Win Tickets to Phono del Sol!

Panoramic view of Phono del Sol, July 2014.
Panoramic view of Phono del Sol, July 2014.

Phono del Sol is a one-day music festival staged in Potrero del Sol Park by John Vanderslice’s magnificent Tiny Telephone recording studio in conjunction with Do The Bay and The Bay Bridged. It is kid friendly, music focused, civilized and affordable with a great selection of local food and beverages. Much to my chagrin, I’ll be missing my favorite California music festival this year because it’s wedding season and two more beautiful humans in our lives are getting hitched on the SAME DAY, July 11th.

My loss, however, is your gain. Due to the double-booking, Nostos Algos is giving away two regular admission tickets to Phono del Sol (a $60 value). To win these tickets, you need to:

  1. Become a subscriber to Nostos Algos by clicking the “Follow” button, and tell your friends how awesome we are somewhere on Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc)
  2. Send an email to (subject header “Phono del Sol Giveaway”) that includes your full name, where you promoted us, and a short explanation for why you want the tickets. Extra credit awarded if you include a photo from the last local concert you attended.

All entries must be received by midnight on July 3rd, 2015, and the winner will be notified of their remarkable good fortune on America’s birthday, July 4th, 2015. Below you’ll find a selection of my favorite bands, and you can peruse other offerings on the festival’s website.

Sonny & The Sunsets: Sonny Smith has become is a prolific staple of the local music scene in San Francisco. While I’ve seen him perform live many times over the years, I never know what the next show will hold. He is a spontaneous, musically brilliant goofball playing infections 1960s-inspired garage rock that seemingly rolls ashore with the surf at Ocean Beach.

Everyone Is Dirty: This Oakland band is on the verge of many things, most imminently of breaking out from indie obscurity into the limelight. Just like their city, these East Bayers blend raw kickass with polished perspective to deliver a uniquely California sound. So much energy, so great live–they’ll provide a wonderful compliment to the skateboarders shredding next to the main stage.

Tiaras: The debut album from Tiaras has just been released by Mt.St.Mnt (pronounced Mount Saint Mountain), a colony of creators that publish printed and audio art in limited batches. With the indie music scene in San Francisco endangered by real estate scarcity and superficial patrons, this band and this project give us hope for what’s artistically in store for the Bay Area.

Scary Little Friends: Another local band that offers a beautiful 60s-80s-90s mashup of sound imubed with a Jeff Buckley vulnerability that is hard to authentically master. Each song on their album From the Beginning brings such a different vibe that it was impossible to pick just one feature, so you’ll find the first two tracks available for a listen below. So bummed to be missing them.

Tanlines: Never fail, listening to this synth-pop duo makes me want to watch Empire Records. Perhaps its the way the album’s 1980s evocation sparks 1990s nostalgia in my listening heart. Whatever the reason, the band’s newest album Highlights is polished and pleasant from first to last. Also, they built a website that mimics Netflix in a subtle commentary on consumer culture. Brilliant through and through.


Daily Dose: Bush, “Everything Zen”

If Gwen Stefani was the role model, then Gavin Rossdale was all that a teenage girl could possibly want in an imaginary boyfriend. He was British, incredibly handsome, and frontman for the quintessential 90s rock band. If you lived in the suburbs, this was a particularly potent combination. We little ladies ended many a long middle school week with a sweet slumber party where pieces of paper were folded and a game was played to decide who we would marry, how many kids we would have, and what kinds of cars and houses we would own; I always included Gavin Rossdale. And when I found out he idolized Allen Ginsberg while watching an episode of MTV’s cribs, well, I was done for.

While my lustful teenage melanchology compelled me to put “Glycerine” on repeat, I listened to “Everything Zen” when I wanted to thrash about my room and feel cool. The albums Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase were permanently embedded in my walkman, and I recall my sullen puss listening to them while riding in the backseat of my Dad’s car on the way to dinner, my Mom in the passenger seat and his cologne permeating the entire interior–the leather of which would creak as he turned a corner too fast, which he always did because he was a Terrible driver with a capital “T”.

