Concert Review: The Relationship w/ Gringo Star and Vinyl Spectrum


I’ve been wanting to see a show at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill venue since I moved to the city a few years ago. Finally, the stars aligned and I saw a posting for The Relationship feat. Brian Bell of Weezer. Having not heard of this band before, but being a casual Weezer fan, I snatched up a ticket.

I arrived shortly after the doors opened at 8:30pm on a Friday night, and the place was quiet. This was the perfect opportunity to get a good look around. Bottom of the Hill is definitely a venue off the beaten path in SF, but oh was it worth the trek. A small bar leads to the floor space, and a raised stage just past a crooked chimney. Heading into the back, there is a patio outside (and a pass through to the stage, allowing the music to travel out), and a small back room that had many Easter accoutrements adorning the walls and mantles. I would describe the vibe as an adult version of a Toontown bar – a very fun setting.

Around 9:30 the opener, Vinyl Spectrum, took the stage. A four-piece showcasing some funky basslines and fun sax riffs, Vinyl Spectrum brought the energy right up and the audience closed in on the stage. Between songs, familiar riffs from the likes of the Beatles and Iron Butterfly echoed across the PA system. Before their last song, the front man of the group had some give-away items to toss out to the crowd – a t-shirt, a wrapped condom, a signed Goosebumps book, and a NYC Metro card (I was the lucky recipient). They closed the set with their latest single, PS118.

Atlanta, Georgia’s own Gringo Star took the stage next. Their swamp rock take on SoCal surf had the crowd moving slower than the first opener, but still brought technical expertise to their set. Though they seemed to have a few issues with the sound, they didn’t let that stop them. One odd thing about this band was that the three guitarists switched between Bass, vocals, and keyboards throughout the set. By this time in the evening, the crowd was ready for The Relationship.

Around 11:45pm Brian Bell, joined by his bandmates, took the stage. I was expecting melodies similar to those of Weezer. I was not disappointed! Brian can hold down as a frontman on his own, and his distinctive guitar style translates even without Rivers Como’s vocals.

The theme of the most of The Relationship’s songs revolved around the love of performing live music. It was clear that this set was a very personal experience for the band, and they really enjoied sharing it with people that were going out of there way to patronize an establishment promoting live music. It was an exhilarating experience to be thanked so profusely, not just through the music. Brian and bandmate Nate Shaw (of Die Hunns) repeated again that we were a part of history; we were helping to save live music.

At midnight, Brian announced that they had a special treat for their bassist, as it was his birthday. They had planned their set to have their last song after midnight. After the first few bars of their latest single Oh Allen, they restarted the song as the bassist was too excited. “No mistakes until next year,” he replied. What happened next is something I have not seen happen at any show before.

The final notes of the song end. The houselights come up. The crew starts breaking down the amps. But the crowd chants for more! Eventually, the band returns to stage, plugs back in, and turns the amps back on. This one isn’t on the setlist.

“This one is about you, the audience. In fact it’s called The Audience…I Want” Brian shouts to the crowd.

Overall, this will be one of many filler shows in my busy year to get me through to the next arena rock concert. However, it was definitely memorable. What a great excuse to patronize a historical, loving, live music venue.


About Author

An avid concert-goer and used vinyl connoisseur, Bryan co-founded Tone Critic to share his life-long love of rock and roll in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bryan has been known to see a show "just to experience the venue."

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