The Cosmic Love Ball was billed as San Francisco’s annual celebration of life, love, and music. More so than many of the shows I attend, it was apparent to me that the crowd was there to fully experience all three. From the space suits to the horns to the dance floor make out sessions, it was Saturday night and the Fillmore was ready to party.
Upon arrival, I found the North Beach Brass Band leading a Second Line down the venue stairs and onto the dance floor, playing the standard “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In.” Fans fell into step and soon the venue was jiving with Mardi Gras favorites, stomping and clapping and booty shaking all the way. After a few tunes on the ground, they led their procession back from whence they came, and Materialized took the stage shortly thereafter.
Materialized is a local SF group who describes their music as transcending genres. While they do incorporate multiple styles of music into their sound (as most jam bands do), they are an electronically driven jam band who loves space funk. They sample NASA’s Mission Control in their EP, Space Junk; this is no stretch of the imagination. They love the in-pocket drum build up with heavy synth that seeks that “lift-off” feeling and sometimes pauses as if to leave the audience floating in mid-air. They’re the house band for this annual event and rightfully so. While it couldn’t sustain me personally for an entire evening, they did a nice job of keeping everyone moving and warming up the crowd for the headliner, Rubblebucket. Additionally, they had some really fun GoGo dancers gracing the stage for their set with neon lights, multiple costume changes, choreographed moves, glitter, and pom poms. Well done, ladies. (Check out the images in the gallery below.)
Now for the main event: Rubblebucket. I love this band. Their album, Omega La La, has been a favorite from the past year (although released in 2011), and the follow-up EP, Oversaturated, has been on pretty regular Spotify play for me since its release in September 2012. Their songs have just enough pop to be catchy but are always thoughtful and quirky rather than saccharine. There is absolutely a dance element to their music, and they bring a ton of energy to the stage during a live show. I’m honestly not certain if the horn arrangements actually have a Latin influence, or if I only make that association because my hips do not stop moving while the horns are up. Front woman Kalmia Traver is somehow adorable and completely badass in the same breath. Her voice feels distant, but then she jumps off stage with her bass saxophone and solos with the front row fans. Their performance Saturday brought out favorites, “Silly Fathers,” “Came Out of a Lady,” “Triangular Daisies,” and “Breatherz,” as well as all of the tracks off their new EP except “The Flower Man.”
While the event was unfortunately undersold, the crowd took full advantage of the extra dancing space and the bands still brought their all. Neither bands are currently on tour, and I’m grateful to have caught this one-off party. Life, love, and music, indeed.