BY CATHERINE STITES
Releasing their first album in a decade, Facing New York took the stage to reunite with old fans and new at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco Friday night.
The show was part release party for their new album “Dogtown,” and part reunion tour.
The bands Gnarboots, from Gilroy, and Unconditional Arms, from Oakland, opened the night with a bang. Gnarboots set off with joining the crowd together with a performance that fit right in to their self described “nonconformity” style of music. The band wielded microphones and ran throughout the crowd as they encouraged the audience to become one big community. Audience members were encouraged to bang on drums, and huddle together under a parachute straight out of an elementary school gym.
Unconditional Arms flipped a switch, and the crowd was then rocking out to strong sound without the help of lyrics. Both openers upped the anticipation for Facing New York and the crowd swelled to the brim as the band took the stage.
Facing New York is a trio comprised of vocalist and guitarist Eric Frederic (AKA Ricky Reed), bassist Brandon Canchola and drummer Omar Cuellar who are all friends. The band is described as a mix of progressive and indie rock.
Facing New York originated in Oakland, and their new album reflects that. On the venue’s website, it relates “Dogtown” to a neighborhood in West Oakland that is “undergoing upheaval, tunover and gentrification.”
The last time the band played at the exact same venue was five years ago, but they didn’t miss a beat. Starting off with “Dogtown” from their new album, the band energized the crowd and captivated them for the next hour of their set.
Frederic reminisced about their last show at the venue about five years ago, because that was right before he he met his wife. Now all three members have joined the dad club, and in the same year at that.
The album “Dogtown” was a a work in progress for the past decade. Most of the album was rewritten within the past month or two.
The band introduced another song off the new album, telling a story of the day that inspired it. It was 2013, Black Friday, and they were all a little hungover as they tossed a football around at a park in Berkeley. A bunch of 8-10 year olds came up and asked them to play. The game of big guys versus little guys started, and “the kids crushed us” as Frederic puts it. The band then played “Hail Mary” which was the song that resulted from that day.
The band ended with “Cops on Bikes” telling the crowd that they weren’t a political band, but a “shit-talking band.” As they finished their performance, Frederic said, “My heart is going to jump out of my chest.”
According to Canchola on the band’s Spotify page, “Facing New York is always happening in the background. It’s something we regularly think about no matter where we are. Since we’re family, there’s no pressure. The music is really a construct through which we can express our love for each other as friends with no expectations ever.”
Facing New York’s new album “Dogtown” can be found on Amazon, Spotify and Apple Music.