Hey — anyone remember March?
It was this weird, mythic time when the coronavirus hadn’t completely overwhelmed our way of life and people actually made plans to watch live music. Those days may seem like a distant memory, but way back then, local San Francisco band Fast Times were planning on dropping their lead single, “Tuesday Night” as part of a release show at the Rickshaw Stop.
Then the world stopped. Well, it’s still stopped. But fortunately, the garage rock trio — led by frontman Andrew St. James — has finally released “Tuesday Night” and hooboy, it’s a doozy. Anyone feeling waylaid by the endless months indoors will feel a jolt from this insistent, upbeat number that somehow feels perfect for both a day at the beach and a night at a dingy dive bar.
First things first: the opening riff on “Tuesday Night” is a straight up appropriation of “Last Nite,” but no one should give a shit, since everyone knows the Strokes lifted that lick straight from “American Girl.” Why mess with best practices — great music is always borrowed from someone else, anyway.
Those opening staccato guitar movements are quickly met with a slalom of downhill drumming, giving the song a strutting, swaggering feel. St. James has a warbled, wry voice, putting off a slightly emo vibe, but really sounding more like wizened indie rockers such as Mac McCaughan of Superchunk or Nils Edenloff of Rural Alberta Advantage.
The whole thing oozes with mid-2000s mojo, and I am here for all of it. By the last time St. James repeats the chorus of “I’ve got no time/nothing to say,” you feel magically transported to New York City 2003, when ennui and sunglass swagger were all the ingredients needed to sign a band to a major label.
But it helps that St. James and his crew — Cody Rhodes on drums and guitarist Duncan Nielsen — are not just retro scenesters. The trio’s play is efficient, coherent and taut, surprising for a band that has only been an actual thing for about a year, but not so much when you consider the backgrounds of the members. Nielsen has been recording sleek new wave music for years as Doncat, Rhodes has drummed for everyone from Geographer to Curls, and the 25-year-old St. James has been bopping around the local music scene since he was 16 (and that doesn’t include his stint with the San Francisco Opera as a pre-teen.)
Fast Times unveiled “Tuesday Night” today, in anticipation of a live streaming performance from the band that will air on the Rickshaw Stop Instagram page on July 15. The event will benefit the Rickshaw Stop as well as the Oakland nonprofit Hip Hop for Change. The shindig kicks off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
It will be an appropriate time to officially dust off “Tuesday Night,” which truly feels like a throwback to a bygone era, when guitar music still held out the promise of a transformative future. At the very least, it will take you back to the days before March, when things in this country weren’t unremittingly bleak.