ALO, SCI, and Others Converge in San Francisco for a End o’
(With extra, clear-headed reporting and photos by Joanna
Last Sunday around 8:30 p.m., on the corner of Eighth and
Brannan streets on the fringes of San Francisco’s SOMA district,
two curiously distinct parties were forming.
On the northeast corner, shiny limos pulled up to drop off their
tuxedo-wearing inhabitants at the front door of a James Bond-themed
New Year’s Eve soiree. Bejeweled and sparkling and likely packing
fake heat, these revelers slid elegantly into some jewelrymart
complex for the 007 bash, clearly a hotspot for the city’s elite to
watch 2006 jump into 2007.
But across the street, outside the Concourse Exhibition Center,
an entirely different brand of celebrants was gathering. These were
the modern day hippies, compleye with long, dreadlocked hair, funky
colorful costumes, and the herbally tinged smoke of a 21st century
be-in. They stood in droves beneath a sign
that said “Sea
of Dreams,” advertising the party that was about to go down
Featuring the tunes of the Animal
Liberation Orchestra, Mark
Farina, Zap Mama, Bass Nectar, Tipper, and headliners the
Incident, the Sea of Dreams was the second annual West Coast
incarnation of the New Year’s Eve party hosted by Madison House, Anon Salon, and Peak Experience
Once inside, the sounds of ALO filled the air. They had started
promptly at around 8:15 p.m., and by 8:45 p.m., they were being
aided by SCI’s guitarist Bill Nershi.
(They’re all pictured together here, well, with ALO keyboardist
Zach Gill‘s body mostly cut
off.) Thousands were already in attendance
and moving along to ALO’s funktronic sounds, though paying
attention to just one thing in this Sea proved rather impossible.
Faces hung from the ceilings, colors swirled in every corner, and
minds were being bent by substances both legal and otherwise.
ALO’s set was strong, if all-too-short for their fans. But they finished with a new song off
their forthcoming album (for more on that, read this article), and the crowd ate it up.
Unlike many incidents where fans are slow to warm to a new tune by
their favorite band, the audience was immediately moved by this
tune. By 9:30 p.m., ALO was walking off the stage, making way for
the String Cheese Incident to play what will likely be their last
NYE affair for a long time.
So was it the last NYE for The String Cheese Incident? That’s the word on the street, ever
since Bill Nershi said he’s leaving the band after the summer of
2007. Just to make things mysterious, however, SCI began their set
with “Can’t Stop Now,” and they sounded as strong, committed, and
together as ever. As the first set rolled on, highlights included
“BAM!”, the popular tune from keyboardist extraordinaire Kyle
Hollingsworth (pictured above). The mandolin solos on the fully
instrumental “Rhum ‘n’ Zouc” by the ever creative Michael Kang
(pictured below) were exquisite.
Thousands of fans spun and danced like maniacs out in the
general admission area, but the backstage folks were also working
up quite a maniacal body buzz themselves. A walk around the center revealed
topless mermaids rolling in plastic balls (pictured), massive masks
floating along (pictured below), circus-like performances of the
utmost professional quality, and revelers with eyes popping out of
ttheir heads. Back near the SCI stage, the band was
finishing its first set with the crowd-pleasing, upbeat “Desert
Dawn.” SCI’s second set made everyone have a hootin’ good ole time.
The song “Rollover” marked the transition into 2007 (wonder what
those James Bond folks were doing across the street), although by
many a fans cell phone clock the time was closer to 12:30 a.m.
Nonetheless, the dropping balloons and
accompanying light show (pictured) fueled SCI’s bust into the new
The Star Trek theme kept weaving its way into the music
during the latter part of the evening, and then the wonderful old
favorite “Black Clouds” marked the end of the solid set. The
smiling and energized crowd let out hoots and yells, providing just
enough gratitude to provoke the SCI into returning for an encore.
It turned out to be a mini-set of it’s own, featuring “Joyful
Sound,” “Birdland,” “Wheel Hoss,” back into “Birdland” and then the
end with “Rollover.”
Though some decided to leave after that rousing encore, even
more stuck around for the sounds of The Pnuma Trio,
which reportedly played till 4:45 a.m. Now that’s a way to enter