Tucked into an unassuming corner of a construction-riddled San Francisco street, The Regency Ballroom saw a near-blocklong line of fans eagerly awaiting the return of Electric Guest. Despite a relatively thin crowd for the melodic and dreamy opener, Wafia, the venue went from bare-bones to a full-on steak dinner, as audience members swarmed the stage for the main act.
Berkeley-born Asa Taccone, Electric Guest frontman extraordinaire, appeared onstage like magic after an unassuming intro of Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose.” House lights glared, illuminating the vibrant Taccone dressed in bright mixed prints and an even more luminous smile. Taccone beamed at the roaring crowd, following the midlevel energy of the opening track “Play With Me.” The track comes off of the band’s newest album, KIN, the first under Atlantic Records. Taccone remarked that the band had gone from playing in tiny San Franciscan venues to playing for masses of people such as the one gathered before them.
Electric Guest offered a set that felt like an homage to KIN, their sophomore album, Plural, and the Bay Area itself. When talking about KIN’s single, “Dollar,” Taccone regaled the audience with stories about being encouraged by friends to film a video that materialized in the form of a video directed by Jorma Taccone (yes, that Jorma Taccone) and a love letter to the Bay Area.
With “Dollar” being one of the band’s most recent singles, the opening notes were met with exuberant cheers, as the audience settled into the playful pop-R&B track. The performance played out like a battle to see which group — the audience or the band — could have the most fun. And as the song capped with Taccone throwing out what he described as “the most pathetic making it rain” he’d ever seen, it was evident that the contest had no losers.
Despite the fact that KIN took center stage, fans were treated to material ranging as far back as the group’s debut album, Mondo, with tracks such as “This Head I Hold,” “The Bait” and “Waves. All of these tracks elicited enough excitement to prove that the band’s fan base has been well intact, even with large release gaps such as the five years between Mondo and Plural.
And more to that point, Taccone’s own dynamism as a performer was on full display, extending beyond the charisma that dripped from every bop and gyration that accompanied each new track. Taccone was a wealth of anecdotes, never resting on the laurels an impressive catalog has bred, but fully engaging with the audience. By insisting that his mother and sister come onstage to talk, as well as sharing stories of early video shoots (one of which included a tale about the “only in the Bay” mishap of a Buddhist audiobook blaring from the insides of a borrowed DeLorean), Taccone never lost his charismatic hold on his spectators.
Taccone also took a moment to completely derail the show, so that he could make use of the more than $200 T-shirt cannon. With the always dramatic “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (the “2001: A Space Odyssey” theme), Taccone shot off T-shirts all across the venue, at one point stopping to tut at a disappointed audience member too close to the stage to have had a shirt directed at him. Smiling to himself, Taccone chuckled, “You would’ve sued my ass.”
The charming frontman never missed a moment to imbue the show with his personality. Nor did he hesitate to offer personal accounts and attachments to the Bay, which grounded the show in a unique brand of localism. At one point the singer made sure to identify the Bay as having the most attractive people — a point the crowd took no issue with. Diving into a brief diatribe on the plasticity and illusion of Los Angeles (one that mirrored the lyrics of “Dollar”: “Everybody’s a model/ You watch too much, you feel hollow”), Taccone garnered audience affection in relatability. It was all too evident that returning to Bay Area stages was just as much of a treat for the band as it was for the audience.
Following a brief pause, the band returned to the stage for one final song — the only let down of the night. The band kept its stay energetic, if not brief.
Closing with the lighthearted and tender “Dear to Me,” a performance that landed like a kiss on the cheek to Bay Area fans, the band ended its San Francisco show in the only way they could, leaving audiences eagerly awaiting more.
Highlights of the set: “Dollar,” “Waves,” Dear to Me”
Areyon Jolivette is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].