Friday January 4, 2008
First order of business, this was my second trip to the 'new' Yoshi's...I panned it after the first trip. Sad to say, this trip was only worse but I'll leave those grumblings until the end.
As for the music, I was sadly disappointed in the show. This was my second time seeing Pharoah. I'm not much for jazz but his first show was so great, completely dismissed all the pre-conceived notions I had about an old man on stage.
Unfortunately, this time around, I was expecting the Pharoah I had seen a couple years back but what I got was the pre-conceived notion old man. An hour and ten minute show with the headliner leaving the stage for at least 40 minutes. He'd come out and play for five, then leave for five...it was a bit of a bummer. His band wasn't bad but they weren't what I went to see.
The band was fast, hard-driving and non-stop. Unfortunately the commotion of the evening, specifically, the staff of Yoshi's left my distracted and unhappy with the evening.
My initial complaints about the venue were related to the seating procedure so knowing that it could be slow, effort was made to show up early. I enjoyed a drink at the upstairs bar, had some appetizers, it was lovely. Got seated easily and early, just off center in the balcony, great view, I really liked it upstairs.
...and then the problems start. They stamp your hand with a stamp visible only under ultraviolet light...presents a problem when washing hands in the bathroom. This was before the performance even started but they let Dennis back in. Turns out this was strike one against us.
Again before the performance an usher comes by and and says 'photography and recording in accord with the artist's policy only' So the natural question was 'what is the artist's policy?' The usher didn't know--good thing Pharoah was playing two shows a day for five or six nights. The usher was able to tell me that an announcement would be made. Well, no announcement was made and Pharoah came out in a crazy tie-dye sequined button down, had to snap a quick picture of that with the cell phone. Took about half a second for the usher to descend upon me--hadn't even used my flash? Whatever...not a big deal to delete it, except for the attitude of the usher, who obviously knew the policy but couldn't be bothered to share it with me earlier. Strike Two.
So now, Pharoah is taking a particularly long break from the stage, I used the free moment to run to the bathroom, upon my return the waitress hasn't cleared the table or come back for another drink order, so I ran out to the empty bar where the bartender was happy to serve me. I return to my seat, still no Pharoah, but suddenly the waitress was available with nothing to do other than chastize me for not ordering from her. and somehow it's my fault that she couldn't figure out by empty glasses and dishes that we were ready for me? She only eight tables?? Whatever. Strike Three.
By this point in the evening, Rory was ready to go out, my phone vibrated, I pulled it out to see a text from him, instantly, a second usher rushed over to declare that all electronics were forbidden. Uh huh, whatever. Strike Four. (PS wanna tell me what time it is? Guess who had to pull her phone out to tell me.)
But it continues to get worse. A few minutes later, the first usher starts a new commotion--our table-mates were shooting death stares by this time. This commotion was the usher asking us to leave. Ha? for real? So there was a discussion, the end of which was ignoring the usher as he suggested he get security to escort us out. Security never showed up, we didn't leave, the performance had less than 10 minutes remaining at this point. and it was disappointing.
Turns out I don't like sushi or jazz enough to continue to give my money to Yoshi's. No loss, there's plenty of venues in town that appreciate my business, it's not like I'm hard up for music on a friday night.
Wow. I decided to go to the early show last night (Sunday) knowing I would be able to see the late show free (based on low tix sales) and while I didn't have the level of issues you did, I again noticed an uptight, amateurish level with most of the staff and also had a couple of minor issues with the upstairs usher.
I'm a big guy and struggle for comfort in clubs, but the usher wouldn't let me stand even though there was no one behind me, and she wouldn't let me sit at an empty table which was obviously unsold, taking what I felt was a snooty attitude.
I must say that ultimately she did "allow" me to sit in the upper level of tables which were totally empty and in all fairness by the end she was trying to be nice, but I just couldn't help noticing how stiff the vibe was, which is surprising considering they run a nice club in Oakland.
It's possible to keep it a classy jazz venue without being uptight. Most all jazz clubs are very tight about photos and cell phones, etc. but there is a way to deal correctly, and I'm not seeing that yet from the new place.
