San Francisco


September 19th 1999

Gin Populus ( was the caterer for The Church at this show
There's a website here and some conversations with The Church are available here.

Grant Paul
As far as I could tell, it was flawless. This is my first Church show, so I don't have others to compare it too, but I really enjoyed it. All in all, the boys looked like they were having fun.

When I listen to recorded Church music, I am struck most by the power of the lyrics. In concert, I was much more in awe of the guitar-playing power Marty and Peter exhibited. Marty's wilder stage persona was a lot of fun to watch. He seemed to enjoy his guitar not just as an instrument but also a showpiece. Peter, though more reserved on stage, still got in his occasional "rock 'n roll strut", which made his infrequent posing all the more exciting.

Steve (and Tim to a lesser extent) seemed to hold back a bit to provide a steady rhythm for the guitarists and their array of special effects. I swear Steve must have stage fright. He avoided eye contact with the audience, looking above us rather than at us, lost in his lyrics. I used to think of Steve as a musician who wrote poetry; now I consider him more a poet that uses music to get his words across. He was a polite host, a paradox (no pun intended) between the two raging guitarists.

The song selection was a good mix of faster and slower beats, and the show plus encores (2) lasted just over two hours. The San Francisco crowd was enthusiastic, and there were no fights this year. The set list was the consistent with the others that I have read about on this tour.

If they can keep this up, this should be a great tour for them!


Those poor opening bands. It must truely suck to have to open for the Church. Even if you're moderately good (for local band standards), you're guaranteed to look like a bunch of musically uncomplex dweebs that are taking up precious stage time after the first song by these guys. That said, the opening band in SF (100 Watt Smile) were probably okay, but the above comment certainly applied to them!

The Church themselves were amazing. The set was great, and all of them seemed to be having a lot of fun (dare I use that word???). Especially Peter and Marty. Marty did most of the roaming around (he visited Peter and Tim several times). Peter wandered over to Marty's side of the stage also, but you could really tell that he was enjoying himself by how he'd hand off his guitar to the stage hand, especially at the end of the show. He also seemed to be doing a majority of the backup singing. Steve was pretty quiet, but he did smile at least once. (I couldn't really see Tim at all to say how/what he was doing -- a combination of him being behind the drum set and me being nearsighted. All that I can say is that he has dark hair and rather strong-looking arms!)

The crowd seemed pretty excited -- I'm not sure how full it was (being somewhat short, things always seem crowded to me). It was crowded enough that I only met one other Seancer (Hi Grant!!!). I have to say, it's great to see your favorite band with someone else who really likes them too! I hope that everyone else who was there enjoyed the concert...

I gotta say, The Church blow the doors off of any other band that I've ever seen in concert!!!

later! Bridget


Well, once again they blew me away. The same can be said about everyone else at show. The opening band was 100 Watt Smile, a SF-based band with their first(?) album coming out on Thirsty Ear Records (sound familiar?). They had a good sound and the music was complex enough to matter. The lead singer looked like the girl we all knew back in high school who was just naturally cool. She played the feedback-laden violin for most of the set and her movements were very engaging and nice to look at. She did have a bright smile.

Then came the main event. The lights went down and the House-Remix version of UTMW came on. Personally, it just showed me that the music today can take every beautiful song and just pump some bass-heavy beats and synthesizers into it to make it accessible to most. Of course, Box of Birds shows the flipside of remakes. So in all, I found it very ironic that the show started out the way it did.

I won't bother with the set list. Check out the review for the Santa Barbara show for the list. They pretty much stuck to the same songs, with the exception of Comedown, Louisiana, Friction, and Reptile. They added Tantalized, much to everyone's delight (any other songs I'm forgetting?). It was by far the best version I'd heard, partly because the band was ON. I suspect that the sound problems they had in the past few shows did not show up in SF at all. Marty was having the time of his life. At the beginning of both encores, he came out with a cigarette. We're talking an orgasmic experience, folks. I can't remember what other songs they added. The last encore was Silver Machine. The show ended by Marty handing his fuzzing-still-buzzing-screaming-still-steaming guitar to the audience.

The high points of the show, for me, were Anaesthesia and Endless Sea, which is by far the best song on Birds. Tim was flawless and I hope all the Ploog die-hards can truly appreciate him now. He has surpassed all my expectations and continues to rocksteady. The new song was a bit formulaic (C-G progression, strum down), but was still quite Churchy and I hope the studio mix gives it more angles and depth. Peter was very much lost in the music and looked like he was very much into it. During Tantalized, he actually showed some emotion by making a rockstar gesture with his guitar toward Marty. On Day of the Dead, Marty started manipulating his amp dials (for a long time) and really looked like a mad musician experimenting with noise (by golly I've found it).

The goatee-less Steve was as solid as ever and still had some quips to throw into the lyrics ("talking with dumb animals" in Tranquility). They finally had some merchandise. The t-shirts had the blue-gray metallic egg carton with a dozen eggs. Perfection all around. I'm still proud to be a die-hard fan and they just won't let me quit. I recommend you catch them if you haven't yet.

PS: By the way, I think instead of putting out another re-mastered "best-of" album, the record company should put out an album of the "first-of" which would compile the first song on every Church album. All the melodic tension, build-up, and understated beauty of every album is more or less captured in the first songs, and it's an original idea. I mean can you just hear Destination, Myrrh, Anasthesia, Day of the Dead, Welcome, Pharaoh, Texas Moon, and Fly (to name a few) back to back? Something to think about, record company man; now go do some market analysis.

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