Marshall-Tashi-Aaron trio, Experimental Music gig at the SF Lab in the Mission.

On the last week of January 29th of 2022, I had the pleasure of starting it off fresh. I drove up to San Francisco from the south bay neighborhood of Milpitas. It was a warm sunny afternoon fit for a picturesque California sunset at the beach – a beach about less than 30 minutes from where I live in Milpitas.

I left my house around 5 pm because face it – we are in California – there will be traffic on a Friday night when you drive around any part of the bay area headed to San Francisco. However, I was famished and stopped by the Santa Clara Whole Foods off the 237 – the same highway I take to school twice a week head over to Los Altos – to grab a bit to eat before the show. Yeah, I spent like 20$, but I got a lot of healthy eats and water. No, I didn’t spend my whole paycheck.

After my quick Whole Foods stop, I headed to San Francisco’s Mission District. It took another hour because there was some construction obstructions and congestion to create a traffic bubble when I switch to the Hwy 101 North off Hwy 237 West. It was a beautiful ride, though. The tequila sunset to my left and the stream of building, house, pieces of the ocean front, cars, trucks, big rigs, and motorcycles driving by, and exits and entrances of the various neighborhood located by the 101 sifting by like a dream. I had some ambient black metal and Doom metal blasting on my Scion CD player. It was picturesque. I miss California for this reason. It’s in my native Cali blood.

As night apporached, I arrived in the San Francisco vicinity when I saw the signs for exits on Cesar Chavez Street or Potrero Avenue. However, I took the scenic route and went to downtown exit for Civic Center to take the back street of Bryant Street or Folsom Street. I think I would not have to worry about the street traffic on Mission. I was right. Not driving down Mission would suffice.

It was a quiet San Francisco evening. I haven’t been to this neighborhood in over 12 years when I stayed at a hostel about two blocks west of SF Lab. It was bittersweet to be back. The SF Lab was located off 16th street about a block east from Mission Street. There wasn’t much parking, but I got lucky to find a spot right next to the huge brick building the Lab was located in. I may return to the area for another show in the near future and get some photos and video of the area. Like I said, I miss it.

As for the night, it was quiet, calm. COVID really did a number on San Francisco. The vibe was a bit tainted. This wasn’t a good thing at all. Usually, there are more people, more laughs, more fun, and more SF flavor. Wow. COVID and the political upheaval and unrest has dissipated a bit. That sucks! I really love that energy in SF. Oh well.

I wait outside for about 30 minutes. Aaron, Tashi, and Marshall were standing at the door talking. I saw them at the corner of my eye while I was listening to a mix Toul En Iheurn, Body Void, and Lost Hours on Bandcamp. Also, I was taking photos and relaxing. I was still nursing my injuries and was feeling better.

Finally, the doors opened up at 7:30 pm. I walked up the stairs into a large art loft with a drum kit, some speakers, two different guitars set-ups with chairs arranged in three or four rows with pillows in the front of the row of seats. A very casual setting for an experimental show. I’m digging it. No violence, no attitude, just a shared communal experience. This was great.

It was an experience from start to finish. Each musician performed solo sets. First, Aaron Turner did his guitars works. I could hear glimmers of guitar sonics from his Isis’s Mosquito Coast, Celestial, and Oceanic days. Then, Tashi Dorji graced us with his tweakish guitar works, I’m surprised neither one of the guitarists used a violin or cello bow? Some of his guitar sounds were reminiscent of Buddhist ethic instruments. Right up my alley. Then, Marshall Trammell just softly works a maelstrom of syncopated patterns that would send a tweaker into paint-sniffing hell leaving them drooling as they lay half-dead on a dingy weather-beaten couch in an abandon building getting high and praying for a graffiti Jesus to paint them green or some shit.

At the end, they all performed together. It was beautiful to watch. Jazz musicians of the 1950’s did this very thing. They began creating a culture from the remains of a music culture that has been infested with mimicry and appropriation. I believe this trio is beginning to start something. Not too long ago, I missed a show that Tatsuya Nakatani from New Mexico – I believe – performed in Temescal over in Oakland. Same style, but he is a percussionist that works with gongs and cymbals. AaronTashiMarshall is setting the bar and creating the opportunity for experimental music to staple a notch in underground hardcore, punk, and metal culture. I like it. I think of Neurosis’ Tribes of Neurot project, Tarantula Hawk’s of Braden Diotte, and Tashi‘s other project Kuzu are helping to lead the way toward fortifying experimental music next level: spaces and place to perform on a regular.

After the show, I bought few CD’s to listen to on the way home. Great tunes. Great stuff. I left the show a little energized. I have my own agenda. My agenda doesn’t call for me to be out all night during a dangerous COVID era. For the SF of now is a bit foreign from the one I know 12 years ago. That’s too long to reminiscence. Too long. I hope there are more shows to come. We have to keep this network and the community growing. Otherwise, it will desecrate with the graffiti and the garbage of the pungent SF streets. If, you are from SF you know what streets and neighborhoods I’m referring to…..this city is slowing losing the subculture we know to be birth from Stonewall, Freedom, Operation Ivy, Metallica, Neurosis, Dead Kennedys, artsy-bohemian lifestyle, and champion for us subverts. MOTHERFUCKING COVID!

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