Duncan/Channon. Award-winning branding. Advertising. Design. Digital. Social media. Mobile. Broadcast. Print. Outdoor. Identity. Packaging. Media planning and buying. Account planning. Production. Not to mention the Tip. All in one action-packed agency in downtown San Francisco.
The first Toast of the Tip of 2009 is going to be, as the kids say, a doozie, featuring none other than Craig Finn, lead singer, lyricist and New Yorker-certified sex symbol of the Hold Steady, one of the most acclaimed bands of the last decade. Craig will be both talking and singing at the invitation-only event on February 20 in Duncan/Channon’s quasi-legendary private penthouse lounge.
And just in case you’re so L7 you’ve never heard of Craig or his band, here are some clues:
Rolling Stone on the Hold Steady’s recent album, Stay Positive: “Right now, no band displays the ranting soul, haunted heart or diseased liver of the American rock myth with more truth and empathy than the Hold Steady.” (link)
The New Yorker, in a 2005 profile: “Finn, a short, bespectacled fellow, exerted himself even when nothing much was going on, smacking his head with his hand, and pointing at everything — the lights, himself, the air, the crowd. After listening to three taut, vehement songs, a woman in the audience turned to a friend and said, ‘He’s the sexiest man alive.’” (link)
The indie tastemaking website Pitchfork, where the Hold Steady rules as perennial faves, on the second album Separation Sunday: “Craig Finn isn’t a singer… He sounds more like the sketchy drunk guy yelling in your ear at a show, asking if you know where to buy drugs… He’s the poet laureate of the loading dock behind the mall where the runaway kids get together to sniff cheap coke at 5 am.” (link)
Craig and the guys have been on Letterman and Conan and MTV, opened for the Rolling Stones, co-starred at Lollapalooza, been voted Band of the Year by Blender, while also placing at or near the top in polls at the Village Voice, Spin and Rolling Stone, been pictured in People (impressing Craig’s mom) and graciously appeared on two Serve CDs — the WhyHunger benefit series, conceived by D/C and sponsored by Hard Rock. A lifelong Twins fan, the native Minnesotan, and current Brooklynite, was even a guest commentator on ESPN last year. And along with a new Hold Steady record, he’s working on a novel.
“It’s no stretch to class Finn, as postmodern storytellers go, among the best wordsmiths of his generation,” said the Band of the Year citation in Blender.
Some rock stars hide their contraband in the most curious places, he discovered. But it’s not something Joe Levy cared to fully elaborate on, as he shared his less salacious — if no less amusing — tales of ten years as Rolling Stone music editor and go-to rock critic on MTV, VH1 and elsewhere. The third in Duncan/Channon’s Toast of the Tip speaker series, the evening played to an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd at the agency’s historic dive-bar-in-the-sky, the Tip.
Editor in chief of Blender since February, Levy was stopping in SF en route to the VMA’s in LA, where he was sure to see his friend, and the show’s opener, Britney Spears. In an interview with recovering rock critic Duncan, Joe allowed that his all-time fave rave is Pavement — but only after confessing that A Chorus Line was among the first three records he ever purchased. He shared insights into the collapse of the music business and the rise of a gazillion bands on the Internet — and, arguably, of a new golden age of music. And he strongly seconded the buzz for English rocker Pop Levi, whose “stereo” video is a dawning YouTube sensation. Finally, he touted a band he’d seen at South-by-Southwest, but whose name he couldn’t remember until later (get out your notebooks, obscure band afficionados): Racine.
All in all, Joe Levy brought the heat (literally — it was a record 93 in downtown) and did his part to prove that, at the Tip, as the ancient motto on the wall says: “We never give you the shaft.”
By one name or another, the Tip has been an establishment “licenced to purvey Strong Drinke” (as its original charter had it) nearly continuously since 1786. The building that would become the first of this long line of drinking establishments was constructed in 1777 as the private residence of Captain Frederick Plumpot-Brambley and his second wife Maria Montero-Sanchez. Plumpot-Brambley had been a well-known pirate in the Gulf of Mexico who, by a judicious change of name (in his pirate days he was known as Furious Freddy Towser), a generous distribution of some ill-gained booty and a politically shrewd marriage (Maria was the illegitimate daughter of California’s first Spanish Governor), was able to acquire a waterfront land grant in San Francisco and, in modern parlance, “go legit.”
His efforts to re-join polite society would not last long. Within 18 months, just as he was setting in motion a plot to have his second wife killed by a blacksmith, Plumpot-Brambley was arrested by troops of the Governor for the murder of his first wife, Nelly Suggins, whom he had apparently poisoned in order to marry up. Three days later he was hanged from an oak tree on Hangman — now Potrero — Hill, and Maria fled to the nunnery at Mission Dolores, where you can see her grave today.
Open, indeed, and spurting merriment over the 400 some revelers who came to downtown San Francisco on March 28th from as far away as New York and as close by as 111 Minna.
D/C’s tin-ceilinged, black-and-white penthouse lounge throbbed to the music of DJ Spesh and his Qool Records posse until well past midnight in a celebratory frenzy of dance and drink that could only be described as pagan. So named because, um, it’s at the top of SF’s historic Adam Grant building, the Tip was envisioned as a Zen-like place of refuge and reflection. When that didn’t work out, it turned into the most off-the-hook party space in the western marketing world.
And on Friday the 28th, the Tip was just the tip of the iceberg, as D/C’s grand re-opening extravaganza also saw the agency cut the ribbon on the rest of its new global HQ — conveniently located one floor down from the lounge via unprepossesing fire-stairs or scary, 1937-era private elevator.
There on the 14th (and main) floor, distinguished guests were serenaded by the Baguette Quartette and entranced by a leaping, swirling, cymbal-crashing Chinese Lion-Dance troupe. Meanwhile, delectable eats were dished out by our old homeys from Sol Food — San Rafael’s temple of Puerto Rican cucina. And complimentary, post-prandial stogies were rolled on the spot by the masterful (if irascible) Rene Garcia of Havana, Cuba (via Bradenton, Florida).
Oh, and, for no apparent reason, a giant, ill-mannered bunny showed up.
Still, judging by the fact that the bartenders emptied the well-stocked, custom-made bar three times and the DJs went into overtime, an exceptionally good time was had by all.
Many thanks to all our clients, friends (many of them one and the same) and family. And very special thanks to our long-suffering (due to a profoundly short schedule) contractor, Charlie Phipps of Richlen Construction, who managed (among many other wondrous feats) to turn a graceless pit of a room into a glistening Tip.