Our final chickfactor 30 party in London was an afternoon Hangover Lounge affair at the Betsey Trotwood and had kind of a chill vibe that was welcome after two nights at the packed Lexington! Marlody is a new signing on Rob and Amelia’s Skep Wax label and her moody, intimate songs were quiet and poignant at a time when finally coming together after so long was so needed. Her music was a reminder that we all need to share our stories. The Catenary Wires are of course pop legends: Amelia Fletcher, Rob Pursey, Ian Button and Andy Lewis. They played stellar songs from their latest, Birling Gap, which you should snap up if you haven’t got it, and even thrilled the audience with a Heavenly song, “Cool Guitar Boy,” in advance of their couple of Bush Hall shows next spring, which was so so fun.
London is a place I was lucky to call home for half a decade and I miss it like crazy. chickfactor’s cofounder Pam Berry has lived there since the late ’90s and I love being able to go back and see people at these events in these places that miraculously are still open. I wish we could do it every year! Thanks again to the musicians, bands, venues, Paul Kelly for backline wrangling, the sound people, Hangover Lounge, Tae Won Yu, the folks who put me and others up, the documenters, readers, fans, friends, strangers, and pop lovers who make up this incredible community.
CHICKFACTOR 30 chickfactor fanzine was founded 30 years ago by Pam Berry & Gail O’Hara (in DC/NY) and we are incredibly excited to celebrate with you on October 28 & 29 at the Lexington and October 30 (afternoon) at the Betsey Trotwood. Cannot wait to see everyone and see these wonderful bands play! (Our 30th-anniversary issue is out now too and 5/6 of these bands are in it.) Presented in cahoots with the Hangover Lounge folks.
Fri. October 28: Sacred Paws Artsick Rachel Love Get tickets
Sat. October 29: The Umbrellas Birdie Seablite Get tickets
Sun. October 30: Daytime event (Noon to 4!) Hangover Lounge at the Betsey Trotwood The Catenary Wires & Special Guests Get tickets
Fri. Oct. 29: Doors 7pm, show 7:30
Sacred Paws(from Glasgow!) have a natural inclination not to take things too seriously. You can hear it all the way through a conversation with its two members, guitarist Rachel Aggs and drummer Eilidh Rodgers, punctuated by rolls of giggles and thoughtful pauses, and you can hear it in the light touch they bring to their music, a jangly blend of indie pop full of fizzing world rhythms and bright horns. Shimmering guitar riffs dance between snappy beats and swooning melodies that will have crowds committing to far more than a simple head-bob. “I think we’d get bored if it was too slow,” Eilidh says. “We’d never want to play something live that people couldn’t dance to. It would feel really strange to us. It’s kind of the whole point.” Joining them at this show will be Jack Mellin on guitar and Moema Meade on bass!
Artsick London debut! Artsick is an indiepop band from Oakland/Seaside, California, consisting of Christina Riley (Burnt Palms/Boyracer) on guitar and vocals, Mario Hernandez (Kids On A Crime Spree, Ciao Bella) on drums and Donna McKean (Lunchbox/Hard Left) on bass. They formed in 2018 and released a 7-inch single, followed by their debut album Fingers Crossed, on Slumberland Records.
Rachel Love Rachel was guitarist and singer in the seminal 70/80s band Dolly Mixture who were signed to Paul Weller’s Respond label and championed by The Undertones & John Peel. She was the singer in the band Spelt and has released her first solo album, Picture in Mind, in 2021. Also half of the Light Music Company.
Sat. Oct. 29: Doors 7 p.m., show 7:30
The Umbrellas London debut! “The Umbrellas are one of the most exciting bands to come from the indiepop underground in ages. Bursting out of the SF Bay Area’s fertile indie scene, The Umbrellas come correct with a sound that fits snugly into a long line of classic pop, from The Byrds to Orange Juice, The Pastels, Comet Gain, Veronica Falls and Belle & Sebastian, along with a noticeable garage-pop/Paisley Underground flavor that is a hallmark of San Francisco’s best bands. Their self-titled 2021 debut album dazzled with a dozen perfect pop tunes, charming the indiepop faithful but also winning fans outside the scene, leading to sold-out tours with bands as disparate as Ceremony and Destroy Boys.” (—Mike Schulman) New Releases – ‘Write it in the Sky’ 7″ released via Slumberland, Meritorio, Tear Jerk, and Fastcut records.
Birdie Debsey Wykes (Dolly Mixture, Saint Etienne) and Paul Kelly (East Village, Saint Etienne) decided to form a group together while they were members of SAINT ETIENNE’s backing band in 1994. For two years, Debsey (backing singer) and Paul (guitar) toured Europe, Japan, America and played most of the major European festivals until SAINT ETIENNE took a break and BIRDIE was born. For this show, it will be: Debsey (bass and vocal); Paul (guitar and vocal); Jon (drums); Patrick (guitar or piano) and possibly Sean (piano)!
Seablite London debut! Seablite is a four-piece pop band from San Francisco inspired by 80s/90s indie and shoegaze. In June 2019, Seablite’s LP debut, Grass Stains and Novocaine was released by Emotional Response, garnering domestic and international praise. They’ve since released a 10″ EP, High-Rise Mannequins (2020) and most recently their new single, Breadcrumbs c/w Ink Bleeds (2022). Seablite are back in the studio recording their sophomore LP and looking forward to what the upcoming year will bring.
