I stopped in at the new Yoshi's for the 8pm Charlie Hunter show on Friday.
Hunter and his trio were amazing! They took the stage a tad late, but they really hit the stage running, no tuning, no hi-how-are-ya's, I think Hunter's fingers were moving before his ass hit the chair...they found the groove instantly and it was on!
Scott Amendola is a great drummer, lots of fun to watch him and Charlie play with each other, they worked so well together, clearly cut from the same cloth. and the organ/keys guy Erik was fun, making all sorts of strange noises and adding a lot of weirdness to the sound...
After ~20 minutes of the trio, the Campbell brothers joined the band, one of them on pedal steel, on of them on lap steel. And they were great!
I couldn't being to give a setlist but there was definitely some talking heads 'take me to the river' funk happening and even a little 'blue suede shoes' bit near the end of the show.
The sound of the new venue was perfect. Thankfully! That's the one thing that couldn't be changed had they gotten it wrong. Unfortunately that's the only good thing I have to say about the venue. The rest of it needs work. A lot of work. Like train the fucking staff. How hard is it for the hostess to know which side of the room a table is on. I knew where my table was, left center, it was even printed ON THE TICKET. It's not hard to find, yet the idiot trying to seat me couldn't figure it out. Even when I told him and tried to show him where it was printed on the ticket, no instead he had me follow him zig-zag through the entire right side of the room just to prove I was right all along. Of course when we got to the table, turns out someone had been mis-seated and they didn't want to move, too bad for them.
Once the seating issues were figured out I thought it had to get better but it turns out the waitstaff was even less knowledgeable about the seating of the new venue. Our waitress was overwhelmed with the volume of people she had to serve but it certainly didn't help that she was not familiar with the venue either, we got the wrong food and it seems our drinks were served to someone else.
It's a miracle anyone got to hear any of the music with all the waitstaff issues, seems everyone had to spend more time the usual sorting out issues with the servers.
And, as if all that wasn't bad enough, the place was full of classless rednecks. Normally, I like classless rednecks, it's hard to have a hoe-down if without them, hooting and hollering and foot-stomping is what makes a hoe-down fun. and it's what ruins a lovely evening of quiet seated jazz. I could not believe the ignorant people throughout the room yelling at the top of their lungs 'do it charlie' or the vague 'aaaaarrrrrroooooooo' There are times for applause and there are times when the music breaks and you can appropriately add your own noise, the goons out on friday night had no clue about timing. They sucked. A lot. Like every two and a half minutes.
Charlie Hunter is wonderful, I'll go back to see him again, no doubt. Hopefully it'll be when the yoshi's staff has a clue and the talk of the new venue will have died down so the yahoo's stay home.
One final complaint, the prices for the new venue seem to run $6-10 higher for every show in SF, I had hopes for the $12 wednesday 10 pm show, great way to check out some new music for cheap, doesn't seem to be happening...hopefully the prices will come down a bit as the dust settles or I don't see myself making Yoshi's a habit.
The new Yoshi's sells tickets that actually has a seat assigned to them? Yoshi's in Oakland is general admission. When table service is as bad as you describe it ~ it usually signals a deathknell for a club. I heard the same complaints from a friend that attended the grand opening but it seems that they have yet to straighten it out. You didn't say if the show was sold to capacity. And Charlie drawing a redneck crowd sounds hilarious. I enjoy Yoshi's in Jack London Square and plan on visiting the new SF venue sometime in the coming weeks. But besides from folks raving about the music and sound~ I have not heard one good thing about the SF club itself and that's troubling.
You have to figure the wrinkles, especially with the staff, will smooth after some time, it's still such a new place.
I'm not surprised that tix are more expensive in SF but I don't think it's a reach to expect them to come down as time passes, at least for the late shows, especially if those late shows don't sell out. $12 shows may be hoping for too much though.
Nice review of the show. I've never been able to figure out why people need to yell out all the time, I guess they just need to feel connected (or they're just not used to drinking saki!)
My personal opinion of Hunter is that he's a brilliant player but I get tired of the simultaneous bass/guitar thing. I've always felt that no matter how good he is at it and how cool it is that he's doing it, he can't be 100% committed to either when he's doing both. It has always seemed like "hey look how amazing I am" schtick to me. Every time I've seen him I end up thinking, "Hire a bass player and play the fucking guitar!!!"
Still, he is a great player, and his "schtick" has worked pretty well for him.
Thanks for chiming in. It will be interesting to read another SF Yoshi's review from you later on, to see if you've noticed improvements.
Yup, seats are assigned, the prices are tiered so you pick a section based on price and then seats are assigned.
Both shows were sold out, so they were anxious to kick us out and flip the room for the 10 pm show, music stopped promptly at 9:20. Another disappointment, we got ~1:05 of music. I think they could have done a one song encore, as most of the audience was still in the room (finishing food and drink due to slow table service.) at 9:35.
