Charles Russo

The bulging eyes of rock-stardom absurdity: An evening with Tenacious D

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About 15 minutes into taking a seat at center stage of the Castro Theatre last night before an enthusiastic and fairly inebriated crowd, Jack Black turned to the audience and sheepishly confessed, “I’m getting sleepy.” To which, his cohort Kyle Gass added, “Is any of this even interesting?’

It was an honest, and funny, way to acknowledge a slow-out-of-the-gate interview moment for Tenacious D — comedic duo Black and Gass as the greatest acoustic heavy metal band in the world — who would probably have felt more in their element battling Satan in an epic guitar showdown than awkwardly sitting in tall chairs answering questions with a moderator.

And after all, expectations in the room were considerable. For the high-profile opening night of SF SketchFest on Jan. 23, the devoted audience in attendance had waited outside nearly two hours — in a quarter mile line that rambled throughout the neighbor — in an effort to see the duo take the Castro stage to be honored for their hyper brand of rock-stardom absurdity and Spinal Tap genius. But after a big-screen montage of the duo’s funniest clips got the event rolling, the D sitting down to chat with moderator and fellow comedian Paul F. Tompkins took a moment to get momentum.

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Live Shots: The Dodos at Great American Music Hall

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All photos by Charles Russo

Fans of the Dodos flocked to the Great American Music Hall on Wednesday night, to catch the band’s final performance of its latest tour. It was a glorious homecoming played out before an adoring Bay Area crowd as Meric Long and company turned out a dynamic set that seamlessly alternated between quietly beautiful and downright fierce. Read more »

The Rolling Stones rock hard, bring surprise guests, almost make up for outrageous ticket prices

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It’s one of those things about attending a concert – any concert – at HP Pavilion in San Jose: no matter how you approach the venue, you’re likely to run into those hardline Jesus freaks waving signs and condemning you to hell for whatever music you’re about to enjoy. So, like clockwork, last night as I walked towards the ticket office outside the arena, one of them turned his bullhorn on the bunch of us crossing the intersection and, in full brimstone righteousness, shouted - “what are you gonna tell the lord after you die?” To which, a lone voice from the crowd responded – “I’m gonna tell him I saw the Rolling Stones.” Read more »

Live Shots: Soundgarden at the Fox Theater

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It took Soundgarden a full 10 songs before it began to flex its muscles at the Fox Theater on Tuesday night, before the band dialed in and proved what out-and-out Badmotorfingers the four musicians can be. I doubt that the enamored (and now half-deaf) crowd leaving the Fox would have agreed with me on this point about the band’s early setlist sluggishness. Soundgarden delivered in a big way, and you would have been hard-tasked to find an audience member complaining after the dynamic, eardrum-crippling, 27- song performance.

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Live Shots: Santigold at the Fox Theater

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Santigold was barely a full song into her sold-out performance at the Fox Theater Wednesday night when she began to stoke the lovefest with her Bay Area fans. "You know you're my favorite place to perform...you guys have so much energy!" In a different room to a different crowd it may have come off as a cheaply-pedaled stage sentiment, but the show that ensued lived up to her assessment: the crowd never stopped dancing and Santigold never stopped smiling. Read more »

Live Shots: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at Davies Symphony Hall

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Sharon Jones took to the stage at Davies Symphony Hall on Saturday night with all the energy of fourth-grade recess on a sunny afternoon. Not that she seems to ever take the stage in any other way, but it was the right approach for a big show in a big room.

After all, her sold-out concert with the Dap-Kings at the Symphony was a prestigious booking that spoke to her ever-increasing popularity over the past few years, a reputation that has been steadily earned through the infectious soulfulness and old-school cool of her dynamic live performances. Read more »

Orange and black forever: The city greets its champions in a Halloween World Series parade

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Photographer Charles Russo walked 12 miles to snap these shots of our San Francisco Giants celebrating their World Series victory yesterday -- on Halloween no less! Could it have been the most orange and black day ever, anywhere? The boys all looked good, but major props to pitcher Sergio Romo for his style sense.  Read more »

Giants sweep the World Series, city goes buck

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Praise Scutaro, the Giants swept the World Series last night. And San Franciscans, loose after a brilliant sunny day in the city, with ample practice from the Giants' victory two years ago, and half dressed in their Halloween costumes, acted accordingly. Photographer Charles Russo was on hand to capture everything from the cheers in Civic Center Plaza to the fires that were lit on Mission Street late last night. Read more »

Live Shots: Peter Gabriel at HP Pavilion

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Peter Gabriel strolled onto the stage at HP Pavilion on Tuesday with the house lights still glaring and the upper tier of the arena empty save for a scant few concertgoers sprinkled throughout the vast space.

Standing at the center stage microphone, Gabriel matter-of-factly began to explain to the audience how the concert would be structured for the rest of the evening. For an ever artistically-minded musician known for the theatrical nature of his live performances, it was a strangely stilted beginning to the start of his concert, exuding all the excitement of a CPR certification course. Read more »

Live Shots: Blondie and Devo at the Warfield

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I was flipping around on my car’s FM dial last week and had the bleeding-from-the-ears misfortune of coming upon Taylor Swift’s staggeringly awful new single. I thought for a moment that I landed on some kind of Disney or Nickelodeon channel, where corporate-oriented bands score those awkward tween TV shows. In reality though, Swift is currently selling the shit out of the thing on iTunes…and leaving me to question my faith in humanity’s hearing.
 
So I was all the more enthusiastic as I headed to the Warfield on Monday night for the Devo and Blondie double bill. Clearly, I was in need of some kind of authentic audio to counter balance the heavy dose of vapid pop I had stumbled into on the airwaves. And even as their 1979 heyday grows ever more distant, Blondie and Devo delivered in a big way on Monday. Read more »