The Summer Solstice was greeted Friday night by a duo of rock'n roll staples at San Francisco's newest (semi-permanent) venue, the America's Cup Pavilion (Pier 23). The Steve Miller Band and the Doobie Brothers began the evening under a quite glorious non-foggy Friday afternoon. The newly renovated section of the Embarcadero has indeed been a beneficiary of the upcoming America's Cup races, creating almost a new neighborhood in San Francisco.
Doors opened at 6:30, but I decided to show up a little bit early to check out the new work and was pleasantly surprised by the double stacked freight containers that have become a sustainable and economical way to create some square feet. These particular containers were branded America's Cup and featured a simple to-the-point bar. At approximately 30 feet in the air, the great part was the view looking West on the city, a view that I had never really seen before but was well worth the $9 beer.
The Doobie Brothers went on about an hour after the doors were open and came on enthused to be in the new venue. Despite a minor audio issue, the band showed its maturity in quite elegantly rolling with the punches to deliver their rich rock licks to the entering audience. The new venue consists of both a floor and bleacher section, each with its own benefits. I watched the show from both to see the pros and cons. I would say if you are a music purist, try to get seats as close as possible to the stage, despite their orientation, for the SF wind has an ability to wash up some of the decibels. If you are more there for the ambience I would recommend the bleachers for their awesome view of both the stage as well as the surrounding SF beauty; be it the bay or the skyline, including Coit Tower, Transamerica pyramid, and the terraced Telegeraph hill. During the show, treat yourself to a quick break and walk to the water that comes up almost to the venue for a great view of the Bay Bridge(s).
The Steve Miller Band followed in great form. Though the stage is quite spacious, Steve Miller and his band made the space quite cozy through the very familiar chords, space noises, and voices. Even though the audience knew almost every lyric, the open space still allowed Mr. Miller's voice to fill the audience with comfort. The most impressive part of the show though was Steve's solo acoustic session that drew the crowd's focus into those famous hands and blues chords. Following the mini-acoustic set, the second half of the show came on strong with a great "Gangstar of Love," shortly followed by the spacey "Fly Like an Eagle" that ventured off into a great jam. The set finished with a trifecta of Steve Miller staples: "Jet Airliner," "Space Cowboy" and "Rock n' Me," keeping the audience on its feet and providing great energy going into the three song encore; not surprisingly ending with the revered "The Joker."
This was my first time seeing the Steve Miller Band, and after listening to the collection for the last 20 years it was very exciting to catch him at a home town show; he has a full summer Tour schedule (another 25 shows), so check him and his band out where you can. For those of you haven't been to the new venue, I strongly recommend seeing a show before the venue (and temporary neighborhood) disappears in October.