Sponsored

Off the Deep End, with Poolside

Sponsored
Sponsored

While Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is widely recognized as a soft-rock masterpiece, and Stevie Nicks has become something of a witchy den mother to gauzy art-goths all over, it wasn’t so long ago that the album’s name was mud. People who loathed Fleetwood Mac some 12 or 15 years ago might acknowledge the excellence of “Second Hand News” or “The Chain,” but we’ve yet to have a full reckoning about the place of soft rock. Even playing Lionel Richie, probably the smoothest cheeseburger of them all, wouldn’t necessarily elicit groans today — and in some circles, it’s almost embarrassing to admit you ever hated him.

In a dance universe filled with loops and aggressive glitchy beats, there was always a place for easy listening even if people were loath to admit it. Enter Poolside, the archetypally Angeleno collaboration between Jeffrey Paradise and Filip Nikolic that vaulted into the popular consciousness with a 2010 cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” an upside-down version that stripped the original of all its October-ness, gave it a Tecate in a koozie, and let it float on by alongside the chlorine caddy.

With a boost from arch-hipster James Murphy, the duo released Pacific Standard Time in 2012 and went a full five years before 2017’s Heat, as what felt like a side project with a limited shelf life found its sea legs and dangled them into the water. As career musicians who’d met in San Francisco in the aughts, Paradise and Nikolic assumed they’d play only two or three gigs a year under the Poolside moniker — at first.

“We weren’t expecting anyone to like it,” Paradise tells SF Weekly, while recuperating in New York from a trip to Cuba that left him dehydrated, dealing with food poisoning, and generally exhausted. “We weren’t expecting to be busy. We thought this was cool music, but it was very micro-niche.

“We thought we’d be playing Coachella pool parties and maybe we’d get a gig in Miami, or a couple rooftop parties,” he adds.

But the appeal of “daytime disco” only grew, even as the similar, quasi-concurrent genre chillwave crescendoed and petered out. (As dance guys, Paradise says they hadn’t even heard of chillwave acts like Neon Indian or Washed Out until later.) Spurred by “Do You Believe” and a succession of mixtapes, plus an appearance at the Pacific Festival and a tour in support of The Rapture, the “cool, quirky band” took off.

Slow-tempo jams with falsetto vocals almost beg to be torn apart by critics, and Paradise admits that “we’re kind of ripe for that,” but adds that “we’ve done surprisingly well with the press and Pitchfork.

“We haven’t been a darling, but we’ve fared pretty well,” he says.

In spite of its invitation to lounge in a state of blissed-out catatonia during the hottest part of the afternoon, and the fact that they cut an album in a pool house refitted as a recording studio, Poolside gets plenty of night-time gigs in proper venues. Their mid-afternoon set at Outside Lands seems slotted for maximum exposure — marine layer permitting — for songs like “Hot in the Shade” or their fairly straightforward cover of Brian Eno and David Byrne’s “Strange Overtones.” Turning 10 years old this week, that tune has a sort of retro whirlpool built into it, with lyrical references to its own datedness. Ditto for the cover art to Heat, a Neil Krug photograph of a smoggy sunset that’s as blue and red as a box of Otter Pops.

In all, Poolside is the sonic equivalent of a David Hockney painting: deceptively more than a surface fascination with the play of light in some curvy inground pool in the Hollywood Hills. In fact, Paradise and Nikolic had approached the Anglo-Californian artist about contributing one of his works as their album art.

“A lot of people see Poolside as just this happy, cheery band — and we are — [as] Hockney’s art is not just all joy and fun in the pool in L.A., we conceptualize our music in the same way,” he says. “We hit him up through our manager, and he was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that could be cool,’ and we were like, ‘Here’s our timeline,’ and he was like, ‘I can’t.’ I don’t own a Hockney — but I wanted him to do the cover.”

Poolside, Saturday, Aug. 11, 3:30-4:20 p.m. on the Sutro Stage.

See more Outside Lands 2018 preview coverage:

Arriving at Tash Sultana’s Flow State
The wildly talented singer-songwriter and instrumentalist speaks on the process behind her upcoming debut album and the meaning behind the title.

Finding the Center, with Tycho
Scott Hansen updates us on his new album, shares creative influences, and reveals his favorite venue to play.

Lucy Dacus Knows How You Feel
The emotionally intuitive singer-songwriter finds wisdom from worry.

Basking in that Hot Hot Heat
San Francisco-made Hot Flash Heat Wave finds a legitimate way back to Outside Lands — without buying tickets or attempting to sneak in.

Eight Questions for Rachel Torro
Keep this local deep house-tech house DJ and her upcoming S.F. shows on your radar.

Sponsored
Peter Lawrence Kane @wannacyber

Share
Published by
Peter Lawrence Kane @wannacyber
Tags: David Hockney Harvest Moon heat Jeffrey Paradise Outside Lands Pacific Standard Time Poolside

Recent Posts

  • News
  • Top Stories

Who’s Even Defending the George Washington High Murals At This Point?

Controversial murals at the Richmond District's George Washington High School will most likely be covered up — but that didn't…

36 mins ago
  • News
  • Top Stories

Howard and Folsom to Get $36M in Safety Improvements

If you bike in San Francisco, no corridor may be more dangerous than Howard Street in SoMa. Since 2016, four…

5 hours ago
  • News
  • Top Stories

Fire Breaks out Near Spark Social in Mission Bay

Clouds of black smoke could be seen over Mission Bay Tuesday afternoon. The San Francisco Fire Department reports it's a…

6 hours ago
  • News

Redstone Organizers Seek City’s Help to Finalize Sale

The nonprofit world breathed a sigh of relief when the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) announced in May that it…

6 hours ago
  • Comedy
  • Culture
  • Drag
  • The Exhibitionist

Trixie and Katya Take Clusterfest Back to School

When the opportunity for Trixie Mattel to attend her 10-year high school reunion arrived, she wasn’t able to make an…

8 hours ago
  • Dining
  • SFoodie

YET MORE CLOSURES: ‘Aina and Southpaw BBQ Call It Quits

Barely 24 hours after Mission Pie announced that it will wind down its operations by Labor Day, San Francisco was…

10 hours ago