Music & Clubs

Hop and Roll

Please Do Not Fight positions their holiday Rock Hop as the local alternative to Not So Silent Night
PUTTING THE EIGHT IN SEVEN: South Bay soul-rockers Dirty Odd Seven play the Bank in Saratoga on Friday. Photograph by Anna Larina

PLEASE DO Not Fight got their start in Redwood City, but they always felt more at home in San Jose. "The scene in Redwood City was pretty nonexistent," says frontman Zen Zenith, who started the band in 2007.

Ironically, just as they've moved to San Francisco, they're getting more involved with the South Bay scene, with a series of bimonthly concerts called "rock hops." The series, which returns Saturday, Dec. 10, to Art Boutiki, is a collaboration between Please Do Not Fight and San Jose band Picture Atlantic. Both bands, having been a part of the scene for several years, felt frustrated by the dearth and quality of all-ages shows around the valley.

"Me and Nick from Picture Atlantic used to get together and complain about it a lot, and we decided we should stop complaining about it and do something about it," Zenith says.

The idea was to make shows that were fun and had strong lineups. Picture Atlantic and Please Do Not Fight will take turns headlining the shows. This week's show is the "Holiday Hooplah" Rock Hop, conceived as a sort of local alternative to the huge Not So Silent Night show (which moved from HP Pavilion back to Oracle Arena this year). Finish Tickets, PK and Rin Tin Tiger will also perform, and anyone who comes wearing an ugly sweater will be entered into a raffle to win an iPod touch.

Zenith is the chief songwriter for Please Do Not Fight, but he says the sound of the band is much different than what it would be if it weren't for his collaborators.

"Everyone involved brings their different ideas to the table. If it was just me writing, the songs would be a lot more straight-up rock and folk," Zenith says.

By "rock and folk," Zenith means '90s indie-emo rock. His two biggest influences are Bright Eyes and Cursive. While that passionate, morose style of songwriting comes out in Please Do Not Fight's music, the contributions of the other band members offset it.

For one thing there is the texture of their layered sound. The songs swell with gorgeous, lush guitars and keyboards, much like current wave of psychedelic indie bands. Zenith says that guitarist Geoff McCann has an extremely eclectic musical taste and listens to a lot of experimental rock, jazz and blues.

There's also the drummer, Kyle Albery. He bounces between adding a heavy rock feel and a dance groove, and on some songs he plays a little of both. The band seems comfortable joining him by both playing riff-rock and funk rooted parts. They do this while still managing to add texture and delivering carefully crafted, personal songs.

Zenith attributes this mix to his love for the Matches. "They had simple pop-punk tunes, but really layered and complex," Zenith says. They also, like Please Do Not Fight, had an emo undercurrent to their songs. But more even more so than the Matches, Please Do Not Fight has several components piecemealed together in more subtly complex ways.

Zenith is the only original member still in the band. In fact, the lineup has changed between each of their three releases, and there are noticeable differences between albums. But his approach to collaboration has remained a constant throughout, with whoever he's playing with.

What is constantly changing though, is the songwriting process. Some songs emerge from group jams, others are brought in nearly completed by Zenith, and everything in between. Some of the parts on their newest EP were even written by older members before they quit, in what he calls "a mishmash of different collaborations."

Once the band members have something to work with, they usually spend a fair amount of time tooling it and refining it, which explains how each album ends up sounding cohesive.

"It's really fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants in a way," Zenith says, "at least when we're creating the initial seed."

Please Do Not Fight

Art Boutiki

Saturday, 7:30pm; $8/$10

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