Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
THE CLEAN, LIVE SAN FRANCISCO 6/19/03....Last week I plunked down for the best ticket in town, a free set by New Zealand pop legends THE CLEAN at my local record emporium Amoeba Music. If word hasn't yet reached you about Amoeba, it's worth booking an open-return ticket to San Francisco for -- a former bowling alley converted into several miles worth of new & used CDs, records, DVDs and the like. The year-old LA store even one-upped the two SF Bay Area locations by adding an upstairs and packing in an even more ludicrous amount of music. Needless to stay it's a frequent haunt, but the icing is the odd quality free show they'll bring in from time to time. Thus, The Clean, who were playing three nights out here supporting Yo La Tengo. I saw them a couple years ago & it was pretty revelatory -- the old stuff sounded like it had just been written, and they played just about all my faves save "Billy Two". As I propped myself on a stack of Orchestre Baobob CDs for a better view, I marveled at how this time the real eye-opener was how fantastic the new stuff sounded; I mean, I'm jaded enough; wouldn't these fellas be sitting back on their founders-of-kiwi-pop laurels and milking it a bit at age 40-something? Not a chance. The new, post-"Getaway" material chimed and floated with all the whimsy you'd hope for & was underpinned by David Kilgour's shrieking wall-of-surf guitar. Only a 35 minute set or so, but I reckon that comes with the territory for a free in-store. Some great hero-worshipping was spotted in the stacks as well; as the brothers Kilgour loaded up their arms with merchandise pre-show, they were accosted by a small army of Kiwi-heads and pop fiends. Nice to see, as they likely couldn't get arrested in the US 10-15 years ago & are beginning to receive their just rewards now.