For me, Bush harkens back to Southern California winters in which we wore sloppy sweaters with sleeves that hung past our hands so we could twist them neurotically in emulation of our silver screen idols of the era. Bush helped me build my identity in ways I could not know then, but appreciate now, and Gavin Rossdale has had an indelible influence on the type of men I’ve chosen to date over the last 10 years. While it pains me to see how far the band has fallen in recent years, Bush and its enigmatic frontman will forever hold a place in my heart. Rock on, you 1990s gods.

Throwback Thursday: Nirvana and Patti Smith Smell Teen Spirit

Patti Smith is undeniably cool. In 1980, she straddled the dead space that followed the end of rock and roll (as it was known to that point) but preceded the stranglehold of punk with her seminal album Horses. Nirvana is undeniably cool. After the release of their album Nevermind in 1991, the year that would be 1992 had no hope of swimming with the current and, instead, swam upstream into Grunge. When both artists sing the same song you get two sides of a very hip coin. To piggy-back on last week’s Courtney Love adventure, this week’s Throwback Thursday  gives you the oft-imitated video for Nevermind‘s first single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” in comparison with a Patti Smith video of her “Smells Like Teen Spirit” cover.

Throwback Thursday: Courtney Love

Aaaaaahhhhhh, Courtney Love–the train wreck we love to hate but secretly hope never fades from the limelight permanently. Let’s be honest: people like Courtney Love serve a vital purpose within our society as benchmarks for our self-esteem barometer. Loves the world over are a means to gauge how we’re doing on a personal level, a way to compare ourselves to the “rich and famous” and say, “At least I didn’t fall off a barstool and flash my southernmost private parts to the entire MTV audience, crew, and a music icon.” This is the same reason an old roommate of mine would watch the show 16 and Pregnant when she was depressed: no matter how bad her day was, at least she wasn’t sixteen…and pregnant.

I have a soft-spot for Ms. Love, forever the former Mrs. Cobain, because she was omnipresent during my formative listening years; this means I had no choice but to like her (the proverbial cop-out). Her hot-messness aside, she musically explores what it means to be a woman in the world and this feminist angle hasn’t been adequately explored because she often gets in her own way. Okay, she ALWAYS gets in her own way but hear me out on this tangent. Take, for example, the song “Doll Parts” from Hole’s album Live Through This, released in 1994, in which Love discusses society’s perception of women as playthings (dolls), how it forces women to regress into infantile desires (for cake) to get attention and the effect of this dynamic (turning women fake, making them ache). She’s pissed, and wants you to ache like she aches:

“I am doll eyes
Doll mouth, doll legs
I am doll arms, big veins, dog bait
Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, they really do
Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, but I do too
I want to be the girl with the most cake
I love him so much it just turns to hate
I fake it so real, I am beyond fake
And someday, you will ache like I ache
Someday, you will ache like I ache

I am doll parts
Bad skin, doll heart
It stands for knife
For the rest of my life
Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, they really do
Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, but I do, too
I want to be the girl with the most cake
He only loves those things because he loves to see them break
I fake it so real, I am beyond fake
And someday, you will ache like I ache
Someday you will ache like I ache”

In 1998, Love  released what I believe to be her second best album to Live Through This which is Celebrity Skin. On the title track of this album she refers to herself as a “walking study in demonology”–an admission that she is routinely vilified in the press, and rightfully so as her behavior is erratic and often violent. (For more enlightenment on this facet of Courtney, I recommend watching Kurt & Courtney from BBC documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield). However, she is singled-out as particularly heinous where the same type of behavior from her male counterparts are often begrudgingly accepted as part of the rock and roll effect. That makes Courtney Love a fascinating specimen in our search to understand the perception of women in our current culture, particularly because she is so self-aware and open if not tragically unwilling to clean up her act. But should she have to? That is the question.

Now, I am in no way (I repeat: I AM NOT) advocating Love as the pinnacle of feminist mystique, but I do commend her on the courage it takes to be Courtney Love in all her grotesque glory; she is nothing if not consistent. From Hole’s video for “Violet” (featured above) where you can clearly see Kurt’s influence and understand his fascination with her to the video for “Celebrity Skin” (seen below) which showcases her attempt to professionally rebirth herself as the movie star rocker chick, Courtney Love lives her life on a public stage and forces us to confront her and what she represents. Whatever your feelings are about this, you can explore them in the flesh when she plays The Independent here in San Francisco tonight. A truly a throwback Thursday if there ever was one.