I went to see The Mother Hips at Café Du Nord on Friday with a friend I’ve known since high school. We’ve been seeing this Northern California-based band in clubs around San Francisco since we were sixteen. It’s hard to describe exactly what has drawn us to the Hips over the last ten years, but I usually ascribe it in equal parts to the following:
1) The hotness of frontman Tim Bluhm:
2) Some of their music is really fun to rock out to (in my opinion, their best albums came out in the middle of their career – Shootout, Later Days, The Green Hills of Earth – but anything earlier than that inevitably gets the crowd moving).
3) Nostalgia + a guaranteed good time. A typical Mother Hips holiday show, which is always a week or two before Christmas and almost always at the Great American Music Hall, involves me, my older brother, and a gaggle of friends meeting at my parents’ house in San Francisco, imbibing coffee and then whiskey, and piling in a bus or someone’s van to go downtown and arrive at the GAMH hopefully right before the Hips go on – usually around 11pm. They play the favorites and never disappoint, nor interrupt the music with too much banter. And they almost always play one long satisfying set with minimal jamming and noodling around.
The Hips don’t draw a musically sophisticated crowd – indeed their audiences tend to be dominated by former Chico State frat boys – but it’s a fun crowd nonetheless, and one that I am proudly a part of. By Friday I had spent the better part of the week representing my company at a tech trade show, on my feet all day and exhausted from talking, but once Tim and Greg and the rest stepped on stage and played the first notes of an instantly recognizable favorite, a big smile spread across my face. As one of my brother’s friends (one of the Christmas show crew and a near-doppelgänger of Tim Bluhm’s) put it: they are musical comfort food. If you’re interested, here’s a sampling.