Anika performed songs from her self-titled debut, Anika (Stones Throw) at The Independent in San Francisco last night. Remember the era before mp3s and instant downloads, when you would go to a record store and purchase a CD or album solely based on one song, or something you had heard about the artist? And then after the first listen it didn’t really win you over but you kept it in rotation because you had paid good money for it… or a friend or reviewer kept telling you that you would fall in love with it eventually? And then slowly, after multiple listens it crept its way to the top of your stacks? And before you know it the whole album was rock solid and listenable from beginning to end? And then you had a chance to see the band live and it solidified it all for you? That’s pretty much what I experienced with this album. Going into the show, I didn’t quite know what to expect. And you’ll know what I mean after you have a listen. This is DIFFERENT. This is polarizing – you either fall in love with it or hate it. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know what genre I would put this in. Anika is backed by BEAK>, a band founded by Geoff Barrow of Portishead. A political journalist, Annika Henderson, was invited by Barrow to provide vocals for his project. The tracks are mostly covers (ranging from Dylan, Yoko Ono, Twinkle, etc.). I heard in a prior show they played “He Loves Me” from the Popeye movie (see song link below). Somehow strange perfection… Several people shouted from the crowd, “Say Hello, Anika!” wanting the stoic singer to converse with the crowd or show some emotion. In the end, if she said “Hi San Francisco!” it would have been really odd and not at all matched the tone of the show. She wrapped the show with the Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime”, singing the lyrics from a little black book and walked off the stage. Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf preceded Anika with a captivating VJ set that somehow magically intertwined songs I roller skated to in the 70s with tracks from Front 242 and early Cure. If you haven’t seen a PBW VJ set – highly recommend (see image below).
(Directed by Violet Valen)