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Tuneful San Francisco garage-punk band the Seagulls plays Baltic Kiss in Richmond

Fronted by British punk veteran Jon Brooder, San Francisco garage-rock band the Seagulls headlines Baltic Kiss in Richmond Thursday night.

Beat Street Lightning Strike by Edward Taylor on YouTube

Raised in South London during the 1970s, Jon Brooder found inspiration in '50s rock, Motown, rock steady, British pub rock before the initial wave of UK punk rock took hold of his imagination. He would end up playing bass in the Clash-inspired late '80s punk band Lightning Strike, which played CBGBs after relocating to New York and managed to score a record deal with RCA.

Lightning Strike: Exocet Alley by 1107 Music on YouTube

Though the band only managed to release its debut album before getting dropped by the major label, the experience whetted Brooder's appetite for making music and his desire to live in the U.S. He would move to San Francisco in the early '90s, eventually working with the bands the Hairdressers and the Music Lovers, an indie-pop project led by fellow Brit songwriter Matthew Edwards. It was in the latter band that Brooder met keyboard player Isaac Bonnell.

The two musicians would start the Seagulls in 2012, building on their shared experience to play a mix of covers and original music that nods equally to roots-minded songwriting, punk energy and a bluesy swagger that recalls legendary British pub-rock band Dr. Feelgood -- who the Seagulls have been known to cover from time to time. Rounded out by longtime drummer/singer Geri Vahey (who played in the bands Skint and Mom's Favorite Vase) and Tony Velour on bass, the band managed to ramp up its activity in the past few years despite the pandemic.

After releasing the holiday tune "Spirit in the Air" in December of 2019 before COVID shut down the planet, the Seagulls have put out a pair of EPs (recorded both live and in the studio) and several digital singles, with some of the material addressing the stark new reality of sheltering in place and missing human interaction. The band also played a steady string of outdoor shows in San Francisco and at Winters Tavern in Pacifica as businesses gamely tried to operate amid new COVID protocols, providing a bit of relief for people starved to for live music hoping for a brief moment of normalcy.

Sunday Afternoon Drinking by The Seagulls SF on YouTube

The Seagulls trekked to the UK last year, playing a series of gigs in and around London. They celebrated the long-awaited release of their album This Time Next Year last spring. Packed with catchy rockers like opening track "Big Bad Beautiful World" and "Sunday Afternoon Drinking" and ska-tinged tunes "Hold On" and "G'is a Drink Woodcock," the bracing effort is a fine encapsulation of the energetic party the band delivers onstage. 

More recently, the group has been performing new tracks written since the release of the album live in addition to putting out a new music video on YouTube for "G'is a Drink Woodcock." Brooder also made a solo trip back to England where he played a handful of shows with a variety of musicians and friends during his visit. One of those friends, guitarist "Soho Steve" Crittall, lent his skills to a series of live shows and recording sessions during an extended stay in San Francisco. Currently a member of the Black Bombers and Alvin Gibbs and the Disobedient Servants, Crittall has previously played with such notables as the Godfathers, the Selector and UK Subs. He joined new bass player Nate Fink (Open Doors, Greg Hoy and the Boys) for a run of shows in SF and Los Angeles before heading home.   

G'is a Drink Woodcock by The Seagulls SF on YouTube

For this show at Baltic Kiss in Richmond Thursday nightthe Seagulls debut their new five-piece line-up featuring guitarist Rob Vhe with support from SF rockers Gen 11 and Droneyard, the longtime East Bay project of songwriter, singer and guitar player Robert Riley. Mixing Beatles-esque pop hooks with the noisy guitar crunch of Bob Mould's band Sugar and Guided By Voices, the band put out its most recent Summer Classics EP in 2021.  

The Seagulls
Thursday, Feb. 8, 8 p.m. $10
Baltic Kiss

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