Sun. October 30: CF30/Hangover Lounge at the Betsey Trotwood
Formed by Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey (of Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research and so many more!), Catenary Wires also feature Fay Hallam, Andy Lewis and Ian Button. Today will be Amelia and Rob as a duo. Their Birling Gap LP released June 2021 on Skep Wax and Shelflife (USA). Super early show! Noon to 4pm event. The show is technically sold out but we hope to be able to release more tickets.
The new issues are here! Jen Sbragia and I have been working diligently to bring you a new issue to read during these very challenging times. Edited by me (Gail O’Hara) and designed by Jen Sbragia, the issue is 72 pages long and has two covers (red and yellow):
1) La Corneta As 3/4th of the members of The Umbrellas are vegetarians, our criteria stems from the quality of: the beans, rice, salsa & tortilla (chip quality is also taken into account). The rice in a La Corneta burrito is what really elevates this place to the top; two ingredients unseen in any other SF Taqueria: peas & carrots. The Glen Park location is walking distance from where Morgan lives, and we’ve had so many fond memories eating there before and after gigs.
2) El Burrito Express Both the Divisadero location and the Taraval location are great (and anyone who thinks the quality differs from one location to another has their head up their ass). They by far have the largest selection of veggie burritos, and an option to add french fries to any of them. All members of The Umbrellas have lived within walking distance to the Taraval location and would eat here on a regular basis. Matt and Nick in particular ate here every Thursday from 2016-2018.
3) El Buen Sabor Located on 18th and Valencia, this is the spot of choice for employees of the Chapel (where Keith works). Partially due to convenience, partially due to quality… but overall, just a consistent option. They have a great “Veg. California Burrito” chock full of vegetables.
4) El Pancho Villa Hands down one of the finest salsa bars the city has to offer (the chipotle salsa being a favorite of ours). The employees are always super accommodating (and have the spiffiest uniforms of any taqueria). When you’re on the main strip of Mission and 16th, this would be our pick.
5) Mi Familia Once known as Zona Rosa, this Haight Street staple has maintained their quality even after a branding change. This is the closest burrito spot to where Morgan and Nick work and has been a great option when hungover on the clock. Some of the absolute sweetest folks own this establishment and are nothing but kind. The real kicker is their salsas (which they used to have squeeze bottles of on their tables pre-covid).
6) Taqueria Los Mayas This Richmond taqueria is the go-to spot of your favorite fog rockers (members of The Telephone Numbers, April Magazine & The Reds, Pinks & Purples all live a few blocks away). Their focus is on Mayan fare, so they have quite unique options you can’t find elsewhere. They have a wonderful plantain burrito and excellent tortas that are both highly recommended. Their mango salsa is also some of the best in the city. Make sure to get the burrito “Dorado Style” when you stop in… You won’t regret it.
7) Taqueria Cancun How many times have we played or gone to a show at the Knockout and stopped at El Cancun as well? Too many times to count… You can never go wrong with this beloved taqueria. Their bright yellow sign and interior attracts burrito-lovers like bees to a flower. While their chips and salsa are subpar, they are free. You can never go wrong getting a little something in your stomach before a night of drinking Hamm’s next door at the KO.
8) Los Coyotes This is another taqueria on that main strip of 16th Street between Mission and Valencia. Sometimes this taqueria feels more in the vein of fast food, as they have french fries that closely resemble that of McDonald’s fries. They have an incredible Veggie-California burrito, which incorporates these McDonald’s-esque fries. They have a stunning selection of salsa and El Yucateco hot sauce bottles on every table! There are lots of extra accoutrements like: grilled poblano chiles and onions, pickled carrots, and extra spicy peppers. This is probably the most fun you’ll have at a taqueria, given the amount of space their restaurant has and all of their options.
9) El Farolito Often cited as the best and most popular taqueria in San Francisco, there is a reason there are five locations throughout SF and South SF… The burritos are GOOD. El Farolito embodies what every taqueria should aspire to be: filling, cheapish & consistent burritos. They are the least stingy when it comes to stuffing a burrito to the brim (this is especially appreciated with the amount of avocado they manage to pack in). Most of their locations are open until the wee hours of the morning and is a must before catching the OWL bus home. Many folks have their opinion of El Farolito, but we felt we couldn’t have a list of “Best San Francisco Taquerias” without at least mentioning El Farolito.
10) Taqueria Zorro (Voted Worst) For fun, we included our most despised burrito of San Francisco… Zorro’s burritos should not be consumed under ANY circumstances. Even if we were stuck on a desert island and it was the only viable option for sustenance, we STILL would not go anywhere near one! Located in the heart of North Beach, right next door to The Hungry I gentlemen’s club, we don’t know why we were expecting a decent burrito from a neighborhood that’s known for its exceptional Italian fare. The burrito was dry, the atmosphere was strange, and we were lamenting on the fact that Golden Boy Pizza was right up the road. Next time you’re in North Beach, please don’t be adventurous… Just go get pizza and eat it at Vesuvio like a normal person.