They’ve been hosting music at Viracocha, a boutique in San Francisco’s Mission District, for some time now. I finally made it to a show, and although it sounds weird to be holding music shows in an antiques shop, it turns out to be a delightful little venue.
Viracocha sells clothes, antiques, and also modern sundries: soaps; poetry and fiction books; even CDs. The wooden decor gives the place the feel of a cabin in the woods, an outpost you’ve stumbled upon.
The music is hosted in a separate area entirely, down a flight of stairs in a basement theater area that’s quite nice, outfitted with tables and chairs, some living-room decor, and a stage that’s roomier than you’d expect.
Viracocha has been hosting a variety of music, but of course I stopped by on a jazz night.
The Nathan Clevenger Group played mostly new material, composed in the last few months. Some of it is pretty complex, with lots of intricately interlocking parts and some interesting time-signature play. Yeah, they got lost early on one piece, but they got through it. Little stumbles can be worth it if you’re bringing out music that needs concentration and rehearsal. Clevenger hasn’t abandoned his jazz traditions, though, as some of the songs were cool and swingy, including (if I’m remembering right) a pretty one called “Syracuse Blue.”
(I wrote about Clevenger’s band and album about a year ago.)
They were followed by Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch. The two bands have made it an annual tradition to do a show together around the holidays; they were just a little late this time around.
Mezzacappa said Bait & Switch had a studio date planned for their next album. We were to be the last audience to hear the material before it got nailed down in recorded form, she told us.
I don’t recall the titles, but the new songs sounded great. One was about the red ants marching up from Central America to destroy us all, and it was appropriately march-like and a little bit cartoony. Another song played some fluid games with tempo. Vijay Anderson laid down a clackety racket on drums while the other three members played simple patterns. Anderson then sped up and slowed down the pace, with the band following his cues to create a rubbery sound.
I’m hoping Viracocha can keep going as a music venue. It’s a good addition to the Mission District scene, it’s got a wide-open booking attitude, and it’s just plain nice. Booking is handled by Laura, who runs the cool Fenderhart blog and also blogs about upcoming live-music shows under the handle LiveNLocal. You can find out more by joining the Viracocha mailing list (there’s a link on the Viracocha site) or by following LiveNLocal on Twitter (@LnLSF) or Facebook.