one percent [2011]

El Rio
San Francisco, CA
1 June 2011

Indie rock is rarely funny. At least intentionally so. Sure, there’s Ween – I’ll give you that. But that’s about it. Apparently, it’s difficult to simultaneously play humor and good music.

One Percent is funny. Not silly costume-wearing funny, but lyrically and musically. Their music mixes genres; their words examine and embrace the absurd. Over Tangerine Dream-like keyboards in “Hottie”, a southern-tinged voice tells the tale of a self-obsessed man wandering the night: “He’s the hottie / from the city / a midnight Adonis / he’s lookin’ hot as hell”.

In “City Heat”, over a droning keyboard, the same voice sings: “I’m just another cop / on the boardwalk / my heart won’t never stop / ’cause I feel the city heat”. And perhaps best of all, “VHS Brautigan” captures another modest man: “I’m waiting in the kitchen / I’m waiting in my car / For a Girl who will concede / How inspiring my recommendations are”.

It’s one thing to record and release such playful music. It’s something entirely different to perform the songs live when humor might more easily risk immediate audience alienation. Luckily, Wednesday night at El Rio turned out to be the perfect setting. The Mission’s ultimate hipster paradise was packed, from the bar, to the back patio, to the stage area. And few audiences appreciate irony more than Mission hipsters.

Throughout their set, One Percent let the music and lyrics speak for themselves, offering little to no banter. No band insider jokes. No merch pleas. Just a collection of well-constructed glimpses into a hilariously-bizarre world. Just as it should be.