As for Pharoah going off stage, that is the thing that KILLS me about jazz shows in general; the whole group plays with the headliner soloing and it's unreal. Then inevitably they start passing the solos around and the main player just stands there for 15 minutes while we get the piano, bass then drum solo; I hate it every time.
For me it shatters the mood, and most groups I see do it, so it's not just an "old man" thing, it's a JAZZ thing.
As for the shows last night, he must have been feeling it because the 1st set (1:20) was only three songs & the 2nd set (1:30) was really just two. The group would play, then Pharoah did 10-15 minute solos on each song both sets before leaving the way you described, so even though I was again distracted by the solo train I heard some amazing music and felt I got a good dose of the man, who is a deep player. (The drummer was a wanker though, IMO)
And TO HELL with that waitress! There are no rules about HAVING to buy your drink from them. I ALWAYS get my drink at the bar in a club, you never know when they'll come back and when I want my drink, I want it NOW! (Plus, I always like to WATCH the bartender make my drink). I always leave a buck or two on the table after the show, but an attitude from the help?
Don't give up on jazz Emily! When it's good it's the BEST! As for Yoshi's, it's not really working for me. Right now it fees like they want it to be a CLASSY place and there's a bit of a 'tude. The UBER-hip crowds may continue, but it's stiff and lacks the warmth of the Oakland venue.
(Plus, it doesn't sound like they've learned how to evict people yet!)
They'll figure it out sooner or later.
Sorry to hear about the bad vibes, Emily (and Lance).
Is it safe to say that the original Yoshi's is a good place? It seems to me it's one of the most reknowned jazz clubs in the country. I've always wanted to visit.
I haven't attended a show at the new Yoshi's but from what I've heard from a multitude of friends is that the place needs a lot of work. At Yoshi's in Oakland there is always an annoucment that there is no taping, photography or recording devices allowed right before the show. The Oakland venue is intimate, hip, and a good feel, something that from what I hear SF is not.
I haven't experienced anything like what Emily went through the two times I've been there, and I'm probably making my issues sound worse than they really were; it was more funny than annoying, but I expected things to be a bit more relaxed. I think they are just trying too hard without using enough common sense at the moment.
The new club also makes the announcment about no electronic stuff, but again, if someone does take a cell phone shot or check the time/text message during the show there is a way to POLITELY & respectfully let them know it's not cool.
My main complaint with the new club is still that with the high ceiling the room feels more like a small auditorium than an intimate club, but at least they have the good ticket system that allows you to buy EXACTLY which table and chair you want in advance (as long as it's available).
So now that I've got the lay of the place and know exactly what table and seats work for me I will be able to enjoy more shows there, effectively avoiding any attitude. Hopefully they'll lighten up a bit as they get comfortable. I can understand why Emily would want to scratch the place off her list though. (It WOULD have been good story to be the first people evicted from the new club; something to tell the grandkids!)
And BTW, as well as tickets generally being $5 - $10 dollars more than the Oakland club, the drinks are EXPENSIVE! I recommend a flask in the pocket while nursing a beer. That upstairs bar/lounge area is nice though.
My next show there will be the Pat Matheny Trio, which should be great; hopefully the venue will begin to feel the same way.
>>At Yoshi's in Oakland there is always an annoucment that there is no taping, photography or recording devices allowed right before the show<<
I assumed this was also the case at the new location, I was surprised when the usher said to me it was based on the 'artist's policy', also surprising that the usher could only make a generic statement about it and not give me an answer straight up, obviously he knew. Had he not mentioned it, I probably wouldn't have even thought about.
Lucky for us, the SF Jazz fest is top notch, so when I want to get my jazz fix, there's still plenty of options.
Damn Emily, 0 for 2 huh?
Well, if its any consolation the show I was texting you about was well over by the time my slacker ass got to the venue. But I think I texted you that info as well.
Yeah, by the time I got that message I was well into a bottle of Absinthe--my night was far from ruined
>>> I was well into a bottle of Absinthe<<<
Ahh ha! More info comes to light! Maybe it wasn't ALL Yoshi's fault things degenerated?
No, the absinthe happened on the opposite side of town, AFTER the show.
I hope Yoshi's improves their act and soon, cause if I keep hearing negative reviews about how their guests are treated, I'm not in any rush to patronize the place. It's all about the music...and customer service. Not too difficult to correct.