Dog Bites

Just a Freight Train Coming Your Way; On the Waterfront

Just a Freight Train Coming Your Way
KSAN's March 13 format change to "classic rock that really rocks" is, in our opinion, refreshing -- something that, as a sulky, burgundy-haired 19-year-old, Dog Bites would never have imagined saying about Def Leppard, but these are strange days.

There you are, stuck in traffic, picking through your presets because you just can't listen to Fiona Amos or Lit 182 even one more time, when you hear the opening bars of "Hell's Bells" and your heart gives a little leap and you think, Hey, I can listen to this in mycar, where nobody else will ever find out about my moments of unregenerate musical trashiness, especially since I have all those Cuban CDs at home,and you happily turn the radio way up. And if you happen to be crawling up Third Street with your window rolled down and you pass a little knot of dot-conformists standing on the sidewalk in their platform shoes and leather pants, hee-heeing smugly about who knows what -- probably some guy they know who's such a loser he only has a Palm III -- and they hear what's on your stereo, they will pause and look at you and then each other, and their tiny, BeneFit "Waif"-painted lips will curl, and you can give them a big smile.

We particularly like the way the station, now renamed "The Bone," was giving away "family packs" of Kiss tickets for the show at the Oakland Arena; just picturing the outing -- little tykes in their junior mullets and oversized Stone Cold Steve Austin T-shirts, accompanied by Mom in tank top and lots of gold chains (weirdly enough, the precursor version of the look Vogue is pushing this season) and mustachioed Dad in a polo shirt worn untucked over his relaxed-fit Levi's -- gives us hope there are at least pockets of resistance to mizuma culture, even here in the Bay Area.

Oh well. Actually, the high point of much of our recent radio listening has been the Metallica single "No Leaf Clover," which is on Live 105, like, eight times a day, because the thing about Metallica is that the band has conviction, and it is our opinion, this week at least, that ironic posing doesn't really work in rock music.

Of course, even better than conviction, "No Leaf Clover" has an oboe solo. The single was recorded last year at a Berkeley concert the band played with the San Francisco Symphony, so after only a dozen or so phone calls Dog Bites was actually talking to the soloist. He's Evgeny Izotov, associate principal oboist of the symphony and, at 26, its youngest member; what we wanted to know was whether, back when he chose the oboe as his instrument, he'd ever expected to have a single in heavy rotation. "Well, right after we recorded it, some guy was there from a newspaper, and he asked me if it was the high point of my career," said Izotov. "I told him, 'Well, it's not the high point of my career, but it's the high point of my heavy metal career.'"

Izotov, it emerged, had liked Metallica even before he performed with the band. "I'm from Russia," he said. "When I was 12 it was hard to get records in Moscow. Somebody gave me a mix tape, and it was just a terrible quality tape, just awful, but one of the bands on the tape was Metallica. So it was one of my first tastes of rock music." And, he noted, the concert was "very cool -- there was Lars sitting right in front of me. [The band members] have this evil look sometimes when they're onstage, but they're very warm, very friendly, very professional."

The charming Mr. Izotov -- who made what the Chronicle's Joshua Kosman called a "knockout debut" as a soloist with the symphony just this weekend, playing the Mozart Oboe Concerto "as though the ink were still wet on the pages" -- has no patience with musical snobbery.

"It's like the television show Frasier -- there's this guy who spends $400 on champagne and caviar and Cecilia Bartolli tickets," he said. "It's this circle of people that doesn't exist, and that's bullshit. What we do is not different than what Metallica does. We're musicians, we're expressing ourselves. It's rock 'n' roll, it's heavy metal, it's classical."

In fact, we got the definite impression Izotov feels most kinds of music could be improved with a little oboe in the mix. "I like to think about it in terms of food," he explained. "The violin section is like vanilla ice cream -- it tastes really good, it's wonderful, but it's not really sexy. But if you put a garnish on it, one thing that makes it taste really great -- that's the oboe solo in the orchestral repertoire."

On the Waterfront
Standing in line at the supermarket with our Rice Dream, Smart Water, and Omega 3-enriched toaster waffles, Dog Bites noticed the latest issue of Sunset sporting the cover line "Discover the New San Francisco." God! There's a new San Francisco? Again?

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