French Cassettes, The Band JR, and 45 Revolutions at Pulse Music SF

To simply say, “I had a really great time,” doesn’t quite cut it. It was more than that. The air was electric, the music was ridiculously on point, and the vibe gave the sense of nostalgia for a place I wished I’d been. The kind of atmosphere that Pulse Music SF creates makes you want to give a stranger a hug, a high accomplishment that goes beyond a simple 3 band bill.
French Cassettes frontman Scott Huerta, photo by Sam James Levine / Derek Knowles

As I delve deeper into the local music scene, I am realizing more and more that the spirit of San Francisco is alive and well. The bustling house party put on by Pulse Music further strengthened my notion that tech boom hasn’t crushed the artistic movement; if anything, it has forced similar-minded folks to get their shit together and hold their ground. It’s as though the common thread is begging for the next level of collaboration. We can have all the technology in the world at our fingertips and put out music that lies hidden behind a computer screen, or provides a convenient wall against strangers on public transit; but there is something in the air that says we are longing for that deep down human contact that reaches to the core, providing a level of visceral & meaningful engagement, dare I say now more than ever. Good art of any kind, and especially live performance, has the ability to bring out the most shared experience per square inch of any activity I’ve encountered. Add into the mix appropriate curation and the recipe for success begins to write itself.

That’s not to say that the folks at Pulse haven’t put in their work, it is obvious they have a clear vision for the environment they would like to create and are well on their way to trying out their ideas on a larger scale. Their next event is an ambitious step from the underground to the front lines of the SF scene, with a show TONIGHT at the famed Great American Music Hall.

At its heart, the idea is simple, “We wanted to throw an event with the same feeling and eagerness as we did when we were kids,” says Associate Producer Ella Cooley, her palpable excitement emanating from her like a glow-worm. Her enthusiasm is equally matched by the crowded living room/makeshift venue on the other side of the wall. The intimate feel, the secret location (you get the address only after you buy a ticket), the giddy feeling of excitement that comes from not knowing what to expect. “I remember one Summer I put on a play with my friends in our backyard, we set up rocks and Christmas lights to make a stage and invited all the neighbors, and to this day, I think that was the best play I’ve ever been in,” says the theatre major.

One of the largest ‘proof is in the pudding’ moments for me was at the end of the night when a number of folks stuck around to help clean and reset the space back to its living quarters. And even that was quick work. “(There were) barely any bottles left out, for this amount of people, that says something,” says the gracious host, Jordan Feinstein of Jordan and the Ritual (who are headlining TONIGHT‘s event). A polite house party? “In the 10+ years I’ve been hosting, we have had nothing stolen, nothing broken, and one fight… which I started,” he laughs underneath his signature top-hat. Not too shabby considering the 200 shows Feinstein estimates. “We’re very lucky. It’s a respectful crowd.”

Three acts played, I moseyed in during the opening set of 45 Revolutions, a soulful acoustic duo from San Diego, and watched the place fill up during the visiting act, JR.’s set.

JR. the band Photo Sam James Levine / Derek Knowles

JR. is an LA-based indie-pop band with roots in the Bay Area. “I grew up here,” says the mustachioed band member, Chris Beachy. Their brand of shimmer, which comes across as equal parts Spoon and Fleet Foxes, with more subtle notes of Talking Heads & a hint of Postal Service, boasts thousands of listens in the short span of time since the songs have landed on SoundCloud. I will do you a favor and link you up HERE, they are notoriously difficult to find on the internet. Give their Facebook page a like HERE.

French Cassettes Photo by Sam James Levine / Derek Knowles

The headlining French Cassettes absolutely owned the evening. The stage, the crowd, the house, it was as though everything bent to their fancy. Their music is properly infectious, their vibe, a sort of “shrug it off” cool that only works when you are actually that laid back. And if you have ever seen their show live, you know their music can back up the underplayed swagger the band has going for them in spades. These are the kind of guys that are so hip it would almost piss you off if they weren’t so fucking nice and if their music wasn’t the type of tune that stuck in your head for days on end in a sort of happy-go-lucky merry-go-round of awesome. Their pop sensibilities are evident, and their street cred is enormous. They played to a (literally) packed house full of dedicated followers who spent as much energy smiling and celebrating as they did singing along. (Like, with every. single. song.)

Pulse Music SF is one of the organizations that, true to its name, strives to capture a heartbeat of the community. Catch their next big step at the GAMH TONIGHT, January 10 and keep an eye out for more as Pulse takes big strides in the right direction.

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