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Mainland: New York band goes west coastal

New York band, Mainland, visited San Francisco on Aug. 24.

There’s an odd glamour to the three broke girls in fur coats standing outside of a club. They’ve collected every penny from beneath their couch cushions for their slightly grotesque garb, and now they drag on cigarettes while talking about their empty fridges.

I stood with these oddly alluring ladies outside San Francisco’s Café Du Nord on Aug. 24, taking a breather from seeing Mainland, a New York-based band, perform. I’ve known the lead singer Jordan Topf, who I will always call Jordy, since high school. We used to sit on his bedroom floor and listen to Lou Reed on vinyl and fantasize about starting some tortuously genius rock group. I always wanted to be the Yoko Ono to his John Lennon.

Jordy was in the Vox Jaguars, a relatively successful band from our hometown of Santa Cruz before relocating to New York. He started Mainland with fellow New Yorkers Corey Mullee, Dylan Longstreet and Zach Walter. When Jordy told me they were hitting San Francisco, I knew I had to drag myself out of the East Bay and see my brother from another mother perform.

After being thoroughly confused by public transportation and hitching a free Muni ride — thanks to an over-crowded bus — I finally made it to Café Du Nord. Winding down towards the stage, I saw Jordy standing at the front of the crowd for the opening band, Coast Jumper’s set. He wore a denim jacket over his pinstripe button-up shirt, which was tucked into his black skinny jeans. Free Steve Madden shoes from a photo shoot Mainland did completed the look. Jordy has always made me feel like the dumpy hippie friend who just can’t figure out how to match.

After multiple embraces and a few more of Coast Jumper’s songs, Jordy and his crew rolled backstage to prepare for their performance. As Mainland set up their equipment and did a soundcheck, I mingled with Jordy’s parents (the glamazons in furs had yet to arrive). Pretty soon I started noticing other parents of the band members as they took pictures of their sons tuning their instruments. There’s nothing like a family affair.

The cameras really started flashing during the performance though. The parents were clearly proud of their boys. The sound was lean and together, with Jordy crooning nostalgic ballads over distant wails on the guitar. Watching the group was just as mesmerizing as their complex sound; the four band members swayed with each song, the instrumentalists mouthed the words. I couldn’t blame them for singing along.

When I’m walking in the cold, at least I’m happy on my own,” Jordy sang, conjuring up an image of his gaunt body wrapped in wool engulfed in a New York blizzard.

The fur femmes began rolling in fashionably late, standing up front as they took pictures and batted their eyelashes at the band. It was clear these ladies had been to a few concerts in their day, adding an instant vibe à la The Factory. Their slight ennui made Mainland look even more rock ‘n’ roll.

The set was a dynamic 45 minutes long, a well-organized mix of Jordy’s and Mullee’s guitars to support Jordy’s voice. Longstreet’s drums carefully punctuated the sound, adding to the heavy swell of each song. While the majority of the pieces were introspective ballads, the group ended with an upbeat encore to wash away some of the melancholy songs performed earlier. The crowd moved with the music, creating an excited energy that was, perhaps, augmented by the $3 Budweiser deal available at the bar.

After the band wrapped up, Jordy and I went outside with the fur ladies where we learned just how barren their fridges really were. The girls were done for the night, deciding to call it quits and head home. Jordy and I had other plans. We decided to head back to Berkeley with his band and friends to play music at my apartment and forget it was a school night.