SAN FRANCISCO — The “Music of the Royal Tenenbaums” blended rocking music and comedy beautifully together at SF Sketchfest Thursday night. The Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack has a wide range of music, from “Second Movement from String Quartet” to “Judy Is a Punk.” The stage had just as much diversity, including Peter Asher from Peter & Gordon, Karina Denike, from notable punk band NOFX, Todd Roper from Cake and Marc Capelle from Marc & The Casuals, who also hosted.
As the show started, nearly everyone on stage had some visual reminder of the movie, like sweatbands, suede fringe jackets or ties around their heads.
Capelle introduced songs by talking about small parts from the movie. The first few songs played were quick instrumentals like “111 Archer Way” and “Sonata for Cello & Piano in F Minor.” After the opening songs, the show moved right along into the more famous songs from the movie. “These Days” and “The Fairest of Seasons,” originally performed by Nico, were sung by Thao Nguyen (of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down), and they stayed true to the original: Intimate, pensive, and captivating.
Denike sang back up vocals to Allyson Baker during the song “Look at Me” by John Lennon. Lennon’s moody lyrics coupled well with the complexity of the singers’ voices.
The highlight of the night, by far, was Denike’s cover of “Needle In The Hay.” Despite Denike’s punk background, her voice was exceptionally silvery, yet still commanding, which made for a great Elliot Smith cover. Her talent shone through in the four-minute performance; both her voice and stage presence were impressive.
There were more upbeat songs throughout the night, such as “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard” by Paul Simon. Dina Maccabee, a Bay Area native, covered the song. The entire stage was full of performers, including a stagehand brought out for his “exceptional whistling skills” deemed necessary for the song.
Tom Ayres, with various people singing back-up, performed a cover of “Rock the Casbah.” The intro was mystical, with Ayres directing different instrumentalists on what to play.
Jon Langford performed “Police & Thieves” by The Clash and “Everyone” by Van Morrison. He brought the energy up with his onstage antics. Langston picked up the mic stand during his songs while dancing, leaving the other performers on stage to play defense.
Peter Asher took the stage to sing “Ruby Tuesday,” one of the two songs by the Rolling Stones from the movie. Before starting the song, Asher told a short story of watching the Rolling Stones perform weekly at an R&B club years before they ever took off, and what it was like later touring with a band that would become world-renowned.
John Roderick, of The Long Winters performed the Ramones song “Judy Is a Punk” looking like he was straight out of a Wes Anderson film, with a tweed coat and big beard. He rejoined the stage for the closing song, “Everyone,” along with the rest of the performers.
Hether Fortune, from Wax Idols, performed the Velvet Underground song, “Stephanie Says.”
Other performances from the soundtrack were “Fly” by Nick Drake, “She Smiled Sweetly” by the Rolling Stones and “Wigwam” by Bob Dylan.
Follow Sara Whitham at Twitter.com/Sara_Whitham.