There was a program with a great little blurb on Hunter, I grabbed it because it grabbed me and I wanted to share it, of course that means I left it in my pocket and don't have it today. A nice little piece of writing, talked about his bass/guitar style...I like it, it amazes me that he can do it, I've never thought of it as schtick, guess in a way it is though.
Hopefully the staffing issues will be resolved but c'mon...the place has been open for two weeks, if the hosts, who in theory have seated two shows a day can't figure out the table numbers, it's time to hire some people with better memories.
I'm really bummed to say I'm completely unimpressed with the new club.
They play short sets at the Yoshi's in Oakland too which is my only complaint but by now I am much used to. Occationally, if the late show hasn't sold well, they invite you to stay but if you have a great GA seat you'll have to give it up. To be honest there isn't a bad seat in the room. Thanks for the heads up.
I was surprised and really happy when I saw they were doing reserved seating; I'm a big guy and I hate being squeezed into the tiny chairs & tables that most clubs use, at the whim of the host. I like to choose my seat and know going in where I'll be.
One thing for sure, if you go to an early show you will always be "on the clock", that is just the way jazz clubs work. Another reason to hit the late shows; the group doesn't feel pressured to get off the stage and you usually get an extra couple of songs, plus the musicians have had a chance to warm up.
The main advantage to the early shows is they get out at a reasonable hour (I'm getting old!) and if you're lucky enough that the late show sold really poorly you get invited to stay, which is the home run of jazz clubs. Unfortunately that rarely happens, but it's GREAT when it does!
I also heard that the staffing and overall operations were shaky at best so far, which is a bit surprising because I have always found the staff at the Oakland club to be very cool and together.
It's not that hard to manage a club that size, especially with reserved seating, they just need someone running it that knows what they're doing.
You should MOST DEFINITELY write to the venue with your opinions; they need to know what people are thinking, and it's local show addicts like yourself that they need to keep that place going. The tourists will sell the weekends, but it's the locals that will sell the mid-week & late shows. I think they will be very interested to hear what you have to say.
First thing I did before I wrote my review was email yoshi's owner and the general manager...they put everyone's email on the website, kinda surprised me.
The 1:05 set time is too short. I was at the club and in my seat at 8 pm, I understand that it's a short set and pressed for time, which is why I showed up early enough to be seated at 8. They need to get their shit together and start these shows promptly at 8, the early show should be 1:20. It's not long, but it's still longer than what I saw.
If an hour show is going to become the norm, along with the higer than oakland prices and the clusterfuck seating, it's unlikely I'll go back.
<<< if you're lucky enough that the late show sold really poorly you get invited to stay
that was a common occurance at the original Yoshi's in Rockridge--got to see two sets at nearly every show I went to there, surprisingly even at the big draws like Pharoah Sanders, Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, etc...loved that room, good times...
Thanks for the review, Emily.
Sounds like you got caught with a wild, full house and a staff that isn't quite up to the task yet. I'll be there this Saturday for Mike Stern, who I've seen a couple of times at the Oakland club (where the staff can be a bit slow, but they definitely have their basic shit together). I almost always do the late show, as I figure I'll be getting more music (in fact, the last Stern show I saw in Oakland, they played a solid 2 hrs. or just over).
Sorry the experience was lacking, but I think it can be excusable if it was actually within the first week or two of opening up. Still, not fun to be caught in the middle of it. And, yes, the set should DEFINITELY be longer than 1:05 -- that would piss me off the most!
I'd say always opt for the late show at Yoshi's - even if the club has some type of self-imposed curfew, the band would probably be able to play until midnight, at least. No rush to get anyone out of their seats for the next set.
>>If an hour show is going to become the norm, along with the higer than oakland prices and the clusterfuck seating, it's unlikely I'll go back.
I went to the early show on Sunday night and I got an hour and 20 minutes (on at 8:10, off at 9:30). Late show was sold out so no go on the freebies.
The place is uberswanky. The main room is not as intimate feeling as the oakland yoshi's because of the high ceilings but the sound is great and I love that you can reserve seats.
I recommend central seating as the side tables on the floor closer to the stage had shitty sightlines (i'd rather be in the mezzanine than front row all the way on the side- much better view and sound).
Show was excellent. We were front and center and had a great time. Sound is probably better from the back of the room (piano a little low in the mix with the main speakers overhead) but all in all a great sounding room.
The good news that I've left out so far is, the early show left more than enough time to hit the Greyboy show at the Fillmore! Greyboy didn't take the stage until 10:15, so we actually had some time to kill at the Fillmore.
Then again, I would have made show at the Fillmore if I had stayed home with my stereo and a six pack too...
The statements about late shows being longer really don't apply to the late shows that I've seen at Yoshi's in Oakland. The late shows usually run right about 60-70 minutes too ~ same with the Sunday matinees.
That said, the ticket prices are cheaper and the venue very intimate. No complaints.
I'm looking forward to checking out the new digs. Stopped by Friday before the Greyboy show for tickets to Pharoah Sanders on the Sunday nite of the run. I expect to see late show also.
The bar was nice!