I asked some friends whom I knew to be Stars fans to come with Dave and me, but they weren't able to make it that night, so I only bought 2 tickets. As it turned out, a good friend of mine, Tracy, emailed me the night before the show inviting me to go see Stars with her and her boyfriend Kyle! I should trust that more friends of mine in San Francisco have the same obscure tastes in music - we really are a hipster, indie music-loving city. Kyle and Tracy were only going for the show, but Dave and I had bought dinner tickets as well, so we agreed to meet up after dinner. Ticket prices were incredibly reasonable - only around $25 for the show alone and $50 for dinner and the show, and low ticket prices seem to be the norm at GAMH.
The doors opened at 7 for dinner and the show started at 8. Dave and I arrived at 7:30 and got to go to the front of the line as dinner guests. We were led to the dining area of the upstairs balcony where only a few other patrons were dining. We took a place at the "bar" that overlooked the stage and general admission area of the club. Because I am obsessed with food and pretty much always do this, I had taken a peek at the menu on the venue's website before arriving, but when we looked at the menu I was disappointed to find only three options and none of them were any of the enticing items I had seen on the website. We only had three choices of entrée: fish and chips, pork spare ribs, and smoked tofu. Not fans of tofu and finding spare ribs nearly impossible to eat in public, Dave and I both chose the fish and chips. Bread, a salad, and dessert were also promised as part of our "three course meal."
The neat thing about getting dinner though, is you get premium seating overlooking the stage and a waitress to deliver you drinks all night. To be perfectly honest, these two things alone probably make the extra $20+ bucks worth it. Up until the age of about 23, concerts weren't fun unless I was in the front row of the mosh-pit with the chance of touching the lead singer's hand at some point in the show (dreamy flashback to the time I was 16 and the lead singer of Save Ferris, girl crush-worthy Monique Powell, sang an entire song while caressing my face - swoon!). Now the idea of pushing my way through the sweaty crowd to the front is horribly unappealing, but it is still nice to be able to see the whole stage, making balcony seats ideal. There are very limited seats on the balcony that have a good view, and half of them (probably only about 15-20) are reserved for diners for the first half of the show, so buying dinner is pretty much your only guaranteed way to get one of these seats without arriving hours before the show to wait in line. And not having to give up your seat or your enjoyment of the show to get more drinks is a definite bonus.
At 8:00 while we were still eating, the opening band came on. Local talent Trails and Ways who met at UC Berkeley (go Bears!), and who describe themselves as "bossa nova dream pop" are an indie-pop band inspired by their travels to Spain and Brazil. Tracy was a fan of theirs before the show and I had never heard of them, but I enjoyed their set and I like where they're headed. You could tell they're new and don't quite have their larger venue sound figured out yet, but I look forward to seeing what they become. It was definitely fun to be able to watch this new talent from our vantage point while finishing our meal.
The band also seemed to really love the SF crowd, claiming several times that it is one of their favorite places to play, and that the energy here even tops that of their hometown of Toronto. The lead singers have a fun dynamic - Dave always remembers the first time we saw them, when the male lead singer, Torq, seemed to constantly hit on the female lead singer, Amy, who was blatantly not reciprocating. At this show, the drummer, a character in his own right, was having enough fun and had enough trust in the audience to crowd-surf through one of the songs.
We caught the last few songs, their encore, from downstairs, which gave us a slightly different perspective of the show that we could tell would also be a lot of fun for the whole show. Again - if I ever see a really dance-worthy band here, I will definitely want to watch from here.