patrick Mullins and later singer/keyboardist Brigid Dawson. The first album under early The Ohsees moniker was the freak-folk effort — The Cool Death of Island Raiders in 2006 — featured Dwyer’s and Dawson’s vocals steeped in reverb and was produced by members of TV On the Radio.
In the years that followed, the line-up evolved as Dwyer decided to turn up the energy and appeal to the audience he built with the Coachwhips. After adding new members guitarist Petey Dammit and drummer Mike Shoun and changing the moniker to Thee Oh Sees, the band would release a steady stream of singles and albums including such acclaimed efforts as 2008’s The Master’s Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In, Warm Slime and the more pop-minded Castlemania in 2012.
A reputation as an incendiary live act helped further spread the word of the band, as did such propulsive and chaotic releases as Carrion Crawler/The Dream, Putrifiers II and Floating Coffin before the band underwent some major changes. The longtime live quartet line-up went on an indefinite hiatus after a final 2013 late show at the Great American Music Hall prior to the band leader relocating to Los Angeles.
Dwyer recorded Thee Oh Sees’ 2014 album Drop largely on his own with contributions from longtime engineer and collaborator Chris Woodhouse and a few others. He would unveil a new version of Thee Oh Sees featuring bassist Timothy Hellman and drummer Nick Murray that still delivered the kind of chaotic and cathartic onstage mayhem that has become the band’s trademark. Last year, Dwyer brought Dawson back to record Mutilator Defeated At Last for his own Castle Face Records imprint for a deeper exploration of the krautrock sounds the band has touched on with its last few efforts.
Dwyer later emerged with another line-up with Hellman featuring two drummers (Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon) to tour extensively and track the explosive in-concert document Live In San Francisco recorded during a sold-out three-night July residency at the Chapel that last summer. That version of the band made it’s studio debut on the equally acclaimed A Weird Exits (and the mellower instrumental companion piece An Odd Entrances). While the departure of Rincon stripped the band back to a trio for a time, drummer Paul Quattrone (of the bands !!! and Modey Lemon) has since joined the group. Earlier this month, Dwyer announced he was shortening the band’s name to simply Oh Sees and releasing their next album Orcs this August.
Another highlight of Phono Del Sol will be Mission Stage closers the Coathangers. Founded in Atlanta over a decade ago, the all-female garage-punk was actually started as something of a joke by guitarist Julia Kugel (the members could barely play their instruments), but it took on a life of it’s own after the response they received at a house party. The band — rounded out by bassist Meredith Franco, drummer Stephanie Luke and keyboard player Candice Jones — bashed out a feral style of hooky, ramshackle punk indebted to the raw, chaotic style of influential Detriot garage band the Gories and vintage girl groups that garnered the attention of indie label Suicide Squeeze Records.
Befriended by fellow Atlanta punks the Black Lips, the band would build on its regional reputation with progressively bigger local shows and short tours through the South. By the time they released their fourth album Suck My Shirt in 2014, they had toured Europe supporting the likes of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and the Thermals. Though now pared down to a trio after the departure of Jones, the band broadened its sound on the album, drawing influence from NYC experimental funk group ESG and angular post-punk acts like Gang of Four. The Coathangers have remained prolific ever since, touring consistently to promote a string of well-received album releases including their forthcoming Suicide Squeeze effort, the pop-minded Parasite EP set for release later this month.
The balance of the festival offers up plenty of diverse sounds for Bay Area music fans, from the lo-fi, bedroom-studio sounds of Jay Som (the dream-pop project of Oakland musician Melina Duterte), the soulful styles of veteran singer-songwriter Sean Hayes, eclectic SF by way of South Central rapper DUCKWRTH, percussive indie-soul act Bells Atlas and more. For more information on the line-up and tickets, visit the Phono Del Sol website.
Phono Del Sol
Saturday, June 17, 12 p.m. $15-$60
Potrero Del Sol Park