Iconoclastic SF punk band Flipper to headlines Bottom of the Hill for NYE – CBS San Francisco


By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – One of the most abrasive and iconoclastic bands to emerge from San Francisco during the punk era, Flipper has delivered their loud, dark-humor songs to a staunchly loyal audience for four decades.

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Formed in 1979, Flipper initially included vocalist Ricky Williams (ex-Sleepers, who came up with the band’s nickname), guitarist Ted Falconi (ex-Rad Command) and former Negative Trend rhythm section Will Shatter (bass) and Steve DePace (drums). Drug issues led the band to fire Williams just months after they first met, but it led to the addition of singer / bassist Bruce “Loose” Calderwood, completing what would become Flipper’s classic lineup.

Embracing heavy tempos and sonic chaos that cleans the room around the unique guitar grain of Falconi and the tandem screaming vocals of Shatter and Calderwood, Flipper took on most of the group’s punk contemporaries in San Francisco and the band. ‘foreigner. Presenting frequent performances to an audience not always receptive and more accustomed to the fast, hard punk aesthetic, Flipper has become a mainstay of sci-fi punk clubs including Mabuhay Gardens, Sound of Music and On Broadway. Yet despite their willful dissonance, the band somehow found a way to cram hooks and sarcastic, sarcastic humor into the cacophonous grooves of early singles like “Sex Bomb” and “Ha Ha Ha”. These two songs would be covered by countless bands following in Flipper’s jarring footsteps over the years that followed.

The band followed their first 7 inch single hit with Subterranean Records with a worthy debut album, the 1982s. Album – Generic pinball machine. Hailed as a masterpiece of American punk upon its release, the recording’s legacy has only grown with the influence it has exerted on generations of post-punk and alternative rock groups. While Flipper would only manage one more studio album (Gone fishing in 1984) and a pair of live albums before going their separate ways before Shatter’s overdosed death in late 1987, at which time some of the band’s followers – most notably Flipper’s longtime proselytes, the Melvins – were already making their own records.

Flipper resurfaced in 1990 with a new bassist – John Dougherty – and a new single for Subterranean. They were pushed into more activity by another admirer, record producer Rick Rubin (who had led his own Flipper Hose-inspired noise group in New York before co-founding Def Jam Records). Rubin would release his 1992 album American Grafishy on its Def American imprint, but the group suffered another setback when Dougherty suffered a fatal overdose following the record’s release.

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While the group should have capitalized on their new hiding place thanks to vocal praise from Nirvana fan and frontman Kurt Cobain, they have instead returned to dormancy for much of the decade. Flipper has been more active since the turn of the millennium, reuniting during the 2000s to tour and record a new album with former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic in 2009. With longtime singer Calderwood being sidelined due to from a back injury, in 2015 the group recruited Scratch Acid. and Jesus Lizard to head the group for a string of hit dates in the US and Italy, including a pair of jaw-dropping shows at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco.

Pinball with David Yow (Credit Nick Sternberg)

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With the arrival of the group’s 40th anniversary in 2019, DePace and Falconi have resumed their operations, hitting the road for Flipper’s biggest live concert series in years with Yow once again at the helm of the group and the former collaborator. Rachel Thoele (from SF Frightwig and Mudwimin) on bass. The shows included appearances at a number of festivals on both sides of the Atlantic, with sets at the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool, England, Levitation 2019 in Austin, TX and Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas which featured Flipper supporting other punk renegades Killing Joke.

That year, the band also collaborated with longtime Flipper champions Melvins on a limited edition EP on Amphetamine Reptile Records that featured musicians from both groups recording the new song “Hot Fish” and a version of the classic pinball machine “Sacrifice” as well as two recordings. other Flipper tunes by the Melvins. While the group has remained silent for much of the pandemic, they recently announced a four-date select group in California, including a headlining show in Costa Mesa, a pair of concerts supporting the experimental punk duo d ‘Orange County, the Garden at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles and these two shows at the bottom of the hill to close 2021.

In San Francisco, Flipper will be joined in both shows with the support of comedian Neil Hamburger, one of the few modern comedians walking in the same uncomfortable and at times conflicting footsteps of the late Andy Kaufman (and his obnoxious living room alter ego Tony Clifton). .

The self-proclaimed “America’s Funny Man” hamburger is the creation of actor, musician and punk rock enthusiast Gregg Turkington. The character went from appearing on a cult phone call album to presenting his own rigged live comedy recordings for an indie rock label before taking the stage. After being born in Australia and growing up in Phoenix, Turkington moved with his father after his parents separated and immersed himself in the booming San Francisco punk scene.

An obsessive Flipper fan (he would end up compiling shows he recorded in the live document Public Flipper Limited, Live 1980 – 1985), Turkington co-edited the zine “Breakfast Without Meat” and befriended enough bands and musicians to be able to launch independent label Amarillo Records. His crank call album Great phone calls as the imprint became an underground hit and led to several singles featuring his obnoxious comedian character Neil Hamburger.

These early singles prompted Drag City Records to offer a deal for a full album from the infamous future Hamburger. While Turkington had dabbled in comedy at San Francisco’s open mic parties in the late 1980s, his early Neil Hamburger recordings were fabricated documentation of “live” shows with the character telling horrible jokes about it. enthusiastic applause and laughter from other comedy albums.

Hamburger’s early success America’s comic would encourage Turkington to take the character on stage. After moving to Australia, he hooked up with popular punk band Frenzel Rhomb, who invited Hamburger to open for their act, giving Turkington a chance to refine the character’s desperate and excruciating delivery, full of awkward pauses and throat clearing interspersed with dark linings and question-and-answer questions that have frequently plagued celebrities.

On Thursday, punk bass legend Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, the Stooges and more) leads his band The Missingmen through an opening set of classic Minutemen and other Watt standards. OG San Francisco punks and Mabuhay Garden mainstays, VKTMS, were due to kick off the festivities on New Years Eve, but had to cancel this week due to concerns about the compromised health of a few members in the face of the contagious variant of the omicron.

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Pinball with David Yow
Thursday and Friday, December 30-31, 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NYE), $ 40- $ 50
Down hill


Evelyn C. Tobin